Share Gerrard Winstanley Gerrard Winstanley baptised October 10, ; his date of birth is unknown; d. They believed that land should be made available to the very poor. In one of the Digger tracts, The Law of Freedom, Winstanley took the view held by the Anabaptists that all institutions were by their nature corrupt: "Nature tells us that if water stands long it corrupts; whereas running water keeps sweet and is fit for common use". To prevent power corrupting individuals he advocated that all officials should be elected every year.

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Biography[ edit ] Gerrard Winstanley was born on 19 October and was baptised in the parish of Wigan , then part of the West Derby hundred of Lancashire. He was the son of an Edward Winstanley, mercer. The English Civil War , however, disrupted his business, and in he was made bankrupt.

His father-in-law helped Winstanley move to Cobham, Surrey , where he initially worked as a cowherd. Winstanley returned to London trade, whilst retaining his connections in Surrey. In about he married his second wife Elizabeth Stanley and re-entered commerce as a corn chandler. Winstanley died in , aged 66, vexed by legal disputes concerning a small legacy owed to him in a will.

They included the Royalists who supported King Charles I ; the Parliamentary forces led by Sir Thomas Fairfax who would later emerge under the name of the New Model Army ; the Fifth Monarchy Men , who believed in the establishment of a heavenly theocracy on earth to be led by a returning Jesus as king of kings and lord of lords; the Agitators for political egalitarian reform of government, who were branded " Levellers " by their foes and who were led by John Lilburne ; and the True Levellers, who were branded "Diggers" because of their actions.

The latter were led by Gerrard Winstanley. The basis of this work came from the Book of Acts , chapter two, verses 44 and "All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Not one word was spoken at the beginning that one branch of mankind should rule over another, but selfish imaginations did set up one man to teach and rule over another. From these and similar texts, he interpreted Christian teaching as calling for the abolition of property [in land] and aristocracy.

Winstanley wrote: "Seeing the common people of England by joynt consent of person and purse have caste out Charles our Norman oppressour, wee have by this victory recovered ourselves from under his Norman yoake. Other Digger colonies followed in Buckinghamshire, Kent , and Northamptonshire. Their action was to cultivate the land and distribute food without charge to any who would join them in the work.

Winstanley protested to the government, but to no avail, and eventually the colony was abandoned. After the failure of the Digger experiment in Surrey in Winstanley temporarily fled to Pirton, Hertfordshire , where he took up employment as an estate steward for the mystic aristocrat Lady Eleanor Davies.

This employment lasted less than a year after Davies accused Winstanley of mismanaging her property and Winstanley returned to Cobham. Winstanley continued to advocate the redistribution of land. In he published another pamphlet called The Law of Freedom in a Platform , in which he argued that the Christian basis for society is where property and wages are abolished.

Quakers[ edit ] By Winstanley was possibly assisting Edward Burrough , an early leader of the Quakers, later called the Society of Friends. He may have been buried in a Quaker cemetery. Winstanley believed in Christian Universalism , the doctrine that everyone, however sinful, will eventually be reconciled to God; he wrote that "in the end every man shall be saved, though some at the last hour.

Like the original colony, this settlement was quickly disbanded. Quotations[ edit ] From A Declaration from the Poor Oppressed People of England: "The power of enclosing land and owning property was brought into the creation by your ancestors by the sword; which first did murder their fellow creatures, men, and after plunder or steal away their land, and left this land successively to you, their children.

And therefore, though you did not kill or thieve, yet you hold that cursed thing in your hand by the power of the sword; and so you justify the wicked deeds of your fathers, and that sin of your fathers shall be visited upon the head of you and your children to the third and fourth generation, and longer too, till your bloody and thieving power be rooted out of the land. If any have so highly broke the laws as they come within the compass of whipping, imprisoning and death, the executioner shall cut off the head, hang or shoot to death, or whip the offender according to the sentence of law.

Thus you may see what the work of every officer in a town or city is. Libertarian socialist scholar Murray Bookchin : "In the modern world, anarchism first appeared as a movement of the peasantry and yeomanry against declining feudal institutions.

What is of real importance is that they spoke to their time; their anarchist concepts followed naturally from the rural society that furnished the bands of the peasant armies in Germany and the New Model in England.


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Writing in , Lewis H. Along with like-minded people elsewhere in the country, Winstanley and his comrades wanted to push the English Revolution to a second stage. After the execution of Charles I, they did not want to see power simply transferred to a new parliamentary authority promoting the interests of the mercantile classes. Unfortunately, their revolt was crushed and, after this key moment in its history, the country took the disastrous path of rapacious capitalism, industrialism and imperialism, destroying the freedom and social stability not just of its own population but of peoples all across the world. What he sought was a spiritual condition in mankind which would be in harmony with the working of Reason in nature — the return of man, who had fallen into covetousness, to the universal harmony. Winstanley regarded the society he knew as a perversion of the natural, ethical, egalitarian way of life which should have been the birthright of every man and woman.


Gerrard Winstanley

They believed that land should be made available to the very poor. Of Lancashire origin, Winstanley was a cloth merchant in London until his business failed. In April , in the revolutionary atmosphere of the Commonwealth period, he and William Everard took the lead in establishing the Digger colony, a timely project because of the unprecedented height of food prices in England. Although the colony ceased to exist in March , Winstanley remained prominent as a pamphleteer, foreshadowing later communist and materialist ideas in his vigorous and racy prose.


Er zog als Jugendlicher nach London und erlernte dort das Handwerk des Schneiders. Daraufhin zog er nach Cobham nah seiner Heimat und arbeitete dort als Viehhirte. Nachdem dies misslang, zeigten sie den Fall in London an. Nachdem dies geschah, war das Experiment nach nur 90 Tagen beendet. Er sah diese Beschreibung der Jerusalemer Urgemeinde als Auftrag an die Politik und versuchte sie beispielhaft in seiner Heimatgegend zu realisieren.

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