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Infidels, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers
Holyoake, George Jacob (1817-1906)
"I do not believe there is such a thing as a God."

"If I could have my way I would place the Deity on half-pay as the Government of this Country did the subaltern officers."

-- George Jacob Holyoake


George Jacob Holyoake, English secularist and co-operator, was born at Birmingham.

At an early age he became an Owenite lecturer, and in 1841 was the last person convicted for blasphemy in a public lecture, though this had no theological character and the incriminating words were merely a reply to a question addressed to him from the body of the meeting.

He nevertheless underwent six months imprisonment, and upon his release invented the inoffensive term secularism as descriptive of his opinions, and established the Reasoner in their support. He was also the last person indicted for publishing an unstamped newspaper, but the prosecution was dropped upon the repeal of the tax.

His later years were chiefly devoted to the promotion of the cooperative movement among the working classes. He wrote the history of the Rochdale Pioneers (1857), The History of Co-operation in England (1875; revised ed., 1906), and The Co-operative Movement of To-day (1891). He also published (1892) his autobiography, under the title of Sixty Years of an Agitator's Life, and in 1905 two volumes of reminiscences, Bygones worth Remembering. He died at Brighton on the 22nd of January 1906. Holyoake's papers and publications are held at Bishopsgate Library.

 
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