Gerrard Winstanley

(1609 - 1676)

His career as a London cloth merchant a failure, Gerrard Winstanley took up work as an agricultural laborer in the Surrey town of Cobham. Six years later, during a period of food shortages, Winstanley established the Diggers, a colony of agrarian communists that cultivated a plot of common land. Legal harassment and violence at the hands of local landowners forced them to disband, and Winstanley devoted himself to publishing political pamphlets, among them a sketch of a communist society that included a dedicatory epistle to Oliver Cromwell.

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