Francis Place

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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, 1771–1854, English radical reformer. A tailor for many years, he educated himself and made his shop a meeting center for radicals and reformers. He was especially active in the trade-union movement; through his efforts the antiunion Combination Acts of 1799–1800 were repealed (1824). He was also an early leader of the Chartists (see Chartism), helping to draft the "People's Charter." His pamphlets on social questions include Illustrations and Proofs of the Principle of Population (1822), one of the earliest tracts on birth control.

See his autobiography, ed. by M. Thale (1972); biographies by G. Wallas (4th ed. 1925, repr. 1951) and M. Dudley (1988).