Sussex Archaeological Collections: Relating to the history and antiquities of the counties of East and West Sussex

Sussex Archaeological Society, 2000 (updated 2018)

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Sussex Archaeological Society (2018) Sussex Archaeological Collections: Relating to the history and antiquities of the counties of East and West Sussex [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1000334


Thirty something

THOMAS PAINE AT BULL HOUSE IN LEWES 1768-74 - SIX FORMATIVE YEARS

by COLIN BRENT

In spring 2008 the Sussex Archaeological Society completed a thorough repair of Bull House as a prelude to welcoming visitors at regular intervals. And in July 2009 Lewes celebrated the two-hundredth anniversary of Thomas Paine's death at Greenwich near New York. So it seems timely to ponder the six years passed at Lewes by that 'Citizen of the World', arguably the most influential 'English' pamphleteer, herald of American Independence, father of British Radicalism, prophet of an 'Age of Reason'. And indeed, there is evidence that these years as an excise officer, shopkeeper and householder, as an assiduous juryman and vestryman, in a thriving county town and contentious parliamentary borough, did expose him to what he later identified in Rights of Man as 'republican' elements in English government and society. Moreover, during these years, his literary output, in verse and prose, seems already tinged with 'radical' sentiment, clearly and trenchantly expressed.

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