Articles in the category Organisations and periodicals

The Oracle of Reason

The Oracle of Reason, or Philosophy Vindicated was founded by Charles Southwell, William Chilton and John Field in 1841 as ‘the only exclusively ATHEISTICAL print that has appeared in any age or country’ (Oracle 1, 1842,: ii, emphasis in original). This small group of working- class atheists started the Oracle in response to the perceived failure of working-class […]

South Place Ethical Society

The South Place Ethical Society, based in London is thought to be the oldest surviving freethought organisation in the world, and is the only remaining Ethical Society in the United Kingdom. From Christian nonconformists to humanist secularists The Society began in 1787 as a congregation of nonconformists known as Philadelphians or Universalists who opposed the Christian doctrine of eternal hell. By 1793 […]

Rationalist Press Association

The Rationalist Press Association (RPA) was founded in 1899 by Charles Albert Watts, the son of the prominent freethinker Charles Watts, to “assist in securing the amendment of the law which sanctions the confiscation of property left for anti-theological purpose, and to promote the issuing, advertising, and circulation of publication devoted Freethought and Advanced Religious […]

Leicester Secular Society

By tradition the Leicester Secular Society dates its formation to 1851, although an earlier “Rational Society” branch is mentioned in No.9 of The Movement edited by G. J. Holyoake dated February 10th 1844. Beginnings A small group of activists probably met regularly but formal meetings, advertised in The Reasoner and The National reformer in 1853, 1861, 1862 […]

The Chartists

Chartism was a mass working class movement that sought universal suffrage. The Chartists sought political and social reform in the UK during the mid-19th century, between 1838 and 1850. They took their name from the People’s Charter of 1838, which stated the six main aims of the movement as: A vote for every man twenty-one […]

The Royal Society

The Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge, known also as The Royal Society, is a learned society for science that was founded in 1660 and is the oldest society of its kind still in existence. A number of notable humanists have been members of The Royal Society including: T.H. Huxley (president […]

British Humanist Association

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national voice of humanism in the UK today. It promotes humanism and represents ‘people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs.’ Foundation The BHA was founded in 1896 by American Stanton Coit as the Union of Ethical Societies, which brought together existing ethical societies […]

National Secular Society

The National Secular Society (NSS) is a British campaigning organisation that promotes secularism. The NSS was founded in 1866 with Charles Bradlaugh as President and Charles Watts as secretary. There were a number of secularist groups around the UK and they joined up to coordinate and strengthen their campaigns. The word secularism was coined by […]

The Freethinker

The Freethinker magazine was launched in Britain in 1881 and has continued publishing without a break ever since. As a result mainly of irreligious cartoons published in the Christmas, 1882, edition, the courts declared the issue “blasphemous” and its founder and first editor G.W. Foote was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment with hard labour. The magazine, […]


Owenites were those followers of Robert Owen a social reformer and one of the founders of socialism and the cooperative movement. In the 1850s the Owenites adopted secularism. Notable secularist Owenites included: Josiah Gimson Henry Hetherington George Jacob Holyoake Charles Southwell who was an Owenite ’socialist missionary’