Chartist lives

Chartism was so much a movement of the people, that it would be strange if the study of those who were involved in the cause were not at the centre of Chartist histories. And for a very long time now, this has certainly been the case. This page provides links to dozens of biographies of Chartists, including both those who were well known for their radical activism on the national stage, and others whose fame never spread much beyond their home town.

With his book Chartist Portraits (Macmillan, 1941), G.D.H. Cole inspired a post-war generation of historians to take an active role in uncovering the biographies of leading Chartists; and though attention later moved on to local historical and other approaches, interest in uncovering the lives of the Chartists never went away. Stephen Roberts made a significant contribution to this work with a series of ‘lives’ focused on the Chartists of the West Midlands, and Malcolm Chase rejuvenated interest in a people-centred approach with a deft series of pen portraits for his much admired Chartism: A New History (MUP, 2007). With his commitment to the idea of ‘history from below’, Professor Chase shifted the focus on to some of the lesser known figures in Chartism, and coinciding with the emergence of family history as a massively popular hobby, his work was a significant factor in breaking down barriers between academic and amateur historians, leading to the rediscovery of many ‘lost’ Chartists.

Life storiesA – D
John Ardill – business manager of the Northern Star.
John Arnott – NCA general secretary.
Thomas Attwood – leader of the Birmingham Political Union.
Bartlomiej Beniowski – Emigre military adviser to Chartism.
George Binns – Sunderland Chartist and radical bookseller.
Peter Bussey – Bradford Chartist who fled to America.
Samuel Carter – Chartist MP for Tavistock.
Anthony Cavalier – Sheffield Chartist and town councillor.
William Henry Chadwick – Manchester Chartist.
John Cleave, radical publisher.
Henry Clubb – Colchester Chartist, vegetarian and utopian.
Allen Davenport – veteran Spencean ultra radical and London Chartist.
John Dover – Norwich Chartist transported to Van Diemen’s Land.
Thomas Slingsby Duncombe – Chartist MP for Finsbury.

Life stories: E – K
John Epps – dissenter in politics, religion and medical matters.
George Fleming – Editor and briefly owner of the Northern Star.
Matthew Fletcher – Bury’s delegate to the first convention.
John Frost – Newport Chartism’s rebel leader.
James Grassby – backroom organiser of the Chartist movement.
George Julian Harney – organiser, orator, editor of the Northern Star.
Henry Hanshard – London silk weaver killed by the police in 1848.
Henry Hetherington – radical publisher and London Chartist.
William Hill – First editor of the Northern Star.
Joshua Hobson – printer, publisher and editor of the Northern Star.
Peter Hoey – Barnsley Chartist and link with Chartists in Ireland.
Susanna Inge – secretary of the City of London female Chartists.
Ernest Jones – leader of late Chartism.
Robert Knox – County Durham’s delegate to the first convention.

Life stories: L – R
Thomas Livsey – Rochdale Chartist and chair of the final convention.
William Lovett – author of the People’s Charter.
Robert Lowery – trade unionist and Newcastle’s delegate to the first convention
Benjamin Lucraft – a Victorian radical.
Henry Lundy – Northern Star compositor in Joshua Hobson’s print shop.
Emma Miles – London female Chartist who married fellow activist Joseph Dunn.
Peter Murray McDouall – Chartist activist, exiled and imprisoned.
Helen Macfarlane – first translator of the Communist Manifesto.
James Bronterre O’Brien – Irish political thinker.
May Paris – Greenwich Chartist and victim of the cholera epidemic.
Robert Kemp Philp – Publisher and co-author of the 1841 petition.
William Rider – Physical force Chartist and O’Connor loyalist.
Frederic Riddle – O’Brienite and secretary of the Land and Labour League.
Ruffy Ridley (Daniel William Ruffy) – London activist and speaker.

Life stories: S – Z
Thomas Clutton Salt – of the Birmingham Political Union.
Alexander Sharp – London Chartist who died in Tothill-fields Bridewell.
William Villiers Sankey – Edinburgh delegate to the first convention.
Edmund Stallwood – long-serving radical activist and journalist.
John Skevington – prominent Leicestershire Chartist.
Thomas Rayner Smart – “Veteran Patriot” and delegate to the first convention.
Henry Vincent – Chartism’s greatest orator.
Mary Ann Walker – City of London Chartist lecturer.
James Watson – Radical publisher, co-operator and freethinker.
Thomas Martin Wheeler – NCA General Secretary, journalist and organiser.
Joseph Williams – Veteran London radical who died in Tothill-fields Bridewell.
Jeremiah Yates – Staffordshire potter and leading local Chartist.