spotArguments for socialism




spotAround the UK

All keywords

All People subcategories:


International figures

Labour Party figures




Other UK politicans

* Socialist Party and CWI public figures

Tory figures

Trade union figures


Writers and artists

Socialist Party and CWI public figures keywords:

Andrew Price (3)

Bernard Roome (2)

Brian Debus (47)

Chris Baugh (94)

Dave Nellist (227)

Glenn Kelly (68)

Hannah Sell (111)

Hugo Pierre (26)

John Macreadie (11)

John Reid (32)

Ken Douglas (4)

Kevin Bennett (27)

Martin Powell-Davies (90)

Mary Jackson (12)

Mick Cotter (2)

Onay Kasab (73)

Paul Couchman (17)

Peter Taaffe (194)

Rob Williams (124)

Rob Windsor (34)

Robbie Segal (17)

Roger Bannister (91)

Suzanne Muna (46)

Terry Fields (11)

Tony Mulhearn (135)

Tony Saunois (21)

Dave Nellist

Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 1042, 15 May 2019: Take the wealth off the super-rich

Search site for keywords: Diggers - War - Dudley - Church - Army - Tony Benn - Democratic rights - Dave Nellist

May 1649 - the Last Stand of the Levellers

A rubbing of the inscription made by Anthony Sedley before the execution of the leading Levellers

A rubbing of the inscription made by Anthony Sedley before the execution of the leading Levellers   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Nellist

In the latter part of the English Civil War in the mid-seventeenth century, the hopes of those who wanted the war against the king and the great landowners to bring fundamental change for the mass of ordinary people were being dashed.

Some groups took direct action - such as the Diggers, who planted food on common land, and argued for common ownership, prefacing later developments of more concrete socialist ideas.

Rank and file soldiers, who had fought for the parlimentary 'Roundheads' against the King's armies, wanted an end to enclosures of previously common land, religious tolerance, an end to church taxes and for democratic rights such as extended suffrage. But the class nature of society was still reflected in the New Model Army.

As Geoff Jones introduction to the classic Dudley Edwards pamphlet 'The Last Stand of the Levellers'. explains: "While army leaders were doing very well out of the war, buying up land of defeated Royalists and raising rents, common soldiers who fought the battles weren't getting paid."

Burford Church, where the executions took place, photo by Dave S/CC

Burford Church, where the executions took place, photo by Dave S/CC   (Click to enlarge)


This led to the mutiny of several regiments, who became known as the Levellers - not a term that all would have used to describe themselves, but more used "by country squires and London merchants" as a term of abuse.

The mutinies were defeated and their leaders were shot, imprisoned or exiled. The last mutiny, of two cavalry regiments based in Salisbury, set out on a march to Burford in Oxfordshire.

Cromwell's forces caught up with the 1,500 mutineers, engaged, captured 340 and imprisoned them in Burford Church, where one of the troopers carved his name on the font - 'ANTHONY SEDLEY 1649 PRISNER' - and it's still there today.

Cromwell executed three of the leaders on 17 May, and their names are commemorated on a plaque on the church wall, unveiled by the late Tony Benn.

The detail of the mutiny, it's defeat and lessons for the modern working class, as one of the episodes in our history of militant struggle against exploitation, are contained in Dudley's pamphlet.

The classic pamphlet was written 70 years ago to commemorate the 300th anniversary by Oxford engineering worker, Dudley Edwards, and can be viewed online at

The original inscription made on the font lead by Anthony Sedley before the execution of the leading Levellers, photo by Dave Nellist

The original inscription made on the font lead by Anthony Sedley before the execution of the leading Levellers, photo by Dave Nellist   (Click to enlarge)


Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020