Edward Spencer Beesly (January 23, 1831 - 1915), English historian and positivist, son of the Rev. James Beesly, was born at Feckenham, Worcestershire.
He was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, which may be regarded as the original centre of the English positivist movement. Richard Congreve was tutor at Wadham from 1849 to 1854, and three men of that time, Frederic Harrison, Beesly and John Henry Bridges (1832-1906), became the leaders of Comtism in England.
Beesly left Oxford in 1854 to become assistant-master at Marlborough College. In 1859 he was appointed professor of history at University College, London, and of Latin at Bedford College, London, in 1860. He chaired a preliminary meeting of the International Workingmen's Association, held at St Martin's Hall, London on September 28, 1864.
He resigned these appointments in 1893 and 1889, and in 1893 became the editor of the newly-established Positivist Review. He collaborated in the translation of Comte's system of Positive Polity (4 vols, 1875-1879), translated his Discourse on the Positive Spirit (1903), and wrote a biography of Comte for a translation of the first two chapters of his Cours de philosophie positive, entitled Fundamental Principles of Positive Philosophy (1905).
Professor Beesly stood unsuccessfully as Liberal candidate for Westminster in 1823-5 and for Marylebone in 1886
His works also include a series of lectures on Roman history, entitled Catiline, Clodius, Tiberius (1878), in which he rehabilitates in some degree the character of each of his subjects, and Queen Elizabeth (1892), in the "Twelve English Statesmen" series.