Cobbett’s gridiron sign used as a masthead for his Political Register. “Put me on a gridiron and broil me alive if I am wrong”.


9 March 1763

– 18 June 1835

Painting possibly by George Cooke.

Oil on canvas, circa 1831

©National Portrait Gallery

Bust of William Cobbett in the  Museum of Farnham Garden


By courtesy of the

Museum of Farnham

Happy Birthday Mr Cobbett  A link to an interesting post by Molly Conisbee  on ‘Shifting Ground’ website.

See Penny Young interview video on Youtube

William Cobbett - dead radical, dead relevant

After 200 years William Cobbett is visiting Farnham - and You Tube. Hear what he thinks about it on his whistlestop tour: A 19th Century Superstar: Dr Richard Thomas and Luath Ferguson discuss Cobbett on You Tube

Three important videos from the William Cobbett Anniversary year - not to be missed:

In the Steps of William Cobbett

Visit the William Cobbett Trail in and around Farnham Click for map and information

The William Cobbett Society was founded in 1976 to bring together those who have an interest in the life and writings of William Cobbett. A passionate defender of the freedom of the press Cobbett was prepared to defend it at the cost of imprisonment and exile.

'He is not only unquestionably the most powerful political writer of the present day, but one of the best writers in the language. He speaks and thinks plain, broad, downright English'.  The only time I ever saw him he seemed to me a very pleasant man: easy of access, affable, clear-headed, deliberate and unruffled in his speach... I certainly did not think less favourably of him for seeing him.

Hazlitt's Essay on Cobbett, published in his table talk,1821

The Society’s Activities:

Among the Society's activities are:

An Annual Rural Ride

A coach expedition was undertaken by members in July, retracing with readings and commentaries, routes taken by Cobbett on his Rural Rides.

An Annual Memorial Lecture:

In 2017 the date is to be announced




The annual publication of a journal, Cobbett's New Register

containing articles on various aspects of Cobbett's life and times, including the text of the Annual Memorial Lecture.

Cobbett’s  Works

In association with the Society, the Museum of Farnham holds in its Reading Room an almost complete set of  bound volumes of Cobbett's Political Register and a large collection of Cobbett's works, and books about Cobbett. Various Cobbett artefacts are on display.  Click to see list of books.

Sale of Books (See Books for sale)

A Cobbett Statue for Farnham

The unveiling of the William Cobbett Statue by Dame Penelope Keith took place on Monday September 5th at 11am. The statue is currently is located in front of the new Hawthorn Lodge Flats in Longbridge, Farnham

The 2016 William Cobbett Annual Memorial Lecture

Over  200 people were at the Maltings on Friday,7th October 2016  to hear Owen Jones, the radical journalist and author of ‘The Establishment: and How They get Away With It’ – respond to the views of Farnham’s own 19th  Century radical, William Cobbett, at the William Cobbett Society annual lecture.

Bernard Whelan played an impressive  William Cobbett in a style appropriate to the age and the man – using a clear and witty script created by Luath Grant Ferguson to project Cobbett’s own words.  Owen Jones responded in his own fluent and persuasive style to the issues raised.

As anti-establishment leaders of their different ages there were powerful similarities between their views on the poor, bankers, the media and foreign wars.  After two hundred years of progress we still seem to have the poor (paupers then, the underclass now) suffering because of faults in the way society is organised.  Bankers, supported by the State, still seem to profit while others suffer.  The media is still largely controlled by the rich and influenced too much by those at the top of society.  And Britain’s leaders have not lost their appetite for foreign wars (India then, Iraq now).  

Powerful quotes from Cobbett – ‘To be poor and independent is well nigh an impossibility’; ‘The power of money is the power of the bludgeon and the bayonet’ – were followed by a passionate and informed critique by Owen Jones of today’s problems.

There were some areas where Cobbett’s views did not readily match a 20th  Century or left wing analysis:  Cobbett had no problem with the rich as long as, ‘noblesse oblige’, they looked after their people;  and Cobbett had a real hatred of the system of credit (paper money) and a large National Debt (paid off, he saw, by taxes on the poor paying  interest to the rich). It would have been interesting to hear Owen Jones pick up on these differences.

Owen Jones did, however, partly in response to questions from the audience, add persuasive and heartfelt views on the increasing disadvantages facing  the young (for example through tuition fees and house prices) and commented  on how much still needed to be done to improve the position of women in society.

Richard Thomas, Chairman of the William Cobbett Society, did an excellent job managing Cobbett, Owen Jones and the audience – as well as coping with the impressive use of technology, set up  by the Maltings and UCA together, to ‘stream’ the event from the Tindle room to 100 people in the Barley room. It has also been broadcast on  YouTube and the Internet, where the proceedings can still be viewed by clicking on link below:

See the whole evening on the marvelous You Tube   video made by UCA students.  Click here