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Celebrity Drawings by John Moss

Law & Social Reformers of Greater Manchester


Friedrich Engels

Born in Barmen in Germany in 1820, the son of a textile
manufacturer, Friedrich Engels, the German Communist leader,
was to become famous for his friendship and collaboration with
Karl Marx in the writing of “Das Capital” – the first
communist publication. Engels was sent to Manchester by his
father in 1842 as agent for a new Manchester partnership, Ermen
and Engels, of Pendleton in Salford. The company also had office
premises in 5 Newmarket Buildings, Market Street in Manchester,
which later moved to offices at Southgate Street, off Deansgate,
behind present day Kendals Department Store. Engels had met
Marx on his journey to England, and struck up a close and lasting
friendship, sacrificing much of his own political career in
order to support Marx in London. While in Manchester, Engels
became associated with the Chartist Movement, and contributed
many articles in support of the movement to local newspapers
and publications. He was also interested in the social reforms
of Robert Owen.
Engels lived in several places around Manchester including
51 Richmond Grove in Chorlton on Medlock and the former Commercial
Hotel at 63/65 Cecil Street in Moss Side. At one time, fear
for his life on account of his revolutionary beliefs forced
him to go into hiding at 252 Hyde Road with his partner Mary
Burry under the assumed names of Frederick and Mary Boardman.
It was during his residence in Manchester that he met Mary,
a young Irish working-class woman – he was to live with her
until her death, after which he continued living with Mary’s
sister Lizzie. It was these two young sisters who introduced
Engels to the working conditions of the poor in Manchester.
He visited the slum areas of “Gibraltar” (near the River Irk
on Red Bank, Collyhurst) and “Little Ireland” (south-west of
Oxford Road), and was appalled by the filth and degradation
of living conditions in these areas. His experiences and observations
prompted him to write “The Conditions of the Working Class
in England” in 1844, written in German, and only translated
into English some 40 years later. Little Ireland has long since
been swept away, but a Red Plaque still marks where it once
Engels left Manchester in 1844, and made a brief return visit
accompanied by Marx in 1845, and in 18848 he collaborated with
Marx in the writing “The Communist Manifesto” . During
his time in Manchester, Engels wrote for many local newspapers,
such as the “Manchester Guardian” and the ” Volunteer
Journal for Lancashire and Cheshire” . In 1869, he sold his
interest in the Manchester firm which he had held since his
father’s death in 1860. Being comfortably off, and so believing
in Marx’s work, he made him an allowance of �350 a year from
his own pocket. In 1870 he and Lizzie Burns left Manchester,
finally, to live in London and work in promoting the Communist
cause with Marx.
After Marx died in 1883, Engels devoted the remaining 12 years
of his life editing, completing and translating Marx’s work,
choosing to ignore his own considerable writing talents in the
light of what he considered to be a more important cause. Engels
died in London.

Cobden &

Richard Cobden John Bright
– Richard Cobden – & – John Bright –

and (1811-1889)
Due to fierce competition from cheap imported foreign corn in
the early 19th century, wealthy and influential gentlemen farmers
had lobbied the ruling parliamentary party, the Tories, to prohibit
their import by the imposition of Corn Laws in 1815. With this
monopoly in place, British corn rose to prohibitive prices,
making it impossible for the poor to buy bread. The Corn Laws
were seen by ordinary people as a symbol of the dominant ruling
aristocracy’s feudal power over them, and of their unashamed
self interest, at the cost of poor people’s food. Protests by
Lancashire millworkers at the imposition of such severe measures
soon grew.
September 1838, mill owners and local politicians joined protesters
in the formation of an Anti-Corn
Law League
, at the York Hotel in King Street, Manchester,
with George Wilson as its chairman. Support grew so fast that
a temporary wooden hall was built in St Peters Street to hold
protest meetings – it became known as the Free
Trade Hall
(now the Edwardian Hotel). Later a stone building
replaced this original wooden one. Two major figures emerged
as leaders of the Anti-Corn Law movement, Richard Cobden, a
Bolton calico manufacturer, and John Bright, a Rochdale mill
-owner and a Quaker.
Cobden and Bright, both persuasive orators with powerful local
backing, (including Archibald Prentice, radical editor of the
Manchester Times newspaper), succeeded in getting elected to
parliament, (Cobden – MP for Stockport in 1841) where they constantly
lobbied and harassed the Prime Minister, Sir
Robert Peel
(born in Bury). Peel, under severe pressure
from the League and its growing band of ever more powerful supporters,
repealed the Corn Laws in 1846, thereby splitting the Tory party,
and effectively ending his own political career in the process.
Manchester would, henceforth be associated with the principle
of Free Trade.
The former Free Trade Hall, the third and now a fine permanent
stone building, was built later as a monument to honour the
Manchester movement. The
Free Trade hall is now the Manchester Radisson Edwardian Hotel.


Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst was born the daughter of Robert Goulden,
a well-to-do Manchester calico printer. She married Robert Marsden
Pankhurst in 1879. Robert was a barrister and champion of women’s
rights, and the couple soon campaigned together for Women’s
Suffrage. Together they had promoted the Married Women’s Property
Act, and in 1889 Mrs Pankhurst worked as a member of the Women’s
Suffrage League.
When Robert died in 1898, Emmeline was forced to work at the
Registrar of Births and Deaths in Rusholme to support her 4
children; she worked here until 1907, after which her work for
social reform took up all her time. She and Annie
founded the Women’s Social & Political Union (the
WSPU) at her home in Nelson Street (now the Pankhurst
). Their London campaign raised nation-wide awareness.
Later, the movement became more militant, smashing paintings
in Manchester Art Gallery, numerous arrests for protests and
the infamous burning down of the Rusholme Exhibition Hall.
Imprisoned frequently, but her technique of going on instant
hunger strike meant that she was quickly released and only rarely
detained for long. After over 30 years campaigning, the outbreak
of the First World War and 1918 Representation of the People
Act which followed, finally gave he vote to women over the age
of 30. She also worked avidly, though less publically on reforming
the conditions in workhouses. Before she died in 1928, she saw
the final accomplishment when women were granted the vote on
an equal basis with men.


Christabel Pankhurst

Christabel was, from an early age, a co-worker with her
mother. She trained to be a lawyer, and earned the distinction
of being the first ever woman to be awarded a Bachelor of Laws
degree from the Victoria University of Manchester, though prejudice
meant that she had difficulty finding employment, and she was
refused admission to Lincoln’s Inn. It was she who had persuaded
her mother to found the WSPU, and she had thrown herself fully
into the Women’s Suffrage work, largely due to her inability
to find employment as a lawyer.
She was arrested after the ejection of her mother and other
protesters had volubly demonstrated at a meeting in the Free
Trade Hall in Manchester, and after she had refused to pay the
fine, thereby setting a trend which many other protesters were
to follow. A plaque in the former Free Trade Hall, (now the
Radisson Edwardian Hotel), commemorates this event, which marked
the beginning of the militant stage in Women’s Suffrage campaigning.
Christabel was a powerful and charismatic speaker, and campaigned
throughout America, as well as the British Isles. After the
Second Reform Act which conceded all that they had been fighting
for, Christabel left England to live in British Columbia in
Canada, where she eventually became an evangelist in the Second
Advent Church. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in


Chaim Weizmann

Born in Motol in Russian Poland in 1874, Chaim Weizmann
was a famous Zionist leader and celebrated biochemist, whose
family came to live in Manchester in 1904. He was raised as
a traditional Jewish boy and became an enthusiastic supporter
of the Zionist movement for a free Jewish homeland in Palestine.
In Manchester he entered the University of Manchester to read
Biochemistry from 1904 to 1917. He soon established an international
reputation as a leading biochemist, with many practical discoveries
in organic chemistry. During the First World War he was appointed
as Director of the Admiralty Laboratories. He worked on the
development of acetone, a vital element in the production of
smokeless gunpowder.
In the Second World War he developed a process for making synthetic
rubber. In the meantime he had made many powerful and influential
friends in Manchester, including C P
, editor of the “Manchester Guardian” , who supported
him in the Zionist cause, and he was made the British representative
for the movement. He also managed to gain the support of leading
British politicians, including Lloyd George and A J Balfour,
who was largely responsible for influencing the British government’s
stand in favour of the establishment of a Jewish homeland, as
stated in the Balfour Declaration of 1917.
When the state of Israel was founded in 1948, Weizmann, who
had for many years been President of the World Zionist Organisation,
was made the nation’s first President. Living in Israel, he
kept close contact with his Manchester friends and with the
University, as well as supporting the new University of Jerusalem.
lifelong friendship with the Sieff-Marks family (of Marks &
Spencer) was to lead to his joint foundation of the Sieff Institute,
later renamed the Weizmann Institute in his honour. He
died in Israel in 1952, where he is buried.



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This page last updated 6 Jan 12.