Thursday, 1 October 2015

67 Chartists who contested parliamentary elections

No political movement has gathered so much popular support and found so little voice in Parliament as Chartism.

The Chartist movement’s most reliable long-term advocate at Westminster was Thomas Slingsby Duncombe. And, for a few scant years from 1847 until 1852, Feargus O’Connor, owner of the Northern Star and Chartism’s central figure, served alongside him as MP for Nottingham.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Walk in the footsteps of London's Chartists

How does the idea of walking in the footsteps of the Chartists sound? As part of a project to map thousands of Chartist meeting places (more of which below), there is to be a “mystery tour” around central London on 21 September, ending in the re-enactment of a Chartist meeting.

The event is free of charge and further information about taking part can be found here.

The walk takes in Kings Cross / St Pancras / Somerstown / Camden area, with readings of reports from the Northern Star newspaper at each site and will cover around 3km

As the organisers explain: “Participants will learn about the history of Chartism and the London venues, and participate in a re-enactment of a Chartist meeting in the actual pub where it took place nearly two hundred years ago.”

The walk is linked to a fascinating project supported by the British Library and being run by Dr Katrina Navickas of the University of Hertfordshire.

The project is extracting information on Chartist meetings advertised in the Northern Star between 1838 and 1844, geo-coding the meeting places and overlaying them on historical maps. So far data on more than 4,000 meetings has been extracted and the project is heading towards 5,000.

There are also plans to map the routes taken by Chartist "missionaries".

Dr Navickas says that one surprise discovery is that many of the pubs where Chartists met more than 150 years ago still exist and have their original names.

The plan is to end the walking tour at one of these pubs, where there will be a re-enactment of a Chartist meeting “Participants are welcome to continue their discussions into the evening.”

The organisers are still looking for a couple of male volunteers willing to dress up as Chartists on the day. Additional help is also needed with the mapping project, checking the information scanned from the Northern Star.

Further information about the mapping project and the walk can be found here.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Feargus O'Connor's letter: deciphering a Chartist mystery

I recently came across and could not resist buying handwritten letter by the Chartist leader Feargus O’Connor dated 20 October 1838. The letter is badly water stained and carries a rusty mark from the paperclip which must have attached it to other papers for quite some time.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Progress report on the new Chartist Ancestors

The rebuild of the Chartist Ancestors website is coming on apace. If you would like to see what’s going on, you can find the new site here.

Beware, that for the time being, things are a bit messy. The old site is in the process of demolition, so some links do not work. You can sometimes get round this by checking the URL (the website address) and replacing any capital letters with lower case equivalents.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

William Cuffay's poetic gift from the Chartists

By October 1849, the London Chartist William Cuffay was already on board the convict ship the Adelaide, heading for Australia, where he would spend the rest of his life.
Cuffay had been arrested in the wake of the Orange Tree conspiracy of August 1848, found guilty at the Central Criminal Court of “treason felony” and sentenced to 14 years in exile. In fact, he would never return to England. But his comrades in the Chartist movement did not forget him.