Robert Raikes was born in Gloucester on 14th September, 1735. His father was the owner of the Gloucester Journal and on his death in 1757, Robert took over the running of the newspaper. Raikes held liberal views and used his newspaper to campaign for prison reform and working class education.
In July 1780 Raikes and a local curate, Thomas Stock, decided to start a Sunday School at St. Mary le Crypt Church in Gloucester. It is claimed that Raikes got the idea when a group of rowdy children were making so much noise outside his office he could not concentrate on his work. Every Sunday the two men gave lessons in reading and writing. Raikes was not the first person to organize a school in a church but by giving it maximum publicity in the Gloucester Journal, he was able to spread his ideas to others.
The bishops of Chester and Salisbury gave support to Raikes and in 1875 a London Society for the Establishment of Sunday Schools was established. In July 1784 John Wesley recorded in his journal that Sunday Schools were "springing up everywhere". Two years later it was claimed by Samuel Glasse that there were over 200,000 children in England attending Sunday schools.
Robert Raikes retired from the Gloucester Journal in 1802. He died on 5th April 1811 and was buried in the church of St. Mary le Crypt.