Some little-known anarchists Part 2.

Short biographies of lesser known English and Scottish anarchists

Harry Jones (c.1916-1949)

From a very early age Henry J. " Harry" Jones was involved in distribution of anarchist propaganda. He had accumulated a very comprehensive library of anarchist books and pamphlets and in 1942 he put these at the disposal of the London movement through the library of Freedom Press. He worked as a clerk.

He was active during the Spanish agitation in London between 1936-39 and in anti-war agitation in the early part of the war. On several occasions he gave lectures on anarchism at Frith Street and Belsize Road. Because of his anti-militarist stand he was sentenced in 1942 to 12 months imprisonment. He was active in the LOndon Freedom Group originating in Chalk Farm with George Cores and John Humphey, which began holding both open-air meetings in Hyde Park and meetings at 144 High Holborn at the Emily Davison Dining Club ( destroyed by a German bomb during WW2 and on whose site now stands a high-rise building).
After a Chinese anarchist, Ch'en Chang, then a medical student in London, visited the group it was decided to set up a working group with Harry Jones as chair to collect material for a new publication summarising anarchist ideas in Chinese. Jones had welcomed the great anarchist writer Ba JIn to England years before. When Ch'en returned to China, Jones kept up a correspondence with him until his own death.

The last few years of his life were spent in ill-health which forced him to drop any active participation in the movement, although he remained committed to anarchism to the end. He died at the age of thirty-three in 1949

Sources: obituary in Freedom, June 11th, 1949.

Tom McEwan (c1870-1947)

A ship’s stoker most of his life, Tom was described in an obituary in Freedom as “always a rebel against the established order ..”. In addition he had been a boxer who fought several notable figures. An anarchist and atheist he “at every opportunity ..took pleasure in exposing the cant of Burnsites and Free-Masons by quoting Robert Burns to them”. He had a similar contempt for the Labour Party and for trade union officials, particularly for so called left Labour figures like Manny Shinwell whom he had encountered personally.

Tom was active in the Glasgow anarchist movement. Following the acrimonious split between the Marxian Study Group and the Glasgow Anarchists in 1940, when members of the former group pilfered the latter’s literature funds and destroyed their printing press, Tom volunteered to run the bookshop of the Glasgow Anarchist Group. He could often be heard encouraging visitors to buy the shop’s literature.
He died at the age of 77 on May 29th 1947 after a brief attack of broncho-pneumonia. His funeral was at Riddrie Park Cemetery not far from Barlinnie Prison described sarcastically as a “Christian institution” by Tom. He was buried next to his companion of over 40 years, Mary Chalmers.
Sources: Obituary by Frank Leech in Freedom (July 12th 1947).
Nick Heath

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May 11 2012 18:13


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Jan 17 2013 11:26

I've updated the biography of Harry Jones, so revisions should appear soon.