Who's Who of Radical Leicester Bl-Bz

                              

   

   

Live Search

Bl-Bz

 

Fred Blackwell

Died: February 2006, aged 79 (Labour Party)

Fred Blackwell worked as a senior housing officer at Leicester City Council from 1973 until his retirement in 1983. During this time, when the Labour Party was reluctant to engage in street politics, he was a key figure in the broad campaigns against the National Front. He was Chairman of the Inter-Racial Solidarity Campaign and a committee member of Unity Against Racism. With Stewart Foster, he became a City Councillor for Coleman ward, serving until 1984. He died at his home near Darlington from a cancer-related illness.

Source: author’s personal knowledge


 

Norman Bordoli

Born: 12th Apr 1923, died March 1995 (Communist Party)

Norman Bordoli went to Gateway School and during the war was a telegraph operator, serving on motor torpedo boats. He was a knitter in the hosiery trade and became a member of the National Executive of the Hosiery Union. He was chairman of the Eyres Monsell Tenants Association during the 1960s and 1970s. He first stood as a Communist Party candidate in 1968 and became branch secretary of the Leicester Communist Party during the 1970s.

Source: author’s personal knowledge


Walter W. Borrett

Born c.1882, West Ham, Stratford (I.L.P.& Labour Party)

Walter Borrett worked as a compositor in the print trade and a member of the Typographical Association. He came to Leicester c1907 and became secretary of Westcotes I.L.P and then served as secretary of the Leicester I.L.P. from 1912 to 1914. He then became the I.L.P. organiser for Leicester and Leicestershire from 1914. He kept in close touch with Ramsay MacDonald keeping him informed of the position in Leicester and in 1917, he wrote a short monograph of George Banton.

During the war, he dealt with hundreds of cases of men previously rejected as unfit for service. These men were called back for re-examination by the Leicester Medical Board to try and send them into active service. He also worked with tenants to ensure landlords did not extort high rents in contravention of the Rents Restrictions Act. After the war, he became manager of the Blackfriars Press and was on the staff of Leicester Pioneer during the 1920s. In 1919 & 1920, he stood as a Labour candidate for Westcotes & Castle wards.

Sources: Leicester Pioneer, 29th October 1919 and 22nd October 1920


Herbert William Bowden (Lord Aylestone)

Born: 30th January 1905, Cardiff, died: 30th April 1994 (Labour Party & S.D.P.)

Bert Bowden came to Leicester in 1933 and worked for Charles Keene’s firm of Kingstones. His job was to cycle around to collect hire purchase payments. He was elected to the City Council from De Montfort ward in 1938. In 1941, he joined the RAF and became a pilot officer in 1943. In the 1945 landslide election, he won Leicester South which had been a safe Conservative seat. The subsequent incorporation of the Saffron Lane estate made the constituency more winnable for Labour.

Bowden became PPS to the Minister of Pensions early in 1947. By 1949, he had become a junior whip, making his name first as deputy, then as chief whip for the Labour party during its years in opposition. In Harold Wilson's first government in 1964, he was made Leader of the House, although he was replaced by Richard Crossman two years later. In 1966 he was appointed Commonwealth Secretary and paid the first official visit of a British minister to the rebel Rhodesian regime after U.D.I.

In March 1963 he said: “I do not like the idea (of televising parliament) ... I do not want Parliament to become an alternative to That Was the Week That Was or Steptoe and Son or Coronation Street.” Ironically when he stood down as MP in 1967, he left politics to run ITV. He became a life peer in January 1964 as Lord Aylestone and in the 1980s, he joined the SDP.


 

John Bowman

Born: , died:  (Chartist)

John Bowman was an active Chartist from 1839 onwards. He was a member of the All Saints Chartists and was critical of Thomas Cooper. He was also secretary of the Woolcombers' Protective society


There was opposition to this memorial to George Bown being placed in Welford Road cemetery.

George Bown

Born: Leicester 7th February 1770, died: 8th April 1858, (Jacobin, Reformer & Chartist)

George Bown’s father was a pay-sergeant in the Leicestershire militia, who later had a business as a carrier and surveyor of the turnpike roads. George Bown was apprenticed to a surgeon and became an assistant to a doctor. He then became assistant to Richard Phillips in his shop. Phillips was a teacher of mathematics, sciences and a bookseller who opened a pamphlet room at the corner of Gallowtree Gate and Humberstone Gate. With Phillips, he founded the Leicester Herald in 1792 and he became the secretary of the Constitutional Society for Promoting Equal Representation of the People in Parliament (an association of reformers) and signed a manifesto which demanded complete suffrage. In 1793, Phillips was imprisoned for selling Tom Paines’s Rights of Man and in May 1794 Bown was briefly arrested for his Jacobin sympathies. (some obituaries say Bown was imprisoned too) Following the burning down of Phillips shop he moved to Nottingham. He was back in Leicester in 1813, as an agent selling lottery tickets.

Having married Miss Gardiner (the sister of William Gardiner, the musical celebrity), he worked in Nottingham for a time as a hatter, then ran a school in Loughborough. In returned to Leicester in 1821 and opened a school on Charles Street, before becoming book keeper to the ‘Hope’ coach at the Bell Hotel. In 1813, he briefly edited the reform supporting Leicester Chronicle.

Following the passing of the Reform Bill in 1831, he became clerk to the Reform Society which was at the heart of the Radical-Whig alliance (soon called the Liberals). After this alliance had taken control of the Council, Bown  was appointed as the Council's Accountant in 1837. The Leicester Journal fulminated that in appointing this producer of scurrilous hand-bills, Liberalism and Atheism had been rewarded. Bown replied that:

I have for nearly 47 years been labouring to deserve and obtain the maledictions of the despicable faction of which these co-journalists are the organs. I feel their long silence as reproach that I have been indolent

From the mid 1830's, Bown had worked as a teacher at the Mechanics' Institute teaching astronomy, geography and grammar. In August 1838, an advert appeared in the Leicester Chronicle over Bown's name stating stated that certain classes at the Mechanics Institute had been suspended. "..against whom the doors of the Class Rooms have, on some frivolous, and despotic pretence, been lately locked, would now restart in the Commercial Rooms, It is proper to announce that these Classes will not be subject to ... arbitrary control inquisitorial inspection."

It would seemed that the Mechanics Institute suspended his classes after he was alleged to have criticised the Bible. He either was sacked or resigned. It was in this way that Bown's classes restarted in the Commercial Rooms which was also the Owenite Social Institution. W.H. Holyoake recalled that:

“I met with kindred spirits at Barlow’s rooms at the top of the Market Place. The meetings were attended by some young fellows who had left the Mechanics Institute ....... At this time Robert Owen’s views were being discussed all over the country. We young men were much influenced by that remarkable man George Bown, an old Jacobin and radical. On Sunday mornings we went to Barlow’s rooms to read Owen’s New Moral World and other periodicals.” 

In 1840, Bown became the Council’s Inspector of Nuisances at an annual salary of £20. Some thought the post was a sinecure, but Bown used it to advance ideas of public health. He pointed out that:

No fact in physical science stands on a more indisputable basis than that stagnant water containing animal and vegetable matter in state of decomposition is the great source of the various grades of what is termed typhus fever from its mildest to its most malignant form.

He began to survey all the public health nuisances in Leicester and it was his idea that the Council should appoint Medical Officers of Health. From 1846, Mr Buck assisted him in a medical capacity. As a result, Leicester became the first British local authority to have medical officers. He retired in 1849 aged 79.

In the early 1840’s Bown became the First editor of the Leicester Chartist paper the Midland Counties Illuminator. Shortly before Bown’s death Thomas Cooper described him as a “fine intellectual old man, whose pamphlets, fly-sheets and contributions to periodicals would fill many volumes if collected.” However, in 1842 Cooper had accused him of deserting his Chartist principle in order to ‘get a place.’ At the time George Bown was also participating Cooper's bete noir, the Complete Suffrage Association presenting a paper asking whether governments were justified in retain overseas territories obtained by force.

However, Bown’s commitment to Chartism lasted longer than Cooper’s. In 1848, he published a pamphlet on Physical Force: An Address To All Classes Of Reformers, But Especially To Those Who Are Unjustly Excluded From The Franchise in which he rather long windedly declared physical force should be held in reserve, as a threat to obtain the vote, behind moral force, but nevertheless advised workers to ‘get arms.’ This caused some dismay amongst the more middle-class radicals.

Bown remained a freethinker until his death and it is possible that, like Paine, he was a Deist, opposing organized religion on the grounds that nature and reason provided the necessary means to experience God. One of his critics wrote:

...did any man in Leicester do more to disseminate the principles of infidelity amongst a class of young men over whom his position, in times gone by, gave him a powerful influence?. Mr Bown himself was never ashamed of this. Indeed, his whole life, ..... was one of continued protest against the fundamental truths of Christianity.

After his death, the Leicester Chronicle was described indulging in the "Pursuit of George Bown into his Grave" after it published numerous letters attacking Bown and the proposed monument. James Plant wrote to defend the memorial saying:

is not to be erected to the Iate George Bown for his "Ultra-Republicanism," or for his admiration of that somewhat fossilized production, the 'Age of Reason," or to his violent temper, and at times intemperate language: - let the grave close over these defects. No it is intended as a mark of esteem for his faithful adherence, in perilous times, to the cause of civil and religious liberty; and to the great Protestant principle of the right of private judgment. No flattery could win, threat intimidate, or reward buy off, his firm adhesion to these great principles, through a long and stormy life.

Bown was buried in Welford Road cemetery and his funeral was well attended by civic leaders. His grave is marked by an nine foot high sandstone obelisk. The inscription reads:

"Here lies one who never feared the face of man."

Sources: Derby Mercury, 29th  May 1794, Leicester Chronicle, 6th February 1813, 17th September 1842, Leicester Chronicle, 8th May 1858, Leicestershire Mercury, 18th March 1837, Leicester Journal 24th January 1840, Leicestershire Mercury, 10th October 1840, South Midlands Free Press, 17th April, 15th May 1858, Leicester Reasoner, 1902, A. Temple Patterson, Radical Leicester, Census returns


Tom Bradley

Born: 1926, died: 2002 (Labour Party & S.D.P.)

Tom Bradley was a Gaitskellite and a founder member of the Campaign for Democratic Socialism. This was set up in 1960 to fight against leftwing proposals for more nationalisation and for unilateral disarmament.

Having joined the Labour party when he was 15, he immediately began climbing the party and union ladders, especially the latter. In 1946, he became a branch officer of the TSSA. By the age of 32 he was on its executive committee and three years later its treasurer, under the belligerent rightwing president, Ray Gunter. He perfected his public speaking skills by contesting hopeless parliamentary seats: Rutland and Stamford (1950, 1951, 1955) and Preston South (1959). He did better in local government, winning a seat on Northamptonshire county council aged 26 and Kettering borough council five years later.

He made his first entry into Labour's factional politics in 1962 when the leftish Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas retired from Leicester North East to become a high court judge. As the candidate of the moderate right, Bradley won selection over Russell Kerr, an Australian left-winger backed by CND. He increased Labour's majority.

After his November 1962 maiden speech on the ‘clerical slums’ in which railway clerks worked, Bradley almost disappeared from parliamentary sight. He clearly saw himself as a trade unionist MP, devoting most time to the union and less time to his constituency. His situation changed after the 1964 election, when Ray Gunter became minister of labour and Bradley took his place as president of the very moderate white-collar union, the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA). When Gunter declined to stand again for Labour's NEC, Bradley replaced him there.

His only parliamentary post was as parliamentary private secretary to Roy Jenkins, increasingly his mentor. He was one of the 68 Labour MPs who had rebelled against a three-line whip in 1971 to vote with Ted Heath's Tories to join the Common Market. Although he justifiably considered himself a ‘binder-together’ and a ‘middle-of-the-road man,’ by following Roy Jenkins, into the Social Democratic party when it defected from Labour in 1981, he effectively sounded his own political and trade union death knell. In the 1983 general election he finished third behind the Tory and Labour candidates in a seat that he had held since 1962. With ex Labour councillor Shah also standing as an independent, it is remarkable that Patricia Hewitt only lost by 933 votes to Peter Bruinvels.

Sources: The Guardian


 

Roy Bradshaw

Born: Leicester, September 1927, died 2002

Roy Bradshaw was an engineering worker who joined the Communist Party during the Second World War. He stood as a City Council candidate for Charnwood ward in 1963 and probably in other elections too. During the 1970s, he was a familiar figure in town as a seller of the Morning star and Soviet Weekly.


 

W.L. Bradshaw

William Bradshaw was secretary of the Leicester Unemployed Broad Committee in 1934 and a member of the N.U.W.M. He was a Communist Party candidate in local elections and was still a party member in the 1970s..


 

John Henry Bramwich

Born Westminster or Shoreditch June 1803, died: Leicester 12th March 1846 (Chartist poet)

All men are equal in His sight,-
The bond, the free, the black, the white,-
He made them all,- and freedom gave-
He made the man,- Man made the Slave!

John Henry Bramwich was one of a group of Chartist poets who were working men. After being apprenticed at the age of nine, he enlisted at the age of 17 in 1820 and spent sixteen years as a private. He spent ten years in the West Indies where his daughter was born. Tiring of the army, he returned to Leicester to work as a framework knitter. He is best known for his hymns, Britannia’s Sons, Though Slaves Ye Be and Great God, is this the Patriot’s Doom? The latter was composed for the funeral of Holberry the Sheffield Chartist who died in York gaol. He also contributed to Cooper’s Extinguisher (1841) and 14 hymns to the Shakespearean Chartist Hymn Book. Along with fellow poet William Jones, he assisted Thomas Cooper at his adult Sunday school. Thomas Cooper wrote his obituary in the Northern Star, 4 April 1846 and included a moving letter written by Bramwich as he lay dying slowly of consumption: “You know, a lungless slave is good for nothing now-a-days in the British slave-market. I can assure you, it requires Samsons and Goliaths to work the stocking-frames they are making at this time. I look upon myself as a system murdered man.”

Shortly before his death his family were converted to Mormonism. He was buried in a pauper’s grave and composed a hymn for his own funeral. William Jones also composed a hymn in his honour that was sung at a meeting held in the Market Place to commemorate him. His wife and family then emigrated to the United States.

Sources: The Northern Star, 2nd July 1842, 4th & 16th April 1846, Thomas Cooper, The Life of Thomas Cooper, 1872


 

Alfred C. Brant

Born Louth, Lincolnshire, c1852 (Secularist & Socialist poet)

Alfred Brant was a compositor by trade. During the 1890’s, he contributed articles to the Wyvern on a range of topics including ‘White Slaves in Leicester,’ and a description of 1897 May Day demonstration. Under the acronym ‘A.C.B.,’ he wrote an autobiographical poem which tells of the reader of his secularism, socialism and his joy at working at the Leicester Co-operative Printing Society. In 1910, the Co-operative Printing Press published ‘A Rhymster’s Recollections,’ a 32 page collection of his writings, containing a sonnet in dedication to Ramsay MacDonald and a poem welcoming delegates to the 1911 Labour Party conference in Leicester. He was a secularist, a member of F.J. Gould’s ethical guild and a superintendent of the Secular Sunday School.

Sources: Leicester Co-operative Record, October 1910, The Wyvern


 

J.H. Brewin

Died 1926 or 1927 (Liberal)

J. H. Brewin was the manager of Glenfield Progress Co-operative Boot & Shoe works from its foundation in July 1892 until his retirement in 1926. He was also the chairman of its committee.

Sources: Leicester: A Souvenir of the 47th Co-operative Congress, Manchester 1915. Leicester Co-operative Magazine, January 1927


(William) Sidney Bridges

Born: Great Yarmouth, 1st January 1898, died: 28th October 1975 (Labour)

Sid Bridges was the son of a Norfolk blacksmith. He left home at the age of 13 eventually working in Lincoln for a firm of steam engineers. He went to France, during World War One, as a machine gunner and was wounded in the eye and knee by shrapnel during the Battle of the Somme. After the war he returned to Lincoln, but was frequently out of a job. He worked on and off for five years with a circus, looking after the lighting and doing other jobs. He came to Leicester, with his wife and baby, in 1929, but was still dogged by unemployment. He eventually joined the maintenance department of Leicester Co-op in 1933 and worked there until he retired in 1966. He joined the Labour Party in 1919 and he became chair of TGWU 5/249 Leicester Branch from 1933-1970. He was president of the Trades Council in 1946.

In 1945, he was elected to the City Council for Latimer Ward and was chair of the Transport Committee for 21 years. He was credited with pulling Leicester City Transport out of the red, turning it into a paying concern with some of the lowest fares in the country. He had responsibility for the replacement of trams with busses. He was made an alderman in 1964, became Lord Mayor in 1965 and was awarded freedom of the City in 1971. The following year, with Labour back in control, he become deputy leader of the council and with other members of Labour’s ‘old guard’ was associated with the publicity designed to discourage Ugandan refugees from coming to Leicester.

Sources: Leicester Mercury, 15th May 1970, 29th October 1975, Valerie Marett, Immigrants Settling in the City, 1987, Leicester City Council, Roll of Lord Mayors 1928-2000


 

Henry Broadhurst

Born: 13th April 1840, Littlemore, died: 1911 (Liberal)

Following the resignation of both the local liberal MP’s in 1894, the Liberal party adopted Henry Broadhurst (a working man) to placate the considerable number of working men voters who had not been satisfied with the previous MPs. Henry Broadhurst had started work at the age of twelve and then became a stonemason. He was involved with repairing and enlarging churches and university colleges in Oxford and later with the rebuilding of the House of Commons in the 1850s. He was active in the struggle for universal suffrage and took part in several demonstrations and meetings in the build up to the passing of the 1867 Reform Act. In 1872 he took part in the campaign to reduce the working week and an increase in the hourly wage paid in the building industry. Broadhurst soon emerged as one of the leaders of the stonemasons eventually giving up his work as a stonemason to become a full-time union official.

In the 1880 General Election Broadhurst was elected as Liberal MP for Stoke-upon-Trent and he became one of the Lib-Lab supporters of Gladstone's government. In the House of Commons He led the campaign for a government commission to investigate working-class housing. In the 1885 General Election Broadhurst was elected for the Bordesley seat in Birmingham and became an Under-Secretary at the Home Office. He thus became the first working man to become a government minister. However, his loyal support of the Liberal government upset some trade union leaders and when he argued against the eight-hour day, Keir Hardie remarked that he was more Liberal than Labour.

In 1890, the TUC supported Hardie against Broadhurst by passing a resolution in favour of the eight-hour day. Broadhurst was especially hurt when he discovered that his union had voted against him. In the 1892 General Election Broadhurst was defeated at West Nottingham. His objection to the eight-hour day had lost him the support of local workers and this enabled a local colliery owner to defeat him. Attempts to be elected in Grimsey in 1893 ended in failure but Broadhurst eventually won at Leicester in 1894. He held the seat until his retirement before the 1906 General Election.

Sources: Bill Lancaster, Radicalism Co-operation and Socialism


 

William Brown

Died: 1902 aged 78 (Co-operator)

A bricklayer by trade, William Brown became the first president of the Leicester Co-operative Society in 1863. He was architect, builder and workman, on a voluntary basis, to the Society in its early days. He resigned in 1870, on his appointment as storekeeper at No. 6 branch.


George Buckby

Born circa 1813, Northants, (Chartist leader)

George Buckby was a framework knitter who was active in the 1840s in establishing a consolidated union of framework knitters. From 1844, he campaigned against the evils of frame rents and after 1846, he was one of the Chartist leaders who attempted to revive the movement following the imprisonment of Thomas Cooper.  By the mid 1850s, he was actively agitating against both the high price of bread and the adulteration of food. He formed the Anti Dear Food Association in 1856. He also gave his support to the Sunday League. He was one of Leicester's most effective working class leaders and despised by the Whigs and Tories.

In May 1844, George Buckby, along with five others, was sentenced to one month's hard labour. Their crime was one of intimidation: 'by hissing and groaning to intimidate and prevent Mr. Cummins' workmen from working.' This followed some 600-700 people gathering in front William Cummins' shop during a strike. The cause and nature of the strike is not recorded. Buckby was soon the principle spokesman of the Leicester framework knitters. In 1847, Buckby was described as having assumed the position previously held by Thomas Cooper. Buckby having initially opposed the radical candidates  Walmsley and Gardner, was one of the several Chartist leaders to sign a handbill urging the working classes to support them. This was one of the first signs of a rapprochement between the working class Chartists and the middle class radicals. Key to this was Walmsley's and Gardner's support for the  abolition of frame rents.

In 1848, when the Chartism was once again in the ascendant, Buckby was the Leicester delegate to the National Convention. His departure for London was made the occasion of a demonstration of over 7,000 Leicester Chartists behind a banner which proclaimed that there were 42,884 local signatures on the petition which was to be presented to Parliament. 

J.F.C Harrison says that Buckby supported  Joseph Warner  who succeeded to form the more militant physical force Working-Menís Chartist Association, whilst Buckby may have been sympathtic, he was also very conscious of the need to avoid arrest and imprisonment. He looked favourable on Ernest Jones' ideas and chaired a meeting addressed by Jones shortly before Jones was arrested and imprisoned in solitary confinement. In the summer of 1848, when Chartist meetings were prohibited by the magistrates, he adopted the pretext of holding religious meetings on a Sunday giving a sermon on a text from the scriptures. Police still dispersed the meeting.

During the early 1850s, as secretary of the framework knitters, Buckby agitated agitation against frame rents. He also petitioned parliament for their abolition and for legislation to give knitters protection against employers’ frauds. He was a keen advocate of workersí co-operative production. He kept up his support for Chartism at meetings of non-electors and was regarded as the 'great gun' of working class speakers:

he thought that nine-tenths of the non-electors now believed they had just a right to the vote as the highest personage in the realm, so long as they paid their fair share of taxation. Yet for this they were called anarchists and revolutionists: but he would remind them that those epithets were applied to the men who carried West Indian Emancipation, to the men who carried the Reform Bill, by those who were fond of rotten boroughs, and by the men who loved Protection and dear bread, to the Anti-Corn-Law-Leaguers (hear, hear). And now it was applied to those who wanted to extend the Suffrage. He took part the election of '47 as a non-elector, and in that of '52 as an elector; yet had his intelligence increased so much in those few years, as to make this difference in qualification? No, but during that time the non-electors, by being his customers, had enabled him to keep a house of £10 and payments. And so he became duly qualified elector; and so the non-electors, by supporting the electors, enabled them to have votes, while they themselves were excluded.. (1852)

In 1853, Buckby gave his support to the two victorious radical candidates, Walmsley and Gardner and when a great procession was held to mark the event and the visit of the Hungarian reformer Lajos Kossuth, the Chartists were well represented. Streets were decorated with green and from George Buckby's window a banner hung across Wharf Street inscribed "National education and Universal Suffrage."

Buckby still remained critical of the Liberal Party and in particular its support for the Poor Law. He opposed the separation of men from their wives and families at the 'bastile.'  He claimed that there was hardly a day passed when a child was not found dead in bed in the workhouse. In 1853, Buckby and Joseph Elliott, as secreatry and chair of the Framework Knitters Committee, lent their support to a bill which would prevent employers making unjustified stoppages from wages paid. Buckby was consistently attacked in the Leicester Chronicle and Journal as an agitator and one who used violent language and claimed that were been paid 30/- a week.

Following the defeat of Sir Henry Halfordís bill on frame rents, Barkby and Elliot threw themselves into a campaign to reduce the price of bread. This was triggered by a slump in the hosiery trade which had put many out of work. Buckby and Elliot organised meetings and petitioned the mayor on the issue. Traditionally bakers sold a "quartern" loaf which ought to have weighed four pounds. Buckby argued that some bakers carried on their business in direct 'violation and impunity' to the law selling bread 4-8oz lighter than it should be. He also drew attention to the millers who adulterated flour by adding alum. The anti Dear Provision Association successfully petitioned to the Council to reinstate the public servant who had checked weights and measures. The campaign also held meetings for women only. (see Mrs Woodford). They also took the campaign to Hinckley where they were joined by John Sketchley.

At this time, Buckby was involved in opposing attempts to close pubs on Sunday. He opposed the "perpetual meddling of the Sabbatarians who so recklessly attempt to deprive the working classes of their just rights and privileges." At a meeting in the Pasture, he told the crowd:

The " black slugs preached to them that they would have a house above, not made with hands; but what they wanted, and what they had a right to have, was a house below to live in. It was said the curse of God would rest upon them for being discontented, and for meeting on a Sunday to state their grievances. He (George Buckby) did not care for the curse of God; there was a much greater curse than that to fear - the curse of oppression and tyranny. While the people were starving, the parsons and those who had wrung the money out of the sweat of the working men, stood calmly by, and did not offer any assistance. (1855)

With Elliott, he convened a meeting in 1856 to condemn the Council for refusing to allow a band to play on Sunday afternoons on the racecourse. (Victoria Park). However, both Buckby and Joseph Elliott were still treated as a ‘demagogues and disturbers.’ They were victimised by middle-men and manufacturers and late in 1856, they took refuge in emigration to the United States and both settled in Germantown, Philadelphia where Buckby worked as a fancy goods weaver. Because of the local hosiery industry, quite a number from Leicester settled in the town and a least one man from Leicester was killed fighting in the Federal army during the Civil War. 

In 1866, Thomas Cook paid him a visit whilst he was travelling in the United States and found him living in a neat little house of five rooms, but had not involved himself with trade unions or politics. It is interesting to note that in 1871, this one time opponent of co-operation with the middle classes led a committee with Joseph Elliott which sent £24 from Germantown towards the cost of John Biggs' statue. Three years later, in 1874, frame-rents were finally outlawed.

Sources:  Leicester Chronicle, 18th May 1844, 6th March & 18th December 1852, 22 April 1854, 24 November 1855, 8th December 1855, 24th Feb 1866, Leicestershire Mercury, 31st July 1847, 10th, 17th June 1848 22nd July 1848, 8th December 1855, 5th July 1856, Leicester Guardian 24th February 1866, Leicester Journal, 30th July 1847, 14th December 1855, 22nd February 1856, 15th September 1871.A. Temple Patterson, Radical Leicester, Leicester 1954, J.F.C. Harrison, Chartism in Leicester in Asa Briggs Chartist Studies,


 

Clement J. Bundock

Born Wood Green, 20th January 1892, died 1961 (I.L.P. and Labour Party)

Clement Bundock said that he owed his education entirely to Council schools and to his love reading. He set out to become a journalist and joined the staff of the  Christian Commonwealth. He was greatly influenced by A. Fenner Brockway, and 1911 he  went to Manchester as sub-editor of the I.L.P.'s national paper, the Labour Leader. Here, he began the work of an I.L.P. propagandist and spoke for the I.L.P.s at public meeting all over the country.  In 1916, he was a contributor to "Why I Am A Conscientious Objector: Being Answer to the Tribunal Catechism" with Walter Ayles, A. Fenner Brockway, A. Barratt Brown.

By 1919, he was editor of Leicester Pioneer and manager of the Blackfriars Press. From Easter 1920, to Easter, 1922, was the Midlands representative on the National Council of the 1.L.P. According to Len Hollis, he was criticised for his outspoken editorial condemning police brutality during the Rupert Street demonstration by the unemployed in 1921. He was President of the Leicester Labour Party in 1922. In 1923, was the Labour candidate for the Bosworth Division coming second in the poll in a three-cornered fight. Thay year, he was involved with a local No More War demonstration.  

During the General Strike, in May 1926, he attempted to get the TUCís paper the British Worker printed in Leicester, but was blocked by his union the Typographical Association. The union said that the workers at the press should be on strike and not at work even if it was producing a TUC newspaper.

By the 1930's, he had become the national organiser of the National Union of Journalists and had left Leicester.  He was author of The National Union Of Journalists: A Jubilee History 1907-1957 and The Story Of The National Union Of Printing, Bookbinding And Paper Workers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959

Sources: Gloucester Citizen, 2nd March 1923


 

Maximilian Holyoake Bunton

Born: Banbury Oxfordshire, December 1855 (Socialsit League, Secularist)

Max Bunton's father William Bunton was an active co-operator and Bradlaugh supporter in Banbury and had moved to Leicester to work in the CWS boot & shoe factory. In the 1880s, his son Max was also an active co-operator and contributor to the Leicester Co-operative Record. He also became secretary of the Secular Society and was a regular lecturer at meetings at the Secular Hall on subjects such as 'Heresy and Persecution,' 'Garibaldi' or 'Charles Darwin.'  He was active in the Liberal Party and in the anti-vaccination agitation. In his view,

“Wealth, position, class distinction, blue blood and favouritism, would soon be removed from their present holders if Co-operation was more fully carried out.”

The subjects of his articles like ‘Work. or why do men starve’ seem to suggest he may the same person that Bill Lancaster refers to as ‘Maximilian Bunting.’ According to Lancaster, Bunting was a young well to do cashier of Arthur Street who was an early secretary of the local Socialist League branch. He corresponded with Edward Aveling (Karl Marx’s son-in-law) writing that he found the word revolution, contained in the League’s manifesto a “great stumbling block to us in the provinces.”

Sources: Leicester Co-operative Record, December 1883, Bill Lancaster, Radicalism Co-operation and Socialism, Leicester Chronicle, 2 February 1884


William Burden

Born c1811, died May 1853 (Chartist leader, Allotmenter and Owenite)

William Burden was was described as 'one of the leading Chartists in this town, and one of the most intelligent and judicious, though, at the same time, one of the most firm of their number. He lately resided Nottingham, and we believe he was a Secretary the Chartist Association there.' (1841) He was a self educated framework knitter and warp hand and also attended the Owenite Social Institution. This led him to being accused of being a 'Socialist who burnt bibles.' He described his accusers as:

Men who never seriously think, but are always ready to believe; men whose disrelish for intellectual improvement has made them scarcely able to discriminate between a comma and a comet; and in whose hands to witness a book containing information would as great a novelty, as to hear parrot parse sentence of grammar; men who bawl mightily their unbounded veneration for the Bible, but think nothing of violating its most vital injunctions continually; men who adhere more strictly to the contents of a barrel, than the contents of the Bible.

In 1840 he argued that Chartists should; 'not support any government conducted on Whig, Tory, or any other principle, that refuses to concede....Universal suffrage.' Burden was consequently critical of the alliance between 'aristocracy and democracy,' when the Leicester Chartists, Cooper, Markham and Swain gave their support to the Tory candidate in the 1841 Nottingham election.

Rejecting John Bigg's call for Household Suffrage, he argued for the People's Charter saying that:

"while property and not person is the qualification to vote for Representatives Parliament, wealth will always find means to exercise undue influence, and the creators of that wealth be prevented from occupying their justly entitled position." 

Though he shared Cooper's view that the repeal of the Corn laws would enable manufacturers to pay lower wages, he was one of many Chartists who were alienated by Thomas Cooperís tactics,  He was the author of essays on " Wages" and " National Secular Education" (1852) and wrote verse which was published in the Leicestershire Mercury. Burden also opposed the levying of church rates. The Tory Leicester Journal reporting that during the Church Rate meeting of St Mary's Parish:

A man named Burden, a Socialist, who also belonged to the conscientious clique, opposed the rate upon principle; he did not approve of such an establishment being kept up, and after rambling on for some time to the disgust of all present, declared that he would not send his children to the Church school, or, in fact, to any other school, where they would be taught to "submit to their Spiritual Pastors and Masters."

In 1842, William Burden was secretary of the Labourer's Friend Society (later the Allotment Society) which advocated making allotment gardens available as a way of avoiding destitution. It was called the Cottage Garden Plan and the deputies of the town's Freemen were urged to use their land on Freemen's Common for allotments and this was begun in 1843. The town council was also asked to do likewise and land was rented in Gaol-lane. Thomas Cook was also involved with the Allotment Society for a time. By 1846, 100 acres of land was occupied as allotments.

Within the last few weeks the appearance of this locality has wonderfully altered for the better. Instead of now beholding, formerly, one unvaried patch of grazing ground, there is presented to the sight numerous and beautiful summer houses, and plots of garden laid out and planted with taste and effect. By far the greater part of the common is in progress of cultivation, and we doubt not, ere summer comes it will present one of the most delightful places of attraction the neighbourhood. Many of the occupiers have spared neither labour nor expense in order to give a pleasing tone the general appearance, and is confidently anticipated that it will be more like one well-ordered garden than a number of allotments nor there any fear but that in future, it will be the favourite promenade for the inhabitants of the town. (see also Lawrence Staines)

 On his death the Leicestershire Mercury described him as a good and true man .... well known as a thoughtful and worthy representative Working Men's views and feelings.

Sources: Leicestershire Mercury, 22 February, 18th April 1840, 2nd January, 24th April 1841, 28 May, 18 June 1842, 20th April 1844, 17 January, 29 August 1846, 10 April 1847, 26 February 1848, 21 May 1853, Leicester Chronicle, 22 April 1843, 9 March 1844, Leicester Journal, Friday 15th October 1841


Joseph Burgess

Born: Failsworth, Lancs. 1853, died:1934 (I.L.P.)

Burgess was from Manchester and went to work at the age of 6 in a card-cutting workshop. His first wife died of TB aged 21. He worked in the hosiery trade and founded the short lived labour newspaper ‘The Oldham Operative’ in 1884, he then worked for the ‘Cotton Factory Times and Workman’s Times.’ He was a member of the I.L.P.’s First national Administrative Council.

“Joseph Burgess editor of the “Workman’s Times” was requested by the Socialists of Leicester and a majority of the Trades Council to contest the bye-election as an Independent Labour Candidate. Burgess agreed and the I.L.P. threw themselves into the work in a vigorous fashion, and the funds for the campaign were furnished by the ‘Clarion,’ ‘Labour Leader,’ ‘Workman’s Times’ and ‘Weekly Times and Echo,’ which had been appealing for weeks past for funds for a bye-election. There were only six days for the fight. An immense amount of work was done, the local Labour men working rapidly. Broadhurst and Hazell got in (Liberals), but Burgess polled 4,402 votes. And so the movement spreads.”( Tom Mann)

In 1895, Joseph Burgess contested the general election polling 400 less votes than the year before. Apparently, the I.L.P. had caused some offence to some electors by conducting election meetings on a Sunday. Burgess' radicalism ended ignominiously, he resigned from the ILP in 1915 following its opposition to the First World War and then became a supporter H.M. Hyndman. He returned to Leicester in 1918 to support T.F. Green, the pro war, anti-MacDonald candidate.

Sources: The Labour Annual for 1896, Bill Lancaster, Radicalism Co-operation and Socialism


 

E. Burns

Born: , died:  (National Union of Railwaymen)

E. Burns became president of the Trades Council in 1915. In November 1916, he presided over a conference on Adult Suffrage in Leicester addressed by Sylvia Pankhurst. He moved that "That this Conference, realising that all men and women have an equal claim to the franchise, calls upon the Government to introduce, not a Registration Bill, but a Franchise Bill, to give a vote to every man and woman who has reached the age of twentyone years." In doing so he mentioned that a very similar resolution had recently been passed unanimously by the Trades Council.

Sources: Woman's Dreadnought, 2nd December 1916


John Butcher

Born: Nackley, Northamptonshire 1833, died: 1921 (Liberal, Co-operator)

John Butcher was born to a Northampton shoemaking family. During his early life, he was a staunch radical and a follower of the Chartist Ernest Jones. He became a manager of a boot and shoe business in Banbury and became the first secretary of the Banbury Co-operative Society and no 1 member. Having become a member of the CWS committee in 1873, he became the driving force behind the expansion of co-operation in Leicester the 1870s. In January 1873, he proposed the construction of a Co-operative Corn Mill to run on a Federal principal, which was duly built. The CWS was already manufacturing biscuits and he told the board that “biscuits were a luxury and boots were a necessity” and on this advice, in September 1873, the CWS opened a boot factory in Leicester in Duns Lane.

Managed by Butcher, the West End works rapidly expanded and became the principal supplier of footwear to every retail society in the country. However, proposals that the workers at CWS works should be made partners and sharers in the profits which they created were rejected. Instead workers initially received a bonus, but no investing or voting rights. In 1876, the CWS abolished the bonus system and difficulties with the workforce arose when the CWS increasingly resorted to cheaper country labour for the finishing processes. The West End works were halted by strikes in 1879 and 1880. In 1876, Butcher had admitted that all the finished work in Leicester was put out to small shops to save money and NUBSO threatened to report the C.W.S. to the T.U.C.

In 1880, Butcher, became the director of a private firm, but returned to manage the CWS factory in 1885 on the death Edwin Dadley. However, his plan to build a branch factory at Enderby, taking advantage of lower rates of pay, culminated in a major strike lasting two weeks. Although the workers did not, obtain any of their demands the legacy of the strike was the creation on the Equity Shoe works when two hundred workers, led by the strike committee, agreed to invest in the new venture. Butcher was none too happy about this new rival: “it was the creation of an aristocracy of labour,” he declared and it was claimed that the CWS brought pressure on several leather suppliers to cut supplies to the infant co-operative. In 1891, the vast new Wheatsheaf works equipped with modern machinery was opened in Knighton Fields with Butcher in charge. Some in the Labour movement, like Jimmy Holmes, saw this modernisation programme as an attempt by Butcher to ‘smash the Equity.’

John Butcher was a friend of Joseph Arch and the Rev. Page Hopps, he was always a keen Liberal, a Free Trader active in the Workmen’s Peace Association and an opponent of vaccination. From 1883-1891, he was a Liberal Town Councillor and also founded a freemason's lodge. He was a member of the Board of the Leicester Co-operative Society for many years, active in the Co-operative Union and was also on the board of the Leicester Co-operative Hosiery Manufacturing Society. He retired from the C.W.S. in 1904.

Sources: Leicester Co-operative Society, (1898) Co-operation in Leicester, Bill Lancaster, Radicalism Co-operation and Socialism


   
Back to Top
 

© Ned Newitt Last revised: August 08, 2018.

Index

A                        

Ba-Bk

Bl-Bz

C

D-E

F

G

H

I-J

K-L

M

N-O

P-Q

R

S

T-U-V

W-X-Y-Z

Other
Articles

 

Contact