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Tom Quelch

Tom Quelch was the son of the rather more famous early socialist Harry (Henry) Quelch who died in 1913 (pictured below) and was also nephew of Alonzo Quelch, a noted socialist in the Reading area.

Harry, Tom's father, died before the formation of a British Communist Party but had been General Secretary of the Social Democratic Federation, an early Marxist formation. As such he edited its newspaper, Justice and in 1901 had shared an office in Clerkenwell Green with Lenin. Indeed, it had been Harry Quelch who had arranged for the SDF to print Lenin's newspaper, which had been banned in Russia. Harry Quelch’s funeral on 20th September 1913 at Forest Hill Cemetery was attended by Kier Hardie, Ben Tillett, and H M Hyndman and a a huge crowd of supporters.

His son, Tom was a leading Communist in the early 1920s and delegate from the British Socialist Party to the second congress of the Communist International, which was held from July 19th to August 7th 1920 in Moscow and Petrograd (St Petersburg). He was also at the Baku Congress of the Peoples of the East held in September 1920.

This led to service on a commission of the Comintern to examine the differences between two Indian Communist factions. This seems to have been a rather high-powered affair; as well as Tom Quelch, the Commission was composed of Michael Borodin, August Thalheimer (the theoretician of the German Communist Party), S J Rutgers (Holland), Mátyás Rákosi (Hungary), and James Bell (also of Britain).

 

 Pic: Harry Quelch