Rowntree A-Z

Chartist Movement in York

The national Chartist movement campaigned in the 1830s and 1840s to introduce electoral reform in England and to improve the lot of the working-class especially in the northern industrial cities. It was based on a six-point charter, which demanded secret ballots, universal male suffrage, equal electoral districts, payment for MPs, that MPs did not require to be property owners, and annual elections.

Though York was not an industrial town like others in the north, the movement received a boost by the imprisonment of the radical Chartist Feargus O’Connor in York gaol where other notable chartists from the northern industrial towns were also held.  In York, a number of fund-raising initiatives such as social functions were introduced, by comparison with some of the more military and violent actions advocated by the Chartists in other northern towns. By the middle of the 19th century the movement had fallen into decline, following a slow improvement in economic conditions. In their correspondences, the Rowntrees frequently mention many of the issues raised by their Chartist contemporaries.

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