There were no plans for a great public funeral when the former Chartist leader William Lovett died in 1877. He was a poor man who had long eschewed religion, and the Chartist era was far in the past. Neither would such a ceremony have appealed to this essentially modest man.
Even so, he had made many friends over decades of activity in the causes of Chartism, education and co-operation, and the funeral notice shown here would have notified them of the date and venue so that they might attend. Typical of its time, the small black-rimmed funeral notice for William Lovett is printed on high quality paper and includes a quotation attributed elsewhere to the Prophet Mohammed. Interestingly, the notice got a mention in trade union newspaper The Bee-Hive’s report of Lovett’s death, and its text is quoted there in full.
The notice reads:
In remembrance / of / WILLIAM LOVETT / THE CHARTIST / who died on Wednesday, the 8th of August, 1877 / in the 78th year of his age / “A man’s true wealth is the good he does in this world. / When he dies, mortals will ask ‘What property has he left / behind him;’ but angels will inquire, ‘What good deeds hast / thou sent before thee?’” / The funeral will take place at Highgate Cemetery, on / Monday, the 13th August, 1877, at half-past three.
Working on behalf of the London Working Men’s Association, Lovett had been the author of the People’s Charter and secretary to the First Chartist Convention. But he was sidelined in later Chartism by Feargus O’Connor and his supporters, and moved on to devote his energies to secular education.
Unlike some of those who went to their graves before him, Lovett was no populist and was never a great platform orator. Similarly, his funeral was quiet and attended mainly by those who had known him well – in contrast to the great outpourings of popular grief that attended the funeral of O’Connor and those of the London Chartist martyrs in earlier years..
Read an account of William Lovett’s funeral.
The funeral notice shown here is in the collection of Mark Crail, who runs the Chartist Ancestors website.