Leicester Secular Society

THE OLDEST SECULAR SOCIETY IN THE WORLD - FOUNDED 1851

Charles Bradlaugh (1833 - 1891)

1849 left home due to religious differences with his family and was assisted by Elizabeth Sharples Carlile, widow of Richard Carlile the publisher of Tom Paine's Rights of Man and by G. J. Holyoake.

1850, to earn a living, enlisted in a Guards regiment and was posted to Dublin.

1853 obtained discharge and found work in a law office, and began writing secular articles as "Iconoclast".

1858 became president of the London Secular Society, in place of Holyoake.

1860 joined Joseph Barker, to establish the radical journal, The National Reformer.

1866 helped to establish the National Secular Society, opposed to Christian dogma.

1877 Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant published a new edition of The Fruits of Philosophy by Charles Knowlton, advocating birth control. They were charged with publishing material "likely to deprave or corrupt those whose minds are open to immoral influences". They were found guilty of publishing an "obscene libel" and sentenced to six months in prison. At the Court of Appeal the sentence was quashed.

1880-4 elected MP for Northampton, he asked for permission to affirm the oath of office, instead of 'swearing' on the bible, but was refused and expelled from Parliament. This turned into a struggle over the next three years, involving arrests, imprisonment, forcible ejection, campaigns, lodging a petition, being fined and the attempt by Gladstone to pass an Affirmation Bill, until at last, with a new Speaker, he had the right to speak and vote. Eventually in 1888 a new oath act was passed.

He supported Irish Home Rule and the redistribution of land, opposed the military involvement in South Africa, Sudan, Afghanistan and Egypt.

1991 His funeral was attended by 3,000 mourners.


spartacus-schoolnet biography
wikipedia biography
Bradlaugh and Ireland
essays by Bradlaugh
G.B.Shaw on Bradlaugh
Bradlaugh and Secularism by Jim Herrick

History