16th August 1821
'On this day, radical Reformers met to mark the second anniversary of Peterloo. They walked to the site of the outrage and then to Christ Church in Hulme, where several had their children baptised as 'Henry Hunt' in honour of the politician, still languishing in gaol after the events of 1819'
Ben McGarr - The Manchester Book of Days.
The Naming Phenomenon
Ben McGarr refers to 'several' children being baptised using the names Henry Hunt. Further research discovers that, far from being an event taking place just on one day, it was, in fact, a much more widespread practice.
As early as 29th August Hannah and John Walker took their son to the Collegiate Church (now Manchester Cathedral) to have their son baptised Henry Hunt Walker, most probably by the prestigious 'baptiser' Joshua Brookes himself (he was known to have baptised, married, and buried more persons than any clergyman in the kingdom)
On 10th October of 1819 the redoubtable Mary Fildes - the famed 'woman in white' who was so prominent on The Hustings, took one of her five children to be baptised at Christ Church, Hulme. During 1820 and 1821 a further six Henry Hunts were created at Christ Church before the extraordinary events of the second anniversary.
Within sight of Hulme Barracks and in defiance of the militia stationed there who had played such a despicable part in the events of two years earlier, ELEVEN children were presented for baptism on August 16th 1821. There were new Henry Hunts, including one, whose parents went even further with the grand name of Henry Hunt Carlile Walker, whilst another child worthy of note was little Henrietta Hunt Carlile Wheeler.
Not to be outdone on this occasion, Mary Fildes again took part in the ceremony by naming her youngest child 'John Cartwight Fildes'
In the next two years a further 7 Henry Hunts were created in Manchester alone. Click to view the Manchester details.
But the story doesn't end there. In the Manchester records there are two Carliles and one John Cartwright in addition to over 20 Henry Hunts.
So how widespread was this practice and how many other Radical heroes of the day were honoured in the same way?
Further research has revealed an astonishing story. Up and down the country, in church after church, children were
endowed with the names of leading Radicals; Henry Hunt, Thomas Paine, John Cartwright, John Wilkes, Richard Carlile and so on.
In all, more than 500 possible examples of such namings have so far been discovered. On close examination it can be found that names in some cases have been passed down through the generations. The latest example found so far is a Thomas Paine Johnson born in 1945.
Some must be considered a little tenuous due to either variations in spelling, coincidence or other
peculiarities but there must be many hundreds which are genuine examples of a deliberate act. Click for the full spreadsheet
In addition to the children given the full name, such as 'Henry Hunt' there are many more cases (yet to be added to the spreadsheet) where a surname only is used. Examples of these include children appear to have been named for (Samuel) BAMFORD, (John) KNIGHT, (Joseph) JOHNSON, (Mary) FILDES, and (John) SAXTON.
THIS RESEARCH WILL CONTINUE AS AND WHEN TIME ALLOWS AND THE RESULTS WILL BE ADDED TO THE SPREADSHEET.
We would welcome approaches from anyone carrying out family history research who has encountered this phenomenon themselves.