William Cobbett

Image credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

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A political journalist and farmer, Cobbett was one of the most influential radicals in the decades before the Reform Act (1832). Initially a Tory supporter, he launched his weekly Political Register (1802–1835) with the help of Pitt and Canning. In 1816, the price of the Political Register was drastically reduced to ensure it reached the working classes. In his Rural Rides (1830) Cobbett continued to champion the rural poor. As an advocate of political reform he was frequently controversial though his writing was also nostalgic for a simpler rural past.
This portrait is said to show Cobbett in the clothes he wore when tried for sedition in 1831. Considered a popular hero after his acquittal, Cobbett was elected to the reformed House of Commons, for the newly created borough of Oldham, in 1832.

National Portrait Gallery, London



William Cobbett




oil on canvas


H 91.4 x W 71.1 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Purchased, 1909

Work type



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