|William Cuffay: Chartist celebrity|
Cuffay's book circumnavigates the World: 1849-2013
On October 16 1849 The Poetical Works of Lord Byron was warmly inscribed by Cuffay's Westminster Chartist Association friends and shipped off to him just before he arrived in Van Diemen's Land. It is clear that this book was treasured by Cuffay as he took it with him 20 years later to the Brickfields Invalid Depot in Hobart Town. When Cuffay died in there on 29 July 1870 his book was placed in the Reading Room – On 12 September 1870 as the hand written inscription inside the book below reveals.
Recently the book turned up in England when a house clearance auction rooms in Gloucestershire sold a box of books. According to a letter tucked into the back, by 1975 it was in South Africa. The then owner was G.O.Owen of Sea Point near Cape Town.
Quite a return trip for an important fragment related to William Cuffay. It shows that his Chartist friends in England did not forget him, nor he them. There's a notable thumb print bottom right on p. 569. where one of the poems concerns the Luddites, a working class movement that Byron publicly shown sympathy for in his maiden speech in the House of Lords in 1812.
[see Byron's maiden speech and his "Song for the Luddites" in this archive]
Presented to William Cuffey
by the Members of the Westminster
Branch of the National Charter
Association, of Great Britain,
as A token of their Sincere
Regard & Affection for his Genuine
Patriotism & Moral worth,
James Grasby Secretary
London October 16th, 1849
William Cuffay the entertainer 1842
|Northern Star, Saturday, March 5, 1842|
Dorothy Thompson in preface to The Chartists (1984)
William Cuffay accuses his prosecutors at the 1848 trial
|Observer 2 October 1848|
(Cuffay quoted in the Times, 2 Oct 1848)
|The Great Charter Procession at Blackfriars, 1848 Courtesy TUC Library Collection|
…a UK parliamentary reform movement of 1837–48, the principles of which were set out in a manifesto called The People's Charter and called for universal suffrage for men, equal electoral districts, voting by secret ballot, abolition of property qualifications for MPs, and annual general elections…