These are photos of the indefatigable Dan Chatterton - atheist, commune-ist, anarchist, propagandist ... and bill poster. He was born in Clerkenwell in 1820 and died amid the slums of Covent Garden 75 years later. The photo on the left seems to have been produced to sell at a shilling each for his burial fund.
I've long been fascinated by Chatterton and his uncompromising and rebellious polemics self-published as pamphlets and in his (roughly) quarterly entirely self-produced news sheet, Chatterton's Commune. There's more about him and his writings here.
And I've just found a new and rather wonderful account of Chatterton by a contemporary in the Charles Bradlaugh papers at the Bishopsgate Institute - with many thanks to Bob Forder for the reference.
It's in a letter to Bradlaugh's daughter, Hypatia Bradlaugh-Bonner, from Charles W. Barker of Lavender Hill, undated but clearly written shortly after Bradlaugh's death in January 1891 and one of hundreds of condolence letters.
Here are the relevant pages:
And here's a transcript of Barker's comments:
'My opinion of your father is not unlike that expressed to me by old Dan Chatterton in August last. I made Dan's acquaintance twelve or thirteen years ago under the St Pancras Arches, + since then have had many a free + easy conversation with him. He was looking very bad when I saw him last August: so I remarked "Dan; if you were to die who would bury you?" "That hardly concerns me" replied the old man "perhaps the parish thieves might put the old boy (himself) under the turf or he might be buried at Charlie Bradlaugh's expense". "Look here Dan" I remarked "I don't see why you should think Bradlaugh would bury you. You preach doctrines the exact reverse of those he favours. You are a regular bloodthirsty, impractical old anarchist Bradlaugh is a methodicial revolutionist". "That's right enough" said the old man "+ many a wigging - many a wigging old Charlie (your father) has given me" but - + here the old man dropped his gay + reckless tone + put not a little rough pathos into his style "but old Charlie has given the old man (Dan) other things beside a wigging. When all the -- -- thieves hadn't a crust or a good word for Old 'Chat', Charlie Bradlaugh could generally give the old man a dinner. Yes, my boy, Charlie's has fed me more than once; + I believe rather than let the parish thieves touch my carcase, he'd bury me if I were to die before him."
'The last words of the old man sound painfully now: for when I looked at him + called before my mind's eye the stalwart figure of your father, I thought within myself "Well Dan we shall doubtless see whether Charlie Bradlaugh will or will not bury you" little thinking that whilst the old irreconcilable (Chatterton) continued to throw the shadow of his bent + wasted figure on my path, Charles Bradlaugh, massive as Dan is meagre, would be resting beneath a hillock from which no shadows of the dead beneath it spread themselves across the landscape.'
Old Chat outlived Bradlaugh by more than four years, Bradlaugh wasn't around to bury him. His burial fund clearly didn't amount to much.
Chatterton was buried in a pauper's grave and the burial spot remains unmarked.
Victory at the Cottage
I don't get to see Huddersfield Town play for a couple of years and more - and then get to two games in a month.
Today's game was the toughest in the Championship - at the league leader's, Fulham. The bookies were giving odds of 10-1 on a Town victory. How wrong could they be!
Full time score: Fulham 1, Huddersfield Town 2.
It's a bit too soon to say that Town are heading up, but we can hope, can't we!
Top of the Town: Sharky's
Just the job! Fish and chips at Sharky's just by Huddersfield's covered marked on my way to see Town play.
It's become something of a routine - from the station, a quick sit down meal here, a browse round the market stalls (on Saturday, a lot sell second hand tat, just my sort of thing), and then on to watch Huddersfield Town.
But my trip yesterday was my first in more than two years (Town won 1-0 against Barnsley - thanks for asking!)
Sharky's is fulsome fare - not fancy, but then my medium size fish and chips, plus a slice and a cup of tea was a snip at £5.75. A pity they had no haddock, but I can live with cod if I have to.
Here's to the next time!
This is Peter the Painter - fashionably dressed and with a splendid moustache. He looks like a pillar of the establishment. In fact, he was quite the opposite and part of a long line of anti-heroes in the East End of London.
Peter was a Latvian anarchist and nationalist who was believed to be a central figure in two sensational incidents of violence. The first was in December 1910, when a group of Latvian emigres were interrupted while trying to break through a party wall into a jeweller's shop in Houndsditch in the City of London. Three unarmed policemen were shot dead - and one of the gang died from shots fired by an accomplice.
A couple of weeks later - in January 1911 - two of the suspected gunmen were tracked down to a room at 100 Sidney Street in Stepney. A shoot-out lasting six hours ensued, and ended only when the house caught fire. Both gunmen died at the scene.
It's probable that Peter the Painter was neither at Houndsditch at the time of the shoot-out nor involved in the 'Siege of Sidney Street', but helped by his alliterative nom de guerre and the wanted posters put out by the police, he became something of a legend: the criminal mastermind who managed to get away.
The conventional account of Peter the Painter is that his identity has never been ascertained. In fact, the City of London police were confident that they could put a name to him by the close of 1912. But he wasn't in Britain and they had no evidence sufficient to secure extradition, so they kept quiet.
The anarchist and historian Phil Ruff has told the story of the afterlife of Peter the Painter, in as much as it can be retrieved, in his book A Towering Flame.
At the weekend, I strolled round the City and adjoining East End in the footsteps of Peter the Painter.
Harris's jewellers was on the north side of Houndsditch just beyond the junction with Cutler Street. Nowadays there's not a single building within 100 yards of the spot that was there back in 1910. But the street layout is much the same. (And there at the eastern end of Houndsditch you can see St Botolph's, Aldgate - often regarded as the entry point to the East End.)
The gang sought to burrow in from the back of the shop, having taken a tenancy on a tiny house in 11 Exchange Buildings, the outside loo of which shared a wall with the jeweller's. Those buildings are long gone - but what was Exchange Buildings remains a yard with an entrance on Cutler Street.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
Welcome - read - comment - throw stones - pick up threads - and tell me how to do this better!