Jeremiah Yates




In 1935 I visited with my father St. Mark's Church, Shelton in the English potteries to see the impressive memorial in the churchyard to Jeremiah Yates, his grandfather. Regrettably I did not copy down the inscription and, when I next visited the churchyard after the war, the memorial and other gravestones had been cleared away. My father told me that Jeremiah had been a Chartist leader, had been sent to prison and, when he died quite young, had a funeral procession, two miles long.

After my fathers death in 1952 I received an early photograph of Jeremiah and a tattered copy of Thomas Cooper's autobiography in which he recalled "lodging at honest and devoted Jeremiah I resolved to complete my family tree of the descendants of Jeremiah and to discover what I could of his life after more than a century. With the aid of the Census returns; certificates of births, marriages and deaths and perusal of files of "The Staffordshire Advertiser" I wrote an account of Jeremiah's trial, compiled a family tree and copied it in 1975 to about one hundred descendants.

I had been intending to study further the files of Chartist newspapers when, on 16 July 1984, I saw by chance in the GUARDIAN an IN MEMORIAM notice "COOPER (THOMAS): Chartist & Poet. The time will come". Intrigued I wrote via the Guardian to the advertiser, Stephen Roberts of Sutton Coldfield, who is researching Chartism. He introduced me to Robert Fyson of Newcastle under Lyme who is specialising in Potteries Chartism. Both knew a lot about Jeremiah Yates and I am grateful to both for introducing me to valuable further sources of information. I have now spent time in the Public Record Office in London and the British Newspaper Library at Colindale, have handled a dozen letters written & signed by Jeremiah and read some fifty newspaper references to him. 

What I have written is not, in any sense, a history of Chartism in the Potteries. I merely record the mentions of Jeremiah in the printed record. These give details of his Chartist life but almost nothing at his wife and of his home life. Nevertheless, I hope that his descendants will all be as proud and as moved as I was to read about the difficult but rewarding life of Jeremiah.

Alan Yates
Hampstead 1985