Friday, 2 March 2012

Edward Truelove's Chartist bookshop

Edward Truelove's bookshop in John Street must have been a familiar haunt for many London Chartists. 

If ever there were Chartist fundraising or social events in the capital, Truelove's shop was sure to be listed in the Northern Star as one of the principal outlets for ticket sales. In addition, he ran a literary institution in the premises next door which sometimes hosted Chartist events. 

Hope Francis, who lives in Queensland, Australia, recently got in touch to say that she had come across Edward and his wife Harriet (nee Potbury) while reading her great-great-grandmother's memoirs. The Chartist bookseller was her g-g-grandmother's uncle. 

The memoirs offer only a tantalisingly brief mention of the bookshop, in which she had occasionally worked as a girl of 15 or 16, noting, 

“Another incident was about the time of my mother's death. (1848). The Chartist riots were in full swing and an uncle of mine was one of the leaders. He kept a booksellers shop in Tottenham Court Road, London where the meetings were held, many of which I was present at as I was staying with Aunt and often helped in the shop where most of the literature of the society was kept and sold, but as the Chartist riots are a matter of history I need go no further.” 

Further evidence of Edward's radical sympathies (and presumably those of Harriet too, since she would surely have put her foot down on this one) is the naming of their son Mazzini, after the Italian insurrectionary Giuseppe Mazzini, who had lived in London in the 1840s and moved in the same political circles as a number of leading Chartists.

The births column of the Northern Star for 30 June 1849 records,
“Lately, Mrs Edward Truelove of 22 John-street, Tottenham Court-road, of a son; registered, NOT christened, Edward Mazzini Truelove.” 

It looks very much as though Edward Truelove continued to be active in radical publishing circles for many years after the decline of Chartism. The Freedom From Religion Foundation website records details of Edward Truelove, an important secularist publisher in the latter half of the 19th century, which certainly match those for the Chartist Edward Truelove. The family's insistance that their son had been "registered, NOT christened" is additional supporting evidence that this is indeed one and the same man.

The Chartist W E Adams' memoirs seem to confirm the link in his account of Edward Truelove's publishing activities - and even provides us with a picture (see above). 

How would all this have gone down with the Potbury family? Hope Francis says they were “mostly in service in Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle and we believe before that in service to the Duke of Sidmouth”. So, possibly not that well.

No comments: