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Chartist Ancestors
What did your family do in the revolution?

Millions signed the three great Chartist petitions of 1839 to 1848. Thousands were active in those years in the campaign to win the vote, secret ballots, and other democratic rights that we now take for granted.

Chartist Ancestors lists many of those who risked their freedom, and sometimes their lives, because of their participation in the Chartist cause. The names included on the site are drawn from newspapers, court records and books of the time, from later histories and other sources.

I would like to thank the many historians, researchers and the descendents of those associated with Chartism who have helped with this site since it was launched in 2003.

Mark Crail, Editor

History research toolkit
Local and family history groups: full UK list

Local records offices in England and Wales

Local records offices in Scotland

How to...
Make the most of your visit to an archive or records office

Research your trade union ancestors

Find Chartist records in the National Archives

Timelines and statistics
Chartist timeline - 1836-60

Trade unions timeline - 1798-2007

Trade union membership - 1901-2000

Strikes and industrial action - 1901-2000

Mark Crail

Further research
Online resources for Chartist history
Taking your Chartist research elsewhere on the web

Full text books
Contemporary books on Chartism
Chartist autobiographies
Later histories and biographies

Useful websites
Chartist websites
Labour history websites
General History websites

The Way to Universal Suffrage, by Tyne Chartist (1839)

Annual Register 1839 (1840)

The Trial of John Frost for High Treason (1840)

The Trial of Feargus O'Connor, Esq, Barrister at Law, and Fifty-Eight Others at Lancaster on a Charge of Sedition, Conspiracy, Tumult and Riot (1843

A Practical Work on the Management of Small Farms, by Feargus O'Connor (1843)

The people's charter; with the address to the Radical reformers of Great Britain and Ireland, and a brief sketch of its origin (1848)

Breach of Privilege: Being the Evidence of Mr John Bull taken before the Secret Committee on the National Distress in 1847 and 1848, by Thomas Clutton Salt (1849)

Sketches of Reforms and Reformers of Great Britain and Ireland by Henry Brewster Stanton, (1850)

The Purgatory of Suicides, by Thomas Cooper (1850)

The History of the Last Trial by Jury for Atheism in England, by George Jacob Holyoake (1850)

The English Republic, by William James Linton (1851)

History of the Anti-Corn Law League, by Archibald Prentice (1853)

The Battle Day and Other Poems, by Ernest Jones (1855)

An Argument for Complete Suffrage, by W E Adams (1860)

A lecture on democracy vindicated, by Ernest Jones (1867)

The autobiography of a Working Man, by Alexander Somerville (1848)

The Autobiography of one of the Chartist Rebels of 1848, by John James Bezer (1851)

The Life of Thomas Cooper: Written by Himself, by Thomas Cooper (1872)

Who were the Chartists? By W J Linton (1881-82)

Sixty years of an Agitator's Life, by George Jacob Holyoake (1892)

Passages in the Life of a Radical and Early Days, by Samuel Bamford (1893)

Memoirs of a Social Atom, by W E Adams (1903)

Bygones Worth Remembering, by George Jacob Holyoake (1905)


Life and Letters of George Jacob Holyoake (vol 1), by Joseph McCabe (1908)

Life and Letters of George Jacob Holyoake (vol 2), by Joseph McCabe (1908)

Chartism and the Churches: A Study in Democracy, by Harold Underwood Faulkner (1916)

The Chartist Movement in its Social and Economic Aspects, by Frank Rosenblatt (1916)

The Decline of the Chartist Movement, by Preston W Slosson (1916)

A History of the Chartist Movement, by Julius West (1918)

Life Stories of Famous Men: George Jacob Holyoake, by Joseph McCabe (1922)

Northern Star online
This was the main Chartist newspaper, running from November 1837 to the end of 1852. A full-text digital version is now online here. The paper contains reports on numerous local Chartist activities besides detailed coverage of national and international events, and is an unmissable source for historians.

Chartism and the Chartists
Stephen Roberts, who put this site together, has been researching and writing about Chartism for twenty five years. He has edited or contributed to numerous influential books on the movement, and is currently working on a biography of the Christian Chartist, Arthur O'Neill.

National Archives
The National Archives local history section includes a page on Chartism. And there is more in the Learning Curve educational section. Chartist Ancestors has a guide to the National Archives collection of material on Chartism and there is a research guide on making the most of your visit to an archive or local records office on Mytimemachine.

Victorian Web
This general history website for the era has introductory material on Chartism.

Minor Victorian Poets and Writers
Despite its unassuming name, this site has an enormous amount of interesting Chartist material. It includes works by and about Gerald Massey, Ernest Jones, Thomas Cooper and William James Linton - among others. All played an important part in the Chartist movement.

Centre for the Study of Chartism
Home to the Centre for the Study of Chartism at Staffordshire University, which houses the collected papers of the eminent Chartist historian Dorothy Thompson.

John Leech's Chartist sketches
From the launch of Punch in 1841 until his death in 1864, John Leech produced thousands of drawings, more than 600 of which can now be seen online at the John Leech Archive. This will take you to the index listing cartoons and sketches dealing with Chartism.

History Zone
Historian and teacher Richard Brown is using a blog format to add biographies of leading figures associated with the Chartists and to publish a series of articles on the approaches historians have taken to Chartism over the past century or more.
See all entries on Chartism

Chartist lives
Peter McDouall
Gerald Massey
Bronterre O'Brien
Feargus O'Connor
Arthur O'Neill
Robert Philp
Thomas Phillips
Francis Place - part 1
Francis Place - part 2
W P Roberts
Benjamin Rushton
Joseph Rayner Stephens
Joseph Sturge
John Taylor
Henry Vincent
Arthur Wade
Benjamin Wilson
Zephaniah Williams

How historians have interpreted Chartism
Chartism - A Question of Interpretation - part 1

Chartism - A Question of Interpretation - part 2
The growth of labour history, 1880-1940

Chartism - A Question of Interpretation - part 3
Biographies and local studies, 1940-80

Chartism - A Question of Interpretation - part 4
Class, politics and language

Chartism - A Question of Interpretation - part 5
A "linguistic turn": considering Steadman Jones

Chartism - A Question of Interpretation - part 6
Turn and turn again

Annotated bibliography of Chartism
Ursula Stange is an academic at Nipissing University in Canada. She has compiled a useful bibliography of Chartist literature.

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Not primarily a website about Chartism, but thanks to Ben Beck for letting us know about this site, on which can be found the biography of his great, great uncle, George Binns, and quite a few others with connections to Chartism (search on the terms Chartist and Chartism for the list).

Trade Union Ancestors - Trade union family trees and histories, an A to Z of 5,000 British trade unions, and guides to further research.

Working Class Movement Library - Excellent library based in Salford.

Modern Records Centre - Warwick University's collection of trade union archival material and family history guide.

Tribune History - Strike of the month, "old statesmen/women" and more from Tribune Magazine.

Labour Heritage - Organisation promoting the history of the Labour Party

International Institute of Social History

Olden Times - extracts from old newspapers

The union makes us strong - a history of trade unions

Society for the Study of Labour History

Victoria Research Web

Local History Online
Books, news, resources, information, courses and local history contacts. Also a calendar of events and local history books for sale.

History Today The leading UK-based history magazine online. Links to specialist and local records offices, history blogs, timelines and full-text history source material.

Find out more about Chartism on this website, or browse the Chartist Ancestors Bookshop.

More history resources

Trade union history: union family trees,
A to z listing of 5,000 UK unions and more

Dockworkers' union banner

Everything about Chartism and the Chartists

Feargus O'Connor, Chartist leader

History guides and eyewitness accounts from mytimemachine

Tribune History

Tribune Cartoon Blog

Tribune Magazine

More about me

Tribune Cartoon Diary