William Cobbett

William Cobbett (9 March 1763 – 18 June 1835) was an English pamphleteer, farmer, journalist and member of parliament, who was born in Farnham, Surrey. He believed that reforming Parliament including abolishing the "rotten boroughs" would help to end the poverty of farm labourers. Relentlessly he sought an end to the borough-mongers, sinecurists and "tax-eaters" . He was against the Corn Laws, which imposed a tax on imported grain. Early in his career, he was a loyalist devotee of King and Country: but later he joined and publicised radicalism, which helped the Reform Act 1832, and to his being elected that year as one of the two Members of Parliament for the newly enfranchised borough of Oldham. Not a Catholic, he became an forceful advocate of Catholic Emancipation in Britain. He wrote many polemics, concerning subjects from political reform to religion, but is best known for his book from 1830, Rural Rides, which is still in print today.

William Cobbett
William Cobbett, portrait in oils, possibly by George Cooke, about 1831. National Portrait Gallery, London.
William Cobbett, portrait in oils, possibly by George Cooke, about 1831. National Portrait Gallery, London.
Born9 March 1763
Farnham, Surrey, England
Died18 June 1835 (aged 72)
Normandy, Surrey, England
OccupationPamphleteer, journalist
Notable worksRural Rides
William Cobbett
Member of Parliament
for Oldham
In office
Succeeded byJohn Frederick Lees
Personal details
Political partyLiberal Party


Early life (1763–1791)

Farnham Cobbett's birthplace
William Cobbett's birthplace.

William Cobbett was born in Farnham, Surrey, on 9 March 1763, the third son of George Cobbett (a farmer and publican) and Anne Vincent.[1] He was taught to read and write by his father, and first worked as a farm labourer at Farnham Castle. He also worked briefly as a gardener at Kew in the King's garden.[2]

The life of William Cobbett - written by himself. No 2' (William Cobbett) by James Gillray
Cartoon of Cobbett enlisting in the army. From the Political Register of 1809. Artist James Gillray.

On 6 May 1783, due to a whim, he took the stage coach to London and spent eight or nine months as a clerk in the employ of a Mr Holland at Gray's Inn. He joined the 54th (West Norfolk) Regiment of Foot during 1783 and made good use of the soldier's copious spare time to educate himself, particularly in English grammar.[1] Between 1785 and 1791 Cobbett was stationed with his regiment in New Brunswick and he sailed from Gravesend in Kent to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Cobbett was in Saint John, Fredericton and elsewhere in the province until September 1791, being promoted through the ranks to become Sergeant Major, the most senior rank of Non-commissioned officer.

He returned to England with his regiment, landing at Portsmouth on 3 November 1791, and obtained his discharge from the army on 19 December 1791. In Woolwich during February 1792, he married Anne Reid, whom he had met while stationed at Fort Howe in Saint John.[3][4]

Refuge in France and the United States (1792–1800)

Cobbett had developed an animosity towards some corrupt officers, and he gathered evidence on the issue while in New Brunswick, but his charges against them were ignored. He wrote The Soldier's Friend (1792) protesting against the low pay and harsh treatment of enlisted men in the British army.[1] Sensing that he was about to be indicted in retribution he fled to France during March 1792 to avoid imprisonment. Cobbett had intended to stay a year to learn the French language but he found the French Revolution and the French Revolutionary Wars in progress, so he sailed for the United States during September 1792.

He was first at Wilmington, then Philadelphia by the Spring of 1793. Cobbett initially prospered by teaching English to Frenchmen and translating texts from French to English. He became a controversial political writer and pamphleteer, with pro-British opinions, using the pseudonym "Peter Porcupine".

Cobbett also campaigned against the eminent physician and abolitionist Benjamin Rush,[5] whose advocacy of bleeding during the yellow fever epidemic may have caused many deaths.[6] Rush won a libel lawsuit against Cobbett, who never fully paid the $8,000 judgment, but instead fled to New York and back to England during 1800, via Halifax, Nova Scotia to Falmouth in Cornwall.

The Political Register (1800–1810)

The government of William Pitt the Younger offered Cobbett the editorship of a government newspaper, but he refused, as he preferred to remain independent.[1] His own newspaper The Porcupine, bearing the motto "Fear God, Honour the King", first started on 30 October 1800, but it was not a success, and he sold his interest in it during 1801.[1]

Less than a month later, however, he started his Political Register, a weekly newspaper that was published almost every week from January 1802 until 1835, the year of Cobbett's death.[1] Although initially staunchly anti-Jacobin, by 1804 Cobbett was questioning the policies of the Pitt government, especially the immense national debt and the profligate use of sinecures that Cobbett believed was ruining the country and increasing class antagonism.[1] By 1807 he endorsed reformers such as Francis Burdett and John Cartwright.[1]

Cobbett opposed attempts in the House of Commons to propose bills against boxing and bull-baiting, writing to William Windham on 2 May 1804 that the Bill "goes to the rearing of puritanism into a system".[7]

Cobbett published the Complete Collection of State Trials in between 1804 and 1812 and amassed accounts of parliamentary debates from 1066 onwards, but he sold his shares in this to T. C. Hansard during 1812 due to financial difficulties.[1] This unofficial record of Parliamentary proceedings later became known officially as Hansard.

Cobbett intended to campaign for Parliament in Honiton during 1806, but was persuaded by Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald to let him campaign in his stead. Both men campaigned together but were unsuccessful, for they refused to bribe the voters by "buying" votes; the situation also encouraged him in his opposition to rotten boroughs and the need for parliamentary reform.[8]

Prison (1810–1812)

The Hampshire hog in the pound LOC ds.10846
The Hampshire hog in the pound

Cobbett was found guilty of treasonous libel on 15 June 1810 after objecting in The Register to the flogging at Ely of local militiamen by Hanoverians. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment in Newgate Prison. While in prison he wrote the pamphlet Paper Against Gold,[9] warning of the dangers of paper money, as well as many essays and letters. On his release a dinner was given in his honour in London. Attended by 600 people, it was directed by Sir Francis Burdett, who, like Cobbett, was an enthusiast for parliamentary reform.

"Two-Penny Trash" (1812–1817)

By 1815 the tax on newspapers had reached 4d. per copy. As few people could afford to pay 6d. or 7d. for a daily newspaper, the tax restricted the circulation of most of these journals to people with fairly high incomes. Cobbett could sell only just over a thousand copies a week. Nonetheless, he began criticising William Wilberforce for his endorsement of the Corn Laws, as well as his personal wealth, his opposition to bull- and bear-baiting, and particularly for his approval of "the fat and lazy and laughing and singing negroes".[10]

The next year Cobbett began publishing the Political Register as a pamphlet. Cobbett now sold the Political Register for only 2d. and it soon had a circulation of 40,000. Critics termed it "two-penny trash", a phrase Cobbett adopted.[1]

Cobbett's journal was soon the main newspaper read by the working class. This made Cobbett a dangerous man, and during 1817 he learned that the government was planning to arrest him for sedition.

Refuge in the United States (1817–1819)

Cobbett - Rural rides in the southern, western and eastern counties of England, 1930 - 5214769
Rural rides in the southern, western and eastern counties of England, 1930.

After the passage of the Power of Imprisonment Act 1817 and fearing arrest for his arguably seditious writings, Cobbett fled to the United States. On Wednesday 27 March 1817, at Liverpool, he embarked aboard the ship Importer, D. Ogden master, bound for New York, accompanied by his two eldest sons, William and John.

For two years, Cobbett lived on a farm on Long Island where he wrote Grammar of the English Language and with the help of William Benbow, a friend in London, continued to publish the Political Register. He also wrote The American Gardener (1821), which was one of the earliest books concerning horticulture published in the United States.[2]

Cobbett also closely observed alcohol drinking habits in the United States. During 1819, he stated, "Americans preserve their gravity and quietness and good-humour even in their drink." He believed it "far better for them to be as noisy and quarrelsome as the English drunkards; for then the odiousness of the vice would be more visible, and the vice itself might become less frequent."[11]

A plan to return to England with the remains of the British-American radical pamphleteer and revolutionary Thomas Paine (who had died during 1809) for a proper burial resulted in the ultimate loss of Paine's remains. The plan was to remove Paine's remains from his New Rochelle, New York, farm and give Paine a heroic reburial on his native soil, but the bones were still among Cobbett's effects when he died more than 20 years later. There is no confirmed story about what happened to them after that, although down the years various people have claimed to own parts of Paine's remains, including his skull and right hand.

Cobbett arrived back in Britain at Liverpool by ship during November 1819.

Later life (1819–1835)

Cobbett arrived back in England soon after the Peterloo Massacre. He joined with other Radicals in his attacks on the government and three times during the next couple of years was charged with libel.

Batteuse 1881
The introduction of horse-powered threshing machines to farms was one of the principal causes of the Swing Riots.

During 1820, he campaigned for Parliament in Coventry, but finished last of the poll. That year he also established a plant nursery at Kensington, where he grew many North American trees, such as the black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and a variety of maize, which he called "Cobbett's corn".[2] Cobbett and his son tried a dwarf strain of maize they had found growing in a French cottage garden and found it grew well in England's shorter summer. To help sell this variety, Cobbett published a book titled, A Treatise on Cobbett's Corn (1828).[2] Meanwhile, he also wrote the popular book Cottage Economy (1822), which taught the cottager some of the skills necessary to be self-sufficient, such as instructions on how to make bread, brew beer and keep livestock.[12]

Not content to let information be brought to him for his newspaper, Cobbett did his own journalistic work—- especially for the theme which he publicized repeatedly: the plight of the rural Englishman. He began riding around the country on horseback, observing what was happening in the towns and villages. Rural Rides, a work for which Cobbett is still known, was published first in serial form in the Political Register, from 1822 to 1826. It was published in book form during 1830. While writing Rural Rides, Cobbett also published The Woodlands (1825), a book concerning silviculture.[2]

Although not a Catholic,[13] Cobbett at this time also advocated the cause of Catholic Emancipation. Between 1824 and 1826, he published his History of the Protestant Reformation, a broadside against the traditional Protestant historical narrative of the British reformation, stressing the lengthy and often bloody persecutions of Catholics in Britain and Ireland. At that time, Catholics were still forbidden to enter certain professions or to become members of parliament. Although the law was no longer enforced, it was officially still a crime to attend mass or build a Catholic church. Although Wilberforce also worked and spoke against discrimination against Catholics, Cobbett resumed his strident opposition to the noted reformer, particularly after Wilberforce during 1823 published his Appeal in Behalf of the Negro Slaves in the West Indies.[14] Wilberforce, long suffering from ill health, retired the next year.

John Doyle 1833 MPs
William Cobbett (left foreground), John Gully (middle) and Joseph Pease (right) (the first Quaker elected to Parliament) arriving at Westminster, during March 1833. Sketch by John Doyle.

During 1829, Cobbett published Advice To Young Men in which he criticised An Essay on the Principle of Population published by the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus. That year, he also published The English Gardener, which he later updated and expanded. This book has been compared with other contemporary garden tomes, such as John Claudius Loudon's Encyclopædia of Gardening.[15]

Cobbett continued to publish controversial material in the Political Register, and during July 1831 he was charged with seditious libel after writing a pamphlet entitled Rural War endorsing the Captain Swing Riots, the rioters of which were smashing farm machinery and burning haystacks. Cobbett successfully performed his own defence.[16]

Cobbett still wanted to be elected to the House of Commons. He was defeated in Preston in 1826 and in Manchester during 1832, but after the passing of the 1832 Reform Act Cobbett won the parliamentary seat of Oldham. In Parliament, Cobbett concentrated his energies on attacking corruption in government and the 1834 Poor Law. During his later life, however, Thomas Macaulay, a fellow MP, remarked that Cobbett's faculties were impaired by age; indeed that his paranoia had developed to insanity.

Death (1835)

From 1831 until his death, he managed a farm named Ash, in Surrey in a village named Normandy, a few miles from his birthplace at Farnham. Cobbett died there after a brief illness during June 1835 and was buried in the churchyard of St Andrew's Parish Church, Farnham.

Parliamentary career

During his lifetime Cobbett campaigned for parliament five times, of which four attempts were unsuccessful:

During 1832 he was successful and elected as Member of Parliament for Oldham.


William Cobbett Grave 2016
The tomb of William Cobbett in the churchyard of St Andrew's church in Farnham.

Cobbett is considered to have begun as an inherently conservative journalist who, angered by the corrupt British political establishment, became increasingly radical and sympathetic to anti-government and democratic ideals. He provides an alternative opinion of rural England in the age of an Industrial Revolution with which he was not in sympathy. Cobbett wished England would return to the rural England of the 1760s to which he was born. Unlike fellow radical Thomas Paine, Cobbett was not an internationalist cosmopolitan and did not endorse a republican Britain. He boasted that he was not a "citizen of world.... It is quite enough for me to think about what is best for England, Scotland and Ireland".[1] Possessing a national identity, he often criticised rival countries and warned them that they should not "swagger about and be saucy to England".[1] He said his identification with the Church of England was due in part because it "bears the name of my country".[1] Ian Dyck claimed that Cobbett endorsed "the eighteenth-century Country Party platform".[17] Edward Tangye Lean described him as "an archaic English Tory".[18]

Cobbett has been praised by thinkers of various political persuasions, such as Matthew Arnold, Karl Marx, G. K. Chesterton, A. J. P. Taylor, Raymond Williams, E. P. Thompson and Michael Foot.[1] A story by Cobbett during 1807 resulted in the use of the term 'red herring' to mean a distraction from the important issue.[19][20]

Cobbett's sons were trained as solicitors and founded a law business in Manchester, named Cobbetts in his honour. The business dissolved during 2013.

Cobbett's birthplace, a public house in Farnham once named "The Jolly Farmer", has been renamed "The William Cobbett". The Brooklyn-based history band Piñataland has performed a song about William Cobbett's quest to rebury Thomas Paine entitled "An American Man". An equestrian statue of Cobbett is planned for a site in Farnham.[21][22] William Cobbett Junior school in Farnham was named in his honour; its logo is a porcupine. After Cobbett's death, Benjamin Tilly, who had served Cobbett as companion, secretary and factotum, initiated The Cobbett Club. Members sent petitions in to Parliament demanding radical reform and produced radical pamphlets and leaflets to keep Cobbett's politics alive. Some of these are still available in various libraries. The William Cobbett Society, based in Farnham, produces a yearly edition of 'Cobbett's New Register', and celebrates Cobbett's life, works and spirit in various activities including an annual Rural Ride and lecture.


See also

  • Tilford, with an ancient oak tree described by Cobbett



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Ian Dyck, 'Cobbett, William (1763–1835)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 23 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e Clifford-Smith, S., "William Cobbett: cottager's friend", Australian Garden History, 19 (5), 2008, pp. 4–6.
  3. ^ John Robert Colombo Canadian literary landmarks p47
  4. ^ Jenny's Spring
  5. ^ Cobbett, William (1817). "The Pride of Britannia Humbled". Belmont Abbey College NC USA. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  6. ^ Brodsky, Alyn (2004). Benjamin Rush: Patriot and Physician. pp. 337–343.
  7. ^ The Earl of Rosebery (ed.), The Windham Papers. Volume Two (London: Herbert Jenkins Limited, 1913), p. 234.
  8. ^ David Cordingly, Cochrane the Dauntless: The Life and Adventures of Thomas Cochrane, Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 2008 (ISBN 978-0-7475-8545-9), p. 105-113.
  9. ^ Cobbett, William. "Paper Against Gold". Cobbett's Paper Against Gold. California Digital Library. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  10. ^ Metaxas, Eric (2007). Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. pp. 251–252.
  11. ^ Walters, Ronald G., Getting Rid of Demon Alcohol
  12. ^ Clifford-Smith, S., "William Cobbett: cottager’s friend", Australian Garden History, 19 (5), 2008, pp. 4–6.
  13. ^ Hanink, James G (November 2005). "William Cobbett. By G.K. Chesterton. Review". New Oxford Review. LXXII (10). Retrieved 30 March 2009.
  14. ^ Metaxas, pp. 264–265.
  15. ^ Clifford-Smith, S., "William Cobbett: cottager’s friend", Australian Garden History, 19 (5), 2008, pp. 4–6.
  16. ^ State Trials (New Series) II, 789.
  17. ^ Ian Dyck, 'Introduction' in William Cobbett, Rural Rides (Penguin Classics, 2005), p. xxiii.
  18. ^ Edward Tangye Lean, The Napoleonists. A Study in Political Disaffection. 1760–1960 (London: Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 206.
  19. ^ Martin Chilton, William Cobbett: forgotten chronicler of England, The Telegraph, 9 March 2015.
  20. ^ World Wide Words
  21. ^ BBC Home town plans statue of Cobbett 21 January 2009
  22. ^ Waverley Borough Council Committee Document William Cobbett Statue


Further reading

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Oldham
With: John Fielden
Succeeded by
John Fielden and
John Frederick Lees
Botley, Hampshire

Botley is a historic village in Hampshire, England with an estimated parish population of 5100.

Between 1806 and 1820 it was the home of the famous journalist and radical politician William Cobbett, who described the village as the most delightful in the world. There is a memorial stone to William Cobbett in the village square.

The village can be easily accessed from Eastleigh and Fareham by train. Previously, a rail service operated to Bishops Waltham along the Bishops Waltham Branch Line. Botley railway station is just outside the modern boundary of Botley, within Curdridge.

In nearby Curbridge is Fairthorne Manor, a day camps centre run by the YMCA, which includes a golf course, the Fairthorne Manor Golf Course, and farm.

Cottage Economy

Cottage Economy is a book by William Cobbett, first published in 1821, which covers many practical instructions such how to bake bread, brew beer, keep livestock and "other matters deemed useful in the conducting of the Affairs of a Labourer's Family" with the aim of aiding the "Labouring Classes" in having a "good living". It is considered to be a timeless guide on matters of self-sufficiency.

Culture and Society

Culture and Society is a book published in 1958 by Welsh progressive writer Raymond Williams, exploring how the notion of culture developed in the West, especially Great Britain, from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries.

When first published, the book was widely regarded as having overturned conventional social and historical thinking about culture. It argues that the notion of culture developed in response to the Industrial Revolution and the social and political changes it brought in its wake. This is done through a series of studies of famous British writers and essayists, beginning with Edmund Burke and William Cobbett, also looking at William Blake, William Wordsworth, etc., and continuing as far as F. R. Leavis, George Orwell and Christopher Caudwell.

The book is still in print, in several editions. It has also been translated into many languages.

Devil's Jumps, Churt

The Devil's Jumps are a series of three small hills near the village of Churt in the county of Surrey in southern England. In the 18th century, the hills were known as the Devil's Three Jumps. The Devil's Jumps are linked to a body of folklore relating to the surrounding area. The highest of the three Jumps is Stony Jump. Middle Devil's Jump measures 60 feet (18 m) high and once supported an observatory built by 19th century British astronomer Richard Christopher Carrington.The hills are outcrops of an ironstone variety of sandstone of the Folkestone Beds of Lower Greensand set among acidic heathland. The three hills are formed of an ironstone known locally as carstone, marginally distinct from Bargate stone, strongly cemented with iron making it resistant to erosion by the elements.

The first mention of the Devil's Jumps appears to be on a map by John Rocque, dating to 1765. William Cobbett mentioned the Devil's Jumps in his Rural Rides, first published in 1830. Of the hills he says:

At Churt I had, upon my left, three hills out upon the common, called the Devil's Jumps...in the shape of three rather squat sugar-loaves, along in a line upon this heath...[with] a rock-stone upon the top of one of them as big as a Church tower...

George A. Spater

George Alexander Spater (May 3, 1909 – June 14, 1984) was chairman of American Airlines from 1968 until 1973, when he became the first of several corporate executives to voluntarily admit having made illegal corporate contributions to President Nixon's re-election campaign. After retiring from American Airlines, he wrote well-regarded biographies of Virginia Woolf and William Cobbett.

Hail Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star

"Hail, Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star" is a Marian hymn written by Father John Lingard (1771–1851), a Catholic priest and historian who, through the works of William Cobbett, helped to smooth the passage of the Catholic Emancipation Act in England. Lingard is also credited with translating the carol "The Snow Lay on the Ground" from the traditional Irish.

Hurstbourne Tarrant

Hurstbourne Tarrant is a village and civil parish in Hampshire, England. It lies to the north of the county in the Test Valley.

The Tarrant part of the name originates from 1226, when the village was given to the Cistercian Tarrant nunnery. The civil parish includes the village of Ibthorpe.During the Second World War, Hurstbourne Tarrant was the decoy site for RAF Andover, the headquarters of RAF Maintenance Command. This was one of four airfields in Hampshire to be given a decoy site in 1940, to deceive enemy aircraft into attacking a spurious target. The decoy site at Hurstbourne Tarrant was a type 'K' decoy site with fake aircraft and buildings. From September 1940, fake machine gun posts were added to Hurstbourne Tarrant.The famous Victorian, Edwardian artist, the American, Anna Lea Merritt, lived in the village for many years.

William Cobbett declared Hurstbourne Tarrent and its location as worth going miles to see with beauty at every turn.

Mother Ludlam's Cave

Mother Ludlam's Cave, also known as Mother Ludlum's Cave or Mother Ludlum's Hole, is a small cave in the sandstone cliff of the Wey Valley at Moor Park, near Farnham, Surrey, in England. The cave is the subject of a number of local legends. A spring rising in the cave is recorded in the 13th century "Annals of Waverley Abbey" as "Ludewell"; other spellings through history include "Ludwell" and "Luddwelle". A monk named Symon is credited with identifying the spring as a suitable water supply for Waverley Abbey in 1218, after the original source had dried up. The brothers of the abbey dedicated the spring to St Mary, so it also became known as St Mary's Well. The cave has been naturally formed by the spring but may have been enlarged by the monks and was made into a grotto (possibly during the eighteenth century) and further enhanced by addition of an ironstone arched entrance, possibly during the reign of Queen Victoria.

The cave was explored and surveyed at around 200 feet long in 1945 and as 192 feet to a recent roof collapse in 1961.

Normandy, Surrey

Normandy is a civil parish of 16.37 square kilometres (4,050 acres) in the borough of Guildford in Surrey, England and the name of the largest village in that parish. Almost surrounded by its hill ranges, Normandy is in the plain west of Guildford, straddles the A323 'Aldershot Road' and is north of the narrowest part the North Downs known as the Hog's Back which carries a dual carriageway. The parish in 2011 had a population of 2,981 living in 1,310 households, has woods, a public common and four government-operated commons to the north that are an SSSI heath. Normandy has been home to a number of notable residents, including William Cobbett.

Political Register

The Cobbett's Weekly Political Register (a.k.a. Political Register) was a weekly London-based newspaper founded by William Cobbett in 1802. It ceased publication in 1836, the year after Cobbett's death.

Red herring

A red herring is something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important question. It may be either a logical fallacy or a literary device that leads readers or audiences toward a false conclusion. A red herring may be used intentionally, as in mystery fiction or as part of rhetorical strategies (e.g., in politics), or may be used in argumentation inadvertently.

The term was popularized in 1807 by English polemicist William Cobbett, who told a story of having used a kipper (a strong-smelling smoked fish) to divert hounds from chasing a hare.

Rural Rides

Rural Rides is the book for which the English journalist, agriculturist and political reformer William Cobbett is best known.

At the time of writing in the early 1820s, Cobbett was a radical anti-Corn Law campaigner, newly returned to England from a spell of self-imposed political exile in the United States.

Cobbett disapproved of proposals for remedies for agricultural distress suggested in Parliament in 1821. He made up his mind to see rural conditions for himself, and to "enforce by actual observation of rural conditions" the statements he had made in answer to the arguments of the landlords before the Parliamentary Agricultural Committee.

He embarked on a series of journeys by horseback through the countryside of Southeast England and the English Midlands. He wrote down what he saw from the points of view both of a farmer and a social reformer. The result documents the early 19th-century countryside and its people as well as giving free vent to Cobbett's opinions.

He first published his observations in serial form in the Political Register, running from 1822 to 1826. They were first published in book form in two volumes in 1830.


A rushlight is a type of candle or miniature torch formed by soaking the dried pith of the rush plant in fat or grease. For several centuries rushlights were a common source of artificial light for poor people throughout the British Isles. They were extremely inexpensive to make. English essayist William Cobbett wrote, "This rushlight cost almost nothing to produce and was believed to give a better light than some poorly dipped candles."One of the earliest printed descriptions of rushlights was written by English antiquary John Aubrey in 1673. Rev. Gilbert White gave a detailed description of rushlight making in The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, Letter XXVI (1789).

Rushlights were still used in rural England to the end of the 19th century, and they had a temporary revival during World War II. In parts of Wales the use of rushlights continued into the middle of the 20th century.It is not clear whether rushlights were ever popular in the United States and Canada. Antique rushlight holders are occasionally found in North America, but most were probably imported from England; "none are known to bear the mark of an American smith." In New England, "rushlights were used little if at all in colonial days."Rushlights should not be confused with rush-candles. A rush-candle is an ordinary candle (a block or cylinder of tallow or wax) that uses a piece of rush as a wick. Rushlights, by contrast, are strips of plant fiber impregnated with tallow or grease. The wick is not separate from the fuel in a rushlight.

Socialist Register

The Socialist Register is a socialist journal published annually. It was founded in 1964 by Ralph Miliband and John Saville. They had criticisms of the New Left Review after Perry Anderson became editor of the NLR in 1962. Miliband and Saville sought to bring about a journal in the orientation of The New Reasoner.The current publisher of the Socialist Register is the Monthly Review Press. The journal's name is a reference to the Political Register, a 19th century newspaper founded by radical journalist William Cobbett.Its editors include Leo Panitch, Vivek Chibber and others.

St Andrew's Church, Farnham

St Andrew's Church is an Anglican parish church in the centre of Farnham, Surrey. It is a Grade I listed building and surviving parts of the structure date back to the Middle Ages. It in the archdeaconry of Surrey, in the Diocese of Guildford. The churchyard contains the grave of William Cobbett and there is a memorial to Augustus Toplady.

Stratton Park

Stratton Park, in East Stratton, Hampshire, was an English country house, built on the site of a grange of Hyde Abbey after the dissolution of the monasteries; it was purchased with the manor of Micheldever in 1546 by Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton. The last earl of Southampton made Stratton Park one of his chief seats, and his son-in-law, Sir William Russell, pulled down part of the hamlet and added it to his deer park in the 1660s. The Russell heirs eventually sold the estate in 1801 to Sir Francis Baring, Bt, of the Baring banking family. Baring remodeled the manor house in a neoclassical style, to designs by George Dance the Younger, 1803–06,' including an imposing stone Doric-columned portico and stuccoed brick main block and wings. The pleasure grounds and landscape park were laid out and planted, starting ca 1803 by Humphry Repton, and described by William Cobbett, in Rural Rides: in the counties of Surrey, Kent, Sussex, Hants, when Stratton Park held the living of Micheldever and included Micheldever Wood, which Cobbett said "contains a thousand acres [4 km²], and which is one of the finest oak-woods in England." In the late nineteenth century Thomas Baring, 1st Earl of Northbrook laid out more formally structured gardens, with hardy plantings by Gertrude Jekyll. The park has been Grade II listed since 1984.Most of the Stratton Park house was demolished in 1963 by owner John Baring, 7th Baron Ashburton, whose involvement in the demolition of the Baring family's architecturally important banking headquarters in London had earned him the nickname "Basher Baring". Today, all that remains is Dance's stone portico, looming up near, but in no stable relation with, a modernist house by Stephen Gardiner and Christopher Knight, 1963-65. The portico is now a listed structure since 1983. Mature specimen trees from the landscape park tower above the present structure.


Teston /ˈtiːstən/ () is a village in the Maidstone District of Kent, England. It is located on the A26 road out of Maidstone, four miles (6.4 km) from the town centre. There is a narrow stone bridge over the River Medway here.

Barham Court is the 'big house'. It has now been converted into offices and apartments. It was once the home of Randall Fitz Urse, one of the knights who murdered Thomas Becket in 1170. It passed to the de Berham family now called the Barhams, and then the Boteler (or Butler) family. They were Royalists, William Butler was imprisoned for supporting the Kentish Royalist Petition 1642, which indirectly led to the Battle of Maidstone 1648. When Edward Hasted visited in the 18th century, it was owned by the Bouveries. After that it passed to the Charles Middleton, 1st Baron Barham.

The village church is dedicated to St Peter and St Paul. On one wall of the church, under a window, is a memorial tablet to a former vicar, the Rev James Ramsay, he was the Rector of Teston and Nettlestead from 1781 until he died in July 1789. He was a friend of Charles Middleton, William Pitt and William Wilberforce and he worked with them for the abolition of slavery.Rev. James Ramsay, who served as a surgeon under Middleton aboard HMS Arundel in the West Indies but later took holy orders and served on the Caribbean island of St Christopher (now St Kitts), where he observed first-hand the treatment of slaves. He briefly lived with the Middletons at Barham Court, then was given the living of the Teston and Nettlestead, by Middleton. Nestor Court is named after Ramsey's servant and companion.

William Cobbett passed through Teston on Friday 5 September 1823.There is a village green, shop/Post Office, Village Hall and a Farm Shop.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, Thomas Martin began making cricket balls in a workshop above the post office. When he retired the business was taken over by Alfred Reader who expanded the business and transferred it to the factory. The current factory. on Malling Road was built in 1927. The workers at the Reader factory formed their own trade union - The Teston Independent Society of Cricket Ball Makers, to represent their interests, it was the smallest trade unions in the country, and was only de-listed in March 2006.Cricket has been played at Barham Court since 1896. The current club runs two teams, the Sunday Team representing the village in the Kent Village League.

The Great Wen

The Great Wen is a disparaging nickname for London. The term was coined in the 1820s by William Cobbett, the radical pamphleteer and champion of rural England. Cobbett saw the rapidly growing city as a pathological swelling on the face of the nation. (A "wen" is a sebaceous cyst.) The term is quoted in his 1830 work Rural Rides: "But, what is to be the fate of the great wen of all? The monster, called, by the silly coxcombs of the press, 'the metropolis of the empire?'"

Weybourne, Surrey

Weybourne is a small village in Surrey, England. It lies on the outskirts of Farnham, Surrey and borders onto Aldershot, Hampshire.

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