Thomas Hardy (political reformer)

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Thomas Hardy (3 March 1752, Larbert, Stirlingshire, Scotland[1] – 11 October 1832, Queens Row, Pimlico, London[1]) was an early Radical, the founder and also the first Secretary of the London Corresponding Society.

Early life[edit]

Hardy was born on 3 March 1752, the son of a merchant seaman. His father died in 1760 at sea while Thomas was still a boy. He was sent to school by his maternal grandfather[1] and later apprenticed to a shoe maker in Stirlingshire. He later worked in the Carron Iron Works. As a young man, he came to London just before the American Revolutionary War. In 1781 he married the youngest daughter of a carpenter and builder named Priest from Chesham, Buckinghamshire and had six children, all of whom died in infancy. His wife, pregnant with her sixth child died in childbirth on 27 August 1794, her child being stillborn. In 1791 Hardy opened his own boot and shoe shop at 9 Piccadilly, London.[1]

Involvement with the London Corresponding Society[edit]

Main article: 1794 Treason Trials

Around 1792, Thomas Hardy founded the London Corresponding Society, starting out with just 9 friends. Two years later it had grown so powerful that he was arrested by the Crown on charges of high treason. The charges were prosecuted with Sir John Scott leading for the Crown, and William Garrow[1] among the prosecuting counsel; while Hardy was defended by Thomas Erskine. He was acquitted after 9 days of testimony and debate.[1]

Death and legacy[edit]

Hardy's monument in Bunhill Fields burial ground

In later life Hardy ceased involvement in politics, and with the assistance of friends set up a small shoe shop in Tavistock Street, Covent Garden[1] and in September 1797 he moved to a smaller establishment in Fleet Street.[1] He died on 11 October 1832 and is buried at Bunhill Fields burial ground, where a tall granite obelisk, designed by John Woody Papworth, was later erected to his memory.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Emsley, Clive. "Hardy, Thomas (1752–1832)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Historic England. "Monument to Thomas Hardy, East Enclosure (1396521)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 8 June 2014.