Ireland c1862, died: 13th November 1937 (I.L.P.)
McCarthy was from Ireland and arrived in England from Australia and
joined NUBSO in 1892. He worked as a shoe laster and was employed at the
C.W.S. Wheatsheaf works. In 1895, he was elected to the Trades Council. He
was a member of the Board of Guardians for 18 years and was member of the
board of the Leicester Co-operative Society for 13 years resigning in
He was chairman of the Butchery
Committee of the Co-op. Board of Management and it was on his motion that
the dairy department was founded. He was responsible for starting the delivery of milk to Co-op
members. He was also one of the first people to press for a week's holiday
with pay for workers within the boot and shoe trade which was embodied in
the a jealously-guarded feature of the industry's national agreement - the
Holiday Provision Scheme of 1919. He was elected as a national organiser of NUBSO in 1919
and retired ten years later. He stood, unsuccessfully, in Westcotes ward
for the City Council in 1930.
Sources: Leicester Chronicle 7th
November 1929, Leicester Evening Mail 3rd November 1930, 14th Seprember
1934, 15th & 17th November 1937, Richards, T.F. & Poulton E.L.,
Fifty Years: Being The History Of The National
Union Of Boot And Shoe Operatives,
Leicester Co-operative Printing Society, 1924.
died: Lewes 1886
The Rev A. F. MacDonald was a
graduate of Aberdeen who embraced Unitarianism in the early 1830s. He was
pastor at the Royston chapel from 1833-1848 and was also at Newhall Hill
Unitarian Church in Birmingham. He was described as combative personality.
In 1871 was a minister of the Free Christian Church on Narborough Road and
that year he chaired meetings of boot and shoe trade unionists in support
the nine hours movement. According to him:
The nine hours movement was required by the employed in
order that they might have more time for recreation and mental culture.
Some people thought that increased wages would be danger to the working
classes. But he had no more fear that too high wages would be a danger to the
working classes any more than he had a fear that too high profits would a
danger to another class. (Loud applause.)
In 1871, he was also active in
setting up a branch of the Workmen's Peace Association. He moved the
resolution which deemed the means employed for the settlement
of international disputes as costly, barbarous, and opposed to the best
interests of the people. It called for 'the establishment of high court of
nations as a remedy once practical and efficacious.' He was also active in
support of the opening of the Museum on Sundays.
He also gave two lectures in support
of women's suffrage in 1870 and 1871. In 1872, he became secretary of the
newly formed suffrage committee with his wife Ann MacDonald as one of the
committee members. By 1881 he had moved to Sussex.
8th, 15th December 1871, 16 February 1877,
Elizabeth Crawford, The Women's Suffrage Movement in Britain and
Ireland: A Regional Survey, Alan Ruston, Unitarianism In
died: 1911 (I.L.P.& Labour Party)
Margaret MacDonald was educated
largely at home, although attending Doreck College for a short while. As a
young woman she was involved in various branches of voluntary social work,
including working as a visitor of the Charity Organisation Society in
Hoxton. By 1890 MacDonald had developed a keen interest in socialism,
influenced by the Christian Socialists and the Fabian Society. She joined
the Women's Industrial Council in 1894, serving on several committees and
organising an enquiry into home work in London which was published in
1897. She met Ramsay MacDonald through this work in 1895 and they married
Margaret MacDonald's political work
continued after marriage. She was particularly concerned about the need
for skilled work and training for women. She continued to work for the W.I.C
until 1910 and was also an active member of the National Union of Women
Workers. She was a supporter of women's suffrage though she was opposed to
militant action. She served on the executive of the National Union of
Women's Suffrage Societies. Margaret MacDonald was instrumental in
promoting a study in Leicester to investigate any correlation between
women going out to work and infant mortality. She invested her own money
and raised funds so the study could go ahead. Published after her death,
the study showed that there was no conclusive evidence to suggest that
women who went out to work neglected their maternal duties.
In 1906, she was involved in the
formation of the Women's Labour League, retaining an interest in its work
until her death from blood poisoning in 1911. The Baby Clinic was created
as a memorial to Margaret MacDonald and Mary Middleton, who both died in
1911. The goal of the clinic was to offer preventative healthcare to the
children of the poor.
Sources: Shirley Aucott,
Mothercraft and Maternity, 1997
died: 1937 (I.L.P.& Labour Party)
can reasonably be considered one of the Labour Party’s three major
founding fathers. He began in the most disadvantaged of circumstances. He
was born in 1866, the illegitimate son of a poor Scottish girl in
Lossiemouth on the Moray coast. He made his way to London as an
impoverished science student and, significantly, made an early political
appearance as secretary of the Scottish Home Rule Association. But he also
became active in a variety of socialist organisations at that time, the
Social Democratic Federation, the Fabian Society, and eventually the
Independent Labour Party.
In 1899, he was successfully
nominated as candidate for the two member Leicester constituency by
Richards. That year, he toured the country with Richards urging trade
union bodies to support the idea of supporting a working alliance between
the trade unions and the socialist societies such as the I.L.P. and the
Fabians. This alliance was to an extent drawn on the relationship of the
Leicester Trades Council, the Boot and Shoe Union and the I.L.P. in
Leicester. When he stood in the General Election in 1900, it was in the
midst of the Boer War. Whilst he polled no more votes that Burgess, it was
a good vote, given his public antipathy to the war.
In 1900, MacDonald became secretary
of the newly-formed Labour Representation Committee and his career as a
political figure of national stature, had begun. In the years before the
outbreak of the First World, MacDonald exercised a growing and visible
influence over the growth of the young Labour Party. However, unlike
Burgess, MacDonald was regarded sympathetically by the local
Liberal political establishment and it was the personal relationships with
men like Sir Edward Wood that provided the basis of the alliance with the
Liberals. This ‘Progressive Alliance’ between Labour and the Liberals,
brought considerable political and social changes in the Asquith-Lloyd
George era between 1905 and 1914. It was this alliance that ensured his
election in 1906 and in parliament he worked closely with the Liberals on
such issues as Lloyd George’s ‘People’s Budget’ of 1909, the National
Insurance Bill of 1911, and Irish Home Rule.
When he eventually became chairman of
the Labour party in 1911-14 he played a vital role in ensuring that Labour
kept up the alliance with the Liberals despite growing
antipathy to it in his own party. In 1913, he opposed the standing of a
second Labour candidate during the Leicester bye-election of that year and
it was clear that even in Leicester, where he enjoyed enormous prestige,
this continuation of this alliance was now unpopular.
George Banton was
unanimously selected as a candidate in the election, only to be told that
the party had to support the Liberal candidate. Banton dutifully stood
down. Members of the
British Socialist Party and Clarion supporters campaigned under banner of
‘Socialism not MacDonaldism.’
MacDonald was totally against
Britain's involvement in the First World War.
He called for peace through negotiation and maintained
links with his comrades in the German Social Democrats, some of whom were
also anti-war. His views were shared by the
majority of the I.L.P in Leicester and national figures such as James Keir
Hardie, Philip Snowden and George Lansbury. On 5th August, 1914, the
parliamentary Labour Party voted to support the government's request for
war credits of £100,000,000. MacDonald immediately resigned the
chairmanship. He wrote in his diary:
"I saw it was no use remaining as
the Party was divided and nothing but futility could result."
Five days later MacDonald had a
meeting with Philip Morrel, Norman Angell, E. D. Morel, Charles Trevelyan
and Arthur Ponsonby. They decided to form a committee to articulate their
opposition to the war. It became known as the Union of Democratic Control.
MacDonald and the U.D.C. argued that
main reasons for the conflict was the secret diplomacy of people like
Britain's foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey. They decided that the U.D.C.
should have three main objectives:
(1) that in future to prevent secret diplomacy there should be
parliamentary control over foreign policy;
(2) there should be negotiations after the war with other democratic
European countries in an attempt to form an organisation to help prevent
(3) that at the end of the war the peace terms should neither humiliate
the defeated nation nor artificially rearrange frontiers as this might
provide a cause for future wars.
On 1st October 1914, The Times
published a leading article entitled Helping the Enemy, in which it wrote
that "no paid agent of Germany had served her better than MacDonald had
done. " Another article said that "Mr. MacDonald has sought to
besmirch the reputation of his country by openly charging with disgraceful
duplicity the Ministers who are its chosen representatives, and he has
helped the enemy State ... Such action oversteps the bounds of even the
most excessive toleration, and cannot be properly or safely disregarded by
the British Government or the British people."
In the midst of the pro war hysteria directed at
MacDonald and the Leicester I.L.P., their pre-war differences were
forgotten. Although, he was seen as a hero by his local
supporters, the press portrayed him as a pariah figure
and as a little less than a traitor. Ostracised and reviled,
he was expelled from many public bodies; he received white
feathers (a sign of cowardice) through the post and was physically
threatened. Although the first Russian Revolution led him to hope that
negotiations to end the war might start, the new Russian government
continued to fight. At home, public meetings became increasingly difficult
as small groups of 'patriots' draped in the flag tried to storm the
platform In 1918 he was
heavily defeated by J.F. Green a ‘patriotic’ ex-socialist and S.D.F.
member. Shortly after the election MacDonald commented:
The great fight is over. The
combination of hate, credulity, and reaction which we expected was
veritably effected, and the desirable villas of the West united with the
undesirable tenements the Centre to defeat Labour. The abandonment of
principle was wholehearted, and everything was forgotten in the one object
bringing about my defeat.
I had said things which disturbed the complacency of those people whose
conception of foreign politics is the same order a child's conception of
English history. I wrote sentences which were a stumbling-block to them.
They wanted to believe fairies, and whoever said fairies did not exist was
an enemy of society!
In the period 1918-22, MacDonald
emerged rapidly as Labour’s outstanding leader. His reputation as an
anti-war protester, was now a glowing asset as the domestic and foreign
policies of the Lloyd George coalition unravelled amidst unemployment and
international tension. MacDonald was ideally placed to appeal to
embittered trade unionists furious at the government’s betrayal of pledges
to build ‘a land fit for heroes’, to middle-class intellectuals disgusted
by the injustice and stupidities of the Versailles and other peace
treaties and the wider public to whom he seemed a ‘brave new world’
figure, full of hope for a better society.
In 1929, having won the General
election, MacDonald was awarded the freedom of the City, despite
opposition from local Tories. Two years later, MacDonald was prime
minister of an anti Labour ‘National’ government and was reviled as a
traitor by his former colleagues.
In July 1931, MacDonald backed a
proposal that the government should reduce its public spending with a massive
cut in unemployment benefits. The proposal was rejected by the cabinet,
MacDonald resigned and he was persuaded by the King to head a new
coalition government that would include Conservative and Liberal leaders
as well as Labour ministers. The 1931 election saw the loss of the two
Leicester labour MPs. However despite MacDonald’s huge following
Leicester, the formation of the National Government did not create any
splits or divisions in the local Labour Movement.
The Formation Of The Labour Party
-Lessons For Today, Jim Mortimer, 2000, Bill
Lancaster, Radicalism Co-operation and Socialism, Birmingham Post,
30th July 1913, The Times, 1st Oct 1914, Liverpool Echo, 27th December 1918,
John Simkin, Spartacus.
Born Newcastle? c1875, died Leicester, April 1939, (I.L.P.&
Mary Mackintosh had held the post of
Foster Mother within a cottage children's home run by the Board of
Guardians at Countesthorpe. In 1904, she stood as a a Labour candidate for
the Guardians and criticised the Labour representation Committee for only
running two women candidates.
She resigned as Foster Mother at
Countesthorpe in 1917, but the Clerk of the Guardians, Herbert Mansfield,
refused to give her testimonial as to her character. Attempts by Labour
guardians to grant her a testimonial failed. She had her revenge when she
eventually elected to the Guardians in June 1919. She attempted to improve
the conditions for vagrants at the workhouse. The were required to go to
bed at 5pm and wanted males to have straw mattresses as well as the
females. She also wanted better heating arrangements, but this was
rejected by the Liberal-Tory majority. In 1921, she criticised the
guardians for paying different rates of relief to men and women, but her
proposal was voted down. At the time of the 1921 unemployment crisis, she
urged the unemployed to march to the Guardian's office in Pocklington's
Walk and demand relief.
You are entitled to it. Go in an orderly manner and demand what you were
promised last Friday.
When 21 year old Edith Roberts from
Hinckley was sentenced to death for the murder of her new born child in
1921, Mary Macintosh led the campaign for a reprieve and a petition
gathered 30,000 signatures. A reprieve was eventually granted and Edith
Roberts was released. Mary Mackintosh was described at the time as 'a
prominent figure in the local feminist movement.'
She was also a member of the Trades Council.
In 1930 she married William Grieves, a photographer.
Sources: Leicester Pioneer 20th
January 1904, 23rd September 1921, BOG minutes, June 1919, 25th October.
Leicester Daily Post 21st July 1920, Leicester Chronicle 6th August 1921, The Vote, 19th
August 1921, Leicester Mercury 6th April 1939
died: 1939 (Co-operator, Liberal Party, Labour)
Mann was born in Leicester on 16th January 1855, the son of William Mann,
who was a slater. He attended St Mary's and Laxton Street Church Schools, but
started work at nine years of age in a match factory where he earned 1s 6d
a week. Through night schools and his own
appetite for reading he broadened his education. Social, political and religious reform appealed to
him early in life and he took a keen interest in the campaign preceding
the passing of the 1870 Education Bill. He joined the Church of Christ,
where it was customary for members preach and teach without a minister. Being a gifted
speaker, he soon became a preacher where he was able to show a fluency and mastery of language. The Church of Christ, being
run by the laity, strengthened his belief in democracy and during his long
life, his idealism never left him. He was a lifelong abstainer and a
speaker on temperance platforms.
He was a member of Leicester No 1
branch of NUBSO, though by 1903 was a foreman. His first official
connection with the co-operative movement was as one of the founders of
Leicester Anchor Boot and Shoe Co-operative Productive Society, of
which he became the second president and held office for more than twenty
years. He was outstanding among the pioneers of the Anchor Tenants Ltd,
creators of the Humberstone Garden Suburb, being both a shareholder and a
committee member, and he lived there during the latter part of his life.
With other brethren he assisted in the formation of a Church of Christ at
the Garden Suburb which he regularly attended. He subsequently became
active in the co-operative, temperance, trade union and adult education
Amos Mann became a member of the
Leicester Co-operative Society general committee in 1898 but retired in
1900. Then in 1908 he was successful in being elected president of the
society and was re-elected annually to the presidency until he stepped
down in 1936. In 1922 he was elected to the central board of the
Co-operative Union from which he retired in 1936.
Mann was one of Britain's leading
advocates of producers' co-operation. For over thirty years he was
treasurer of the Co-operative Productive Federation, and was one of its
representatives on the joint exhibition committee of the Co-operative
Union and on the co-operative inquiry committee set up by the Co-operative
Congress in Dublin (1914). In 1911 he was elected president of the Labour
Co- partnership Association and in his last years he acted as organising
secretary of this association. Under the auspices of the Labour
Co-partnership Association, and later the Co-operative Co-partnership
Propaganda Committee, he lectured extensively, visiting most places of any
size in the country, and he also contributed many articles to co-operative
periodicals and published various books and pamphlets. One result of his lecture tours was a very much enjoyed
series of travel articles which he contributed to the Leicester
Co-operative Society Magazine. The Leicester Basket Makers (a co-op)
benefited from his special knowledge in the field of co-operative
production when he became their president.
He was elected to the Leicester Town
Council as a Liberal in 1897 for the West Humberstone Ward and, during his
period of office to 1908, he served on the Watch, Parks, Tramways and
Distress Committees. In 1914, he described himself as a radical who would
put the cause of Labour first and party second. He was opposed to the
First World War and represented and assisted conscientious objectors at
military tribunals. This led to him, in 1918, to be briefly adopted as a
Labour candidate for South Leicester Parliamentary constituency. He
withdrew in deference to the attitude of the co-operative society towards
his candidature. He believed that all progressive forces should unite, and
he was a strong opponent of class privilege. By the 1920s and 30s, his
views were a strong mixture of socialism, co-operation and
His other local interests included a
life governorship of the Leicester Royal Infirmary, membership of the
grand council of the Wycliffe Society for the Blind and treasurer of the
Leicester Free Christmas Dinner Fund. He was also a JP. It was said that
there was something prophetic in his being christened Amos, for he turned
out to resemble that ancient Hebrew Utopian reformer and idealist. He died
on 25 December 1939 at the age of eighty-four and the funeral service was
held at the Church of Christ, Humberstone, Leicester.
Sources: H. F. Bing, Dictionary of
Labour Biography, Leicester Co-operative Society, (1898)
Co-operation in Leicester, Amos Mann:
Co-operative Production from the Labour Co-partnership Standpoint
(1913), Democracy in Industry: the
story of twenty-one years' work of the
Leicester Productive Society (Leicester,
1914), Leicester Co-operative Society Magazine, January 1940
Born Leicestershire 23rd March
1791-13th January 1869 (Liberal)
John Manning was a grocer, a town councillor and
prominent member of James Mursell's
Harvey-lane Baptist congregation. At his china tea establishment at 16
High Street you could buy tea, freshly roasted coffee, Malaga raisins,
Seville oranges and all kinds of 'foreign fruit.' He had been baptised in
the Church of England and had been a churchwarden of St. Martin's
until he decided to become a Baptist.
the mid 1830s, there was a sustained campaign by non-conformists against
the compulsory payment of rates to the established Church.
Baines was sent to prison for his refusal to pay Church rates, there
was a huge outcry which result in Baines being elected to the Town Council
whilst in prison.
The churchwardens were undeterred by the support for Baines and persisted in summonsing those who refused to pay. (They had
even been rewarded by the gift of a silver cup and a purse of sovreigns).
John Manning, Albert Cockshaw and
several others were summonsed with the threat of distrait upon their
goods. John Manning said he would rather go to prison than give in and pay
the £1 he owed. He believed the rate to be illegal, but would refuse to
appear in the Ecclesastical Court, since he could not expect justice
there. Susanna Watts, a churchwoman, felt that the Church would lose more
than it would gain by martyring Non Conformists and paid his fine.
However, summonses and distraints continued to be issued from St Martin's
parish until 1849 when the Liberals secured a majority in the Vestry
ending the levy of Church rates in Leicester.
In 1842, he became the first chairman of the Complete
Suffrage Association. which was something of a haven for middle-class
reformers who shrank from the militancy of Thomas Cooper's brand of Chartism. Under the leadership
of Joseph Sturge, they made very similar demands.
In 1848, Manning took the chair at the joint meeting
between the Chartists and radicals which helped create a new alliance in
the town. In 1852, he proposed the radical
Sir Joshua Walmsley in very
glowing terms at the hustings during the parliamentary election of that
year . (He was Mayor of Leicester at the time). In 1856, he supported the
nomination of John Biggs as one of
Leicester's two MPs after the death of Richard Gardiner.
However his support for the radicals soon came to an end
when Sir Joshua Walsley proposed opening of the British Museum on Sundays.
This led to the desertion of many Baptists and Sabbatarians from the
radical camp and in 1857, he helped, with other Baptists to defeat
Walmsley and ensure the victory of the Whig John Harris. The defeat of
such a popular M.P. caused outcry in the town among those not entitled to
In 1859, the Leicester Mercury had still not forgiven
him. That year, Manning had claimed that he had never liked Sir Joshua
from the first to the last. The Mercury replied by reprinting his
speech in Walmsley's praise. It felt that "if eloquence
consists of coarse vituperation, then it must follow that Mr Manning is an
orator in the highest and most expressive sense of the term." It
also noted that in the past he had "laboured conspicuously, honourably
and disinterestedly in the very van of the reforming ranks."
He is buried in Welford Road Cemetery.
Sources: Leicester Mercury, 6th
March, 17th April 1841, 12th March 1842, 28th May 1859, Leicester Journal,
23 April 1841Leicester Chronicle, 3 April 1841,
7 June 1856, A. Temple Patterson,
John Markham's grave in Welford Road
Wilbarston, Northants, died: 27th October 1861 (Chartist leader and
John Markham was said to have lived
and died within a few yards of Belgrave Gate. (in 1851 he lived at no 28,
now the site of the pawnbrokers, Cash Generator) His
schooling was limited and he was self educated, beginning life as a shoe
maker. He was a gifted public speaker and became a Primitive Methodist
preacher, first at George Street where his rebellious nature led to his
departure and then at Denman Street, where his colleagues took umbrage at
his political aspirations. This led him to retire to the ‘private ranks’
of the church.
In February 1838, John Markham urged
the working men of Leicester to cease supporting middle or upper class
politicians who were not prepared to secure the people their rights. He
urged them to form a political association of their own and this led to
the formation of a local anti-Poor Law Society of which he became
In October 1838, the anti-poor law
agitation, the activities of the Leicester Working Men’s Association and
the efforts of the hosiery workers to stop the fall in wages was fused
together into the Leicester Chartists under Markham’s leadership. His name
appears at every phase of the Chartist agitation. He was shrewd and
level-headed and probably the most statesmanlike of the Leicester
Chartists. At the hustings, he was a formidable interrogator, especially
if the candidate was suspected of not being well up in respect of the
‘bill of rights.’ He had no time for insurrectionists and only once did he
use physical force language when he exhorted the Chartists never to think
of violence “until non-resistance would be a crime.” He helped
defeat the Whig candidate in the Nottingham election of 1841 and return an
anti poor law candidate, he also used his influence against the Whigs in
Markham did not share Cooper’s
hostility to the repeal of the Corn Laws. He believed the repeal to be
desirable, but the repeal in itself would not be a panacea to the ills of the
working class. Nevertheless, Markham found himself steadily being eclipsed
by Thomas Cooper.
Markham resented Thomas Cooper’s
assumption of dictatorial power, his impatience with criticism, his
disdainful treatment of the Chartist committee and the violent tone of his
rhetoric. Markham was also disturbed by the unquestioning support that
Cooper gave Fergus O’Connor.
He had no truck with physical force Chartism. In his
view the advocates of physical were the worst enemies of the people,
because: "the nonsense which some had talked about physical
force had only the effect of driving sincere reformers from their ranks."
Early in 1842 there was an open and
furious quarrel between Markham and Cooper and the Leicester Chartists
split into two unequal parties: Markham’s smaller All Saints Chartist
Association and Cooper’s Shakespearean Association of Leicester Chartists.
In 1843, Markham set himself up as an auctioneer and furniture broker and
the All Saints Chartist Association faded.
Like other Chartists, he played no
part in the 1848 Bastille Riots against the Poor Law, though he protested
over the brutal violence used against unoffending citizens. By this time,
with the departure of Cooper and Bairstow,
the divisions amongst the local Chartists had heaked and he was once
again in the
forefront of the movement. With the decline
of the Chartist movement, Markham reached an accommodation with those
middle class radicals who wanted an extension of the franchise. Markham
became a supporter of John Biggs and was elected to the town council for
the North Saint Margaret’s ward in November 1852 and was re-elected in
1855 and 1858 unopposed. During the election of 1852, the Leicester
Chronicle described Markham as a ‘Chartist’ candidate. As a town
councillor, he apparently took every opportunity to raise the claim of the
working classes to the franchise as a natural right. In 1852, he was also
elected as a Poor Law guardian and although opposed to the law, he tried
to ameliorate its harsher provisions, especially at times of depression.
He supported the Sunday League’s
proposals to provide rational recreation of Sunday as a counter attraction
to drinking, but in 1855 opposed attempts to close pubs on Sunday as he
believed it would interfere with individual liberty. He also supported the
Sunday opening of museums. He retired from business, due to heart disease and died aged
59. He was buried in Welford Road cemetery close to the grave of the veteran
radical and political associate George Bown.
Sources: Leicestershire Mercury, 17th
June 1848, Midlands Free Press 2nd Nov
1861 (obit), Leicester Chronicle 1852, 24th February 1855, J.F.C. Harrison, Chartism
published in Chartist Studies Asa Briggs (ed) 1959
Arthur Marriott was an engine driver.
He was president of the Trades Council in 1952 and was delegate from the
Amalgamated Society of Locomotive Engineers And Firemen. He was elected to
the City Council in 1953, but lost his seat in 1959. He was re-elected to
the Council in 1964.
November 1985 aged 76 (Labour Party)
Lily Marriott joined the Labour Party
in 1937 and was renowned for her work in public welfare. She represented
Abbey ward for over thirty years, finally stepping down in 1983. From its
inception in 1946, she served on the Rent Tribunal and was chairman of the
Hillcrest Hospital Committee, the Social Services Committee and was a
member of the Public Assistance committee.
In 1959, she was elected to City
Council for the first time. She became Lord Mayor of Leicester in 1975 and
was awarded the M.B.E. and made a JP. She is commemorated by. Lily
Marriott Gardens, Rowlatts Hill, opened in 1988 and Lily Marriott House in
Sources: Leicester Mercury, 27th
November 1985, Leicester City Council, Roll of Lord Mayors 1928-2000
March 1941; died: May 27th 2004 (Labour Party)
son of a labourer, Jim Marshall was born in Attercliffe, Sheffield. After
elementary school and Sheffield grammar school, he took a BSc and a PhD at
Leeds University, which qualified him to become a research scientist with
the Wool Industries Research Association in Leeds (1963-68). He lectured
at Leicester Polytechnic (1968-74) and worked as a supply teacher and
market trader (1983-87).
His political career began in 1965 on
Leeds council and in 1970 he was the parliamentary candidate for
Harborough constituency and was subsequently elected to the City Council
for Aylestone and later Castle ward. In August 1972, Jim was one of nine
Labour councillors who rebelled over issue of Ugandan refugees. They took
issue with the ‘no room at the inn’ being approach taken by the leadership
of the Labour group. The following year Jim became leader of the group and
at the first meeting of the ‘new’ district council in June 1973 he
declared that it would have an important role in countering the effects
of racialism introduced into the City by the National Front’s election
He first contested Leicester South in
February 1974 and won it the following October. In 1977, at the tail-end
of James Callaghan's premiership, he became an assistant whip. Later he
assistant home affairs spokesman (1982-83) before his Northern Ireland
appointment. In 1983, the Tories won Leicester South by 13 votes and Jim
worked as a supply teacher and a market trader.
On his return to parliament in 1987,
he became deputy shadow spokesman on Northern Ireland (1987-92), when,
with his boss Kevin Macnamara, he developed Labour's scheme for a
devolved, self-governing Northern Ireland. They even proposed that the
troubled province be jointly governed by Britain and Eire.
Jim’s frontbench hopes ended after he
voted for Bryan Gould, rather than John Smith, in the 1992 Labour
leadership contest, and, in 1994, he preferred Margaret Beckett to Tony
Blair. As a northern working-class, leftwing Euro-sceptic, he was out of
sympathy with the Blair project, denouncing the incoming prime minister's
cheerleaders in 1997 as a ‘bloody shower’.
He devoted himself increasingly to
Leicester, where an growing amount of his casework was bound up with
problems of immigration and visas. He was furious at the Tories for ending
appeals on denied visa applications in 1993, he was angered by the
slowness with which the Labour government restored the appeal system and
then hobbled them with charges. He and others dissuaded the Home Office
from demanding a £5,000 bond to prevent overstaying by Asian visitors.
Jim's parliamentary voting record
showed the extent of his unhappiness with his own side. In December 1997,
he voted against cuts in single-parent benefits; in 1998, he opposed the
abolition of student maintenance grants; in 1999, he voted to block cuts
in disability benefits, in 2000, he voted against government limitations
on the Freedom of Information Bill; in 2001, he backed a register of the
royal family's outside interests. He was among the first to oppose the
Iraq war. In June 2003, he defied a three-line whip on the university
top-up fees vote. He died in his office, aged 63, of a heart attack.
The Guardian (obit), author’s personal knowledge
Leicester 17th May 1909, died: March 1987 aged 77 (Labour
Marston went the Brunswick and Curzon Street
Schools. In 1923, aged 14, he started work in the Carriage and Wagon
Department of the London and North Eastern Railway Company. 18 months
later became an apprentice bricklayer with a local building firm and
was for many years a building general foreman
with the Leicestershire area Health Authority.
He joined the I.L.P. in 1928 was a
member of AUBTW (later UCATT) from 1928, becoming was its secretary from
1939. He was an Executive member of the Trades Council and was first
elected to the City Council in 1945 for De Montfort ward. He lost this
seat in 1949, but was re-elected in Abbey Ward in 1953. He was Vice Chair
of City Leicester Party (1958) and was leader of the Labour Group from
1966 to 1973. He was Lord Mayor in 1969 and an Alderman until 1973, when
the title was dropped.
In 1972, when the Amin government
started the expulsion of Asians from Uganda, Labour had just regained
control of the council and Ted Marston was leader. He was faced with
numerous petitions circulating against imminent arrival of refugees and
pressure from the Leicester Mercury which published racist letters
purporting to show how ‘the people’ of Leicester viewed the coming of the
Ugandan Asians. Faced with this situation, the Labour leadership gave way
and sent a deputation to Whitehall to tell the government that Leicester
was full up.
“We urged that the Minister should use his influence to
direct these people to other towns and cities where they would have more
opportunities than in Leicester.”
On 15 September 1972 (and for three
subsequent weeks) the Council placed a half page advert in the Ugandan
Argus declaring that there was no more room for Asians in the City,
urging the refugees not to come to Leicester. There was a revolt against
this descent into xenophobia by nine Labour councillors led by Cllr Rev
Billings whose dissent saved the Labour Party from complete ignominy. The
following year Ted Marston lost his leadership of the Labour group to
Marshall, one of the rebels. In 1976, Ted Marston lost his seat. He was
commemorated by Marston House, St Matthews Estate which has now been
Sources: Leicester Mercury, 31st
August 1972, and 16th March 1987, Valerie Marett, Immigrants Settling
in the City, 1987
Staffordshire, 1865, died Leicester 1956 (I.L.P.& Labour Party)
Martin went to Church Eaton, Grammar School and started work at the age of
12 as a grocer’s errand boy. He was then apprenticed as a clicker in the
shoe trade and had the usual experience of seasonal unemployment. In 1891,
he joined NUBSO and was soon elected to various positions within the
union, including national auditor. He was employed at the C.W.S. boot
Amos Martin was noted for his special
work in the area of figures. He was described as shrewd, calculating and
level headed. Apparently he did not give the impression as one who had
passionate feelings. However, he fought tenaciously and fiercely for the
interests of the poor at the meeting of the Guardians. He was respected by
his opponents, though there were some who hated him because of his “down
right manner of speech and brutal bluntness of manner.”
He was elected to Board of Guardians
in 1907 and served for 17 years. He became leader of the Labour
Guardians and was Vice Chair of the Board in 1916. At various times he was
President & Vice Chair of the Leicester Labour Party. In 1946,
although he wanted to retire, he was still serving as one of the Council's
Sources: Leicester Pioneer, 24th
February 1924, Leicester Evening Mail 21st January 1946, 21st November
1956. Election address 1923
Hinckley c1823, died: 1880
Mrs Mason was a seamer and became
secretary of the Seamers and Stitchers Society when
relinquished the post. The union was founded in 1874/5 with the help of
George Newell, the Leicester Hosiery Unions and the Women’s Trade Union
League. Mrs Mason recruited women from Leicester and the surrounding
villages and within a few months she had recruited 3,000 members. By 1875
the union had established an out of work benefit scheme. Organising women
outworkers was a sizeable achievement and Mrs Mason must have been someone
of remarkable determination and perseverance. According to Mrs Fay, another
union member, it meant she had to go from place to place in all weathers
to hold meetings, walking miles on dark lonely roads.
She became the first woman delegate
to the Trades Council in 1875 and, in 1877, the first woman to address the
TUC. However the rise of factory production and a decline in trade sent
the fortunes of the union into decline and with her early death from
emphysema and bronchitis, the Union’s organisational power was greatly
diminished. The union lost 2,000 members, became insolvent and, by 1882,
had merged with the men’s hosiery union.
Sources: Midlands Free Press 13th
March 1875, Bill Lancaster, Radicalism Co-operation and Socialism,
Richard Gurnham, The Hosiery Unions 1776-1976, Aucott, Shirley,
Women of Courage, Vision and Talent
Middlesbrough, c1875 (Certified Teachers' Association)
Will Maw came to Leicester in 1902
from Lincolnshire. He became a delegate to the Trades Council from
National Federation of Class Teachers in 1909 (later Certificated
Teachers' Association.) During First World War, he served with the
Leicestershire Regiment. He became president of the Trades Council 1930
and was its General Secretary from 1932-45.
Born: 1827 died: February
19th 1888 (Leicester Democratic Association & Liberal)
Dan Merrick was a stockinger and was
the able leader of the Sock and Top Union of framework knitters formed in
1858. The union had 800 members at its peak in 1870. Merrick was a tall,
thin man and described being “as aesthetic as a cardinal…. poor of
purse, feeble of body, but strong in mind and great in his love of
humanity.” His thinking and sincerity and the firm way he gave
expression to his views made him a great power in his day, despite having
a thin and rather squeaky voice. He became the grand old man of trade
unionism in Leicester.
As a young man, Merrick was a
Chartist supporter, regularly attending Chartist meetings and taking part
in processions. His book: The Warp of Life (1876) contains eye
witness accounts of Chartism and Chartist demonstrations in the 1840s. He
was also a member of a short-lived co-operative society started by
Cook which sold potatoes and flour from a stall in Humberstone Gate in the
late 1850s. He was a member of the first Co-operative Hosiery
manufacturing Society formed in 1869 and on the breaking up of that
society, he took part in the movement for carrying on the business under
the auspices of the Hosiery Union. He became a member of the board of
management of the second manufacturing society and held that position
until his death. Although a member of the Leicester Co-operative Society,
he did not join its board until 1878, becoming its secretary and then its
president in 1885.
Framework knitters had been opposed
to the practice of middlemen renting out knitting frames to stockingers
since the 1840s and before. Merrick gave evidence on the subject to the
Commission into the Truck System in 1871 and, along with Robert Bindley,
was subsequently successful in the campaign for legislation to abolish
frame rents and charges.
In January 1871, he was elected, as
part of the Liberal slate, as a working man candidate to the School Board.
He was re-elected many times and served on the board until his death. His
first election was supported by the newly formed Democratic Association.
The political aims and objects were to organize the newly enfranchised
working-class voter to support the call for universal suffrage. The
Association was in reality the organised working-class section of Radical
Liberalism. The Democratic Association also pressed for the speedy
establishment of Board Schools and against the use of rates to pay the
fees of denominational schools. When the Democratic association, became
the Republican Association he spoke on its platform.
In the after-math of the Franco
Prussian war, he helped found the Workingman’s Peace Association, which
called for international arbitration to settle disputes.
Merrick became the first working man
to be elected to the Town Council. At the time there was a property
qualification for councillors, all of whom had to declare they were worth
£1,000. Merrick had little money, but a sum of £1,000 was paid into his
account by his admirers. He looked forward to the time that working people
could succeed in sending a representative of their own class to the House
of Commons. He lost his council seat in the elections of 1876.
Merrick was deeply religious, a Congregationalist, and a member of the
Oxford Street Chapel. He was a Sabbatarian and in the 1870s was a leading
opponent of opening of the Museum and Free Public Library on Sundays,
despite the benefits it would bring to those who worked on the other days.
In 1871, Merrick had chaired the
first meeting to publicise the Nine Hour Movement which was inspired by a
strike of Newcastle engineers. The demand for a 54 hour week was taken up
by the local trade unions and the press published lists of local employers
who had agreed nine hour days.
In 1872, he
became the first president of the Leicester and District Trades Council
and remained president until 1885. Initially the Trades Council
represented just eight societies and was formed in the midst of the
controversy over the 1871 Criminal Law Amendment Act which made picketing
a criminal offence. Following a campaign, a new law, the Conspiracy and
Property Act (1875) permitted peaceful picketing.
During the 1870s and
1880s, the Trades Council entered into the mainstream of working-class
politics, endorsing candidates to the Town Council and School Board with
close ties to the Liberal Association. Both Merrick and
nominated the Liberal parliamentary candidate McArthur in 1886. In 1877, Merrick became president of
the Trade Union Congress for its meeting in Leicester and was nominated
for the office of JP in 1886 by the Trades Council.
Leicester Journal, 22nd
September 1871, Midlands Free Press 25th
February 1888, Leicester Daily Post 21st February 1888,
Leicester Co-operative Society, (1898) Co-operation in
Lancaster, Radicalism Co-operation and Socialism
November 2005 aged 82 (Labour Party)
Middleton was dominant figure within local government during the 1970s and
early 1980s. He was educated at a grammar school in Southampton and went
to Oxford university where he obtained degrees in modern history and
theology. He did his national service in the RAF, including active service
in Malaya. In 1955, he came to Leicester to become vicar of a the parish
covering St Matthews Estate and. in 1970, he was elected to the City
Council. Following Jim Marshall’s election to parliament, he became leader
of the council from 1974-76 & and again from 1979-82. He became a
Leicestershire County Councillor in 1973 and served as leader of the
County Labour Group. He did much to move the City Council towards a
positive and inclusive approach towards the new communities then making
their home in the City.
Sources: Leicester Mercury 1st
In 1934, Jimmy Miller was secretary
of the Leicester Unemployed Broad Council. It was not connected to the
N.U.W.M. and claimed to be non-political and only concerned with
remedying the lot of the unemployed. It opposed the means test and
organised some local protest marches. By 1936, Jimmy was assistant secretary
of the Leicester Anti-fascist Committee. The local fascists were very
active in writing to the press and from 1934 Jimmy Miller had made the
argument against fascism on the letters pages. He was Jewish and also
active in the Co-operative movement. He was subsequently elected to the L.C.S. board.
In 1950, as a member of Leicester Peace Committee, he was
one of its two delegates who went to a conference in Warsaw. In 1950, the
British Peace Committee which
was frequently described as the "communist sponsored" was busy collecting
signatures on a nationwide petition calling on the British
Government to reopen negotiations for the prohibition of all atomic
weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
Sources: Leicester Evening Mail 19th
April 1934, Leicester Mercury 13th
May 1936, 30th November 1950.
Kilmarnock, Scotland, 18th
November 1887 (I.L.P.& Labour Party)
Minto was born in a two-roomed cottage where he was the youngest of six
children. He and he left school at the age of 11 and was apprenticed as an
engineer and worked in the shipyards. He joined the I.L.P. in 1906 and was
active as a propagandist, being associated with
James Maxton. After
working as a ship’s engineer, he joined the Royal Engineers during the
war, working on anti-aircraft searchlights, rising to the rank of
After a period of unemployment he
came to Leicester in 1919, where he was again out of work for six months.
During this time he became secretary of the unemployed committee and with
Jack Binns published “The Unemployed Workers’ Bulletin.” (no copies
are known to exist)
He was elected to the Town Council
for Newton Ward in 1922 and continued as a City Councillor until 1945. He
was elected Lord Mayor in 1944. During the 1920s, he stood three times as
Parliamentary Labour Candidate for, but was defeated each time by narrow a
He was a “fluent and convincing
speaker and spent twenty years as a lecturer on Literary and Historical
matters..” He was active in the Socialist Sunday School movement and
in the Left Book Club during the 1930s. He became leader of the Labour
Group in the early 1950s and was chair of the Watch Committee in the mid
1950s. He worked as an engineer for the LCS maintenance dept. for most of
his time in Leicester.
Sources: Leicester Pioneer, 14th
March 1924, Leicester City Council, Roll of Lord Mayors 1928-2000, Howes,
C. (ed), Leicester: Its Civic, Industrial, Institutional and Social Life,
Leicester, February 13th 1880 died: February 1958 (I.L.P.&
Albert Monk attended Lethbridge Road
School and left at the age of 13 to work in a boot factory for 4/6 per
week. He joined NUBSO aged 14. He was unemployed for 5 months in 1903 and
the following year left the shoe trade to work as a ‘spare’ conductor on
the old horse-cars (horse-drawn trams) and was paid 21/- for a 60 hour
week. By this time he had married the daughter of John Riley. Having
joined the old Tramway and Vehicle Workers Union, he was elected branch
secretary in 1911 and in 1913 became a full-time official. After the war
he continued as an official for the united Vehicle Workers’ Union and then
the Transport and General Workers’ Union.
He was secretary of the Trades
Council for 1916-17 and its president in 1923. He was also secretary of
the Labour Party during WW1 and was elected to the Town Council for
Aylestone in June 1921. Though was subsequently elected for Castle.
Sources: Leicester Pioneer, 7th
Born: West Bromwich,
After the death of her trade unionist father Henry
Wright, Angelina Wright’s family returned to Leicester, c1885. She married
and had several children. When the First World War came, it found a
determined and consistent opponent in Mrs Moore. During the food
shortages, she campaigned to get the Food Control Committee to institute a
fairer system of rationing and transferred he interests to the world of
politics. She became active in the Women’s Section of the Labour Party and
won a seat on the executive. She was active in support of George Banton’s
election campaigns and became secretary of the Spinney Hill I.L.P. She was
also active in the Co-op Women’s Guild and was elected to the L.C.S board.
Sources: Census returns, Leicester Co-operative Magazine
(I.L.P.& Labour Party)
G.W. Moore was a member of Board of
Guardians and in 1908 became its first Labour chairman. We was of the view
that the guardians' powers should be passed to local authorities.
He was a stonemason by trade and was elected to the Town Council for Abbey
ward in 1909 and resigned in 1910. This followed his appointment as clerk
of works building an extension to the Council's Belgrave power station
which provided power for the trams. He was Vice-chairman of the Labour Representation
Committee 1903-1907 and its financial
George Moore was either a member or active supporter of
the Women's Suffrage Society (Suffragists) and was campaigning on their
behalf in 1906.
Sources: Leicester Daily Post 7th December 1906, 17th April 1908, 9th
July, 30th September 1910
Born: Leicester, c1899
Horace Moulden was born in Leicester
and left school at the age of 13. After spending a year in a drapery
store, he entered Hall and Earl’s hosiery factory to learn ‘fleecy’
knitting in 1913. Trade was booming and his apprenticeship was
consequently a short one. Within a month he was working a full twelve-hour
shift. In the following year he left to become a knitter at Stibbe’s
factory and, excepting four years’ war service, stayed there until his
election to the Leicester Hosiery Union secretaryship thirteen years
later. His qualities as leader were soon recognised. In 1921, he became
the collector and shop steward (although the term was not used then) at
Stibbe’s. Two years later he was elected to the executive of the Leicester
Union and in 1927, following Chaplin’s death, he became one of the
youngest trade union secretaries ever appointed in the industry.
He was described as a strikingly
handsome man who was at ease in any company and looked every inch a
leader. He was a fine orator who could apparently sway
During the 1930s he attempted to
bring all the hosiery unions together into a national union, but the
attempt failed. In 1944, a second attempt succeeded and a National Union
was formed. He was general president of the new National Union of Hosiery
workers from 1945-1963.
Sources: Richard Gurnham, 200
Years, The Hosiery Unions 1776-1976
died ? (Labour Party)
In 1948, Tamil Mukherjee
came from India
the Boot and Shoe trade at the Leicester College of Technology and
Commerce. His grandfather had been a barister in Delhi. He was delegate to
the Trades Council
National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives and in 1958 became its
He was a buyer for Freeman, Hardy and Willis, Ltd. He is also referred to
as R. Mukherjee in some press reports.
Sources: Leicester Evening Mail, 22nd January, 7th
Anthony Mundella MP in 1874 (The Bee-Hive)
Anthony John Mundella
Born: Leicester, 28th March 1825, died 21st July 1897
(Chartist and Liberal Party)
Mundella's political career as a Nottingham councillor, Sheffield MP and
cabinet minister are dealt with
article deals with his early life in Leicester.
the son a refugee. His father, Antonio (sometimes Anthony) Mundella, was a
native of Monte Olimpino, near Como in Italy, who fled to England in 1820
after an ill fated attempt to end Austrian rule.
He settled in
Leicester, where he married Rebecca Alsopp. Although Antonio was a
Catholic, Rebecca was a Unitarian
and she was employed as a frame-work knitter and lace
originally set himself up as a teacher of languages, but had difficulty
finding any pupils. Rebecca taught Anthony from infancy and
from her he acquired a passion for books, to which he ascribed much of the pleasure
of his life and much of his success. He later said that he never went to
bed without reading a page of Shakespeare.
attended the Anglican 'county school' or St. Nicholas National School whose syllabus
seemed to be that of reading the Bible aloud and of reciting English poets,
In August 1832 Anthony participated in a
procession through Leicester in support of the Reform Bill and was one of
2,000 local boys who marched at the front wearing special caps and medals.
Mundella carried a banner which brought him to the attention of the school
authorities who promptly expelled him. (The Leicester Journal had
described the procession as a 'vile rabble.')
According to the Leicester Chronicle
Muddela's banner was probably a large flag
of yellow silk which bore the motto, "THE NATION'S HOPE," and
it preceded upwards of 4,000 Boys, with 600 Flags, inscribed: "An Educated
People," "Ours and our Fathers' Rights," " Learning is a Sceptre," "
Ignorance is a great Evil," "Let Reason rule," " Our Native Country,"
"Learn, and be wise," " Tyrants cannot take away your Knowledge."
was readmitted after his parents had paid a
His formal education was brought to an
abrupt halt in 1835 when his parents were forced to remove him from
school. This was due to the loss of family earnings when his mother lost
work as a result of her failing eyesight. Aged 10, he was employed as a
printer's devil for a local firm and after
nearly two years of drudgery, at
the age of eleven,
he was apprenticed to Mr. Kempson, the hosiery manufacturer.
He attended classes
at the Leicester Mechanics'
Institute, stole time from his hours to study and completed his
apprenticeship in his 18th year.
accounts stress Mundella's humble beginnings and the part his mother
played in sustaining the household through her by her skill and taste in
lace making. Although they mention that his father had no trade or
profession and had intended to enter the Church, they neglect to mention
that Antonio ran a pawnbrokers shop in Orchard Street in the heart of
Leicester's slums. During the 1840s, he was often a witness in court, when
his customers were prosecuted for selling him stolen goods. (Antonio was
an active radical and in 1857, he was remanded in custody for threatening
to shoot the whig John Dove Harris who was standing against the John Biggs
and Joshua Walmsley. Dove Harris was regarded as a renegade. Antonio
also got in trouble for his savage dog and for drunkenness)
Aged 12 or 13 Anthony he was a scholar at Harvey Lane Sunday school, where
his superintendent remembered him as a red hot republican. His father's history and sufferings
had made him a
hater of oppression and misgovernment and that must have influenced the
young Mundella. At the height of the Chartist agitation in 1842, Anthony attended Cooper's lectures and readings at the Shakespeare Room in
Humberstone Gate. He also attended debating classes at the All Saints Open
and at the Gallowtree Gate chapel. (now Boots) At the age of fifteen, he made his first political
speech in support of the Charter. Thomas Cooper
young man sprung upon our little platform and declared himself on the
people's side, and desired to be enrolled as a Chartist. He did not belong
to the poorest ranks, and it was the consciousness that he was acting in
the spirit of self-sacrifice, as well as his fervid eloquence, that caused
a thrilling cheer from the ranks of working men.
Cooper had a
strong influence of Mundella and at the age of fifteen, had already
heard Radical and Anti-Corn Law songs of his own composition sung in the
streets. Mundella had a mighty bass voice which was a singular advantage
to any politician in the days before microphones.
In 1845, he married Mary (d.
1890), daughter of William Smith, formerly of Kibworth Beauchamp in
Leicestershire. The marriage lasted forty-six years.
At nineteen he was engaged as a manager by Messrs. Harris &
Chartist sympathies were shared by his employer William Harris and in 1848
Mundella emerged briefly as a local Chartist leader. At a Chartist meeting
held in the Amphitheatre, he seconded John Markham's motion calling on the
Queen to dismiss her Ministers and call to her council persons who would
make the Charter cabinet question. Both Harris and Mundella supported the
political accommodation between Biggsite middle-class radicals and Chartist
In 1848, aged 23, Anthony was taken into partnership by Messrs. Hine &
Co., hosiery manufacturers in Nottingham, and moved from Leicester.
1845, he married Mary (d.
1890), daughter of William Smith, formerly of Kibworth Beauchamp in
Leicestershire. The marriage lasted forty-six years.
The extremely short Mundella
Street off Kimberley Road was named after him sometime in the early 1890s,
whilst the Mundella School, Overton Road, was opened in 1939. Wood and
metalwork rather the Shakespeare seem to be at the core of the curriculum.
Sources: Leicestershire Mercury 22nd April 1848,
26th May 1939, Leicester Chronicle 25th August 1832, 29th April 1848, 7th
& 28th March 1857, 24th July 1897, Leicester Journal 23rd & 30th July
1897, Leicester Daily Post 28th July 1897, The Bee-Hive 4th April 1874 Thomas
Cooper: The Life of Thomas Cooper, 1872.
Born: Leicester, June 1872,
died March 1923 (I.L.P. & Labour Party)
Murby came from an old Aylestone family and went to St. Martin’s school,
leaving at the age of 14. (He went to school with the W.E. Hincks who was
later a Liberal councillor) After working for a printing firm where he was
injured in an accident, he became a clicker. Following a period of
unemployment, he found work at the C.W.S. Wheatsheaf factory. He stayed
there for two years before working for the Co-operative Self Help Boot and
Shoe Works in Aylestone Park, where he became a member of the committee.
Murby came from a non-conformist
stock and was an active Wesleyan and secretary of the bible class at
Aylestone Road Chapel. He came in contact with W.E. Wilford, who
introduced him to Tolstoy and he joined the I.L.P. in 1903. Together with
him they founded the South Leicester Labour Church, which was described as
one of the most successful Sunday meetings in the town; Murby was
president. He was described as being “powerfully religious, but
socialism adorns his religion……Like so many Socialist speakers, his
oratorical skills have been forged on the anvil of necessity. If you
survive, no audience has terrors for you. Murby survived.”
He was elected as a town councillor
for Castle ward in 1909 and soon became a prominent figure in the local
I.L.P, being its chairman in 1913-16. Following refusal of the Labour
Party nationally to support the candidature of
Geo Banton for
parliamentary by-election, he gave his support to the British Socialist
Party’s candidate Hartley. He spoke against Britain's entry into
World War One and was active in the local branch of the Union of
In 1917, he became the Midlands representative
on I.L.P. NAC (executive). He was a member of NUBSO No 2 branch. He later
worked for NUBSO as manager of its National Health Insurance Dept and he
held this position until his death. His wife Mrs J.W.
Murby was elected to the Leicester Labour Party Executive in 1915, they
were married in 1898
Sources: Leicester Pioneer, 26th
October 1907 & 12th October 1912
holding a stone thrown by a supporter of Thomas
Cooper at the New Hall (former lending
library) during a Complete Suffrage meeting. (1886)
Born: Lymington, Hampshire c1799, died: 1885
James Mursell succeeding Robert Hall
at the Harvey Lane Chapel in 1826. He was later minister at the Belvoir Street Particular Baptist Church.
During the agitation prior to the 1832 Reform Bill he firmly established his radical
credentials . He
ministered in the town for fifty years, during which time he married three
times. Mursell was one of the promoters of the old Mechanics' Institute,
which provided lectures, education and books to working people when when
free libraries were undreamt of. He then had distinguished himself in 1837 by his efforts to secure
financial support for the Proprietary School, (now the New Walk Museum).
which was the Nonconformists' answer to the Anglican Collegiate School in Prebend Street.
Mursell was a staunch political
Radical. In 1838, wrote a series of letters on "The rights of
labour" and was an advocate of 'Negro' emancipation, the repeal of
the corn laws, the abolition of Church-rates, and the disestablishment of
the State Church. He was one of the founders of the. Liberation Society,
founded in Leicester and known also as the 'Anti-State Church Society.'
He was also one of the originators of the Leicestershire Mercury, and one
of its frequent contributors before it merged with the Leicester
Mursell was one of the few
prominent middle-class men in Leicester to declare his sympathy with the
Chartists. According to Thomas Cooper,
he told a Chartist meeting: “Men of
Leicester, stick to your Charter! When the time comes,
my arm is bared for Universal Suffrage!”
Apparently he never attended another Chartist meeting, though he was
eagerly looked for and the cry “Where’s Parson barearm?” was heard
subsequently at Chartist meetings.
In March 1842, he became one of the founders of Leicester
Complete Suffrage Association which represented the left wing of largely
Baptist elements amongst middle class radicals.
Thomas Cooper was extremely hostile to the
Complete Suffragists and when they engaged Henry Vincent to speak in July 1842,
Cooper successfully disrupted the meeting. Cooper's
Shakespearian Chartists occupied the platform and attempted to put
in the chair in the place of Mursell, however the Complete Suffragists resisted.
stalemate ensued: the ladies were asked to leave
and Henry Vincent did not deliver his lecture. Further rowdy scenes
followed at the close of the meeting, 23 panes of glass were broken by
stones and people assaulted. Vincent gave his lecture the following night
at a ticket only event. Mursell regarded Thomas Cooper as an
described the Shakespearian Chartists as “the lowest rabble in
Leicester with Cooper at their head.”
In 1845 the Harvey Lane chapel became a school room and
the Harvey Lane congregation, led by the Reverend Mursell, moved to a new
Baptist chapel in Belvoir Street (the Pork Pie
Chapel) which had been designed by the leading architect
In 1863, during the American Civil war a local
Emancipation Society was formed to support Lincoln's commitment to abolish
slavery. Although Mursell had been involved with the anti-slavery movement
from the 1830's, he declined to give his support claiming that he did not wish to favour
either North or
South. This was most likely in deference to the preponderance of
14th February 1863,
Leicester Chronicle, 6th
March 1886, A. Temple Patterson,
Leicester 1954, The Christian Herald and Signs of Our Times 18th November
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© Ned Newitt Last revised:
May 11, 2021.
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