Ancient House Museum’s History of Thetford in 100 Objects

Thomas Paine. Picture: Archant Library

Thomas Paine. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

This month’s object is a lock of Thomas Paine’s hair.

A lock of Thomas Paine’s hair. Picture: Ancient House Museum

A lock of Thomas Paine’s hair. Picture: Ancient House Museum - Credit: Archant

Born in Thetford on January 1737, Paine was the son of a local artisan and was educated at Thetford Grammar School.

He emigrated to the American colonies in 1774 where he soon became involved with politics.

He published a pamphlet at the beginning of the American Revolution in 1776 called Common Sense, which encouraged American independence from Great Britain.

It is argued that Paine’s words were influential and paved the way for American Independence. He also wrote The Rights of Man in 1771, which gave support for the French Revolution.

The government ordered for book to be banned and Paine was imprisoned, but later released due to a change in government.

He made his way back to America in 1802 whilst in ill health. He died in New York City in 1809.

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There is as statue of Thomas Paine holding a copy of the Rights of Man outside the Kings House in Thetford town centre.

It is a testament to the political free-thinker and key figure in world history.

This lock of hair is a new item displayed alongside Ancient House museum’s Thomas Paine collection.

The museum will be free to enter on Saturday, January 20 to celebrate the 150th Birthday of Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, who gifted the museum to the people of Thetford.