Sunday, 30 July 2017

A portrait of Dr Matthew Fletcher: delegate to the first Chartist convention

The small portrait photograph shown here is of Dr Matthew Fletcher, the delegate from Bury to the First Chartist Convention of 1839.

Although undated, the picture appears to have been taken towards the end of his life in 1878. The reverse carries what appears to be Matthew Fletcher’s signature.

Fletcher came to the 1839 Convention with a record of opposition to the New Poor Law then being imposed on the country by the Whig government.

While serving as a delegate, he was profiled by The Charter newspaper. Both the profile and the sketch portrait that accompanied it now appear on Chartist Ancestors.

As a General Practitioner in Bury, the Lancashire town in which he had been born and brought up, Fletcher was acutely aware of the impact of the factory system on its workers and was appalled by the treatment being meted out to the poorest members of the community.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Transcribing the Chartist Land Company registers

In the first of two guest blog posts, Peter Cox outlines how a U3A project is making a significant contribution to the study of Chartism by transcribing the identities of Londoners, women and French residents who subscribed to the Chartist Land Company.

A few years ago I became mildly peeved that the Suffragists were getting all the headlines – research, plays, and now a film. The Chartists, who made all the running two generations earlier and suffered for it, had been neglected in popular culture. Since retiring I’d written a three books on aspects of contemporary history, and was looking for another challenge, so I thought I’d try my hand at writing a Chartist play. I bought all the books on Chartism I could find and set about it.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Chartism Day 2017: from biscuits and salt pork for the troops to surrealist Chartist images and a lost letter

Some 20 years on from the first ever Chartism Day, each year’s event still brings word of archive discoveries, exciting new images and innovative ways of “doing history” that shed light on the people who made up the Chartist movement and how they thought and acted.

Chartism Day 2017 was no exception. Organised by Dr Katrina Navickas and colleagues from the University of Hertfordshire history department, this year’s conference visited Heronsgate – better known to those with an interest in Chartism as O’Connorville.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

George Julian Harney on "something of vital importance"

In the summer of 1839, George Julian Harney found himself under arrest in Warwick Gaol and facing trial for his use of “seditious language” to foment the “Grand National Holiday” or general strike called for by the Chartist Convention.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Chartist Ancestors Databank is back

I am pleased to say that the Chartist Ancestors Databank has now returned to the Chartist Ancestors website.

The databank has been offline since the site was hacked earlier this year. I am rebuilding it at a new address (, but the process is taking time, and it has taken me a while to get round to restoring the databank to live.