Why did Joseph Rowntree have such a big funeral?

Joseph Rowntree was a man of great influence in York. He was very well-respected for who he was as well as what he did during his lifetime. He is still remembered because of the places in the city named after him and the money he left for others to carry on his work.

Joseph Rowntree's funeral

Why should I be interested?

•  Are you curious about the history of York and the Rowntree family?

•  Are you a student doing a local history project for school?

•  Are you a teacher looking for local history resources and activities?

•  Are you a student of teacher looking for an example of a ‘good citizen’?

•  Are you interested in why and how we remember past people and events?

•  Are you interested in judging the significance of an individual’s contribution?

•  Are you interested in making a persuasive case to York City Council?


Top Facts about Joseph Rowntree

Joseph Rowntree established the world famous Rowntrees & Co Ltd, which produced cocoa, fruit pastilles and chocolate (including famous brands such as Kit Kat, Aero and Smarties). By 1923 it employed over 7000 people in York.

Rowntree’s Quaker faith inspired him to become a model employer. That means that while setting up a very successful business, he also cared for his workforce well, giving them support and help when they needed it.

Rowntree also championed social reform. He believed that working people had a right to good housing, welfare and education.

He served on the boards which helped to run schools, hospitals and the library in York.

Rowntree was a keen supporter of the Liberal Reforms of the early 20th century, the reform of the House of Lords to improve British democracy and of the League of Nations, set up after World War One.

He supported the temperance movement which campaigned to remove the problems caused by excess alcohol consumption from society.

He was so loved that over 2000 people gathered to remember him at the Cocoa Works factory when he died. The trusts he set up are still known nationally and still influence social policy in Britain. Read our biography of Joseph Rowntree to find out more.