Frederick Denison Maurice, a tutor at King's College in London, was deeply influenced by the educational ideas of Robert Owen. Maurice, a supporter of Chartism, became convinced that before obtaining universal suffrage it would be necessary to improve the quality of working class education.
After the publication of his controversial book, Theological Essays in 1853, Maurice was dismissed from his post as Professor of Theology at King's College. Maurice was now in a position to concentrate on developing his ideas on working class education. At the beginning of 1854 Maurice drew up a scheme for a Working Men's College. On 30th October 1854 Maurice delivered an inaugural address at St. Martin's Hall and the college started with over 130 students in a building in Red Lion Square. Maurice became principal and guest lecturers at the college included Charles Kingsley and Thomas Hughes.