Slavery in Yorkshire: Richard Oastler and the campaign against child labour in the Industrial Revolution

Edited by John A. Hargreaves and E. A. Hilary Haigh

Cost: £20


ISBN: 978-1-86218-107-6


Subject area: History

Published: December 2012

Dimensions: 17 x 24 x 2

Pages: 238 pages

Publisher: University of Huddersfield Press

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This new collection of essays based upon a conference at the University of Huddersfield, generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, explores the links between Richard Oastler’s extraordinarily influential campaign against child labour in Yorkshire after 1830 and the remarkably successful campaign to abolish the transatlantic slave trade led by Yorkshire MP William Wilberforce before 1807. With contributions from D. Colin Dews, Dr John Halstead, Dr John A. Hargreaves, Dr Janette Martin, Professor Edward Royle and Professor James Walvin, it evaluates the distinctively Yorkshire context of both movements and offers a re-assessment of Oastler’s contribution to their success. It reveals how Oastler’s associations with both evangelical Anglicanism and Nonconformity, especially Methodism, stimulated and sustained his involvement in the ten-hour factory movement and examines the role of the regional press, local grass-roots organisation and Oastler’s powerful oratory in helping to secure a successful outcome to the campaign. In a foreword, the Revd Dr Inderjit Bhogal, a leading figure in both the regional and national commemoration of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in 2007, commends this wide-ranging historical study ‘with its broad perspective as an important contribution to making us all more informed on the whole theme of slavery today’.


Foreword    Inderjit Bhogal

Preface        Timothy J. Thornton

chapter 1    John A. Hargreaves, Introduction: ‘Victims of slavery even on the threshold of our homes’: Richard Oastler and Yorkshire Slavery

chapter 2    James Walvin, William Wilberforce, Yorkshire and the campaign to end transatlantic slavery 1787–1838

chapter 3    D. Colin Dews, Richard Oastler: the Methodist background, 1789–1820

chapter 4    John halstead, The Huddersfield Short Time Committee and its radical associations, c.1820–1876

chapter 5    Edward Royle, Press and People: Oastler’s Yorkshire Slavery campaign in 1830–32

chapter 6    Janette Martin, ‘Oastler is welcome’: Richard Oastler’s triumphant return to Huddersfield, 1844

chapter 7    John A. Hargreaves, Treading on the edge of revolution?’ Richard Oastler (1789–1861) a reassessment


John A. Hargreaves was born and educated in Burnley and later at the University of Southampton, where he obtained a BA honours degree in history and a post-graduate certificate in education. He has taught history on both sides of the Pennines, including twenty years at King James’s School Almondbury and retired as Head of Humanities at Batley Girls’ High School in 2006. He obtained his MA with distinction and his PhD following part-time study at the University of Huddersfield, where he is currently Visiting Research Fellow in History. He is also an Associate of the Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies and has taught in both higher and adult education throughout West Yorkshire. He is author of a history of Halifax (1999; second edition 2003) and is currently writing a history of Huddersfield. He has contributed numerous articles to the Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the Historical Association and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He is General Secretary of the Wesley Historical Society and Vice-President of the World Methodist Historical Society and has received three Yorkshire History Prize Awards and a Personal Achievement Award from the British Association of Local History in 2009.

E.E. Hilary Haigh was born in Honley and educated at Holme Valley Grammar School and the University of Leeds before training as a librarian in Aberystwyth and an archivist at the University of Liverpool. She served as Huddersfield CB Local History Librarian and Archivist from 1964 to 1974; as Kirklees Metropolitan District Archivist and Local Studies Officer from 1974 to 1982 and as the Polytechnic and later University of Huddersfield Archivist from 1991 to 2010. She is Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Huddersfield. She obtained a Master of Philosophy in History at the University of Leeds in 1988 for An Edition of Documents relating to the Township of Thornhill in the West Riding of Yorkshire, c.1684 to c.1789 and is joint founder and the first Honorary Secretary of the Huddersfield Local History Society from 1978 to 1998. She has compiled and edited several publications relating to Huddersfield, including Huddersfield Maps from 1634 (1971), Huddersfield’s Canal Age (1974) and Kirklees Camera 1: Local Transport 1870–1940 (1978); Honley Parish: A History of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin (1986); Huddersfield: Snapshots in Time (1990) and the prize-winning Huddersfield. A Most Handsome Town: Aspects of the History and Culture of a West Yorkshire Town (1992).


"This attractive book deserves a place on the bookshelves of anyone interested in the history of nineteenth-century West Yorkshire."

"Collectively the contributors set the stage for what should be a renaissance of interest in Richard Oastler and the populist Tory discourse of which he was so notable a proponent."

Malcolm Chase (University of Leeds), Yorkshire Archaeological Journal