So I am somewhat familiar with the 17th century "agrarian communist" (according to Wikipedia, although I suspect they're closer to anarchists) movement in England known as the Diggers. I learned of them from the song "The World Turned Upside Down". I also know that there was a San Fransisco hippie community that appropriated the name.

However, I haven't heard much else about them. I'm particularly interested in hearing how the diggers influenced English politics both in terms of agrarian and urban settings. I'd also like to know if the Diggers had any impact outside of the occasional song or name appropriation.

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    I highly suspect the politically argumentative mud pesants from Monty Python and the Holy Grail were inspired by the Diggers.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 15:38
  • eg: "True power comes from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic cerimony.."
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 15:41

1 Answer 1


My memory may fail me, as this isn't a period I have studied in detail; however I believe that as stability returned after the chaos of the Civil War, the Diggers (like the Levellers and the Fifth Monarchy men, and other more out-there groups [look up Thereau John* if you want to see the more lunatic fringe!]) were suppressed. Their main impact on later times seems to be as an inspiration (/cautionary tale).

*aka Thomas Totney, as apparently Thereau John doesn't show up any good results.

  • Where can one look up Thereau John? Google apparently has nothing. Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 1:35
  • Hi, sorry, had to spend a little while tracking it down - his original name was Thomas Totney, and it is under this name that he is listed in e.g. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and Wiki.
    – Guy F-W
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 8:07
  • I have also got some sources courtesy of the guy who told me about ThereauJohn in the first place: thewildbeast.co.uk/wordpress/2006/07/29/… and there is by all accounts a lot on JSTOR if you have access to that (I don't). The rest is books which I can pass on if you like, message me!
    – Guy F-W
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 11:39
  • This is my recollection too. The result of the civil war, as with the reformation, etc was the typical English half-arsed equivocation that's either it's great glory or eternal shame. The result was that pretty much all groups with reasonably steadfast principles were repressed.
    – Dannie
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 18:51

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