Employed as a weaver at Dean Clough, Benjamin Rushton had led a procession from Halifax to Huddersfield after Peterloo in protest at the massacre. He later chaired many Chartist meetings in Halifax, and was close to the later Chartist leader Ernest Jones. Although he died impoverished, his funeral was attended by up to 10,000 people. From his house at Ovenden, a procession of Bradford Chartists led by a brass band marched with the coffin through the town centre to Lister Lane. Rushton had asked that no paid priest should speak at his funeral, and the oration was given by Jones, who said “The foundation stones of liberty are the graves of the just… the memories of the past are the beacons of the future.” The company moved on to a further political meeting at West Hill Park after the funeral.
The headstone reads:
In Memory of
OLD AND TRIED PATRIOT
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE JUNE 17 TH 1853
AGED 68 YEARS.
An honest man here lies at rest,
As e’er God with his image blest;
The friend of man, the friend of truth;
The friend of age, and guide of youth;
Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,
Few heads with knowledge so inform’d;
If there’s another world, he lives in bliss,
If there is none, he made the best of this.
(From an article by Norman Berry in the Halifax Evening Courier (24 June 1976).
Read about the rediscovery of Benjamin Rushton’s tombstone and more about his life on the website of the Friends of Lister Lane Cemetery.