Oxted & District History Society - Talk
Oxted & District History Society

by Katherine Stearn, a teacher, gave an illustrated lecture to the Oxted & District History Society entitled ‘So Much More than Rural Rides’, describing William Cobbett and his extraordinary life.

Born in Farnham in 1763, William Cobbett founded Hansard in 1803 and from 1802 until his death in 1835, he edited ‘Cobbett’s Weekly Register’, the first newspaper not affiliated to a political party.  He played a large part in bringing about the Great Reform Act of 1832, ending Rotten Boroughs and giving representation to the new industrial towns.  He wrote best selling books on English grammar and the economy, the latter demonstrating how a large national debt tends to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.  He was elected as MP for Oldham, a newly enfranchised Borough in 1832, without spending a penny on bribes, which was most unusual at the time.

In his early life, Cobbett had worked on his father’s farm, as an attorney’s clerk at Gray’s Inn, joined the Army and travelled tio Canada, where he rose through the ranks to become a sergeant-major, spent 6 months in France and then in America set up a school in Philadelphia and wrote political pamphlets against the French Revolution.  His was a remarkable life as a radical, journalist and farmer.


So Much More Than Rural Rides by Katherine Stearn