William King


He was a doctor and philanthropist in Brighton, he was among the founders of a consumer cooperative in 1827 in Brighton, the “Brighton Co-operative Benevolent Fund Association”.

Great thinker, forerunner of the Christian-social school, he founded the periodical “Co-operator”, that provided a set of theoretical-philosophical principles and concrete tips on the management of a cooperatives store, an inspiration for the peers and a source of influence for the rising cooperative movement. The periodical had a short life: from 1st May 1828 until July 1830.

In all its issues the magazine reported: “knowledge and union are power. Power, led by knowledge, is happiness. Happiness is the purpose of creation”.

In his writings King underlined the crucial role that education can play in the formation of a cooperative spirit. The moral integrity of educators proves to be essential: “an army can fight and win despite its faults and bad habits; judges can free from guilt in spite of their moral faults, but an educator can not be a guide in morality if they themselves are not moral. Lacks of education cancel the efficacy of its teaching”.

Cooperation- King writes- must be useful to all classes; it benefits higher classes and working classes, as well as poor people and it reinforces the government”. To the benefactors and philanthropists of his time he directs his thought: “you have to become cooperative members. Instead of employing a part of your wealth and time to charity, you should suggest the organisation in cooperative enterprises to the poor and dedicate part of your time to accountability, control and cooperative education”.