18c Lewes History
This is an exciting time to visit Lewes. Since 2007 Paul Myles and a small team have been unearthing an amazing story about how one of our former residents went on to change the world.
Thomas Paine lived and worked in Lewes, apparently as a lowly outrider of excise, from 1768- 1774, just before he went to America.
Just after Thomas Paine arrived in America he became editor of the The Pennsylvania Magazine or American Monthly Museum, following this he wrote his incendiary pamphlet "Common Sense"
which was the single most unifyling document that stirred the American Colonists to the War of Independence against Great Britain.
Thomas Paine coined the phrase " The United States of America" in his Crisis Paper no. 2
the series of 13 papers which steadied the American troops during their struggle for freedom.
Our main research question was how did an ordinary British subject go on to write such world changing documents of which perhaps the best known is " The Rights of Man"
The University of Sussex subsequently sponsored Paul to carry on the research in the Centre for Intellectual History
and it is this work that Paul now shares at public talks in London and Sussex.
The stories are not just about Thomas Paine though, a rich radical dissenting atmosphere emerges from the past- especially the recently digitised editions of the 18c Sussex Weekly Advertiser or Lewes Journal which show how the 18c readers witnessed International and National events reported in a clear and unambigous way.