The Queen v William Cuffy, Thomas Fay and William Lacy: for high treason, 1848. Catalogue ref: TS 36/43
Description: William Cuffay was a Chartist leader born in 1778. His mother was British and his father was originally from St Kitts in the West Indies. Cuffay’s father had been enslaved in St Kitts before he moved to Britain. His name can be written as Cuffy, Cuffey, and Cuffay.
Chartism was a movement for the rights and suffrage of the working class. Because of his prominent Chartist activity, Cuffay was arrested in August 1848 for conspiring to ‘levy war against the queen'. This document shows his plea of 'Not guilty - I demand a fair trial by a jury of my peers and equals in accordance with Magna Carta'. At this time, jurors had to meet a property qualification which kept many in the working class from serving.
Cuffay was eventually sentenced to transportation for life to Australia, where records show that he kept campaigning for working class rights. He passed away in 1870.
Learn more about the history of treason in our new exhibition: ‘Treason: People, Power & Plot’, opening 5 November 2022: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/treason/
Learn more about Chartism in our lesson resource: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/what-was-...
Read a blog post about this trial here: blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/black-man-party-william-cuff...
Learn more in our KS1 'Significant People' resource on William Cuffay: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/significa...
Owner: The National Archives UK
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