Famous People associated with Clerkenwell Green
John Wilkes was born in St John Square, north east of Clerkenwell Green, in 1727. He emerged as a champion of liberty and was elected as the Member of Parliament for the area including Clerkenwell in 1768. When Wilkes was evicted from Parliament in 1764 he came to speak on Clerkenwell Green having been ‘dragged through the streets by the working classes’. Wilkes was the first major actor within liberal and radical movements to be associated with Clerkenwell, and so was an undercurrent to the attraction of later personalities to the area.
Libertarian John Stuart Mill was also very active in Clerkenwell. In January 1866, he was present at a meeting calling for the creation of a museum for the north of London and in 1872 sent £20, ‘in aid of the subscription to provide a place for political lectures and discussions, independent of coerced tavern-keepers and licensing magistrates’ to the London Patriotic Club to set up premises at 37a Clerkenwell Green.
William Morris became attached to Clerkenwell as guarantor for the rent of 37a Clerkenwell Green when the TCP relocated there in 1892. Morris was a major socialist orator and writer and a founder member of the Socialist League. He led the Clerkenwell contingent during the Bloody Sunday marches on 13th November 1887.
In 1811, Thomas Paine wrote part of ‘that curious engine of political mischief’ The Rights of Man while resident at the Old Red Lion Tavern. His good friend Ben Franklin, a founding father of the USA, learned the printing trade in Clerkenwell’s print workshops. Between 1902 and 1904, Lenin, leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution, worked as a guest at and published Iskra from the TCP. Issues 22 to 38 were published there. He was not the first Russian, however. That tradition began with the visit of Peter Kropotkin, the anarchist revolutionary and geographer, to the LPC on 12th April 1882.