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The political career of Edward Miall, editor of the nonconformist and founder of the liberation society

Newton, J. S. (1975) The political career of Edward Miall, editor of the nonconformist and founder of the liberation society. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



In 1841 Edward Miall began Ms career as a radical journalist and politician. He soon became one of the leaders and propagandists of radical dissent, and was a figure of increasing importance in this field, both as editor of the Nonconformist and as member of Parliament, up to his retirement from active politics in 1874 The central theme of his public life was the attempt to disestablish the Church of England. Though he failed to achieve this, his life's ambition, its pursuit involved him in campaigns for educational reform, university reform, electoral reform, the abolition of church rates, as well as campaigns against established churches in Ireland and in the colonies. These campaigns, to whose success Miall contributed, necessitated alliances with other pressure groups, and led him to found the British Anti- State Church Association, later known as the Liberation Society, one of the most formidable and highly organised of mid-Victorian political bodies. Miall's career as a political tactician exemplifies the problems which confronted dissenters in particular in their search for the redress of their grievances: in general, these were the problems encountered by extra parliamentary pressure groups seeking to secure legislative change from the reformed House of Commons, Miall's aspirations compelled him to seek a wide range of support, radicals, Irish Catholics and working class leaders, and he was among the politicians who helped construct the Liberal coalition which Gladstone led to victory in 1868, and to defeat in 1874. In the Nonconformist, Miall possessed his own organ of opinion: this, together with his numerous tracts, pamphlets and books, makes it possible to reconstruct in considerable detail the history of dissenting agitation in the mid-nineteenth century, its successes and its failures, from his standpoint, and to see in detail the working of a Victorian pressure group, endeavouring to force causes upon Parliament.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1975
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Sep 2013 10:28

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