Wednesday 21 February 2007

Joseph Arch

Joseph Arch

Was Born Barford, Warwickshire on 10th November 1826, His grandfather was a "hedger" and "ditcher" and his father was also an Agricultural worker John Arch

Born an Anglican, in his youth he became a Primitive Methodist lay preacher

aged nine he became a crow-scarer for four pence a day

aged ten he became a ploughboy and soon became an experienced agricultural labourer

Agricultural labourers at Weston-under Wetherley, Warwickshire fed up with low pay and poor conditions meet to discuss establishing a union, they approached Joseph Arch to speak at a meeting of labourers at Wellsbourne on the evening of 14th February, expecting fewer than fifty in the Stags Head Public House, when he arrived their was over 2,000 agricultural labourers present to hear him speak on a dark, wet winters night, with flickering lanterns on bean poles to illuminate the proceedings. The chairman was Thomas Parker

George Pert (Moreton) had brought his fellow labourers, as had William Nash (Locksley, John Lewis (Wellsbourne) and Old Ned from Walton

Arch spoke for over one hour and recalled "These white slaves of England with the darkness all about them, like the children of Israel waiting for someone to lead them out of the land of Egypt

On the 21st February is was agreed to establish
form a union and a committee was elected under the chestnut tree in Wellsbourne. The committee met at the old farmhouse of John Lewis in Wellesbourne
"Here by the light of a solitary lamp, the committee members sat on the old farmhouse chairs or stood on the stone flagged floor round the table, compiling the list of newly joined members, counting the union funds heaped in two large tea cups - and discussing ways and means of building the union" Reg Groves

On the 29th March 1872 The Warwickshire Agricultural Labourers Union was established at Leamington with Joseph Arch as Organising Secretary (he was known as the "Apostle" of the Labour Movement. The union now had 24 branches with 2,000 members enterance fee was 6d and 6d per month subscription

The object of the society is to elevate the farm labourers from his present degraded position, to reduce his daily toil to 10 hours per day, to secure 4d per hour for overtime, shorter hours, cottages and help with migration

one delegete from ever branch with over fifty members in Warwickshire

Soon after unions were established in other counties
Lincolnshire Labour League, Huntingdonshire Amalgamated Labourers Union, Kent & Sussex Agricultural Labourers Union, and Eastern Counties Union (Norfolk & Suffolk)

then followed on May 29th a meeting of sixty delegates from England & Wales at Leamington, Temperance Hall to establish the National Union of Agricultural Labourers (NUAL)

The NUAL Executive pro-tem was
Joseph Arch, E.Russell, G. Allington, T. Parker, J.Biddle, J. Prickett, J. Harris, E. Hayes, H. Blackwell, G. Jordan, B. Herring, G. Lunnon and E.Pill

NUAL Treasurer Mr J.E. M. Vincent

The union took the colour blue

In previous years other unions in Norfolk,
Herefordshire and Buckinghamshire had appeared but had been short lived, but now the NAUL had by the end of 1873 over 100,000 members

The union collapsed in 1896 the result of an agricultural depression and systematic victimisation

In July 1906 a new national union would appear from the ashes

Arch was elected as "Liberal and labouring class interest" candidate for North West Norfolk in 1885-1886 and again 1892-1900

Joseph Arch died in the cottage, he was born in on 12 February 1919

funeral took place at Barford Church and was buried in the Churchyard

It is a fitting tribute to Arch that many agricultural workers during his life time and after his death had a picture of him in their house (often the only picture they owned)

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