Howell, George, MP

Chartist and trade unionist, born at Wrington, Som, on 5 October 1833, the eldest of eight children. He attended village schools and later studied at evening classes. In his early years he became a self-employed builder like his father, but in 1843 lost everything in a lawsuit in which he failed to recover a large debt from a contractor. In 1848 he became an active Chartist and in the same year underwent a conversion experience in the WM church. He became a Sunday Schoolteacher and an advocate of teetotalism. In 1855, working in London as a bricklayer, he joined the Operative Bricklayers' Society and represented them at their national conference in Derby in 1861. He became secretary of the London Trades' Council that year and in 1867 appeared before the Royal Commission on Trades Unions and testified to their success and value. Having unsuccessfully contested Aylesbury in 1868 and 1874 and Stafford in 1881, from 1885 to 1895 he was Liberal MP for Bethnal Green and devoted the rest of his life to writing on labour issues. From 1904 he was partially blind. He died at Shepherd's Bush, London on 16 September 1910.

  • F.M. Leventhal, Respectable Radical: George Howell and Victorian working-class politics (1971)
  • M. Stenton, Who's Who of British MPs, vol.2 (1978)
  • Oxford DNB

Entry written by: NADS
Category: Person
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