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This page of the census shows the entry for Mazzini Truelove, living with his family at number 22 John Street in London. The page also shows the John Street Literary and Scientific Institution, an Owenite organisation in which lectures and meetings were held. Mazzini Truelove, son of radical publisher Edward Truelove, was given this unusual name in homage to Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini, in a secular naming ceremony carried out by George Jacob Holyoake and reported in the Reasoner. An early example of a non-religious ceremony, its careful documentation in the journal provides a rich insight into the ideas and ideals of the Owenites as applied to the raising of a child – and the role of the wider community in helping to support this. The values emphasised by Holyoake during the ceremony focused on independence of thought, and compassion: key humanist ideals. He defined nine specific ‘virtues’ with which the child should be raised: straightforwardness of speech; silence or truth; an iron will; independent ideas; self-respect; self-dependence; obedience to reason; conquest by kindness; and a perseverance which never passes, and an endurance which never fails. Importantly, Holyoake centred on the role of caregivers and community in enacting these values themselves; on teaching by example:

…let me remind you that there is a greater benediction than prayer in your power to pronounce. If you gather up the words spoken tonight, and realise them in your practice – if you can work with heroic devotion for the improvement of others in the spirit of that system which has just been explained… you will smooth the way of this young child through the world.

Image: National Archives

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