Thelwall, John

John Thelwall (1764-1834) was a popular figure among the proponents of constitutional reform in the early and mid-1790s.  He began working in London in the late 1780s and quickly became an outspoken supporter of the French Revolution.  He joined the Society of the Friends of the People in 1791 and the London Corresponding Society in 1792, becoming known thereafter as “Citizen Thelwall.” His radical views caused the followers of Pitt to label him a Jacobin, eventually charging him, along with Thomas Hardy, Horn Tooke, and several others, with treason in May 1794.    He was acquitted in December 1794, much to the applause of reformers like Flower.  Forced to curtail his political activities as a result of the Pitt and Grenville Acts in December 1795, he turned to lecturing in the provinces, eventually retiring to a farm in Brecon, Wales, in 1798.  He published some poetry and then resumed lecturing in 1800, becoming an early innovator in the field of speech elocution.