Corkwell, Fred, 1866-1891

An obituary of the Leeds anarchist Fred Corkwell by George Cores

Submitted by Battlescarred on June 13, 2013

Comrade Fred. Corkwell, who has for over seven years been connected with the Leeds Socialist League, died on Tuesday September 2nd of consumption. Our comrade was only 26 years of age.

The movement sustains a great loss through his death. He possessed a keen intelligence — as all who knew him will testify— and had not that fatal disease, the "product of Capitalism," as he called it which he suffered from, prevented him, he would have been one of the foremost men in the local Revolutionary agitation, As it was, in spite of his infirmity, he was one of our best and staunchest comrades.

He was one of those men who gathered round Tom Maguire in the earliest stage of the movements in Leeds and took an active part in organising the “unskilled " labourers particularly the Bricklayer's Labourers and Gasworkers Unions. His sincerity was thorough. His adherence to the cause could always be depended on whatever fortune might bring to his comrades. In this respect he was a shining example to those "weak kneed " ones who "drop off" at the slightest trouble or reverse. Although practically in the last stage of consumption he could not resist the temptation of going to Bradford on the occasion of the riots there last April so strong was his antipathy to authority, and feeling of satisfaction at signs of resistance and revolt on the part of the people. Our comrade was an Atheist and Anarchist-Communist in opinion. We can ill afford to lose such an acute thinker.

Capitalism killed him. Had it not been for the privations and hardships want of employment brought upon him a few years ago, combined with the unhealthy occupation he was compelled to follow for a living, and want of means to provide proper treatment, he might have lived for years to come, and done a great work in the struggle for freedom. Not that he did nothing, on the contrary, even under such adverse circumstances he was a good propagandist.

Comrades who knew him will all mourn his absence amongst us. Although our Leeds comrades were unable to afford a public funeral, the 40 comrades marched in procession to the graveside, amongst them being E. Carpenter of Sheffield, Maguire, Paylor, Sweeney, Wormald, Allworthy, and many others of his old comrades. A comrade has well written: —

"Past are his ills, which life had never mended. Who that e'er
loved him truly will complain ? Save that a manly spirit is expended,
And that a life ne'er sullied by a stain should be cut short. Such is the
pain we keep. Life was his sorest trial, sweet be his sleep."

George Cores

The Commonweal, October 24th 1891