Place, Francis

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Place, Francis (1771–1854). The ‘radical tailor of Charing Cross’ was associated, either directly or indirectly, with virtually every reform movement from the corresponding societies to chartism. He rose from being a journeyman breeches-maker into a prosperous shopkeeper and employer, from Jacobinism to respectability, and became a disciple of Bentham and Mill. His skill as a backroom organizer was demonstrated in the London Corresponding Society, the Westminster elections, the repeal of the Combination Acts, the 1832 Reform Bill agitation, and chartism. Place believed in working-class advancement through self-help, education, and extension of the franchise. He eschewed violence and advocated alliance with the middle classes. Place accumulated a huge collection of books, pamphlets, and papers of all kinds (now in the British Library) on which historians have relied heavily, without always appreciating the extent to which the record is coloured by Place's partisan views.

John F. C. Harrison

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Francis Place

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