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Erected to the glory of men and women who have generously given their time and means to improve the conditions and enhance the happiness of all classes of society. They have felt that a far happier and more prosperous life is within the reach of all men, and they have earnestly sought to realize it. The old brutal laws of imprisonment for free printing have been swept away and the right of selecting our own law makers has been gained mainly by their efforts. The exercise of these rights will give the people an interest in the laws that govern them, and will make them better men and better citizens.

Inscription on the Reformers’ Memorial, Kensal Green Cemetery

Now a Grade II listed monument, the Reformers’ Memorial was erected by Joseph W. Corfield in 1885, and added to by his daughter, Emma Corfield, in 1907. Located in Kensal Green Cemetery’s non-conformist section, it sits alongside the memorial to philanthropist, socialist, and proponent of ‘rational religion’ Robert Owen. Many of those listed on the monument were freethinkers and humanists, motivated to campaign for a vast range of social and legal reforms by a love of humanity, and a desire to improve the world for others. Among those listed are freethinking feminists like Frances Wright, Harriet Martineau, and Lydia Becker, as well as pioneers of human freedom such as Thomas Paine, John Stuart Mill, and Henry Hetherington. Many were part of movements, like chartism, Owenism, and cooperation, which sought greater equality for all members of society, rooting their reformism in reason, compassion, and the shared rights of human beings: foundational humanist values.

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Reformers’ Memorial | Historic England

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