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Dare to be free: Revolt and Reform in Regency England

Dare to be free

Dare to be free

Dare to be Free

An election leaflet from 1774 - it calls for liberty and attacks the idea of vested interests in politics.

The Commonwealth of Reason

The utopian scheme of William Hodgson, written in 1795 whilst serving a prison sentence for sedition (expressing support of the French Revolution).

An Enquiry into the State of the Nation

An attack by Charles James Fox on the government's management of war and international diplomacy in 1801.

The Black Dwarf

Satirical magazine which attacked the establishment and gave a platform to reformers, 1817-1818.

England in 1819

Trial for an assault on the 16th of August 1819

A court case in response to the events at Peterloo

These are the People all tatter’d and torn

A political pamphleteer's take on the Peterloo massacre.

England in 1819

Shelley's poetic attack on England's rulers after the events of Peterloo.

Political Hobbys

Two cartoons attacking social inequality and the actions of the King, Prince Regent and Chancellor of the Exchequer.


Journeymen Cabinet Makers of Belfast, 1788-1830

Rules, minutes and membership list from the early years of trade unionism.

Meeting of trades unionists in Copenhagen Fields, Islington, 21 April 1834

Engraving of a mass meeting in support of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

The Dorchester Labourers’ Farm Tribute, 1838

Appeal and subscription sheet from the fundraising committee to support the freed Tolpuddle Martyrs.

Friendly Society of Iron-Moulders, 1846

A handbook for secretaries and travellers, including information about welfare provision for members.


The People’s Manual, 1831

Targetted attack on opponents of the Reform Bill in the House of Lords.


Satirical pamphlet by George Cruikshank, hailing the prospect of political reform (and attacking its opponents).

Seymour's comic scrap sheets, c.1831

Ephemeral cartoons produced in support of the reform movement.

God Grant the People’s Right!

A reformer's take on the national anthem.