Simon Cocker, convenor of an informal Comrades of Cuffay group in Australia, is making good progress towards erecting a permanent memorial close to the grave of the well-known London Chartist leader. Of West Indian slave heritage, Cuffay was transported to Van Diemans Land for his role in the Chartist movement in 1848 and died in the Hobart’s quivalent of a workhouse hospital in 1870.
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Other Cuffay news
Simon Cocker is also composing a folk opera Cuffay and the Brother Slaves, for performance later this year. He has also been involved in the production of a three-part documentary series Death or Liberty. The series, which has Irish, Australian and Tasmanian government funding, is based on Tony Moore’s book Death or Liberty: rebels and radicals transported to Australia, 1788-1868 (Millers Point, NSW: Pier 9, 2010). It explores the contribution to Australian nineteenth century politics and current democracy of the British, Irish and American political prisoners exiled to Australia. Scenes have already been recently filmed in Hobart for part of the episode that deals particularly with William Cuffay. Simon writes: ites: “I had the pleasure, along with colleagues from the [Hobart] Grassroots Union Choir, of singing backing vocals for two Billy Bragg songs that are part of the documentary for the production and at a concert also featuring Mick Thomas and Lisa ONeill” (two leading Australian singer songwriters). For more details see http://www.roarfilm.com.au/development.html.
And for on Billy Bragg’s involvement see http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-23/billy-bragg-wows-hobart-music-lovers-with-a-one-off-performance/6042516
From Chartist Newsletter 13 (May 2015) edited by Malcolm Chase.
Letter from Cuffay to Britain May 1857
The newsletter also includes the text of the following letter from Cuffay I found in the Croydon Chronicle of 16 May 1857:
‘LETTERS FROM AN EXPATRIATED ONE. A contemporary publishes a letter from Mr. Cuffey (who, it will be remembered, was transported for his participation in the Chartist disturbances.), dated Hobart Town, Feb. 1.
“I dare say my Chartist friends think it strange I have never written them, but that I will not so while in bondage. Mr. Frost can tell you why. My best respects to him when you see him. Yes, still in bondage, so many months after we see accounts of Smith O’Brien, Frost and others being safe at home! Perhaps our old friend Mr. Duncombe will put a question in the ‘House’ to Mr. Labouchere upon that subject. Tell my Chartist brethren, who do not ‘faint on the way,’ to struggle on; for here, in the very dust-hole of the Empire, as it is sometimes called, we have a ten pound franchise, the ballot, no property qualification, and equal electoral districts. Huzza!My friend can tell you how admirably it works.”’
Malcolm comments: ‘This appears to be a unique letter and the Croydon Chronicle the only place it was published; but a wider search may well turn up more.’