The Education Act Tax Resistance Campaign: August 1904

We’re up to in our chronological wander through the newspaper coverage of the “passive resistance” campaign against aspects of the Education Act.

The Kent & Sussex Courier reported:

Passive Resistance at Tonbridge.

Interesting Sale at the Corn Exchange.

Although the enthusiasm, excitement, and disorderly scenes associated with the sale of goods belonging to passive resisters has somewhat died away, considerable interest was taken in a sale held at the Corn Exchange, Tonbridge, on , when Mr Tompsett, a local auctioneer, sold the goods of five persons who had refused to pay their poor rates… The whole of the articles, however, were bought in for the wonders.

The sale was a perfectly orderly one, after the completion of which a public meeting was held… There was a large number of people in the hall, but no obstruction to the meeting was rendered.

The Rev. J. Mountain, who was well received, said… Some said they were suffering cheap martyrdom. His rate was 4/8½ for the half year, but by submitting to restraint [sic] his expenses amounted to 32/-. The next time, however, when he appeared before the Magistrates they would find that he had no personal belongings, not even his watch belonged to him. He was simply a lodger at St. John’s Free Church, and everything he once possessed, even his books, were now the property of his excellent wife. He could, therefore, tell the Magistrates that it was no use distraining and that he was quite ready to be sent to gaol (applause and laughter), and he would go to prison in the cause of his Master, and the cause of religious liberty in this priest-ridden country, which was now the curse of sacerdotalism. They (the passive resisters) believed they were doing a great work in submitting their goods for sale, and he was afraid they would have to go even further. He hoped to see the day when they had a thousand ministers going to gaol, and testifying to the whole country that they preferred the loss of their liberty to the loss of their conscience.

The resisters seem to be becoming impatient, and also sensitive to the charge that these rituals of having their goods seized, auctioned off, and returned to them by the buyers, were somewhat farcical and were losing their impact.