RefNoHS
TitleSamuel Holberry, Chartist
AdminHistorySamuel Holberry (18 Nov 1814 - 21 Jun 1842) was a prominent Chartist activist.

Chartism was a working class movement for political reform in Britain between 1838 and 1848. Chartists campaigned for sweeping changes to the political system of Britain including the right of every man over 21 to vote.

In the 1832 elections, of 43,458 adults in Sheffield, only 3,504 men were eligible to vote. A disturbance broke out following a demonstration on the Haymarket, and troops opened fire on the crowd. Three men and two boys were killed, increasing resentment against local government and strengthening the campaign for the vote.

The Sheffield Working Men's Association, was established in December 1837, adopting the People's Charter which stated that: 'The working classes produced the rich man's wealth, while being oppressed by unjust and unequal laws'. The Association's meetings and demonstrations were well attended and peaceful, but in July 1839 local magistrates banned the gatherings. On 12 August 1839, thousands of workers and their families ignored the ban and paraded through town, finally gathering in Paradise Square. Troops were called in to break up the meeting, and a riot began. Around 70 demonstrators and several speakers were arrested.

Membership grew after the riot and meetings and marches were held on a daily basis with regular disturbances in the town centre. A more radical faction of the group, known as the Chartists led by Samuel Holberry, planned an armed uprising in Sheffield. The Sheffield Chartists planned to take control of the Old Town Hall and other town centre locations. However, the authorities found out about the plot and Holberry and his colleagues were arrested.

Samuel Holberry was sentenced to four years imprisonment with hard labour and died in prison at York Castle on 21 June 1842 aged 27. He is buried in the General Cemetery, Sheffield.
DescriptionCensored letters sent to Samuel Holberry whilst he was a prisoner in York Castle, 1841-1842.
Date1841 - 1842
Extent15 items
AccessStatusOpen
LevelCollection
RelatedMaterialSheffield Archives:
Letters to Samuel Holberry during his imprisonment in York Castle, 1842 (Ph.C 494/1-3)
R. E. Leader, Reminiscences of Old Sheffield, its streets and its people, 2nd ed. 1876 (LEA LOCAL) - also at Sheffield Local Studies Library (942.74 S)

Sheffield Local Studies Library:
Bill Moore, Samuel Holberry and the Chartist Movement in Sheffield 1837-1851, 1987 (B.HOLB SQ)
Catherine Lewis, Samuel Holberry: Chartist conspirator or victim of a state conspiracy, 2009 (MP 6211 M)
Catherine Lewis, An examination of the coercive and judicial powers of the state, with reference to the trial and conviction, for seditious conspiracy, of the Sheffield Chartist Samuel Holberry, in January 1840, 2007 (364.942 SQ)
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