Picture of Edwin Russell

Edwin Russell

places mentioned

Sept. 28 to Oct. 2: Great Risington to Winchcombe

Next Selection Previous Selection

GREAT RISINGTON.— A correspondent writes:— Saturday September 28th, we held a good meeting at Great Risington, near Burford. About 300 labourers and their wives got together, although it was Saturday, and the night very cold and frosty. They stood together well, cheering the speakers and the Union. Mr. Hemming and Mr. Russell were the speakers on the occasion. We counseled the men to be firm and united, and stand well together in union. We understood that they had been threatened by their employers; but the men seem determined, in spite of all opposition, to maintain their ground. Cheers for the Queen and Union brought the meeting to a close. There is a good working branch here.

MITTON.— On Sunday September 29th, as Mr. Russell was staying in this part of the country, he was invited to preach to the labourers at the Primitive Baptist Chapel at Mitton, which was given up for the service. It had been previously announced, and crowds of union men, with their blue ribbons in their hats could be seen wending their way to chapel, some from a long distance. The chapel, which is capable of seating a good many, was filled to overflowing both afternoon and night, many having to stand outside. The subject for the afternoon was 'the binding of the scarlet line in the window, at the time when Joshua took the city of Jericho'; at night, 'David and the Philistines, or the shaking of the mulberry trees'. The preacher endeavoured to show that unity was strength in each of these cases, and that if we, like the ancients, were united, we should surely succeed. There was good attention all through the meetings, and we hope that good, both to the soul and the body, for time and eternity, was done.

CHEDWORTH.— September 30th. Mr. Russell and Mr. Hemming walked about fourteen miles to hold a labourers' meeting at Chedworth, a small village about six miles from Northleach. The attendance was good, and the attention was great. A branch is flourishing in this place. Several came forward and enrolled themselves as members in Union. Three cheers for the Queen and Union were given, and thus a good meeting terminated.

BROCKHAMPTON.— Tuesday, October 1st. The delegates went across the county another twelve or fourteen miles, on foot (as railways are unknown in this part of the world) from Chedworth to Brockhampton, where they held a large meeting of labourers on the village green, and explained the principles upon which the Union is based. There was very good order and great attention paid; but the masters had been amongst the men with such threats of how they would serve them in the winter, that when we invited them to come forward and identify themselves with the movement which has for its object the emancipation of the serfs of the soil, the men hung back afraid, and only a few enrolled themselves as members. Nevertheless, we have made a start here, and in time, after another visit or two to the place, there is no doubt but what we shall have a good strong branch. This was the first visit paid to the place by the advocates of the Union.

WINCHCOMBE.— Wednesday, October 2nd. Across the country several miles, where there are no railways made as yet, and where stone walls take the place of hedge-rows, the delegates wandered, up hill and down dale, until they came to Winchcombe, a small old-fashioned town, which appears to have almost grown out of date. There are about 3,000 inhabitants, the greater part of them agricultural labourers, and yet, strange to say, they have never had a labourers' meeting. They had heard of the movement, and had at length sent to the office at Leamington, asking for the visit of a delegate. Mr. Russell was deputed to attend, in company with Mr. Hemming, of Barrington (Chairman of the Northleach Board). They sent on the bills, announcing their coming, and now paid a visit to the place. They found that the bills had been well distributed, and were led to expect a large number of labourers at the meeting. They found several of the more influential men in the place favourable to the movement — amongst others, the Church minister, the Rev. Mr. Jackson, who was present during the whole of the meeting, and the high bailiff, Dr. Newman, who proffered the use of the Town Hall; but that not being considered large enough, we stood opposite his house, by his request. A band of music played, while the labourers marched through part of the town, in a long procession of men, women, and children; but as the hour was getting late, and by this time great numbers of people were anxious to hear the advocates of the Union speak on the subject, a wagon was brought to the spot, which served well for a platform. A labourer named Jotham Fry was called upon to preside, who, in a few quaint, but useful remarks, introduced the speakers to the meeting. The people assembled by this time could not have been less than 2,000, and still they kept increasing, and all seemed anxious to hear. Mr. Hemming delivered a well-received speech, which was frequently applauded. At the close of his address, the band struck up a popular air, and after the strains of the music had died away in the distance, Mr. Russell raised his voice in the advocacy of our noble movement. The vast concourse of people listened with great attention while he explained the constitution and rules and how the Union was conducted. All seemed to be well satisfied, and after inviting anyone to come up and speak on the other side of the question, no one attempted to come forward, so they began to enroll names, and form a branch, thirty members joining there and then, and scores said they would come and join another night, as they were not prepared with the entrance fee of six-pence. Three cheers for the Queen, three for the speakers and chairman, and three for the loan of the wagon, brought one of the best meetings to an end, that was ever held in the old town of Winchcombe.

Edwin Russell, Reports in the Labourers' Union Chronicle , No. 8 (Oct. 12, 1872), p. 6

Next Selection Previous Selection