Lewis Gompertz

Lewis Gompertz

Lewis Gompertz (1783/4–1861) was an early animal rights advocate, a vegan, and a founding member in June 1824, of the English Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, later the RSPCA.[1]


Gompertz was a vegan and refused to wear leather or silk. He also refused to ride in a coach due to the suffering of the horses.[2] He was the author of Moral Inquiries on the Situation of Man and of Brutes (1824) and Fragments in Defence of Animals (1852).[3]

He was the inventor of a multitude of inventions—including the expanding chuck—mainly designed to reduce animal suffering.[4] In 1821, Gompertz invented an improved velocipede, an early form of bicycle. His machine was powered by pulling on the steering handles, which drove a rack and pinion mechanism, which in turn rotated the front wheel.[5]

Gompertz acted as the SPCA's second Honorary Secretary prior to resigning in 1833. However, the governing committee was made up of welfarists who objected to Gompertz' veganism, so they created a resolution that limited membership in the SPCA to Christians. Since Gompertz was a Jew, he was forced to resign. He went on to found the Animals' Friend Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which he ran until 1846, after which he resigned to care for Ann, his terminally ill wife. The society was welcoming to evangelicals and Quakers. He was opposed to humans intentionally using animals for human interests in any way and spent the remainder of his life writing and speaking about animal rights and welfare.[1][6]

He died from bronchitis in Kennington and was buried in the graveyard of the local church.[1]

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Wolf, Lucien and Marsden, Ben. "Lewis Gompertz," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  2. ^ Preece, Rod. (2011). Animal Sensibility and Inclusive Justice in the Age of Bernard Shaw. UBC Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-7748-2109-4
  3. ^ For the SPCA and the 1824 publication, see Nash, Roderick (1989). The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics. University of Wisconsin Press, p. 223.
  4. ^ Gompertz, Lewis (1992-01-01). Moral Inquiries on the Situation of Man and of Brutes. Centaur Press. ISBN 9780900001376.
  5. ^ See:
  6. ^ Baker, Lawrence W. (2015-04-21). Animal Rights and Welfare: A Documentary and Reference Guide: A Documentary and Reference Guide. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781610699433.

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