The History of Shotton - Deeside & The Atkinson Family History
The History of Shotton - Deeside & The Atkinson Family History

Chapter 6 James Swindlehurst         (1847 - ?)


James Swindlehurst was Thomas’s fourth child, born on 18th December 1813 in Preston. James was a Chartist. 


However, It is his son, also called James, who is the main interest here.


James Swindlehurst James Swindlehurst

The Following is reprinted from:
"Independent spirits: Spiritualism and English plebeians, 1850-1910"
by Logie Barrow


Another prominent ILP-er (Independant Labour Party) spiritualist during the 1890s was James Swindlehurst. His father had been a Chartist and his grandfather one of the great pioneers of teetotalism (total abstinence from alcohol). James continued these family traditions. For a time, he was also a secularist. Further. before he became a socialist his main notoriety had been as an opponent of compulsory vaccination (a thoroughly spiritualist stance, as we shall see). Eventually his goods were seized and he and his family evicted. They slept out, and his wife gave birth 'on the cold flags'. He also suffered a fortnight in prison on this issue. By the 1890s, he sat on the executive of both the Spintualist National Fedreration and Lancashire and Cheshire ILP Federation. His oratory was much in demand in Lancashire among spiritualists and socialists alike. He was also a medium. During 1893 by now 'an ardent Socialist', he stood 'against religious bigotry' for Preston Council. In his support his wife mounted the platform to scotch rumours that he was a freelover and a wife-beater but he still lost.


Came from a Chartist and teetotal background. Formerly secularist, he was. by 1877, speaking publicly for spiritualism. For this (and perhaps for his trade unionism). James suffered victimisation, distraint and imprisonment. His wife, after they had been evicted for same reasons. gave birth 'on the cold flags'. James became a medium and locally prominent as both spirituafist and socialist.

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Wednesday 22 March 1876 Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Wednesday 22 March 1876

As stated above, James was an opponant of compulsory vaccination. The 1873 Vaccination Act made vaccination against smallpox compulsory. Soon after this there was considerable resistance to this compulsion, and this grew.


As the article on the right shows, James was fined for not complying with this law.

Manchester Evening News - Wednesday 24 October 1877 Manchester Evening News - Wednesday 24 October 1877



His continued resistance can be seen from the article on the left, 18 months later, where he states that he has already been fined five times.


It is not known if his child was eventually forced to have the vaccination.