James O’Brien

Life
1805-1864 [pseud. Bronterre]; b. Co. Longford; ed. Edgeworthstown school, BA TCD, and Gray’s Inn; joined Chartist movement and wrote political articles, pen-name Bronterre; ed. Poor Man’s Guardian, contrib. Northern Star, advocating violence; imprisoned Apr. 1840-Sept 1841; quarrelled with Fe[a]rgus O’Connor on their release, opposing his land-scheme; made precarious living lecturing at John St. Institute and the Eclectic Institute in Soho, London. d. in poverty, London, 23 Dec. 1864. ODNB DIB

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Criticism
Asa Briggs, ‘Fergus O’Connor and J Bronterre O’Brien’, in JW Boyle, ed., Leaders and Workers, Thomas Davis Lectures (Cork 1966).

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References
Desmond Fennell, ‘Irish Socialist Thought’, in The Irish Mind, ed. Richard Kearney (1985), b. Granard, Co. Longford; ed. TCD, worked under William Thompson in co-operative movement; chief intellectual of Chartism, nicknamed ‘the schoolmaster’ by Feargus O’Connor; admired figures of French socialism, Babeuf, Blanqui, and Saint-Simon; writings in periodicals; first to use term social democrat in English; fnd. National Reform League, early 1850s, formulating evolution socialist programme. (Fennell, p.194.)

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Notes
Portrait, Bronterre O’Brien (seated) and Fergus O’Connor in 1939), Irish Labour History Museum, engraving; printed in History Ireland (summer 1994), p.27.

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