Chapter

The Political Messiah

Dr Philip Lockley

in Visionary Religion and Radicalism in Early Industrial England

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199663873
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744792 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199663873.003.0009

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs

The Political Messiah

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This chapter narrates a new history of the radical career of Zion Ward and his Southcottian supporters in the 1830s, especially during the 1831-32 Reform Bill agitations. It uncovers connections between Ward’s Southcottians and notable radical figures, and offers persuasive explanations for how such links came about and the complex history of plebeian ideas that they reveal. Ward addressed large crowds at the epicentre of London radicalism in this period – the  Blackfriars Rotunda – due to the sympathies and strategies of the Rotunda’s owner, Richard Carlile. New sources reveal Ward and Carlile’s working relationship was premised on specific beliefs about each other. On Ward’s part, these were grounded in a new understanding of how political radicalism itself could serve his messianic cause. Evidence for widespread radical support for Ward when imprisoned in 1832 further locates the defence of ‘religious opinion’ among the ways and means of English radicalism in this period.

Keywords: blackfriars Rotunda; Richard Carlile; messianic Cause; radicalism; reform Bill; zion Ward

Chapter.  11608 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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