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Freehold Land Societies
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Freehold land societies came into existence in the 1840s as part of a politically inspired movement, organised by Liberal radicals to effect Parliamentary reform. These societies were initiated and encouraged as mechanisms by which the supporters of reform could become enfranchised within the existing system, and thereby change the balance of political power, and ultimately the system itself. Following the Reform Act of 1832, the two most important voting qualifications were the ownership of a freehold with a minimum value of 40 shillings, and the occupation of a house worth at least £10 a year.
James Taylor, a Birmingham nonconformist minister devised a means of extending the number of 40 shilling freeholders by registering the first freehold land society in Birmingham in December 1847 under the 1836 Building Societies Act. The society bought an estate with the financial assistance of trustees which was divided into plots worth 40 shillings which were purchased by members with money borrowed from building societies. The successful Birmingham venture was rapidly replicated in other urban areas including Stoke-on-Trent where a meeting to establish a North Staffordshire Freehold Land Society was held in Hanley in June 1849. Initially branches were formed in each town but by the end of the year both Longton and Burslem had separated to form their own independent societies as was the case with the other towns in 1850.
From notes of Andrew Dobraszcyc.
Also see: a walk around Dresden estate - the development of the Longton Freehold Land Society.
Also see: Reform Bills and Chartism in Stoke-on-Trent