Samuel Bamford (28 February 1788 – 13 April 1872) was an English radical reformer and writer born in Middleton, Lancashire. He wrote on the subject of northern English dialect and wrote some of his better known verse in it.
Bamford was one of five children born to Daniel Bamford (a muslin weaver and part-time teacher, and later master of the Salford workhouse), and his wife, Hannah. He was baptised on 11 April 1788 at St Leonard's Church, Middleton.
After his father withdrew him from Manchester Grammar School, Bamford became a weaver and then a warehouseman in Manchester. Exposure to Homer's Iliad and to the poems of John Milton influenced Bamford to begin writing poetry himself.
On 24 June 1810, he married Jemema (or Jemima) Sheppard at the Collegiate Church of St Mary, St Denys and St George, in Manchester, now known as Manchester Cathedral. In 1851 or thereabouts, Bamford obtained a situation as a messenger for the Inland Revenue at Somerset House, but soon returned to weaving. The 1861 England Census records that Samuel, as a "public reader and agent" resided with Jemina in Hall Street, Manchester. They appear to have been childless.
Bamford's radical political beliefs led him to be heavily involved in resistance to the English government and to witness to several important historical events relating to working-class advocacy and public defiance.
Arrests for treason
In 1817 he was remanded in jail to the New Bailey Prison in Salford on suspicion of high treason, on account of his political activities. From there he was taken to London and examined before the Privy Council, presided over by Lord Sidmouth as Home Secretary. After promising future good behaviour, Bamford was released and allowed to return to his cottage at Middleton with his wife Jemima.
In August 1819, he led a group from Middleton to St Peter's Fields for a meeting that pressed for parliamentary reform and repeal of the Corn Laws. There they witnessed the Peterloo Massacre, and Bamford was arrested and charged with treason. Although there was no evidence shown that either he or any of his group had been involved in the violence, he was found guilty of inciting a riot and sentenced to a year in Lincoln prison.
The massacre had a deep impact on Bamford, convincing him that state power always succeeded against radical militancy. He came to be seen as a voice for radical reform, but opposed to activism involving physical force. Bamford responded to the claim that his political group had used violence to pursue their reforming ends, in Passages in the Life of a Radical and Early Days (1840–1844), "It was not until we became infested by spies, incendiaries, and their dupes – distracting, misleading, and betraying – that physical force was mentioned amongst us. After that our moral power waned, and what we gained by the accession of demagogues, we lost by their criminal violence, and the estrangement of real friends."
Poetry and other writings
Bamford was the author of poetry mostly in standard English, but of those in dialect, several that showed sympathy with the conditions of the working classes became widely popular. His Passages in the Life of a Radical (1840–1844) is an authoritative history of the condition of the working classes in the years after the Battle of Waterloo.
In 1850, he published Tawk o'Seawth Lankeshur, by Samhul Beamfort, which, following the first one written in standard English, even adds a second title page and publishing information in local dialect. It begins:
Good lorjus days whot wofo times ar' these,
Pot bos ar scant, and dear ar seawl an cheese,
Eawr Gotum guides us seely sheep dun rob,
Oytch public trust is cheyng'd into a job;
Leys, taxes, customs, meyn our plucks to throb.
Continuing his interest in dialect, he also compiled The Dialect of South Lancashire in 1854.
Death and legacy
Bamford died at Harpurhey on 13 April 1872 at the age of 84 and was given a public funeral in Middleton on 20 April, attended by several thousand people. A memorial obelisk unveiled in Middleton Cemetery in 1877 reads in part, "Bamford was a reformer when to be so was unsafe, and he suffered for his faith."
In 2000, The Diaries of Samuel Bamford were released, edited by Robert Poole and a critical Martin Hewitt, according to whom "Bamford's career, not least its virulent anti-Chartism, have tainted him with reformism, and left him to be invoked as an example of the weaknesses and limitations of early nineteenth-century working-class political assertion."
Bamford's publications include:
- 1817: An Account of the Arrest and Imprisonment of Samuel Bamford, Middleton, on Suspicion of High Treason
- 1819: The Weaver Boy, or Miscellaneous Poetry
- 1834: Hours in the Bowers: Poems, etc.
- 1843: Homely Rhymes
- 1840–1844 Passages in the Life of a Radical (published in parts with many later editions, includes a glossary of Lancashire words).
- 1843: Poems
- 1844: Walks in South Lancashire and on its Borders. With letters, descriptions, narratives and observations current and incidental
- 1849: Early Days
- 1850: Tawk o'Seawth Lankeshur, by Samhul Beamfort]
- 1853: Life of Amos Ogden
- 1854: The Dialect of South Lancashire, or Tim Bobbin's Tummus and Meary, with his Rhymes, with Glossary
- 1864: Homely Rhymes, Poems and Reminiscences
- S. Bamford, "Early Days", (London 1849) p. 1: "I have always been given to understand that I was brought into this world on the 28th day of February in the "Gallic era-eighty eight" .
- Ancestry.com. Lancashire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812[database on-line]. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Lancashire Anglican Parish Registers. Preston, England: Lancashire Archives.
- Ancestry.com. Manchester, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1541-1812[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. Anglican Parish Registers. Manchester, England: Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives.
- Spence, Peter. "Bamford, Samuel (1788–1872)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 15 February 2008.
- Ancestry.com. Manchester, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1930 (Cathedral) [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. Anglican Parish Registers. Manchester, England: Manchester Cathedral. Images produced by permission of Manchester Cathedral and Manchester City Council.
- Class: RG 9; Piece: 2974; Folio: 69; Page: 6; GSU roll: 543058. Ancestry.com. 1861 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1861. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1861.
- T. A. Lockett (1968): Three Lives: Samuel Bamford, Alfred Darbyshire, Ellen Wilkinson, London: University of London Press; pp. 9–10.
- Samuel Bamford, [https://books.google.com/books?id=ycTUAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=inauthor:%22Samuel+Bamford%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjs4uHI2vrgAhUM8IMKHQpHAkIQ6AEIMDAB#v=onepage&q&f=false Passages in the Life of a Radical and Early Days, Volume 2 (Unwin, 1893 reprint) p. 14.
- Brian Hollingworth, ed. (1977) Songs of the People. Manchester: Manchester University Press; p. 151.
- Samuel Bamford, Dialect of South Lancashire: or, Tim Bobbin's Tummus and Meary. Manchester, p. 3.
- Class: RG10; Piece: 4065; Folio: 169; Page: 20; GSU roll: 846347. Ancestry.com. 1871 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1871.
- Manchester, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813–1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. Anglican Parish Registers. Manchester, England: Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives.
- "Samuel Bamford Memorial". National Recording Project. Public Monument and Sculpture Association. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2008.
- Martin Hewitt, "Radicalism and the Victorian Working Class: The Case of Samuel Bamford", The Historical Journal, Vol. 34, No. 4, 1991, pp. 873–892.
- 1817: An Account of the Arrest and Imprisonment of Samuel Bamford, Middleton, on Suspicion of High Treason.
- The Weaver Boy, or Miscellaneous Poetry.
- Homely Rhymes.
- Jarndyce catalogue: The Romantic Background c.1780–1850 (London, 2015), item 219. Retrieved 31 March 2015[permanent dead link].
- "Bamford, Samuel".
- 1844: Walks in South Lancashire and on its Borders. With letters, descriptions, narratives and observations current and incidental.
- 1849: Early Days, 2nd ed. 1859.]
- 1850: Tawk o'Seawth Lankeshur, by Samhul Beamfort.
- 1854: The Dialect of South Lancashire, or Tim Bobbin's Tummus and Meary, with his Rhymes, with Glossary.
- 1864: Homely Rhymes, Poems and Reminiscences
- Works by or about Samuel Bamford at HathiTrust
- Works by or about Samuel Bamford at Internet Archive
- Works by or about Samuel Bamford at Google Books
- Works by Samuel Bamford at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Works by or about Samuel Bamford in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Works by Samuel Bamford at Bamford's "Passages in the Life of a Radical" and "Early Days" in two volumes edited with an introduction by Henry Dunckley ("verax") London: T. Fisher Unwin, Paternoster Square: MDXCCCXCIII
- "Archival material relating to Samuel Bamford". UK National Archives.
- Biography & selected writings at gerald-massey.org.uk
- Biography at thisismiddleton.co.uk
- Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1885). . Dictionary of National Biography. 3. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. .