The atheist politician and his anti-war daughter: the Bradlaughs, 1833-1948

Papers of Charles Bradlaugh

Papers of Charles Bradlaugh

The hon. member for Northampton has, Sir, in consequence of your ruling, gone through the form of taking and subscribing the oath, the validity of that form seems to me to be a question for the Courts of Law
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Michael Hicks Beach, Jan 1886The Times, Sunday Times and Times Literary Supplement, 1855 - 1935; img 128

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Could an atheist be an MP in Parliament? See the fight for a secular oath.

Bradlaugh was a co-founder of the National Secular Society and Editor of the National Reformer. He is also responsible for the creation of a secular oath for politicians in the 19th century. His fight for the secular oath was made possible by the sustained support of voters in Northampton. Bradlaugh was a keen supporter of Indian Home Rule, and access to birth control, who also helped the Fenians to draft their Manifesto. These papers' main focus is on his fight for a secular parliamentary oath. The battle of the oath continued over five years and four by-elections, before he was sworn-in and took his seat in 1886. These records also include papers from Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner, the only one of Bradlaugh's children to outlive her father. Loyal to her father, she collected records of his work and fought to protect his legacy. Bonner also actively campaigned against the Boer War and the arms race prior to the First World War.


The atheist politician and his anti-war daughter: the Bradlaughs, 1833-1948...

Containing 15,378 pages belonging to 55 documents housed in 5 volumes...

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Core Themes

The majority of these themes are focussed upon either Bradlaugh's Parliamentary work or his personal life. The records with regard...

Articles by and about Bradlaugh and Bonner

Organised first by quantity, then by geography and subject matter; this press coverage of Bradlaugh, Bonner and their work extends...

General Correspondence and Papers

These items cover four different periods with regard to Bradlaugh: from birth until he left the army, Bradlaugh's political career...

Miscellaneous Research and Other Papers Arranged by Year

In order to campaign as actively as he did, Bradlaugh had to research the subjects he was to campaign on....


  • The 'Core Themes' of these papers include the Acts of Parliament which relate to the introduction of a secular oath and addresses to Bradlaugh by the India National Congress.
  • Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner wrote upon her father's legacy and collected papers which covered his fight after his death. Bonner's collection includes her letters to her father.
  • Bradlaugh and his daughter wrote for and were covered by a variety of publications. The National Reformer was itself edited by Bradlaugh. The Times was rather less sympathetic to his cause.
  • Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh were arrested for promoting birth control in 1877. Details of their trial are covered in 'Miscellaneous Content Mostly Undated'.
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