The great grandfather of English socialism, John Ball, lived and preached in Colchester in the fourteenth century and the John Ball Society has been established to build a lasting and suitable monument to his legacy both in his home town and further afield.
He is without question an English hero whose words, including an excellent and rare political use of the term 'naughty', trounce notions of quiet medieval peasantry or that class radicalism was an invention of recent centuries:
'When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman? From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men. For if God would have had any bondmen from the beginning, he would have appointed who should be bond, and who free. And therefore I exhort you to consider that now the time is come, appointed to us by God, in which ye may (if ye will) cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty.'
The notion is more true today than in 1381. John Ball, renegade priest of Colchester, we salute you.
We wish to bring this sadly neglected figure of English history the recognition he so badly deserves and a legacy he would be proud of.