Wilson, Benjamin

Chartist, born on 7 August 1824 at Skircoat Green near Halifax, which was noted for both its radicalism and its Methodism. He learned to read at the WM Sunday School. In his autobiography The Struggles of an Old Chartist (1887) he recalled hearing William Thornton, a popular radical and Methodist preacher, lecture in the local Wesleyan School. He pursued a variety of occupations, including 'woollen weaver, comber, railway navvy and barer in the delph' (i.e. the remover of the surface soil in a quarry), finally becoming a gardener and horticultural expert. Known affectionately as 'Old Ben', he later moved, via the co-operative and temperance movements, into Gladstonian Liberalism. He died suddenly on 21 June 1897. A memorial service was held at Salterhebble UMFC church.

  • D. Vincent (ed.), Testaments of Radicalism: memoirs of working-class politicians 1790-1885 (1977)
  • Oxford DNB

Entry written by: JAH
Category: Person
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