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William Lovett 

a fighter for justice

William Lovett The Chartist


William Lovett the Chartist was born in Newlyn in 1800. His father a ships captain from Yorkshire was drowned before his birth leaving his Cornish mother to bring him up. His mother was a strict Methodist and William was brought up in that faith. William and his mother were helped financially by her brother who was a rope maker. When William was about seven years old his Uncle died leaving his mother to bring up William unaided. They moved into one of the thatched cottages on Church Lane with her mother and in order to make ends meet she went out to sell fish.  1. 

William was sent too one of the Dame Schools where he learned to read and write; and in due course he was apprenticed to his uncles trade of rope making. As the Napoleonic War came to an end the need for rope was declining also the use of chains and cables was growing as their production became cheaper. William found himself in the position of having to take his employer to law in order to get his wages. He won his case and persuaded his employer to release him from the remainder of his Indenture in order that he could accept an offer from his great-uncle of a job on his fishing boat. His career as a Newlyn fisherman came to a speedy end when he realised that he suffered from seasickness when the weather was rough. Williams bouts of seasickness was about to change his whole life and the political face of Britain.

William Lovett found that he had a natural aptitude as a woodworker and had taught himself the craft of cabinet making in his spare time. He found a new home for his grandmother and he and his mother left Newlyn and made their way to London in 1821. At first he could only find work in non-society carpenters shops as he was not a time served craftsman. However, he so impressed that he was allowed to join the closely organised Cabinetmakers Society and actually became its president as well as being the man who wrote the Charter that became the basis of  the Chartist movement he could be described as one of the founders of what eventually became the Trade Union movement. 

Note. 1. The cottages were later demolished to clear the site for the building of the Centenary Methodist Chapel.

Source Chartist Portraits by G.D.H.Cole Published by Macmillan 1941.

 A Newlyn Retrospect

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Morrab Libary. Copyright 2001. All rights reserved.
Revised: January 31, 2002 .