A CALL has been made for a forgotten son of Colchester, who was executed for championing the rights of the poor, to be recognised.

History teacher David Grocott wants recognition for John Ball, a controversial priest who took a leading roll in the Peasants’ Revolt in the 14th century.

Mr Ball spoke out for the rights of the poor but his calls for social equality lead to him being imprisoned, excommunicated and eventually killed.

Mr Grocott, a former journalist who is the head of humanities at Ormiston Sudbury Academy in Suffolk, said: “John Ball as a figure is just as significant as Boadicea in terms of British history but he is barely known.

“I think we should do more to promote all aspects of Colchester’s history but especially those which are not necessarily widely known about.

“John Ball was born in Peldon and lived in Colchester and preached at the St James the Great Church in East Hill.

“He was a head priest but a highly controversial figure because he was instrumental in leading the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381.

“He challenged the way poor people were treated and tried to promote their rights.”

But Mr Ball's socialist philosophies angered the authorities, including the archbishop of Canterbury Simon of Sudbury.

Ball was repeatedly imprisoned, was excommunicated and in 1366, it was forbidden for anyone to hear him preach.

But he was unrepentant and took to speaking to parishioners in churchyards.

After the Peasants’ Revolt began, Mr Ball was released by rebels from prison and preached in an open-air sermon.

His actions saw him imprisoned again and put on trial. He was hanged, drawn and quartered in the presence of King Richard II in July 1381 and his head was put on a pike on London Bridge.

Mr Grocott, who lives in Colchester, said: “John Ball was as important as the likes of Oliver Cromwell for his role in British political history.

“However, the only reference to him in Colchester is the road John Ball Walk in the Dutch Quarter.

“It would be good to have a statue of this man so people can recognise and celebrate his contribution.

“There is a strong history of people standing up for people’s rights and, regardless of your political views, John Ball was one of these men.

“John Ball Walk seems to me to be an insignificant recognition of a significant character.”

Mr Grocott said he hopes Colchester Council might support his plea to pay for a statue.

Anyone who would like to contact Mr Grocott can email him at degrocott@gmail.com.