Remembering Martin James Boon
In the post today, I received this rather wonderful book - published in 1885 by the noted, and distinctly quarrelsome, radical Martin Boon.
Yes, it's an odd volume - both volumes together would have been well beyond my pocket.
Boon is a hugely interesting figure in the annals of radicalism. He was born in 1840 in Clerkenwell, greatly influenced by the Chartist Bronterre O'Brien, active alongside Karl Marx in the First International and a lively and quixotic campaigner above all for land and currency reform. There was also a distinct puritan streak to his views - he disapproved both of lasciviousness and of contraception.
In 1874, Martin Boon - who had campaigned actively against emigration - emigrated. To South Africa. There he made himself hugely unpopular by tilting at just about every windmill he could find - Boers, Jews, and black South Africans all came under his withering gaze. He wrote prolifically about the place, and didn't find all that much positive to relate. This book concludes: 'I HAVE NOT WRITTEN TO PLEASE, BUT TO REFORM.' He certainly didn't please, getting himself involved in a succession of court cases and public rows.
Boon played a part in the development of the goldfields in the Transvaal. He died there - apparently taking his own life by jumping into a mine shaft - on December 27th 1888. I realised with a start that today is the 125th anniversary of his death. For all his idiosyncracies and often intemperate views, he deserves remembrance.
Martin James Boon, 1840-1888: land nationaliser, currency reformer, radical propagandist and pamphleteer, settler in and chronicler of South Africa.
Hi Andrew and Duncan, Martin James is my great grandfather, and I was very excited to find your post and response. I am from SA but now live in Australia, where I was lucky enough to find a complete set of The Immortal History for sale from a private collection! It is very hard to research Martin James' political activity in England from either South Africa or Australia, so if either of you could point me in the direction of reading material, I would be very grateful.
Absolutely wonderful to hear from you, Laura. I wondered whether my blog would ever reach any of Boon's family and I am thrilled that it has. I will email you a copy of the entry I wrote about your great grandfather for the 'Dictionary of Labour Biography' - I also wrote a brief article many years ago about the equally interesting and remarkable Eleanor Boon..
Hi Laura I am Martin James great great grandson down my mothers line. My family have a farm in Boons which we go to for weekends every now and then. Next to the farm house we go to which was built in the eatly 19 hundreds are the remains of the house where Martin lived. My great grandfather was Martin Ridley Boon. Would be great to make contact ....
Hi Laura my mistake, i got my great grandfathers name order wrong .... My great grandfather is Ridley Martin Boon not Martin Ridley - Martin's brother ..... sorry about that slip up.
This is the website with images and documents
Hi there, as you can see I am JEANNETTE BOON and proud to be. I am the daughter of Cyril Henry Boon 1911 to 1990. My dad is the son of Thomas Henry Boon. 1873 - 1912 born in England pissibly from the Croydon area near London. He is the middle son of Martin James Boon 1841 - 1988. I live in Pretoria presently. I wish our great grand father could write another bookin the present time. Now that would be interesting. Let meknow where every one is living. I am on FB. Jeannette Boon with the bird alongside me and the NEXUS GLOBAL tag. Please to meet all of you. Contact me.
Morning Duncan, I've just started listening to the immortal history and it is mind boggling. My family has become very interested and my nephew has actually asked me to try and put something dramatically 2gether for the family. Duncan how do you fit in with Martin James so that I can just share with my son and nephews. Martin James had two sons born in Britain and one son born in South Africa. They were Martin Ridley boon and Thomas Henry boon and Ridley boon. My grandfather was Thomas Hendry boom. And Laura who would be her grandfather. This is so exciting I so wish my father could still be here with us and explain to us as children and especially myself it meant nothing it was like one of my father's crazy ideas not realising the significance of it all. Now that I am the only Survivor of my father suddenly I am trying to put everything together. I myself have 4 children 3 daughters and a son . I in particular would like to trace Back My Roots for a British passport. Now I've discovered my famous and sister and I am so thrilled.
Hi Duncan, please give me your email address I tried sending you an email to the Westminster address but it came back as address unknown you have my email address. Jeannette.email@example.com. I would like to be able to send you some photos and speak to you more directly. I would also like to be able to contact Laura I think you might have her e-mail address please.
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