Drawings by John Moss
Manchester Politics, Law & Social Reform
William Ewart Gladstone, born on the 29th December 1809,
the fourth son of Sir John Gladstone in Liverpool (then in the
County of Lancashire). William was named after William Ewart,
a close friend of his father. John Gladstone's wealth enabled
him to give his son a good start in life and William was sent
to school at Eton in 1821. In October 1828 he went on to Christ
Church College, Oxford, where, in the Oxford Union Debating
Society he soon developed a reputation as a fine orator. In
time, Gladstone was to become an MP and a successful Liverpool
merchant. Initially he considered a career in the church, but
in the event decided upon politics and was elected as a Tory
Member of Parliament for the Newark Constituency in 1832. His
father was a long-time friend of the Duke of Newcastle which
no doubt worked to his advantage.
By 1834 the young Gladstone had already made his mark in holding
the office of Junior Lord of the Treasury in Sir Robert Peel's
government, and within a year had been made up to Under Secretary
for the Colonies. In July 1839 he married his wife Catherine,
and together they set up a refuge for prostitutes; reputedly,
Gladstone walked London streets at night, trying to persuade
prostitutes to start a new life. By 1841 Gladstone had become
Vice-President of the Board of Trade and became its President
in 1843. In 1844 he was responsible for the introduction of
the Railway Bill. However, in 1845 he lost the patronage of
the Duke of Newcastle who was incensed by Gladstone's support
for the Repeal of the Corn Laws. Having lost his parliamentary
seat, it was not until the 1847 General Election that Gladstone
was re-elected, this time in opposition, as MP for Oxford University.
He remained in the opposition benches until 1859, when Lord
Palmerston, the leader of the Whig Party, offered him the post
of Chancellor of the Exchequer. Gladstone was instrumental in
creating universal suffrage (for men at least), at a time when
it is estimated that only one fiftieth of the working classes
had the vote. Gladstone was to become a Liberal Prime Minister
four times in all. His first government saw the disestablishment
of the Irish church in 1869, reformed the education system in
1870 and established the secret ballot in 1872. His
second government passed the Irish Land Act in 1881 and the
Third Reform Act in 1884. His last two administrations, in 1886
and 1892-94, were dominated by failed attempts to pass the Irish
Home Rule Bill. Even so, in or out of power, Gladstone remained
a vigorous campaigner until his death.
a severe and humourless man of deep conviction and principle,
he was not a favourite of Queen Victoria, who is supposed to
have said of him: "We are not amused!" William
Ewart Gladstone died of cancer in 1898 and is buried in Westminster
Born on the 25th January 1819, lawyer Ernest Jones was an important
figure in the Chartist Movement in Manchester. He spent his
early years on a small estate which his father bought in Holstein
in Germany. By the age of nine he had a story published as well
as volume of poems which was published in Hamburg in 1830 when
he was eleven. By that time, he was showing a clear literary
bias and was already proficient in English, German, French and
Italian.Born into a wealthy middle class family, he and his
parents moved to England in 1838. He married Jane Atherly, the
daughter of an old Cumberland family in 1841 and entered the
Middle Temple in March of that year, being called to the Bar
on 20 April 1844.In 1846 he converted to Chartism and promptly
abandoned law for politics. Jones is credited as being one of
the first Chartists to be influenced by the works of Karl Marx
and he enjoyed a career as a Chartist politician, journalist,
novelist and poet. He was also a novelist, radical and lawyer,
and colleague of Fergus O'Connor (see below). A fellow solicitor,
Jones was first brought to the North West region by O'Connor
to speak at an open air meeting on Blackstone Edge. This was
a Chartist Camp Meeting on a stretch of wild moorland on the
border of Yorkshire with Lancashire.
He was arrested in Manchester on the 6th May 1848 and was subsequently
sentenced to two years in prison for delivering a supposedly
'seditious' speech at Clerkenwell Green in London. He was tried
together with five other prominent Chartists in July of the
same year. On leaving prison, Jones returned to law and opened
a practice in Bow Chambers at 55 Cross Street in Manchester
city centre - a commemorative plaque marks the site. He settled
permanently in Manchester in 1861, returned to a more modest
practice of Law and remarried. Jones did however remain active
in the campaign for universal suffrage and kept in contact with
Marx, with whom he shared the revolutionary principle of drawing
the broad mass of workers into the campaign for democratic reform.
When he died on the 26th January 1869 his funeral at Ardwick
Cemetery was attended by multitudes of his supporters, and the
event became known as the 'last great Chartist rally'.
Celebrated actress and politician Glenda Jackson was born in
Birkenhead on the Wirral Peninsula of Cheshire in 1936, one
of four daughters to a charlady and a bricklayer. She was educated
at West Kirby County Grammar School and later went on to study
at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA). Her professional
stage debut was in Terrence Rattigan's "Separate Tables"
in 1957. A long-time member of the Royal Shakepeare Company,
Glenda had a long, distinguished and successful career as an
actress and was known internationally for her various roles.
Performances included stage and television plays like ''The
Idiot'' (1962), ''Hamlet'' (1965), ''Three Sisters''
(1967), and "Elizabeth R", (1973), and films
including Lindsay Andersons "This Sporting Life"
(1963), Ken Russel's ''Women In Love'' (1969) for
which she was awarded an Academy Award, and ''Mary Queen
of Scots''. In 1971 she was nominated for another Academy
Award for her role in John Schlesingers "Sunday
Bloody Sunday" and won a second Oscar for her role
in ''A Touch of Class'' opposite George Segal. She was
Oscar-nominated once again for her performances in "Hedda"
Other films have included "Stevie" (1978),
"Turtle Diary", (1985), Robert Altmans
"Beyond Therapy" (1985), "Business
as Usual" (1986), "Salome's Last Dance"
(1988) and "The Rainbow" (1989).
She has been Labour Member of Parliament for Hampstead and Highgate
Constituency since 1992, having given up acting for a full time
role in politics. In 1994 she was appointed as Labour Transport
Team Campaigns Co-ordinator. However, she resigned this position
in July 1999 to run for selection as the Labour Party candidate
for the Mayor of London but failed to secure the nomination
in February 2000. Glenda Jackson lives in South London and is
divorced with one son, Daniel. She was made a Commander of the
British Empire (CBE) in 1978.
Hazel Blears was born on 14th May 1956 and raised in Salford.
She was educated at Trent Polytechnic and Chester College of
Law. Before entering Parliament was a solicitor in private practice
and local government from1980-1997. During this period she had
a dual career as a senior solicitor and a North West Councillor
was Chair of the Salford Community Health Council from 1992
to 1996. She was elected as Member of Parliament for Salford
in 1997. Since 2006 she has been Labour Party chair and Minister
Without Portfolio. Prior to this she held several important
govenment positions including Home Office Minister (2003-06),
and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (2001-03).
She is a Trustee of the Working Class Movement Library and National
Museum of Labour History in Manchester, a Member of the Co-op
Commission, Trustee of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance.
Other offices have included Chairperson of Salford Community
Health Council from 1994 to 1997, Chair of the Regeneration
Partnership, President of the Local Government Association,
Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Motorcycling Group, former
Leader of the Parliamentary Campaign Team, as well as being
a Salford City Councillor from 1984 to 1992. Regarded
as a close ally of the former Prime Minister Tony Blair in cabinet
and a frequent spokesperson on government matters to the media.
Hazel Blears resigned from Gordon Brown's cabinet in 2009 in
the wake of a wide-ranging scandal over members of parliament
inflated expenses claims.
Born in 1803, Reginald John Richardson was a self taught master
carpenter who ran a bookshop in Chapel Street, Salford. In 1826
he took part in demonstrations against the introduction of power
1837 he had become secretary of the South Lancashire Anti-Poor
Law Association and in September 1838 he was the organiser of
the Kersal Moor meeting. When the carpenters contributed union
funds to build Carpenters' Hall in Manchester, Richardson acted
as one of the trustees for the money. He was instrumental in
the formation of the Manchester Political Union which later
became the Manchester section of the National Charter Association.
was imprisoned for his radical views on several occasions and
his political ideology encompassed Luddism, Chartism, Women's
Rights and Trade Unionism. A fierce Luddite by nature, he advocated
the use of physical force in demonstrations and was finally
arrested on a charge of seditious conspiracy in 1839. He had
openly maintained "
that the people of this country
had the right to use arms." For
this sedition he served nine months in Lancaster Castle and
on his release, went to Scotland to work as editor of the 'Dundee
Chronicle', a Chartist paper. He died in 1861.
Feargus (sometimes spelt 'Fergus') O'Connor was one of
the most popular and formidable Chartist orators of the day.
Described as "
a natural-born radical leader who
could rouse working men to wrath", O'Connor was born
into a Protestant family in Ireland in 1796, and inherited a
Cork estate in 1820. From the outset he was politically active,
and was instrumental in Daniel O'Connell's winning the Cork
seat in the 1832 General Election. His political views included
universal suffrage and the adoption of the secret ballot - two
of the six points of the Charter that was to occupy so much
of his later life. In November 1836, O'Connor joined the London
Working Men's Association who framed the Charter, and later
he moved to live in Leeds and to open the radical newspaper
'The Northern Star', which he used as an instrument to
promote his own ideas of Chartism. He was a friend and mentor
to fellow lawyer Ernest Jones.
campaign speeches were full of vehement and powerful rhetoric
and of blood and thunder, which soon brought him into conflict
with authorities. In February 1840, O'Connor was jailed for
18 months for seditious libel, but he irrepressibly continued
to edit the 'Northern Star' from his cell. On
release from prison in August 1841 he became leader of the National
Charter Association. He was also arrested for implication in
the so-called Plug Plot of August 1842, for encouraging workers
to strike, but was released through lack of evidence.
failed to survive the 1840s, and as his power and influence
waned, O'Connor's behaviour became increasingly bizarre, possibly
as a result of syphilis, and he was committed to a mental asylum
He died there on the 30th of August 1855.