Rotunda radicals

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The Rotunda radicals were a diverse group of London radical reformers who gathered around the Blackfriars Rotunda after 1830.

Terminology[edit]

They were known at the time as Rotundists or Rotundanists. The Rotundists were identified by one historian as the followers of William Lovett.[1] Lovett belonged to the Radical Reform Association which in the summer of 1830 was holding weekly meetings at the Rotunda.[2] Graham Wallas, however, stated that "Rotundanist" was used for the membership of the National Union of the Working Classes (NUWC);[3] the Rotunda was an organising venue for Henry Hetherington and James Watson in running the NUWC.[4]

Page of ephemera from Wellcome Collection, concerning the use of the Rotunda for an "Equitable Exchange Bank".

Uses of the Rotunda[edit]

In May or June 1830 Richard Carlile took over the Rotunda, and it became a centre for radical lectures and meetings. Carlile borrowed £1275 to renovate and lease the place, backed by William Devonshire Saull and Julian Hibbert.[5] Lectures then continued in the room where Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Hazlitt had spoken when the Surrey Institution was housed in the Rotunda, with a capacity of about 500.[6] Carlile lectured and Robert Taylor preached there, with invited speakers.[7]

Henry Hunt presented a petition to Parliament on 5 September 1831, with signatures from a Rotunda meeting; it asked for "the Liberation of those Imprisoned for selling cheap Publications in the Streets".[8] John Gale Jones spoke there in 1830–1,[9] Zion Ward in 1831.[10] Eliza Sharples started her speaking career there in 1832.[11] There were also waxworks and wild beasts.[12]

James Elishama Smith gave his Lecture on a Christian Community at the Rotunda, as the headquarters of the National Union of the Working Classes,[13] in 1833; Carlile had given up the lease in 1832.[14] From 1833 it had a period called the Globe Theatre.[12]

References[edit]

  • Christina Parolin (2010), Radical Spaces: Venues of popular politics in London, 1790–c. 1845; Google Books.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Clement Boulton Roylance Kent, The English Radicals; an historical sketch (1899), p. 310; archive.org.
  2. ^ Goodway, David. "Lovett, William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/17068.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ Graham Wallas, The Life of Francis Place 1771 to 1854 (1908, 2004 reprint), p. 272; Google Books.
  4. ^ Iain McCalman, Radical Underworld: prophets, revolutionaries, and pornographers in London, 1795-1840 (1986), p. 231; Google Books.
  5. ^ Parolin, p. 200; Google Books.
  6. ^ Richard W. Davis, Richard J. Helmstadter (editors), Religion and Irreligion in Victorian Society: essays in honor of R. K. Webb (1992), pp. 51–2; Google Books.
  7. ^ Martin, Philip W. "Carlile, Richard". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/4685.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. ^ Hansard, Minutes, HC Deb 05 September 1831 vol 6 cc1131-2.
  9. ^ Parolin, p. 3; Google Books.
  10. ^ Stunt, Timothy C. F. "Ward, John". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28693.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  11. ^ Royle, Edward. "Carlile, Elizabeth Sharples". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/38370.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  12. ^ a b British History Online, Old and New London: Volume 6 by Edward Walford (1878) pp. 368-383.
  13. ^ Stunt, Timothy C. F. "Smith, James Elishama". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/25826.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  14. ^ Davis and Helmstadter, p. 60; Google Books.