Picture of Edwin Russell

Edwin Russell

places mentioned

Nov. 11 to 14: Bosbury and Weston Beggard

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BOSBURY.— On Monday, Nov. 11th, another meeting was held here, and on this occasion the opposition party did not come as on the previous one, or if they did they thought it much the wisest plan to keep quiet. We had a splendid meeting, although out-of-doors; the night was cold, frosty, and starlight [sic.], the muster about 400. The place of meeting was near the churchyard, and the speakers were Mr. Russell and Mr. Forster. The subject was 'Combination: will it benefit the agricultural labourer?' The speeches were told well, and all was peaceable and orderly. Cheers were given for the Union, and 13 new members enrolled their names, making in the newly-formed branch in Bosbury 57 members in all.

ASHPERTON.— On Thursday, Nov. 12, we went from Bosbury to Ashperton. This is a large parish, but very thinly populated; indeed, looking at the few labourers' dwellings about this part of the country one might wonder where the farmers find the men to do their work; but it is right little they have done. Well, on a large village green near the blacksmith's shop, and about 200 or 300 yards from a public-house, called the Holly Bush, we took our stand about seven o'clock. We had a beautiful moonlight night for our proceedings. This was the first labourers' meeting ever held in this parish; indeed, it was only last week, at a ploughing match and farmer's dinner, which was held in the same village (according to the papers), the Rev. Mr. Buckle, the minister of the place, was congratulating the farmers on the blissful fact that their neighbourhood had not been troubled or disturbed by those mischievous agitators and their abominable Union, and he thought the people in that part were very well off, and that the farmers used their men very well. But be that as it may, if neither that rev. gentleman nor the farmers wanted them the men did, as over 400 hard horny-handed sons of toil came together from somewhere to hear the Union advocates. One or two farmers came to the meeting and began to make a splutter, but the horse-pond nearby was mentioned, and they made off, as it would have been a cold bath that night. — Mr. Forster spoke to the men a short time, and then Mr. Russell tried to show them what the Union had done, what it was now doing, and what it was intended to do. After speaking for more than an hour the men gave hearty cheers for the Union and the speakers, and it was arranged for Mr. Forster to come down on the following Wednesday night and start a branch of the Union.

WESTON BEGGARD.- On Wednesday, Nov. 13, a first class meeting was held here, and 33 members enrolled. After an able address, well delivered by Mr. Russell, the well-known advocate, who is now turning the county of Hereford upside-down (and need to, for it is now wrong side up). Wages here range from 8s. to 10s. per week. The hard-hearted taskmasters or slave-drivers seem to have very little if any humanity about them, caring more for their cattle than their labourers. The men here are working all the hours of daylight, and more than that, for a paltry 8s. or 10s. per week, and some of the women work almost up to their knees in mud and dirt, clearing turnips, mangolds, and swedes, for about 3d. or 4d. per day; and little lads, scarcely able to hold the whip, are working for 1s. or 1s. 6d. per week. And then, what insulting sneers and jeers the farmers give the agitators because they ask the men to join together in Union to better their condition and position in life. These are things which, when witnessed throughout the county, will make anyone who has got the welfare of humanity at heart to speak out, and write, too, in strong language; the wonder is that the men have put up with it so long, but now they are coming to the front, with a determination to go in for their rights. We think we hear a thousand voices say, ''God help them!' At the close of the meeting Mr. Russell had several invitations from adjoining parishes to come over and help them.— At Withington, the next parish, we started a branch about three weeks ago, which numbers now about 54 members, with a prospect of more joining,

COLWELL — On Thursday, November 14, we held a labourers' meeting here, but unfortunately, the night was fearfully cold, and the attendance consequently very thin. The 'screw' has been put upon the men most unmercifully in this part, and they seem to have neither life, freedom, nor independence about them.

Edwin Russell, Reports in the Labourers' Union Chronicle , No. 14 (Nov. 23, 1872), pp. 6

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