Friday, 19 April 2024 02:31


Published in Theatre

Holberrys is a play about two Sheffield Chartists, Samuel and Mary Holberry, who helped organise the betrayed ‘physical force’ insurrection in the city in January 1840.

Samuel, a distillery worker, former agricultural worker and ex-soldier who had served in Ireland in the suppression of the Ribbonmen rebellion in 1833, and his wife Mary, were at the centre of militant campaigning and planning the rebellion. Their plans were divulged, with Samuel sentenced to four years imprisonment in prisons in Northallerton and York, where he died of consumption in 1842 at the age of 27. A hero of his time to working people, over 50,000 people attended his funeral procession in Sheffield.

The Holberrys’ story is illustrated using moving photographs taken by Ron McCormick during a schoolchildren’s re-enactment of the Chartist rising in Newport, South Wales in November 1839.

Holberrys dramatises the lives of Samuel and Mary and their years in Sheffield, ever a city of resistance and struggle. Its author, Chris Searle, is a teacher and it is a play for both the stage and the classroom, telling of an important episode in British history which is rarely remembered. It is free to download as a pdf, below.