A quarter of a century of Chartism, with key events in its history recorded year by year.

The Charter

London Working Men’s Association (LWMA) founded by Henry HetheringtonWilliam LovettJames Watson and other radicals.

LWMA lays the six points of reform before a meeting at the Crown and Anchor public house on the Strand (28 February).

East London Democratic Association founded by George Julian HarneyAlan Davenport and others.

Birmingham Political Union (BPU) last active in fight for 1832 Reform Act is revived.

Feargus O’Connor launches the Northern Star newspaper in Leeds (November).

Feragus O’Connor launches the Great Northern Union in Leeds (April).

The Petition

LWMA unveils the People’s Charter in London and BPU launches the National Petition in Birmingham. William Lovett, working on behalf of the London Working Men’s Association, is the principal author of the Charter.

Mass meeting on Glasgow Green hears of the People’s Charter for the first time (21 May); copies have not been printed in time.

First published use of the word ‘Chartist’: Leeds Intelligencer (22 September 1838) dismisses ‘a demonstration of weakness on the part of the noisy leaders of the new political sect calling themselves “Chartists”.’

Tens of thousands attend Chartist rallies in Birmingham (August), Manchester (September) and elsewhere to adopt the Charter and elect representatives to the forthcoming General Convention of the Industrious Classes (First Chartist Convention).

’Monster meeting’ of West Riding Chartists on Hartshead Moor adopts the Charter and elects delegates for the Convention (15 October)

Palace Yard meeting in Westminster adopts the People’s Charter petition and elects slate of LWMA candidates to the Convention.

Launch of The Charter newspaper (January) as mouthpiece of the London Working Men’s Association.

First Chartist convention meets in London (4 February), and later (May) in Birmingham.

Western Vindicator newspaper published by leading Chartist Henry Vincent (runs February to November).

Anti-Corn Law League founded (May).

First Chartist petition of more than 1,280,000 names carried to Parliament (7 May).

Chartist rallies end in clashes with the army at Newcastle and in a riot at Birmingham. William Lovett, secretary to the Convention, is arrested and sent to prison following the Bullring Riots. Henry Vincent arrested and imprisoned.

A debate on the motion that the Chartist petitioners be heard in the House of Commons (12 July) is rejected by 235 votes to 46.

Great meeting of Scottish delegates in Glasgow (14-16 August) forms central committee to co-ordinate activities in Scotland.

Three thousand Chartists march on Newport (November). Soldiers fire on the crowd, killing at least 20 and injuring 50 more.

Feargus O'Connor
Feargus O’Connor

John Frost and other leaders of the Newport uprising are tried for high treason and sentenced to be hanged and their bodies quartered.

Abortive uprisings in support of the Newport Chartists across the West Riding and North East of England.

Government backtracks on Newport death sentences and says Frost and others will instead be transported to Australia.

Feargus O’Connor is sentenced to 18 months in prison for publishing seditious libels.

Chartist convention in Manchester founds the National Charter Association to unite local organisations (20 July).

Released from gaol, Henry Vincent launches the National Vindicator, and abandons his previous support for physical force.

Robert Peel and his Conservatives form a new government after the defeat of Melbourne’s Whigs at a general election (August).

Joseph Sturge formulates plans to campaign for suffrage reform.

William Lovett
William Lovett

William Lovett forms National Association of the United Kingdom for Promoting the Political and Social Improvement of the People – Lovett’s New Move.

Thomas Slingsby Duncombe presents petition of 1.3 million names to Parliament seeking a pardon for the Newport prisoners (25 May).

National Charter Association agrees to launch second petition to test attitude of new parliament.

Scottish Chartist Convention refuses to endorse wording of petition.

Joseph Sturge holds first conference of what will become the Complete Suffrage Union (March).

Second Chartist Convention held in London, starting 12 April.

Second Chartist petition of more than 3,250,000 names presented to Parliament (2 May). It is rejected by the House of Commons by 287 votes to 47.

General strike wave (otherwise known as the Plug Plot riots) breaks out across Lancashire, Staffordshire and in other areas of Northern England and Scotland. Thousands demand that pay cuts are reversed and the Charter made law. Many leading Chartists are arrested. In total, 1,500 Chartists and strikers face trial, with 79 sentenced to transportation.

Unity conference intended to bring together the National Charter Association and Complete Suffrage Union ends in failure. Complete Suffrage Union abandoned.

Feargus O’Connor and 58 others tried for incitement to strike and riot at Lancaster Assizes for their involvement in the strike wave of the previous summer. None of those found guilty is ever sentenced.

Feargus O’Connor promotes plan for Chartist settlements at Birmingham Convention.

Joshua Hobson replaces William Hill as editor of O’Connor’s Northern Star.

Chartist convention held in Manchester (April).

Northern Star relocates to London.

Chartist convention held in London (April).

Formation of Chartist Land Co-operative Society (later National Land Company).

George Julian Harney becomes editor of the Northern Star, and takes a leading role in founding the Society of Fraternal Democrats as a forum for European political exiles.

Robert Peel’s government repeals the corn laws.

Chartist convention in Leeds sets up a committee to prepare for a general election campaign; Thomas Cooper expelled from the National Charter Association.

O’Connorville opens – the first of the Chartist settlements founded by the National Land Company.

New government formed by Lord John Russell’s Whigs (July); Feargus O’Connor is elected MP for Nottingham.

Revolution in France overthrows monarchy. Attempted revolutions break out across Europe.

London (later People’s) Charter Union founded (22 March) by James Watson, Henry Hetherington and Richard Moore as rival to National Charter Association.

Chartist convention held in London (April).

Third Chartist petition presented to Parliament after a rally at Kennington Common (10 April). Feargus O’Connor claims it holds 5,706,000 signatures; MPs say it has just 1,975,496 names, including many forgeries.

Chartist National Assembly meets (May).

Widespread disturbances including aborted risings in LondonAshton-under-Lyne and Ireland.

Many Chartists are arrested in the months following the rally. Ernest Jones is sentenced to two years in prison for sedition; William Cuffay is sentenced to be transported to Tasmania.

Feargus O’Connor replaces George Julian Harney with G.A. Fleming as editor of the Northern Star.

Henry Hetherington dies of cholera (23 August).

People’s Charter Union wound up.

Metropolitan conference of 28 delegates meets to elect provisional executive for the National Charter Association (December).

George Julian Harney

George Julian Harney launches short-lived Red Republican newspaper. It publishes Helen Macfarlane‘s first English translation of the Communist Manifesto before ceasing publication and relaunching as the Friend of the People.

Harney and the Left (‘the Charter and something more’) capture the National Charter Association executive.

Moderate National Charter League launched to build links with middle class.

Chartist convention in Manchester boycotted by supporters of Harney attracts just eight delegates (January).

Bill put forward to dissolve National Land Company (February).

Chartist convention in London adopts socialist programme (April).


G.A. Fleming acquires the Northern Star. Final issue of the Northern Star (13 March) before it is renamed The Star (20 March).

George Julian Harney acquires The Star and merges it with The Friend of The People as the Star of Freedom (1 May)

Chartist convention held in Manchester (17-21 May))

Star of Freedom ceases publication (26 June)


Labour Parliament meets in Manchester to lead Chartist revival that fails to appear (6- 18 March).

Death of Feargus O’Connor (30 August).



Last national Chartist convention held, attended by 41 delegates (February).

Nottingham Town Council agrees to erect a statue of Feargus O’Connor.

National Charter Association formally wound up.