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RICHARD CARLILE (1790-1843)

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Originally appearing in Volume V05, Page 339 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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RICHARD CARLILE (1790-1843), English freethinker, was born on the 8th of December 1790, at Ashburton, Devonshire, the son of a shoemaker. Educated in the village school, he was apprenticed to a tinman against whose harsh treatment he frequently rebelled. Having finished his apprenticeship, he obtained occupation in London as a journeyman tinman. Influenced by reading Paine's Rights of Man, he became an uncompromising radical, and in 1817 started pushing the sale of the Black Dwarf, a new weekly paper, edited by Jonathan Wooler, all over London, and in his zeal to secure the dissemination of its doctrines frequently walked 30 m. a day. In the same year he also printed and sold 25,000 copies of Southey's Wat Tyler, reprinted the suppressed Parodies of Hone, and wrote himself, in imitation of them, the Political Litany. This work cost him eighteen weeks imprisonment. In 1818 he published Paine's works, for which and for other publications of a like character he was fined £1500, and sentenced to three years' imprisonment in Dorchester gaol. Here he published the first twelve volumes of his periodical the Republican. The publication was continued by his wife, who was accordingly sentenced to two years' imprisonment in 1821. A public subscription, headed by the duke of Wellington, was now raised to prosecute Carlile's assistants. At the same time Carlile's furniture and stock-in-trade in London were seized, three years were added to his imprisonment in lieu of payment of his fine, his sister was fined 500 and imprisoned for a year for publishing an address by him, and nine of his shopmen received terms of imprisonment varying from six months to three years. In 1825 the government decided to discontinue the prosecutions. After his release in that year Carlile edited the Gorgon, a weekly paper, and conducted free discussions in the London Rotunda. For refusing to give sureties for good behaviour after a prosecution arising out of a refusal to pay church rates, he was again imprisoned for three years, and a similar resistance cost him ten weeks' more imprisonment in 1834–1835. He died on the loth of February 1843, after having spent in all nine years and four months in prison.
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