Bill Hines (1839-1903), Oxford's socialist chimneysweep

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Introduction and Acknowledgements

My thanks to Duncan Bowie and his book "Reform and Revolt in the City of Dreaming Spires: Radical, Socialist and Communist Politics in Oxford 1830-1980" where I first learned about Bill Hines; and to my brother Hugh Pope and my friends Rob Sykes, Bill McKeith, Liz Peretz and Joanna Innes for reading and commenting on drafts of this work.

Wherever I could I have researched the incidental characters in Hines' story and tried to give a condensed version of their careers.

The abbreviation DNB before a person's life dates means that an article on that person can be found in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, available free online to most local library card holders in the UK.

Where a college or street is named without its location it can be assumed to be in Oxford.

There is a note on sources at th end.

Family Background

William Hines' father John was baptised in 1816 at the Foundling Hospital, St Pancras, London. (Foundlings were  children found abandoned, though some may have been unwanted and placed in the hospital by persons of influence). John Hines' ages and birthplace as given in his later census entries, and "father unknown" in the certificates of his two marriages, confirm that the foundling was the same John Hines who was married in Bicester in 1838, his trade a chimneysweep. As an orphan, he was probably put to work with a chimneysweep at an early age, but I have no idea how or why he arrived in Bicester, a small town eight miles north of Oxford. His bride, Elizabeth Cherry, was a lacemaker and the daughter of a farmworker. Both parties signed the marriage register with a mark rather than a signature, which probably meant neither of them could read or write. Their first child was born only seven weeks after the wedding. and died at age 5 months. A year later, on the 26th January 1839, William Hines was born, and he was followed over the next twenty years by nine siblings, two of whom died in infancy.

In the 1851 census John Hine described as "chimney sweeper" was living in Field Street, Bicester with his wife and 5 children. William aged 11 was described as  "sweep" while his younger siblings were all described as "scholar". The name Hine was quite often used for William and his father instead of Hines, and occasionally Hinds.

In 1858 William aged 19 was married at Bicester church to Ann Walduck aged 21, a farm worker's daughter. He was a sweep and they both signed with a mark. Their daughter Sarah was born two years later, and William registered the birth, this time signing his own name, as a farm worker living in Twitcher's Alley, Bicester. This was the only record I found where William was described as a farm worker rather than a sweep. While William and all his siblings were baptised at Bicester church, only two of William's twelve children appear to have had a church baptism, both in circumstances where it was probably not his choice. The other ten were registered at a Registry Office, all but one by their father. By the spring after the birth of his first child, William was recorded in the 1861 census as a sweep living at Upper Heyford, a village five miles north west of Bicester, with his wife and daughter, and his 15 year old lodger Benjamin Rednight, also a sweep. In 1862 he was prosecuted for possessing a "short weight", something tradesmen used to swindle people, which he claimed he had borrowed from his neighbour Richard Coggins (1810-1889), a farmer of 250 acres employing 9 men. He was fined one shilling and had to pay fifteen shillings costs. Why would a sweep need a weight? Perhaps to sell soot, or maybe he was dealing in other goods.

While William lived at Upper Heyford between 1860 and 1866, his father John was mentioned several times in the Bicester local newspapers. Firstly on a charge of assault, which was dismissed, then as losing the sight of his right eye when the rector's son was shooting at birds, then as coming second in a donkey race, then as a witness in a court case who sold sweets and other articles when not sweeping chimneys, and lastly being ordered by the magistrate to pay a debt of £2 at five shillings a month to Abel Ryder, grocer of Bicester.

Though William Hines was later described as an "atheist" or an "infidel", there is good reason to think (from a letter to a newspaper in 1891, see below) that in his Upper Heyford days he was a local preacher, and if so, likely with the Primitive Methodists, a sect which then in England had 132,000 adherents served by some 12,000 preachers, or one preacher to every ten adherents. No other denomination had so many preachers per adherent. Primitive Methodism was the religious background of two prominent agricultural trade unionists, Joseph Arch (DNB 1826-1919) based in Warwickshire who played a part in Hines' story, and George Edwards (DNB 1850-1933) based in Norfolk, as well as of other active union members mentioned below.

Hines registered the birth of his second child Elizabeth in 1862, but his third child Rebecca was registered in 1864 by her mother, still signing with a mark. In 1866 their fourth child was born prematurely and baptised at home the same day, and two days later mother and baby died. The deaths were registered the next day by their neighbour, a nurse called Elizabeth Bateman, "present at the deaths", and the cause of the mother's death was recorded as "pneumonia, congestion". She was buried at Bicester church aged 28.

The sequence of events of Hines not registering his third daughter's birth or his wife's death and then remarrying only five months later, could hint at some kind of neglect of his first wife, but that might be reading too much into the bare records. His new wife was Mary Ann Eaglestone and they married at Headington Registry Office near Oxford in August 1866. He was a sweep aged 26 and she was a domestic servant aged 24. They both signed their names and gave their address as Cranham Street, Jericho, then a working class suburb of Oxford and home to many printers and railway workers. Mary Ann's father was a stone mason who had moved from Tackley (3 miles from Upper Heyford) to Cranham Street. William and Mary Ann's first child Emily was born nine months after the wedding, at 24 Bath Street, St Clement's and they went on to have a son and six more daughters there. Rebecca (Hines' third child by his first wife) went to live with her grandparents in Bicester, where she was baptised aged 3 in 1867, and in the 1871 census aged 7 she was still living with them in Bicester. Later in the year 1871 William's mother Elizabeth died aged 51, and Rebecca probably came back to her father's house at that time. William Hines, labourer of St Clement's, was ordered at Bicester Crown Court in 1867 (the year after his second marriage) to pay a debt of just over £1 at four shillings a month to a grocer of Deddington, the nearest market town to Upper Heyford.

24 Bath Street was a two-up two-down house with a cellar and a yard. Hines rented it for £10 a year, and it was sold to another landlord in 1884 for £120. By then Hines also rented a former slaughterhouse next door and used it as a soot store, for which he paid another £3.10s and which fetched £70 in 1884. His second child by his second wife was his only son John, born in 1869. The couple went on to have six more daughters - Annie, Ada,  Kate, Flora, May and Hebe. William Hines' widowed father John married again aged 56 in August 1872 to Sarah Wills, a spinster aged 48, who had lived in St Clement's. They were married at St Clement's church and the witnesses were William Hines and his wife Mary Ann. In 1876 J Hine of Bicester advertised a strong donkey for sale.

Political Background

1872 was the first year that Hines got mentioned in the local newspapers thanks to his involvement in politics. In those days newspapers would often report speeches at public meetings in part or in full, and these reports are the main sources of the story that follows. To understand Hines' political career you need to know a little about British nineteenth century politics. 

Elections to Parliament were 'first past the post' which encouraged a two-party system just like today, except then it was Liberal and Conservative rather than Labour and Conservative. However, the Liberal side was inclined to split into factions, a bit like when the SDP left Labour in the 1980s (if you remember that). During the nineteenth century the right to vote was gradually extended first towards middle-class men and then to working-class men. This was mostly a demand of the left or radical wing of the Liberals and of mass movements like the Chartists in the 1840s. However it was the Conservative Benjamin Disraeli (DNB 1804-1881) who got a Reform Act passed in 1867 which meant a much larger number of the urban working classes (but not the farm workers) got the vote. In the general election of 1868 this wider franchise put the Liberals under William Gladstone (DNB 1809-1898) back in power. Oxford then had two MPs, (as well as two for the University), and both city members had been Liberals for the previous 20 years. The new franchise increased the Liberal majority in Oxford, and in Bath Street, where Hines voted Liberal, so did 19 out of the 23 voters. None of those 23 had previously had the vote. In 1870 under Gladstone the Ballot Act was passed which meant voting was now in secret. Before that how you voted could be published alongside your name, and generally was. This system of public voting was seen as increasing the likelihood of voters being bought or intimidated. In 1871 Gladstone got the Trade Union Act passed, which protected union funds against confiscation by the law. Although at the same time it made picketing illegal, its overall effect was to make trades unions bolder. Also in 1871 the Paris Commune, the short-lived takeover of a city by a working class movement, may have helped inspire British workers to demand a better standard of living. In 1872 newspapers frequently referred to a world-wide "epidemic" of strikes - in London, Paris and New York, in coal mining districts in Europe and the Forest of Dean, and in the industrial towns of the north of England. 

Farm workers' unions had been almost nonexistent since 1834 when the Tolpuddle martyrs were sentenced to transportation for trying to establish such a union, although a few more attempts were made in the 1860s. But when Joseph Arch called a meeting in Warwickshire in February 1872 expecting 30 to turn up, and 200 (some said 2,000) came from all the villages round, a movement began to spread rapidly which led to the founding of the National Agricultural Laborers Union (NALU). In April a union branch was set up in the Wychwood area of Oxfordshire, and in early May a meeting at Kidlington chaired by Jesse Cox of Yarnton (1830-1919) set up another branch. Cox spoke at further meetings in Islip, Bletchingdon and Kirtlington, (all quite close to Bicester and Upper Heyford). He had worked on railways as well as farms and by 1881 he had moved to Jericho where he remained a railway worker or stonebreaker for the rest of his life.

Hines the agitator 1872

On Easter Tuesday 1872 there had been a vestry meeting for St Clements parish where William Hines was proposed as churchwarden by H Carter and seconded by Mr Morris, but he received no votes. (Parish churchwarden was more of a civil than a religious duty at that time and didn't require allegiance to the Church of England). On Monday the 20th May "a largely attended meeting of the farm labourers of Headington and adjoining villages was held in the skittle alley of the Britannia Inn ... to consider the movement spreading through the Midland Counties to increase the pay of the agricultural labourer. Professor Thorold Rogers occupied the chair".

Thorold Rogers (DNB 1823-1890) was an Oxford professor who gave a series of lectures on political economy for tradesmen and artisans in Oxford from November 1871, which led  to his direct involvement in February 1872 with a strike in the Oxford building trades demanding a nine-hour day. Rogers believed in the free market but thought it was hampered by anti-worker legislation, as workers should have as much right to combine as employers did. At the Britannia meeting he said "It was only a few weeks ago he was engaged in a contest between masters and men in Oxford, and there by union the men got what they wanted". He then introduced the main speaker, William Hines, who said "although not an agricultural labourer himself ... for his own part he did not believe that any man ought to work for less than 18 shillings a week." Ten shillings was then the farm workers' usual wage. Hines also said "They would have powerful enemies to contend with, as the clergy would join the farmers, but having made up their minds, they must stick together like men. The clergy and farmers had looked after the loaves and fishes long enough, now they should try and pocket a few - (loud applause and great cheering)." At the end of this speech Rogers said he did not quite agree with what Mr Hines had said about the clergy and farmers.

That summer Hines spoke at quite a few meetings of farmworkers - though Rogers chaired no more of them:
5th June: very large open air meeting in Headington, Hines in chair.
15th June: Headington.
19th June: Marston, very large meeting, Hines in chair.
22nd June: Beckley 200 present, Hines in chair.
3rd July: Littlemore.
10th July: Littlemore.
20th July: Chesterton, 350 present.
22nd July: Beckley.
26th July: Bletchingdon.
27th July: Bicester, Hines in chair.
31st July: Headington gala day with Marston Brass Band and 120 sat down to tea in a field near the Britannia Inn.
2nd August: Stanton St John.
24th August: Bicester, Hines in chair.
6th September: Bicester, Hines in chair.

There were other speakers at these meetings, like Jesse Cox (see above), Joshua Cripps and Christopher Holloway (see below), and there were other meetings going on in different parts of Oxfordshire. At Wootton near Woodstock there was a lock-out when farmers refused to employ union members, and the workers marched to Woodstock, where they were greeted enthusiastically by the glovers (Woodstock was a glove-making centre), and marched on to Oxford. That August the papers reported two strikes in Oxford apparently not sanctioned by any official union. At the Clarendon Printing Office, where the men were organised into the rather deferential Compositors Society, 50 to 60 of the 100 machine boys aged 14 to 18 and paid 4 to 8 shillings a week went on strike; and at Messrs Hyde's clothing factory near Carfax in Queen Street on the 16th August, 20 women workers struck at noon, and 50 were later seen standing about. Sadly the newspapers didn't follow up these reports which were rare in Oxford at the time and I've mentioned them to illustrate the militant atmosphere of 1872.

Here, to give some idea of his rhetoric, are some extracts from the speech Hines gave at Chesterton on the 20th July 1872 as reported in the Bicester Herald. "I would earnestly ask you to join the union. Have you received sufficient wages for the work you have done? (No, no). Wives, are you satisfied with the miserable pittance your husbands have brought you? Has that sum been sufficient to feed and clothe you? Husbands, your wives have had to pick squitch" [couch grass] "in the fields and break stones on the road. It is a disgrace to humanity that such a state of things should exist in a Christian country like England. You have bent down under the strong iron arm of oppression long enough. I want to see you free. I have never taken any cause up so earnestly in my life as this. I was not asked to agitate this movement; but as soon as I saw a field open I took the opportunity of doing so. (Good boy). I have attended several meetings and they have been very successful. Wives, persuade your husbands to join the union. Girls, persuade your young men to join for you will reap the benefit in after life. Now my friends I want to see you with a good cottage and allotment ground, and plenty of good and substantial food. Can a poor man go to work on bread and water? It is a disgrace to the farmers. To them I would say, go and sell your hunter or your piano in the parlour. Send your daughters home from boarding schools, and if you cannot afford a dairymaid get your daughters to make the butter, and do the housework, (hear, hear), then perhaps you will be able to pay your labourers a fair remuneration for their work, if you cannot do it now." "They say that labourers are such drunkards and loose men. We will compare the farmers with the labourers. You all know what farmers are. I have seen them coming home from market unable to sit on their horses. They can go to market, have their brandy and water, and smoke their cigar, drive home in their carriage and pay the labourer their miserable wages." And referring to the parsons, he admitted there were some good men among them, but added that there were also divorcees, bankrupts, murderers and those who committed indecent assaults on very little children. "At the conclusion of his speech Mr Hine was greeted with enthusiastic cheering".

The Union Organises 1872-3

In October 1872 a meeting of about 60 delegates from different villages took place in Oxford Town Hall to set up the Oxford District of the National Agricultural Labourers' Union (NALU). The union had been started by Joseph Arch in Warwickshire and during the summer farm workers had set up branches in Oxfordshire and sent money to NALU or received money from it when locked out, but before this meeting local branches had acted independently. Christopher Holloway (1829-1895) was unanimously elected president. He was a farm worker of Wootton who had become a Wesleyan lay preacher in the 1860s. The Wesleyan Methodists were more "respectable" than the Primitive Methodists, and had fewer lay preachers. Holloway had given many speeches when the Wootton workers were locked out, and though his tone was more moderate than Hines', he was equally firm for the union. In 1873 he took charge of a shipload of farm workers emigrating to New Zealand, financed in part by the union and in part by the colonial government. Holloway returned to England in 1875, set up as a grocer and coal dealer in Wootton and was elected churchwarden there. At his death in 1895 his effects were £175, typical of a small shopkeeper, but one of his sons studied at Oxford and became a Church of England clergyman. Jesse Cox (see above) was proposed for secretary, but withdrew when Joseph Leggett (1837-1913) was proposed. Leggett was a carpenter of Milton-under-Wychwood, son of a policeman at Churchill near Kingham. He'd already been secretary of the Wychwood union branch since April. As District Secretary, he was to be paid 30 shillings a week (3 times the farm worker's wage), plus £1 a week for the use of his house. He later emigrated to New Zealand. The treasurer, elected unanimously, was Gabriel George Banbury (1815-1911) draper of Woodstock, Wesleyan preacher, Liberal, and Justice of the Peace. He employed 4 draper's assistants and one domestic servant, and was worth £3000 when he died in 1911. William Hines proposed two members for the executive committee, Jesse Cox and James Adams, and seconded Joshua Cripps. James Adams (1828-1903) remained a farm worker all his life. In the 1861 census he was living at Upper Heyford (where Hines was then living), his trade given as "farm worker and local preacher". Joshua Cripps (1823-1911) of Bletchingdon, was also, according to historian Pamela Horn, a Primitive Methodist preacher, though she didn't appear to give a source for this and I couldn't confirm it. He began life as a farm worker and at age 33 served nine months in Oxford gaol for stealing a lamb, but by 1871 he had become a railway worker and he later lived at Round Ham level crossing near Kidlington, where his wife kept the gate.

I found no more reports of Hines addressing meetings until the following spring, though some farm workers' meetings during the winter were mentioned in the local press. Then in March 1873 Hines chaired a meeting at Beckley, with a brass band, two or three hundred present, and 100 joined the union. In April he spoke to a meeting of 250 at the Chequers Inn in Headington Quarry. Also in April there was a meeting of the NALU Oxford District executive committee (of which Hines was not a member) where Joseph Eggleton proposed and Daniel Phipps seconded "that W Hine shall not be employed as a delegate". Joseph Eggleton (1832-1911) was the son of a farm worker at Wendover, Bucks, who in 1861 was working as a coachman in Lewisham, Kent, and in the censuses of 1871 to 1901 was living in Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, and described as "of no occupation", "living on his own means" and "owner of a plot of land and houses". Daniel Phipps was a farm worker from Broadwell, Gloucestershire who had become a small tenant farmer and was ejected by one landlord for his membership of the union. Joshua Cripps then proposed what seems to have been an amendment to Eggleton's motion "that each delegate be a bona fide (working man) labourer" which passed unanimously.. Since Eggleton and Hines were both present at the next Oxford District delegates' meeting in May 1873, I guess that these motions referred to delegates to the national conference, as the amendment would have disqualified Eggleton even more than Hines. In November 1873 it was again proposed at the executive committee "that W Hine of Headington is not eligible to represent this district at annual conference" with no note of who proposed it. But no other individual was singled out this way anywhere in the minute book, which suggests to me that Hines might have been keen to go to the national conference, and that some members of the committee thought him too much of a troublemaker to allow this. Perhaps this dampened his enthusiasm as I found no more reports of Hines speaking at any meetings until August 1874.

In May 1873 the most famous incident of the NALU agitation took place, the gaoling of 16 Ascott-under-Wychwood women, two with babes in arms, for trying to prevent strike breakers from going to work (apparently by jeering and waving sticks at them). It became a scandal in parliament and Queen Victoria (DNB 1819-1901) pardoned them, allegedly sending them each a red petticoat (perhaps a distortion of the more credible report that Joseph Arch presented them each with a blue silk dress). There is a plaque in their honour on the Green at Ascott. 

Trouble in Bath Street 1874

Joseph Arch and NALU were campaigning to extend the vote to the farm workers, but Gladstone was cautious as ever and failed to make this change, and in the general election of February 1874, the first to take place with a secret ballot, the Tories (Conservatives) under Disraeli won power, and Gladstone was supposed to have said "We have been swept away by a torrent of gin and beer". Since many Liberals were nonconformist temperance campaigners who wanted to introduce the right for local areas to take away licences to sell alcohol, the Tories were able to portray them as hypocrites with their own wine cellars who wanted to deprive the working man of his local. One effect of the secret ballot was that landlords could no longer evict tenants who voted against their wishes, and as a result most constituencies in Ireland for the first time returned Irish Nationalist MPs, who now became effectively a third party in the House of Commons. In Oxford City two Liberal MPs were returned but then one of them was elevated to the peerage, and the subsequent by-election was won by the Tory Alexander William Hall (wikipedia 1838-1919), from a family of Oxford brewers. 

On 16th March 1874 after Hall's victory, John Keene (1820-after 1881) and Mark Keene (1843-1919), father and son, were prosecuted for unlawfully knocking at the door of Mr Hinds, 24 Bath Street. Hines gave evidence that "he had a mob around his house. There were insolent threats used against him, among the crowd he saw John Keene. He heard threats to set fire to his house and heard them doing damage to the shutters. Prisoners said they would let the Liberals know they would not have their own way". Witness David Gray (1816-1885) a builder and neighbour, said the noise continued from midnight till past one o'clock, and that John Keene pummelled the shutters. "He had heard of bad losers but never bad winners, and the Conservatives were so turbulent that they got drunk and annoyed the neighbours". The Keenes were fined ten shillings each plus costs, or seven days in prison. There were two other witnesses for Hines and two for the Keenes, all of them living in Bath Street. All of those at court that had a vote back in 1868, including John Keene himself, had then voted Liberal.

In the rest of 1874 Joseph Arch spoke at two meetings in Oxford, one chaired by Thorold Rogers, the other by Oxford philosopher Thomas Hill Green (DNB 1836-1882). Hines was reported as present at both of them. But NALU had suffered financial losses by supporting a long lockout in the eastern counties, and was turning increasingly to assisting emigration rather than wage disputes. On 22nd August 1874 Hines opened a meeting in Bicester Market Place with 600 present. Saying it was "two years since he raised his voice on that spot in the cause of freedom and justice", he introduced Edward Richardson (1849-1878), known as the "Aylesbury agitator", a discharged schoolmaster who like Hines had encouraged farm workers to join the union. He had then organised an emigration to Queensland, Australia in 1873 which he lost money on, later admitting that emigration didn't work for everyone. He afterwards became an adventure journalist and died while exploring Tasmania in 1878.

In December 1874 the annual meeting of the Oxford District of NALU was held in Oxford Town Hall with about 60 delegates representing about 3000 members, followed by a public meeting chaired by T. H. Green at which Joseph Arch spoke. Hines and professor Friedrich Max Müller (DNB 1823-1900) were on the platform.


Charles Bradlaugh (DNB 1833-1891) was notorious as an atheist and a republican. By 1875 he had stood unsuccessfully three times as Liberal MP for Northampton, and had been to America on a lecture tour. He was an active supporter of radical causes, including Irish nationalism, the extension of the franchise and the farm workers' unions. His greatest fame came later - in 1877 as a promoter of birth control and in 1880 when he became an MP but refused to swear the loyal oath. On 5th May 1875 he gave his first lecture in Oxford to a largely hostile audience at the Holywell Music Room. Hines was in the chair and had invited Bradlaugh to speak in Oxford. A few weeks later Bradlaugh spoke again at the same venue and "the chair was again occupied by the illustrious chimneysweep who filled it on the last occasion". Hines addressed the mostly student audience as "my dear fellow citizens" which the reporter implied was a faux pas and went on to note "his studiously emphatic and eccentric pronunciation". On 23rd June 1875 Hines was called to a coroner's jury on the death by drowning of a six year old boy. On the usual oath being taken by the jurymen "one of them named Hine, chimneysweep of St Clements, and Mr Bradlaugh's chairman at the recent meetings in Holywell, said 'I object to take an oath because I do not believe in the Bible'", to which the coroner replied "Then the best thing you can do is to take your hat and walk home again, for if you do not believe the Bible, I shall not believe a word you say". 

In May 1876 a conference of delegates, mostly from NALU, was held in London, with about a thousand persons present, to support a motion before parliament that would make the qualification for the county franchise the same as that for the borough franchise, effectively giving the farm workers the vote. Joseph Arch and Charles Bradlaugh were there, but I don't know if Hines was. In the evening another meeting was held, with about 700 NALU delegates present, of the Workmen's Peace Association, opposing any further extension of the military system. Joseph Arch condemned in the strongest terms any attempt at compulsory military service, and declared amid loud cheers that when the farm workers had the vote, they would not only oppose conscription,  but would demand that all international disputes should be settled by a High Court of Nations.

During 1876 Hines was twice mentioned in the papers as chairing NALU meetings, once in Horspath and once in Wheatley. In 1874 and 1876 he was noted as active in the East Oxford Reform Club. It was stated in one of his obituaries that he had once been expelled from the Reform Club for being too radical, but I couldn't discover when that was. In January 1877 he was present at the Liberal Association annual dinner, and shortly after that he chaired another talk by Bradlaugh at Oxford Town Hall, which nearly led to a town versus gown riot. The same month at a meeting of the East Oxford Liberal Association held in the large room in Caroline Street, St Clement's belonging to David Gray (see above), Hines was elected to its political committee. In February 1878 he was involved in a campaign to prevent George Herbert Morrell (wikipedia 1845-1906) of Headington Hill Hall from closing Cheney Lane, a favourite walk of St Clement's locals, which was successful in the parish vestry despite Morrell's offer of £500 to the parish.  In April 1878 there was a public debate in the British Workman Hall, St Clement's, on the topic "strikes are injurious to the true interests of employers and employed and should always be avoided if possible". Not only was it unanimously carried but Hines was one of the eight speakers in favour. In April 1879 he was present at a talk on Oliver Cromwell given to the South Oxford Liberal Association by the Rev Tom Mostyn Pinnock (1846-1916) a Primitive Methodist minister.

In the general election of May 1880 the Liberals won back power and two Liberals were elected in Oxford City, but one of them, Harcourt, was appointed Home Secretary, which in those days meant he had to face a by-election, at which he was narrowly defeated by the Tory (Hall), who was then unseated by an Electoral Commission held in Oxford in November 1880 for overspending in the by-election. In the evidence given to that commission it was mentioned that a sweep named Hine fetched a Mr Howlett from Piddington to vote and charged him £2 and a shilling. "Hine had a cart of his own, but he had to borrow another, as he didn't think his own was respectable enough (Laughter)."

Family life

The census of 1881 lets us see how Hines' family life had been progressing. His two eldest daughters had left home and were living in domestic service. The 20-year-old Sarah was housemaid to John Heber Clarke (1846-1898), a tailor and magistrate in Abingdon (south of Oxford), and the 17-year-old Elizabeth was kitchen maid to Professor Max Müller (see above) in Norham Gardens, Oxford. Müller was professor of philology at Oxford, a Sanskrit expert who had appeared on platforms in Oxford with Thorold Rogers and was also friendly with the royal family. Hines was living in Bath Street with his wife, seven daughters and a son. Described as a chimney cleaner, he may have had a contract with one or more Oxford colleges to sweep their chimneys, as most later accounts of him use the term "college chimney sweep". He was certainly the regular sweep at Magdalen College from 1883 until his death, and was paid £37.10/- each year, later reduced to £35, as recorded in their account books. I also tried the archives of Christ Church, Lincoln and St John's but found no trace of him there. His third daughter Rebecca had been named in the newspapers in August 1874 aged 9, as winning a prize for best school attendance, and then in September 1878 aged 13 she was indecently assaulted by a 16 year old boy while picking blackberries in a field off Marston Lane. She was with her younger half-sisters but they ran away when the boy, who had been instructed to guard the field, took her by the arm and marched her behind a haystack. She shouted out and eventually managed to escape, and when she got home her mother examined her, and found her stays torn, "but nothing else to complain of". This is the only glimpse into the life of Hines' second wife I have found. Hines went round the cottages in Marston Lane the next day to find witnesses. The boy was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser offence (common assault) and serve 21 days in gaol. In the 1881 census Rebecca was described as a pupil teacher, aged 16, and in May 1882 she was in the papers again for coming 2nd in 3rd year needlework at St Clement's Girls School. She went on to train as a teacher at Cheltenham Training College.

In June 1882 Hines was in the chair at a NALU meeting in Bicester where Joseph Arch spoke. Later that month Hines was a witness in the prosecution for drunkenness of Ann Castle, daughter of the John Keene who had attacked his house in 1874. She claimed her father had turned her out of his house with her seven children which was why she was making a scene. Hines said he would not condescend to take an oath, and was allowed to affirm instead. The following month Hines was himself summoned for assaulting another neighbour, Francis Belcher a wheelwright aged 70, (so 28 years Hines' senior). Belcher was also summoned for being disorderly and both cases were dismissed. The day after the court case Hines' youngest child, Hebe, was born and she seems to have been the only one of his children whose birth was announced in the local papers.

Socialism comes to Oxford

The idea of socialism had been around for years, and Oxford figures like John Ruskin (DNB 1819-1900) and Arnold Toynbee (DNB 1852-1883) have been called socialists though they didn't claim it themselves. But William Morris (DNB 1834-1896) made an impact by giving a talk at University College in November 1883 on "Art and Plutocracy" and coming out for revolutionary Marxism at a time when he was highly respected at Oxford, mainly as a poet, but also as an architectural critic, artist and designer. He had been invited by the university Russell Club and they followed this by inviting in January 1884 Henry Hyndman (DNB 1842-1921), leader of the Social Democratic Federation of which Morris was then a member, and in March 1884 the American Henry George (1839-1897) who spoke on his proposals for land nationalisation. I've no evidence for it, but I imagine Hines wouldn't have missed these talks, and his later friendship with William Morris may date from this time. In August 1884 an Oxford Radical Association was formed, and J A Partridge (1824-1891) gave a talk to it on "the Lords and the People" with Thorold Rogers in the chair. Rogers was by then MP for Southwark and in his maiden speech in 1880 had denounced all religious sceptics as conservatives and had to apologise for referring to Bradlaugh (then also a new MP) as vermin. Partridge was the son of a prosperous noncomformist dyer in Stroud, Gloucestershire, and after running a chandelier manufactory in Birmingham, had moved to Oxford where his son was a student at the university. However after a meeting at the Druids Head in George Street in January 1885 where the programme of the Radical Association was voted on, Partridge who had been the leading light of the Association felt obliged to resign as he was in a minority in supporting compensation for nationalised assets, and the Association was taken over by William Morris's close friend Charles Faulkner (DNB 1833-1892) and his supporters, who soon allied themselves with Morris's Socialist League which had split from Hyndman's Social Democratic Federation because the SDF, unlike Morris, believed it was worth pursuing parliamentary politics.

Hines was present at the Druids Head meeting where Faulkner replaced Partridge, and he made a number of interventions. At the start he said that "up to the present it had not been very pleasant to have anything to do with the society, which had not done much, and the question was, whether they were to do anything that evening, and if not, let them say so. He would for one then put his cap on and go". The meeting accordingly began to vote on its programme clause by clause. When it came to free education Hines said that he did not believe Board Schools (the first state elementary schools from 1870 to 1902) were free. He thought that "there should be a sound, free education provided for every child, with all expenses paid, and that there should be national schools provided by the state. If any person wanted to give his children a higher education, why of course they must pay for it". On the question of disestablishing the Church of England, he was against "all state-paid religions" which provoked a "hear, hear", but then he added "If they could change the present state of religion for a religion of humanity, it would be more to their advantage" which provoked cries of "sit down" and hisses. On the issue of compensation, he referred to "many gentlemen of his acquaintance who had worked hard, and had laid out their earnings to gain possession of a piece of land, and he would not agree for the land to be taken away without any compensation". He then moved the total rejection of the next clause, "Transference to the people of all means of production" giving for his reason that "it was not a proper item to be in a Radical programme". In these matters Hines was taking a similar line to his friend Charles Bradlaugh who had recently taken part in a published debate on socialism with Hyndman. So Hines like Partridge was in the minority and he doesn't seem to have attended any more meetings.

The Socialist League in Oxford

Because the names of many members of Faulkner's Oxford branch of the Socialist League are known, I've chosen to make a little diversion from Hines' career to examine who they were. In February 1885 William Morris spoke again in Oxford at the Holywell Music Room, to help launch the branch. Edward Aveling (DNB 1849-1898) and his partner Eleanor Marx (DNB 1855-1898), daughter of the famous Karl Marx (DNB 1818-1883) were there, as was Frederick Weatherly (DNB 1848-1929) then a tutor in Oxford and later known for writing songs like Danny Boy and Roses of Picardy. The meeting was cut short by the release of a stink bomb by hostile students. I don't know if Hines was there. A week or two later the Oxford branch had a meeting which resolved to ask formally to become part of the Socialist League and all present signed with names and addresses. Charles Faulkner was the bursar of University College, Oxford and a long-term friend of William Morris, sharing all his enthusiasms. William Ogden (1830-1903) was a farmer's son from Rutland who became a carpenter and builder in Oxford employing two men. He took part in the electoral reform agitation of 1867, speaking up for working men, and then became a dealer in art and antiques, dying in 1903 worth £2000. Two other art dealers were in the group (perhaps not surprising given William Morris's influence), William Parker (1833-1904) whose daughter became Ogden's second wife, and Jules Guggenheim (1820-1889), a German photographer whom Faulkner later described as "elderly and impoverished and the most intelligent member of the group". The other tradesmen in the group were Alfred Quelch (1850-1927), a farmer and grocer in Cowley Road, who died in 1927 in Birmingham worth £4500, and William Tollett (1840-1898), a tailor in Holywell Street, who appeared in trades directories but seems not to have been prosperous, keeping no servants or employees. There was one undergraduate, George Gibson Brown (b.1863), a Scotsman who became a vicar. Two other students had joined earlier but had by this point deserted the League for the university Marx Club - Edward Maurice HIll (DNB 1862-1934), who became a High Court judge, and John Arthur Ruskin Munro (wikipedia 1864-1944). Munro was the son of the pre-Raphaelite sculptor Alexander Munro (DNB 1825-1871) and later became Rector of Lincoln College. The secretary of the League, Alfred Stuart Robinson (1858-1932) was a son of the gardener of Wadham College, Oxford. His brother Arthur became curator of the Natural History Museum in Oxford. Described by Faulkner as "not dishonest, but one of those sloppy characters on which no reliance is to be placed", Alfred had married in 1881 an Irish Catholic woman who by the 1911 census was living on her own in Jericho, listed as married, while Robinson had changed his name to Stuart Robertson and by 1891 was living in London with a "wife" he couldn't marry, and working as a journalist for Lloyd's Weekly newspaper. Apart from two names I couldn't trace, the rest of the list of League members, 15 in all, were cricket ball makers. Faulkner described them as "workers from Mr Harris's cricket ball manufactory in the Iffley Road who may well have been putting their jobs on the line in attending socialist meetings". In fact they probably all worked for Benjamin Harse (1848-1926), son of a bootmaker who had moved from Bristol to Oxford, where Benjamin was apprenticed to a cricket ball maker in Cowley Road and then set up on his own. Four of the League members were his younger brothers, all working for him, and two of them, Colin Harse (1861-1939) and Morton Harse (1863-1941), also set up businesses later as cricket ball makers, and diversified into bicycle retail, as well as being active in socialist societies. It has been said that radicalism among shoemakers was helped by conversations in a shared workspace without noisy machinery. The same would have applied to cricket ball makers, and as perhaps the whole workforce including four of the boss's brothers came to the meetings, I doubt if they would have been risking their jobs. The only collective action that I found from the cricket ball makers was throwing flour over a man who had refused his daughter's hand to one of their number, as he came out of church at her wedding.

Farm workers get the vote

In December 1884 an Act had passed parliament which was to affect the next phase of Hines' political career. Gladstone had at last given the vote to the farm workers. In February 1885 Joseph Arch spoke at a NALU meeting arranged by Hines in Oxford Town Hall, attended by many senior members of the University. William Fremantle (DNB 1831-1916), canon of Canterbury, was in the chair, and the Rev John Percival (DNB 1834-1918), president of Trinity College, and James Franck Bright (DNB 1832-1920) master of University College, were on the platform along with Max Müller, Thorold Rogers, and Arthur Sidgwick (DNB 1840-1920), fellow of Corpus Christi College. In amongst these political events, at the end of May 1885 Hines' only son John died of tuberculosis aged 16. Hines signed the death certificate as "present at the death". In June 1885 Gladstone resigned as prime minister after his failure to relieve the siege of Khartoum and a Tory government took power. In July there was a by-election in Woodstock when the sitting Tory, Lord Randolph Churchill (DNB 1849-1895), father of the famous Winston Churchill (DNB 1874-1965), was appointed Secretary of State for India. Churchill brought in many celebrities to speak for him, while the Liberal, Corrie Grant (wikipedia 1850-1924) only had Hines and Edward Maurice Hill to support him, and the Tories won. In December there was a general election, the first test of the farm workers' votes, and Francis William Maclean (1844-1913) stood for the Liberals in Woodstock against Arthur Annesley (wikipedia 1843-1927). In October 1885 at the Headington Liberal Club, Maclean held a hustings. In his speech he referred to Henry Broadhurst (DNB 1840-1911) a stonemason and trade unionist who had become Liberal MP for Stoke-on-Trent in 1880. "Mr Broadhurst - (cheers) - a most esteemed member of the House of Commons by all parties, and he would like to see a few more such men there - (a voice 'We will sir, we will have Joseph Arch for one, and Mr Hine for another')". Hines was there and asked Maclean "what he would do with respect to the commons that had been stolen from the working community during the present century? Maclean: That is a very difficult question? Hine: Is there not a bill to be brought in by Mr Jesse Collings? Maclean referred to the difficulty of obtaining evidence of something done perhaps eighty years ago". Jesse Collings (DNB 1831-1920) was the son of a bricklayer, Mayor of Birmingham and then Liberal MP for Ipswich from 1880 and interested in land reform. Maclean won the election and Gladstone was returned to power. Hines spoke at a Liberal meeting in the Headington Mission Room to celebrate this victory. However Maclean (and Collings) joined with Joseph Chamberlain (DNB 1836-1914) and many other  'Liberal Unionists' to vote with the Tories in June 1886 in defeating Gladstone's Home Rule for Ireland bill, leading to six more years of Tory government.

In January 1886 the Rev Charles Marson (DNB 1859-1914) gave a lecture in the Temperance Hall, St Ebbes, Oxford on "Precursors of Socialism". Marson was a member of the Guild of St Matthew and editor of its paper Christian Socialist, a member of the Fabian Society, and later famous for his collaboration with Cecil Sharp (DNB 1859-1924) in collecting folk songs. William Ogden was in the chair, and Hines, Guggenheim and Weatherly were present, as well as Robert Thomas (1836-1916) of Holywell Street, a prosperous house painter. In March 1886 Michael Davitt (DNB 1846-1906), an Irish nationalist MP who had been more than once in prison for political protest, spoke in Oxford and stayed in the rooms of University College student Harold Spender (1864-1926), father of the poet Stephen Spender (DNB 1909-1995). Harold Spender, who later became a journalist, was then a socialist and wore his hair long and a red tie. Tory students screwed closed the door of Spender's room, a traditional method of showing disapproval (though Davitt was in fact next door). Hines wasn't mentioned in this story but his obituary said he had known Davitt so perhaps this was when he had met him. From around this time Hines began to speak again in the villages on a platform that wove together land reform and joining NALU with Irish home rule and voting Liberal. With Edmund Vesey Knox (wikipedia 1865-1921) of All Souls College, an Irish nationalist from County Down, Hines spoke at Osney, Eynsham, Oakley, Islip and Ambrosden in the spring of 1887. At Islip under the village tree Hines called their MP (Maclean) a turncoat and said "let it be Gladstone for England and Parnell for Ireland". At midsummer 1887 after twenty years in Bath Street, Hines moved to a three storey house at 92 St Clement's and opened a herbalist's shop there. Hines' herbalism was often mentioned in accounts of him, as if to add to his colourful versatility, but never discussed or explained. On 28th November 1887 Hines attended a meeting in Oxford Corn Exchange where the Irish nationalist MP John Dillon (DNB 1851-1927) spoke for Home Rule, as the Liberal response to a meeting a few days earlier when the Conservative prime minister Lord Salisbury (DNB 1830-1903) had spoken in Oxford against it, and on 7th December Hines was at a meeting on the Irish Question at the Steam Laundry, Littlemore where the main speaker was Alexander John McGregor (1864-1946) a South African student at Oriel College who later became Master of the Supreme Court in Pretoria. In March 1888 Hines was selling tickets for the inaugural meeting of the Irish National League of Great Britain at the Oxford Reform Club, to be addressed by Pierce Mahoney (wikipedia 1850-1930) MP for North Meath and a protestant Irish nationalist and friend of Charles Parnell (DNB 1846-1891). Also in March there were large meetings of the unemployed at Gloucester Green. The rise in unemployment was seen by some as a result of the policies of the Tory government. Hines addressed one meeting saying "he was not there to say a word of encouragement to mere skulks and loungers, or anything of the sort, for these people he truly detested". William Ogden addressed the crowd the next day. In April 1888 Hines' father died. In May Hines attended an event in Beckley to mark the opening of new allotments there. "Last Michaelmas the Hon. Francis Bertie had a large field well drained, and let it out to the labourers in plots of one and two acres, the allotments being at once taken up. It was a piece of old pasture land on the side of Beckley Park Hill, facing Otmoor. The men have been very busy with their breast ploughs, spades, and other implements o0f husbandry. Not only have they worked themselves during the winter months, but they have employed a number of labourers from Horton-cum- Studley that were out of work, thereby helping them and their families to a loaf of bread. The land is now nearly all cultivated and under crop, the oats and beans looking exceedingly well. Potatoes and other roots are also coming on. Thursday May 20th was the day on which the allotments were formally opened. The ceremony was performed in style, and with great enthusiasm. A good tea was provided in the open air in a field adjoining the allotments, when 98 people sat down and partook thereof. The arrangements were excellently made by Mr. Richard Coles, Mrs. George Hudson, Mr. John Summer, and several other labourers and their wives and daughters. The Beckley Brass Band was also in attendance. The band met at the "Abingdon Arms" Inn, and marched through the village and up into the allotments playing several lively tunes. Most of the people, both young and old, joined in the dance. Nuts were4 scattered amongst the children, and other amusements indulged in, after which a short meeting was held. Mr W Hines, of Oxford, being present, was called upon to address the meeting. He commenced by referring to the fair, kind, and gentlemany way in which the Hon. Francis Bertie had met the labourers of Beckley, by letting them allotments on a large scale, at a fair rent, and promising them more if they wanted them."

Hines then read out a letter from Bertie enclosing a 20/- postal order towards the expenses of the tea party. "This letter had a great effect on the meeting, all present rising and cheering again and again. After speaking for some time on the benefits of allotments when properly managed, not only by the allotment holders themselves, but by the country at large, the speaker said the only true remedy for agricultural distress was to put the labourers on the land so that the fields might be cultivated, and the agricultural produce of the country abundantly increased. He next referred to thye wretched state of a great portion of the land in this country, and to the thousands of ready hands and willing hearts thyat were seeking work but could find none, and declared that the only true and lasting solution of this great question was that of bringing the labourers onto the land, and giving them an opportunity of trying their skill to work it in allotments and smallholdings, with every right that the cultivators of the soil should possess."  Francis Bertie (DNB 1844-1927) was a son of the Earl of Abingdon and was later British ambassador at Paris.

In June 1888 there were Liberal meetings organised by Hines at Long Hanborough, Headington Quarry, Littlemore and Stanton St John. At Quarry Frederick York Powell (DNB 1850-1904), tutor of Christ Church, who was to become one of Hines' closest friends, was in the chair, and other speakers were Arthur Sidgwick (see above) and Arthur Hungerford Pollen (DNB 1866-1937) who later stood unsuccessfully for parliament as a Liberal and then married the daughter of a Tory MP and went into business and gunnery. At Stanton St John Hines spoke on allotments and smallholdings, along with Charles Harding Firth (DNB 1857-1936), later Professor of Modern History at Oxford, and Michael Sadler (DNB 1861-1943), then secretary of Oxford University's 'extension lectures' (lectures open to the public), and later Master of University College. Also that month a Royal Commission on Gloucester Green Market sat in Oxford to which Hines spoke, complaining that the charge for a stall had gone up five times from sixpence to half a crown; and an angry drunken tramp kicked in Hines' door in St Clements, hurting his daughter Ada (apparently not for political reasons). In October 1888 Hines was at a meeting of the East Ward Liberal Club in the British Schoolroom in Cowley Road, Oxford along with Arthur Quelch (see above) and Christopher Maltby (1843-1908), a college cook who had become manciple of St Edmund Hall,


In January 1889 Hines spoke at Islip Liberal Club on allotments and village life and John Massie (DNB 1842-1925) tutor at Mansfield College also spoke. In local council elections in January 1889 at Fringford (near Bicester) Hines spoke in support of the Liberal, William Abel Ryder (1833-1909), the grocer of Bicester who had once taken Hines' father to court to recover a debt. Ryder was a shopkeeper employing four men and three boys, and one domestic servant. He was also a Free Methodist preacher and anti-vaccination lecturer. (Smallpox vaccination was compulsory in England in the second half of the nineteenth century and progressive thinkers often opposed this compulsion). His Tory opponent, Major Edward Slater Harrison (1832-1911) of Shelswell, kept nine servants including a butler and groom. Harrison won 391 to 63. In February 1889 Hines arranged a tour for George Mason Ball (1831-1903) secretary of the Allotments and Smallholdings Association, visiting Headington, Ambrosden, Oxford; Islip, Garsington, Charlton-on-Otmoor, Horspath, Launton, Wheatley and Hinksey among other places over two or three weeks. Ball had been a farm worker and Primitive Methodist preacher and later became an agent for the Liberal party dying worth £147. At one of the meetings in this tour Frederic Impey (1847-1920) spoke. Son of a Quaker farmer in Essex, Impey wrote the pamphlet Three Acres and A Cow,  based on the progressive experiments of Lord Tollemache (1805-1890) a Cheshire landowner who gave each of his farm workers a cottage with three acres of land. In the summer of 1889 Hines visited Ireland, all I know of this visit is that he referred to it in one of his later speeches, but he perhaps went with Godfrey Benson (see below). In September 1889 Hines gave a good character in court to Job New, marine store dealer of 3 Caroline St, St Clements, who was accused of receiving stolen lead. And in September he also spoke at Liberal meetings in Ickford, Oakley, Brill and Ludgershall in support of Captain Edmund Hope Verney (wikipedia 1838-1910) who was contesting Buckingham in a parliamentary by-election, and was an enthusiast for Irish home rule. At Ickford John Massie spoke alongside Hines, and Godfrey Benson (DNB 1864-1945) lecturer at Balliol College and Henry James (1859-19??) then editor of the pro-Liberal Oxford Chronicle, spoke with Hines at Oakley. Verney won, but a dissolution of parliament was expected soon (though it didn't happen for two years) so there was no let up on Liberal meetings in the villages. On November 8th at Wheatley, at a hustings arranged by Hines, Lucy Birkbeck Hill (1864-1946 later Crump) author and lecturer spoke, as well as Leonard Hobhouse (DNB 1864-1929) fellow of Merton College, who was to accompany Hines to village meetings many times over the next two years. At the Bell Inn, Long Hanborough, on November 11th Godfrey Benson and Henry James spoke, and at the Schoolroom, Kirtlington, on November 15th Arthur Sidgwick, Godfrey Benson and Michael Sadler spoke. At a meeting in Woodstock on November 22nd on the Irish question, Benson and E F V Knox spoke, and at the Bicester and District Liberal Association on November 26th where W A Ryder was president, Benson spoke and Charles Firth was present as well as Hines and his younger brother Charles Hines (1856-1931), a labourer of Bicester. Benson was speaking about his experiences earlier that year in Ireland, where he had gone with Charles Conybeare (wikipedia 1853-1919), Liberal MP for Camborne, Cornwall, who was arrested and imprisoned for giving food to destitute and evicted tenants. Hines made some humorous but pertinent remarks on the power of combination, giving as an example the successful London dock strike which had taken place that summer. At a Liberal meeting at Brill on December 5th to congratulate Verney, Hines spoke, advocating a better cultivation of the land.


In January 1890 with Sidgwick and Hobhouse, Hines spoke in support of Verney at Botolph Claydon schoolroom, where his daughter Rebecca had become infants' school mistress in 1886. In the first half of 1890 Hines spoke at meetings at Beckley, Worminghall, Steeple Claydon, Ludgershall, Marsh Gibbon, Wheatley, Twyford, Upper Heyford, Woodstock, Fritwell, Tackley, Weston-on-the-Green, Souldern and Warborough. More University men came and spoke with him - John Burnet (DNB 1863-1928) fellow of Merton, W. A. S. Hewins (DNB 1865-1931), later director of the London School of Economics, W. R. W. Peel (DNB 1867-1937) who became a Conservative politician, Evan Cotton (wikipedia 1866-1939), who became a judge in India, Alexander Shaw Griffith (1868-1936) an Irishman who became a schoolmaster, and John Sinclair Stevenson (1868-1930) another Irishman who became a clergyman in India. Others not from the University who spoke with Hines included Joseph Silver Hyder (wikipedia 1864-1932) of the Land Nationalisation Society, Josiah Nutt Godden (1824-1905) a Woodstock glove manufacturer, G. G. Banbury (see above) and his son John Banbury (1842-1908) drapers of Woodstock, Adolphus Ballard (wikipedia 1867-1915) solicitor and later Town Clerk of Woodstock, and George Hewiett (1813-1894) owner and editor of the Bicester Herald. At Twyford on the 20th March Hines spoke about the local landowners (Lincoln College, Oxford) who were offering the farm workers poor land for allotments at a high rate. "He was not at that meeting to say a word against anyone personally, but he knew the Rector of Lincoln College. (Hear, hear.) As the speaker was an organiser - he had had in his day a little work with his friend Joseph Arch - (hear, hear) - and he and the speaker were frequently writing to each other on different topics - it had been his lot to go into the Colleges of Oxford. He had been in many of the fine drawing-rooms of the heads of colleges. He had always been respected by these people. He had been to the wardens of this college and the fellows of that, from Professor Max Müller downwards, and he could assure them that he had never yet heard the name of the agricultural labourer of this country insulted when he had introduced it to these people; but one day, just over four years ago, he happened to get into one of the rooms of the rector of Lincoln's and this man was the only man in the University who had ever snubbed him in any shape or form" (Bicester Herald). This Rector of Lincoln was Walter Merry (DNB 1835-1918). In June and July a "Home Rule Van" made a month-long tour of 100 places in Oxfordshire, conducted by a Mr Powell who also sang songs. Hines seems to have only spoken a few times during this tour but many of his University contacts took part, along with local Liberals like Gentle Turner (1852-1926), farmer at Asthall Leigh and son of a Wesleyan farm worker,  Thomas George (1829-1892) shoemaker of Kirtlington, son of a farm worker at Cuddington in Buckinghamshire, and Julius Maurice Perroud (1851-1920) of the Oxford Reform Club, a Swiss butler in Oxford who later became publican of the Black Horse in Rathbone Place, London. Unlike in 1872, now they had the vote, few if any farm workers seem to have spoken for themselves at these Liberal meetings.

On August 1st 1890 at Weston-on-the-Green (where he had lately spoken on 10th June) "Mr Hines of Oxford said they were there tonight on the old cause, not in a very good humour, because he did not think it was necessary to hold another meeting at Weston so soon as this after the previous one. It would be strictly necessary for working men to be true to the principle of self-help. They knew what the union had done in days past and what it would do again. He was glad to see a farmer there, and he was always delighted to see farmers present at their meetings. They (the speakers) were not there to becall the employers of labour, but to speak that which they believed to be just and true, and often he offended the labourers more than he did the farmers. Tonight he was specially going to speak on the power of combination, and perhaps would have to refer to the land and the state of the land, and to the way in which the land was 'muckered' about by those who professed to till it but did not attend to their duties. The strength of the working classes lied in combination, and they had the power in their hands if they used combination. There was a time when working men could not legally combine - a time when many were laying in the different prisons of England suffering the degradation of bread and water life, because they asked their employers - not their masters, because jack should be as good as his master - for more money. Time went on and those men suffered for the labourers of the present day - suffered for generations that followed them - and they were enjoying the result of their suffering. Now they had the right to look back and discuss their grievances and form a union and increase their wages by so doing." Hines then told the story of the Ascott women imprisoned in 1873 (see above). "They were committed by the Revs. Harris and Carter, two dignitaries of the Church of England. Today if they were 'locked out' - but they would not be, because they hadn't pluck enough for that which would lock them out - and their wives were to interfere they would not be imprisoned for it now. He had seen enough of those parson magistrates, who had died and left nothing behind them, for when they died their names were buried with them. He could mention the names of three clergymen of the Church of England who lived within six miles of where he was standing, who had sent scores and scores of fellows to Oxford gaol for looking over a hedge, when they said they were in search of game. Those magistrates who had taken the place of the older ones, had not got the same power or they dare not exercise it in the same tyrannous way. Although this was done away with now, they had every power that was a grade above them directed against them. These employers of labour were generally the Guardians, who sat upon them in this way". (The Boards of Guardians administered workhouses and other matters from 1835 to 1930). "If they stuck to the union they could shift this; they had the power to lift themselves up; they were in a position today that they must combine together as one man. He wanted to know what they intended doing. They had got some men who had courage enough to join the union. When they were there before they told them what the union had done for them in the days when Weston labourers were in the union almost to a man and when the wives of the men did all they could to encourage them in the union. Then wages were higher, which was by the strength of combination. The same kind of combination had the same power now as ever it had and if they had the idea to combine tonight the union would do the same as it did for them in years past and gone. Now for a minute or two, he wanted them to listen to him while he spoke about allotments in connection with the wage question. Allotments were good and useful things in their places, and were advocated by the union. Hitherto men had been cruelly divorced from the soil, but allotments today had become almost fashionable. There were some good and kind-hearted men who let land out at respectable rents, and there were others who let out allotments at two or three times the price that the farmers paid for the same sort of soil on the other side of a hedge. Amongst these men were clergymen who let out allotments at a high price and other land to the farmers at a much less price. Those who were charged a high rent were receiving for their work the magnificent sum of ten shillings a week. That was a statement that had been given him over and over again. If there were any farmers that could contradict it they could do it presently. Allotments were not fashionable when the union started - in certain villages allotments were secured, but they were not generally given. Time rolled on and amongst the different political questions came the enfranchisement of the agricultural labourers. He contended that if they had not had the Labourers' Union they would not have had the power to go and record their voices. The Union had had power in the House of Commons and ultimately the bill was carried after it had been kicked and cuffed about in the Commons and Lords - after they had tried to keep the labourers in the background year after year. Toryism had always tried to keep the working-men down, and if the working-men permitted it they would press them as they had done before. They had not to thank any Tories in the House of Commons or House of Lords for the vote which they enjoyed today. And they would not have had their allotments if they had not had their votes; and when they had got their allotments they thought they would keep the working-men down still. Some said 'The working-men had got allotments, and therefore they can afford to work for a shilling a week less.' So they saw that now they had got their allotments they wanted a strong combination to keep their wages up." (While it was true that farm workers' wages in England had fallen back to the level they had been before 1872 - typically ten shillings a week - it should be noted that this sum could now buy more food, as prices had gone down due to cheap imports of grain from America). "There was a class of people in this country that they could do without - they certainly could not do without the labourer, and it was not the farmer - and that was the landlords, who took the chair at every Chamber of Agriculture." "...there was no landlord today in Great Britain who held any quantity, but that which had been stolen from the people of the country at some time or other. Men who had been hard working and had saved and had bought land and invested their money in it, had bought that which had been stolen from the people. They did not go in for taking this land from those people without compensation. So sure as that land had been taken from the people so sure there was a time coming when it would be taken back again. Some would be kicked, or a tax put on the land, or compensation would be given. For his part he believed in all three of these, because some men deserved to be kicked, some taxed and some compensated." (Note how Hines' views had slightly shifted since 1885 when he was more generally in favour of compensation). "...he hoped to see an inter-national Union so that great capitalists and the employers would not be able to get foreign men in the country and spoil the wages of the English labourers." The Bicester Herald report ended "Mr Hines was listened to with scrupulous attention and was frequently applauded." However his speech may not have had the effect he desired, for on 30th August 1890 a letter from Hines appeared in the English Labourer's Chronicle, the newspaper associated with NALU, saying  that Oxfordshire labourers were quite willing to attend Union meetings and applaud speakers, but "they do not do the one thing needful, that is they do not join the Union in that earnest and systematic way they do in Norfolk and other districts."

For the rest of 1890 Hines was only reported speaking at four meetings, at Abingdon, Sutton Courtenay, Oakley and Ickford. Several Oxford undergraduates came to speak at these meetings, including Evan Cotton, Herbert Samuel (DNB 1870-1963), later a Liberal minister reponsible for several social reforms, and governor of Palestine from 1920 to 1925, William Cozens-Hardy (wikipedia 1869-1924) who was briefly a Liberal MP till he inherited his father's peerage in 1920 and became a motoring enthusiast who died in a car accident, and John Goodier Haworth (1870-1929) a Manchester yarn agent who died worth half a million pounds, all members of the Russell Club. Herbert Samuel later wrote of these meetings "Week after week two or three of us would join Hines, driving a high dog-cart, and go out eight, ten, or fifteen miles to one of the Oxfordshire villages, there to address in the open air a silent gathering of working-men, sometimes made the more timid by one or two of the farmers coming to the edge of the little crowd to note who was there." "We started also little co-operative stores in workmen's cottages in some of the villages for the benefit of the union members, and I remember our dog-cart being loaded up sometimes with supplies of tea, sugar and tobacco".

On 29th November 1890 there was a conference in Oxford on the Organisation of Industry, where the star speaker was Tom Mann (DNB 1856-1941) one of the principal leaders of the previous year's dockers' strike. It was arranged by the Oxford branch of the Toynbee Hall Association. Toynbee Hall was set up in 1884 by Christian Socialists for potential future national leaders to live and work in London's East End, bringing them face to face with poverty. Part of the idea of this conference was to get the leaders of the new unions (like Mann) who represented general labourers, to talk with leaders of the older craft-based unions. One person present was Sidney Ball (DNB 1857-1918) a don of St John's College who apparently considered himself Oxford's leading socialist. His widow wrote a memoir of him, quoting a letter he wrote to her before their marriage "At lunch the 'old' and the 'new' Trade Unionists sat down together in peace - and it was very pleasant to hear them address one another as friend - and a dear old working-man friend of mine called me Brother Ball". She wondered "whether the comrade who called him Brother Ball was our dear old friend, Mr Hines of Oxford, with whom I afterwards became familiar. He had his moments of unbrotherliness in one of which he once spoke of Sidney as 'that there Ball, he's nothing but a rusty nail' but we never knew just what depths of disgust that signified, and all was soon as before between us." On the 1st December Hines was present at the opening of the East Oxford Liberal Club on the corner of Crown Street and St Mary's Road that had previously been the Lamb & Flag coffee house.


Possibly at Hines' suggestion, but chiefly because farm workers had come to London to break dockers' strikes (it was said that the success of the 1889 dockers' strike was partly due to its taking place at harvest time when farm workers were fully employed), the Dockers' Union decided to begin recruiting farm workers. . They sent a union man Harry Nicholls (b. 1853 ) along with Hugh Fairfax-Cholmeley (1864-1940) a Christian Socialist from Toynbee Hall who later became a progressive squire at Branby, Yorkshire, and in his memoir wrote "we met a number of enthusiastic Liberal and Socialist undergraduates who wanted to come and speak for us and also a great character named Hines who was the college chimney sweep. He wore a wig, was a herbalist as well as a sweep and had strong radical and Bradlaughite views. He was also an earnest Malthusian and had thirteen daughters. York Powell was greatly interested in him and admired him."  (Since Thomas Malthus (DNB 1766-1834) had warned against overpopulation, Fairfax-Cholmeley may have meant this ironically. Perhaps Hines came to favour birth control through the influence of his friend Bradlaugh, but the youngest of his twelve children had been born in 1882 when his second wife was 40 years old). The Oxford Journal, a Tory paper, on 10th January 1891, printed a letter from 'A Voter' lamenting the lack of Conservative preparedness, and referring to Hines without naming him. "It may not be possible to get another such combination in one individual as agitator, chimney cleaner, and medical herbalist, one whose calling allows him the best part of the day for his favourite work, who is almost ubiquitous, here there and everywhere, in season and out, wanted or not, and who knows how his services are appreciated by his party, not only in this county, but others. Still I have no doubt someone may be found to act in the same capacity, in an endeavour to counteract the influence he exercises in the villages among the uneducated electors." On 14th January there was a public meeting about East Oxford allotments in the Princes Street schoolroom which Hines attended, saying allotments were too dear. On 2nd February at a Liberal meeting at Granborough near Buckingham, Hines, Hobhouse and Samuel spoke, and Hines mentioned the death of Charles Bradlaugh - "the dearest friend which he had on earth was no more". On 7th February at a meeting in Bicester Hines spoke along with Harry Nicholls and Ben Tillett (DNB 1860-1943) secretary of the Dockers' Union. On 15th February at Garsington, Hines was in the chair, and Cotton and Samuel spoke along with Frederick Verinder (Dictionary of Labour Biography 1858-1948) of the Land Nationalisation Society. On 22nd February on the Green at Great Milton, Nicholls, Samuel, Cotton and Hines spoke from a wagonette, with Fairfax-Cholmeley in the chair, and "some opposition was offered by a local farmer, who subsequently, however, undertook to dismiss no labourers from his employment for joining the union." On 1st March at Great Haseley, Hines was in the chair and Hobhouse, Cotton and Samuel spoke, on the 4th March in Little Milton George Warrington Steevens (DNB 1869-1900) whose radical views later shifted to the right before he became a war correspondent, and James Nelson Fraser (1869-1918), later principal of a teacher training college in Bombay, both of Balliol College, spoke, and on 6th March in the Bell Inn, Great Milton, Hines spoke and 30 joined the union (it cost one shilling to join, then threepence a week). On the 8th March at Tetsworth, Nicholls, Fairfax-Cholmeley, Hobhouse, Cotton, Samuel and Hines spoke in the open air despite the inclement weather and 14 joined the union. That evening Herbert Samuel invited about 30 people to his rooms in Balliol College to hear Nicholls talk about unions. About 50 Tory students "screwed Samuel's oak" as had been done before to Davitt. The meeting carried on regardless, and at the end, as Samuel later recalled, "Nicholls, a squat, sturdy little man, taking the leaf of my dining table as a battering-ram, and dancing at the door, crashing a hole in the panels", they got out. Then, as Fairfax-Cholmeley recalled, "I had great difficulty in restraining Hines from getting into trouble with Lord Mountmorris, who was chaffing Hines about his wig". (6th Viscount Mountmorres wikipedia 1872-1931). The ringleader of this practical joke confessed years later to Herbert Samuel that it was he, Lord Ponsonby (DNB 1871-1946) - who became a pacifist and Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Lords.

On 21st March 1891 a letter from "A friend of the labourer" in the Tory paper Oxford Times referred to Hines, without naming him, as "a well-known knight of the brush" and called him a "faddist" for deserting NALU for the Dockers' Union. The following week there were two replies, one from Josiah Benjamin Pully (1829-1910) of Middle Barton, who claimed "I knew the Knight of the Brush when he was a local preacher and not an infidel, but according to the Oxford people everybody goes wrong as soon as they get into that city of learning." Middle Barton is just three miles from Upper Heyford, and Pully's trade was a medical herbalist, of which there were only five in Oxfordshire directories, and no others in Oxford when Hines opened his shop, so it was likely Pully who had introduced Hines to herbalism. The other reply was from Herbert Samuel, who claimed Hines "never received a single pound from NALU or from any other source" and that the Executive Council of the Dockers' Union "were able, though with great difficulty, to prevail upon the 'faddist' to again put his shoulder to the wheel." In fact there is some evidence that Hines received small expenses payments in the 1870s from NALU or from collections at meetings, and certainly later from the Fabian Society, so perhaps also from the Dockers' Union and the Liberal party. But it seems likely that he was never a paid agent and he made most of his living from sweeping chimneys. In the 1891 census he was listed as a chimney cleaner "neither employer nor employed" though there is evidence that he later employed at least one sweep. He was living in St Clement's with his wife and their seven daughters, Emily (aged 24) being described as "mother's help", Annie (aged 20) as "scientific dressmaker" (probably meaning she used one of the dressmaking systems then fashionable to buy and learn at home), and Ada (aged 18) as "teacher".

On the 30th March Hines and Cotton spoke on the village green at Stadhampton and on the 12th April they spoke in the open air at Sydenham near Thame. In April 1891 Hines was first mentioned in the minutes of the Fabian Society executive committee. He had sent them a letter and they agreed to send him copies of their Tract 19 "What the farm laborer wants" written by Sidney Webb (DNB 1859-1947). Hines had apparently heard Webb speak at the Russell Club, though I couldn't find out when this was. The tract makes many of the points Hines was constantly making in his reported speeches so there may have been an influence one way or the other, or both. Later in April Ben Tillett spoke again with Hines, Cotton and Samuel,  at Stadhampton, at Chalgrove, on the green at Great Milton and at Thame in front of the Town Hall. In May there was a meeting of Oxford Trades Council at the University Arms in Gloucester Street, to start a branch of another NALU (this one was the National Amalgamated Labourers Union and was active in South Wales recruiting unskilled labourers). Hines asked their vice-president G. H. Dunn whether on threepence a week they could afford the benefits they promised, saying "the Dock Labourers Union could not". Dunn replied that they could because they didn't believe in strikes. This NALU became part of the Transport & General Workers Union in 1922. On 31st May 1891 there was a meeting on the green at Great Milton with 250 present, where William Sydney de Mattos (1851- after 1920) of the Fabian Society spoke. Hines was in the chair and invited a farmer of 400 acres, George Edward Gale (1856-1941) to speak. Hines welcomed him as "one who had the courage to express his opinions, not like some of his brother employers (pointing to a person in the audience) who said things behind his (the speaker's) back." Gale said the meetings should be at a time which would not keep people away from church. Cook Nelms (1839-1921), a railway worker with a two acre smallholding, called out from the audience "How about sending sheep to market on Sunday?" Gale said wages were ruled by the price of corn, and made a dig at Joseph Arch, "who had refused to show a balance sheet of his union". This riled Hines who called it cowardly and unfair. Gale spoke again, saying "he did not see why Mr Hines should call him 'Farmer' Gale, any more than because Mr Hines swept chimneys, he should call him 'Sweeper' Hines." Gale then referred sarcastically to the incident where the socialists had been screwed into their room, and the meeting then broke up. On June 10th Hines and J N Fraser spoke outside the Castle Inn, Dorchester.

From May to July the farm workers at Worminghall had been on strike and they won a rise of two shillings a week. At Weston-on-the-Green wages were raised from 10 shillings to 12 shillings in July. That summer Hines spoke at meetings at Weston, Wendlebury, Islip, Chesterton, Stanton St John, Oddington and Launton. At Chesterton on 8th July he was accompanied for the first time by Joseph Clayton (wikipedia  1867-1943) of Worcester College who was to be Hines' main co-worker over the next few years. At Weston on 17th July Hines said he had the day before visited Herbert Leon (wikipedia 1850-1927) at Bletchley Park, and stayed the night at Claydon (presumably with his daughter Rebecca who was schoolmistress there). Leon was the new Liberal MP for Buckingham after a by-election that May caused by Captain Verney's expulsion from the House of Commons when he was sent to prison for procuring a girl under 21 for immoral purposes. On the 29th August the Fabian and playwright George Bernard Shaw (DNB 1856-1950) spoke in Bicester Market Place with Hines in the chair. The next day Shaw noted in his diary "We drove about with Hines' daughter in a trap. Dorchester open air 2.30, Great Milton 6pm. York Powell took chair at both meetings. Glorious day." And two days later he wrote to Sidney Webb "You ought to do a trip to Oxford and get Hines to drive you about the villages speechifying. On a fine day it is very pleasant, and it is a capital way of getting quietly into the way of talking to the agricultural laborer in the open, an art to which you now, I suppose, stand committed in view of possible rural candidatures. Hines has enthusiastic recollections of your Russell Club performances; and his gift for overwhelming opponents & interrupters with sheer insult is unique," "I believe that by following up the work with Hines we could collar the whole countryside." I don't think Sidney Webb stood for parliament until much later, in 1922, but Shaw seemed to think he was intending to. On 12th September at a meeting in Bicester with Hines in the chair, another Fabian Edward Reynolds Pease (DNB 1857-1955) spoke, and on 18th September Hines and his three daughters Emily, Annie and Ada all joined the Fabian Society, proposed by De Mattos and seconded by Webb. On 30th September Hines and Harry Nicholls spoke at a meeting in Burford. On 5th October Hines spoke at Tetsworth and on the 21st at Great Haseley. By now (if not long before) Hines had flyers (A5 size) printed for each meeting. Across the top was "Agitate! Educate! Organize! Combine!" and at the bottom "Working Men and Women are specially invited." On 30th October at Chalgrove and on 31st October at Tetsworth Hines' main speaker was the Fabian Sydney Olivier (DNB 1859-1943) and on 7th November at Great Milton and 9th November at Standlake it was the Fabian Sidney Webb. These winter meetings were in inns, except one at Berrick on 21st November in a cottage, and there were three more with Hobhouse and Harry Nicholls in late November at Great Milton, Cuddesdon and Weston.  Also on 2nd November Bernard Shaw had come to speak to the Russell Club in Oxford, and according to his diary, he went after the lecture with Hines to York Powell's rooms, but he was out. Sometime that autumn Sidney Ball had written to his fiancée "Mr Hobhouse and Mr Hines have arrived at a compromise to go on with the dockers till they can form a local union; but I fancy Mr Hobhouse no longer delights in the self-willed sweep who, indeed, gives to agitation what was meant for his wife and (very many) daughters." And in fact Hobhouse seems not to have spoken at any more of Hines' meetings. In December 1891 the Liberal party convened a Rural Conference at the Memorial Hall, London to "let the farm workers speak". Harry Nicholls, Cook Nelms, Frederic Impey and Hines were all delegates and there were fifty short speeches. Hines recommended "that every Parliamentary candidate should be asked to pledge himself to vote for securing the labourer twelve months' notice before he can be evicted from his cottage." The next morning the delegates all breakfasted in the Holborn Restaurant, where former and future prime minister Gladstone gave them a speech (of which more later).


On 20th February 1892 Bernard Shaw came again to Oxford. According to his diary "Hines met me at the station and came on to Powell's, where we had some grub. Then he brought me off to the affair at Magdalen. I expected a mere chat on things in general; but when I arrived there were about 15 or 16 undergraduates assembled; and I was called for a lecture. An opposition party outside screwed us up and wrecked the adjoining room. It threatened to be a very serious business, but I got out at last with a whole skin. Could hardly get any sleep afterwards." The meeting was in the rooms of Thomas Best (wikipedia 1870-1941) later a colonial governor in Malta and the West Indies. The assailants burned Cayenne pepper and poured water on one person who tried to escape through the window. The captives were finally let out, but then Hines was asked to drink to the health of the Queen and confusion to socialism, and when he refused, his hat and wig were grabbed. They sent him a replacement the next day but kept his wig as a trophy. The day after next Shaw gave a talk in Woodstock, where some Oxford students were in the audience dressed as farmers. "Hines came and kept me in till after lunch. Town Hall Woodstock 7.30pm, took train but drove back with Hines, three of his daughters, Miss Clifford and (George) Cotton. We had tea with Adolphus Ballard."

In March another Fabian, Noel Griffith (1864-1936) came to speak at the Liberal Club in Crown Street, East Oxford on "The political programme of socialists". Christopher Maltby (see above) was in the chair, and that same month he was proposed as a member of the Fabian Society by Hines and his daughter Ada. On March 18th Hines spoke at Worminghall with the MP Herbert Leon. On 25th March Hines and Joseph Hartley Wicksteed (1870-1959) of Lincoln College, from a Unitarian family and later the author of works on the poet and artist William Blake (DNB 1757-1827), spoke at Ickford and on the 27th Hines, Cotton and Samuel spoke at Chalgrove. In May a general election was called, and the Liberal van made a tour of 40 places around Oxford, at some of which Hines spoke, and his daughters sang. At Horton-cum-Studley two Misses Hines sang "Bide Your Time", a song by Michael Barry (DNB 1817-1889) with a rather Fabian message. The Liberals were returned to power and in Woodstock Godfrey Benson beat the Tory candidate, George Herbert Morrell (see above 1878) from another local brewing family. The Oxford Times blamed this defeat on "the socialist sweep and others". In August Bernard Shaw wrote to Sidney Webb "I hear from Oxford that de Mattos is ravishing every maiden in the country, and that even the tolerant Hines took umbrage when some seven or eight of his daughters had succumbed. I will not answer for the accuracy of this statement in detail; but York Powell writes to me privately urging the importance of dissociating ourselves from the satyromaniac W. S. de M. who has, it appears, handsomely apologised to Hines. What more could a gentleman do?" In September another of Hines' daughters, Kate, was proposed as Fabian Society member by de Mattos, her address being the Schoolroom, Botolph Claydon - where her half-sister Rebecca was school mistress. De Mattos had married in 1874 Katharine Stevenson (wikipedia 1851 - 1939) cousin of the author Robert Louis Stevenson (DNB 1850-1894) but his constant infidelities had led to their separation in the 1880s. She became a novelist and journalist using her married name, and in 1898 de Mattos emigrated to Canada where he lived alone mining and farming.

That autumn at least two more Fabians came to speak with Hines. In September Henry Halliday Sparling (wikipedia 1860 -1927) spoke at the Oxford Reform Club along with Walter Firminger (wikipedia 1870-1940) of Merton College and later Archdeacon of Calcutta, and then at Abingdon where no-one came to listen so Hines and Sparling went out to speak in the Market Place, and in November Henry Gaylord Wilshire (wikipedia 1861-1927) an American "millionaire soocialist", spoke at Ambrosden. From the Fabian Society minutes it appears that Graham Wallas (DNB 1858 -1932) and James Shaw Maxwell (wikipedia 1855-1928) may also have come to speak with Hines, though I found no record of the meetings. The Fabians seem to have sent Hines five pounds expenses for each talk. Meanwhile the Dockers' Union had given up recruiting farm workers and Harry Nicholls set up his own Oxfordshire and Lincolnshire Agricultural Labourers Union to continue his work.


On 15th February 1893 Hines addressed a meeting of the Mid-Oxon Women's Liberal Association in the Chapel at Beckley. His daughter Ada was in the chair. He "spoke in praise of the administrative ability of the present Government, and declared that the Labour Party would be best forwarding their own cause by supporting the party of progress." The Independent Labour Party had been set up in January in Bradford and its first chairman was Keir Hardie (DNB 1856 -1915), already known as "independent labour" MP for West Ham South. Whether or not Hines knew it, later that spring his daughter Annie met Hardie at Botolph Claydon, where she was presumably either a visitor or an assistant to her half-sister Rebecca the schoolmistress, and a romance blossomed between Keir and Annie, as evidenced by his letters to her over six weeks in May and June 1893, now in the National Library of Scotland. He was a married man fifteen years her senior. From his letters it is clear that Annie's sisters Rebecca and Kate both also corresponded with Hardie, and Rebecca (known as Rex) visited him in London, while Annie, whom he often addressed as Sparks, seems to have kept her romance secret from Rebecca. In one letter Hardie invented a story of a "Knight Errant" in a land called "Nodyalc Hplotob" (Botolph Claydon backwards) who "met an angel in woman's guise. She was full of sympathy and her wondrous eyes spoke with a power which thrilled him through and through. The damsel seemed not unresponsive to his devotion and together they walked by shady grove and murmuring brook, hand clasped in hand & heart throbing against heart. His cheek to hers he oft did lay and love was ever the tale he told." He also sent her a copy of "Woman, Free", a feminist poem with copious notes by Ellis Ethelmer, the pseudonym of Benjamin Elmy (1838-1906), the husband of feminist Elizabeth Clarke Wolstenholme Elmy (DNB 1833-1918), and he suggested that she read it together with her sisters Rebecca and Kate. On June 6th another Fabian, Margaret Macmillan (DNB 1860-1931) came to speak to the Oxford Liberal Association at Winslow (near Botolph Claydon) with Hines in the chair, and Macmillan and Hines both spoke at a meeting in Witney on 9th June. Hardie had arranged with Hines to come to Oxford on June 11th, and Annie had told him he could stay at the house of a male friend of hers referred to as "F". Hardie wrote "I will be early tho I have told your father different". But in a later letter he asked her to book him a room in the Coffee House or Temperance Hotel, and meet him at Oxford station on Friday 9th June, when he expected her "dress shd be finished", which suggests he had bought her a dress.  On Monday the 12th Hardie spoke in Oxford at the Liberal Hall in New Inn Hall Street, with Hines in the chair, on "Labour Problems". Over the next two weeks Hardie cried off making another visit to Oxford, in case it led to "farther complications and unfounded suspicion", and tried several times to persuade Annie to come to meet him in London on her way to visit her married half-sister Sarah Mayes in Wimbledon. It seems that on one occasion she came to Paddington on the train and met Hardie, who was with her older sister Emily, briefly on the platform, but then returned with Emily to Oxford (or perhaps to Wimbledon). Since there are no more letters after that it's hard to tell whether they saw any more of each other, but on 21st June Hardie, who was already well known in the papers for his homely attire in the House of Commons as well as making himself unpopular with Gladstone's government by asking awkward questions, was noted in the Western Mail's "London Letter" as becoming "quite fashionable" meaning "he has come out at the House of Commons as a ladies' man. He has been escorting several ladies over the precincts of the House of late, and I have heard that he was on the terrace the other day with some fair charmers". On the 28th July at Ludgershall a meeting on the Green began with Miss Annie Hines singing a solo "Hark! The battle cry is ringing" by Henry Salt (DNB 1851-1939), to the tune of "Men of Harlech", followed by her father giving a stirring address on "The Rights of Labour". In September Gladstone's Home Rule for Ireland bill finally passed the Commons, only to be scuppered by the Lords, who then still had the power of veto. There had been a drought that spring which may have contributed to the collapse in October of Nicholls' Oxfordshire and Lincolnshire Agricultural Labourers' Union. For a Liberal meeting at Brill in November 1893 Hines brought along speakers Arthur Sidgwick and John Arthur Fallowes (1864-1935), a curate with private means who later became a Birmingham councillor, and Fallowes spoke at another meeting with Hines on Land, Labour and Wages two days later in South Leigh. At some point in 1893 Hines compiled and had printed a pamphlet of "Labour Songs for the use of working men and women" price one penny, with a foreword by Professor York Powell, and twenty songs including the two mentioned above as sung by Hines' daughters. York Powell's biographer Oliver Elton (DNB 1861-1945) who would probably have known Hines, wrote "The inhabitant of Oxford whom Powell held in special regard was his friend Mr William Hines, whom he would call 'one of the most sensible men in the place'. Hines lived by sweeping chimneys and also by the profession of a herbalist - but his true calling was politics and oratory. He was at first an 'old radical' and consorted with radical dons and citizens; but latterly he inclined to socialism. He had a fiery sympathy with country folk and the poor, and plenty of sharp practical sense. A born speaker of the open-air kind, his changeful metallic voice, mobile hairless face, with strange sagacious wrinkles that seemed to have been gathered in the elf-world, and clear grey-blue eyes, were known on the village greens and platforms round about." This is the best description I found of Hines' appearance, and I'm still searching in vain for a photograph. Did the hairlessness of his face and the fact he wore a wig perhaps relate to a condition caused by soot? Modern medicine suggests alopecia totalis may be an inherited immune condition.


In April 1894 George Herbert Morrell, the Tory candidate for Woodstock, which was held by the Liberal Godfrey Benson, spoke to a meeting in the Field Schoolroom at Headington which was attended by many of the fiercely Liberal inhabitants of Headington Quarry. (Headington was part of the Woodstock constituency). The Tory paper Oxford Times explained that the room "was crowded with Quarryites, and a strong force of Radical rowdies had been imported from the surrounding district to assisst in making matters lively. Past experience of the sort of conduct to be expected on such an occasion led to the wise precaution of reinforcing the local police staff, and Inspector Smith, of the local police force, was also on the scene. But for this it is possible there would have to be chronicled some scenes of personal violence." With Morrell was his agent, William Edwards (1857-1925) of Romford in Essex,  son of a farm worker. He had been a union organiser in a strike at Becton gas works in 1890 that threatened to turn off half London's street lighting. He then became a Liberal agent, but went over to the Unionists in 1893. (Unionists, who were against home rule for Ireland, thought of themselves as Liberals but in most things voted with Tories). According to the Oxford Times, Edwards "appeared to be the irritating element in the meeting, and the fury of the hostile force was concentrated on securing his discomfiture, He was severely heckled, and made a butt for the jeers and howls of Mr Benson's supporters." In the audience was the Liberal agent, Frederick Charles Rivers (1857-1937), who had a greengrocer's shop in Hythe Bridge Street, Oxford, and who asked Edwards "Were you not actively engaged in working for the Liberal candidate in Romford, at the general election of 1892?" The Times continued "This question provoked such an uproar that it was perfectly impossible for Mr Edwards to make his reply heard for some time. He appealed to his Liberal friends to give him a fair opportunity of answering the question, and order having been partially restored, replied that he had worked for the Liberal candidate, and was perfectly prepared to justify his action to their satisfaction. This answer produced another outbreak of disorder, and it was some time before order could be procured. Mr. Rivers: Did you work for the Liberal cause for money? Mr Edwards replied that he did, and added that he never left the Liberal cause until it left him (cheers and counter-cheers). Mr Rivers: The next question is, did not the Liberal candidate set you up in a coffee shop in East Ham? Mr Edwards replied in the negative, and said that he believed Mr Rivers was the agent at elections for Mr Benson, and was none the worse for it. As an agent, he was paid for his services, and if he liked to invest the money he earned in that manner, in the purchase of a greengrocer's shop or a coffee-house, he was at liberty to do so. He (Mr Edwards) did the same - (applause). Mr Rivers: And then, when the Liberal cow had run dry, did you run to the Tories and try them? Mr Edwards replied that he had already said that if they would only give him a chance, he was quite prepared to justify his position. Amidst continued interruptions, he proceeded to say that just previous to the last general election, a deputation from the agricultural labourers was summoned to London. They were represented in this division by a man named Hines and somebody else. - (Here Mr Hines, who was seated in the middle of the room, stood upon a stool, amidst loud cheers) - Nothing daunted, Mr Edwards observed that he was glad Mr Hines was present, as he would be able to bear witness whether his account of the meeting in the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, was correct or not. Resuming, he said that as far as time permitted the delegates were asked to explain the grievances of the labourers. The next morning thay had a powerful speech from Mr Gladstone, who said that the rural population presented to him, as far as Great Britain was concerned, the most urgent case he knew of, and that no effort should be spared by any party in the House of Commons to at least try and improve the condition of agriculture. He appealed to Mr Hines whether Mr Gladstone made that statement or not. Mr Hines: Words to that effect, and something he never intended carrying out (Cheers and laughter). Mr Edwards, resuming, said that he took that to be a distinct promise that if Mr Gladstone was returned he would endeavour to improve the condition of agriculture. The delegates went back and explained what had been said, and numbers of votes were obtained on that promise. The present Government was returned, and had anything been done for agriculture? No. The Government had over and over again refused to do anything. Mr Gladstone himself had declared that to grant a single day for the discussion of agricultural grievances would be a simple 'waste of time' - (uproar)." According to another Tory paper, the Oxford Journal, Hines asked that Edwards be given a fair hearing, and was met with cries of "Sit down," and "we don't want you to manage our affairs," to which he replied, "I have no wish to do anything of the sort. I don't belong to any political party and don't intend to." Hines asked Edwards what the Tories had done for the workers in six years, but Edwards' reply was lost in interruption and continued uproar. By 1911 Edwards was still an agent for the Conservative Party, his house in Romford was called Beaconsfield House, no doubt after Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield, Tory prime minister. Rivers, son of a carpenter, was by 1911 political secretary for the London Liberal Association and died in 1937 worth £4000.

On 1st May 1894 there were Mayday demonstrations in London, and Keir Hardie spoke at Canning Town and at Whitechapel. After the speeches the march was proceeding, when the police suddenly started bludgeoning and kicking people. Hardie was unmolested, but Mrs Paul Campbell, Mr William Hines and other visitors were roughly handled. On 6th June, accompanied by Hines, Hardie spoke about the Independent Labour Party at Steeple Claydon. On 5th July, the ILP newspaper Labour Leader listed contributions to the by-election fund for Attercliffe (in Sheffield) where Frank Smith (wikipedia 1854-1940) was standing for the ILP. The names from Oxford included Hines and Colin Harse (the cricket ball maker), two shillings each, and Frank Thomas (1862-?1949) son of the painter mentioned above, one shilling. Hines was still holding regular meetings in the villages, but they were no longer mentioned in the papers, probably because he'd dropped his connection to the Liberal party, and I only know of them from a set of his flyers in the Bodleian Library. There are flyers for ten of these meetings in 1894, all held in inns, at Garsington and Chalgrove in January, at Long Handborough in late April, at North Marston and South Leigh in June, at Horton-cum-Studley, Kirtlington, and twice at Littlemore in October, and at Standlake and Cumnor in November. These last two were on the subject of "Parish and District Councils", the first ever elections for which were held that December. J A Fallowes, Albert Louis Cotton (1874-1936, brother of Evan Cotton), who became a London correspondent for Indian newspapers, and A E W Salt (1874-1957) a Balliol college undergraduate who became a clergyman and history teacher, each spoke at two of these meetings. On the 28th November Hines spoke at Garsington in support of Herbert Samuel, who was now the Liberal candidate for South Oxfordshire. Hines also wrote twice to the Fabian Society in 1894, and at least one £5 was sent.


On 15th February at Headington New Schools Hines sat through a long speech by the Tory Herbert Morrell on Welsh disestablishment, and then rose to say he had heard that Mr Morrell had insulted him at a meeting at Beckley, and if this was true he was willing to fight it out.  Morrell said "I am glad indeed to have an opportunity of meeting you, and -" Hines "I have never insulted you." Morrell replied that he had never insulted Hines. What he said at Beckley was said incidentally, and to the effect that he could not see that there was any advantage to Beckley in a Mr Hines or any other person being imported into the parish to manage its affairs, as he always looked to local government and local control. Hines "But you referred to me as a chimney sweep." Morrell "That is your profession." Hines said "If Mr Morrell had anything to say against him he was willing to fight it out on the floor of the building. Mr Morrell could know nothing of his ability as a chimney sweeper, because he had never swept a chimney for Mr Morrell in his life, nor had he ever seen him sweep a chimney -(laughter)". Morrell "We do not want to go into domestic affairs, but as I have paid an account to Mr Hines for sweeping a chimney, I presume he swept it -(loud laughter)."  That quote is a mix of how two Tory Oxford papers, the Times and the Journal, reported the exchange slightly differently. Anyway, that August the Conservatives won the general election, and Morrell took Woodstock from Benson. Perhaps partly in response to this result, the first meeting of the Oxford and District Socialist Union took place in August, announced by John Granville Grenfell (1837-1897) of 99 Iffley Road, who had been a schoolmaster at Clifton College, Bristol and at King Edwards' School, Birmingham, and at the second meeting, on 19th August, thirty plus people attended at the Carfax Restaurant and agreed that ODSU should be open to anyone who agreed that all the means of production should be nationalised, and who was not connected with Tories or Liberals. I don't know if Hines was there, but in the 31st August issue of Labour Leader appeared this article by Joseph Clayton. "Last week I spent a holiday as an emissary of Socialism in the villages of Oxfordshire and Berks. William Hines of Oxford City beguiled me. Comrade Hines is a wonderful man - a born agitator - belonging to the country, and understanding and interpreting many wayside flowers and herbs of strange names and uses. For years very often single-handed, or only accompanied by his daughters, he has waged war against landlord tyranny and the insolence of Tory farmers. The despair of party politics naturally made him an apostle of combination, and the failure of rural labourers' unions sends him forth to preach Socialism and an Independent Labour Party. " (My comment - Hines was an apostle of combination long before he deserted the Liberals). "Hines loves to initiate Oxford undergraduates with youthful aspirations into the mysteries of public speaking, and several progressive politicians owe more to him than to their college tutors. Wherefore an invitation to 'take to the open road' with friend Hines on the old warpath was not to be disregarded, even after a bout of ILP electioneering. The pleasures of long drives through the quiet Oxfordshire country is great after the pitiless monotony of much begrimed streets; and the platform of a village green seemed broader and nobler than the agitator's street-corner chair. But oh! the sorrowful darkness of our patient audience. With wages at nine and ten shillings a week at harvest time, men thrown out of work by the cunning improvements in agricultural machinery, the merciless oppression of weekly cottage tenure, and the despair of the village Progressivist at the rout of the Liberals - with all these things weighing down hard on our audience - what could a Socialist do? When the only ray of political hope to our agricultural comrades was the return of Mr Joseph Arch to the House of Commons by an increased majority, it seemed vain to speak of Independent Labour Parties. But the word must be spoken." Hines wrote to tell the Fabian Society of his tour with Clayton, and asked for £5 which they sent, "but no more". They may have become more interested in the Oxford University Fabian Society which had been formed in March 1895.

At the third meeting of ODSU in early September there were 40 members, Grenfell was secretary, Frank Thomas treasurer, and Hines, his daughter Ada, Colin Harse, Herbert Skinner and Frank Haywood (1868-1951) were on the committee. Haywood was the son of a Mayfair (London) plumber and decorator and had been a financial clerk in London in 1891 and joined the Fabian Society then. ODSU seems to have acquired their own rooms at Oxford Central School in George Street, and on 30th October 1895 William Morris came to speak there for the official launch of ODSU. According to Morris's daughter May Morris (DNB 1862-1938), Hines had once attempted the conversion to socialism of the formidable master of Balliol, Benjamin Jowett (DNB 1817-1893). In December Richard Worrall Graham (1869-1918) son of an Oxford letter carrier, and who later became a bookseller in London, was proposed for the Fabian Society by Hines and his daughter Ada.


In January 1896 ODSU hosted a talk by George Lansbury (DNB 1859-1940) future leader of the Labour Party but then a member of the Social Democratic Federation.. Hines was in the chair, "Come gather O ye workers" was sung, and Hines introduced Lansbury as "an out and out fighting socialist".  At the start of February ODSU jointly with the University Fabians hosted a talk on "The Industrial Basis of Socialism" by the Fabian and statistician Henry William Macrosty (wikipedia 1865-1941). At the start of March, the first Oxford branch of the SDF was founded - perhaps inspired by Lansbury's talk. They had 16 members at first, the secretary was Ada Hines, and they met every Thursday at 92 St Clement's, reading Hyndman's "The Economic Basis of Socialism". I don't think Hines was a member, but he must have given them comradely encouragement as they met in his house. Later in March an ad appeared in the socialist paper Clarion "Situation wanted as mother's help in good socialist family, age 18, F Hines, 92 St Clement's". This was Hines' eighth daughter, Flora. On 19th May. according to a gently mocking article in the Oxford Times, Hines spoke in Gloucester Green at a meeting called by himself to air the grievances of the unemployed. "The small crowd ... consisted largely of members of the 'Carfax Club,' most of them calmly smoking their pipes, with their hands well down in their trousers pockets." "Hines proceeded to say, with significant waving of the hands, that it was useless to expect social redemption from any political party." Only one man in the audience, named Sherwood, came forward and said he had been out of work for two months. He had a wife and four children and had received notice to quit his house. After Hines spoke again, "He was followed by a man named Law, who distinguished himself during the late parliamentary election by appearing in a suit of blue and having his face and hands covered with the same colour." Law spoke against the game laws and the quality of workhouse food. "Hines and his daughter, and an undergraduate who had been speaking to her during the latter part of the meeting, then left, and those present quietly dispersed." On 22nd May the German socialist Karl Liebknecht (wikipedia 1871-1919) came to Oxford with Edward Aveling and Eleanor Marx. They were met by the Hines family and Colin Harse, and spoke at a meeting in the Holywell Music Room, with York Powell in the chair. Aveling reported in the SDF paper Justice that this time there were no stink bombs, and that they "went for" Cecil Rhodes (DNB 1853-1902) and Leander Jameson (DNB 1853-1917), British imperialists in Southern Africa. He also noted the "femininity" of the Hines family. On 27th May ODSU hosted a talk on "Militarism and Socialism" by James Thomas Cattle (1867-1956) Oxford railway clerk and son of a college servant. In June the Fabian Society in London got a letter from ODSU about Hines, as well as one from Hines requesting leaflets. They sent 500 leaflets each to ODSU and Hines. In July James Cattle and Frank Thomas were proposed as members of the Fabian Society by Frank Haywood, and a letter from Joseph Clayton requesting a grant for Hines' lectures was declined. These seem to be signs of a rift in ODSU, which continued in October when the Fabians got a letter from Thomas and Cattle on the "uselessness of Hines' book box", and the Society decided to ask Hines to send it back. There was also a brief report in the Oxford Times in October saying that ODSU had held open-air meetings that summer in Garsington, Littlemore, Wheatley, Islip, Cumnor, Beckley and Horspath. In July the Oxford Times reported a socialist meeting near Martyrs Memorial on a Friday evening with Joseph Clayton speaking, along with a Mr Brown, telegraph clerk in the Oxford Post Office. Sometime in August or September the SDF started holding meetings at Martyrs Memorial on Sunday evenings. These were intended to take place in the hour before George Wheelhouse (1818-1901), the City Missionary, usually began his meetings there, but he arrived early and tried to drown out the socialists with prayer and hymns, which led to arguments where the socialists got roughly handled by the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) and local youths. On Tuesday 29th September William Heaford (1858-1937) of the National Secular Society gave a speech at Martyrs Memorial on "Is Christianity True?" On Saturday 3rd October George Palmer spoke at Martyrs Memorial from the Red Van of the English Land Restoration League, with Hines in the chair. That was also the day that William Morris died. Davis and Brown of ODSU were at the funeral, and a few days later York Powell wrote to Miss Hines saying he was glad her father had visited Morris at Kelmscott before he died (Hines' signature doesn't feature in the Kelmscott visitor's book). From November Ada Hines was no longer listed in Justice as secretary of the Oxford SDF, and on 13th November Henry Hyndman spoke at the Corn Exchange, with York Powell in the chair. Among those present were Sidney Ball, Joseph Chatterton (1872-1944) of the SDF, Thomas, Cattle and Haywood of ODSU, and Hines. George Lansbury was not mentioned as present by the Oxford Chronicle that gave that list, so in this passage from his memoirs he may have been mixing up two occasions. "I had been down with Hyndman to a meeting in the Guildhall presided over by Professor York Powell. All the speakers had been put through it very badly myself included. The next Sunday I was advertised to speak at Martyrs Memorial in the centre of the town. I arrived with two or three comrades only to find our way blocked by a solid mass of young gentlemen who simply refused to budge. In those days there was a fine old comrade who used to sweep the college chimneys. He had a large family, mostly girls. Some were with us, and with a chivalry which none of us imagined we possessed we invited those girls to lead the way - which they did, using hands and arms to such good effect that in a few minutes I found myself addressing the howling mob. We kept the meeting going for nearly three hours, more than half the time in dumb-show, but we had the last word."

Last years

ODSU continued into 1897, mostly through Clayton's efforts, it seems. In January he addressed meetings at Abingdon and Islip, and gave three history lectures at Oxford Central School, one on Francis Place (DNB 1771-1854) and trade unionism, one on Richard Carlile (DNB 1790-1843) and the freedom of the press, and one on the Rochdale pioneers (DNB active 1844), founders of the Co-operative movement. In March a letter from York Powell to Clayton (quoted in Elton's biography of Powell) asked "Isn't ____ the man who did a bit of time? Hines used to like him: 'a rare festive chap' he said if I remember right."  My guess is that this may have been Frederic Charles (1860-1934) who was then serving eight years in prison for his part in an alleged bomb plot, and who moved to Oxford not long before Hines' death, and revived the Socialist League there in 1904. According to Lorenzo Quelch in his autobiography An Old-Fashioned Socialist Charles then kept a radical bookshop in St Clements, if so, this may have been in Mrs Hines' herbalist shop, as it isn't listed in the street directories. In the summers of 1897 and 1898 the SDF courted controversy by holding their meetings at Martyrs Memorial every Sunday evening. Often it was seven or eight socialists facing a hostile crowd of hundreds, local youth egged on by students. On May 9th 1897 the crowd chased the socialists to St Clement's where they escaped through the Black Horse pub into the Cowley Road, and the pursuers, assuming they had taken refuge in Hines' house, broke his windows. The papers were quick to point out that Hines had no connection with the SDF. On the 12th May the Prince of Wales - the future King Edward VII (DNB 1841-1910) - visited Oxford, and "students pushed a woman comrade who wore her SDF badge in the river, almost to the waist, and seeing her again in the evening, carried her on their shoulders along one of the principal streets, with, naturally enough, every insult." This from the SDF paper Justice, which also said that at Martyrs Memorial on 23rd May, Comrade Smith, the smallest man in the Oxford branch, was kicked and punched by the crowd to get his hat and tie. "Two SDF girls tried to rescue him." Possibly these female comrades were some of the Hines sisters. The ILP paper Labour Leader reported that ODSU "which for the last two years has been doing excellent work on I.L.P. lines, has just concluded a week's propaganda in Oxford, Abingdon and the neighbouring villages. The meetings have been addressed by Joe Clayton and D. Bicker-Caarten of Southampton". Delmar Bicker-Caarten (sotonopedia 1854-1928) was an import agent in Southampton. The villages were Horspath, Garsington, Islip, Beckley and Stanton St John. The ODSU secretary was now Elizabeth Roberts (1849-19??) a spinster living with her father and her brother William, an Inland Revenue officer, in Beechcroft Road, Summertown. That was the last record I found of ODSU.

In April 1898 Leonard Cotton (1875-1958), the Oxford SDF branch secretary, was charged with causing an obstruction at Martyrs Memorial on a Sunday evening, and refused to pay his fine, so was sent to Oxford gaol for a month. On May 17th George Lansbury came to Oxford to speak at the Assembly Rooms. in defence of the right of public meetings.  Comrade Smith was in the chair, and Hines was there and supported the resolution. Cotton served his term in gaol and the SDF continued to hold their meetings at Martyrs Memorial. One of the SDF witnesses at Cotton's trial was William Matthew Gray (1859-1931) a carpenter, trade unionist and city council candidate, the only person I found in Victorian Oxford (unless we count Hines) who combined unionism with socialist activism. Another witness was Herbert James Smith, hairdresser, wearing a "huge red tie", presumably the Comrade Smith mentioned twice above.  A baby girl born in November 1898 was baptised in February 1899 at St Ebbe's church, father Herbert James Smith, mother Louisa Bayliss, single woman. Smith, with an address in Greenwich, Kent, was ordered to pay 2 shillings a week till the child was 16, but didn't show up in court.. Keir Hardie spoke in April 1899 to the Oxford Trades and Labour Council at the Anchor Hotel, New Road and wrote afterwards in Labour Leader that he had been to Oxford and visited Hines, who had shown him a leaflet from 1885 announcing the Socialist League (which Hines had probably never joined). In 1900 and 1901 the Oxford Municipal Housing Association, bringing together Liberals, Christians and Socialists was a failed attempt to get Oxford to build council housing. At the first meeting Hines criticised the bishops and clergy for coming so late to the cause, and the Sanitary Board for not doing their job. At a further meeting he "delivered a tirade against 'one of the members for the East Ward' and a member of the committee" for "erecting houses like hencoops and calling them workers' dwellings." This probably referred to Edwin English (1841-1926) son of an Oxford college servant, who worked as a compositor (probably for Oxford University Press) and then set up a toyshop and stationery business, as well as becoming a Liberal City councillor. Although he made enough money to retire to Devon, (he was worth nearly £3000 when he died), his household never had a servant.

In May 1902 the window of Hines' herbalist shop in St Clements was noted for its display of a "magnificent cottage loaf" labelled "Liberal". In December 1902 Hines was at a meeting of the Boer Women & Children's Clothing Fund. By then the Boers (Dutch in Southern Africa) had surrendered to the British but many were still in internment camps. Also in December 1902 York Powell wrote to a friend that Hines was helping him move from his rooms in Christ Church to Staverton Grange in North Oxford. Powell had since his childhood valued the company of working men. He described himself in politics as "a socialist and a jingo", so he may have taken a different line from Hines on the Boer War, as jingoism meant fervent patriotism. In April 1903 Hines spoke at a meeting of the Christian Social Union on the subject of infant mortality, urging that the slums be swept away and a revolutionary movement against landlords and landlordism begun. By 1903 York Powell was President of the Oxford Tariff Reform League, a largely Tory campaign to give preference to imports from the British Empire. In September 1903 there was a Trades Council conference in Oxford followed by a public meeting to debate the subject of tariffs. Hines spoke, saying "clear away the landlords altogether, take possession of the land, and work for the common good of the nation" and also "Let the nation take over the railways (Applause)" That was his last reported speech and three months later he died.


The following is an amalgam of reports in the Oxford Times, the Oxford Chronicle, and the Bicester Herald. "Mr William Hines, whose death has occurred suddenly this week, was one of those representative working men whom the spread of democratic ideas has brought into contact, in public life, with many celebrities, then moving in a widely different social world from his own. William Morris, the poet. on more than one occasion stayed at Mr Hines' modest abode in St Clements. His death occurred with painful suddenness, though he had been unwell for three months past. About seven o'clock on Boxing Day evening he was accompanying his brother and sister-in-law, Mr & Mrs Charles Hines of Bicester to the L&NWR railway station in Oxford, and when opposite St Swithin's Buildings, Magdalen College, he suddenly reeled and fell into his brother's arms. On examination it was found he was dead, his body was placed in a cab and driven to his house in St Clement's. Subsequently Dr Collier, who had been medically attending Mr Hines, certified that death was due to heart disease. He had professed himself an atheist, but at the request of his family, the service at the funeral, which took place at St Clement's churchyard, was read by the City Rector, the Rev A J Carlyle. Among those present were Professor York Powell, Mr Sidney Ball and Mr Colin Harse. A number of working men had also gathered at the graveside to pay a last tribute of respect to one who had worked so ardently in the cause of labour. The family mourners comprised a widow and eight daughters, a brother and sister, two sons-in-law and a nephew. The family have received several letters of sympathy from socialist and labour movement leaders in England and abroad. Among the well-known people with whom Mr Hines became acquainted in the course of his public work, were the late Mr William Morris, the late Mr Charles Bradlaugh, Mr Bernard Shaw, Mr Hyndman, Mr Herbert Burrows, Mrs Besant, Mr John Burns, Mr Michael Davitt, Mr Leon MP, M Jaurès and Herr Wilhelm Liebknecht." Of these Herbert Burrows (DNB 1845-1922), Annie Besant (DNB 1847-1933), John Burns (DNB 1858-1943), and Jean Jaurès (wikipedia 1859-1914) have not appeared in this account which suggests aspects of Hines' story that I haven't discovered. Burrows and Besant were friends of Bradlaugh, together they organised the 1888 match girls' strike and both later joined the Theosophical Society. Burns was a charismatic orator in the 1889 dockers' strike who later became a minister in Liberal governments. Burns and Burrows had both been members of the SDF. Jaures was a French socialist leader who came to London in July 1896 for the International Socialist Workers and Trade Union Congress, which may have been where Hines met him.

Widow and daughters

Mary Ann, Hines' widow, remained as a herbalist at 92 St Clements until 1910. From 1904 she began to advertise the business in a local newspaper, something that Hines never seems to have done. In 1908 she took administration of Hines' effects valued at £130. In 1909 she was one of the nominators for Walter Edward Willis, bootmaker of Paradise Square, Oxford as Labour candidate for Oxford City Council East Ward. She moved to Portsmouth probably to be near her daughters Emily, Kate and Flora, and died in 1917 at her daughter Emily's in Wimbledon.

Sarah, the oldest daughter born in 1860, married William Mayes of Wimbledon in 1890. He was a gardener 15 years her senior, widowed with two teenage sons. Sarah had one child in 1895 who died in infancy. In the 1901 census she was a live-in cook not far from her husband in Wimbledon, and in 1911 she was a ccok for a family in Wales. In 1939 she was a retired caretaker in Wimbledon and died in 1949 aged 88.

Elizabeth the next daughter, born in 1862, was a domestic cook in Eastbourne in 1901, 1911 and 1921 and died there unmarried in 1939 aged 77. In a letter after Hines' death to his widow, York Powell stated that "Elizabeth" had brought him the news, so that may have been her.

Rebecca, born in 1864, moved in 1894 from Botolph Claydon to become infants' schoolmistress at New Somerey, Lincolnshire and then in 1896 married at Chorlton, Lancashire, Mark Henry Green, a successful engineer from a working class family. They lived in Manchester and Rebecca had no children and no profession. In the 1921 census she was staying with her half sister Ada Baker in Hereford. Her husband died in 1924 and she was then living in Sale, Cheshire.

Emily, born in 1867, moved to London and in 1897 had a daughter Hebe, whose father was Edwin Gibson. They weren't married, nor was the birth registered, and in 1901 they had a son, William, whose birth was registered, and his father's occupation given as stores clerk. I couldn't find them in the 1901 census except for their daughter Hebe aged 4 who was boarding with a stockman and his wife in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire. By 1911 Emily was living with Thomas Turtle (1880-1970), bootmaker and repairer working on his own account, with their three year old daughter Kathleen and Emily's two children by Gibson, on the "plotlands" at Frinton-on Sea, Essex. (Plotlands consisted of small plots sold cheaply to Londoners who mostly built their own holiday chalets before the days of planning regulations). Thomas and Emily were not in fact married, though the census says they had been married 5 years. He was 5 years younger than her. His father was a shoemaker in Jericho, Oxford and his mother was Elizabeth née Eagleston, cousin of Emily's mother Mary Ann. Emily married Thomas Turtle in 1915 at Portsmouth where he was then a private soldier in barracks and she was living at 197 Victoria Road, Southsea, which was the address as given on her mother's death certificate in 1917. By 1921 the Turtles were living in Wimbledon near to Emily's older half-sister Sarah Mayes, and Emily died in 1937. In 1921 her son William was unemployed and his last work had been as an optical lens grinder. He married Gwendoline Rolfe in 1922 and by 1939 he was a trade union official. He died in 1987. Emily's daughter Hebe married Victor Jordan, a Canadian soldier, in 1918, and her daughter Kathleen married James Poplett in 1928. All three children had children of their own. I only managed to contact one of Emily's descendants; his aging mother had no knowledge of her great-grandfather Bill Hines so I gave up trying to find any family memories of the chimneysweep.

Annie, born in 1871, in the 1901 census was living with her parents at 92 St Clement's, her trade given as herbalist working on her own account. In September 1903 she had a child called John whose father was George Thomas Luxton, who had a fishmonger's shop in St Clements. They weren't married, and John's birth wasn't registered, but he appeared in the 1911 census with his birthplace given as Banbury, which might suggest that Annie tried to hide his birth from her parents by going to Banbury. The birth was about the time that her father began to get ill with a heart complaint, according to the obituaries. Luxton and Annie then had a daughter Marjory who was born at Colin Harse's house at 27 St Giles in 1905. Her birth wasn't registered until 1928, shortly after Luxton and Annie had got married in the registry office at Croydon, having lived together 25 years. Luxton's profession was given on the marriage certificate as formerly schoolmaster. They had had a third child Elsie whose birth wasn't registered but whose death was, aged 3 in 1910. In 1921 they were living in Exeter with their daughter Marjory. Luxton's father had been a Customs officer in Exeter and the Luxtons retired to Devon where he died in 1932 and she died in 1950. Her 14 love letters from Keir Hardie were put up for sale at Sotheby's in 1968. Their son John Luxton, an estate agent, married Doris Moass in 1934 and died in 1975. Their daughter Marjory married colour merchant Henry Bongers in 1937 and died in 1989.

Ada, born in 1873, was attending art classes in Finchley by 1899 and in the 1901 census was an elementary school teacher sharing a house in Finchley with Lewis Rolfe Baker, a nurseryman's clerk 2 years her senior. That summer they got married and in 1911 and 1921 they were living in Hereford, he was still a nursery clerk. They had four daughters, Dorothy, Phyllis, Joyce and Marjorie and a son Morris who was in the Merchant Navy by 1939 and was a primary school teacher at Goldeston, Norfolk in 1965. Dorothy was an unmarried schoolteacher in Smethwick in 1939, and Phyllis went to Bedford College in 1924 and was an unmarried schoolteacher at Claremont College, Esher, Surrey in 1939. Joyce was a shorthand typist and wages clerk at Smethwick in 1939 and married John Long, a retired Customs officer 29 years her senior at Kensington in 1951. Their mother Ada died at Hereford in 1956.

In 1901 Kate (born in 1875) was living in Newington, South London, as housekeeper to William Jackson Pope (DNB 1870-1939) a chemist who never married. Her youngest sister Hebe (born in 1882) was also living there as a servant. Pope became professor of chemistry at Manchester that same year, and Hebe married his colleague, chemistry lecturer Stanley John Peachey at Salford on 22 December 1903, four days before her father died. Hebe died, presumably childless, in 1907 of "acute salpingitis, congestion of lungs, heart failure". Peachey married again in 1916 and died in 1936. In the 1911 census Kate now callmg herself Katherine was living in Portsmouth as wife of one year's duration of George Thomas Goldsmith Usher, a Royal Navy stoker ten years her junior, though they only registered their marriage in July 1911. George Usher was killed on 26th November 1914 by the internal explosion of HMS Bulwark off Sheerness; his body was not recovered. Katherine married again in 1915 at St Luke's Church Portsea, to John Thomas Carter, a private in the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry at barracks in Portsmouth. Two days later her sister Emily married Thomas Turtle (who she had been living with for ten years) at Portsmouth Registry Office. Kate committed suicide by gassing herself in 1928 at a lodging house in Bournemouth. The inquest heard from her sister Emily Turtle that she was calling herself Katherine Monica Usher in order to avoid being found by her husband Carter and that she sometimes had fits.

In 1901 Flora (born in 1877) was still living with her parents at 92 St Clement's, an assistant school mistress. In 1912 she married at Portsmouth Registry Office George Trimmer, a dock laborer. In 1920 he had their marriage certificate changed to say his real name was William Dixon. Meanwhile Flora had had tuberculosis since 1915 and her husband had served with the Royal Irish Constabulary (the "black and tans") in Ireland and was an army pensioner when Flora died in 1922. They don't appear to have had any children.

In 1901 May (born in 1880) was living as a governess in Kensington, London in the household of John K Child, owner of a copper mine in Bolivia. In 1911 she was a governess in Bedford for the children of Sidney Ireland, a Chile merchant. In 1912 May married in Wimbledon a gardener Edward Long (1882-1957), a colleague of William Mayes, husband of her oldest half-sister Sarah, and lived in Wimbledon till her death in 1952, apparently without children.

According to one obituary there were eight daughters at William Hines' funeral - so two were missing. Quite likely Hebe who had married only a week before in Salford? Possibly Annie who had a three month old baby born out of wedlock? Sarah and Ada were probably at the funeral as their husbands were mentioned in the obituary.


I hope you were as delighted to meet Bill Hines as I was, and that I've assembled enough details of his life to give a few clues as to why and how he came to play such a unique role in the politics of his day and in the life of Oxford and the villages around it. I hope that lists of who spoke with Hines at which village green didn't get too tedious. I did research on many incidental characters in his story not all of which is included here, and I encourage my readers to follow up any names they find interesting. Short summaries of the lives of those that feature in the DNB or wikipedia are fairly easy to access and amount to impressive proof of Hines' influence on "important" people. Basic family history research using sites like Ancestry, Find My Past and the British Newspaper Archive is one way of following up the stories of less famous people.

Two coincidences worth mentioning: Bill Heine (1945-2019) was another eccentric Oxford character with a name very like Bill Hines who died while I was writing this; and 92 St Clement's where Hines lived and had his herbalist shop was a squat in the late 1990s where I often visited my alternative friends.

Hines' colleague Joseph Clayton went on to write many books, some on radical history, and some biographies of Christians. In 1926 he published The Rise and Decline of Socialism in Great Britain 1884-1924. In the light of Ramsay Macdonald's 1924 Labour government he concluded that socialism had failed and would give way to social reform. The word socialism may have shifted meaning over the years but many on the left of (or to the left of) the Labour Party are still proud of it in 2023. In my view the socialism of the 1880s was not such a break with the radical past as Clayton, Elton and Duncan Bowie paint it but just one more phase of radical history and it was a natural move for Hines to gradually go along with it. He ditched the Liberal Party and seems to have modified his Bradlaughite views on compensation and atheism, talking about compensation for some, and a possible religion of humanity. The socialism that helped birth the Labour Party had a strong element of Christianity, unlike socialist parties in Europe. Christian socialists at Oxford University took a particular interest in the farm workers as living in deeper poverty than the town workers. Hines by sweeping the college chimneys and getting students to speak to farm workers seemed to be giving the upper middle classes a special access to the working classes. However once the farm workers had the vote, at least in Oxfordshire they seemed content to be spoken to, rather than speaking for themselves as some had done in the 1870s. By his position as a tradesman rather than employee, though probably no richer than the printing and railway workers of Oxford, Hines had an independence of mind and leisure that enabled him to be a fearless critic of the system he lived in.


My chief source was my subscription to British Newspaper Archive, costing about £80 a year. This has very good coverage for thye period, though it i9s missing the local Lieral paper the Oxford Chronicle which I had to search on microfilm at the Oxfordshire Hi8story Centre. However the local Tory papers Oxford Times and Oxford Journal gave much better coverage to Hines than thye Liberal one. The Liberal Bicester Herald gave the best coverage, maybe thanks to Hines being a Bicester lad. Importantly, the British Newspaper Archive also covers three socialist newspapers, Justice the paper of the Social Democratic Federqation, Labour Leader, the paper of the Independent Labour Party, and the Clarion. Also thanks to my Bodleian Library readership, which cost me about £35 a year until I reached 65 when it became free, I had access to Gale Database's British Library nespapers, and the archives of Punch and the Illustrared London News. Free online sourdes were the Fabian Society archives and the memoir of Hugh Fairfax-Cholmondely. Birth, baptism, marriage, death, probate and census records were mostly collected for free at public libraries offrering access to Ancestry, but I had to pay for a number of certificates from the General Register Office. I went to the National Library of Scotland to read Annie Hines' letters from Keir Hardie, and to thye Museum of Rural Life at Reading to look at Joseph Arch's diary. Other possible researches that I didn't pursue would have been the Bradlaugh archives at the Bishopsgate Institute, and the English Labourer's Chronicle, paper of N.A.L.U. at the British Library at Colindale.

Bowie, Duncan. Reform and Revolt in the City of Dreaming Spires: Radical, Socialist and Communist Politics in Oxford 1930-1980. University of Westminster Press 2018.

Clayton, Joseph. The Rise and Decline of Socialism in Great Britain 1884-1924. Faber & Gwyer 1926.

Elton, Oliver. Frederick York Powell: a life and selections from his letters and occasional writings. Clarendon Press 1906.

H, Oona. Memories and impressions of 'an ideal don'. Basil Blackwell 1923. (This is about Sidney Ball by his widow Oona.)

Harris, Ken. (This is an excellent insight into a failed strike and how the squire defused it.)

Horn, Pamela. Agricultural Unionism in Oxfordshire 1872-81. Oxfordshire Record Society vol. 48 (And many other articles by Pamela Horn.)

Lansbury, George. My Life. Constable & Co 1928.

Milburn, John R. & Jarrett, Keith. The Aylesbury agitator, Edward Richaqrdson, the labourer's friend, and Queensland agent 1849-1878.

Quelch, Lorenzo. An old-fashioned socialist: an autobiography. Lorenzo Quelch Memorialo Group, c.1992.

Samuel, Viscount. Memoirs. Cresset Press, 1945.

Shaw, George Bernard. Bernard Shaw, the diaries, 1885-1897. Pennsylvania State University Press c. 1986.