Friday, 2 March 2012

Robert Lowery: Newcastle Chartist

Robert Lowery lived an extraordinarily full political life for a man who died at just 54 years of age.
Born in 1809, he first became active in radical politics as secretary to the Newcastle Political Union during the Great Reform Act agitation of 1831 and 1832. By the time of his death in 1863, he had become a mainstream Gladstonian Liberal.
It is, however, his years of service to the Chartist movement that are of interest here, and a page on Robert Lowery, based on the profile published by The Charter during his time as delegate to the First Chartist Convention, now appears on Chartist Ancestors.
When the Convention was called early in 1839, few Chartists believed that Parliament would bow down to public opinion once the first petition was presented and concede to Chartism’s Six Points.
Lowery was among those who advocated “ulterior measures”, arguing for a “sacred month”, or general strike, as a way of forcing the point. He also knew in advance of the armed uprisings planned for November 1839 which ended so tragically for the Chartists in Newport.
Biographies of Lowery appear both in The Dictionary of Labour Biography (volume 4) and in more detail in the 1980 book Robert Lowery: Radical and Chartist, edited by Brian Harrison and Patricia Hollis.

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