From 1845, one of the main Chartist leaders, Feargus O’Connor, became interested in the redistribution of land. He came up with the Chartist Land Plan which was an attempt to enfranchise working class people by giving them sufficient land to meet the qualification requirement under the 1832 Reform Act.
Shares in the Land Company were sold to fund the purchase of estates, which were then split up into smallholdings. Ballots were held to allocate smallholdings to shareholders. The fifth estate was at Dodford, near Birmingham. One cottage remains, now in the possession of the National Trust.
In 1848, the House of Commons established a Select Committee to decide the fate of the Chartist Land Company, by then known as the National Land Company. The Company had got into financial difficulties, and as most of the shareholders had no chance of being allocated smallholding, it was really a lottery. As such, its registration as a company was illegal. The Select Committee report includes evidence given by Feargus O’Connor as well as inhabitants of Dodford.
To see the Select Committee Report, please click here.
To see some of the evidence relating to Dodford, please click here.
The Company was wound up by Act of Parliament in 1851 as a result of the recommendations of the Select Committee. Dodford was the last estate to be purchased.