Thomas Jonathan Wooler was born in Yorkshire in 1786. Wooler moved to London where he was apprenticed as a printer. After working for the radical journal, the Reasoner, Wooler was appointed editor of the Statesman. Wooler took a particular interest in legal matters and in 1817 he wrote and published the pamphlet An Appeal to the Citizens of London against the Packing of Special Juries.
In January 1817 the British government persuaded Parliament to pass the Gagging Acts. Whereas William Cobbett responded to this act of government repression by leaving the country, Wooler was motivated to start publishing a new radical unstamped journal, the Black Dwarf. When the journal first appeared in January 1817 it was an eight page newspaper but it later became a 32 page pamphlet.
In his journal Wooler was highly critical of Lord Liverpool and his government and within three months he had been arrested and charged with seditious libel. The prosecuting council argued that Wooler had written the articles that had libeled the government. However, Wooler, who defended himself, was able to convince the jury that although he had published the article, he had not written it, and so was therefore not guilty.
The court case did not stop Wooler from publishing the Black Dwarf and he continued to use the journal to argue the case for parliamentary reform. Wooler was also an active supporter of Major John Cartwright and his Hampden Club movement. In 1819 Wooler joined the campaign to elect Sir Charles Wolseley to represent Birmingham in the House of Commons. As Birmingham had not been given permission to have an election, Wooler and his fellow campaigners were arrested and charged with "forming a seditious conspiracy to elect a representative to Parliament without lawful authority". Wooler was found guilty and sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment.
After the death of his main patron, Major John Cartwright, in 1824, Wooler decided to stop publishing the Black Dwarf. For a while Wooler was the editor of the British Gazette but after the passing of the 1832 Reform Act he gave up politics and became a lawyer. In later life Wooler wrote books and pamphlets on the British legal system, including Every Man his Own Lawyer (1845).
Thomas Jonathan Wooler died on 29th October 1853.