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Charles Bradlaugh
Charles Bradlaugh.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Northampton
In office
1880–1891
Preceded by Charles George Merewether
Succeeded by Sir Moses Philip Manfield
Personal details
Born (1833-09-26)26 September 1833
Hoxton, England, UK
Died 30 January 1891(1891-01-30) (aged 57)
London, England, UK
Nationality British
Political party Liberal

Charles Bradlaugh ( 26 September 1833 – 30 January 1891) was an English political activist and atheist. He founded the National Secular Society in 1866.

In 1880, Bradlaugh was elected as the Liberal MP for Northampton. His attempt to affirm as an atheist ultimately led to his temporary imprisonment, fines for voting in the Commons illegally, and a number of by-elections at which Bradlaugh regained his seat on each occasion. He was finally allowed to take an oath in 1886. Eventually, a parliamentary bill which he proposed became law in 1888 which allowed members of both Houses of Parliament to affirm, if they so wished, when being sworn in. The new law resolved the issue for witnesses in civil and criminal court cases.

He founded the National Secular Society 15 years after George ‘Jacob’ Holyoake had coined the term secularism in 1851.

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