Category: Chartism

28 April 2021

The Romance of the ‘Whig Dungeon’

This long essay is an updated chapter from my PhD thesis (University of New England, 2000). It examines the rhetoric and symbolism of the radical propaganda mobilised around Chartist leader Feargus O’Con­nor at his trial for seditious libel at York in 1840, his imprisonment at York Castle and the extensive celebrations that followed his release from prison (dressed in a fustian suit) in 1841. I argue that a coherent quest narrative is identifiable in the mediation of O’Con­nor’s travails and this was an important (and to date unrecognised) element of Chartism’s first renewal in 1841–42.

21 April 2018

Identifying and Mapping Chartist Children

Naming children after radical radical political heroes was something of a tradition in England in the nineteenth century. In particular, during the early 1840s thousands of working-class parents gave their children the names of imprisoned Chartist leaders such as Feargus O’Connor or exiled counterparts such as John Frost. This essay looks at the phenomenon at the national and local levels and features a database and heatmap of identifiably ‘Chartist’ names drawn from state birth registration records for the period 1840 to 1842.

10 January 2018

William Kilburn’s 1848 Chartist Daguerreotypes

Remarkably, a pioneering and quite detailed photographic record survives of the culmination of one of the most significant days in English nineteenth-century political history—William Kilburn’s fascinating Daguerreotypes of the Chartist mass meeting held at Ken­ning­ton Common (now Ken­ning­ton Park), London on 10 April 1848. In this essay I look at Kilburn, his relationship with the Royal family and some of the potential reasons why he captured these very early images of mass political action. The essay concludes with a short discussion of whether Kilburn’s Chartist images were the first of a crowd.
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