George Holyoake

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George Holyoake was born on 13 April 1817, and was baptised on 08 at 1817 at St Martin, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England.[1] [2] He was the brother of Henry Holyoake and Horatio Holyoake. George Holyoake was known for his involvement in Chartism [3]and for English social reform. He died at Eddington in 1899.[4]

George Holyoake wrote an editorial on the marriage of Lola Montez to Lieutenant Heald. LOLA MONTES AND THE QUEEN By G J Holyoake

A curious fact in connection with Lola Montes’ marriage appeared in the Times, Daily News, and other papers, upon which we thought at the time to offer a remark. The recent reappearance of Lola Montes at Marlborough Street, and the speech of Mr. Clarkson, have brought the subject again under our notice. The fact we refer to is that the Marquis of Londonderry – colonel f the regiment to which Lieut Heald, the present husband of Lola Montes, belonged – had applied to the Queen to insist on the Lieutenant withdrawing from the regiment, which ‘might possibly be prejudiced’ by his marriage. This is a precious instance of military morality. Had Lieutenant Heald, like the King of Bavaria, Sir Robert Peel’s son, and many others, taken Lola Montes under his ‘protection’ – ie made her his mistres – there would hae been no ‘disgrace’ brought upon the morally acute regiment to which he belonged; but in doing the only conventionally honourable thing which he could do, make her his wife, he is considered so to have ‘disgraced’ his regiment that the Queen must fain interfere. Even Mr Clarkson, the aunt’s solicitor, talked at the Marlborough Street last Wednesday, in the same strain, of the ‘disgraceful marriage’ of the Lieutenant. Yet these are the people who profess to be so shocked whenever the least revision is proposed of our matrimonial morality. We should like much to know what the Queen, who is said to have fine womanl feelings and as independent judgment, really said when this application came before her – if, indeed, it was permitted to reach her. Inasmuch as the Queen may regard the matter as an affair of bigamy we do not question, from anything known to the public, the propriety of reprehension; we refer to that part (which appears to be the burden of the application) in which she is called upon to dismiss Lieutenant Heald because he had married a woman with whom he was resolved to live. Mr Clarkson makes this clear in his Marlborough Street homily to the world, in which he calls Mr Heald’s marriage ‘as illegal as it was disgraceful’. By which Mr Clarkson teaches us that society thinks it is more honourable to keep a mistress than to marry one. Is it clearly understood, or even pretended, that no officer in Lieutenant Heald’s regiment has a mistress? No, no. That kind of thing is fashionable, and brings no disgrace on the regiment; but to take a woman from the dangerous habits of the Countess of Landsfeldt, and restore her to superior life, is ‘disgraceful’ to Her Majesty’s most moral Second Life Guards.So much for military morality, supervised, as the commanding officer would make it appear by the Queen of England.
In one public profession it frequently occurred, in the last century, that eminent members married their mistresses: and even to this day there are instances, of some celebrity, in which it has been done in the same body. Whatever may be thought of the morality of these intimacies in their origin, there can be no question that the conclusion was honourable. We are aware that the social recognition of the reputableness of such connections presents conventional difficulties; but these difficulties sink into insignificance before the serious injustice, which prudery sanctions on the other hand. It is well known that in the higher ranks of life, and even at Court,that a man may turn his mistress out of doors, and abandon his children by such connection to oblequy and want, and marry some one more fortunate, an be a ‘most honourable man’: but if he should be honourable in a better sense, and make reparation by marriage to one who had shared his early affections and pecuniary misfortunes every avenue to courtly favour and promotion would be at once barred from him. Such is the morality in hgh places which frowns on social reformation.[5]

Goldfields Involvement, 1854

George Holyoake wrote an editorial on the notorious Lola Montez in his radical socialist journal The Reasoner.

Post 1854 Experiences


The death is announced, at the advanced age of 88, of Mr. George Jacob Holyoake, the well known Chartist and writer on social and industrial subjects. Mr George Holyoake, born at Birmingham, 1817, was educated at the Mechanics' Institution in that town. He was appointed superintendent of assistants of the first Exhibition, of Arts and Manufactures held in Birmingham in 1839; teacher of mathematics to the Mechanics' Institution, and one of the lecturers to explain the social system of Robert Owen, 1841. In 1846 he was awarded the five prizes offered by the Independent Order of Oddfellows for five new degree lectures Upon Knowledge, Charity, Justice, Science, and Progress. He was acting-secretary to the British legion sent out to Garibaldi; and secretary of the Hyde Park Demonstration Committee against Lord Palmerston's Conspiracy Bill. Mr. Holyoake was the founder of 'Secularism,' a system which, according to him bases duty on considerations purely human, relies on material means of improvement, justifying its beliefs to the conscience, irrespective of Atheism, Theism, or Revelation.' He was the author of numerous works on working-class education, theological criticism, politics, and co-operation; 'Uses of Euclid'; Reasoning from Facts'; 'Public Speaking and Debate'; 'Trial of Theism' '? 'History of Middlesborough on-Tees'; Letters to Lord John Russell on an 'Intelligence Franchise'; 'The Political Situation'; a letter to Joseph Cowen, which J. S. Mill declared in 1865 to be the best of Mr. Holyoake's political writings'; 'The History of Co-operation in Rochdale,' which, caused upwards of 250 cooperative societies to be founded in two years, ^and has been translated into the chief European and Indian languages ; 'A History of Co-operation in England,' in two vols.; and 'A New Defended of the Ballot' which 'Mr. Bright described as the only original argument for it he had seen. ' He was the editor of 30 volumes of the "Reasoner.' ' Mr. Holyoake. was the last person, imprisoned in England for alleged Atheism. The cause was an answer given in debate after a lecture upon Home Colonies (1841). Mr. Justice Erskine admitted that Mr. Holyoake did not introduce theology into the address, and merely gave an honest answer to a public question, but sentenced him to six months' imprisonment to encourage him in candor. Mr. Holyoake was also, the last person against whom an indictment was issued by the Court of Exchequer for publishing unstamped papers in support of the society for Repealing the Taxes upon Knowledge. Mr. Holyoake (having incurred upwards of £600,000 of fines, Mr. Gladstone said to a deputation upon the subject that 'he recognised that Mr. Holyoake's object was not to break the law, but to try the law." The repeal- of the Newspaper Stamp Act, however, caused the prosecution to be abandoned. He was chiefly instrumental in causing the Evidence Amendment Bill to be pass ed, which legalised purely secular affirmations. He suggested and furnished the scheme of the series of blue books issued by Lord Clarendon, prepared by the Foreign Office on the "Condition of the Industrial Classes in Foreign Countries." It was on his suggestion, made when Lord John Manners was Commissioner of Works that the limelight was placed over the clock tower at Westminster, to denote at night when Parliament was sitting. A later work was the 'Life of Joseph Rayner Stephens, Preacher and Ora tor." In 1882 he a second time visited Canada and the United States to pro pose to the Governments of both countries the issue of a Settlers' Guide Book, to be prepared and published on, their authority, Mr. Gladstone making Mr Holyoake two grants from the public service fund in aid of this object. Mr. Holyoake edited the first, three volumes of the 'Present Day ' a journal discussing. 'Agitated Questions without Agitation.' His recent works are: "Among the Americans, ' ' "A Hundred/Days Abroad in New Mexico and Canada," and 'Hostile and Geneous Toleration.' He was a member or the central board since its first establishment in 1860. He also publish "Self-Help One Hundred Years Ago," 18900; "The Co-operative Movement of To-day,"' 1891; 'Sixty Years of an Agitator's Life,' 1892 ;' 'Public ' Speaking and Debate,' 1894; 'Origin and Nature of Secularism,' showing that where free thought commonly ends secularism begins, 1896; 'Jubilee History of the Leeds Co-operative Society,' 1897.) [6]

In the news

DEATH. HOLYOAKE.-On the 23rd January, at his late residence. 303 Nicholson-street, Carlton, Henry Thomas, the dearly beloved husband of Jane Burns, and fourth son of the late George Holyoake, of Birmingham, England, aged 50 years. SATURDAY. JANUARY 29, 1881.[7]

See also


Henry Holyoake

Further Reading

Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.

Australia Joint Copying Project, Entry 231, reel M392. Six letters from Horatio Holyoake and Henry Holyoake to their brother George Holyoake and to their mother dated 1854 to 1973. The letters are written from Ballarat, Blackwood and Melbourne, and describe work and life on the Victorian goldfields and comment on Victorian parliamentarians and politics. They point to the high standing of George Jacob Holyoake in Australia and the support he had received in the Argus, and contain news of family matters.[8]


  1. Corfield, J., Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
  3. Wickham, D., Gervasoni, C. & Phillipson, W., Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999.
  4. Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
  5. The Reasoner
  6. Kalgoorlie Miner, 25 January 1906.
  7. Bacchus Marsh Express, 29 January 1881.

External links

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