John Tait

John Tait, a weaver by trade and editor, printer and publisher of the Glasgow Liberator from November 1832 until his death in 1836, is buried in common grave number 2 in Compartment Zeta. He died on the 19th October 1836 aged 41 from typhus leaving five orphaned children (his wife had died only a few months previously) and was buried on 24th October. He received a public funeral which was “attended by at least 2000 persons respectably dressed in mourning” according to newspaper reports. His was the first of 257 interments in this grave between then and 6th April 1840.

The Glasgow Liberator, November 1832 to October 1836, was one of a number of short-lived radical newspapers that sprang up in the 1830s during the struggle for Parliamentary reform and improvements to the rights of working men. It developed from the Herald to the Trades’ Advocate, September 1830 – March 1831, and on Tait’s death was continued by Dr John Taylor of Ayr under the title of the New Liberator until it folded in 1838. Only a single copy is known to exist.

In the months following Tait’s death there was talk of trying to raise money to erect a monument to him and make financial provision for his family. The idea came to nothing and he still lies in a common grave.

Tait was a friend of Alexander Rodger the poet and employed Rodger as a general assistant for a period about 1835/6.

A poem in Tait’s memory by William Brown of Bridgeton was published in The Chartist Circular of 28 November 1840. The first verse (of five) is as follows:-

To the Memory of John Tait
Late Editor of the Liberator
Written at his Grave in the Necropolis, Glasgow

Mourn o’er this mound – this consecrated grave –
This hallowed spot, Tait’s honoured dust lies here,
He who the foes of right did nobly brave,
Who, at oppression’s frown, ne’er quailed with fear:
His soul was noble and his heart sincere;
In freedom a holy cause to man he gave
His mighty powers – his seal – his judgement clear;
His all the springs of life he sapped to save
His country from that power that dooms mankind its slave.


The Chartist Circular 28 Nov 1840
The Constitutional 3 Nov 1836
Fraser’s Magazine volume 18 1838, page 80
Gentleman’s Magazine, volume 42 1836

Labour in Scotland: a short history of the Scottish Working Class Movement by W H Marwick (

Morning Advertiser 2 Nov 1836


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