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11th August 1841:
A short entry this week, because I only know three things about William Potts:
1) He was a pharmacist in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.
2) He was a Chartist - that is, a member of a party which campaigned for democracy - and on this date, he was released from prison having served a long sentence for his political views and activities.
3) He had previously been in trouble with the authorities for displaying bullets in the window of his pharmacy, labelled "Pills for the Tories."
(If you know anything else about Potts, I'd really love to hear it.)
While we're here, let's have a couple of other odd things that rebels have been arrested for to go alongside the anti-Tory bullets.
In 1842, George Jacob Holyoake (the founder of modern secularism, and one of the co-op movement's great pioneers) was sentenced to six months for suggesting that if God existed, he was doing such a bad job that he should be put on half-pay.
This one's hard to beat: George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, was jailed for refusing to remove his hat in the magistrates’ court. He wasn't the only one nabbed for that terrible crime - dozens of male Quakers were imprisoned for refusing to engage in "hat honour." They believed that all people were created equal, and therefore it was blasphemous to show deference to another’s rank or status by bowing, kneeling, or doffing your headgear.
And perhaps this is the place to shoehorn in the anecdote about James Maxton, socialist member of parliament for a Glasgow constituency, who was a political prisoner during World War One. Chatting to a hardened old villain in the exercise yard one day, the MP asked what the fellow was in for. The reply was a long list of gruesome offences against person and property. "And yourself?" asked the old lag. Maxton told him: "Sedition." At this, the shocked inmate gave him a look of contempt and, so Maxton claimed later, barked: "You bastard - why didn't you just marry the girl?"
Wiltshire industrial history: working class episodes (WaterMarx 2011)
Morning Post, 16 Aug 1841
John S. Clarke by Ray Challinor (Pluto, 1977)