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Bust of John Bright

Robinson & Leadbetter
1870 - 1880

John Bright was born in 1811 at Greenbank, Rochdale. His father, Jacob Bright was a Quaker and cotton manufacturer, and the family were looked upon as social reformers and ‘enlightened’ employers.

John was an influential member of the ‘Anti-Church Rate Party’ in Rochdale (who sought to abolish the Church of England’s right to levy a rate off everyone, including non-conformists). He was also a member of the ‘Anti -Corn Law League’ who campaigned for the repeal of the hated Corn Law – a tax on imported corn that was hated by mill-owners and their workers alike.

The Corn Law was repealed in 1846, by which time Bright had entered politics as M.P. for Durham.

John Bright proved to be a powerful speaker in parliament, although in 1857 he lost his seat in Manchester through his anti-war stance during the Crimean War. As a Quaker he had very strong anti-war principles, and he is famous for his ‘Angel of Death ‘ speech to the Commons.