John Bright MP
(1811-1889)

Died aged c. 78

John Bright (16 November 1811 – 27 March 1889), Quaker, was a British Radical and Liberal statesman, one of the greatest orators of his generation and a promoter of free trade policies. He is most famous for battling the Corn Laws. In partnership with Richard Cobden, he founded the Anti-Corn Law League, aimed at abolishing the Corn Laws, which raised food prices and protected landowners' interests by levying taxes on imported wheat. The Corn Laws were repealed in 1846. Bright also worked with Cobden in another free trade initiative, the Cobden–Chevalier Treaty of 1860, promoting closer interdependence between Britain and France. This campaign was conducted in collaboration with French economist Michel Chevalier, and succeeded despite Parliament's endemic mistrust of the French. Bright sat in the House of Commons from 1843 to 1889, promoting free trade, electoral reform and religious freedom. He was almost a lone voice in opposing the Crimean War; he also opposed Gladstone's proposed Home Rule for Ireland. He was a spokesman for the middle class, and strongly opposed to the privileges of the landed aristocracy. In terms of Ireland, he sought to end the political privileges of Anglicans, disestablished the Church of Ireland, and began land reform that would turn land over to the Catholic peasants. He coined the phrase "Mother of Parliaments."

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Commemorated on 3 plaques

Spudgun67 on Wikimedia Commons
Elliott Brown on Flickr
Elliott Brown on Flickr

On this site in the years 1844-1846 were situated the London offices of the Anti-Corn Law League, with which John Bright and Richard Cobden were so closely associated.

69 Fleet Street, EC4, London, United Kingdom where they worked (1844-1846)

Crispin Hall Named after the Patron Saint of Shoemakers, this building was opened by John Bright on October 12th, 1885 after William S. Clark decided to improve the cultural facilities for Clarks employees and other Streetonians. Previously there had been a small library at the factory in the charge of James Lovell the doorkeeper. Art classes and talk on sundry educational subjects were also held there in the reading room which was added later. A large public hall, lecture and reading rooms; a library and a museum were then provided here. The building now houses a number of small businesses and community activities. A display of photographs of Street dating back to the 19th century may be seen inside by the main stairway.

Crispin Hall, 81 High Street, Street, United Kingdom where they opened (1885)

This Library built in the year 1866, and dedicated to public use by an address by George Dawson M.A. on the 26th of October of that year, was partially destroyed by fire on the 11th of January 1879, having been reconstructed and greatly enlarged, was reopened on the 1st of June 1882, by the Right Hon John Bright M.P. Thomas Avery Esqs being Mayor. Messrs Martin and Chamberlain Architects to replace the books destroyed by the fire a sum of £14,000 was forthwith subscribed principally by the burgesses of this borough

Level 9, Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square, Birmingham, United Kingdom where they opened the second Birmingham Central Library (1882)