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Jones, Ernest Charles

Jones, Ernest Charles, the son of Charles Jones, a Welsh major in the British army, was born in Berlin on 25 January 1819. He was brought up in Holstein, where he received his early education, before moving to England in 1838. He dabbled in poetry, prose fiction, and music while studying law and was called to the bar in 1844. In 1846, he was converted to Chartism and promptly abandoned law for politics. He made several futile attempts thereafter to gain a seat in the House of Commons.

Jones fought for the Charter tooth and nail, long after the other leaders of the movement had abandoned it. Despite his respectable bourgeois origin and background, he was a devote d socialist, one of the first among the English to be influenced by the teachings of Karl Marx. But, unlike Marx, Jones became convinced that no meaningful reform was possible without the collaboration of the middle and working classes. A remarkable orator, he was one of the most influential of the Chartist leaders. He threw in his lot with the fiery Feargus O'Connor, became co-editor of the Northern Star and supported the more militant branch of the Chartist movement. For his pains, Jones was sentenced to two years of solitary confinement. After his release from prison in 1850, he made several unsuccessful efforts to resurrect the Chartist movement. In 1858, he also established the National Suffrage Movement which played a notable role in the agitation for the parliamentary reform of 1867. In 1861, Jones moved to Manchester and resumed his law practice. In addition to his poetry and his Chartist activities, Ernest Jones is best remembered for his spirited defence of the Irish Fenian pris oners charged with murder in 1867. He died on 26 January 1869.

Keith A.P. Sandiford


Cole, G.D.H. Chartist Portraits (New York, 1965).

Hovell, M. The Chartist Movement (Manchester, 1918).

Porter, T.W. "Ernest Charles Jones (1819-1869)", Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals (Brighton, 1984),II, 263-68.

Saville, J. Ernest Jones: Chart ist (London, 1952).

Slosson, P.W. The Decline of the Chartist Movement (New York, 1916, reprinted 1991).

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