After the Rising
Prof Owen Ashton
Owen Ashton (Emeritus Pofessor, Staffordshire University): ‘After the Rising: the Welsh Martyrs and West Country Chartism 1840-1856’
After the sentences on the Welsh martyrs had been commuted to transportation for life, the West Country Chartists abandoned insurrectionary plans. A new strategy took two forms: sustained petitioning campaigns to Parliament for the martyrs’ pardon and fund-raising to help their families. The artisans in Cheltenham and Tewkesbury and the struggling weavers of Stroud - men and women alike – devoted much time and energy in their Chartist associations collecting thousands of petition signatures ( over 8,000) and raising over £44 in generous financial aid. Conditional pardons were finally granted by government in 1854.
On his return, John Frost was given a magnificent reception by West Country Chartists in Cheltenham at the end of July 1856. The sense of occasion on the day was full of symbolism: a large double banner was prepared made of red, white and green colours bearing the motto ‘welcome John Frost, the martyr for liberty and the victim of class government’.
Lecture given at the 2014 Chartist Convention in Newport