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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Manchester

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Myths and Legends
Manchester Mens League for Women's Suffrage

© Manchester Archives & Local Studies
Our father who art a liberal

A utopian socialist

Richard Pankhurst was born in Stoke in May 1834. His father, a stockbroker and former auctioneer, broke with family tradition and exchanged Conservative leanings in favour of reformist views.

Richard was encouraged from an early age to question the status quo; when, as a Sunday school teacher, he was confronted with the crushing poverty of his pupils, he abandoned his Baptist faith and become an agnostic. Educated at Manchester Grammar School, he graduated in 1858 and immediately became active in humanitarian initiatives; organizing free evening tuition for the working class of the city.

Richard Pankhurst
Richard Pankhurst, late 18th Century
© Manchester Archives & Local Studies
Choosing to pursue a career as a barrister, what would become Richard’s Achilles heel emerged in the form of a zealous attachment to every passing cause. This resulted in a poor head for business, but a warm heart for those who required a champion of the law.

Distinguished by a reddish, pointed beard, deep-set eyes and rather high-pitched speaking voice; his extreme views were a source of inspiration to many. But to some he was a figure of ridicule, a wild card within Manchester’s political milieu and a cause of concern to those members of the Liberal Whig party who considered him something of a loose cannon – one who could cause them much damage by association. These beliefs included equal rights for women, the abolition of The House of Lords, home rule for the Irish, free secular education for all and the disestablishment of The Church of England.

Words: Bren O'Callaghan

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1 Penny McCusker from Sale - 14 January 2004
"Have you any information on Baguley Hall on the edge of Wythenshaw.There is I think a conectoin dating back to the Vikings "

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