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FEOM 1792 TO 1832. 
















" Ours the triumph be 

To circle social earth with fair exchange, 
And bind the nations in a chain of gold." 




Party Spirit in Manchester in 1792 ; Church and King Clubs ; 
Constitutional Society ; Loyalty of the Publicans ; Printing Office 
attacked ; Thomas "Walker's Trial ; Desertions from Reform ; the 
War Spirit ; Persecution of Reformers. 


The War Fever ; Famine and Tumult ; the Short Peace ; War 
Fever again ; Manchester Volunteers ; Colonel Hanson's Trial in 
1808 ; Joseph Nadin ; Prosecutions. 


Dissenting Ministers Bill ; Orders in Council ; General Distress ; 
Luddism in 1811 ; High Price of Food. 


Manchester Exchange Riot hi 1812 ; Fatal Conflict at Middle- 
ton ; the Spy System ; Sidmouth's " Wholesome" Severities ; Cost 
of the War ; the Time of Reckoning. 


Manchester in the First Year of Peace ; Enactment of the Com- 
Law ; Faint Opposition in Manchester ; Fallacy about Wages ; the 
Principal Reformers in 1815 ; Thirty-Eight Weavers Apprehended 
their Trial and Acquittal. 


The Second Year of Peace ; Agricultural Riots, and more Severities - T 
William Cobbett ; Samuel Barnford and the Radicals ; the Blanket 
Meeting ; the Ardwick Plot ; Waddington the Spy ; Cowardice of 



The Spies Effectually at Work ; Oliver the Spy ; Derbyshire 
Insurrections; Cowdroy's Newspaper ; Social Persecution ; Proposal 
to Emigrate; Hopes of Better Times; Power-Looms; Malthusiau 


Memorable Petition of the "Twenty-Seven" (1817); Elijah 
Dixon's and other Petitions ; Debate on Mr. Q-eorge Philip's 
Motion ; Sidmouth's Hopes. 


Mr. John Edward Taylor's Trial for Libel his Defence and 


The Eadical Agitation in 1819 ; Hunt's Visit ; Hunt at the 
Theatre ; Good Old English Drink ; the Drillings on White Moss ; 
the Magistrates Alarmed; Declaration of the Alarmists. 


Meeting on 16th August 1819 ; its Violent Dispersion ; Protest 
against the Dispersion ; the Killed and Wounded ; Eehef of the 


Subscriptions for the Sufferers ; the Duke of Hamilton ; the 
Oldham Inquest ; the Six Acts ; Hunt's Committal ; Trial at York 
Judge-made Law and the Sentences. 


Ee-action; Sir F. Burdett's Letter, and his Trial ; Trial of Harrison 
and others ; the Press ; Establishment of the Guardian in 1821, 
its Prospectus, and its Caution ; Market-street Commissioners. 


A Period of Calm; Malthusian Doctrines; Drunkenness ; Lan- 
cashire Banking ; Proposed Issue of Paper Money ; Trial of Mr. 
Waller for Preaching. 



A Short Period of Plenty and Cheapness in 1822 ; Meeting on 
the Poor-Laws ; the Bridge-street Gang ; Trial of Ridgeway ; John 
Dicas v. J. E. Taylor ; Royal Institution. 


The Author's Purchase of Cowdroy's Gazette in 1824; What 
might be done; the Mechanics' Institution Established; Wild 
Speculations ; Meeting on the Corn-Law ; the Catholic Association ; 
Manchester Protestants ; Jonathan Hodgins ; Estabh'shment of the 
Courier (1825) ; the Pitt Club. 


A Period of Great Distress; Bank Failures; Meeting on the 
Corn-Law ; Destruction of Power-Looms ; Meeting in St. George's 
Fields, and Critical Position of the Author ; Factory Burnt. 


Symptoms of Onward Movement ; Meeting on the State of the 
Country (1826) ; Mr. Mark Philips' s first Public Appearance ; 
Partial Admission of Foreign Corn ; Formation of a Footpath 
Preservation Society ; the Fhxton Footpath Case. 


Canning's Corn -Law; Manchester Chamber of Commerce on 
the Corn-Law ; Tory Bitterness ; Penryn Seats, and Manchester 
petitioning for them ; Debate 011 Penryn. 


Local Agitation in 1828; the Gas Question; Riot in the Town 
Hall ; Application for a new Police Bill, and the Opposition to it ; 
Contest in Committee ; Defeat of the Promoters ; Final Settlement. 


The Author in Difficulties ; His Failure ; Establishment of the 
Manchester Times; the Editor's Pledge; O'Coimell and the Forty- 
Shilling Freeholds. 



The Dark Hour before the Dawn ; a whole Year's Misery (1829) ; 
False Hopes held out; Disturbances; Cause of the Distress ; Cate- 
chism of the Corn-Laws ; Meeting on the Corn-Laws ; Mr. Gr. Jones 
and the Footpaths Society ; Mr. J. E. Taylor's old Friends. 


Symptoms of the Dawn ; second French Eevolution, 1830 ; 

Wellington's Eesignation ; Manchester Political Union ; Meeting 

for Eeform ; the Eeform Bill ; Another Meeting ; Dissolution of 


Eecollections of Jeremy Bentham ; Milton's Garden ; the Author's 
Trial for Libel, 1831 ; Defence by Himself, Acquittal, and Bentham' s 
Letter of Felicitation. 


The Delegate Parliament ; Meeting in the Town Hall ; Ministers 
Defeated; Excitement in Manchester, and Extemporaneous Meeting ; 
Meeting on the Camp Field ; Eiots at Bristol. 


Meeting of the New Parliament ; Movement in Manchester, and 
Deputation to London ; Meeting on St. Peter's Fields ; the Agita- 
tion throughout the Country ; Passing of the Eeform Bill. 


Disclosures as to the Society for " Putting Down Levellers and 
Eepublicans," and the Pitt Club. 


WHEN I disposed of my interest in the Manchester Times, 
and retired from its management, after twenty-three years; 
labour as a journalist, it was suggested that, as, for a con- 
siderable part of my life, I had taken part in movements 
for important purposes, a biographical memoir would be 
well received. The suggestion was natural enough from 
those who, having read my newspaper from the time they 
left school until they were men, taking an active part in 
public business, regarded me as their political teacher. 
My reply was, that there was nothing in the events of my 
life that would interest any beyond the narrow limits of a 
local "school;" but, on further consideration of the matter, 
I thought that some account of the progress of liberal 
opinion in such a town as Manchester, and brief notices of 
the part, however humble, I had taken in its formation, 
would be not uninteresting and not uninstructive to its 
inhabitants, and those of the surrounding very populous 
district ; and that there and elsewhere the history of what 
had been done might be an encouragement further to do. 

In an interval of leisure, one of the very few that I 
had enjoyed in a lifetime of constant occupation, if not of 


exhausting toil, I prepared some " Historical Sketches and 
Personal Recollections," which were published in the course 
of 1848, to the extent of about half of the present volume, 
in the paper which I had previously conducted. In another 
cessation of labour, towards the end of the present year, 
I have supplied some links of connection, and continued 
the narrative up to the period when the Reform Bill was 
passed ; retaining the title, however, because the work 
forms less a history than a sketch which may serve for 
history. I might have given more interest to the volume, 
had I made more revelations concerning persons with 
whom I have held converse or correspondence, but I have 
been withheld by the difficulty of deciding as to what 
might be considered as public and what as private confi- 
dences, and have preferred to err on the side of retention ; 
other men's feelings, with regard to publicity, having to be 
considered as well as my own. Almost all my statements 
may be verified by reference to the publications of the 
period, except the curious disclosures in my last chapter, 
with which I have been favoured by a gentleman whose 
character is a guarantee for their authenticity. 

If there has been any ambition in my undertaking, be- 
yond that of contributing to a plain perhaps a suggestive 
history of long- continued efforts to displace a stubborn 
obstruction to progress, it has been to associate my name 
for, it may be, a few years beyond my natural life, with 


that of a locality where, notwithstanding many sharp 
public contests not, however, embittered by malignity 
and some severe private struggles, the painfulness of which 
is now fast fading from my memory, I have enjoyed no 
inconsiderable amount of quiet happiness. 

I could not expect that a local history of the progress of 
opinion would excite more than a local interest ; but I find" 
that the orders for the work, almost from Manchester alone, 
before its publication, amount to nearly the whole of the 
pretty large impression printed. I have, therefore, to 
announce that a SECOND EDITION will be put to press 
immediately, and published by the 1st of March. 

Manchester, IBth December, 1850. 



Page 76, line 16, for " 1818" read " 1838." 

225, 9, for " prowling" read " growling." 

339, 2, for " tories" read " forties." 

342, 17, for "religion" read "religious." 

352, 2, for " exceeding" read " exceedingly. 

352, 22, for "rightful" read "frightful." 

384, 18, for "place "read "plate." 



THE terror occasioned by the revolution in France, artfully 
used and kept in constant excitement by persons who had 
a deep interest in the conservation of existing abuses,, 
delivered Manchester over, for thirty years, to the domi- 
nation of the enemies of reform, in either Church or State. 
The principal inhabitants of the town, for a long period 
had manifested, so far as they safely could, their attach- 
ment to the arbitrary and despotic principles of the Stuart 
family. They regarded the revolution of 1 6 8 8 , moderate and 
aristocratic in its results though that was, as a dangerous 
innovation. They rejoiced in green oak branches on each 
successive 29th of May, and indulged themseh es in secret 
bumpers to "The King." From their talk great hopes 
were entertained, both in 1715 and 1745, that they would 
give every effective assistance in the attempts to restore 
the "legitimate" race; but their spirit was humbled by 
the speedy suppression of both rebellions ; and, in process of 
time, the doctrines of passive obedience and non-resistance, 
which had made them continue Jacobites, reconciled them 
to the reigning family, which had, in its turn, become 
legitimate, and had shown no great disposition to extend 
popular rights or religious liberty, or to innovate upon the 
previously existing relations between Church and King. 
While the Church had a defender it mattered not much to 
them whether he was a James or a George ; and, until the 
dawn of the French revolution, which awakened a hope 
that every governmental institution throughout Europe 
was about to receive beneficial renovations, Jacobites and 
Hanoverians, Churchmen, and Dissenters, lived together in. 



tolerable harmony, smoking their pipes and drinking their 
ale in peace and quiet converse about the progress of their 
new machinery and the widening prospects of manufactures 
and trade. Mr. Thomas Walker ii^ his " Review " of some 
of the political events which had occurred in Manchester, 
for five years previous to the year 1794, says that the 
commencement of virulent party feeling against the friends 
of reform might be dated from 1789, when the discussion 
respecting the Test and Corporation Acts occupied much 
of the public attention. In that year the dissenters, who 
had, for an unusual length of time, probably from their 
own supineness, enjoyed release from persecution, con- 
ceived that the old spirit was dead or asleep, and that the 
time was favourable for a renewal of their application to 
parliament for the repeal of those acts. A torrent of insult 
and abuse was poured out upon the petitioners. " Their 
" sentiments," said Robert Hall, writing at the period, 
" have been misrepresented, their loyalty suspected, and 
their most illustrious characters held up to derision and 
contempt. The effusions of a distempered loyalty are 
mingled with execrations on that unfortunate sect, as if 
attachment to the King were to be measured by the 
hatred of dissenters." 

The clergy, however, were alarmed, or pretended to be 
alarmed ; and, on a sudden, the fears of those who cried 
out "The Church is in danger," became as wild and 
absurd as ever they were in the days of Sacheverell and 
his party. At last they became sufficiently convinced of 
their power to coerce opinion in Manchester, as to call 
a meeting of those particularly attached to their own 
political doctrines, under the title of Members of the 
Established Church, in order "to consider of and consult 
about the impropriety of the application to parliament of 
the Protestant Dissenters to obtain a repeal of those 
salutary laws, the Corporation and Test Acts, the great 
bulwarks and barriers, for a century and upwards, of our 


glorious constitution in Church and State." The meeting 
held in pursuance of this advertisement, was called a 
"public meeting" of the members of the Established 
Church. The room was nearly filled by the adherents 
of the high church party before any others were admitted. 
To increase the solemnity, the clergy attended in their 
gowns and cassocks. Some opposition was made to the 
manner by which the meeting had been called, and the 
stratagem by which the room had been previously filled ; 
and it was particularly objected, that, according to the 
rule which the town had adopted in the year 1788, the 
boroughreeve and constables had no right to call any 
meeting of the inhabitants, except a general one. But the 
clamour of the high church party was violent beyond 
description. They had come to act, not to argue. Reso- 
lutions, prepared beforehand, were put into the hands of 
the boroughreeve (not a popularly elected officer, but the 
nominee of the Lord of the Manor), while he was in the 
midst of his speech, and explaining why he called the 
town together; and these resolutions, seconded even before 
they were read, were as hastily passed in the noise and 
confusion which prevailed. Among the resolutions thus 
passed was the following: "That the religion of the 
state be the religion of the magistrate, without which no 
society can be wisely confident of the integrity and good 
faith of the persons appointed to places of trust and 

The debate in the House of Commons on the Test and 
Corporation Acts, which gave rise to this outcry, had 
taken place on the 8th of May, 1789. Mr. Fox expressed 
the wise axiom " that no human government had jurisdic- 
tion over opinions as such, and more particularly religious 
opinions," and the house so far agreed with him as to 
reject the motion for the repeal of those acts by a majority 
of only twenty, one hundred and twenty- two voting against 
it, and one hundred and two voting in its favour. The 

B 2 


cry, however, of " the Church in danger " was, as it has 
been ever since, most powerfully influential, for on the 
next motion, made in March, 1790, the majority for re- 
jection was one hundred and eighty-nine instead of twenty. 
Mr. Burke did his best on this occasion to frighten the 
house and the country. He dwelt on the destruction of 
the French church as a circumstance peculiarly shameful 
and scandalous, said that the dissenters were inducing the 
mob to view the wealth of the church as a better object 
than the bribes of election candidates, and he read a letter, 
written by Mr. Fletcher, a dissenter, from a meeting of 
dissenting ministers held at Bolton, Lancashire, stating that 
the meeting avowed such violent principles that he would 
not stay, but came away with other moderate men. It 
described that one member, on being asked whether they 
meant to seek for anything more than the repeal of the 
Test and Corporation Acts, answered, in the language of 
our Saviour: "We know these things which ye are not 
able to bear ;" and on another member's asking " Give 
us a little light on what you intend," they informed him 
that they " did not care the nip of a straw for the repeal 
of the Test and Corporation Acts, but that they designed 
to try for the abolition of the tithes and liturgy !" The 
house, horror struck at the declaration of these atrocious 
designs, decided by a majority of 294 against 105 that the 
church was too much in danger to allow of any concession 
to the conscientious scruples of dissenters. In those days 
loyalty was as prevalent as attachment to the by-law- 
established church. Mr. Walter the editor of the Times, 
was tried and convicted for libel in saying that the Dukes 
of York, Gloucester, and Cumberland were insincere in 
their professions of joy for the King's recovery, and ere 
his sentence had expired, he was brought from Newgate 
and sentenced to pay a fine of 100 for a libel on the 
Prince of Wales, and the like sum for one on the Duke of 
Clarence. The pulpit was arrayed against the press 


and the pulpit had the best of it. It was ten thousand 
against ten. 

The formation of a "Church and King Club" in Man- 
chester followed the defeat of the dissenters. The members 
wore uniforms, with the representation of the Old Church 
engraved on their buttons, and their standing toast, while 
they could stand, in their clubs and convivial meetings, 
was " Church and King, and down with the Rump." The 
men who had no old-church buttons on their coats, and 
who would not swallow deep potations to the downfall of 
the rump, driven from the society of their ultra loyal and 
professedly religious townsmen, resolved to form an associa- 
tion of their own and hence the origin, suggested by 
Thos. Walker, of the "Manchester Constitutional Society," 
of which George Lloyd, Thomas Walker, James Darbishire, 
Thomas Cooper (a barrister), George Philips (the late Sir 
George), and Thomas Kershaw, were members. Some 
twenty years afterwards I used to hear the latter recount 
the perils of those days, and express his joy that, however 
little progress liberal opinions might have made, it. was 
impossible then to get up a church-and-king mob. A party 
without a press to represent its opinions could do nothing. 
The two newspapers in the town, Wheeler's Chronicle and 
Harrop's Mercury, began to refuse communications 011 the 
side of liberty. One of them, the Mercury, had been 
always violently devoted to the high church party, and the 
other was easily induced to adopt the same course. Some 
members of the new society proposed to Mr. Mathew 
Faulkner, one of its members, to commence a newspaper, 
under the name of the Manchester Herald, which was 
established in March 1792, and continued spiritedly to 
advocate liberal principles till judge-made law and mob- 
lawlessness put it down in March 1793. 

In May 1792, the Constitutional Society issued a decla- 
ration of its objects, one of which was that " the members 
of the House of Commons should owe their seats to the 


good opinion and free suffrage of the people at large, 
and not to the prostituted votes of venal and corrupted 
boroughs." The society, in this manifesto, declared that, 
instead of endeavouring to excite sedition, it was solicitous, 
"by a timely and well-directed reform of abuses, to remove 
all pretences for it." Within a week after the publication 
of this very moderate document, government issued a 
proclamation against any wicked and seditious writings, 
"printed, published, and industriously dispersed," and 
earnestly exhorted all loyal subjects to guard against such 
attempts to disorder the peace of society; and strictly 
charged and commanded all magistrates to make diligent 
inquiry to discover the authors and printers of such 
"wicked and seditious writings," and to carry the laws 
rigorously into execution against them. 

The dominant party resolved to have a meeting on the 
King's birthday, 4th June, 1792, to address his Majesty 
in approval of the proclamation. A few days before the 
time fixed for holding the meeting, the Constitutional 
Society issued an address, signed by Thomas Walker, 
president, and Samuel Jackson, secretary, earnestly ex- 
horting the members of their own and similar reform 
associations in the town and neighbourhood to abstain from 
attending the meeting, which, however upright the motives 
of the persons who called it, would have a direct tendency 
at that crisis to endanger the harmony and tranquillity 
of the town and neighbourhood. " This precaution was 
but too necessary," says Mr. Walker, " for in the evening 
of Monday, the 4th, a considerable number of people 
assembled in St. Ann's-square to see some illuminations, 
exhibited by two of his Majesty's tradesmen, when the 
crowd became very tumultuous, and assaulted several peace- 
able spectators ; they proceeded to tear up several of the 
trees growing there, one of which was carried with great 
triumph to the dissenters' chapel, near the square, and the 
gates attempted to be forced open, with violent cries of 


' Church and King ' ' Down with the Rump ' < Down 
with it, &c. ' Another tree was carried in the same 
riotous manner, and with the same exultation, to the 
Unitarian chapel, in Mosley-street ; fortunately, however, 
the doors withstood the attacks made upon them, the 
people were persuaded gradually to disperse, and about one 
o'clock in the morning the streets became quiet without 
any further damage." A beginning had been made, not 
a very formidable one certainly, but still it was a beginning, 
which would show that if meddling persons like Mr: 
Walker would talk of reform, and would ask for the 
removal of religious disabilities, there was a mob ready 
to break their heads for any attempt to persuade people 
that it was possible to amend the existing laws. 

There are numbers of persons now alive who recollect 
seeing in Manchester taverns, boards stuck up with the 
inscription " NO JACOBINS ADMITTED HERE." So late 
as 1825 there was one of them in a public-house in Bridge- 
street, as fine as gilding and decoration could make it, but 
it was removed then in deference to the change of opinion 
and to prevent its being burnt. The putting up of these 
articles-of-peace boards was part of a plan to prevent the 
discussion of reform principles in bar-parlours. Soon after 
the proclamation of 1792, and to prevent a meeting an- 
nounced to be held to raise a subscription for the sufferers 
by war in France, a tax-gatherer, accompanied by several 
persons employed by the clergy, went round the town to 
all the innkeepers and publicans, advising them, if they 
had any regard to the renewal of their licenses to suffer no 
societies similar to the Constitutional to be held in their 
houses. The publicans gave a ready response to this call. 
" They thought their licenses," says Mr. Walker, " of more 
value than our custom." They, besides, valued the custom 
of the jovial church-and-king men more than that of men 
who met to talk rather than to drink. The paper, said to 
be prepared for their subscription by one of the Fellows of 


the Collegiate Church, is too good to be allowed to 
perish : 

"Manchester, September 13, 1792. 

" We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, being 
licensed innkeepers and ale-housekeepers, within the towns 
of MANCHESTER and SALFORD, justly alarmed at the trea- 
sonable and seditious conduct of a well-known set of daring 
MISCREANTS, who have called a public meeting to be 
held on Tuesday next, at the Bull's Head Inn, in Man- 
chester, for the avowed purpose of assisting the FRENCH 
SAYAGES, as well as with a SINCERE DESIRE of introducing 
similar calamities to the inhabitants of this HAPFY and 
PROSPEROUS COUNTRY, as those that now exist in France, 
take this very necessary opportunity of publishing to the 
towns of MANCHESTER and SALFORD in particular, and to 
the whole kingdom of GREAT BRITAIN in general, our 
detestation of such wicked and abominable PRACTICES. 

"And we do here solemnly declare, that we ivill not 
suffer any meeting to be held in our houses of any CLUB or 
societies, however specious or plausible their titles may be, 
that have a tendency to put in force what those INFER- 
NALS so ardently and devoutly wish for, namely, the 
DESTRUCTION OF THIS COUNTRY ; and we will be ready 
on all occasions to co-operate with our fellow-townsmen in 
bringing to justice all those who shall offend in any instance 

This was signed by 186 innkeepers and ale-house- 
keepers, afraid of losing their licenses, and anxious to 
secure the custom of the party which was at once the 
most bigoted and the most thirsty. The public-house 
was now a most effective auxiliary to the church, the 
publican to the parson, and they formed a holy alliance 
against the mischievous press. There was now hope that 
a more efficient mob might be organized than that which 
only tore up a few trees in St. Ann's-square ; there was 


the example of the four days' riots in Birmingham, and 
the destruction of Dr. Priestley's house and half-a-dozen 
others; and there was a strong disposition to read a 
similar " wholesome lesson" to the disloyal of Manchester. 
A proclamation was issued by government on the 1st of 
December, obviously to excite and prepare the people for 
war against France ; and meetings were held, one in 
Salford on the 7th, and one in Manchester on the llth of 
that month, at which it was earnestly striven to exasperate 
the public mind. Thomas Cooper, the barrister, had issued 
an admirable address on the evils of war, but it produced 
no effect on the roused passions of the multitude. A 
rumour went out that there would be a riot that evening. 
It was known that there would be one. Persons went 
from the meeting to the public-houses, which became 
crowded, and thence parties proceeded and paraded the 
streets with music before them, raising cries against 
Jacobins and presbyterians meaning by the latter term, 
dissenters and carrying boards, on which the words 
"Church and King" were painted in large letters. As 
if by a preconcerted scheme, the various parading parties 
united in the Market-place, opposite the publication office 
of Faulkner and Birch, the printers of the Manchester 
Herald, and, amidst loud cries of " Church and King,'' 
they attacked the house and shop with stones and brick- 
bats, till the windows were destroyed and beaten in at the 
front of the house. Where were the friends of "social 
order" during this destruction of property? They were 
there encouraging the drunken mob. Some respectable 
persons urged upon those whose duty it was to protect 
life and property to do their duty, but remonstrance was 
unavailable. Unite, the deputy-constable, on being applied 
to, said " They are loyal subjects ; let them alone ; let 
them frighten him a bit; it is good to frighten these 
people." This worthy then went to the mob, and clapping 
on the back some of the most active in the work of 



destruction, said "Good lads; good lads;" and perceiv- 
ing some beadles attempting to do their duty, he said 
" Come away, d n the house, don't come near it." A 
gentleman remarked, in the hearing of the Rev. Mr. Griffith, 
who was standing looking on " What scandalous work 
this is!" "Not at all, Sir," replied the reverend gentle- 
man; "and if I was called upon, I would not act against 
them." One of the special constables was heard to say in 
another part of the town " 111 give a guinea for every 
one of the Jacobins' houses you pull down." The work 
was going bravely on, parson and publican doing their 
best. Mr. Allen Jackson went to the house of Mr. Nathaniel 
Milne, clerk to the magistrates (father to the present Mr. 
Oswald Milne), and urged Mr. Bentley, a magistrate, to 
preserve the peace ; but he was told that it was " a 
scandalous, shameful, abominable business to call out a 
magistrate on such a trifling piece of business as breaking 
a few windows." Mr. Jackson then found out the senior 
constable, and some of the constable's company hearing 
the application, threatened to kick him out of doors. So 
the printers and their friends were left to defend the 
premises. " It was good to frighten such people." From 
seven o'clock till eleven, four several attacks were made 
on Mr. Walker's house. "It was good to frighten" such 
a man; he was to be frightened in another way soon. 
The Attorney-General was to take the place of a drunken 
mob. Mr. Walker had gathered some friends with fire- 
arms to defend himself; this was to be the foundation of a 
charge that he had obtained arms to wage war against the 
King ! To this riot and the conduct of the authorities the 
attention of the House of Commons was called by Mr. Fox, 
when Mr. Windham, soon afterwards Minister at War, 
excused the magistrates and their friends the mob by 
saying " The indignation excited against Mr. Walker was 
more fairly imputable to his political opinions than to his 
being a dissenter. It was natural, and even justifiable, 


for men to feel indignation against those who promulgated 
doctrines, threatening all that was valuable and dear in 
society; and if there were not means of redress by law, 
even violence would be justifiable" To be a dissenter and 
a reformer was bad enough ; to be a friend of peace was 
worse. According to Mr. Windham, a man's house might 
justifiably be pulled down about his ears, if he were opposed 
to the now contemplated war. The law, said Mr. Wind- 
ham, was open to Mr. Walker, if he felt aggrieved at the 
attempt to destroy his house. The law courts were indeed 
open to the Attorney- General, and it was resolved that 
if law could not reach the offence, judge-made law should. 
It would be hard if parson and publican, magistrate and 
deputy-constable, could not concoct something which would 
prevent his denunciation of war. It would be hard if juries 
could not be found in England such as those which in 
Scotland found Muir and Palmer, Skirving and Margarot, 
guilty. It would be hard if judges could not be found in 
England as loyal as those who presided at the Scotch trials, 
one of whom declared that " no man had a right to speak 
of the constitution unless he possessed landed property;" 
another, that " since the abolition of torture there was no 
adequate punishment for sedition;" and another, that " the 
nation was in a fever of disloyalty, and required blood 
letting." When a learned prelate on the bench of bishops 
asserted that " the people had nothing to do with the laws 
but to obey them," it might well be expected that a judge 
could be found to make the same assertion to a packed or 
subservient jury. 

Nearly twelve months were required to collect or to 
make evidence against Mr. Walker ; to collect, if any 
could be had to make, according to the custom of the 
period ; and during the greater part of the time he was 
in almost daily expectation of being arrested, not merely 
for sedition but for high treason. A drunken scoundrel, 
named Dunn, had been found willing to swear to anything ; 


but there was a difficulty in finding a second witness 
equally disposed to give evidence " according to order." 
A man of the name of Pearsall was brought from Kidder- 
minster to Manchester, and carried before the Rev. Mr. 
Griffith, a magistrate, son of the Rev. Dr. Griffith, also a 
magistrate, both of them zealous friends of " social order," 
and both very desirous to obtain evidence on which Mr. 
Walker might be convicted. We have his statement in 
the " Appendix to Mr. Walker's Trial," and here is the 
substance of it: He was asked by the reverend magistrate 
if he had not seen arms in Walker's house, and if he had 
seen men exercised there ; but as he could not say that he 
had, he was sent to the New Bailey prison, where he was 
kept from the end of June till the 9th of August, and 
visited there by Dunn and a mutual friend called Callaghan, 
who instigated him to depose to having seen arms and 
exercised men at Mr. Walker's, assuring him that if he 
would swear so, he should have a pension as long as he 
lived; but Pearsall refused to listen to their proposals. 
They assailed him again, bringing with them pipes and 
tobacco, and plenty of liquor; and then Mr. Justice Griffith 
came amongst them in their prison carouse. The reverend 
magistrate shook hands very familiarly with Dunn, clapped 
him on the back, and called him an honest fellow ; ordered 
some more drink, and drank with them; and then finding 
that Pearsall could not "recollect" anything in aid of 
Dunn's promised testimony, committed him for trial on the 
charge of having, in Dunn's presence, damned the King ! 

Everybody knew that Mr. Walker and some of his 
friends were to be brought to trial, but the warrant did 
not come, and he learned that its service was delayed in 
order that his arrest might take place under circumstances 
the most painful to him. He sent his brother to the 
Rev. Justice Griffith, who told him that he had certainly 
signed a wan-ant against Mr. Walker for high treason, but 
he would not serve it until he got another witness, and 


claimed some credit for having prevented Unite, the 
deputy-constable, arresting Mr. Walker at the funeral of 
his Mend Mr. Jackson's wife ! Application was also made 
to the Right Hon. Henry Dundas, the Home Secretary, to 
know when the warrant was to be executed ; to which the 
reply was, that there were heavy charges against Mr. 
Walker, and that there would be no official delay in bring- 
ing them to trial. 

To the extent of high treason, notwithstanding the open 
threats of the municipal and church authorities, they did 
not venture to proceed. At the spring assizes at Lancaster, 
on the 2nd April, 1794, Thomas Walker, William Paul, 
Samuel Jackson, James Cheetham, Oliver Pearsall, Benjamin 
Booth, and Joseph Collier, were tried on an indictment for 
a conspiracy to overthrow the Constitution and Government, 
and to aid and assist the French (being the King's enemies) 
in case they should invade this kingdom. Law, afterwards 
Lord Ellenborough, as Attorney- General for the County 
Palatine, conducted the prosecution; Thomas Erskine, 
afterwards Lord Chancellor Erskine, the defence. The 
principal witness, well bribed and well drilled for the 
occasion, was the man named Dunn, who swore that he 
had seen men learning military discipline in Mr. Walker's 
warehouse, shouldering muskets with fixed bayonets in 
a room the roof of which was not seven feet high ; that 
he had heard Mr. Walker say, "We shall destroy the 
constitution by and by;" that he had seen all the prisoners 
there ; that he had heard Paine' s work read aloud ; that 
he had heard Mr. Paul damn the king and all kings ; 
that he had heard Mr. Walker damn the king and all 
kings ; that he had heard Collier damn the French king, 
and wish all kings were served as he was; and other 
testimony to a like effect. The fellow's evidence was 
proved to be false, and it was also proved that he had 
confessed, on his knees before Mr. Walker, that the 
charges he had brought against him were false, and that 


he had been bribed to make them. Mr. Law threw up 
the case. " You have acted very properly, Mr. Law," 
said Mr. Justice Heath. The jury immediately gave their 
verdict "Not guilty," and the prosecutions against the 
other defendants were all withdrawn. Mr. Vaughan, 
one of the counsel for the defence, applied that Dunn 
might be committed. " We will undertake to prosecute 
him for perjury" said Mr. Erskine. Mr. Walker's reply 
to a subsequent remark of the Judge is too manly and 
memorable to be omitted: 

Mr. Justice Heath. Let Dunn be committed; and I 
hope, Mr. Walker, that this will be an admonition to you 
to keep better company in future. 

Mr. Walker. I have been in no bad company, my 
Lord, except that of the wretch who stands behind me ; 
nor is there a word or an action of my life, in which 
the public are at all interested, that I wish amended or 
undone, or that, under similar circumstances, I would 
not repeat. 

Mr. Justice Heath. You have been honourably acquitted, 
sir, and the witness against you is committed for perjury. 

On the 29th of October, 1794, six months after the 
acquittal of Mr. Walker and his friends, the Judges, under 
a special commission, sat at the Old Bailey, London, to try 
twelve persons who had been committed under a charge of 
high treason. Mr. Hardy's trial came on first, and the 
Attorney-General, Sir John Scott (afterwards the Earl 
of Eldon), stated the case in a nine hours' speech, and 
endeavoured to prove the charges by the evidence of two 
government spies, Taylor and Gosling. Erskine, who had 
so ably and spiritedly defended Thomas Walker, and Gibbs, 
afterwards notorious as Sir Viccary Gibbs, were employed 
for the defence. After a trial of seven days, Hardy was 
pronounced " Not guilty." Eleven days elapsed ere John 
Home Tooke was put on his trial. He had summoned 
Pitt, the pilot who was afterwards to " weather the storm," 


to show that the doctrines and practices of the reformers 
in 1794 were precisely those which himself had advocated 
in 1780. The minister attempted to evade a confession 
of his former principles and doings on the plea of forget- 
fulness ; but Sheridan, also summoned as a witness, having 
manfully avowed and justified his own share in the pro- 
ceedings of that period, Pitt felt himself compelled to 
correct his evidence, and admit that he was present at 
the meetings of delegates from several counties, convened 
for the attainment of parliamentary reform. The jury, 
amidst loud acclamations, pronounced a verdict of " Not 
guilty." John Thelwall was next put upon his trial and 
acquitted. The government thus foiled in its attempt to 
establish cumulative and constructive treason, by evidence 
obtained under an odious and detestable system of espionage, 
abandoned the remaining prosecutions. 

Thomas Moore, in his " Life of Sheridan," says: " The 
severity of the sentences upon Muir and Palmer, and the 
daring confidence with which charges of high treason were 
exhibited against persons who were, at the worst, but 
indiscreet reformers, excited the apprehensions of even the 
least sensitive friends of freedom. It is, indeed, difficult 
to say how far the excited temper of the government, 
seconded by the ever-ready subservience of the state - 
lawyers and bishops, might have proceeded at this moment, 
had not the acquittal of Tooke and his associates, and the 
triumph it diffused throughout the country, given a lesson 
to power such as England is alone capable of giving, and 
which will long be remembered, to the honour of that great 
political safeguard that life-preserver in stormy times 
the trial by jury." There can be no doubt, however, that 
these prosecutions did create much terror. To run the risk 
of a trial for high treason, or for seditious conspiracy, on 
suborned evidence, was, to most persons, no trifling matter, 
even where there was full confidence in the firmness and 
clear-headedness of juries. There were few persons who 


could undergo such an ordeal with the cool indifference 
and the gaiety of John Home Tooke. There were deser- 
tions from the cause of peace and reform everywhere, and 
not a few in Manchester. The protest against war was 
almost confined to a few members of Parliament, who 
availed themselves of their privilege of speech to say what 
others dared not utter. Many reformers became whigs, 
and many whigs became nothing. The atrocities of the 
French revolution had furnished the excuse for desertion 
of their principles. An able French writer says : " From 
the time of the ministry of Lord North, societies were 
formed in order to petition for modifications of the repre- 
sentative system; and the great mob of London, in revealing 
a hidden danger, had made the aristocracy draw closer its 
ranks. Then came the French revolution, which com- 
pletely banded together men who had to dread every 
change that might precipitate them from the top to the 
bottom of the social state. At the report of the sanguinary 
victories of Jacobinism, all parties were thrown into con- 
sternation, and the violence of the threats then directed 
against authority was such, that all the recollections, 
attachments, and hatreds, which had previously divided 
the higher classes, were hushed. In the House of Peers, 
the majority of the great families, the Portlands, the 
Fitzwilliams, the Spencers, and the Loughboroughs, 
deserted the cause of the people. In the House of Com- 
mons, Windham, Burke, Anstruther, Gilbert Elliott, and 
a number of other eminent persons, left the benches of the 
opposition. In vain did their old friends pursue them with 
sarcasms, and apply to them the most cutting and con- 
temptuous epithets ; the blow was struck, the Whig party 
was rent asunder, and if it did not lose all influence in 
public affairs, it was indebted for this to the splendour 
of the talents of Fox, and the prudent sagacity of Lord 

Plausible excuse was not wanting for desertion of prin- 


ciple, and especially little wanting in Manchester, always 
distinguished for its attachment to the cause of "legitimacy." 
The hundred hours' massacre had taken place. One thou- 
sand and eighty-nine prisoners had been brought from their 
prison cells in Paris, and piked or sabred in the open streets. 
The Princess Lamballe had suffered : " She shivers back at 
the sight of bloody sabres, but there is no return; that 
fair head is cleft with the axe, the neck is severed ; that 
fair body is cut in fragments, with indignities and obscene 
horrors which human nature would fain find incredible." 
"That a shriek of inarticulate horror," continues Thomas 
Carlyle, "rose over this thing, not only from French 
Aristocrats and Moderates, but from all Europe, and has 
prolonged itself to the present day, was most natural." 
Another shriek of horror arose when Louis XVI. was 
executed, not by the infuriate mob, but by deliberate 
judicial sentence ; and another when Marie- Antoinette was 
led to the scaffold ; and all England's chivalry was roused 
to revenge the wrong to royalty and beauty. George the 
Third is recorded to have said, " If a stop be not put to 
French principles, there will not be a king left in Europe 
in a few years ;" and the nation joined in his fear of such 
a calamity. There was scarcely need for Attorney- General 
prosecutions, espionage, or suspension of the habeas corpus 
Act. The war spirit was kindled, and it flamed up as 
fiercely as King, or Aristocracy, or Church could desire. 
The war was decidedly popular ; if it had not been declared 
the people would have used compulsion to have it declared. 
The nation had prospered; it had recovered from the 
effects of the American war; it had grown fat, and it 
kicked. In February, 1792, Mr. Pitt drew a most glaring 
picture of national prosperity, proposed the repeal of some 
of the most burthensome imposts, and said there never was 
a period when, from the situation of Europe, we might 
more reasonably anticipate a durable peace than at that 
moment. In less than a year a war was declared which 


lasted twenty-three years, during all which period the blood 
of Europe was poured out like water, and treasure wasted 
as if it were dust ; England's share in the cost of murder 
amounting to twelve hundred millions sterling. The grand 
result was that France regained a banished Bourbon to 
ensure her permanent peace, and England received a new 
corn-law to enable her to pay the interest of the enormous 
debt she had incurred in the contest ! There was not even 
the apology for this wanton waste of life and treasure that 
any aggression had been committed by the French people 
against this nation. It was a war undertaken solely to put 
down opinions. On January 28th, 1793, the King, in his 
message to parliament, informed them that he had deter- 
mined to augment his forces, " for supporting his allies, 
and for opposing vieivs of aggrandizement and ambition, on 
the part of France, at all times dangerous to the interests 
of Europe, but particularly so when connected with the 
propagation of principles subversive of the peace and order 
of society ;" and yet the war was popular soon after and 
long after its commencement, especially in Manchester. 
The Thomas Walkers, the Thomas Coopers, and the Thomas 
Kershaws, no longer needed to be held down by the hard 
hand of the law ; they were held down by the harder hand 
of their fellow townsmen ; insulted, grievously wronged ; 
without either remedy or the power of retaliation. The 
state of society here was favourable to this tyranny of 
opinion. Much of the social intercourse between the in- 
habitants took place in public-houses ; the bar-parlour was 
the resort of all the tradesmen of an evening. One of these 
places of meeting for conversation was described by Dr. 
Aiken as the resort of some of the most respectable inha- 
bitants of the town, who met every afternoon to enjoy their 
pipes and their glasses ; and we are told that John Shaw, 
the landlord, was a great favourite with the ladies, who 
often drank his health, because he most relentlessly shut 
up his house at a certain early hour every night, and thus 


sent husbands and fathers soberly home to their wives and 
families ; whereas, in the other taverns they were permitted 
to sit late and drink deeply. The picture gives us no very 
exalted idea of the refinement of the period. 

John Shaw's bar- parlour soon became a Church and 
King club-room, and from every other such place of resort, 
"Jacobins" and "Dissenters" were excluded. We have 
seen that there were one hundred and eighty-six places of 
public concourse, into any one of which had a reformer or 
a friend of peace intruded himself, he would have been 
regarded as belonging to " a well-known set of daring 
miscreants," whom grossly to insult or assault would only 
be a proof of loyalty, religion, and manhood. There were 
then no neutral news-rooms, no Royal or Mechanics' 
Institutions, no Lyceums, no Athena3ums. Even in the 
assemblies for music and dancing the "Jacobin" and his 
wife and daughters were liable to insult and vulgar abuse. 
The reformers were excluded from all society but that 
around their own firesides, and even there they had care- 
fully to guard against the introduction of the insidious spy; 
and in business transactions, none who could help it would 
deal with them. Throughout Lancashire the same coarse 
manners and intolerant spirit prevailed, though in different 
degrees. At Liverpool, comparatively refined Liverpool, 
about a dozen gentlemen, amongst whom were William 
Roscoe, Dr. Currie, and the Rev. William Shepherd, had 
been in the habit of meeting once a fortnight for literary 
discussion. " Even this peaceful and unoffending company,' ' 
says Roscoe' s biographer, " was not exempt from the violence 
of party feeling. Upon the appearance of Mr. Pitt's procla- 
mation against seditious meetings, and the consequent odium 
in which all who professed liberal principles were involved, 
the Literary Society found their meetings viewed with such 
jealousy and suspicion that it was thought proper, for the 
time, to discontinue them, nor were they afterwards re- 
sumed." Mr. Roscoe, writing to Lord Lansdowne on the 


subject, says : -" Under the present system every man is 
called to be a spy upon his brother." The biographer of 
Lorenzo di Medici, and of Leo the Tenth, the biographer 
of Robert Burns, the biographer of Poggio Bracciolini could 
not meet in comparatively liberal Liverpool, to enjoy a few 
hours of literary discussion before supper ; and yet several 
highly respectable merchants, to escape from the insults 
and persecutions they had to endure in Manchester, sought 
relief by removal to Liverpool. 

Thomas Walker deeply lamented the many defections 
from the cause of reform. He was a man of strong mental 
courage himself, and entertained a firm conviction that by 
boldness, perseverance, and union amongst reformers, the 
progress of liberal principles would have been onward 
until they became triumphant. At the conclusion of his 
" Inquiry," he says he is convinced, " That the dissenters 
of this kingdom have been at the commencement of almost 
every subject of liberal discussion of late years. But, 
however consistently and disinterestedly many of them 
have acted, they have, as a body, constantly fallen short 
of their own principles; they have excited opposition, 
which they have never completely supported ; and through 
fear, or some other motive, they have been so strongly 
the advocates of an overstrained moderation, that they 
have rather been the enemies than the friends of those 
who have ventured the most and effected the most for 
the rights of the people. That almost all the attacks 
upon individuals, which the enemies of liberty have 
directly or indirectly ventured upon, and which have kept 
in the back- ground so many men of good intentions, but 
whom an excess of caution, or a timid kind of prudence, 
has prevented from acting, has been owing to the want of 
steadiness and concert amongst the friends of liberty them- 
selves. The timid desert the bold, till the bold become 
cautious of supporting each other with their presence, and 
unable to do so with their property. That neither the 


Birmingham riots, nor the Manchester riots, nor the Not- 
tingham riots, nor the prosecutions, public or private, which 
have taken place, would have happened, had not the timidity 
and want of union amongst the friends of freedom emboldened 
their enemies. Temper and moderation are truly valuable ; 
but the professionally temperate and moderate men have 
been the first deserters from, and have uniformly done 
infinite mischief to, the rights of the people. That men 
who mean to do good, must not look for their reward, or 
the effect of their exertions, during the existing generation. 
Such an effect they may, indeed, live to see, but it cannot 
be counted upon. Those who are not capable of acting 
upon this hazard, are not the men upon whom the public 
can fully depend ; or who can pursue a great plan of public 
utility with satisfaction to themselves." Mr. Walker's 
observations on the timidity of reformers and dissenters 
are not much less applicable in this year, 1850, than they 
were in 1794, and many have yet to discover that the 
boldest policy is often the most prudent policy. It is 
quite possible that his son, as a magistrate, may yet have 
to sign warrants of distress for non-payment of a church- 
rate in Manchester. A peaceable submission on the part 
of the dissenters, for seventeen years after Mr. Walker's 
comments upon their timidity, was rewarded by a kick 
from Lord Sidmouth, which taught them that, to retain 
even the share of liberty they possessed, they must ener- 
getically demand those which were denied to them. 



ME. WHEELER, in his "History of Manchester," has 
recorded proofs of the " patriotism," as he no doubt re- 
garded it, of Manchester at the commencement of the 
war with France; the insanity as many acknowledged 
it to be who lived to experience the results of the contest 
into which the nation so eagerly entered. He commences 
his description of the various stages of that war fever with 
the admission : " This year (1793) was one of disquietude 
from commercial distress. The number of bankruptcies 
was nearly trebled, and popular discontent run so high 
that it was necessary for light troops to parade the streets 
with torches throughout the night. It was said that 
during this and one or two succeeding years, not less than 
twenty thousand persons had gone from the town to join 
the army, but the number was no doubt exaggerated." 
Proof of discontent there was, and proof of poverty, but 
greater proof of the prevalence of a pestilent war spirit. 
The men who enlisted might be partly out of employment 
from the depression of trade ; but at the same time they 
were persuaded that the country required their services, 
and that to "fight the French" was the highest patriotism. 
The ardour to serve in the cause of the constitution and 
the country, says Mr. Wheeler, was very great. It is 
mentioned, for example, in March, 1794, that " Le Gendre 
Starkie, Esq., has given 105 towards raising the bounty 
given to recruits, five guineas a man, and others are 
following the example." "Harvey Aston, Esq., one of 
the intimates of the Prince, is engaged in recruiting in 
this county ; he and nine others have undertaken to raise 
each one hundred men." " Thomas Leigh, Esq., of Lyme, 


proposed to raise six troops of Cavalry, and did so in 
fourteen days." In April, 1794, "the regiment of Inde- 
pendent Manchester Volunteers was incorporated in the 
53rd, or the Duke of York's Brigade, as soon as it arrived 
at Chatham." " His Majesty has been pleased to grant 
the title of ' Royal' to the regiment now raising, with an 
' official promise' that the 'Royal Manchester Volunteers,' 
if reduced, shall come to Manchester to be disbanded." 
On the 10th May, a feu-de-joie was fired in St. Ann's- 
square, on account of advantages gained by the combined 
armies : six hundred and thirty stand of arms were sent 
from the Tower for the Manchester Volunteers. The 
success of Lord Howe off Ushant was announced at the 
Kersal Moor races, and assembled thousands received the 
intelligence with loud cheers : in the evening it was com- 
municated to the audience at the Theatre by Mr. Ward, 
in the character of the Busy Body, and the audience 
shouted with exultation. In August, 500 were given by 
Lord Stamford for additional bounties to landsmen and 
seamen entering the navy; and on the 21st of the same 
month the Royal Manchester Volunteers were inspected 
by Major-General Musgrave. Colours were presented to 
the regiment in St. Ann's-square, after which it marched 
to Liverpool to embark for Ireland : it subsequently became 
the 104th regiment. In October a subscription was obtained 
for raising a Fencible Corps for the County of Lancaster. 
The Loyal Associations in Manchester and Salford formed 
themselves into a corps for the home defence. " The war, 
however, was not universally popular : in 1 795 a petition 
was sent from the town praying for peace." There was 
dissatisfaction, but it scarcely found an audible utterance. 

Mr. Wheeler interrupts his narrative of the progress of 
the military fever, or rather continues it, unconscious of 
the conclusions to be drawn, by saying : " In November 
in that year, the National Committee appointed to inquire 
into the high price of corn, announced that the importation 


of foreign grain was desirable, and that to encourage it 
a liberal bounty should be offered. They also stated, that 
though the harvest generally was abundant, there was a 
deficiency of the wheat crop, and therefore the mixture of 
other grain with it was desirable. Handsome premiums 
were given to farmers bringing the largest quantity of 
provisions to the market. In addition to the sufferings 
from want, an epidemic fever was raging, and it was pro- 
posed, therefore, to erect fever wards. In February, 1796, 
the boroughreeve, clergy, and others, publicly pledged 
themselves, in a series of resolutions, to reduce their use 
of wheat flour at least one-third. Commercial distress 
pressed so heavily upon the people, that though they were 
relieved as far as possible by subscriptions and other means, 
their privations drove them to occasional acts of violence, 
which required corresponding precautions by the authorities. 
On the 31st July an order was issued that all public-houses 
be closed by seven in the evening, and all private persons 
appearing in the streets after nine o'clock were compelled 
to give an account of themselves. On the 29th, several 
gentlemen being employed in examining the weights in 
the potato market, a disagreement arose between the spec- 
tators and the market dealers. A tumult ensued; the 
people began to break windows, and the light troops were 
called in. The soldiers, after riding quietly but ineffectually 
amongst the people, were ordered to gallop through the 
midst of them, and they were thus dispersed. They 
assembled again in the morning at New Cross and in 
Newton-lane. Several loads of meal were seized and 
thrown away. On the arrival of the military and the 
magistrates the rioters returned home without doing any 
further mischief. On the 18th of November an address 
was presented from the delegates of all the Loyal Asso- 
ciations in Manchester and Salford, congratulating the 
King on his escape from the blow of a ruffian who had 
attempted his life on his way from the House of Peers. 


At this time, by general agreement, pies and puddings 
ceased to appear on the family table, in order to lessen the 
consumption of flour. Such soldiers as could be spared from 
duty were commanded to assist the farmers in thrashing 
out corn." Glory and want went hand in hand ; splendid 
reviews and meal mobs were contemporaneous ; and loyalty 
continued to characterize one class of the community, while 
poverty was crushing another. 

At the close of the year, continues Mr. Wheeler, resuming 
his account of the war fever, a most respectable meeting 
was held, " to take measures for preserving liberty and 
property from republicans and levellers." Patrols were 
formed in the town shortly afterwards. Early in 1797 the 
first regiment of Royal Lancashire Volunteers received the 
thanks of his Majesty, conveyed through Lord Cornwallis, 
for their patriotic services in Ireland. In March, it is stated, 
the first and second battalions of the Manchester and Salford 
Volunteer Infantry were drawn out for the first time. This, 
therefore, must have been an additional new corps. In 
April the Lancashire and Cheshire Volunteers, the former 
commanded by the Earl of Wilton, offered to serve in any 
part of Europe. Shortly afterwards 25,953 13s. were 
raised in the towns of Manchester and Salford and the 
neighbourhood, for the support of government. 

But again is the narration of military preparation inter- 
rupted to say that " in November there was a disposition to 
riot, owing to the high prices of corn and flour. Subscriptions 
to purchase articles of food, and retail them to the poor at 
a low rate, were liberally made." These interruptions in 
the history of local patriotism show that, besides the pulpit 
and the press, a new and more truthful teacher had come 
into the field WANT. Amidst the splendour of reviews and 
the presentations of colours, the cry for " bread" was raised, 
and put down by the strong hand, again to be raised when 
the laurels of war were won and found to be worthless. 
In October, 1795, the King, on going to open parliament, 



was surrounded by an immense crowd of persons of all 
ranks, crying out " Bread ! Peace ! No Pitt !" The new 
teacher was at work. In November, 1796, the French 
prohibited the import of English manufactures, the com- 
mencement of a war of tariffs ; but the new teacher had not 
yet made his way to the mercantile classes, for in December 
the loyalty loan of eighteen millions was subscribed in fifteen 
hours. In January, 1797, riots took place, occasioned by 
the enrolment of the supplementary militia. The new 
teacher had been amongst the multitude, showing the value 
of military glory. In a month afterwards the Bank of 
England suspended cash payments, when the country was 
within twenty-four hours of barter. The bank was com- 
manded not to pay when it had nothing to pay with ; and 
bankruptcy was called restriction ! 

There is a blank in Mr. Wheeler's history from 1797 to 
1803. There were no striking incidents to relate ; but the 
new instructor was busy amongst the masses. Old inhabi- 
tants, of the industrial classes, shudder at the recollection 
of the sufferings endured in 1800 and 1801, when wheat, 
which before the war was at 6s. a bushel, had risen to 
16s. 8d., and this without any other advance of wages than 
such as could be attributed to the competition for labour 
occasioned by the introduction of new manufactures, the 
result of new mechanical invention, while the wages of 
agricultural labour actually declined ; and the poor rates,- 
which at the commencement of the war amounted to 
2,167,748, had risen to an average of 5,300,000. Mr. 
Hopkins, in his " Great Britain during Forty Years," says : 
" By the aristocracy, the clergy, the magistracy, and even 
the press, the war had been declared just and necessary, 
and the shouts at the stock exchange had been echoed by 
the capitalists in every part of the country. Poorhouses 
and jails admonished them that something was rotten in 
the state of Denmark short-sighted selfishness triumphed, 
and the most industrious and highly productive people on 


the face of the earth were doomed to bring into existence, 
in abundance, all that is necessary for the support and solace 
of man, only to have it abstracted by those around them." 

Popular discontent continued to increase, and even those 
who had urged on the war began to think that the glory did 
not compensate for the commercial depression, the scarcity, 
and the heavy pressure of a war taxation. Peace had become 
desirable, and, to permit its attainment, Pitt retired from 
office; and in October, 1802, the war terminated, for a 
time, having cost 284,000,000 beyond what would have 
been required, had the country remained at peace, and 
occasioned the loss of half a million of human lives ! 

The peace negociated at Amiens was of short duration. 
France complained that England retained Malta and other 
war-acquired possessions, in contravention of the treaty ; 
England complained that the conquests of France would 
disturb the "balance of power" in Europe. There was 
still a strong war party in England. The deadly contest 
was recommenced, and notwithstanding all the sufferings 
experienced by the English people, Buonaparte made it 
popular by his threats of invasion. The national comba- 
tiveness was roused ; and, in spite of all previous teachings, 
this country rushed into the contest with an animosity 
which nothing seemingly could satisfy but the utter extinc- 
tion of its "natural enemy." In this renewed madness 
Manchester largely participated. Mr. Wheeler, resuming 
the history of its " patriotism," tells us that on the termi- 
nation of the peace, meetings were immediately called, 
arrangements for military bodies made, and subscriptions 
entered into with zeal and liberality. A general meeting 
of the lieutenancy of the county (Lord Derby in the chair) 
was held in Wigan, in obedience to the King's command, 
to assist in carrying into effect the " law to enable his 
Majesty more effectually to provide for the defence and 
security of the town during the present war." Schedules 
were sent to the various officers in the towns throughout 



the county, desiring them to make, without delay, returns of 
the inhabitants, cattle, and stock within their jurisdiction ; 
the clergy and gentlemen were requested to give their 
assistance in furnishing the returns, and the county was 
divided into eight parts, each portion being superintended 
by a lieutenant. Manchester constituted the sixth division, 
and was placed under the charge of John Leaf, Esq. A 
meeting was immediately convened to consider the best 
means of assisting in the defence of the country, and it was 
agreed to accept the offers of James and John Leigh Philips, 
Esqrs., to re-establish the voluntary corps, and also to 
support the proposal of Joseph Hanson, Esq., for the 
formation of a volunteer rifle corps, to furnish their own 
accoutrements, serve without pay, and march to any part 
of Great Britain. A subscription was raised to defray the 
various expenses, and the sacrifice of " lives and fortune " 
became the daily offering. 

On the 27th of July, 1803, we are told, a meeting of the 
lieutenancy was held to receive the returns. The assembly 
expressed satisfaction at the number in Lancashire who 
were willing to aid the cause ; at the same time they 
lamented that so large a proportion should have offered 
themselves as guides and pioneers, but more particularly as 
conductors and drivers of cattle a number infinitely larger 
than could be required for those purposes. No doubt they 
thought that the place of safety was with the cattle. In 
the mean time, by command of his Majesty, Lord Hobart 
forwarded to the Earl of Derby particular instructions for 
raising, training, and clothing the various military corps to 
be formed in the county. On the 16th of August Lord 
Hobart signified that his Majesty had accepted the offered 
service of the regiments commanded by Colonels Ackers 
and Philips, intimating at the same time that the title of 
" Royal " could no longer be permitted them, and that 
allowances of twenty shillings per man for clothing, and 
one shilling per diem for twenty days' drill, would be issued 


to the commandants, to be by them applied as they deemed 
most beneficial. In little more than a week after the royal 
communication was received, the regiments numbered two 
thousand men. Those who were debarred from appearing 
in the field freely opened their purses, and the sum of 
22,000 was raised in a very short period in Manchester 
alone. " The subscriptions in the neighbouring towns 
reflected equal credit on their respective inhabitants." 
Amongst the foremost contributors were : Sir Robert Peel, 
100 ; the Hon. Mr. Percival, 100 ; R. Peel, jun., 100 ; 
Sir O. Mosley, bart, 200 ; Earl of Stamford and Warring- 
ton, 525; &c., &c. But the bodies of military already 
mentioned were not sufficient to satisfy the ardour of the 
inhabitants, and within a very short time his Majesty 
was pleased to accept the services of the Light Horse 
Volunteers, commanded by Shakspeare Philips, Esq.; the 
corps of infantry commanded by Colonel Silvester ; the St> 
Georges corps, by John Cross, Esq.; and the Fourth Class 
Volunteers, by G. Philips, Esq.; the Hulme Volunteers, 
by Major Pooley ; the Pendleton, by Captain Ablett ; the 
Trafford, by Lieutenant Colonel Cooke ; &c., &c. The 
Masons of the town formed a body, under the title of the 
" Loyal Masonic Volunteers." Those who, from legal 
exemption or other causes, did not enrol themselves in the 
military corps, registered their names as special constables 
for the defence of the town and its vicinity. Pugnacity 
called itself patriotism, and took its full swing, persecuting 
the lovers of peace as if the love of peace were a crime. 

In the madness of the men the women joined. " Nor must 
it be presumed," says Mr. Wheeler, " that the daughters 
of our land the witches of Lancashire took no interest 
in the preparations carrying on around them. Designed 
by nature to labour in a more retired, yet not less useful 
and important sphere, our fair countrywomen employed 
themselves in adding to the comforts, and thereby to the 
efficiency, of the soldiery. They entered into a very liberal 


subscription to supply the troops with flannel clothing, the 
making of which was not entrusted to the hands of hirelings. 
Frequently, too, the soldiers were regaled at the mansions 
of the officers, the hostess being ever foremost in dealing 
out good English cheer to the men, thus adding to the 
enthusiasm of the brave by the condescension of the fair. 
Others presented standards and cockades of their own 
handiwork to the troops. On the other hand, fast days 
were proclaimed to supplicate the Divine blessing on the 
country, and were strictly observed throughout the land." 

Hundreds of mothers, hundreds of wives, lived to deplore 
the encouragement they had given to this military fever : 
not for loss on the battle field, but for the slower, though 
not less fatal, process of dissipation. Habits of intempe- 
rance were acquired which became unconquerable. The 
beastliest drunkenness, the rudest manners, the coarsest 
swearings, the profanest oaths, were regarded as nothing 
more than evidence of the most loyal attachment to the 
Crown, and the most profound veneration for the Church ; 
and mothers and wives, in watching the wretched death- 
beds of men ruined in fortune, health, and character, had 
long to deplore, almost in tears of blood, the incitement they 
had given to fierce and ungovernable passions, under a 
mistaken notion that they were encouraging patriotism and 
public virtue. 

The working classes were the first to experience the 
consequences of that general folly in which they had so 
largely participated. They could not enjoy the luxury of 
war conjoined with comfort in their cottages. They had 
attempted to pull down the houses of peace-loving men, and 
their own abodes were the first to be visited by calamity. 
Heavy taxation fell with peculiar severity upon them ; and 
in the general advance of prices, the consequence of a 
depreciated currency a cheap rag currency their wages 
were found inadequate to their support. Their only instruc- 
tion had been, to be loyal and submissive; their reward 


for loyalty and submission was unbearable distress. They 
knew nothing of the circumstances which regulate wages. 
They believed that their employers could, if they would, 
increase the reward of their toil, and they asked the legis- 
lature to enforce justice to the " toiling multitudes." In 
the spring of 1808 they held many meetings to promote a 
bill for fixing a minimum rate of wages, and when they 
found that the masters opposed any such measure, their 
discontent was largely increased. A meeting of weavers 
was held in St. George's Fields, Manchester, on the 24th of 
May, and resumed on the following day with such accession 
of numbers as alarmed the magistrates, who, in their terror, 
deemed it prudent to call out the civil and military forces. 
There was no riot and no indication of riot, except what 
might be suspected of men distrusting the government and 
angry with their employers. "Without a riot, the riot act 
was read, and because the people did not instantly disperse, 
the military the civil force trying nothing were ordered 
to clear the ground, when one of the weavers was killed, 
several were wounded, and others arrested. It was the 
16th of August, 1819, on a smaller scale, with less fatal 
effect. The military did not seem to like this service, for 
the officers and soldiers of the 4th Dragoon Guards pre- 
sented a day's pay to the widow of the poor man who was 
killed. In the course of the proceedings, Colonel Hanson, 
who enjoyed the confidence of the weavers, and was popular 
amongst them for the support he gave to their much desired 
bill, endeavoured to persuade the men to disperse, by the 
assurance that their interests would be cared for ; and for 
this " interference " he was indicted on a charge of having 
encouraged them to riot. The trial came on at Lancaster, 
at the following spring assizes. Sergeant Cockell, for the 
prosecution, stated that 10,000 persons were assembled 
and would not disperse ; that Colonel Hanson, arriving 
on horseback, accompanied by his groom, asked Captain 
Trafford, who commanded the dragoons, leave to speak to 


the people ; that the Captain said he should not, unless he 
could persuade them to disperse peaceably, but he thought 
the Colonel's presence would only irritate them, and begged 
that he would leave the field ; and that the Colonel did not 
instantly leave the field, but, as he rode along, the people 
huzzaed, and he pulled off his hat and spoke to them. The 
witnesses for the prosecution, a sergeant and two corporals 
of the 4th Dragoons, and two of Nadin' s constables, swore 
that they heard him use expressions to the following effect : 
" My lads, your cause is good ; be firm and you will succeed. 
I will support you as far as three thousand pounds will go, 
and if that will not do, I will go farther." " Nadin and 
his faction shall not drive you from the field this day." " I 
am sorry your bill is lost. My father was a weaver, and I 
am a weaver, and I am the weaver's friend." In defence, 
the groom, who had attended the defendant the whole of 
the time, was examined, and swore that he never heard his 
master make use of the expressions sworn to by the other 
witnesses ; that when the dragoons drew their swords, his 
master's horse becoming restive, he slipped off, walked a 
little way, and then mounted the groom's horse and rode 
off. Mr. Stennet, Mr. Norris, Mr. C. Satterthwaite, Mr. 
Brierley, and other gentlemen swore to the defendant's 
having exhorted the people to restrain from mischief, and 
none of them had heard him make use of the other expres- 
sions ascribed to him. 

Here was fair ground for acquittal, even had the evidence 
for the prosecution been all true ; for, with the exception^ 
perhaps, of what was said of Nadin' s faction, there was 
nothing alleged to. have been said that could be interpreted 
into an encouragement of riot and, be it recollected, there 
was no riot ; but the colonel of volunteers had been desired 
by the captain in the army to retire, and he had not done 
so instantly, and it was necessaiy that such contumacy 
should be punished. The defendant was found guilty of 
having " by his language and conduct encouraged to hostile 


proceedings!" Judgment was delivered in the Court of 
King's Bench, on the 12th of May, and he was sentenced 
to be imprisoned for six months in the King's Bench prison, 
and to pay a fine of 100 to the King ! Such a verdict and 
such a sentence only increased the discontent of the weavers 
and the numerous class of working men who sympathized 
with them. A desire was expressed to pay the fine by 
penny subscriptions, but this was declined, and then it 
was determined to present him with a silver cup, and a 
deputation waited upon him in prison to announce the 
intention. There were said to be thirty-nine thousand six 
hundred subscribers to this tribute thirty-nine thousand 
six hundred persons thus protesting against the verdict and 
against the sentence. On the liberation of the prisoner, 
and his return to Manchester, the roads were thronged with 
weavers anxious to celebrate his entry, but he prevented 
the intended demonstration by driving at a rapid rate to his 
residence in Strangeways Hall. 

The effects of this ill-advised prosecution were long 
and injuriously felt. It introduced that bitter feeling of 
employed against employers which was manifested in 1812, 
1817, 1819, and 1826, and continues, though divested of 
much of its virulence, to the present day. We need not 
speculate now as to the results, had a prudent and concili- 
atory course been pursued. The mischief was done ; the 
good to be educed from the perpetrated evil is to make it a 
lesson for the future. Hanson, an impulsively benevolent 
man, had not the knowledge requisite to make him a 
useful " working man's friend." Where were the men who 
could have reasoned with the weavers on the causes of 
their distress, and the remedies which they ought to have 
demanded r Some were frightened out of the field by the 
prosecutions of 1794 ; some, shocked by the atrocities 
perpetrated during the French revolution, had lost their 
sympathies with the multitude, and regarded a movement 
for increased wages as the precursor of a demand for demo- 



cratic government; and many had sunk into a hopeless 
and selfish indifference. The management of town's affairs 
was allowed to remain in the hands of the self-styled 
" Mends of social order," who swore by " Church and 
King," and thought that they better served God and their 
country by punishing the discontented than by endeavouring 
to remove the causes of discontent. These miserable rulers 
were in their turn ruled by one of their own servants, the 
noted Joseph Nadin, the deputy constable, an official fixture, 
the master of successive annually appointed boroughreeves 
and constables, whose occupation as a thief-taker had led 
him to believe that a poor man who asked what his superiors 
were not disposed to grant would take it if he had the 
power. To this man's rule, strengthened, it is said, by 
seasonable loans to some of the magistracy, for he had 
contrived to make his office one of great profit, may be 
attributed much of the jealousy and hatred with which the 
working classes in this town and neighbourhood regarded 
their employers, the local authorities, and the general 
government of the countiy. For more than ten years from 
the period of which we are writing, this coarse man was the 
real ruler of Manchester, under a succession of municipal 
officers and magistrates who thought they exercised a 
wholesome authority when, at his suggestion, they sought 
to repress, by every means of coercion, the rising demand 
for political and social rights. 

Another ill-advised prosecution still more alienated the 
working classes from their old allegiance to the powers 
that were, and gave bitter effect to the writings of one 
who, in the most forcible English, knew well how to 
appeal to the feelings and the prejudices of Englishmen. 
William Cobbett was sentenced to pay a fine of 1,000, to 
be imprisoned for two years in Newgate, and afterwards 
to enter into recognizances to keep the peace, for a libel, 
reprobating the flogging of English soldiers under a guard 
of the German legion. This harsh sentence, for what the 


public of England could not regard as a crime, and scarcely 
as an offence, gave additional popularity to Cobbett's 
writings, and nowhere were they read with more avidity 
than in Manchester. Loyalty also, as manifested in attach- 
ment to the royal family, was severely shaken by the 
exposure of the sale of commissions in the army, and even 
offices in the church, by Mrs. Clarke, the mistress of the 
Duke of York. The exposure of an impudent robbery of 
the public by the commissioners for the sale of Dutch 
ships one of them the Rev. Mr. Bowles, a voluminous 
writer in defence of religion and morality destroyed all 
confidence in the administration of the finances of the 
country ; and the conviction of Lord Castlereagh of barter- 
ing offices, and buying seats in parliament, a practice which 
he defended as " notorious as the sun at noon-day," strongly 
directed men's attention to the necessity of parliamentary 

Mr. Drakard, the printer of the Stamford News, had 
commented, with honest indignation, on what he called 
"the most heart-rending of all exhibitions on this side 
hell an English military flogging," for which he was tried 
at Lincoln, found guilty, and sentenced to eighteen months 
imprisonment, to a fine of 200, and to give security to 
be of good behaviour during three years after liberation. 
Leigh Hunt and John Hunt, proprietors of the Examiner, 
a paper the circulation of which was almost entirely con- 
fined to the educated classes, were proceeded against by 
criminal information, for having copied into their journal 
the article for the publication of which Mr. Drakard had 
been convicted and so cruelly sentenced ; but they had the 
advantage of a London jury, and were acquitted, although 
Lord Ellenborough spoke of the peculiar danger, at such a 
time of doing anything to alienate the attachment of the 
army, and pointed out the circumstances of an inflammatory 
tendency in the publication, which he had no hesitation in 
pronouncing a libel. His lordship had to encounter, sub- 


sequently a deeper mortification in the acquittal of William 
Hone ; and subsequently, also, the Hunts experienced the 
"glorious uncertainty" in their conviction for a libel on 
the Prince Regent, followed by a sentence which was 
obviously intended to include what was considered due to 
both offences. 

In the early part of 1811, great numbers of weavers 
having been thrown out of employment in the west of 
Scotland, a subscription was opened at Hamilton for the 
relief of the destitute of that place. They, however, 
refused to receive it as alms, but said they would be 
happy to. earn it by their labour ; and the subscribers 
agreed to expend the money in making a foot-path by the 
side of the public road leading from Hamilton to Bothwell 
Brig, over the ground that had been occupied by the 
covenanters before their bloody dispersion by the royal 
army under the command of the Duke of Monmouth. In 
about the first newspaper paragraph I ever wrote (it was 
in the Glasgow CJironicle, conducted by my cousin, David 
Prentice), I made some comments on this noble resolve, 
which being seen by Dr. Mathew Baillie, brought from 
him a subscription of 20. Riding over the road some 
time after with a young friend of mine, on our way to my 
father's farm, the weavers, in whose soft hands the spade 
and mattock were less easily urged than the shuttle, gladly 
relaxed from their work, and amused themselves with 
saluting us with coarse jeers as we rode along. My young 
friend spoke indignantly of this insolence. I said : "I 
am glad that the poor half-starved fellows have a joke 
left, even if it be indulged in at our expense." I have 
thought of this incident occasionally when my reward 
for endeavours to serve the working classes has been the 
Lancashire groan, the most dissonant of all modes of 
expressing disapprobation. 



THE working classes had been alienated from the govern- 
ment not less by their sufferings than by indifference to 
their complaints, and the harsh treatment of those who 
befriended them in their adversity. The dissenters were 
still loyal ; the merchants and manufacturers, though with 
less vehement zeal, still supported the administration. They 
were to be alienated in their turn. The self-complacent, 
self-sufficient Lord Sidmouth, in his zeal for the interests of 
the church, contrived to render the government which he 
supported unpopular with a great portion of the community, 
who might still have continued submissively to bear their 
political disabilities, had not a new insult been offered to 
them. His lordship, preparatory to bringing in his famous 
Dissenters' Bill, moved in the House of Lords, on the 2nd 
of June, 1810, for returns of licenses to preach issued in 
the various dioceses of England since the year 1780, and 
he was thus enabled to make the following transcript of 
the different ways in which the words, 'minister,' 'teacher,' 
and ' preacher of the Gospel' were spelt by them : 

" Preacher of the Gopel. Preacher of the Gosper.' 

Preacher of the Gosple. Preacher of teacher the Gos- 

Precher of the Gospel, pell Bappist. 

Precher of the Go spell. Preeacher of the Gospel. 

Preacher of the Gospell. Teacher of the Gospell of 

Preach of the Gospell. Jesus Christ. 

Precher of the Gosple. A discenting teacher. 

Precher of Gospell. Desenting teacher. 

Prashr of the Goseppl. Decenting teacher. 

Miniester of Gospell. Preicher of the Gospel." 

These eighteen instances of ignorance of orthography were 


proof positive that the licensed preachers were not " res- 
pectable." To this proof was added the testimony of Dr. 
Barrington, the Bishop of Durham, that the sectaries 
" assembled in barns, in rooms of private houses, or in 
other buildings of the most improper kind." Sidmouth 
consulted Dr. Coke, " the head of the Methodists," and 
" completely satisfied him." " His apprehensions," says 
his lordship, in a letter to his brother, " are converted into 
zealous approbation." He consulted Dr. Adam Clarke, and 
satisfied him ; he consulted Mr. Belsham, the celebrated 
Unitarian writer, and satisfied him. Thus fortified, he 
brought in his bill on the 9th of May, 1811. But Dr. 
Coke and Dr. Clarke had talked with others after they had 
been " satisfied," and found that they had made a mistake. 
Sidmouth' s biographer says of a letter from Dr. Clarke : 
" It seems, from the learned doctor's account, that it was 
not the ministers, but the lay members of the Methodist 
connexion, who first sounded the alarm, and, by calling a 
general committee, prevented the beneficial objects of the 
bill from being properly explained or understood." Ah, 
mischievous laymen ! 

The Methodists took the lead in the movement against 
the Sidmouth bill. The Rev. Richard Watson, then of the 
New, and the Rev. Jabez Bunting, of the Old Connexion, 
had been preaching at Stockport one Sunday, and met, for 
the first time, on their way to Manchester in the evening, 
when the bill became the principal subject of conversation. 
" They both acknowledged," says Mr. Watson's biographer, 
" that if this bill were to pass into a law, it would be ruinous 
to the Methodists, and that it would be very injurious in 
its operation generally." At Mr. Jabez Bunting's request, 
Mr. Watson immediately wrote a letter, which appeared in 
the Manchester Exchange Herald of May 23rd. In assuming 
the name of ' A Protestant Dissenter,' he used that name 
in its popular sense, as that of one not in immediate con- 
nexion with the established church ; not that he had any 


conscientious objections against a religious establishment, 
as such, as he distinctly declares, or any scruples as to the 
lawfulness of uniting in the public services of the Church 
of England. At that time the dissenters were not duly 
alive to the evils with which this measure was fraught, and 
a strong statement of the case was deemed necessary to 
rouse their opposition. Mr. "Watson, in this letter, says 
that the dissenters who, when the bill was first proposed, 
saw no objection to it, did not know its extent. " They 
might see little to object in requiring six householders to 
certify that the person applying for a license was bondjide a 
preacher, an approved person; but the printed bill materially 
alters the case, when it requires these six householders to be 
substantial and reputable persons ; for as the terms convey 
no positive and specific idea, and as the magistrate alone 
must judge, where is the security that numberless vexatious 
exceptions may not be taken, and that the obtaining of a 
license, especially from a bench of clerical justices, may not 
become an affair of the utmost trouble and difficulty ?" He 
asks if the insult to dissenters has been the consequence of 
their quiet submission : " Have we refrained from urging 
claims, as substantial, surely, as those of the catholics, 
from teazing the government from year to year, from the 
menace and activity of factious restlessness, only to have 
our moderation construed into cowardice and tameness ? 
only to encourage the enemies of our privileges and the 
i?nviers of our growing prosperity to make an experiment 
upon our patience ? And are we to learn from Lord 
Sidmouth's conduct that the only means of maintaining 
our lowest privileges is to urge the highest claims with 
petulance and audacity ?" Mr. Watson concluded his letter 
with an earnest exhortation to prompt and manly action. 
The dissenters throughout the kingdom, the baptists and 
independents, although they were less directly attacked, 
joining cordially in the movement, sent shoals of petitions 
against the measure, and Lord Sidmouth was compelled to 


abandon it in the stage of second reading. His biographer 
says : " Could he, at an earlier period, have foreseen the 
opposition which his measure was destined to encounter, 
he probably would not have proposed it ; but being strongly 
convinced of its propriety, and having received, in the first 
instance, so much encouragement, he would not, in obedience 
to a popular outcry, withdraw it at the eleventh hour ; and 
for this decision he surely deserved to be approved rather 
than blamed." A similar, perhaps conscientious, obstinacy, 
at a later period, made him the most tyrannical home secre- 
tary that ever held office; and he pleaded conscience as 
earnestly in defending the employment of spies to urge the 
people to insurrection, as he did in defence of his scheme 
to make nonconformist ministers " respectable." 

Merchants and manufacturers were now learning in the 
stern school of experience. In the month of April, 1812, 
in riding past the Manchester Exchange, with my saddle- 
bags under me, I saw a crowd of persons standing looking 
at that building, the windows of which were broken, a 
partial boarding supplying the place of glass. I found 
that the destruction had been the work of a mob a day 
or two before. I was then in my twentieth year, and, 
earnestly engaged in my vocation as a rider or traveller, 
had taken no particular interest in politics. But on my 
previous journey, the first I had made, I had seen, with 
some disgust, the intolerance of the Church-and-King men 
of Manchester, and in the course of that four months' 
journey had found that the Birmingham and Manchester 
bagmen were rated by their fellow-travellers as the rudest 
and coarsest men on the road. Both towns had earned 
the inglorious distinction of having attempted to put down 
opinion by brute violence, and it would seem that coarse- 
ness of thought was accompanied by a correspondent 
coarseness of sentiment and manner. At my inn I soon 
learned how the riot had occurred, and how the tables 
had been turned upon those who had formerly instigated 
Church-and-King mobs into destructive action. 


In the previous chapters we have seen that the stern 
teacher, WANT, had been amongst the working classes 
during the achievement of great national " glory." While 
they, who had been themselves the willing instruments in 
the hands of the ruling party at the commencement of the 
war, were suffering under the hands of the new teacher, 
it is not to be supposed that the commercial classes of 
Manchester, who had been keen instigators of the insane 
policy pursued by government, escaped the consequences 
of their own folly. When weavers were starving, mer- 
chants and manufacturers could not be prosperous. The 
war at the point of the bayonet was accompanied by the 
war of prohibitions. Napoleon had brought the continent 
under his yoke, but, to complete this, the commerce of 
England must be destroyed. His great object was to 
unite the continent in a league against all commercial 
intercourse with his great rival. Elated with having laid 
Prussia prostrate at his feet, the first use made of his 
victory was to issue his Berlin decree, dated the 20th of 
November, 1806, which declared the British islands in a 
state of blockade, all prisoners, wheresoever found, prisoners 
of war, and all British goods lawful prize ; interdicted all 
correspondence with our dominions ; prohibited all com- 
merce in our produce ; and excluded from the ports of 
France, and of countries under her control, every vessel, 
of whatsoever nation, that had touched at a British port. 
The wise course for England to pursue would have been to 
leave France and the neutral states, especially the United 
States of America, to fight it out among themselves. But 
the remedy was sought in retaliation. The whigs, who 
were then in office, set the example of folly to their tory 
successors. On the 7th of January they issued the first 
of those orders in council which, more efficiently than 
Napoleon's decrees, conduced to the destruction of English 
commerce. It declared that the Berlin decree authorized 
England to blockade all the French dominions, to forbid 


any neutral power from entering our ports which had 
touched at any port of France or her dependencies, and 
justified us in capturing all her produce ; but that we were 
unwilling to inflict such injuries on neutral nations ! The 
order then declared, as a partial retaliation, that no vessel 
should trade from one enemy's port to another, or from 
one port to another of a French ally's coast shut against 
English vessels; so that, says Lord Brougham in com- 
menting upon the order, the only chance our goods had 
of being spread over the continent was by getting them 
smuggled into some port less watched by France than the 
rest, and then their being conveyed from thence in all 
directions. The only chance we had of sending our goods 
anywhere was getting them in somewhere, and then having 
them freely distributed everywhere. " No !" said the 
ministers of 1807, "let them be stopped where they are 
landed, and let no American think of carrying them else- 
where." The tory ministers came into office in 1 808, adopted 
the whig order, and issued others still more stringent. 

The merchants and manufacturers of London, Hull, 
Manchester, and Liverpool, petitioned parliament against 
the destructive policy of the orders, craved to be heard 
by their counsel, and tendered evidence of the injuries 
sustained by them from the operation of those orders. 
Mr. Brougham was their counsel, and was heard at the 
bar of both houses, where he likewise adduced the evidence 
during several weeks, in support of the petitions. The 
ministry, however, triumphed over all the attempts then 
made to defeat the system ; and it was not until four years 
after, in 1812, that, the general distress having gone on 
increasing, there was any chance of obtaining a more 
favourable hearing. In March, 1812, the subject was again 
brought forward by Mr. Brougham. His motion was then 
negatived ; but soon after Easter, he presented petitions 
from the same parties who had formerly been his clients ; 
and on the motion of Lord Stanley, on the 28th of April, 


the house agreed, without a division, to hear evidence in 
support of the petitions. The case was conducted every 
night for seven weeks by Mr. Brougham and Mr. Baring. 
The inquiry on the side of the petitioners was wholly con- 
ducted by these two members, and each night presented 
new objections and new defeats to the orders in council, 
and new advantages to the opposition by incidental de- 
batings on petitions presented by discussions arising on 
evidence tendered by other matters broached occasionally 
in connection with the main subject. The government, at 
first, conceiving that there was a clamour raised out of 
doors against their policy, and hoping that this would 
of itself subside, endeavoured to gain time and put off the 
evidence. But Brougham and Baring kept steadily to 
their purpose, and insisted on calling in their witnesses at 
the earliest possible hour. They at length prevailed so 
far as to have it understood that the hearing should proceed 
daily at half-past four o'clock, and continue, at the least, 
till ten, by which means they generally kept it on foot till 
a much later hour, all but those who took a peculiar interest 
in the subject having earlier left the house. 

The evidence brought before the house was of the most 
appalling description. "We have examined," said Mr. 
Brougham, "above a hundred witnesses, from more than 
thirty of the great manufacturing and mercantile districts. 
These men were chosen almost at random, from thousands 
whom we could have brought before you with less trouble 
than it required to make the selection ; the difficulty was 
to keep back evidence, not to find it ; for our desire to 
state the case was tempered by a natural anxiety to encroach 
as little as possible on the time of the house, and to expedite 
by all means the conclusion of an inquiry, upon the result 
of which so many interests hung in anxious suspense. In 
all this mass of evidence there was not a single witness 
who denied or doubted I beg your pardon ; there was 
one one solitary and remarkable exception, and none 


other, even among those called in support of the system, 
who even hesitated in admitting the dreadful amount of 
the present distresses. Take, for example, one of our 
great staples the hardware, and look to Warwickshire, 
where it used to flourish. Birmingham and its neighbour- 
hood a district of thirteen miles round that centre was 
formerly but one village ; I might say one continued work- 
shop, peopled with about four hundred thousand of the 
most industrious and skilful of mankind. In what state 
do you now find that once busy hive of men ? Silent, still, 
and desolate during half the week ; during the rest of it, 
miserably toiling at reduced wages, for a pittance scarcely 
sufficient to maintain animal life in the lowest state of 
comfort, and at all times swarming with unhappy persons, 
willing, anxious to work for their lives, but unable to find 
employment. He must have a stout heart within him who 
can view such a scene and not shudder. But even this is 
not all ; matters are getting worse and worse ; the manu- 
facturers are waiting for your decision; and if that be 
against them they will instantly yield to their fate, and 
turn adrift the people whom they still, though inadequately, 
support with employment." 

Yorkshire was in the same state, the manufacture of 
woollens being almost suspended. At Sheffield the work- 
men in the cutlery trade, unable to obtain any longer their 
usual market, from the master dealers and merchants or 
brokers refusing to purchase any more, were compelled to 
pawn their articles, at a very low valuation, for money, and 
even for food and clothes ; so that this extraordinary state 
of things arose, the pawnbrokers went into the London 
market with the goods, and there met the regular dealers, 
whom they were able greatly to undersell, in such wise as 
to supply in a considerable degree the London and other 
markets, to the extreme augmentation of the distresses 
already so severely pressing upon this branch of trade. 

In Lancashire the distress was, if possible, still more 


severe. " I would draw your attention," said Mr. Brougham, 
" to the cotton districts, merely to present one incidental 
circumstance which chanced to transpire respecting the 
distresses of the poor in those parts. The food which now 
sustains them is of the lowest kind, and of that there is not 
nearly a sufficient supply ; bread, or even potatoes, are now 
out of the question ; the luxuries of animal food, or even 
milk, they have long ceased to think of. Their looks, as 
well as their apparel, proclaim the sad change in their 
situation. One witness tells you, it is only necessary to 
look at their haggard faces, to be satisfied what they are 
suffering ; another says that persons who have recently 
returned, after an absence of some months from those 
parts, declare themselves shocked, and unable to recognise 
the people whom they had left. A gentleman largely 
concerned in the cotton trade, to whose respectability 
ample testimony was borne by an honourable baronet (Sir 
Robert Peel) I cannot regularly name him but in a 
question relating to the cotton trade it is natural to think 
of the house of Peel that gentleman, whose property in 
part consists of cottages and little pieces of ground let out 
to work-people, told us that lately he went to look after 
his rents, and when he entered those dwellings, and found 
them so miserably altered, so stript of their wonted furni- 
ture and other little comforts, and when he saw their 
inhabitants sitting down to a scanty dinner of oatmeal and 
water, their only meal in the four and twenty hours, he 
could not stand the sight, and came away unable to ask his 
rent. Those feelings, so honourable to him, so painful to 
us who partook of them, were not confined to that respect- 
able witness. We had other sights to endure in that long 
and dismal inquiry. Masters came forward to tell us how 
unhappy it made them to have no more work to give their 
poor men, because all their money, and in some cases their 
credit too, was already gone in trying to support them. 
Some had involved themselves in embarrassments for such 


pious purposes. One, again, would describe his misery at 
turning off people whom he and his father had employed 
for many years. Another would say how he dreaded the 
coming round of Saturday, when he had to pay his hands 
their reduced wages, incapable of supporting them ; how 
he kept out of their way on that day, and made his foreman 
pay them. While a third would say that he was afraid to see 
his people, because he had no longer the means of giving 
them work, and he knew that they would flock round him 
and implore to be employed at the lowest wages, for 
something wholly insufficient to feed them." 

The inquiry was interrupted by a lamentable event the 
assassination of Mr. Percival in the lobby of the House of 
Commons. The victim of a madman's revenge fell into the 
arms of Mr. Francis Phillips, of Manchester, a gentleman 
of whom we shall hear something hereafter as a bitter 
enemy of reform, and the apologist of the magistracy and 
of the yeomanry, when a legally convened and peaceably 
assembled meeting was dispersed by the sword. The intel- 
ligence of Mr. Percival' s death reached me at Newcastle - 
under-Lyne. A man came running down the street, leaping 
into the air, waving his hat round his head, and shouting 
with frantic joy, " Percival is shot, hurrah ! Percival is 
shot, hurrah !" The Potteries were in a deplorable state, 
and oppression, which makes even wise men mad, had 
roused the savage nature of the half-starved. While, in 
the renewed inquiry into the operations of the orders in 
council, evidence daily accumulated of the prevalence of 
deep distress throughout the country, alike affecting the 
manufacturer and the operative, the papers teemed with 
accounts of the destruction of machinery, and, at times, 
even of life. The ministry at length yielded. On the 16th 
of June, when Mr. Brougham had made his motion to recall 
the orders, Lord Castlereagh announced that the crown had 
been advised to rescind them. 

The deep distress, of which strong proof had been given 


before the House of Commons, was not occasioned by the 
orders in council alone. By the profuse issues of the bank, 
no longer checked by the convertibility of its notes, the 
price of every commodity had risen, except the price of 
labour ; wheat was 15s. 6d. a bushel, and every article of 
food proportionately high ; and the enormous war expendi- 
ture had made the pressure of taxation heavy beyond all 
previous example. The mass of the people, especially in 
the manufacturing districts, felt themselves as marked out 
for destruction. They, in their national pugnacity, had 
eagerly demanded war, and they were now enduring its 
consequences ; but a starving are seldom a reasoning people. 
Ordinary suffering leads to inquiry as to its real cause ; but 
destitution directs attention only to the nearest seeming 
cause. Few masters could give employment, and none 
could give good wages ; and the unemployed and the ill- 
paid looked upon them as oppressors. The liberal journals 
had been silenced by fierce persecution ; and newspapers 
seemed to have no other vocation than to number our 
splendid victories, to rejoice over the destruction of hun- 
dreds of thousands of men who were called our enemies, 
and to congratulate the nation on the great amount of 
glory which it was achieving. 

In the latter months of 1811 disturbances commenced in 
the districts of the hosiery manufacture. Many workmen 
had been discharged in consequence of the badness of trade, 
and many, as they believed, in consequence of the introduc- 
tion of a wide frame for weaving stockings. Leicestershire, 
Derbyshire, and Nottinghamshire were first in the manifes- 
tation of a fierce and bitter spirit against employers. The 
actors in the riots assumed the name of Luddites, from an 
imaginary leader, Captain or King Ludd. In the beginning 
of 1812 the disturbances extended to Yorkshire, Lancashire, 
and Cheshire. 



IK the beginning of the year 1812, strong expectations had 
been indulged, that on the termination of the restrictions 
on the powers of the Regent, he would form an administra- 
tion not unfavourable to reform. A hypocritical offer of 
office was made to Lords Grey and Grenville, with the full 
knowledge that they would refuse to form any part of a 
ministry which was established notoriously to resist the 
emancipation of catholics from their civil disabilities. They 
refused the offer made to them, and the Marquis of Welles- 
ley having resigned, the man most obnoxious to popular 
hatred, Castlereagh, accepted the seals of foreign secretary,, 
and Sidmouth became home secretary. The leading men 
of Manchester, untaught by the results of a policy which 
had been most disastrous to themselves, and had brought 
ruin and starvation upon their humbler townsmen and 
fellow-countrymen, and unaware that reform opinions had 
been gradually creeping amongst their own class, called a 
public meeting, to be held on the 8th of April, in the 
Exchange Dining Room, to send an address of thanks to 
the regent for retaining his father's ministers in office 
those ministers who had involved the world in bloodshed, 
and subjected their own country to the endurance of misery 
unexampled. Amongst the names subscribed to the requi- 
sition were the following : 

T. Blackburne, L.L.D., Warden Collegiate Church. 

John Clowes, Fellow of Christ College. 

Jer. Smith, Head Master of the Free Grammar School. 

Thomas Stone, Chetham's Library. 

C. W. Ethelston, Fellow of Christ College. 

S. Hall, Clerk, St. Peter's Church. 


John Gatliff, Fellow of Christ College. 

M. Kandall, M.A., Curate of St. Ann's. 

J. Clowes, St. John's Church. 

Nathaniel Milne, Clerk to the Magistrates. 

James Ackers. J. Silvester. 

T. O. Gill. Thomas Johnson. 

Laurence Peel. Robert Peel. 

Edward Chesshyre. Otho Hulme. 

Thomas Hardman. Dauntsey Hulme. 

Jonathan Beevor. John Hull, M.D. 

George Grundy. H. Fielding and Brother. 

Jonathan Dawson. William Tate. 

Francis Phillips. Robert Hindley. 

Thomas Marriott. Samuel Edge. 

James Harrop. C. Wheeler and Son. 

John Leaf. Nathaniel Gould. 

Previous to the day fixed for the meeting, some exertions 
were made by a few gentlemen of the town to get up an 
opposition to the passing of the resolutions of approval and 
thanks which, it was avowed, would then be proposed, 
and a number of placards were issued calling attention to 
the subject, and urging the attendance of those who objected 
to the intended movement. These movements seem to have 
alarmed the persons who convened the meeting, and they 
complained of the inflammatory nature of the placards 
issued, particularly of one headed with the words " Now or 
never," of which we shall hear something hereafter, when 
John Edward Taylor is tried at Lancaster for libel. On the 
morning of the 8th a bill was posted on the walls of the 
town and neighbourhood, stating that the meeting would not 
take place, and the assigned reason was, that the staircase 
leading to the Exchange dining-room was too weak to 
sustain the pressure that would be produced by the multi- 
tude that had been invited to attend ; but, notwithstanding 
this announcement, numbers of persons assembled, many of 
them working men and boys from the country, and they 
very naturally congregated about the Exchange, where, at 
from nine to ten o'clock, they became a great crowd. 



At this time the parties who had prepared the opposition 
to the intended proceedings met at the Star Hotel, in 
Deansgate, and they had to consider what course should be 
taken under the new circumstances that had arisen. They 
were in consultation on the subject when information was 
brought that the people who had been assembled in the 
Market Place and the area in front of the Exchange had 
forced their way into the Exchange news-room, and were 
destroying or damaging the furniture it contained. This 
news produced considerable alarm in the meeting, and after 
various suggestions had been made, it was agreed that, in 
order to avoid all appearance of countenance being given 
to what had been done at the news-room, the persons ,then 
present should immediately disperse, each going away 
separately as far as was practicable, and this was rather 
carefully acted on. 

" On going towards the Exchange after this time," says 
my informant, " I found a large assemblage of persons in 
St. Ann's-square, and in the news-room a number of boys, 
who appeared to be enjoying their novel position in the 
grand room, asking each other to read the papers and tell 
the news, and pushing each other about towards them, 
and seeming to think it very good fun. They appeared to 
be quite harmless, and I will venture to say, that at this 
period, and even at any time during the first hour, a couple 
of men might have cleared the room, without any material 
difficulty, of all who had intruded. I subsequently visited 
the room more than once, and found the numbers of the 
country people in it increasing, and no attempt made to 
remove them. Some of the boys, apparently from a want of 
occupation, were pulling off each other's hats and throwing 
them to a distance, to compel the owners to go for them. 
In the square too the assembled numbers increased, and a 
man was addressing many of them in the middle of the 
area. Mr. H. H. Birley, (afterwards to be heard of as 
heading the yeomanry on the 16th of August, 1819,) in 


passing through the square, was rather roughly jostled, and 
obliged to take refuge in a shop. Still nothing was done 
either to satisfy the people or to induce them to disperse. 
The meeting, it is true, had been countermanded by those 
who convened it, because the Exchange stairs were weak ; 
but this excuse was laughed at, and treated as a mere 
pretext, resorted to because the promoters expected to be 
defeated in their object, if the meeting had taken place." 

" Some time after twelve o'clock," continues my infor- 
mant, " I went into Salford, and while there heard that the 
Exchange had been set on fire. I returned immediately to 
Manchester, and found the windows of the news-room 
broken and much of the furniture chairs, tables, maps, &c. 
destroyed or damaged, and soldiers engaged in driving 
the crowds from the neighbourhood of the Exchange. But 
for about three hours large numbers of men and boys were 
permitted to assemble in the news-room and to resort to 
various tricks to amuse themselves, until at last, it was 
said, that a hat, thrown for mere fun, struck one of the 
windows and broke it ; on which, many other parties 
seemed desirous of achieving the same feat, when a general 
attack was made and the windows soon destroyed. After 
this the demon of mischief seemed to be let loose, the 
chairs, tables, maps, &c. were attacked, each individual 
being desirous to destroy as much as possible. But had 
proper means been used to clear the room before twelve 
o'clock, all serious mischief might have been prevented. 
As it was, the odium of rioting of trying to burn the 
Exchange, &c. &c., was thrown on the 'jacobins,' as the 
opposition party were called. The writer of the placard 
* Now or never' was particularly censured, and the mischief 
done was attributed to that document." 

Old Thomas Kershaw, in lamenting to me the riot that 
had taken place, used, chucklingly, to add, ** But we had 
no Church-and-King mobs after that!" And the gentle- 
man who has kindly accedgd-lftmy request, that he would 


write down a few particulars of what he had witnessed on 
the occasion, concludes his narrative by saying : " The 
occurrences of that day, however, indicated a turn in 
the current of popular opinion. Previously to that time 
* Church-and-King' was the favourite cry, and hunting 
'Jacobins' safe sport; but subsequently the old dominant 
party appeared to feel that they had an opposition to 
contend with, and they became less arrogant in their con- 
duct, although the old leaven was still in them." 

A food riot followed. On Saturday, the 18th, a numerous 
body of people, chiefly women, assembled at the potato mar- 
ket, Shude-hill, where the sellers were asking 14s. and 15s. 
per load (252 Ibs.) for potatoes. Some of the women 
began forcibly to take possession of the articles ; but the 
civil and military power interposing, all riotous tendency 
was soon overawed, and a mutual agreement took place 
between the buyers and sellers, to fix a sort of maximum, 
of eight shillings per load, at which they were sold in 
small portions. On Monday, strong and alarming appear- 
ances of rioting took place at Ancoats, and about New 
Cross ; a cart carrying fourteen loads of meal was stopped, 
and the meal carried away ; a general alarm followed, and 
the shops in that part of the town and Oldham-street were 
closed. The cavalry were called in, and the multitude 
continued to assemble till the riot act was read, and the 
mob dispersed without further injury. The result of fixing 
a maximum of price, as might have been expected, was, 
that fanners would not bring potatoes or other provisions 
to market until the magistrates issued notices throughout 
all the neighbourhood, promising full protection to all who 
brought farm produce into the town. 

The uninstructed multitude next directed their vengeance 
against machinery. On Monday a riotous assembly took 
place at Middleton. " The weaving factory of Mr. Burton 
and Sons," says Cowdroy, "had been previously threatened, 
in consequence of their mode of weaving being done by 


the operation of steam. That afternoon a large body, not 
less than 2000, commenced an attack, on the discharge of 
a pistol, which appeared to have been the signal ; vollies 
of stones were thrown, and the windows smashed to atoms ; 
the internal part of the building being guarded, a musket 
was discharged in the hope of intimidating and dispersing 
the assailants; but it was found ineffectual, the throwing 
of stones continuing, and at the expiration of about fifteen 
minutes, firing of ball commenced from the factory, and in 
a very short time the effects were too shockingly seen 
in the death of three, and, it is said, about ten wounded. 
Here this horrid conflict terminated for that night, which 
was spent in dreadful preparation. The morning brought 
with it fearful apprehension, which apprehension was too 
fatally realised : the insurgents again assembled, many of 
them armed with guns, scythes tied to the end of poles, 
&c. ; the factory was protected by soldiers, so strongly as 
to be impregnable to their assault : they then flew to the 
house of Mr. Emanuel Burton, where they wreaked their 
vengeance by setting it on fire, the whole, with its valuable 
furniture, being soon in one state of conflagration. A party 
of soldiers, horse and foot, from Manchester, arriving, 
pursued those misguided people, some of whom made a 
feeble stand; but here again death was the consequence, 
five of them being shot, and many of them severely 
wounded. Two were found in the fields on the following 
morning, where they had languished and expired from the 
mortal effects of their wounds." 

It is but just to state that the men whose names have 
been mentioned, as approving of the policy which had 
reduced the country to so wretched a state, were foremost 
in promoting a subscription to relieve the existing distress. 
Their judgment was too narrow, and their views too con- 
tracted, to enable them to trace the general wretchedness 
to its cause, but their benevolence directed them to the 
relief of that part of it which fell under their own eyes. 


They would do nothing to mend the road they would 
even persecute all who said the road wanted mending ; 
but they would confer their aid and sympathy upon those 
who had broken down upon the rough and rutty highway. 
On Friday, the 24th of April, a large body of weavers 
and mechanics began to assemble about mid-day, with the 
avowed intention of destroying the power-looms, together 
with the whole of the premises, at West Houghton factory. 
Immediate information was given to the authorities at 
Bolton, and the Scots Greys were instantly despatched 
from thence to the scene of riot, a distance of about five 
mile|L On their arrival all was quiet, and no symptoms 
of disorder whatever appeared ; the presence of the military 
was therefore deemed unnecessary, and the whole force, 
consequently, returned to Bolton. Scarcely had they 
reached their quarters ere a messenger arrived with the 
alarming intelligence that the whole factory was in flames. 
Again the military rode at full speed to West Houghton ; 
and on their arrival were surprised to find that the premises 
were entirely destroyed, while not an individual could be 
seen to whom attached any suspicion of having acted a 
part in this truly dreadful outrage. During the evening, 
however, a partial assemblage of the most active of the 
rioters took place in the village, and again alarmed the 
inhabitants by levying contributions in meat, drink, or 
money, on some of the more respectable among them. 
Their audacity appeared to rise with the success which 
attended their lawless demands, and was beginning to 
develope itself in a more alarming manner, when, at this 
critical juncture, the arrival of the military put nearly the 
whole of the mob to flight. A few, however, of the more 
desperate kept their ground, upon which the riot act was 
read, and quiet was restored. The whole of the succeeding 
night was spent in collecting information of the names of 
those who had rendered themselves conspicuous by their 
activity on the occasion, and in securing their persons; 


in consequence of which, twenty-four of them were, early 
next morning, conducted under military escort to the town 
of Bolton. 

There was reason to believe that some of the local magis- 
trates had employed spies, who urged on their victims to 
violence. Mr. John Edward Taylor, in his reply to a 
pamphlet published in 1819 by Mr. Francis Phillips, 
says : " I have no reason to believe that the atrocity 
of the Middleton riots can be palliated by any attempt 
to prove that the tricks and machinations of hired spies 
had any share in producing them. They originated in 
severe distress, exasperated by a short-sighted prejudice 
against the introduction of newly-invented machinery, 
which the populace fancied was calculated to aggravate 
the sufferings they were then enduring. The attack of the 
mob upon the factory, and their destruction of the house 
of one of its owners, were crimes of the greatest enormity : 
much, therefore, as the consequences were to be deplored, 
no doubts were entertained of the legality of the conduct 
pursued. However humanity might grieve at the death 
of those who were shot by the military, justice was satisfied. 
But at West Houghton, where a steam-loom factory was 
set on fire, and burnt down, the case was widely different. 
This outrage was debated (as appeared by evidence brought 
forward on the trials of the rioters) at a meeting which 
took place on Dean Moor, near Bolton, the 9th of April, 
1812, sixteen days before the scheme was put in practice. 
At this meeting (which was very speedily reduced to nume- 
rical insignificance by the desertion of a considerable pro- 
portion of those who had at first attended it) there were 
present, during the greater part of its duration, and up to 
the time of its close, not more than about forty persons, 
of whom no less than ten or eleven were SPIES, reputed to 
be employed by Colonel Fletcher. On this occasion, these 
spies were armed, and disguised with blackened faces. And 
when some persons wished to retire from the meeting, on 


finding the wicked purpose on which it was bent, they 
were prevented from so doing by a rear guard, formed 
chiefly of the armed spies, and marched by force towards 
West Houghton, where a considerable detachment of 
military were in ambuscade, awaiting their approach. 
Upon this occasion, the spies were provided with white 
caps, to put on when they should come in contact with the 
military, in order that being recognised, they might not be 
hurt. But all the exertions of the spies were insufficient 
to enable them to carry their plan into effect. The unfor- 
tunate victims of their diabolical machinations could not, 
at that time, be induced to act ; one by one they slunk 
away from the meeting, till the spies- were left alone; so 
that when a detachment of the local militia, which was 
sent from Bolton, at midnight, to pick up stragglers, had 
succeeded in apprehending a considerable number of sup- 
posed Luddites, they were, upon examination, every man 
of them, proved to belong to the corps of black-faced spies, 
and consequently dismissed. The occurrence of circum- 
stances like these, sixteen days before the burning of the 
factory took place, renders it not a matter of presumption, 
but of absolute certainty, that that alarming outrage might 
have been prevented, if to prevent it had been the inclina- 
tion of either the spies or their employers. I am not aware 
that the truth of the preceding statements, which I have 
abridged from "Dr. Taylors's Letter," and which have 
now been before the public seven years, has ever been at 
at all questioned. But, however that may be, I know that 
proof of them can be given upon oath, to such an extent 
as must be absolutely decisive of their veracity. At the 
special commission held at Lancaster, for the trial of the 
rioters of that period, eight persons were capitally con- 
victed. At Chester, though fifteen were condemned to 
death, two only were ultimately executed. But the con- 
duct pursued at Lancaster formed a striking contrast with 
this dignified lenity. There every person convicted, 


woman, and child, were consigned to the hands of the execu- 
tioner. One of these victims ivas a boy so young and childish, 
that he called on his mother for help at the time of his 
execution, thinking she had the power to save him." 

Lord Sidmouth, the new home secretary, gave his hearty 
approval to this " wholesome" severity. " Wherever the 
law was clear," says his reverend biographer, "he employed 
the law to vindicate its own majesty : in other instances, 
where this was impracticable, he hesitated not to apply to 
the legislature for the necessary powers to put down evils 
against which the existing laws provided no adequate 
remedy." In other words, he availed himself of the laws 
so far as they suited his coercive purposes, and if they 
did not, he applied for new laws to meet the occasion. 
In Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire destructive riots had 
taken place, and on the 23rd July, he applied for and 
obtained, a bill for " the preservation of the public peace, 
in the disturbed districts, and to give additional powers to 
the justices for the purpose." He corresponded with 
local magistrates, urging them to proceed vigourously, and 
promising his support if their zeal should be blamed. He 
wrote to the lord lieutenant of Yorkshire of the urgent 
expediency of bringing the prisoners in York Castle for 
riot, immediately to trial, that their conviction and punish- 
ment, might strike terror into the hearts of the disaffected. 
A special commission for their trial was opened at York, 
on the 2nd January, 1813, and a sufficient number of 
convictions was obtained to vindicate the supremacy of 
the law ; " and," says his biographer, " it now became the 
duty of the government to inflict that extensive retribu- 
tion, which the heinousness of the offences, the necessity 
for a striking example, and the mistaken lenity manifested 
at a previous assize, had rendered indispensable ; and from 
this duty, painful as it was, Lord Sidmouth did not shrink. 
The three murderers (of Mr. Horsfall) expiated their crime 
at York, on the 9th of January; and on the 16th of the 

D 3 

58 tOKD SIDMOt f TH, 

same month, fourteen unhappy Luddites, whose cases were 
considered the most atrocious and unpardonable, were 
also led to execution half at eleven o'clock in the fore- 
noon, and the remaining seven after an interval of two 
hours." Lord Sidmouth, was highly satisfied with the 
conduct of all the authorities whose services were required 
on the occasion. These severe, but necessary examples," 
continues Dr. Pellew, " produced a most salutary result 
in the discontented districts," and he rejoices that the 
Annual Register has said, that " few years had passed in 
which more internal tranquillity had been enjoyed by the 
people of these islands, than the year 1813 ;" forgetting 
however to state, from the same volume, that " the 
bounteous harvest which crowned the hopes of the year, 
had produced the desirable effect of reducing the prices 
of the most necessary articles of human subsistence, to 
half, or two-thirds, of that which they bore during all its 
early months," and that the low price of food, and the 
repeal of the Orders in Council, had been accompanied by 
increased employment, and a rise in the price of labour, 
circumstances quite as likely to produce tranquillizing 
effects, as the " extensive retribution" which had been 
so earnestly recommended by Lords Sidmouth, Ellenbo- 
borough, Eldon, and Castlereagh. The placid secretary 
called his severity benevolence. He harshly punished 
some, that many might be saved from crime. His mistake 
was in classing murder, luddism, and radicalism, in the 
same category, and punishing them all alike. Stocking- 
frame breaking, like corn-law making, was a crime no 
doubt, but to hang men for it was carrying " retribution" 
too far, even in the then state of opinion in England. 
His biographer tells us, that he used frequently to repeat 
with approbation, the substance of some observations which 
the Emperor of Russia made to him. " In England," said 
his majesty, " where every man enjoys so much freedom 
of action, the execution of the laws must necessarily be 


severe, in consequence of the difficulty of imposing ade- 
quate restraints on the early transgression of them. As 
you cannot, therefore, interpose obstacles to the com- 
mission of crime, the only remaining check is to punish 
it severely when committed. In Russia we can interfere 
to prevent the commission." 

The home secretary having, by the help of a good 
harvest, put down, for a time, the discontent in Lanca- 
shire, had leisure to think of benefiting the district in 
some other way. The reverend Cecil Daniel Wray, then 
one of the chaplains, now one of the fellows or canons, 
of the Collegiate Church, had pointed out to him the 
" disproportion between the population of Manchester and 
Salford, and the means of accommodation, in those towns, 
at places of worship under the established church." In 
his lordship's reply, dated 20th of November, 1814, he 
says : " The circumstance struck me forcibly when the 
returns I had moved for were laid before the House of 
Lords, in 1811 ; and I urged it, together with many other 
instances of such a disproportion, as a ground for the 
interposition of parliament, to correct an evil so favour- 
able to the growth of schism, and indeed so injurious to 
the interests and influence of religion ;" and he promises 
Mr. Wray, that he will call the attention of parliament 
to the subject, which he did in 1818, successfully, as the 
erection of St. Matthew's in Camp Field, St. Andrew's in 
Ancoats, St. George's in Hulme, and St. Philip's in Salford, 
prove. In after times, when further extension of minis- 
trations by the rich established church was asked for in 
Manchester, this same Mr. C. D. Wray, and his fellow 
canons, resisted any appropriation, for such purpose, of 
any portion of the funds accruing to the parish church, 
amounting to some ten thousand pounds a year, and 
enjoyed by the ministers of that single edifice, who, at 
the same time, in justification of non-residence, denied 
that they had the cure of souls. 


While submission was enforced and church-extension 
promised at home, events were occurring abroad, giving 
promise of the termination of a war which ought never to 
have been commenced, and which brought more miseries 
in its train than any ever waged. Victories were now 
hailed, not with savage exultation at the destruction of 
human life, but with the hope that every succeeding triumph 
would bring the nation nearer to the enjoyment, once more, 
of the blessings of peace. In September, 1812, the French 
army was deprived of its winter quarters by the destruction 
of Moscow by fire; on the 19th of October it commenced 
its disastrous retreat; on the 5th of December Napoleon 
himself left it to its fate ; and the campaign was ended in 
which half a million of lives were sacrificed. In June and 
July, 1813, the French sustained signal defeats in Spain, 
and were compelled to retreat beyond the Pyrennees. In 
October the newly formed army of Napoleon was defeated 
at Leipsic; on November 2nd he reached Mentz with 
70,000 men, the remains of 300,000 which he had a few 
months before led to the Elbe and the Oder ; on the 31st 
of March, 1814, the allies entered Paris ; and on the llth 
of April the emperor, dethroned, embarked at Frejus for 
Elba. On the 24th of December peace was concluded 
between Great Britain and the United States. Once more 
we were at peace ; merchants and manufacturers rejoiced 
in the expectation of a revival of trade ; and the starving 
rejoiced in the expectation of cheapness and plenty. The 
congress of Vienna had permanently " settled " the affairs 
of Europe, Castlereagh representing England ; Napoleon 
was in his ocean prison, guarded by the French and British 
fleets ; and half a century's prosperity was in prospect. 
Alas for the vanity of human expectations ! 

On February 17th, 1815, Mr. Frederick Robinson brought 
forward his resolutions on the corn trade, to prohibit the 
importation of wheat when the price was under 80s. a 
quarter. Tumults took place in the metropolis, which 


lasted more than a week, and were only quelled by military 
force. There were no accounts of battles abroad to divert 
the people from attention to their own affairs ; and affairs 
looked gloomy enough for a ministry which attempted to 
lay a heavy tax upon the people's food the moment when 
the country expected that abundance would follow the 
re-establishment of peace. Oh for a war to enable the 
rulers to put the chain on and snap the lock ! Opportunely 
as opportunely as if it been carefully schemed Napoleon 
escaped from Elba, eluded the vigilance of British and 
French fleets and cruisers, and landed in France on March 
1st, only one fortnight after the proposal of Mr. Robinson's 
resolutions. There was something now to look to abroad. 
Between the time of Napoleon's landing and the battle of 
Waterloo, which again " settled" the affairs of Europe, the 
Com Bill was passed, not, however, without bloodshed 
passed while what was called the People's House was sur- 
rounded by bristling bayonets passed to inflict a third of 
a century's privation on a people exhausted by a twenty- 
two years' war, and loaded with an enormous debt incurred 
in the work of destroying human life. 

Leaving out of view the loss of more than a million and a 
half of lives, the derangement of trade, the bankruptcy and 
ruin of merchants and manufacturers, and the misery which 
had been endured by the industrial classes during three- 
fourths of the war period, let us look at the money cost of 
this contest. The following exhibits the sums raised by 
loans and taxes from the commencement of the war to the 
peace of Amiens : 

Years. By Taxes. By Loans. 

1793 17,170,400 4,500,000 

1794 17,308,811 11,000,000 

1795 17,858,454 18,000,000 

1796 18,737,760 25,500,000 

1797 20,654,650 32,500,000 

Carried forward 91,730,075 91,500,000 


Years. By Taxes. By Loans. 

Brought forward 91,730,075 91,500,000 

1798 30,202,915 17,000,000 

1799 35,229,968 18,500,000 

1800 33,896,464 20,500,000 

1801 35,415,096 28,000,000 

1802 37,240,213 25,000,000 

263,714,731 200,500,000 

The following exhibits the sums raised by taxes and loans, 
from the re-commencement of the war to its termination : 

Years. By Taxes. By Loans. 

1803 37,679,063 15,202,931 

1804 45,359,442 20,104,221 

1805 49,659,281 27,931,482 

1806 53,304,254 20,486,155 

1807 58,390,225 23,889,257 

1808 61,538,207 20,476,765 

1809 63,405,294. 23,404,691 

1810 66,681,366 22,428,788 

1811 64,763,870 27,416,829 

1812 63,169,854 40,251,689 

1813 66,925,835 54,026,822 

1814 69,684,192 47,159,697 

1815 70,403,442 46,089,603 

770,962,331 388,766,925 

The total expenditure for the 23 years was 1 ,623,943,387. 
Deducting from this amount an average annual peace 
expenditure of 20,000,000, the cost of the war was 
1,163,943,987 ! Let it be borne in mind that Manchester, 
which urged on, with an almost savage earnestness, that 
long-protracted and disastrous conflict, was the severest 
sufferer by its continuance ! 

Peace, gentle peace and joyous plenty, after long war and 
long privation ! The weary, over-burthened nation was at 
length to be at rest. But with peace came the corn law, to 
intercept the free gifts of God to his suffering creatures. 
We were told we must wait until the consequences of 


"revulsion" had ceased ere we could enjoy comfort and 
abundance ; we were told that we must endure the results 
of a "transition" from war to peace ere we could have 
prosperity. The fell disease was removed, but we were to 
take the first steps to health in pain and penury. Were the 
innocent to be punished with the guilty ? Alas ! ALL WERE 
GUILTY. The sin had been a NATIONAL SIN. The nation 
had raised its voice and had loudly called for war, demanded 
war, punished all who were averse to war ; and national sin 
was followed by national punishment ; and the instruments 
of punishment were those rulers who had, nothing loath, 
been hounded on to war. We had reaped our reward in 
GLORY ; we had earned everlasting FAME in hundreds of 
battle-fields ; were we to have all that and national pros- 
perity besides ? 

The war had been undertaken to put down opinion 
considered to be dangerous to the existence of venerable 
institutions. When peace was restored, opinion adverse to 
established abuses again began to manifest itself. " The 
national joyousness of war," says a historian of the period, 
"may exceed that of peace, but its joys are more fallacious, if 
not criminal. It is a period of exertion, of high excitement, 
in which a consciousness of internal maladies is forgotten 
in the death-struggle for foreign mastery. Moreover, it is 
a season of spending, waste, and reckless prodigality. It is 
a delirious state intoxicated by victories, if successful 
bursting into rage or sinking into despondency, if defeated. 
Peace, on the contrary, is less obnoxious to extremes. It is 
a time of quiet, of reckoning up, saving, and forethought. 
The smallest evils that exist are felt ; all that are impending 
are imagined and magnified. War affords a ready excuse 
for every disorder, every public privation, every remedial 
postponement ; but peace is the ordeal of rulers. Public 
burdens are nicely weighed, and the pretext for their 
continuance scrutinized. Not only is the physical condition 
of the people considered, but their laws, religion, politic? 


rights, and even morals, become the common topics of 
investigation. There is leisure for everything, as well as 
disengaged talent, energy, and enterprise. The troubles 
and entanglements of peace are mostly the bitter fruits of 
war ; but the glories of war can only be won by dissipating 
the blessings peace has accumulated." 

The time of reckoning up, economy, and forethought had 
come. Passing by the short and fleeting period of a fair 
reward for labour which the manufacturing population 
amongst them the numerous body of Lancashire weavers 
enjoyed, when the disasters experienced by the French 
armies opened the continental markets to our merchants, 
and when the plentiful harvest of 1813 had made food 
abundant and cheap, we come to the period of severe 
suffering which the self-styled political economists of the 
ruling party characterized as " a revulsion occasioned by 
the change from war to peace. The industrial classes had 
made no calculation of this painful period of transition ; 
they had thought that when the evil ceased the good would 
come ; they had thought that with peace there would be 
plenty; and they had anticipated that they should no longer 
be called from their workshops to raise their voice against 
misgovernment and oppression. " But," said Mr. John 
Edward Taylor, writing while his sympathies were yet 
warm with the suffering multitude, " the giving of a 
fictitious value to the price of corn, to enable the landed 
interest to pay the impositions to which it was subjected, 
was a measure which had produced a deep and lasting 
irritation in the minds of the labouring classes." The 
disappointment of their hopes led to deep discontent, 
entertained for some time in sullen silence, but which, 
before twelve months had elapsed from the enactment of 
the corn bill, found articulate, and, to guilty rulers, terrific 
utterance. Previous to that time, however, a small portion 
of the working classes, seeing the folly of fixing a maximum 
price for potatoes and a minimum rate for wages, and 


reading attentively the writings of Major Cartwright and 
William Cobbett, had come to the conclusion that there 
was no hope for better government unless the people were 
better represented in the House of Commons. Had their 
employers done all they could do to prevent the distress 
and the consequent discontent ? 



My residence in Manchester was the result not of 
accident but of deliberate choice, while yet in a position 
where choice is not often allowed. I had been only two 
years in a warehouse in Glasgow, when, near the close 
of the year 1811, my master (a brother of James Grahame, 
the author of " The Sabbath," and uncle of James Grahame, 
author of a " History of the United States,") resolved that 
I should become the traveller in England to receive orders 
for the muslins he manufactured. My journey extended 
from Carlisle, through the western counties to Plymouth, 
and then, through the southern and midland counties, to 
Newcastle-upon-Tyne. After three years of such employ- 
ment, another traveller was employed in my stead, and 
my time was devoted to the wholesale houses of London 
and Manchester. In Manchester I found that I met in 
the street, in one day, more country drapers than I could, 
with the utmost industry, meet in their own shops in 
two, and it struck me that if we kept our manufactured 
stock in Manchester we could considerably increase our 
business, and at a great saving in travelling expenses. One 
evening in September, 1815, while sitting with my master 
at his house, I mentioned the concourse of drapers to 
Manchester, and expressed my conviction that, if there 
were to be a continuance of peace, that town would be- 
come so much the market for all kinds of goods, in 
cotton, woollens, linen, and silk, as to attract every re- 
spectable country draper in England several times in the 
year. The subject was long and earnestly discussed between 
us. At length he asked : " Is this a sudden conviction, or 
have you thought long about it ?" I told him that every 


recent visit to Manchester had confirmed the opinion I 
had formed soon after I had been there the first time, I 
spoke of the coal fields of Lancashire, and the industry, the 
enterprise, and the hard-headed shrewdness of its inhabi- 
tants. He said, ''We have coal, and industry, and 
shrewdness, and intelligence here." "Yes," I replied, 
" you have, but you have not centrality ; you are in a 
corner; you have nothing but Glasgow and Paisley here; 
Manchester has about a dozen of Paisleys Wigan, Preston, 
Blackburn, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Ashton, Stockport, 
and numerous fast-growing villages, all increasing in im- 
portance, and likely, some time or other, if fair play is 
given to their industry, to form one enormous community." 
" But they have the corn-law to retard their prosperity." 
"So have you." After a long pause, he asked, "When 
can you go to take a warehouse ?" " I would go to-night 
if there was a coach," I replied, " but I can go by to- 
morrow's mail." I did go next day, made a bargain 
for the warehouse No. 1, Peel-street, and in three weeks 
I opened it with the whole stock transferred from the 
Glasgow warehouse, with all the responsibility on my 
young shoulders of, in those days, a large business. It 
may be supposed I had not much leisure for politics; 
but I made a point of pushing on work in the early part of 
the day, so that I had the evenings to myself; and I began 
to look around me to ascertain what was the state of the 
society in which I was placed, and the opinions which 
prevailed amongst my fellow-townsmen. 

My forefathers, for three generations, had taken the field 
in defence of the religious freedom of their country, and I 
had a strong hereditary dislike to church intolerance 
and exaction ; my father had narrowly escaped the prose- 
cution directed against the Scotch patriots in 1794, and 
I saw, with indignation, the arbitrary stretches of power 
continued to be exercised by the government ; and I had 
seen the rottenness of both the English and the Scotch 


boroughs, and yearned for parliamentary reform. But the 
event which had excited my deepest detestation was 
the passing of the corn bill. I regarded it, in the first 
place, as an impious attempt to intercept, for the profit 
of a few, the gifts which God had bestowed for the benefit 
of all ; in the second place, as an impolitic and im- 
poverishing interference with the liberty of exchanging 
the surplus produce of our own country for the surplus 
produce of other lands ; and, in the third place, as a gross 
injustice to the working classes, the great mass of the 
nation, tending at once to lower their wages and raise 
the price of food. Such were the opinions I expressed 
in the spring of that year 1815, to my excellent friend, 
John Childs, of Bungay, when, at an early hour of the 
morning we were returning through the Strand, after 
listening to a long protracted debate in the House of 
Commons during the progress of the corn bill, his memo- 
rable reply being, " If we live, we shall see more misery 
produced by this bill than ever followed human legisla- 
tion." We have both lived to see the predicted misery. 
It is something to have lived to be instrumental, even in 
the slightest degree, in removing the impoverishing 
infliction. It is something to have been of those who, 
after an eight years' arduous struggle, destroyed the 
iniquitous monopoly. It is something for myself to reflect 
that from 1815, when it was passed, until 1846, when 
it was prospectively repealed, I never ceased to expose 
its injustice and mischievous effects. I did not find many 
persons of my own class in Manchester, whose opinions on 
free trade in corn were in accordance with my own. The 
working men, indeed, were right on the question, as they 
continued to be throughout after struggles ; but they were 
powerless, and could not meet to deliberate without danger 
to their personal liberty. The manufacturers had opposed 
the corn bill, because they believed that raising the 
price of food would raise the wages of labour, and thus 


prevent their competition with the manufacturers of other 
countries. I found that the opposition to the bill had been 
very faint. A quiet meeting had been held, pursuant to 
the following requisition : 

Manchester, Feb. 23, 1815. 

To the Boroughreeve and Constables of Manchester and Salford. 
We beg you would be pleased to appoint an early public meeting 
of the inhabitants of the towns of Manchester and Salford, to 
take into consideration the measures now pending in the House 
of Commons, relative to the price of corn, and the propriety of 
petitioning Parliament against the same passing into a law. 
Robert Peel, Thomas Peel, 

Phillips and Lee, William Sandford, 

John Burton, George Fraser, 

James Gordon, Thomas Hardman, 

Walker and Bower, James Hibbert, 

John Bradshaw, Peter Ewart, 

John Potter, John and Thomas Cooke, 

Jer. Fielding, Otho Hulme, 

Wm. Grant and Brothers, William Tate, 

Hargreaves and Dugdale, Edward Turner, 

Thos. Andrew and Sons, William Boyd, 

Andrew Tomlin, Parker and Co., 

James Heald, John Whitehead, 

Oakden and Taylor, Watkins and Harbottle, 

J. E. Lamb, Chadwick, Clogg, and Co. 

J. Brooke, Thomas Hollins, 

James Mcholls, Worthington, Parker, and Co. 

Jos. Blair, Ben. Sandford, 

John Gray, Brooks and Oughton, 

Jos. Litt, &c. &c. 

In compliance with the above requisition, we appoint a public 
meeting of the inhabitants of Manchester and Salford, to be held on 
Monday evening, the 27th instant, in the Dining Room of the 
E xchange Buildings, at eleven o'clock precisely. 
H. H. BIELET, Boroughreeve 

R. HINDLEY, Boroughreeve 

I Constables 


This Mr. Hugh. Hornby Birley, Boroughreeve, who 
convened an anti-corn-law meeting, presided over it, and 
signed its resolutions, subsequently attained the bad pre- 
eminence of commanding a troop of local yeomanry, which 
rode furiously, and with newly-sharpened sabres in hand, 
into the middle of a legally-called and peaceably-assembled 
meeting to petition for the repeal of the corn law, striking 
indiscriminately unarmed men and defenceless women and 
children. Why, at an interval of little more than four 
years, did the petitioners of the one period hew down 
the petitioners of the other ? The Birleys and the Greens, 
the Bradshaws and the Hardmans, of 1815, believed that 
the enactment of the corn-law would raise wages ; and 
the working men of 1819 asked for its repeal because 
it had reduced wages. The meeting passed the following 
resolutions : 

" 1st. That the great importance of trade and manufactures in 
this country has been fully evinced during the period of the late 
war, by enabling us to call forth resources impracticable in any state 
that was merely agricultural. 

" 2nd. That a large exportation of our manufactures is absolutely 
necessary to their support, and their sale in foreign markets can 
be insured only by their superiority and cheapness. 

"3d. That the great extension of manufactures in France, 
Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands, where they possess 
decisive advantages from the low price of labour, is severely felt 
in this country, and is truly alarming. 

"4th. That the proposed restrictions on the importation of corn 
must materially raise its price, and consequently that of every other 
species of provisions ; and as a great proportion of labour in the 
manufactures is and must be manual, it will be utterly impossible 
to carry on competition with the Continent for any length of time, if 
the projected measure be adopted. 

"5th. That whilst the landed interest was enriched by the 
war, the class of manufacturers sustained, in a variety of ways, 
its heaviest pressure. 

" 6th. That no policy can be more short-sighted or unjust, 
than that which would redress the temporary grievances of a part of 
the community, by permanently sacrificing the best interests of the 


It will be seen that the stress of these resolutions is 
upon cheapness of labour as necessary to successful com- 
petition with other countries. The newspapers of the 
time contain no reports of speeches no comments on 
speeches. The notice in Cowdroy's Gazette was confined 
to the following meagre paragraph : 

"On Monday last, pursuant to a requisition from some of the 
most respectable mercantile characters of this town, a public meeting 
was held at the Exchange Rooms, to take into consideration the 
propriety of petitioning against the new corn laws, in their process 
of passing both houses of parliament. Several appropriate and 
spirited resolutions met with unanimous assent, and we hope that 
the sentiments thus openly declared from so important a trading 
town as Manchester, will testify its sense of the impending bill ; 
which, while it may gratify the wishes of interested landholders) 
must, by its tendency to advance the price of labour, give to the 
commercial rivalship of other countries a decided pre-eminence." 

It appears, however, that there were some who joined 
in the requisition and attended the meeting who were not 
satisfied with the resolution laying such stress on the 
danger of raising the price of labour. I find in Cowdroy 
an advertisement and it is a curious sign of the times 
that they should be inserted only as an advertisement, 
certain "Plain Observations on the Corn Laws," in the 
the form of resolutions, no doubt intended very likely by 
John Shuttleworth, then a rising young man, but not of 
such standing as to insist very pertinaciously on the un- 
modified adoption of his views, to be proposed at the 
meeting, but withdrawn for the sake of committing the 
old ruling party to an opposition to the proposed act of 
commercial restriction. From these obviously intended 
resolutions I select the following : 

" It is evident and notorious that the rent of land has been 
generally doubled, and in many instances quadrupled, and that ever 
since the advance both on its value and its product was the result of 
circumstances, so, or equally, ought both to fall (as is the case in 
various manufactures) when such circumstances cease to operate. 

"That the high price of subsistence exceeding what the lower 


orders have generally been able to pay out of their earnings, has 
greatly contributed to the excessive poor rates. 

" That it is a delusion to hold out to the lower classes, that wages 
OP the price of labour will, or can, rise in the same extent with the 
proposed rise in the price of food. 

" That a great number of persons thrown out of work in all trades, 
will inevitably reduce the general rate of wages. 

" That the laborious orders of this empire believing it the effect of 
a necessary war, have long submitted with exemplary patience to the 
increased price of provisions, and they must feel with proportionate 
disappointment, if such should now be artificially continued. 

" That agriculture has especially its own protecting duties ; that 
the duties on foreign wines, spirits, and colonial sugars, although 
generally viewed as a source of revenue, are not less effectually 
protecting duties in favour of the growth of British barley and hops. 
That these alone outweigh at once all the protecting duties in favour 
of manufactures. 

"That corn laws can be only effectual when accompanied by 
legislative restriction extended to rent; and as this cannot, perhaps, 
be practically enforced, the free importation of foreign corn can 
alone keep down prices. 

" That if the threat of laying down more land in grass should be 
realized, it is not more than seems to be required by the high price 
of butcher's meat, butter, and cheese, as well as bread. 

" That the property tax is now about to be repealed, and the cost 
of the produce of land diminished accordingly. 

" That the only equitable increase of rent must be drawn from the 
increase of the quantity of produce, and not from the increase of 
the price of it. 

" That an artificial increase of rent by parliamentary protections, is 
a depreciation of all other property to the benefit of the landowner. 

"That with respect to the labouring classes, it has been above 
shown that it is a deception to suppose their wages will, or can rise 
in the same proportion with the proposed rise in the price of food 
an expectation disproved by the experience of the late times of high 
prices, when their increase of wages, however in some places great, 
did not avert their increased difficulties. 

"That it is absolutely necessary immediate petitions should be 
presented to both houses of parliament, and the Prince Regent, to 
prevent the extension of the import price of corn being altered from 
63s. to 80s. per quarter." 


I suppose that, to the open and strong expression of 
my opinion in preference of the intended resolutions to 
those which had been passed at the meeting, I was in- 
debted for a call from Mr. Edward Baxter and Mr. John 
Edward Taylor, afterwards of the Manchester Guardian. 
Baxter was a man of much energy, whose prosperity in 
business had not abated his earnestness for reform, and 
Taylor had a youthful ardour for liberty which promised 
fair to continue under any circumstances. Through them 
I became acquainted with a little circle of men, faithful, 
amongst the faithless, to liberal principles, who subsequently 
threw the shield of their protection over the intended 
victims of a government oppression, which was, if possible, 
more vindictive than that of 1794. There were few re- 
maining of those who had been reformers at the com- 
mencement of the French revolution. Thomas Walker 
was dead, and Thomas Cooper had emigrated to America, 
Ottiwell Wood (father of the present chairman of the board 
of inland revenue) had removed to Liverpool out of the 
river into the cold shower and Mr. George Philips (after- 
wards Sir George, Baronet), frightened at the atrocities of 
the revolution, had retreated into the ranks of the whigs. 
Robert Philips remained staunch and true to his early prin- 
ciples ; his son Mark, afterwards M.P. for Manchester, was 
then but a lad. Mr. Samuel Greg also remained true to 
his early principles ; his son, Robert Hyde, afterwards 
M.P. for Manchester, had not yet taken part in public 
business. And there were Samuel Jackson, who lived 
in a house, then in the country, in Princess-street, Hulme ; 
and Thomas Preston, who lived in a retired villa on the 
Ashton-oad, now a public-house, both venerable and in- 
telligent men; and Thomas Kershaw, William Hazlitt's 
friend, whose talk was of paintings, and Stringer, of 
Knutsford, and Church-and-King mobs. Of the new men, 
the carriers- down of reform principles to another genera- 
tion, were J. Edward Taylor, whom I have already named ; 



Joseph Brotherton, who, then in his country cottage in 
Oldfield-lane, gave quiet expression to the principles of 
free trade and peace, which he afterwards boldly asserted 
in the house of commons ; William Harvey, Brotherton's 
worthy brother-in-law; Richard Potter, afterwards M.P. 
for Wigan, benevolent and earnest, then beginning to take 
a part in public business; Thomas Potter, afterwards Sir 
Thomas, and first mayor of Manchester, benevolent, strong 
of purpose and energetic, always willing to aid the cause 
of reform, but taking little or no part in public questions ; 
John Shuttleworth, afterwards alderman, eloquent, intel- 
lectual, and bold ; and Fenton Robinson Atkinson, an 
able lawyer and a thorough hater of oppression, whose 
legal knowledge and earnest love of liberty were soon 
to be effectively used on behalf of the illegally oppressed. 
Mr. John Benjamin Smith, now member for the Stirling 
district of boroughs, making no public appearances, was 
preparing himself for future labours. Mr. Absalom Watkin, 
giving himself more to literature than to politics, was, 
nevertheless, on the way to useful action. Amongst the 
shopkeepers of reform principles, were Mr. John Dracup, 
Mr. P. T. Candelet, and others, who had the confidence 
of the working classes, using their influence beneficially. 
A few more there were, free traders and reformers; but 
the band, at least among the class of persons who wore 
broad cloth and white neckcloths, was small "a small 
but determined band," as Richard Potter, referring to the 
period, used to say, when in less trying days, the old 
pioneers in the cause of reform were mentioned with 
honour. The small band, however, furnished rather a 
remarkable quota to the legislature, to the press, and to 
the municipal government of the future borough. 

Dr. William C. Taylor, in his " Life and Times of Sir 
Robert Peel," noticing the first baronet's opposition to 
the corn law, says : " It is only justice to observe, that 
the resistance offered to the imposition of these laws by 


the first Sir Robert Peel, was based upon more legitimate 
grounds than the demand for their repeal when first raised 
by the modern manufacturers of Manchester. They took 
the untenable and unpopular ground that it was necessary 
to have cheap bread, in order to reduce the English rate 
of wages to the continental level; and so long as they 
persisted in this blunder, the cause of free trade made 
but little progress. On the other hand, Sir Robert Peel, 
with characteristic good sense, had pointed out that these 
laws were injurious, not to class interests, but to imperial 
interests. * * * It is absurd to say that Manchester 
was either the birth-place or the cradle of free trade ; it 
can only claim the merit of reviving the demand for the 
repeal of an impolitic law, which had been allowed to 
slumber during a period of great political excitement and 
some commercial prosperity ; and when the revival of the 
demand took place, it would have been well if the sound 
principles enunciated by Sir Robert Peel in 1815, had 
been universally adopted by those who engaged in the 
new movement." 

I came to Manchester soon after the passing of the corn 
law, and had some part in the origination of the League, 
and I can safely aver that in 1815, exclusive of the working 
classes, there were not more persons right as to the manner 
in which wages could be affected by that enactment than 
there were wrong when the successful agitation of its 
repeal commenced in 1838. There were few in 1815, 
amongst the rank of merchant or manufacturer, beyond the 
gentlemen I have named, who held that the high price 
of food would reduce wages. There were as small a 
number of those who took any prominent part in the 
league movement, commencing in 1838, who held that 
the high price of food would raise wages. The speech 
of Mr. John Shuttleworth, at the 1815 meeting, which, 
for soundness of argument, might have been delivered at 
the Free Trade Hall in 1845, was not in accordance with 
E 3 


the opinions of a dozen men of any note in the meeting, 
and was only tolerated because he was opposed to the bill, 
as were, though for different and indeed opposite reasons, 
the great majority of persons present. The energetic 
eight years' struggle for a total repeal of the corn law, 
was for the benefit of the whole community the nerveless 
and ineffective opposition to the passing of the bill was 
from a selfish fear on the part of the manufacturers, that 
their own interests might suffer by an advance of wages. 
The schoolmaster had been at work during the interval. 
Twenty-three years' suffering had greatly sharpened the 
naturally shrewd intellect of Lancashire ; greater mental 
cultivation had brought higher moral motives into activity ; 
the little band of the year 1815 had been receiving constant 
accessions to its numbers, constant accessions to its cause. 
In 1818, the free traders needed only leaders. The time 
was come and the men came. 

The radical movement was renewed, not commenced, in 
1816 ; it had its origin in 1812, but had for a time been 
repressed, by the same unjust means which had been 
employed to put down the movement for reform and peace, 
in which Thomas Walker and his coadjutors had been 
engaged. I have described the consequences, in that year, 
of calling a meeting and, at the time when it should have 
been held, shutting, under a false pretence, the door of the 
place to which it had been convened. The gentlemen who 
had intended to move the counter-resolutions did not think 
it prudent to convene another meeting in the then excited 
state of the public mind. Some working men, however, 
probably on the suggestion of the shrewd old John Knight, 
a manufacturer in a small way, thought it advisable that an 
opportunity should be afforded to the friends of peace and 
parliamentary reform to express their sentiments on those 
subjects, which they conceived to be the two measures most 
calculated to relieve their present sufferings and prevent 
the future recurrence of them. It was therefore resolved, 


at a meeting held on the 26th of May, at the sign of the 
Elephant, in Tib-street, that an address should be presented 
to the Prince Regent, and a petition to the House of 
Commons, both of which a committee was appointed to 
prepare. The resolutions of this meeting appeared in the 
Statesman newspaper, of the 3rd of June ; and another 
meeting was appointed to be held on Thursday, the 1 1th of 
June, at the same public-house, to determine finally on the 
prosecution of the address and the petition. When the 
persons met they were informed that Nadin, the deputy- 
constable, would attend, with a military force, to break up 
the assemblage. John Knight said he thought that was 
improbable, as they were met for a constitutional purpose, 
and therefore had nothing to fear. They did, however, 
adjourn to the Prince Regent's Arms, Ancoats. " On our 
arrival," says Knight, in a preface to the report of the 
subsequent trial, " we were shown into a room capable of 
accommodating forty or fifty people, and after waiting a 
considerable time, while the company assembled and got 
some refreshment, we proceeded to business, about a quarter 
before ten o'clock. I began by inquiring the residences 
and occupations of the individuals who composed the 
meeting, and then proceeded to read the resolutions of the 
26th of May, and afterwards the address and petition which 
had been prepared, taking the sense of the company upon 
each as I proceeded. I afterwards made some observations 
on the deplorable circumstances of the labouring classes, 
and lamented and reprobated the conduct some of them had 
adopted, to avert the continuance of which I recommended 
frequent and general petitioning, which I endeavoured to 
enforce as the best method of obtaining relief. About this 
time some person came to inform us that it was eleven 
o'clock ; we then began the financial part of our business, 
and Mr. Oldham had just laid 1 2s. on the table, which I 
was taking up, when Nadin entered, with a blunderbuss in 
his hands, followed by a great number of soldiers, with 


their guns and bayonets fixed. Nadin, advancing to the 
table at which Washington and I sat, inquired for what 
purpose we were there assembled, on which Washington, 
handing him a copy of the resolutions, replied, that our 
object was peace and parliamentary reform. Nadin said, 
' I do not believe you ; that is only a pretence.' He then 
searched our persons, ordered our names, occupations, and 
residences to be put down, our hands to be tied, and ourselves 
to be taken to the New Bailey. I said, he surely could not 
think of preventing us from going home. He showed no 
warrant, but said we should be examined immediately, as 
the magistrates were sitting." So firm, shrewd old John 
not shrewd enough to fear that the legality and constitu- 
tionality of his meeting were any protection from the rough 
hands of Joseph Nadin was marched off with his thirty- 
seven compatriots, a gallant guard of soldiers accompanying 
the manacled men to the prison-house. As these were the 
first imprisoned of the radicals, I give their names : 
William Washington, Thomas Cannavan, 

John Haigh, Daniel Jevins, 

James Knott, James Hep worth, 

Simon Simmons, Eobert Slack, 

Aaron Marvel, Aaron Whitehead, 

John Zershaw, James Boothby, 

John Knight, Isaac Birch, 

John Godby, Thomas Cooke, 

Edward M'Ginnes, Charles Oldham, 

James Lawton, Kobert Thorneley, 

Edmund Newton, John Oldham, 

John Newton, Err Oldhara, 

James Greenwood, Thomas Harsnett, 

Thomas Broughton, Joseph Tilney, 

Thomas Wilkinson, Stephen Harrison, 

Charles Woolling, Rycroft Heyworth, 

William Coppock, Randal Judson, 

John Howarth, James Buckley, 

Charles Smith, Edward Phillips. 

While the military guarded these poor hands-tied weavers 


on their road to the New Bailey prison, Joseph Nadin car- 
ried with him their resolutions, their address to the Prince 
Regent, and their petition to the House of Commons. The 
following copy of six of the resolutions will show the nature 
of the several documents which the deputy-constable carried 
off so triumphantly : 

"1. That, with the exception of a few individuals, our nominal 
representatives appear to act under such a baleful influence, as to 
have ceased to be the efficient guardians o% our properties, our 
liberties, and our lives. 

" 2. That they have frequently permitted us to be wantonly plunged 
into unnecessary and ruinous wars, by which we have so far provoked 
the surrounding nations, as to induce them to interrupt friendly 
intercourse with us ; and thereby have vastly diminished, if not 
destroyed, our commerce, and also so enormously increased our 
expenditure, that our burthens and privations are become quite 

" 3. That our nominal representatives seem to be so warped by the 
minister of the day, as to set popular opinion at defiance ; so that 
until the House of Commons is so far reformed as to feel with and 
speak the sense of the people, the people may expect to be coerced 
into submission. 

"4. That it is now acknowledged and declared by all intelligent 
and honest men, that our nominal representatives are become so 
subservient to the minister for the time being, that it is essentially 
necessary that they be elected or appointed by the people at large, 
to give them firmness sufficient to become the real guardians of the 
people, an object essential to our welfare and security. 

" 5. That so long, intense, and extensive have been the sufferings 
of the people, that unless a strong hope of speedy deliverance be 
immediately infused into the public mind, the most dreadful conse- 
quences may be apprehended; for though hundreds or thousands 
may be obliged to starve, millions cannot be expected to submit to it 

" 6. That the only rational ground of hope is in a speedy, radical, 
and efficient reform in the Commons House of Parliament ; and 
therefore, as the rational friends of peace and social order, we pledge 
ourselves to use every constitutional means in our power to obtain so 
desirable an object, and also engage never to cease our efforts till that 
object be attained." 

Of the men in whose possession these resolutions were 


found, and who, with their hands tied, had the honour of 
a military escort to the New Bailey, twenty-four were put 
to three others in a lock-up room, where they were confined, 
almost to their suffocation, for sixteen or seventeen hours, 
without being permitted to see their friends or their solicitor. 
On the afternoon of next day (Friday) they were brought 
before the Rev. W. R. Hay, J. Sylvester, Esq., and Ralph 
Wright, Esq. (afterwards to be heard of as the Flixton 
foot-path magistrate), and charged on the oath of Nadin 
Nadin alone with holding an unlawful meeting, and com- 
bining for seditious purposes, tending to overthrow the 
government. Most formidable men these thirty-eight poor 
weavers ! They were again brought before the magistrates 
on Saturday evening in private, and were told that the 
charge against them amounted to felony. The " small but 
determined band," formerly alluded to, had heard of the 
case, and Mr. Atkinson, solicitor, had promptly volunteered 
his legal assistance. He found admittance to the prisoners 
on this, their second, appearance, and demanded an imme- 
diate examination. Fleming, the spy-witness, gave his 
evidence, but the magistrates would not permit him to be 
cross-examined. A commitment was made out for the whole 
thirty-eight, and on the Monday they were sent off to 
Lancaster Castle, where they were detained prisoners until 
their trial on the 27th of August. 

The indictment charged William Washington and Thomas 
Broughton with having, with force and arms, feloniously 
administered an unlawful oath to Samuel Fleming, and the 
other prisoners with being present, then and there, with 
force and arms, feloniously aiding, assisting, and consenting. 
Nadin had taken into custody all whom he found in the 
room, made them all parties in the same charge, no one 
able to speak for the other, none to be witness for them. 
It looked black for the prisoners. It happened, however, 
that Nadin, in his flurry, had passed a man on the landing 
of the staircase, and that man was forthcoming. Fleming 


swore that the oath was administered to him by Washington 
and Broughton ; but it was proved by several witnesses 
that Washington was elsewhere at the time sworn to, and 
the man who had escaped from the clutches of Nadin swore 
that no oath was administered at the meeting, and that its 
only business was to consider about petitioning for reform 
and peace. Colonel Sylvester, in cross-examination, acknow- 
ledged that he had given instructions to Nadin to send 
Fleming to the meeting, to be asked to be " twisted in," 
and Nadin acknowledged that he had followed close upon 
Fleming to take all the men into custody. Scarlett and 
Brougham were retained by the " small but determined 
band ;" but in those days no speech was permitted in behalf 
of persons accused of felony, and they could do no better 
than cross-examine. This was done with effect ; and the 
judge, old Baron Wood, who afterwards tried John Edward 
Taylor, plainly intimated to the jury that Fleming's evidence 
was flatly contradicted by incontrovertible evidence. The 
prisoners were acquitted. Fleming, the spy, was evidently 
a tool of the magistrates and their coadjutor, Nadin, for 
he was seen for years about the town, well dressed and 
seemingly not engaged in any occupation. 

The acquittal of John Knight and his thirty-seven 
compatriots, like the acquittal of Thomas Walker and John 
Home Tooke, certainly tended to keep alive some feeling 
of confidence in trial by jury as a safeguard of personal 
liberty; but an expensive trial (although the money was 
found by middle-class men, towards whom the class of 
persons from which the prisoners were taken did not mani- 
fest much gratitude,) and a long imprisonment previous to 
trial no doubt operated in the way of intimidation. Thirty- 
eight men had been taken from their families, kept in 
prison for nearly three months, and then discharged without 
a farthing's compensation for their losses and sufferings; 
glad, however, that they had escaped transportation for life. 
There were in prospect, for all out- spoken reformers, the 
E 3 


certainty of incarceration in a miserable dungeon before 
trial, and the probability of transportation after. Need we 
be surprised that they felt they were before their time ? 
Need we wonder that some thirty-seven out of the thirty- 
eight were never more heard of as agitators in the cause of 
parliamentary reform ; and that the mass of the working 
classes, instead of giving loud utterance to their embittered 
feelings, moodily and gloomily waited for more fitting 
opportunity ? Indomitable old John Knight persevered, 
but quietly ; not thrusting himself into danger, but ready 
to come out, with all his dogged perseverance, when others 
were ready to come out with him. Four years had old 
John to wait, and then the high price of provisions and the 
general distress set men a thinking, as he thought, that the 
evils under which they suffered were irremediable without 
a full representation of the people in parliament. 



MR. WHEELER, in his " History of Manchester," giving 
an account of the events of 1816, says : " The period was 
now approaching, at which Manchester began to be re- 
garded as the centre of wide-spread and deeply-ramified 
social disorganization." It might have been expected that 
Manchester and its manufacturing dependencies would first 
have felt the impoverishing effects of the corn laws of 
1815, which excluded foreign wheat until its price reached 
80s., and of the greatly deficient harvest of 1816, but the 
discontent produced by the high price of provisions and 
the consequent scarcity of employment was strongly mani- 
fested in the agricultural before it openly displayed itself 
in the manufacturing districts. It was not at Manchester, 
Oldham, and Bolton, that riots commenced, but at Down- 
ham, Ely, and Littleport ; not at Stockport, Ashton, and 
Bury, but at Bridport, Biddeford, and Cambridge. Curious 
commentary this on a law, which, whatever might be 
its operation on manufactures, was to give protection and 
prosperity to agriculture, and which, sustaining the price 
of food, was to sustain the wages of agricultural labourers ! 
Strange it is that farm labourers, for whose special welfare 
the corn law was passed, and so well defended, should, 
in a single year after its enactment, wage war against their 
generous protectors, ranging themselves around banners, 
not inscribed " protection to agriculture," but " bread and 
blood !" The following account of the Ely riots has been 
chiefly extracted from " a plain statement of facts," for- 
warded to Lord Sidmouth, by the Rev. John Nachell, 
vicar of Littleport. 


The first disposition to riot manifested itself in the small 
village of Southery, six miles from Littleport, where a mob 
assembled on the 18th of May, complaining of want of 
work, lowness of wages, and clearness of Jtour. These 
parties proceeded in a riotous manner to Downham, plun- 
dering the butchers' and bakers' shops, and committing 
various acts of outrage, until a compromise, " very im- 
properly," says the reverend narrator, was made with them 
by the magistrates, to the effect that labourers should 
receive two shillings and six pence per day, and have their 
flour at two shillings and six pence per stone, the regular 
price at that time being three shillings and nine pence. 
Nothing farther occurred until the 22nd May, when there 
were two benefit club dinners at Littleport. In the even- 
ing the members, consisting chiefly of labourers, the class 
of men who, according to the protectionists are always best 
paid when the price of corn is highest, assembled to the 
number of two hundred, and with a horn and a banner 
paraded the village, "committing every excess of plunder 
and outrage," until about eleven o'clock, when they pre- 
sented themselves at the parsonage, demanding money. 
Mr. NachelTs remonstrances, as a magistrate, and promises 
as a minister of the gospel, were equally in vain ; his house 
was forced open and completely plundered, while the family 
concealed themselves in the field. Next morning the 
rioters assembled in greatly increased numbers, at Ely, 
where they were joined by a number of " disaffected per- 
sons." They opened negociations with the magistrates 
who felt it advisable to comply with their terms for good 
wages and cheap food, and the greater part of the rioters 
returned to their homes, with a threat, however, of re- 
assembling at night. Meanwhile the Rev. Henry Law, 
had proceeded express to Lord Sidmouth, and his lordship 
hearing that the Rev. Henry B. Dudley, a magistrate of 
Ely, was in town, sent for him and despatched him home to 
preserve its peace. From Cambridge, forty men of the 


Koyston troop of volunteer cavalry proceeded to Ely, and 
finding, on its arrival there, that the rioters were still at 
Littleport, committing "great atrocities" there, it was 
resolved to surprise them in that place. Eighteen men of 
the Royals, and part of the Royston yeomanry, headed by 
the Rev. Sir H. B. Dudley and the Rev. Henry Law, 
marched out to the attack, which was completely successful. 
The first rioter who attempted resistance being instantly 
shot by a dragoon, the rest made but a feeble resistance, 
and above seventy of them were taken prisoners to Ely. 
A special commission was speedily issued to Justices 
Abbott and Burrough, and E. Christian, Esq., Chief-justice 
of Ely, for the trial of the offenders, and the proceedings 
commenced on the 1 7th June, when thirty-four of them 
were capitally convicted, of whom five were hanged by the 
neck until thev were dead. Similar disturbances arose in 
Downham, Bury, Cambridge, and Norwich, but, " in con- 
sequence, probably," says Mr. Sidmouth's biographer, " of 
the prompt and judicious severity exercised at Ely, were 
speedily suppressed." " The proceedings at Ely have 
unquestionably had a good effect," writes Lord Sidmouth 
himself to his brother; and he resolved to continue the 
wholesome severity which had done so much good. There 
was, however, speedy proof tending to " confirm his antici- 
pations of a winter of discontent and disturbance;" and 
Lord Darlington wrote to him from Raby Castle, on the 
8th of October, that the " distress in Yorkshire was unpre- 
cedented that there was a total stagnation of the little 
trade they even had that wheat was already more than 
one guinea a bushel, and no old corn in store that the 
potato crops had failed that the harvest was then only 
beginning, the corn in many parts being still quite green, 
and that he feared a total defalcation of all grain that 
season from the deluge of rain which had fallen for many 
weeks, and was still falling." Such were the prospects of 
the country in the year after the corn law was passed. 


Is it to be wondered at that the disposition to riot which 
had manifested itself first in the agricultural and then in 
the coal districts should extend itself to the manufacturing? 
Repeal the corn law ! Restore the heptarchy ! The seve- 
rities at Ely were regarded as having had " unquestionably 
a good effect;" and a continuace of the wholesome severity, 
with additional enactments to increase the stringency of 
the laws, were the only remedies of which Sidmouth, 
Castlereagh, Vansittart, Lord Palmerston, Mr. Canning, 
and their colleagues in office, took any thought. Peel, 
then secretary for Ireland, shared in the difficulties expe- 
rienced by the administration to which he was attached. 
The deficient harvest had greatly aggravated the usual 
distress of that unhappy country. To the credit of his 
humanity, and as a presage of the wise policy which he 
followed in 1846, when matured experience and sagacity 
had made him more of a statesman, and when he was a 
dictator to the senate instead of a humble subordinate to 
the weak and obstinate Sidmouth, he made every exertion 
in his power to relieve the scarcity, by issuing a treasury 
order for the admission of American flour free of duty. 
Let this be remembered when a statue is erected to his 
memory in Manchester, to mitigate, in some slight degree, 
the deep censure justly due to his thirty years' support of 
the starvation-creating monopoly. 

Towards the close of 1816, the people, disappointed in 
their expectations that prosperity and plenty would follow 
in the train of peace, and having no faith in a legislature 
which, the moment when the war was terminated, had 
inflicted the corn law, demanded a better representation 
in parliament. When the Israelites complained of their 
Egyptian task-masters, the reply was " Ye are idle ; ye 
are idle." When, instead of burning corn-stacks, and 
plundering provision shops, after the example of the agri- 
cultural labourers, the manufacturing population demanded 
reform, the reply was " Ye are seditious ; ye are seditious." 


William Cobbett, then wielding the power of a fourth 
estate, wrote thus : " The country, instead of being dis- 
turbed, as the truly seditious writers on the side of corrup- 
tion would fain make us believe, instead of being " irritated" 
by the agitation of the question of reform, is kept, by the 
hope which reform holds out to it, in a state of tranquillity 
wholly unparalleled in the history of the world, under a 
similar pressure of suffering. Of this fact, the sad scenes 
at Dundee are a strong and remarkable instance. At the 
great and populous towns of Norwich, Manchester, Paisley, 
Glasgow, Wigan, Bolton, Liverpool, and many others, 
where the people are suffering in a degree that makes the 
heart sick within one to think of, they have had their 
meetings to petition for reform ; they have agreed on 
petitions ; hope has been left in their bosoms ; they have 
been inspired with patience and fortitude ; and all is 
tranquil. But at Dundee, where a partial meeting had 
been held early in November, and where a gentleman 
who moved for reform had been borne down, their violence 
has broken forth, houses have been plundered, and property 
and life exposed to all sort of perils ; and this, too, amongst 
the sober, the sedate, the reflecting, the prudent, the moral 
people of Scotland.*' A bad example is catching. Riots 
occurred at Glasgow, occasioned by discontent with the 
offensive mode of distributing soup ; at Preston, from the 
weavers being out of employment ; at Nottingham, on 
account of the use of frames ; at Birmingham and Walsall, 
from want of work ; and at Merthyr and Tredegar, where, 
owing to a reduction of wages, 12,000 persons had assem- 
bled, and were dispersed by the military. The legislature 
had sown the whirlwind, and the country was enduring 
the storm. Indeed, anarchy was averted by the direction 
of the mind of the oppressed to the remediable measure ; 
but the rulers thought that even the proposal of the remedy 
was worse than the disease. 

" At this time," says Bamfovcl in his ' Life of a Kadical,' " the 


writings of William Cobbett suddenly became of great authority 
they were read on nearly every hearth in the manufacturing districts 
of South Lancashire, in those of Leicester, Derby, and Nottingham ; 
also ir many of the Scottish manufacturing towns. Their influence 
was speedily visible. He directed his readers to the true cause of 
their sufferings misgovernment, and to its proper correction par- 
liamentary reform. Riots soon became scarce, and from that time 
they have never obtained their ancient vogue with the labourers of 
this country. Let us not descend to be unjust. Let us not withhold 
the homage which, with all the faults of William Cobbett, is still due 
to his great name. Instead of riots and destruction of property, 
Hampden clubs were now established in many of our large towns and 
the villages and districts around them ; Cobbett' s books were printed 
in a cheap form ; the labourers read them, and thenceforward became 
deliberate and systematic in their proceedings. JSTor were there 
wanting men of their own class to encourage and direct the new 
converts : the Sunday-schools of the preceding thirty years had 
produced many working men of sufficient talent to become readers, 
writers, and speakers in the village meetings for parliamentary reform ; 
some also were found to possess a rude poetic talent, which rendered 
their effusions popular, and bestowed an additional charm on their 
assemblages ; and by such various means anxious listeners at first, and 
then zealous proselytes, were drawn from the cottages of quiet nooks 
and dingles to the weekly reading and discourses of the Hampden 

" One of these clubs was established, in 1816, at ihe small town of 
Middleton, near Manchester j and I having been instrumental in its 
formation, a tolerable reader also, and a rather expert writer, was 
chosen secretary. The club prospered ; the number of members 
increased ; the funds raised by subscriptions of a penny a week became 
more than sufficient for all outgoings ; and taking a bold step, we 
soon rented a chapel which had been given up by a society of Kil- 
hamite Methodists. This place we threw open for the religious 
worship of all sects and parties, and there we held our meetings on 
the evenings of Monday and Saturday in each week. The proceedings 
of our society, its place of meeting singular as being the first place 
of meeting occupied by reformers (for so in those days we were 
termed), together with the services of religion connected with us, 
drew a considerable share of public attention to our transactions, and 
obtained for the leaders some notoriety. Several meetings of delegates 
from the surrounding districts were held at our chapel, on which 


occasions the leading reformers of Lancashire were generally seen 
together. These were John Knight, of Manchester, cotton manufac- 
turer; William Ogden, of Manchester, letter-press printer afterwards 
immortalized by Canning, as the ' revered and ruptured Ogden ;' 
William Benbow, of Manchester, shoemaker ; Bradbury, of Man- 
chester, stone-cutter ; Charles Walker, of Ashton, weaver ; Joseph 
Watson, of Mossley, clogger j Joseph Ramsden, of Mossley, woollen- 
weaver ; William Nicholson, of Lees, letter-press printer; John 
Haigh, of Oldham, silk -weaver ; Joseph Taylor, of Oldham, hatter ; 
John Kay, of Royton, student in surgery j Robert Pilkington, of 
Bury, cotton- weaver ; Amos Ogden, of Middleton, silk- weaver ; Caleb 
Johnstone, of Middleton, cotton-weaver; and Samuel Bamford, of 
Middleton, silk- weaver. Soon afterwards we were joined by John 
Johnstone, of Manchester, tailor, and Joseph Mitchell, of Liverpool, 
draper. Such were the conditions of all whom I recollect as standing 
prominently forward in those times, through evil and through good 
report, in our district of the country." 

In December, 1816, a meeting of delegates was held in 
the chapel, at which it was resolved to send out mission- 
aries to other towns and villages. William Fitton, of 
Royton, a very honest and very intelligent man, and Ben- 
bow, and Pilkington, went to the manufacturing towns in 
the West Riding of Yorkshire, and were very successful in 
awakening the demand for reform. On the 4th November 
a great meeting was held in St. Peter's Field, Manchester, 
John Knight in the chair, " to take into consideration the 
distressed state of the country ; " and similar meeetings 
were held in the neighbouring towns. On the 1st January, 
1817, a meeting of delegates from twenty-one petitioning 
bodies was held in the Middleton chapel, when resolutions 
were passed declaratory of the right of every male to vote 
who paid taxes ; that males of eighteen should be eligible 
to vote ; that parliaments should be elected annually ; that 
no placeman or pensioner should sit in parliament ; that 
every twenty thousand inhabitants should send a member 
to the house of commons ; and that talent and virtue were 
the only qualifications necessary. " Such," says Bamford, 
" were the moderate views and wishes of the reformers in 


those days, as compared with the present. The ballot was 
not insisted upon as a matter of reform. Concentrating 
our whole energy for the obtainment of annual parliaments 
and universal suffrage, we neither interfered with the house 
of lords, nor the bench of bishops ; nor the working of 
factories ; nor the corn-laws ; nor the payment of members ; 
tithes, nor church-rates; nor a score of other matters, 
which in these days have been pressed forward with the 
effect of distracting the attention and weakening the ex- 
ertions of reformers ; any one, or all of which matters 
would be more likely to succeed with a house of commons 
on the suffrage we claimed, than with one returned as at 
present." Mr. Bamford ought to have added, that although 
the radicals did not petition for a repeal of the corn-law, 
the passing of that act was constantly urged as the strongest 
proof of the necessity of parliamentary reform, and that at 
every public meeting flags were displayed, bearing the 
inscription of " No corn-law." 

The enemies of reform were alarmed at the movement of 
the radicals. On the 13th of January, at the instigation of 
Lord Sidmouth, who recommended such demonstrations to 
be made everywhere, a meeting of the tory party was held 
in Manchester, to consider the "necessity of adopting 
additional measures for the maintenance of the public 
peace." An association to further that object was formed, 
and a declaration adopted which received the signatures of 
upwards of two thousand of the principal residents. In this 
embodyment of their views and feelings, they stated that 
" the numerous meetings held both publicly and secretly 
the organised system of committees, delegates, and mis- 
sionaries the contributions levied, particularly for dis- 
seminating pamphlets calculated to mislead and irritate the 
public mind the indecorous and highly unconstitutional 
reflections upon the exalted personage now exercising the 
royal authority the marked disparagement of the most 
extensive charitable relief in the seasons of unavoidable 


pressure the language of intimidation, not merely hinted 
but plainly expressed the appointment of popular assem- 
blies in various parts of the kingdom on the same day, after 
the meeting of parliament, and the previous assembling of 
deputies in London ; all these circumstances afford strong 
manifestation of meditated disorder and tumult, and bear 
no analogy whatever to the fail* and legitimate exercise of 
that constitutional liberty which is emphatically the birth- 
right and security of Englishmen." Meetings for the same 
purpose were held at Bury, Bolton, Rochdale, Oldham, 
Stockport, Ashton, Saddlewoth, Sandbach, Congleton, and 
Liverpool. On the 25th of February an attempt was made, 
by holding a meeting at Preston, to check the progress of 
" disloyalty" in Lancashire, but the " loyalists" were out- 
voted and defeated in their object. Other means had to be 

An assault on the Prince Regent upon his return from 
opening the session of parliament in January, came oppor- 
tunely to aid the operations of the terrorists. Soon after a 
message was sent to both houses, communicating to them 
" papers containing information respecting certain practices, 
meetings, and combinations in the metropolis and in the 
different parts of the kingdom, evidently calculated to 
endanger the public tranquillity, to alienate the affections 
of his majesty's subjects from his majesty's person and 
government, and to bring into hatred and contempt the 
whole system of our laws and constitution." These papers 
were referred to select committees in both houses ; and in 
both, these committees reported that there was a dangerous 
and wide-spread conspiracy for the subversion of public 
order. Sidmouth was ready with his remedies. In his 
estimation severity was mercy, and radicalism was as bad 
as frame-breaking luddism, and little less atrocious than the 
murder which was expiated by the executions at York in 
1812. Bills were at once introduced for suspending the 
Habeas Corpus Act preventing the seditious meetings 


punishing attempts to seduce soldiers or sailors from their 
allegiance and providing for the security of the royal 
person. They were carried with but slight opposition, 
parliament thus declaring that it needed no reform, and 
that it would not permit the subject to be discussed. 

Evil advisers had crept into the ranks of the radicals, and 
spies and inciters to mischief had been sent amongst them ; 
and then came the " Blanket Meeting," in St. Peter's Fields, 
Manchester, afterwards to become still more celebrated in 
the annals of radicalism, from which thousands of men 
were to march to London with their petition, each carrying 
a blanket or rug strapped to his shoulder, under which he 
was to bivouack on the road, if no better accommodation 
could be had. Mr. John Edward Taylor says that Mitchell 
had the credit of inventing this rather unusual mode of 
exercising the constitutional right of petition. Mr. Bainford 
says : "It was one of the bad schemes which accompanied 
us from London, and was the result of the intercourse of 
some of the deputies with the leaders of the London opera- 
tives the Watsons, Prestons, and Hoopers. Mitchell and 
Benbow had cultivated a rather close acquaintance with 
these men, little suspecting, I have no doubt, that their new 
friends had already fallen under the influence of instigators 
who betrayed all their transactions to the government." 
Bainford says he protested strongly against the project ; but 
his warnings, if he did warn, were disregarded. On the 1 Oth 
of March the meeting was held, and several hundred persons 
set out on their route to London. Some time after their 
departure, a considerable detachment of the King's Dragoon 
Guards rode rapidly up to the hustings, which they sur- 
rounded, taking those who were upon them, twenty-nine in 
number, amongst whom were Baguley and Drummond, into 
custody. " Benbow," says Bamford, " took care not to make 
his appearance." The meeting was then dispersed by the 
troops. " Here, however," says Mr. J. E. Taylor, in the 
pamphlet from which I have formerly quoted, " is to be 


found the precedent for that novel form of reading the Riot 
Act (if in either case it were read at all), which was followed 
on the 16th of August, 1819. The act was certainly not 
read according to the mode prescribed by the statute, nor 
were the crowd allowed that time for dispersion, which the 
law gives them." When the field was cleared, a large body 
of soldiers and constables were despatched after those who 
had proceeded on the road towards London. They came up 
with them on Lancashire Hill, near Stockport. Some 
hundreds were taken into custody, several received sabre 
wounds, and one industrious cottager, resident on the spot, 
was shot dead by the pistol of a dragoon, at whom a stone 
was thrown from the situation where, with others, the poor 
man stood. In this case a verdict of " Wilful murder" was 
returned by the coroner's jury, but no steps were taken to 
bring the delinquent to justice. "Trifling as was the 
general amount of injury sustained on this occasion," says 
Mr. Taylor, " I have the means of stating, positively, that 
this circumstance was owing, rather to the humanity and 
coolness of the military, than of the magistrates and 
municipal officers. Sir John Bing repeatedly found it 
necessary to check the violence and impetuosity of the civil 
authorities." About a hundred and eighty persisted in 
their march, and reached Macclesfield at nine o'clock, of 
whom some lay out all night, and found their way home 
next morning, and some were committed to prison. About 
fifty went on to Leek, and only some twenty were known 
to have gone as far as Ashbourne, some of whom found 
their way to Derby, stopping where the Scotch rebels 
stopped in 1745. 

After the description of the " blanket" folly, and after 
quoting Bamford's assertion that the plan was brought from 
London by Mitchell and Benbow, subsequent to the meet- 
ing of deputies at the Crown and Anchor, on February 
7th, it is but fair to state, that Mitchell says that the plan 
was agreed upon at Major Cartwright's long before that 


time, in the presence of Mr. Cobbett, who fully approved 
of it, and of Mr. Peter Walker, who did not dissent. It is 
not of much consequence accurately to know who were the 
originators of the folly. It brought much misery upon 
many misled men, and no little discredit on the cause of 
parliamentary reform thus attempted to be promoted. 

The blanket meeting and the blanket march were, of all 
possible devices, the least likely to convince the middle and 
the aristocratic classes that the multitudes were fitted for 
the enjoyment of the electoral franchise ; and yet there 
were circumstances which, though not amounting to a 
justification of those movements, offer, when duly considered, 
some palliation of the folly. There were many brought to 
the very brink of starvation and hunger seldom reasons ; 
there were many of those who thought that the open ex- 
hibition of their misery would excite sympathy and bring 
relief; and there were many who thought that the show of 
strength, without being illegally put forth, would ensure 
respect to their claim for fair representation. In smaller 
numbers were those who thought that it would be patriotic 
to achieve, even by force, if force were to be used against 
themselves, the rights which were denied them ; and there 
were some who, being employed by government and the 
local magistracy to discover sedition and betray the seditious, 
made work for themselves by instigating the disaffected into 
such open action as would make them amenable to the laws. 
Bamford tells of having been waited upon by a young man, 
a stranger, and invited to take part in making a " Moscow 
of Manchester ;" and how, in the belief that he was only 
misguided, the fellow was permitted to go away in safety 
after the atrocious proposal had been made ! 

There had been unnecessary severity in dispersing and 
pursuing the people who had met and, blanket- enveloped, 
marched. Middle-class men, then themselves becoming 
reformers, severely blamed the harsh dispersion and the 
rough pursuit. There needed to be some justification for 


the past harshness, and some reason for the continuance of 
coercion. On the 28th of March the magistrates and people 
of Manchester, in constant correspondence with Sidmouth, 
notified " that information had reached them, on which they 
could place the fullest reliance of a most daring and 
traitorous conspiracy, the object of which was nothing less 
than open insurrection and rebellion." They added, that 
" deputies, calling themselves delegates, not only from the 
principal towns in this district, but others from a consi- 
derable distance, are known to be engaged in it. The town 
of Manchester is one of the first pointed out for attack, and 
the moment fixed upon for the diabolical enterprise is the 
night of Sunday next, the 13th instant." The awful plot 
is more circumstantially described in the report of the 
secret committee of the house of lords : "It was on the 
night of the 30th of March, that a general insurrection was 
intended to commence at Manchester. The magistrates were 
to be seized, the prisoners were to be liberated, the soldiers 
were either to be surprised in their barracks, or a certain 
number of factories were to be set on fire, for the purpose 
of drawing the soldiers out of their barracks, of which a 
party, stationed near them for that purpose, were to take 
possession, with a view of seizing the magazine. The 
signal for the commencement of these proceedings was to 
be the firing of a rocket, or rockets ; and hopes were held 
out that 2,000 or 3,000 men would be sufficient to accom- 
plish the first object, and that the insurgents would be 
50,000 strong in the morning." 

"The official promulgation of these statements," says 
Mr. Wheeler, " combined with the scenes which were 
enacting through the country, excited much apprehension. 
The provisions of the Watch and Ward Act were put in 
force in Manchester ; special constables in large numbers 
were enrolled, troops poured in from all quarters, and, in 
conformity with the recommendation of the grand jury of the 
sessions, three troops of yeomanry, each containing fifty 


men, were formed. It was believed that a conspiracy had 
been organised for a simultaneous rising throughout Lanca- 
shire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, and Warwick- 
shire ; and nobody can doubt that there prevailed amongst 
the people much dissatisfaction, arising in great part, 
probably, from commercial distress, as well as from political 
discontent." I had to take my part in these watchings and 
wardings, and I recollect that one night after I had headed 
a company, amongst whom was Mr. John Edward Taylor, 
who lived next door to me in Islington-street, Salford, I 
wrote in the minute book at the station-house that I had 
found all quiet during our domiciliary visits, and my belief 
that the lieges would remain quiet if they were let alone. 
We shall hear of the yeomanry corps, at that time formed, 
hereafter, when they achieved an unenviable fame. What 
became of the great plot so circumstantially described, and 
giving rise to such precautions for the preservation of 
the king's peace ? 

On the evening of the 27th of March, about a dozen 
persons were taken into custody at Ardwick and other parts 
of the town, and sent, not to the New Bailey prison for 
committal to take their open trial at Lancaster, but to 
London, to undergo secret examinations at the home secre- 
tary's office. After the first burst of astonishment and 
alarm, which this intelligence caused, had subsided, people 
began to inquire a little into the probability of their being 
well founded, particularly as the 30th of March had passed 
without the slightest discernable symptom of popular effer- 
vescence. In order, probably, to arrest the current of public 
incredulity, the Rev. W. R. Hay, stipendiary chairman of 
the bench of magistrates, in his charge to the grand jury 
at the Salford sessions, as reported in Wheeler's Manchester 
Chronicle of the 26th April, stated, that when the trials of 
the parties accused came on, " purposes of the blackest 
enormity must be disclosed to the public," and that those 
" who professed to doubt their existence, would be finally 


constrained to admit the existence of the whole of them." 
But, notwithstanding this positive official assurance, all the 
persons arrested on the imputation of these atrocious designs 
were discharged, not only without trial, but without any in- 
dictment being ever preferred against them ! 

Two SPIES had been taken into custody along with the 
men who were apprehended as implicated in the plot, 
but they were immediately discharged. One of them had 
assumed the name of Warren, but his real name was 
Waddington, and his place of residence Bolton. The other 
was a man named Lomax, a barber at Bank Top, Man- 
chester. It was denied in parliament that the latter was 
a spy; but he was closely connected with Waddington, 
whose title to the epithet was never disputed, and his 
instant release showed what his occupation had been. It 
was further admitted that he had written to Lord Sidmouth 
on the 1 7th of March, offering to become a spy. Michael 
Hall, another spy, who assumed the name of Dewhurst, 
was in the house at Ardwick when the alleged conspirators 
were arrested, but it was arranged that he should escape. 
After Waddington's exposure in the House of Commons, he 
was passing through a street in Bolton, when a young man, 
a schoolmaster, exclaimed, " Oh thou blackface !" a term 
there in use, since the riot at West Houghton, to designate 
a spy. Waddington coolly lowered his gun, fired, and sent a 
ball through the thigh of his unfortunate accuser ! He was 
committed to prison for this offence, but Colonel Fletcher, 
or Major Watkin, immediately ordered him to be discharged 
on bail, although the offence charged was unbailable ; and 
in the meantime it was managed that the poor schoolmaster 
should be indicted at the Salford sessions for a riot, Wad- 
dington being the principal witness against him. He was 
convicted, and on his subsequently obtaining liberty he was 
unable to prosecute his own charge against Waddington, 
who went unpunished ! I have reason to know that a 
gentleman then in office at Bolton, much disgusted at this 



perversion of justice, was induced to inquire on what 
foundation his tory opinions had been laid, and that the 
result was his conversion to reform principles. Nor was 
this an infrequent result of similar observation and inquiry. 
Amongst the persons taken into custody, under the sus- 
pension of the habeas corpus act, in connection with this 
pretended plot, was the weaver poet, Samuel Bamford, who 
was apprehended and handcuffed at Middleton by Nadin, 
the deputy- constable of Manchester, and six or eight police 
officers, all of whom were well armed with staves, pistols, 
and blunderbusses. Nadin is thus described by Bamford : 
" He was, I should suppose, about six feet one inch in 
height, with an uncommon breadth and solidity of frame. 
He was also as well as he was strongly built, upright in 
gait and active in motion. His head was full sized, his 
complexion sallow, his hair dark and slightly grey ; his 
features were broad and non-intellectual, his language coarse 
and illiterate, and his manner rude and overbearing to equals 
or inferiors." The radical poet, who seems, after all, to 
have had no dislike to this rough deputy, gives a specimen 
of his conversation on their way to the New Bailey prison 
in Manchester : 

" Passing Street Bridge and Royley, we entered the village of 
Royton, the streets of which were deserted and the doors shut. We 
soon returned to Eoyley, and the constables made a dash into a house 
in search of a man named Mellor, but he was not there. A crowd 
was collected near the carriage, and as I was expecting to move on, 
the door was suddenly opened, and a long, thin barrel of a human 
body was thrust into the coach, head first, a couple of stilt-like legs 
being doubled up after it. e Lock 'em together,' said Mr. Nadin, and 
it was no sooner said than done. This person had met some of the 
runners in a back court or alley, and threatened to beat in their brains 
with a walling hammer which he had in his hand. 

" G-eorge Howarth, for that was the name of my new companion, 
was a decent, labouring, married man, of Royton, and was about six 
feet four inches in height. He said he thought it a very hard case ; 
* he cudno' tell wot he'd dun amiss.' Mr. Nadin said he'd know ' wot 
he'd dun amiss ' before he was much older. 


, bless your life, Mesthur Nadin,' said George, 'yo're a 
graidley felley for owt 'at I kno' to th' contrary, an' I never sed nowt 
ogen yo' i' my lyve.' 

" ' Aye, an' I'll make thee into a graidley felley too afore I ha' dun 
wi' the. Theaw'rt a moderate length to begin wi', but theaw'll be 
lunger afore theaw comes back to Heighten : ween ha' the hang'd,' 
said our keeper. 

" * Nay, Mesthur Nadin,' said George, c dunno' say so : they axt 
wot I had i' mi' hont, an' I shode 'em ; it wur nobbut a bit ov a 
wallin' hommer 'at Pd bin a borroin'.' 

" ' Aye,' said Mr. Nadin, ' an' theaw sed theaw'd knock their brains 
eawt wi' it. But ween larn thee, an' aw yo' jacobins, heaw yo' 
threatun to kill th' king's officers : theaw'll be hang'd as sure as 
theaw sits theer.' George seemed thoughtful upon this. He looked 
at the shackles, and at me ; and soon after we drew up at the Spread 
Eagle public-house, in Manchester- street, Oldham." 

On Sunday, the 30th of March, Bamford, along with 
Dr. Healey, Joseph Sellers, Nathan Hulton, John Roberts, 
Edward Ridings, and Edward O'Connor were sent off to 
London, heavily ironed by the legs. Nadin wished to add 
body and neck collars, and armlets with chains, but the 
king's messengers objected to their use. The prisoners 
were accompanied by the two messengers, and Joseph Mills 
and James Platt, Manchester police officers. On Tuesday 
they were conveyed to the secretary of state's office, at 
Whitehall, where they were received by Sir Nathaniel 
Conant, the police magistrate, Sir Samuel Shepherd, the 
attorney general, Lord Sidmouth, and Lord Castlereagh 
the secret tribunal, which, under the suspension of the 
habeas corpus act, superseded judge and jury. On the 29th 
of April, Bamford appeared for the fifth time at the home 
office, and was discharged, giving his personal bond in the 
sum of one hundred pounds, to be levied on his goods and 
chattels, if within twelve months he did not appear in his 
majesty's court of justice at Westminster. The other 
prisoners were sent to various places of confinement, but 
were all ultimately dismissed untried, although many of 
them were charged with being deeply implicated in the 
F 2 


terrific Ardwick plot. Poor Bamford, huffed and cuffed 
and ironed at Manchester, was greatly mollified by the 
official civility of Lord Sidmouth, and records his "warmest 
gratitude" to Mr. Williams, the messenger, to whose care 
he had been consigned, and who, on the morning of Barn- 
ford's release, made him " a handsome present of clothes." 

And so ended this grand plot, and so were fulfilled the 
predictions of the Rev. W. R. Hay, in his charge to the 
grand jury, that when the trials of the parties accused came 
on, " purposes of the blackest enormity must be disclosed 
to the public," and then those "who professed to doubt 
their existence would be finally constrained to admit the 
existence of the whole system /" It requires a great stretch 
of charity to think that the reverend magistrate had any 
belief in the existence of the plot. I do not believe he had ; 
but the confident prediction served the purposes of the 
Sidmouth administration, and, for such and further services 
in repressing the demand for reform, the reverend lawyer, 
a few years afterwards, was rewarded with the vicarage of 
Rochdale, worth 2,400 a year. 

Not contented with the suspension of the habeas corpus 
act, which enabled ministers to imprison, and to hold in 
prison, any one suspected of radicalism, Lord Sidmouth 
desired to lay the press at his feet. On the 12th of May 
he addressed a circular to the lords lieutenant of England 
and Wales, apprising them that the law officers of the crown 
had given an opinion that the magistrates possessed the 
power of holding to bail persons found selling writings 
which were deemed, though not legally adjudicated, sedi- 
tious or blasphemous libels, and requesting that they would 
notify the same to the respective justices within their 
jurisdiction. Earl Grey brought the matter before the 
house of lords, by moving " that the case submitted to the 
law officers be laid before the house ;" but his motion was 
rejected by a great majority. A similar motion was made 
in the house of commons by Sir Samuel Romilly, and with 


the same result. The expression of opinion, however, had 
been strong enough to deter ministers from their purpose. 
A short time before the publication of Lord Sidmouth's 
circular, William Cobbett had sailed for America, much to 
the indignation of some of the radicals, who thought he 
ought to have shared with them the risk of imprisonment. 
No doubt he feared that a movement against the press, by 
an unconstitutional stretch of power, was contemplated, and 
that it would be made to apply especially to him. The 
following was his farewell address : 

Liverpool, 26th March, 1817. 

" My departure for America will surprise nobody but those who do 
not reflect. A full and explicit statement of my reasons will appear 
in a few days, probably on the 5th of April. In the meanwhile I 
think it necessary for me to make known that I have fully empowered 
a gentleman of respectability and integrity to settle all my affairs in 
England. I owe my countrymen most sincere regard, which I shall 
always entertain toward them in a higher degree than towards any 
other people upon earth. I carry nothing from my country but my 
wife and my children, and surely they are my own, at any rate. I 
shall always love England better than any other country. I will never 
become a subject or citizen of any other state ; but I and mine were 
not born under a government having the absolute power to imprison 
us at its pleasure ; and, if we can avoid it, we will neither live nor die 
under such an order of things. If I have not taken leave of numerous 
friends in London and in the country, it was because I should have 
been made unhappy by their importunities and the expressions of 
their sorrow. I make an enormous sacrifice of property and of 
feeling ; but, when my heart feels the tugs of friendship, and of all 
the interesting objects in Hampshire, it is reconciled to the loss by 
the thought, that I can enjoy them only during the pleasure of a 
secretary of state. When this order of things shall cease to exist, 
then shall I again see England. 


If there was little of heroism in this retreat, nothing 
could be more cowardly than the proceedings of the 
ministry. With all its irresponsible power, the constitu- 
tional safeguard of personal liberty being suspended, it did 
not dare to touch the hair of the head of any man beyond 


the station of an operative cotton-spinner, a weaver, or a 
common day-labourer. These were the classes amongst 
whom the spies were sent ; from these classes were taken 
the men who were sent to dungeons, to be afterwards 
discharged without trial. The administration of 1794 
boldly proceeded against Thomas Walker, who had been 
boroughreeve, and held high mercantile station. The 
administration in the spring of 1817 was bold enough to 
apprehend a few dozens of poor, friendless, and nameless 
men, but it had not the courage to bring them to trial. 
Overt acts were wanting, and it set to work to make them. 
If men would not rise in open rebellion to give ministers 
an opportunity of exercising " wholesome severities" on a 
great scale, miscreants, assuming the name, and expressing 
the feelings of reformers, were to be sent amongst them, 
to irritate their discontents, and to assure them that if they 
woukTonly rise, with arms in their hands, there were tens 
of thousands ready to join them, and to strike a decisive 
blow for their liberties ! 



MINISTERS finding that they could not bring into open 
court the parties charged with being concerned in the awful 
plot which was to have made a ," Moscow" of Manchester 
on the 30th of March, 1817 ; seeing that their prosecution 
of Thomas Jonathan Wooler for a libel upon themselves 
was abortive ; and knowing that on the trial, for a riot in 
London, in December of the previous year, of Watson, 
Thistlewood, Preston, and Hooper, which was fixed for 
June 9th, they had not a particle of evidence to support 
the charge of high treason beyond what could be supplied 
by Castles, an infamous spy in their own employment, 
became exceedingly anxious to obtain a further suspension 
of the habeas corpus act. On Friday, the 13th of June, 
Lord Sidmouth brought before the house of lords his bill 
for that purpose. On the previous day the report of the 
secret committee had been read to the house, and although 
two months had elapsed from the time at which the Ardwick 
plot was to have exploded, and no evidence had been found 
against the parties implicated, the particulars of that alleged 
revolutionary scheme were stated as fully and as particularly 
as if every allegation could be positively and irrefragably 
proved. The report stated also that in some part of the 
proceedings there were " traces of an intention to issue 
proclamations, absolving the king's subjects from their 
allegiance, and denouncing death against their opponents." 
With a strange candour it was added, " The committee, 
however, allow that they have not found any evidence of 
the preparation of these proclamations." On averments 
such as this the legislature was asked further to suspend 


the law for ensuring the liberties of the subject. The bill 
was read a second time on Monday, 16th, and on Thursday, 
19th, it was read a third time and passed. 

No time was lost in carrying it to the lower house. On 
the following day the report of the secret committee of the 
commons was read, and, like that of the lords, the main 
stress was laid upon the Ardwick plot, ministers then well 
knowing, if they did not well know from the first, that 
there was not a particle of evidence that it ever existed. 
On Monday, the 23rd, Lord Castlereagh proposed the 
first reading of the bill. Strong representations had gone 
from men of respectable station in Manchester against belief 
in statements which had been framed by persons known to 
have been employed by government, and known also to 
have urged the discontented to some overt treasonable or 
seditious act. In allusion to these representations, and to 
the charge that a miscreant named Oliver, a government 
spy, had in many places in Lancashire been endeavouring 
to excite to treasonable practices, Castlereagh said that Mr. 
Oliver had not gone on his government mission till the 1 7th 
of April ; that two dangerous plots had been concocted 
before that time ; and that " it was not an improper thing 
to send him down to see what was going ow." Money, he 
said, was constitutionally placed at the disposal of govern- 
ment for such purposes, and it was not right that its agents 
should be maligned. Mr. Ponsonby, a member of the 
secret committee, said : " He opposed the bill, as not called 
for by the danger, which might be remedied by other means. 
He had asked Oliver, in the committee, various questions 
as to the sort of persons implicated in these proceedings, 
when Oliver had distinctly avowed, that he knew of no 
persons of rank or influence who were connected with the 
agitators. He moreover admitted that he knew of no society 
in London who were acting with them in the country. Yet 
Oliver went into the country as the London delegate, was 
received as such, and told the people that London was ready 


to rise on the first movement, though it would not begin 
first. Such information must have had the effect of stimu- 
lating the wretched manufacturers to acts of rebellion, in 
the hope that a change would relieve them from their 
distresses. As no person of rank or influence was engaged 
in these movements, it was quite unnecessary to suspend 
the liberties of the whole nation, on account of the disturb- 
ances in a few districts. Such measures would never restore 

A member rejoicing in the name of Lee Keck saw no 
cure but in the suspension of the law ; for so long as the 
free agency of the leaders was allowed, nothing would put 
them down ; such agents as Oliver, a man " of good moral 
character," were absolutely necessary. Mr. Abercrombie, 
afterwards Speaker, could not understand the morality which 
gained confidence on purpose to betray, and incited to action 
on purpose to destroy. It is lamentable to find the name of 
Wilberforce supporting Castlereagh on this occasion. He 
supported the measure because he did not believe that Lord 
Sidmouth would abuse the powers bestowed upon him under 
the suspension of a constitutional law. He would yield 
reluctantly for the sake of the poor, and on account of the 
turbulence and irreligion of the times ! Lord Althorp 
retorted upon Wilberforce, that to give such confidence to 
ministers was the sure way to destroy the best safeguards 
of the constitution. Romilly also protested against Mr. 
Wilberforce's course. He said : " It was now for the first 
time avowed, that spies were in the regular pay of ministers, 
and were a part of the cruel system of administration. Was 
not this enough to excite general discontent and disgust ? 
Government carefully avoided bringing persons to trial. 
Did not this prove they were afraid of investigation? 
These measures of repression, as they were called, had 
manifestly increased the mischief. Day after day, encroach- 
ments were making on liberty, on the plea that power 
would be placed in gentle hands. He would entrust such 

F 3 


power in no hands, least of all in those of men who had 
refused to give the names of those whom they had impri- 
soned. Was his honourable friend (Mr. Wilberforce) in 
the house when a petition was presented from an individual 
who had been seven years in confinement under a former 
suspension ? There were many such cases. An opinion 
pretty generally prevailed, that ministers resorted to these 
measures of alarm for the purpose of getting rid of questions 
of economy and maintaining themselves in place." 

Brougham, still in his early might, ridiculed with much 
effect the resurrectionary plot. He said : " As to the 
discontents, were there no laws to check them ? However 
mild, pure, and inoffensive the disposition of the noble 
secretary, it should be recollected that he was the recorded 
dupe of the informer Oliver. Who was to give security 
that the secretary jnight not be made the tool of a band of 
informers, whom he had collected round his office, and who 
were daily filling his ears with tales of terror, of sedition, 
and rebellion ? Much had been said of the employment of 
spies, and of their respectability and morality ! Was it 
nothing that Oliver had fraudulently used the names of 
others to win a confidence for the purpose of abusing it, 
and that for hire ? Was it nothing that he was a cheat, 
in fact, and a murderer in contemplation ? Was it nothing 
that he would have been responsible for every drop of blood 
shed on that scaffold to which he would have led his blind 
and miserable victims ? The other side of the house seemed 
to have strange notions of morality ! Could a more black- 
ened villain be found than one who went about to ensnare 
that he might betray, and to corrupt that he might destroy ?" 

Mr. Canning, whose better days had not come, lent him- 
self to the encroachment on the liberty of the subject. 
The house, he said, should recollect that the mob of Paris 
had pillaged the palaces of kings ; he would defend the 
noble lord who had been so harshly attacked ; of all men 
the noble lord was the fittest to be entrusted with such 


powers. Lord Folkstone, the present Earl Radnor, who in 
both houses has always been a thoroughly independent 
member, said : " He could not refrain from smiling at the 
honourable gentleman's defence of the noble secretary, 
remembering, as he well did, the unsparing ridicule with 
which he had himself assailed the same distinguished 
personage. (Hear, hear.) Who but recollected the poor 
doctor a creature, the diagnosis of whose characteristic 
infirmity had so often amused the right hon. gentleman ! 
" The symptoms, a dulness that sits in the head, 

And dislike to all changes of place." 

Whether in prose or in poetry, the great object of his 
derision, and that, too, for want of talent ! Now, he was 
the fittest person in the land to be entrusted with power, 
though he was of all men the one most easily to be duped 
and misled." 

All was unavailing. Two hundred and seventy-six voted 
for the bill ; only one hundred and eleven against it. On 
the following day the second reading was carried by eighty 
votes against thirty. On Friday the 27th, the bill was read 
a third time and passed. Ministers had the power, until 
the 1 st of March, to imprison anybody whom they suspected 
or professed to suspect. Oliver was again let loose on the 
country. Castles had been irretrievably damaged by his 
unsupported, and, as the jury believed, false evidence 
against Watson, who, after a seven days' trial had been 
acquitted. But Mr. Oliver was a man " of good moral 
character," according to Mr. Lee Keck, and so he was let 
loose upon the country to betray and destroy. 

Bamford, in his " Life of a Radical," says, that soon after 
his return from imprisonment, without trial, in London, he 
found that a secret "influence" had been at work, exciting 
to and carrying on private meetings and suspicious intrigues, 
and that a well-dressed and apparently well-off stranger 
had been the chief mover. One day an old man, whom 
Bamford recognised as an old co-delegate, named Bacon, 


from Derby, called upon him, accompanied by " a decent- 
looking young man, much like a town's weaver." The old 
man told of a great meeting to be held in Yorkshire, which 
would give a finishing stroke to the borough-mongers. He 
seems to have been communicative on further designs, for 
Bamford says he advised his informant not to attempt to 
overthrow, by force, a national order of things. Bacon 
said he was too old a politician to be counselled by one so 
young as Bamford ; and so the old man " drank his beer 
rather hastily, and took himself off with his company." 
" Reader," says Bamford, " this pertinacious old man was, 
in a few days after, arraigned for high treason at Derby, 
and pleading guilty was, with fourteen others, transported 
for life ; whilst the young man, who was one of the Turners, 
was hung and beheaded, with the equally unfortunate 
Brandreth and Ludlam." * * * " That stranger 
that betrayer, reader, was OLIVER THE SPY." 

Oliver excited an insurrection in Derbyshire ; he could 
do nothing in Lancashire. There was "a small band" of 
men in Manchester, not named, not even remotely alluded 
to, in Bam ford's history, some of them, however, named by 
me in a previous chapter a band receiving, in 1817, acces- 
sions of persons led to think about the question of reform 
from the tyrannical proceedings of government, who had 
traced the workings of espionage, and denounced the 
betrayers. We, for I had the honour of belonging to the 
body, had never been approached by the spies. They did 
not dare. Their instructions were to go among the name- 
less and the friendless. But they had ineffectually attempted 
to tamper with men who held a middle station between us 
and the working classes. Our warnings, the warnings of 
men whose protection of the oppressed inspired confi- 
dence, had spread widely ; and the native shrewdness of 
our Sunday -school -instructed population did not rest. 
Even hot-headed, unreasoning fools who were disposed to 
have recourse to physical force were distrusted as the tools 


of government. We had raised the cry, " beware of spies," 
and it saved Lancashire from the follies committed in 
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, in 1817, and also from 
participation in the spy-instigated rising in Scotland three 
years afterwards. We had begun, besides, to write in 
Cowdroy's paper, previously containing, like the other local 
papers, little that was not gleaned from the London journals. 
Cowdroy, a stout-hearted honest man, was glad of the 
assistance we rendered him, and bravely encountered the 
risk of giving utterance to opinions most unpalateable to 
the powers that then were. We somewhat restrained the 
expression of our thoughts in order that he might not be 
prosecuted by the government ; for though we could have 
borne him harmless so far as expenses were concerned, we 
could not guarantee him against imprisonment. I some- 
times said to him " Are you not afraid, Cowdroy, of being 
indicted for seditious libels ?" " Not I," was the usual 
reply : " write away." The following passages from an 
article in his paper of November 1st, 1817, on the termi- 
nation of the special commission at Derby, will show that 
Manchester was beginning to enjoy the advantages of a 
free press : 

"It was necessary to prove that the arm of the law is strong 
enough promptly to arrest, and properly to punish the actors in such 
daring outrages ; some of whom seem to have felt no hesitation in 
adding to their other enormous guilt the deeper crime of cold-blooded 
and unprovoked murder. Yet it is perhaps of material consequence 
to the public, to endeavour to ascertain the nature, by investigating 
the origin, of the transactions to which we have referred ; for con- 
sidering the proceedings of the 9th of June as a " levying war against 
the Icing" they assume an aspect which it seems impossible to regard 
as otherwise than as supremely ludicrous. What are the facts as to 
the commencement of the affair, as far as they appear upon the 
evidence ? Why, that the plot was laid in an obscure public-house 
one Sunday forenoon, in an assembly fluctuating between the numbers 
of half a dozen and twenty individuals, in the presence of t^vo special 
constables^ who, after cautioning the assembled traitors to 'mind 


what they were saying J and informing them of the high authority with 
which they were themselves invested, were actually deterred, even 
subsequent to the breaking up of the meeting, from giving any infor- 
mation to the neighbouring magistrates, by the terrible and appalling 
threat of being 'put tip the chimney ! ! /' 

" There are a number of assertions sworn to have been made by 
Brandreth, and other leaders in these tumults, which it seems impos- 
sible rationally to account for, even upon their own views and feelings, 
in any other manner than by supposing that they were themselves 
deceived by some prior agent, in order that they might be more 
effectually instrumental in the deception of others. We allude to the 
information which this general-in-chief communicated to his army, 
that f all England^ Scotland, and Ireland would rise that day ;' to the 
assertion of Barnes, that ' the keys of the Totver of London were given 
up to the Hampden Club ;' to the statement of Weightman, that 
' Nottingham had "been taken by storm ;' and again of Brandreth, 
that * a great cloud was coming from the north,' which it would be 
impossible to resist. These very expressions are so exactly like those 
of Mr. Oliver, that, coupling them with the notorious fact of this 
respectable agent of government having been in the neighbourhood of 
Derby about the time the insurrection took place, it is impossible not 
to conclude that he had a great share in producing it. Indeed this 
fact was distinctly asserted both by Mr. Cross and Mr. Denman, and 
we do not find that it was controverted by any of the crown lawyers. 
Government having learnt wisdom by the fate of Castles, very 
prudently kept Mr. Oliver out of sight, and it was probably impos- 
sible for the agents of the prisoners to find him. Besides, he would 
of course have declined answering any questions which might tend to 
criminate himself, and no proof of his guilt could lesson the legal 
responsibility of those, who might in truth have been his victims. 
Yet it does seem strange that his name and agency was not more 
prominently insisted on. 

" But if it be said that the object of Brandreth and Weightman was 
to encourage their adherents, we reply that the opposite disheartening 
effect would be much stronger when the falsehood of their statements 
was discovered. This indeed was soon and strikingly exemplified on 
their approach towards Nottingham, where the whole rebel army fled 
in the utmost disorder, at the approach of one magistrate and one 
dragoon ! ! ! 

" We cannot think it possible that Brandreth would knowingly 
have devoted himself and his followers to absolute and infallible 


destruction. He must hare been taught to expect very different 
support from what he found ; and by whom were these expectations 
created in his mind, if not by Mr. Oliver ? 

" The whole citizens of Nottingham experienced none of the horrors 
of a bombardment ; the keys of the tower remained in the custody of 
his majesty's lieutenant; and though 'great clouds' might' come 
from the north' nothing else came. That Mr. Oliver should hold out 
expectations of support from this neighbourhood is the more probable, 
because we know, notwithstanding the fact has never yet appeared in 
print, that this ' moral* person was extremely active in his endeavours 
to implicate some of our own townsmen in his villainous designs, that 
he was particularly solicitous that Manchester should have sent a 
' deputy' to the celebrated meeting at Thornhill Lees, and that when 
he failed in his earnest entreaties to induce one gentleman to whom 
he applied to attend there, he most anxiously sought to obtain from 
him a recommendation to some other person, who might probably be 
induced to go." 

The gentleman who was so earnestly entreated to attend 
the meeting was Mr. Nicholas Whitworth. The person to 
whom Oliver was so desirous to be recommended was Mr. 
P. T. Candelet, then an ardent young reformer. The spy 
did not venture to tell Mr. Whitworth of plots and risings. 
He was too cunning for that. He talked of a legal meeting, 
attended by respectable deputies from all parts of the north 
of England, for a determined but constitutional purpose. 
Had Mr. Whitworth consented, under these deceptive 
representations, to attend the meeting, it would have been 
instantly bruited abroad that the reformers amongst the 
merchants and manufacturers of Manchester were making 
common cause with the working classes, and had appointed 
a deputy for that purpose. Mr. Whitworth was too shrewd 
a judge of character to be deceived by the plausible govern- 
ment agent, declared he would have nothing to do with 
him, and having warned Mr. Candelet to be on his guard, 
that gentleman declined to have any communication with 
Oliver, who had sought an interview through another 

Nearly twenty years after the trials at Derby, it was 


represented to me that some of the persons then trans- 
ported were still living in banishment. Mr. Denman, one 
of their counsel, had been promoted to the judicial bench. 
He knew that the men had been instigated to their folly 
by spies employed by government. Many of the whig 
ministers had, while in opposition, denounced the system 
of espionage as abominable and wicked. I thought the 
period was favourable for an application on behalf of the 
so long expatriated. To the credit of the ministry, thanks 
to Brotherton, Philips, Gisborne, and other members of 
parliament, who took the matter up warmly, it was suc- 
cessful. Many had been banished who were but slightly 
implicated in the so called insurrection. They had pleaded 
guilty because they saw that the farmers on the Derbyshire 
juries, anxious to get home to their harvest work, were 
determined to convict. They preferred banishment to 
execution. One sentenced to transportation for life was 
a lad of eighteen years of age, who, for his boyish offence, 
was punished by exile for more than eighteen years. 

Party spirit was not much less virulent in 1817 than 
it had been in 1794. I have mentioned that, in the former 
period, a purely literary association in Liverpool, of which 
William Koscoe, Dr. Shepherd, and Dr. Currie were mem- 
bers, had considered it prudent to suspend its social 
meetings in consequence of the persecuting spirit of the 
times. A similar association existed in Manchester, which, 
in addition to literary subjects, discussed questions of 
political economy, and, of consequence, sometimes trenched 
upon the ground of general " politics." I have had occa- 
sion more than once to notice that the Sidmouth adminis- 
tration had not, like the Pitt administration, the courage 
to direct their prosecutions against men holding the stations 
of John Home Tooke and Thomas Walker ; but with feeble 
hand, wielding enormous and unconstitutional powers, con- 
tented itself with entrapping and persecuting such men as 
John Knight and Samuel Bamford. The members of our 


Literary Society were safe individually; but we did not 
feel that we were safe as an association. The courts gave 
a strange interpretation to the word "conspiracy;" and 
that which might be utfered with perfect impunity by 
the individual, was ruled to be wicked and seditious and 
treasonable when two or three met to " breathe together." 
We had Jeremy Bentham's assurance that judge-made law, 
on this subject, was not the law of the land ; but we had 
to consider that, in the event of a trial, we should have to 
encounter the law as interpreted by the judges. Like the 
Roscoe Club in Liverpool, we agreed to suspend the meet- 
ings of our society, and to discuss questions of literature 
and political economy by our own firesides. We heard 
now and then of the outward tory world from one of our 
number the only one who resorted to the places where 
our opponents loved to congregate and recreate of insult 
and contumely heaped upon him because he was a reformer. 
We had one advantage over the reformers of 1 794. Com- 
merce had largely extended in spite of all the trammels 
with which it had been loaded ; and the commercial spirit 
had begun to mitigate the virulence of party spirit. Thomas 
Walker had deeply suffered in his business by the con- 
spiracy against him; but the field had become too wide 
for a similar operation against us. Shuttle worth and 
Taylor could sell their cotton to men who could not buy 
it cheaper elsewhere. In like manner, Thomas and Richard 
Potter could sell their fustians ; Brotherton and Harvey 
their yarns; Baxter his ginghams and shirtings; and I 
my fine Glasgow muslins. 

And yet our position was uncomfortable. We were 
safe ourselves, but every day brought us report of wrong 
and outrage done to our humble fellow countrymen 
wrong and outrage which we felt we could not fully re- 
dress. We thought, in our own cheerful homes, of the 
poor men in prison for alleged political offences the main 
offence being that they, like ourselves, were of opinion 


that our representative system was susceptible of amend- 
ment. The whole aspect of society was unfavourable. 
The rich seemed banded together to deny the possession 
of political rights; and the poor seemed to be banding 
themselves together in an implacable hatred to their 
employers, who were regarded as their cruel oppressors. 
Out of this bitter antagonism there seemed to be no other 
result than some great and destructive convulsion. Many 
were my aspirations 

" O for a lodge in some vast wilderness, 
Some boundless contiguity of shade, 
Where rumours of oppression and deceit 
Can never reach us more !" 

Some of the younger amongst us, like Southey and 
Coleridge at an earlier period, formed the design of creating 
a society of our own in one of the western free states of 
the American union. It was proposed that ten or twelve, 
possessing moderate capital, should obtain a tract of land 
in Ohio, lying along some stream running into a navigable 
river ; that none should possess individually more than a 
section of six hundred and forty acres, in order that we 
might not be too widely spread for mutual co-operation and 
friendly association ; that the same quantity of land for 
each should be bought as a joint-stock property, to be dis- 
posed of in smaller portions, with the consent of the com- 
munity, to millers, blacksmiths, joiners, and persons of like 
useful occupations who might be disposed to join us ; and 
that we should give our aid and assistance to enable intel- 
ligent and industrious farm-servants to emigrate to our 
colony. It was a pleasant dream, this imagination of a 
tract some fifty or sixty miles in length by four in breadth 
gradually filling up with intelligent men, enjoying the rude 
plenty of the new world with the civilization of the old ! 
Ourselves sitting under our own vines and our own fig-trees, 
planted with our own hands, surveying our golden wheat 
waving on land turned up by our own hard labour or 


directing care, and offering an asylum, amongst us and 
around us, to the oppressed of our native land ! I went 
over the very ground in 1848, and on the banks of the 
beautiful Little Miami River, described to John Brooks, my 
fellow-traveller, our feelings and the reasons why our 
intentions were not carried out. There was the pain of 
tearing ourselves from the land of our fathers ; and there 
were the hope, and something like the faith, that truthful 
principles might yet prevail ; and there were the whisper- 
ings of conscience that something was required to be done 
at home before it was abandoned that the seed should be 
sown before we had a right to expect the harvest. The 
design was not formally relinquished. It was cherished as 
that which might be carried into execution were there no 
indications of amendment in the mother- country. The 
events of 1819 showed that there was some fructification of 
the seed that had been sown, and revived the hopes of the 
previously almost despairing. 

A coercive repression of the public utterance of opinion 
often tends to facilitate its quiet private adoption and 
progress. Reform principles made considerable advances 
during the suspension of the habeas corpus act. Bamford 
confesses that the noisiest of the radical orators were 
silenced ; and as the loudest were usually the most foolish, 
the reproach of their folly was, for the time, removed from 
the cause which they so injudiciously advocated ; and 
soberly-thinking working men began to long for the time 
when they could join in a rational movement for the attain- 
ment of some share in the enactment of the laws which 
they were bound to obey. In the forced silence of the mere 
trading demagogues many of them men who would rather 
harangue from the platform than ply the shuttle the 
middle classes could calmly think of their own exclusion 
from political rights, and on the results of defective repre- 
sentation as shown in the wretched legislation and tyran- 
nical proceedings of a " borough-mongering " government. 


When that tyranny was exercised with still less regard to 
law and to constitutional right, when a legally-convened 
and peacefully-held meeting was exposed to the sabres of a 
body of yeomanry, eager to obey the impulses of their own 
heated tempers and their hatred of all reform, and when 
magistrates who directed the sanguinary attack received 
the thanks of royalty, it was seen in the wide and deep 
expressions of indignation, that the principles of rational 
reform had made great progress during the time between 
the blanket meeting of March, 1817, and the great St. 
Peter's Field meeting of August, 1819. 

Amongst the quiet but effective labourers for the pro- 
duction of thought had been the Sunday-school teachers. 
Earnest to impart religious and moral instruction, they had 
been awakening powers of thought amongst the rising 
generation which might have lain dormant and useless, or, 
otherwise directed, have become mischievous and destruc- 
tive. There, in their upper rooms, Sunday after Sunday, 
year after year, sacrificing the ease and comfort of their 
own days of rest, did they, in the discharge of an imperative 
religious duty, toil on untiredly, in the full faith that the 
bread thus cast upon the waters would be seen after many 
days. If there is to be any hero-worship, let it be paid to 
those patient, unregarded, unrewarded, unknown, often 
much despised workers in the over-crowded, stifling garret, 
or the dark under-ground school-room. With the single 
undeviating purpose of promoting the eternal welfare of 
their pupils, they were preparing them for the fit discharge 
of their social and political duties. They were creating 
THOUGHT amongst the hitherto unthinking masses. From 
amongst those teachers were to arise men to earn, by their 
well-directed industry and the excellence of their character, 
a higher position in society, and the opportunities of higher 
usefulness in civic authority, and even in the senate ; 
whilst into the lowest classes was introduced a leaven 
which, if not extinguished by state interference, or by 


spiritual wickedness in high places, promises to leaven the 
whole mass. To this voluntary labour, unpaid labour, 
heaven-directed but despised labour quiet, unostentatious, 
almost unseen is mainly owing our exemption from san- 
guinary revolution ; and to the continuance of such labour 
must still be mainly owing what we have yet to gain in the 
recognition and practical operation of the great principles 
of internal government, and external friendly intercourse 
with the family of man. 

In the comparative lull of political agitation, a warm 
discussion took place in the Manchester papers about the 
exportation of cotton yarn. " An old manufacturer," who 
was, I believe, Mr. Ratcliffe, of Stockport, in long and 
frequent letters, earnestly warned the Manchester public of 
the distress that would accrue from allowing foreigners to 
purchase our twist. He took it for granted that what was 
not exported would be woven up at home, and hence it was 
easy to calculate how many additional weavers might thus 
be employed. Tens of thousands of looms might be set to 
work, with all their adjuncts of winders and warpers, by a 
single stroke of the legislative pen. How oppressive and 
tyrannical it was to cut off the source of all this profitable 
employment ! And then there were other men writing in 
the papers against permitting foreigners to settle in Man- 
chester, and, by buying goods direct from the manufacturers, 
taking the bread out of the mouths of our own native 
merchants. It was asserted that there were some foreigners 
who were so impudent as to buy, not finished goods that 
would not have been so very bad but fustians in the grey, 
and having them cut, dyed, and dressed themselves. Nay, 
there were some of our merchants who were bold enough to 
assert, that unless an end was put to this invasion of native 
privilege, we might have foreigners actually becoming 
manufacturers here ! Poor Ratcliffe was assailed unmerci- 
fully by a set of young writers in Cowdroy, who quoted 
Adam Smith against him. I made rough work with the 


book authorities. I quoted not only Adam Smith and 
Josiah Child, but all the other political economists, English 
and French, whose works I had either read or read of, and 
triumphantly asked whether their fantastic theories were to 
be set against the practical knowledge of Mr. Ratcliffe, the 
"old manufacturer" of Stockport? He was impervious 
both to argument and ridicule. He honestly believed that 
he was right ; but finding that the public would not believe 
with him, he bethought him that if we could weave by 
steam, we should beat the foreign weavers, and work up all 
our yarn at home. The great difficulty was how to dress 
warps so as to admit of continuous working in the loom, and 
that difficulty he set himself to overcome. He succeeded, 
and met the usual reward of ingenious inventors ; he intro- 
duced a new mode of production, and it produced nothing 
to himself. He was a public benefactor, and was laughed 
at as a visionary schemer. 

During that lull of political agitation we had also much 
talk about the theory that population increases in a greater 
ratio than the increase of the means of subsistence, and 
many, out-Malthusing Malthus, began to speculate about 
the evil of supporting paupers who, Nature's table being 
already full, ought rather to be allowed to die off ! Some of 
our whigs who had " ratted " from their reform principles, 
on the pretence that they had been shocked by the atrocities 
of the French revolution, were the foremost and eagerest in 
the promulgation of these opinions ; and there were indica- 
tions of a movement, even in the face of the corn-law and 
enormous taxation, for the total abolition of legal relief to 
the poor. The Scotch could do without poor-laws, or with 
poor-laws allowed to go into disuetude, and why might 
not we ? Dr. Chalmers caught at this cry, and in an 
article in the Edinburgh Revieiv, on the " Causes and Cure 
of Pauperism," advanced the doctrine, that a legal provision 
for the poor increased the poverty it professed to relieve. 
I had previously seen the necessity, not of abolishing the 


Scotch poor-laws, but of rigidly enforcing them upon a 
landed proprietary which, drawing large rents, contributed 
nothing to the relief of poverty. Having seen in Lanark- 
shire an old man of eighty toiling his way, up to his knees 
in snow, to my brother's house, I asked him why he did not 
stay at home and be relieved by his parish. He said, " Ah, 
sir ! they gie me a shilling a week, and that disna keep me, 
and I canna help coming out to beg." I found, on inquiry, 
that by the compulsion of seen distress acting on benevo- 
lence, my brother paid more in relieving wandering beggars 
beggars sent out because they might be starved to death 
at home than I paid in poor-rates on my warehouse in 
Manchester, which happened to be of just the same rent 
as he paid for his farm. In my " Letters from Scotland," 
written in the summer of 1816, and purporting to be from 
the pen of "An English Commercial Traveller," I had 
indignantly denounced the heartless system ; and when I 
found that the doctrines of Dr. Chalmers, its apologist and 
abettor, were eagerly adopted by certain classes in Man- 
chester, I employed Cowdroy's press in printing a pamphlet 
in reply to his article in the Edinburgh Review, relentlessly 
exposing its fallacies, for which I was heartily abused, in 
Glasgow especially, where good old women and good young 
ladies said that nobody but an atheist could oppose any 
opinions held by Dr. Chalmers. My pamphlet was only a 
stone thrown into the strong stream, but the ripple it caused 
was seen by others able to throw stronger impediments into 
the current. 

In this year, 1817, the history of which we are now 
passing, there occurred an astounding instance of the in- 
difference of the inhabitants of Manchester to an important 
public right. There had long been a wooden bridge, free 
to all foot passengers, connecting Manchester with Salford, 
of very great convenience to crowds of working people, 
who had to pass to their meals or their work several 
times a day, from the one township to the other. A number 


of gentlemen met and resolved, that instead of the old 
wooden bridge there should be a handsome stone one 
thrown over the Irwell ; and very great was the laudation 
poured out upon them for their public spirit. A joint- 
stock company was formed, and an act of parliament was 
obtained, giving powers to take down the old bridge ; 
but instead of a clause retaining the long-established 
public right, there was one empowering the collection of 
the toll of a halfpenny from every foot passenger ! It is 
said that, in after years, when the clause was pointed out 
to Lord Shaftesbury, he remarked that if his attention 
had been directed to it at the time, he would have struck 
it out, even although no one had appeared to protest 
against it. Charity leads to the supposition that when the 
gentlemen, so much lauded for their improving spirit, had 
erected a handsome bridge, with commodious approaches, 
they thought they had established a right to exact the half- 
penny ; but very few regretted that the speculation was 
profitless. The bridge and its approaches, within some two 
hundred yards of the Exchange, had remained a desert for 
thirty years. The full tide of human existence which flowed 
down Market-street had, for all that time, been suddenly 
arrested there. The speculators had lost every farthing 
of money they advanced. Even those who lent money on 
mortgage, unable to obtain anything like the usual rate of 
interest, were glad at last to accept a composition, raised by 
subscription, that the ancient right might be restored. In 
1848 the bridge was thrown open to the public; of old 
persons there were numbers who, in passing once more 
free over the inky stream, said, exultingly : " Well, those 
who took our right away one-and-thirty years ago, have 
not made much of it anyhow." We shall hear, hereafter, 
of provision being made against similar encroachments on 
public rights, of Vegetable Wright and his Flixton footpath 
case, and of sundry inroads resisted by the society for the 
preservation of ancient footways on the secluded privacy 



sought to be acquired by the exclusion of the unwashed 
multitudes from pleasant field roads, their own unalienable 
property. Are these trifles beneath the notice of the 
historian ? The vindication of a right in small things keeps 
alive the spirit of resistance to greater unjust encroach- 
ments ; and the man who preserves a footway where the 
humble mechanic can take his wife and children through 
fresh and verdant fields is as much a benefactor as he who 
gives to the public a park or an arboretum. The assertion 
of ancient rights of footways in Manchester led to the 
establishment of additional sources of enjoyment to the 
industrial classes. A generous subscription of 30,000, 
a few years ago, put three parks, of thirty acres each, 
into the possession of the public; and to these places of 
recreation, as well laid out as the grounds near a noble- 
man's mansion, the humblest of our population have free 
access, injuriously touching nothing and destroying nothing, 
but proving that the poor will be conservative, even of 
beauty, when confidingly trusted. 



THE Regent, in his speech on the meeting of parliament, 
27th January, 1818, having assured the two houses that 
the confidence he had invariably felt in the stability of 
our national prosperity had not been disappointed, said 
" The improvement which has taken place in almost every 
branch of our domestic industry, and the present state of 
public credit, afford abundant proof that the difficulties 
under which the country was labouring were chiefly to be 
ascribed to temporary causes." He went on to say : "So 
important a change could not fail to withdraw from the 
disaffected the principal means by which they had availed 
themselves for the purpose of fomenting a spirit of discon- 
tent, which unhappily lead to insurrection and treason; 
and his royal highness entertains the most confident expec- 
tation, that the state of peace and tranquillity to which the 
country is now restored, will be manifested against all 
attempt to disturb it, by the persevering vigilance of the 
magistracy, and by the loyalty and good sense of the 
people." The Earl of Liverpool in the lords, and Castle- 
reagh in the commons, in reply to questions from Lord 
Holland and Lord Althorp, announced the intention of 
ministers to bring in a bill for the repeal of the act for 
suspending the operation of the Habeas Corpus Act. As it 
was well known that this was to be followed by an act of 
indemnity for all the illegal and oppressive measures that 
were resorted to during that suspension, a meeting of some 
of the leading reformers in Manchester was held, at which 
it was resolved that a petition should be addressed to the 
House of Commons, declaring the falsehood of the allega- 


tions on which the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended. 
The following is a copy of the petition : 

" That the petitioners heard, with great pain and uneasiness, the 
alarming statements which were currently circulated during the early 
part of the past year, as to the evil designs entertained by the labour- 
ing classes in their neighbourhood, and concealed under the disguise 
of an anxiety to obtain a reform in the representation of the people ; 
that the petitioners have found themselves obliged to conclude that 
the impression produced by the statements to which they have now 
referred, greatly influenced the decision of the house in concurring 
with the proposals of his majesty's ministers, entirely to suspend 
some, and materially to abridge other of the most valuable rights and 
privileges which Englishmen derive from the bravery and wisdom of 
their ancestors, and which afford their best safeguards against the 
encroachments of arbitrary power and the abuses of intolerant party 
spirit ; that, although firmly convinced, at the period when those 
measures were proposed by his majesty's ministers to the considera- 
tion of the house, that the circumstances of the times did not require, 
and that constitutional vigilance could not acquiesce in the suspension 
of the act of Habeas Corpus, and the other encroachments adopted 
by the house, the petitioners thought it most proper to defer the 
expression of their sentiments upon this important subject to a period, 
when the heat of political feeling being somewhat allayed, they might be 
enabled to examine with maturer deliberation, with more scrutinising 
caution, and with more rigid impartiality, the truth of the infor- 
mation upon which, judging from the reports of its secret committees, 
the house must be presumed to have acted ; that the petitioners could 
not avoid feeling that the character, not only of the towns in which 
they reside, but of the very populous district that surrounds them, 
and perhaps even of the county of Lancaster at large, was involved 
in the charges of disaffection, disloyalty, and treason, which were so 
lavishly heaped on the most numerous and the most industrious class 
of its population ; that the petitioners take leave to assert to the 
house, not only that the conduct of the labouring part of their fellow- 
townsmen at that period did not exhibit the slightest tendency to 
insubordination or violence, but that they sustained an unparalleled 
extremity of distress with fortitude the most exemplary and heroic ; 
that without stating themselves to concur in the propriety, or to 
defend the prudence of all the political conduct of the working classes 
in their neighbourhood, the petitioners have no hesitation in assuring 
the house, as the result of their careful and assiduous inquiries, that 
G 2 


the proceedings of that part of the population have been completely 
and most grossly misrepresented j that as far as regards the meeting 
of the 10th of March, familiarly known by the designation of the 
blanket meeting, nothing could exceed the quietness and order with 
which the populace proceeded to it, and demeaned themselves 
throughout its continuance; that it had been publicly announced 
several days, and not the slightest intimation of its imputed illegality 
was given ; that no attempt was made to disperse it by means of the 
civil power, but that, without warning, and, as the petitioners verily 
believe, without even reading the riot act, doubtful as it is, whether, 
under such circumstances, that statute could legally be enforced, the 
dragoons, acting under the orders of the magistrates, dashed impe- 
tuously amongst the multitude, and compelled it to seek safety in 
flight, although magistrates at that period did not possess the dis- 
cretionary power over public meetings with which the house has since 
invested them ; and between two and three hundred persons, who 
were proceeding on the road to London with petitions, were, in the 
course of the before- mentioned day, apprehended and lodged under 
circumstances of great hardship, in a prison which contained, before 
their arrival, nearly three times the number of prisoners it was 
originally calculated to receive j and that eight of the persons then 
arrested, who refused to give bail for their future appearance, were 
committed to Lancaster Castle, and after being detained in gaol 
amongst prisoners of the most profligate and abandoned description 
for nearly six months, were at length discharged without trial ; that 
on Saturday the 29th of March, public apprehension was most 
generally and painfully excited, by the appearance of an advertise- 
ment issued by the magistracy and police of Manchester, bearing 
date the preceding day, and in which they stated, that ' information, 
on which they could place the fullest reliance, had reached them, of 
a most daring and traitorous conspiracy, the object of which was 
nothing less than open rebellion and insurrection ;' that ' the town of 
Manchester was one of the first pointed out for attack, and the 
moment fixed upon for the diabolical enterprise was the night of the 
30th of March ; ' that as the petitioners could not think it possible 
that the magistrates or police would wantonly or thoughtlessly trifle 
with public alarm, by making so horrible a charge on dubious or 
insufficient grounds, they confidently expected to see such daring and 
desperate offenders, as those implicated in this e diabolical enterprise' 
must necessarily be so supposed to be, brought to early trial and 
condign punishment, particularly as on the 23rd of April, when the 
examination of the supposed delinquents must, as the petitioners 


conceive, have brought the evidence against them under his magiste- 
rial cognizance, the Eev. W. R. Hay, stipendiary chairman of the 
Salford quarter sessions, did, in his address to the grand jury, allude 
to the subject in the following terms : ' As judicial inquiries would 
be instigated against the offending parties, it would not be just to 
enter much upon the subject, but he might be permitted to say, 
should such inquiries take place, purposes of the blackest enormity 
must be disclosed to the public, and that those who professed to 
doubt their existence would finally be constrained to admit the 
existence of the whole of them ;' that the suspension of the act of 
Habeas Corpus being, as appears by the term of the bill itself, appli- 
cable only to persons 'suspected of entertaining designs hostile to his 
majesty's government,' the petitioners conceive that it never was 
intended by the house to supersede the necessity of public judicial 
inquiries into charges of treason, distinct and specified in their 
character, and of unparalleled atrocity in their complexion ; that the 
petitioners are therefore persuaded that the house will learn with 
astonishment, that all the persons arrested as participators in this 
alleged conspiracy have been discharged without trial; and they 
would further represent to the house, that if the slightest suspicion 
of the guilt of the parties still remains, it is most dangerous to the 
welfare and tranquillity of the country at large, to restore to liberty, 
and consequently to the capability of doing mischief, men who have 
connected themselves with a design of such dreadful wickedness! 
whilst, on the other hand, if there is no foundation for the diabolical 
conspiracy imputed to them, every principle of justice and humanity 
imperiously demand that they should be publicly and legally delivered 
from the charges to which they have been so foully and falsely sub- 
jected ; that the attention of the petitioners having been aroused by 
the charge of these alleged conspirators without trial, some of them 
have entered upon an extensive and rigid investigation of the grounds 
upon which traitorous and rebellious proceedings were imputed to the 
parties taken into custody, and the result of the investigation is a 
most positive and irrefragable conviction that no such conspiracy 
existed, that no violent designs were in contemplation, and that no 
measure dangerous to public tranquillity was ever proposed or dis- 
cussed at any of the meetings which took place, except by hired spies 
and informers ; that whilst the petitioners are convinced that no effort 
was left untried by these wicked and detestable emissaries, to ensnare 
and delude the labouring classes into acts of riot and insubordination, 
they cannot but think it will be satisfactory to the house to reflect 
that the illegal schemes and exhortations of these miscreants, though 


addressed to men suffering the most distressing privations, hare been 
so eminently and uniformly unsuccessful ; that the conviction of the 
petitioners, as to the activity of the spies, in endeavouring to engage 
persons known to the petitioners for parliamentary reform, in their 
own villainous machinations, does not rest on general and indefinable 
impressions ; but the petitioners believe that their habitual violence, 
their endeavours to seduce individuals to the commission of specific 
crimes, which would deservedly subject them to capital punishments, 
their officiousneas in appointing meetings in different parts of the 
country, their activity in procuring a large attendance at such meet- 
ings, their assumed names, their apprehension and immediate dis- 
charge, and their connexion with the magistracy or police, can be 
clearly and indisputably demonstrated ; the petitioners would further 
state to the house, that, during the early part of the last year 
nocturnal domiciliary visits by subordinate agents of the police, 
without the exhibition of warrant or authority for such proceedings, 
during which the greatest abuse and inhumanity was displayed, were 
of disgracefully frequent occurrence ; the petitioners, therefore, con- 
ceiving that the house could neither foresee nor intend to sanction 
such proceedings as they have enumerated, and that the employment 
of spies in the manner and to the extent to which it has prevailed in 
the neighbourhood of the petitioners is pregnant with the most 
dangerous consequences to his majesty's peaceable and well-disposed 
subjects, and anxious also to vindicate to the country at large the 
loyalty and good character of that extensive and populous district, do 
humbly, but most earnestly intreat that the house will be pleased to 
institute a strict inquiry into the truth of the matters stated in this 
petition, and also into the general proceedings, not only of the labour- 
ing classes, but of the magistracy and police of Manchester and its 
neighbourhood, during the early part of the past year; and the 
petitioners do hereby pledge themselves to use the utmost diligence 
and alacrity in furnishing the house with such evidence as they con- 
fidently believe will most fully and completely establish the conclusions 
they themselves have formed on the subject." 

Mr. George Philips, on presenting this petition, entered 
at considerable length upon the events of 1817, of which a 
sketch has already been given, and concluded by stating his 
intention, at some early day, to refer it to a committee. In 
the meantime the names of the twenty- seven persons who 
had signed the petition, and had offered to incur the expense 



and trouble of obtaining evidence to lay before the house of 
commons, were procured by parties opposed to any inquiry, 
and printed on a broad sheet, which was pasted up in count- 
ing houses, as a pretty plain intimation that the men who 
were daring enough to assert that government had any hand 
in exciting the discontented to overt acts of sedition, could 
not expect to have any commercial transactions with the 
loyal friends of social order. 

A number of other petitions were sent by individuals who 
had suffered under the suspension of the law. Old John 
Knight represented that, on the night of the 30th of March, 
1817, he had been apprehended in bed by Nadin, hand- 
cuffed, and conveyed to the New Bailey prison, and kept 
there till the 6th of April, and then sent, heavily ironed, to 
London, and committed to Tothill-fields prison on suspicion 
of high treason ; that on the 10th of April he was removed 
to Reading jail, where he remained till the 9th of July, 
whence he was taken to Salisbury jail, where he was put 
into a small, gloomy, stinking felons' cell, and surrounded 
by noisy, brutal prisoners of that description ; that he was 
then removed to Worcester jail, where he was confined to 
the end of the year, and then, being told he would be dis- 
charged, he proceeded to London, where he had to wait till 
the 31st of January, when the attorney general moved the 
discharge of all the recognizances of the state prisoners ; 
and that he then returned home " impaired in health by 
long and close imprisonment, and his family and pecuniary 
affairs incalculably injured." Joseph Mitchell, in like 
manner, complained of an incarceration for 240 days, on a 
charge of high treason, never attempted to be substantiated. 
William Ogden stated that he, an old man of 74, had been 
apprehended by Nadin on the 9th of March, 1817, and sent 
off to Horsemonger-lane prisonr, where the ponderous irons 
with which he was loaded " broke his belly," and dangerous 
hernia ensued ; and he prayed the house not to pass an act 
of indemnity which should prevent his seeking redress for 


his imprisonment and the cruelty which he had experienced. 
William Benbow, of Manchester, stated that he had been 
apprehended in Dublin on the 16th of May, and sent to 
the house of correction in Coldbath-fields, where he was 
confined eight months and then discharged, without trial, 
two hundred miles from his home, without the means of 
conveying himself thither. Amongst the petitioners was 
Elijah Dixon, now a prosperous manufacturer of lucifer 
matches, who was suspected of dealing in matters even 
more inflammatory. His statement set forth, "that the 
petitioner was, on the 12th of March, 1817, whilst following 
his lawful occupation, apprehended by a warrant issued by 
Lord Sidmouth, and carried to London in double irons, and 
was, on the 15th of the same month, committed to Tothill- 
fields Bridewell by the same noble lord, on suspicion of high 
treason, and there detained till the 13th of November, 
although the same noble lord must, or might, have known 
that he was perfectly innocent of the crime imputed to him ; 
the petitioner, therefore, prays that the house will please to 
consider the justice of making the said noble lord responsible 
for the loss of time of the petitioner, and for the injuries 
which his family has suffered in consequence of his long, 
unjust, and unredressed imprisonment ; he also prays that 
they will be pleased to adopt such a reform in the election 
of members to serve in the house, as shall give each man a 
feeling sense that he is represented, and enable him once 
more proudly to boast of our glorious constitution in king, 
lords, and commons." Samuel Bamford, whose apprehension 
by Nadin has already been described, was also amongst the 
number of the petitioners. His prayer was, " that the 
house will no longer countenance a system of terror, of 
blood, and of oppression, by granting to his majesty's 
ministers a bill, indemnifying them from the consequences 
of outrages by them committed against the constitution of 
this realm." 

Mr. G. Philips, on the 5th of March, made his motion 


for an inquiry into the conduct of spies and informers with 
respect to treasonable and seditious practices, and in the 
course of his speech said, "he would not assert that ministers 
had made the plot, but he would say that they had made 
the most of it ; and no instruments could be found so 
convenient for their purposes as spies and informers, by 
whose means the dread of violence and treason was kept 
alive, and the attention both of parliament and the public 
was effectually diverted from those questions of political 
economy and retrenchment which had been so peculiarly 
harassing to the government." Mr. F. Robinson (Cobbett's 
"Prosperity Robinson") said he believed, on his honour 
and conscience, that the petitions were false, and he begged 
the house, on behalf of a calumniated government, a calum- 
niated magistracy, and in the sacred names of truth and 
justice, to reject the motion. Mr. Blackburne, the member 
for Lancashire, said that the twenty-seven names which 
were said to be signed to the petition were not the names 
of most respectable people, as had been stated, but, on the 
contrary, were those of some of the lower classes of society. 
Besides, what they stated could not be true, because he had 
received a letter, signed by three magistrates, denying the 
truth of their allegations. After a pretty long debate the 
house divided. There were against the motion 162, for it 
69, being a majority of 93 against inquiry. A previous 
motion to a similar effect, moved by Lord Folkstone, now 
Earl Radnor, had met a similar fate, there being against it 
167, for it 58, majority against inquiry 109. The bill of 
indemnity was read a first time on the 9th of March, the 
number voting against all redress for violations of the law 
by ministers, magistrates, and constables being 190, while 
the votes against the bill were only 64. Amongst the 
speakers was Sir Samuel Romilly, who begged the house to 
consider well the precedent it was about to establish. " In 
time of profound peace," he said, " on any appearance of 
discontent, or any alarm of insurrection, the Habeas Corpus 

G 3 


Act might be suspended ; and the suspension having once 
taken place, magistrates were at liberty to disregard all 
law, to exercise what arbitrary acts of power they thought 
proper, spies and informers were to be busily employed 
to betray the rash and inconsiderate, who were labouring 
under the pressure of penury and distress, to their destruc- 
tion, and, under cover of indemnity, a total denial of 
Justice was to prevail for those who had suffered grievous 

The reason why only twenty-seven names were put to 
the petition praying for inquiry was, that it was a docu- 
ment pledging all who attached their signatures to a heavy 
responsibility, both of expense and labour. They con- 
sisted mainly of the persons whom Richard Potter liked 
to designate as the " small but determined band." There 
were men amongst them of ancient family, of great wealth, 
and of no inconsiderable talents, and they all held respect- 
able stations in a commercial and manufacturing com- 
munity. They were men, also, of the class in which, in 
better times, members of parliament for counties and large 
boroughs were to be found, in lieu of the Blackburnes, who 
said they were of the " lower orders," and not "respectable." 
To have any sympathy, then, with the poverty-stricken 
multitude, except when they came with bated breath and 
pauper accents, was to forfeit all claim to the name of 

The prosperity boasted of in the Regent's speech was 
of short duration, furnishing another proof that a nation 
cannot continue prosperous when food is dear. Wages, 
as usual when the price of bread is high, were low. The 
operative cotton spinners, forbidden to speak of politics, 
as treason against the government, struck against their 
masters for an advance of wages. The contest grew more 
bitter the longer it lasted ; and in an attack on Mr. Gray's 
mill, supposed to be for the purpose of destroying or 
damaging the machinery, some shots were fired by t 


soldiers or police officers placed within, by which some 
were wounded and one man killed. The coroner's jury 
brought in a verdict of justifiable homicide. Sidmouth, 
who had convinced his conscience that severity was mercy, 
rejoiced in the verdict, and in the committal to prison of 
some radicals, who had not profitted by the lessons read 
to them during the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. 
Writing to Lord Ellenborough, to cheer him after h^is 
defeat by William Hone, he says : " The combination at 
Manchester is now nearly dissolved. The verdict of the 
jury in the case of the person killed in the attack on Gray's 
mill, the arrest of Johnson, Baguley, and Drummond, who 
are lodged in Chester gaol, the failure of pecuniary supplies, 
and the admirable arrangements of Sir John Byng, in 
conjunction with the civil authorities, have effected this 
fortunate change." His complacent lordship had soon to 
find that a v forced tranquillity was a transient one. He 
had not the good harvest of 18131 to aid his endeavours; 
and wheat ,at 80s., intended to be the minimum price by 
the fanners of the 1815 corn law, revived the radical 
agitation 'which he believed he had put down by his 
wholesome, peace-giving, content-creating severities. 



THE trial of Mr. John Edward Taylor for libel was occa- 
sioned by that bitter party spirit which sought every 
seemingly safe opportunity of throwing contumely upon 
reformers. He was one of the "twenty-seven" who signed 
the petition to the House of Commons, which gave so 
much offence to the powers that then were in Manchester, 
and there was a strong suspicion that he was its author. 
If he could not be indicted for sedition and treason, he 
might be reached in some other way; if he could not 
be disgraced, he might, at least, be lowered in public 
estimation by exclusion from local office. On the first 
of July, 1818, a meeting of the commissioners of police for 
Salford was held, for the purpose of appointing assessors ; 
and a list of the names of persons intended to be proposed, 
amongst which was that of Mr. Taylor, was lying on the 
table. When the list was read, Mr. John Greenwood 
said, " I think I heard some gentleman object to Mr. 
Taylor." Not finding any one respond to the invited 
objection, he again said, " Some gentleman has objected 
to Mr. Taylor." No one had objected. Mr. Gill asked, 
"Who is this Mr. Taylor?" Mr. Greenwood replied, 
" He is one of those reformers who go about the country 
making speeches." Mr. Joseph Brotherton observed, that 
Mr. Taylor would not make a worse assessor for being 
a politician, for if he was a reformer he was a moderate 
one. " Moderate, indeed !" replied Greenwood. " He 
was the author of a handbill that caused the Manchester 
Exchange to be set on fire in 1812." Mr. Brotherton 
observed, that he thought it behoved a person to have 


good authority before venturing upon such assertions. Mr. 
Greenwood said, he had good authority for it. Mr. Taylor 
hearing of these assertions in the Exchange, on the street, 
and in company, sent a note to Mr. Greenwood, requesting 
to know on what authority they were made. There was 
no reply. After waiting two days a second note was sent; 
still there was no reply. Mr. Taylor requested me to take 
a third note, and personally to obtain an answer. Things 
began to look serious. I said, "Will you fight, Taylor, 
if he should refer to that kind of satisfaction ?" " Certainly 
I will," he said. " Have you ever fired a pistol in your 
life ? I asked. " I have not," was the reply. " Then you 
shall not have me as your second, for you would be as 
likely to wing me as to shoot Mr. Greenwood." Taylor 
seriously begging that I would be grave, I said, " I will 
take your message, but understand me clearly, I never 
will in my lifetime have anything to do with a duel. You 
cannot prove that you were not the author of the placard by 
sending a bullet through him, and you will be an unmitigated 
ass if you give him the chance of sending one through you. 
If there is to be a descent to such folly, I retire." 

With Mr. Taylor's missive in my hand, I went to 
Greenwood's warehouse. When he had opened the note 
which I gave to him, and had read a few lines of it, he 
asked, "What's this about?" I was at the time making 
some remark to a gentleman from Kington, who was in 
the counting-room, and did not answer the question, as 
Mr. G. continued reading. When he had done he re- 
peated the question. I said, " I presume the cards Mr. 
Taylor has sent sufficiently explain his meaning." He 
said, " I don't want to be troubled with notes from 
Mr. Taylor ; I know nothing at all about the business." 
I said, " Mr. Taylor wishes you to explain on what 
grounds you asserted that he was the author of the hand- 
bill." He replied, "I did not assert any such thing; I 
only said that he was reported to be the author." " And 


you made that a ground for his exclusion from a public 
office. Am I to tell Mr. Taylor that you did not assert 
that he was the author?" He said, "You may tell 
Mr. Taylor what you like ; I don't want to have anything 
to say to him. Let him mind his business, and I will mind 
mine." I said, "Mr. Taylor will not allow his character 
to be spoken of in the way it is reported you spoke of it." 
" Does Mr. Taylor mean to say that he was not the author 
of the handbill ?" " Mr. Taylor will not answer that 
question until you have explained your reasons for con- 
sidering him the author." "lam not a political man," 
he replied ; " I don't meddle with politics, and it would 
be better for Mr. Taylor that he did not ; but if people 
will go about to disturb the peace and create disaffection, 
I deem it my duty to take notice of them." " If, sir ? 
Do J T OU mean to say that Mr. Taylor has ever attempted 
to disturb the peace and create disaffection ?" "I will not 
be pumped," he replied. "Your name is Prentice, is it ?" 
" It is." " Well, then, Mr. Prentice, it would be better 
for you and Mr. Taylor to mind your business, and let 
politics alone." I said, " Mr. Greenwood, that is our 
consideration. Mr. Taylor must take care that his cha- 
racter is let alone, and he wants from you a direct answer 
to his notes." " I don't want anything to do with Mr. 
Taylor or his notes." " Is that your answer, sir?" I asked. 
He replied, " You may say what you like." " Very well, 
sir. Good morning." And so I left him, with a pretty 
strong conviction that he was not exactly the person that 
would run rashly into a duel, even with a man who had 
never in his life fired off a pistol. 

Taylor was, naturally, much irritated, and, smarting at 
the repetition of vulgar insult, he sent the following note 
to his traducer : 

" Sir, Your not having given my Mend, Mr. Prentice, any expla- 
nation as to the subject referred to in my former notes, compels me 
to consider you as the fabricator of the report in question. 


" I therefore now tell you, that as yoii have had the baseness to 
traduce my character, without having the manliness to justify your 
own conduct as you have made assertions respecting me equally 
false as they are malicious, and met the attempts of my friend to 
procure from you a candid avowal or disavowal of your conduct, 
by new insinuations still more unjustifiable than the former, you 
have proved yourself a liar, a slanderer, and a scoundrel. 

" I shall not fail to make my opinion of you at least as public as 
are your calumnies against me ; and I shall take the earliest oppor- 
tunity that presents itself of telling you to your face what I think 
of you. " I am, &c., 


" Toll-lane Buildings, Thursday Afternoon, 
July 16th, 1818." 

Mr. Greenwood having, four or five days after receiving 
this note, repeated to Mr. Brotherton that he had good 
authority for charging Mr. Taylor with having written the 
placard, that gentleman published a letter in Cowdroy's 
Gazette, referring to the correspondence, and stating that a 
copy of it should lie at the printer's for public inspection. 

The grand jury, at the Salford quarter sessions, on the 
27th of October, found an indictment against John Edward 
Taylor, late of Salford, chapman, for that he, being a person 
of an evil and malignant disposition, and intending and 
devising, as much as in him lay, to injure and vilify the 
good name, fame, credit, and reputation of John Greenwood, 
with force and arms, of great hatred, malice, and ill will 
towards the said John Greenwood, wickedly, maliciously, 
and unlawfully did write, and cause and procure to be 
written, certain false, scandalous, and defamatory words, &c. 

Knowing, as Mr. Taylor did, the nature of the court of 
quarter sessions of Salford, his solicitor, Mr. Atkinson, 
applied for and obtained a writ of certiorari to remove the 
indictment into the Court of King's Bench. The trial took 
place at the Lancaster spring assizes, on the 29th of March, 
1819. Mr. Taylor, who had resolved to undertake his 
defence in person, was accompanied by Mr. Edward Baxter, 


Mr. Joseph Brotherton, Mr. F. R. Atkinson, Mr. John 
Shuttleworth, Mr. Rickards, my friend Mr. John Childs, of 
Bungay, and myself, that he might see friendly faces round 
him while he was in a position of some danger. Scarlett, 
afterwards Lord Abinger, who was employed for the prose- 
cution, made a very short speech, assuming the utmost 
nonchalance, as if the jury could not for a single moment 
doubt the propriety of finding a verdict of guilty where 
the libel was so flagrant. " It would be a mere waste of 
time," he said, " to enter into a detail of circumstances 
which cannot be the subject of your consideration, or at all 
influence you in the verdict you are to pronounce ;" the 
defendant would have an opportunity in the Court of King's 
Bench, when called up for judgment, to urge any extenu- 
atory circumstances ; all that the jury had to do was to 
inquire whether he had written the letter, and if its contents 
were libellous. And then he dropped down his portly 
person into his seat with an air that plainly said, " There's 
an end on't. You have no choice but to say ' guilty.' " 
The only evidence offered was the proof of publication. 

Mr. Taylor took a legal objection, citing a case from 
the law reports. The old cast-iron-faced judge listened 
impatiently. "Have you done now?" he asked, in his 
gruffest voice. 

Mr. Taylor. Yes, my lord. 

Baron Wood. Then there's nothing in it ! 

Never was poor defendant cut so short before. " Have 
you done now ?" " Yes, my lord." " Then there's nothing 
in it." It was as pretty a sequence of three sentences as 
ever was uttered ; and for months afterwards we never 
recollected it without loud laughter. The defendant turned 
from the judge to the jury, and told them that they were 
the sole judges of the law as well as of the fact. He said : 

" I protest, gentlemen, against truth being visited with the penalties 
of falsehood. I protest against the doctrine of the courts, that the 
truth of a libel constitutes an aggravation of the charge ; and prepared 


as I am on this occasion to justify every word I have written, and 
to prove every accusation I have made, I would give no man the 
power of undermining the basis of my defence, by a tame, spiritless 
acquiescence in those odious dicta of servile lawyers, which reason, 
and justice, and truth equally deprecate and disclaim. What, indeed, 
can be more monstrous than the position, that the utterance of truth 
is an offence rightly punishable by the criminal law ? What can be 
more inconsistent, than that you, who would shrink from the baseness 
of personal intercourse with a liar, should yet be called upon to render 
amenable to fine, or imprisonment, or both, him who has conscien- 
tiously confined himself to truth?" 

He proceeded to impress upon the jury that there was no 
proof of the falsehood and malice charged against him in 
the indictment. He told them that they must be satisfied, 
by evidence, that he was the false, wicked, and malicious 
person described, before they could find him guilty ; he said 
that he was the person defamed, and not Mr. Greenwood ; 
he detailed the whole of the circumstances as I have related 
them ; he offered to produce witnesses to prove the truth 
of all that he had asserted ; and he concluded his speech 
by saying : 

" Gentlemen, upon the broad principle both of the truth of my 
statements as respects Greenwood, and of the intolerable provocation 
I have received, I feel myself entitled to your verdict. I have not, 
for I could not, address you in eloquent or oratorical declamation, 
but I have told you ' a plain, unvarnished tale ;' I have set before you 
the facts as they really occurred, with those observations upon them 
which the circumstances of the case seemed to me to require. An 
apprehension of consequences, personal to myself, should never induce 
me to supplicate for your verdict ; but let me again remind you, that 
yon, and you alone, are the judges of the law as well as of the facts ; 
and let me entreat, that with the full view of all the facts before you, 
you will upon this occasion prove yourselves defenders and guardians 
of the truth. Place yourselves in my situation remember the pro- 
vocation I have received consider what would have been your own 
conduct, and then, following the great principle of Christian morality, 
' so do to me as ye would that, in similar circumstances, I should do 
unto you.' " 

Mr. Scarlett was noted for his quick perception of a jury's 


feelings. He had no doubt seen that at least one of the 
jurors, the foreman, Mr. J. Rylands, of Warrington, had 
listened with deep attention to Mr. Taylor's indignant 
protest against truth being punished with the penalties of 
falsehood, and to his confident assurance that, if the court 
would allow him, he would, then and there, prove that he 
was the person who had been defamed and vilified. He 
no doubt saw that there was one determined man who would 
impress upon his fellow-jurors the injustice of finding guilty 
on charges not only not proven, but in the face of an offer 
to prove the whole of the injustice and provocation offered 
to the defendant. It was not safe to let the case go thus to 
the jury. There might not be witnesses present to prove 
the truth of Mr. Taylor's narrative ; if there were, they 
might break down in some points of their evidence : at all 
events, the examination of witnesses would give him the 
opportunity of a REPLY, of having the last word, of 
trying his certainly strong powers in influencing a jury, 
and thus to remove the impression which Mr. Taylor's 
speech had made. He hastily resolved to give the defen- 
dant "rope enough." 

Mr. Taylor. I offer my witnesses to the court, if your 
lordship thinks proper to hear them. 

Mr. Scarlett. I shall not object to your proving what 
you have stated to the jury ; for I hold it extremely wrong, 
Mr. Taylor, that you should state anything you are not 
prepared to prove. 

Mr. Taylor. If his lordship consents, I shall examine 
my witnesses. 

Mr. Scarlett. My lord, I shall make no objections to the 
witnesses on the part of the defendant being examined. I 
will give him rope enough. 

Mr. Taylor. Very well. Call Joseph Brotherton. 

Mr. Brotherton was called, and in his placid way stated 
what Mr. Greenwood had said of Mr. Taylor. His quietly- 
given evidence seeming to tell on the jury, Cross, also 


employed for the prosecution, seeing the mistake com- 
mitted by Scarlett, objected to the line of examination ; 
but the latter was reminded of his promise to give " rope 

In cross-examination Scarlett asked : " Well, now, is the 
office of assessor one of any emolument ?" Answer : " No." 
"Or of honour?" Answer: "No; but a person would 
think himself degraded in being considered unworthy to 
fill it." Scarlett: "You know that is not evidence, Mr. 
Brotherton, but you think it may have some influence with 
the jury." 

Mr. C. Rickards was then called, who stated that, in 
consequence of what had been said at the meeting of police 
commissioners, Mr. Taylor's name was left out of the list of 
assessors. I was the next witness, and detailed the con- 
versation that had taken place between Greenwood and 
myself. This closed the defendant's case. 

Scarlett then rose, determined to punish the man who 
had compelled him to an imprudent concession. Taylor 
had made the apology for undertaking his own defence that 
he had determined on a course which he could not expect 
any gentleman at the bar to take. This Mr. Scarlett 
represented to be a gross libel on the bar as composed, of a 
set of servile, spiritless, base, and grovelling wretches who 
had not the courage to do their duty. He went carefully 
through the whole defence, to show that Mr. Taylor had 
been unnecessarily and unreasonably exacting. In refer- 
ence to the language used in the last note he said he " had 
seldom found that the pursuit of reform mended a man's 
manners ;" he said that Mr. Taylor was a man who was in 
the habit of making speeches ; " I have no doubt he has 
made more speeches in the county of Lancaster than I have 
done ;" and accused me of stiffness and hauteur in making 
a dry and abrupt demand for Mr. Greenwood's authority. 
He concluded a most bitter and a most unfair attack on the 
defendant by saying : " He has culled from every author 


he has read, all the fine and all the bitter things they have 
said, and applied them to the prosecutor ; and the whole 
course of his defence has been the most virulent attack 
upon his character and should the defendant be convicted 
by your verdict, of which I can entertain no doubt, he has 
rendered himself a just subject for condign punishment. 
That the defendant wrote the letter is admitted that it is 
grossly libellous is equally clear and that it is false you 
must now be entirely convinced. If this should be your 
conviction you must necessarily pronounce the defendant 
guilty. But if you should doubt either that he published 
the letter, or its libellous nature, or if you should be of 
opinion that he has proved Mr. Greenwood to be a liar, a 
scoundrel, or a slanderer, then, in God's name acquit him." 

The learned, cast-iron-faced judge then charged the 
jury. He confessed he might have been wrong in admit- 
ting evidence of truth, but as the counsel had consented he 
had not opposed; the words were libellous beyond all 
doubt, and " in an indictment for libel the party could not, 
in law, be allowed to plead in his justification the truth of 
what he had alleged;" if such were not the law every 
individual might have his foibles, his follies, or even his 
crimes, published in every newspaper in the kingdom for 
the purpose of bringing him into disgrace ; there could be 
no doubt as to the libel, and no doubt as to the malicious 
intent ; if the defendant was found guilty he would have 
an opportunity to urge, in another place, a mitigation of 

Mr. Taylor.-^ My lord, I request that the letters and 
papers which have been given in evidence may be handed 
to the jury. 

Baron Wood (angrily). No I won't ; I shall allow of no 
such thing. 

A few hurried words passed in the jury-box. It was seen 
that there was not to be an agreement in court. The 
foreman, honest, firm, conscientious John Rylands, took 


his great coat from the front of the bar where he had hung 
it, and threw it over his arm with an energy and determi- 
nation of air which led Mr. Childs to remark to Taylor : 
" That man will acquit you." In a letter to me Childs 
says : " I have often desired since to see again that sedate, 
earnest, strong, thoughtful-looking man, but after the 
events of that day I have never had the opportunity, yet I 
have never forgotten him." The jury retired. 

Mr. Taylor, his sister, and his friends sat in court listen- 
ing to the next case, turning their heads at every distant 
sound to see if the jury were coming back, but the day 
wore heavily on without any sign, and at length the court 
broke up. Several of us afterwards went to the foot of the 
stair, which led to the room where the jury were confined. 
There sat at the door, a man who was charged to keep it 
sacred from the approach of any persons whatever. He 
said he had heard loud words for several hours, at intervals, 
but for a long while past they had been very quiet. We 
returned to our inn, under the conviction that the longer 
the jury remained out, the better the case stood, and from 
time to time kept returning to watch, and to learn if any 
sound had been heard from the mysterious room, but 
no the men might be dead, for aught we could learn or 

Thus we paced the streets of Lancaster, hour after hour. 
It was a wild, howling night, with continued blasts and 
hail storms. Sometimes we stood and watched the window 
of the tower which contained the jury, and contemplated 
their condition on such a wintry day and night as that had 
been, confined and kept so many hours without food, or 
drink, or tobacco, " or coal, or candle-light." Thus at 
intervals of half an hour, an hour, and so on, more or less, 
we sauntered backwards and forwards, hearing the Lan- 
caster clocks strike hour after hour. A few of our number 
determined to go, yet once again, to have a few words with 
the keeper of the door, with whom by this time, from their 


numerous visits to him, they seemed to have become 
familiar acquaintance. They went this time, rather with a 
view to bid the man good night, or have a few more last 
words, than with any expectation that there would be any 
move or stir before morning, when, suddenly, while they 
were talking with the door-keeper, there was a most 
unearthly yell: "Open the door!" then a confused 
bustle, then their familiar with whom they had been speak- 
ing, became authoritative. " O, get away gentlemen, the jury 
are agreed," said he ; and sure enough it was the jury 
"agreed." By the dim light which was reflected upon 
them when the door opened, and as they descended from 
their dark chamber, they formed the oddest spectacle, and 
made the queerest picture imaginable. It was obvious that 
all the arts they could devise to keep themselves warm had 
been tried; two had handkerchiefs tied on their heads, and 
all made a most piteous appearance. The bailiff who had 
charge of them now arranged them two abreast, and 
marched them off towards the judges' lodging, whither at 
the close of the court, it had been decided they should 
proceed to deliver their verdict, whenever they came to an 
agreement. The judges were then lodged at a considerable 
distance from the courts, and our friends and Taylor kept 
close to the jury, who were escorted, through the up and 
down, narrow, dark streets of Lancaster, with one poor 
lantern before them. The days of gas there were not 
yet. Two of the jury elderly men conversed together 
as they staggered along. One was overheard saying : 
" This is a dreadful business, sir, I shall never get over 
it; I am quite perished." "I hope," said he, next him, 
" they won't keep us long at the judges' house, and then 
we must get back as quick as we can, and get some hot 
brandy, sir." Our friends reached the door, and there was 
a little jostling, but instantly came an officer from the 
inside, who begged that all might be conducted as quietly 
as possible, and requested the jury to follow him. Taylor 


and his friends stuck to the jury, went up one flight of 
broad stairs, then another, where there was a stand still, 
on a large open landing, the size of the vestibule below. 
Here a door was gently opened, and into a moderate sized 
bed-room, up two stairs, went the jury, attended by their 
companions, who represented the public and shire, where, 
with undrawn curtains, bolt upright, in his night cap and 
bed clothing, sat Baron Wood. Think of the spectacle ! 

" Silence, gentlemen," said the officer. 

kk Gentlemen of the jury, answer to your names." They 

" Gentlemen of the jury, are you agreed in your verdict:" 

" We are," said the foreman, firmly, in a tone which 
indicated he had achieved a victory. 

"How say you, gentlemen, is John Edward Taylor 
guilty or not guilty ?'' 

In the dimness of the light of that room for there was 
but a small chamber lamp and the oddness of the scene 
passing before the eyes, it would be difficult for any person 
to convey to another the sensation of that moment which 
intervened between the question and answer. " It re- 
minded me on the instant," said one of our friends, " of 
that period of deepest anxiety which all must personally 
feel at some time or other ' that drop of time ' which is 
sufficient to embrace in it 'a life of pain, an age of crime.' " 
But when John Ry lands, of Warrington, pronounced with 
a triumphant emphasis, " He is not guilty," there arose a 
burst of exultation, notwithstanding the privacy of the 
place, which made the whole house ring. I am not aware 
that the judge uttered a sentence, but the officer begged 
imploringly for silence, and all parties, both spectators and 
jury, got as quick as possible into the street, when the 
echos of the old town told, tolerably loud and frequent, 
the fact that the verdict was " He is not yuilty" 

The jurors were principally of the old school of loyalists, 
and had been disposed to return an immediate verdict of 


" guilty," but John Rylands calmly urged his objections, 
which were listened to very impatiently. " Well, gentle- 
men," said the sturdy foreman, after long discussion, " if 
you will insist upon that verdict, I will go to sleep and 
consider about it in the morning ; there is my bed," 
throwing his coat into one corner of the room, and then 
lying down upon it. His example was followed by others, 
apparently as stern in maintaining their own purpose. But 
some did not take it so comfortably ; they had, for years 
past, been accustomed to their pipes and as many glasses of 
strong ale by the inn fireside as they liked, and to be thus 
unexpectedly deprived of those enjoyments, and to find 
themselves supperless in an empty room without fire or 
candle or bed to lie upon, was beyond endurance. One of 
them was really ill, and bemoaned the hardships of his 
case in piteous accents : " Are you going to keep me here 
all night when I am so ill ?" " Here are you," said the 
foreman, " whining about the hardship of being shut up 
for one night, and yet you would put it in the power of 
the court to confine a man eighteen months for having 
spoken the truth." The appeal was successful. There 
were now two for a verdict of "not guilty." The others 
remaining obstinate, John Rylands stretched himself in his 
comer and lay in sober thoughtfulness, munching his crust 
quietly to conceal his possession of it from those with whom 
he was locked up, until each of them, one after another, 
yielded to their cravings for personal comfort as of much 
greater importance than the vindication of their loyalty, 
and then they emerged from their total darkness into dim 

Some of the gentlemen who accompanied Taylor had 
gone home at the close of the day. Taylor, Atkinson, and 
Childs agreed to remain till after the opening of the court 
in the morning, for the purpose of showing the acquitted to 
the judge and the bar. He had not been long in the court 
when " Lawyer Scarlett" as Cobbett used to call him, took 


the opportunity to pass by him and to say, " You had a 
friend on the jury yesterday, Mr. Taylor ;" to which Taylor 
replied, readily and well, " No, Mr. Scarlett, the jury felt 
that you treated me unfairly." In his conduct on that trial 
Scarlett showed more of the heartless man than of the 
reformer which he pretended to be at that time, more of 
the baseness which became fully developed in his character 
when, after the passing of the reform bill, and fourteen 
years had passed, he introduced into Norwich a flood of 
iniquity and corruption which proved him to belong to the 
class who, in all ages, have regarded the end to be accom- 
plished as justifying the means, however base the means 
required for its accomplishment may be. 

Taylor, Atkinson, and Childs left Lancaster at about twelve 
o'clock, and on their way to Manchester Mr. Childs said to 
Taylor, " It is now plain you have the elements of public 
work in you, why don't you set up a newspaper?" and 
thereupon gave him what of practical detail he could 
relative to such a speculation. 

The ability displayed by Mr. Taylor on this trial, the 
boldness with which he denounced the fictions of law in 
cases of libel, and, more than all, his success when pitted 
against the most successful barrister on the circuit, seem to 
have determined him to leave mercantile pursuits, for which 
he had not many qualifications. He spoke of eating his 
terms at one of the inns of court ; but at the age of twenty- 
seven, without previous legal study, he felt that he had 
been rather too late to adopt a profession which would 
require five years of probation. In two .years more his 
reform friends established him in the Manchester Guardian, 
and he drew, from a concurrence of most fortunate cir- 
cumstances, one of the most splendid prizes, regarded in a 
pecuniary point of view, ever drawn in the lottery of news- 
paper speculation gaining by boldness while the enthusi- 
asm of youth remained, and detaining by cautiousness when 
more mature years taught prudence and circumspection. 




WHEN the hand of coercion was removed, it was likely 
that the spirit of discontent should find public expression. 
The distress throughout 1817 and 1818 had been very 
great, and it became more intense in this vicinity when 
preparations began to be made for the resumption of cash 
payments by the bank. The scarcity and dearness of money 
greatly lessened the value of all manufactured products, 
and the working classes, as usual, were the first to feel the 
effects of the deep commercial depression. They were 
taught to look upon misgovernment as the cause of their 
misery, and they attributed that misgovernment to the grossly 
defective state of the representation. They saw Manchester, 
Salford, Bolton, Blackburn, Rochdale, Bury, Ashton-under- 
Lyne, Oldham, and Stockport without members, whilst Old 
Sarum a mound of earth without inhabitants and a host 
of villages, decayed and rotten, each sent two. It was not 
to be wondered at that they complained, not to be won- 
dered at that they crowded round those who appealed to 
their sympathies, gave articulate utterance to their com- 
plaints, and offered to aid them in obtaining redress of their 

A fresh campaign was vigorously commenced with the 
commencement of the year 1819. Henry Hunt had come 
forward as a champion of the people's rights, and he was 
well fitted to appeal with effect to the excited passions of 
the multitude. His portrait is thus drawn by Samuel 
Bamford, on the occasion of the radical laureate's first visit 
to London, in an earlier stage of the agitation : " He was 
gentlemanly in his manner and attire ; six feet and better 


in height, and extremely well formed. He was dressed in 
a blue lapelled coat, light waistcoat and kerseys, and topped 
boots ; his leg and foot were about the firmest and neatest 
I ever saw. He wore his own hair ; it was in moderate 
quantity, and a little grey. His features were regular, and 
there was a kind of youthful blandness about them which, 
in amicable discussion, gave his face a most agreeable 
expression. His lips were delicately thin, and receding ; 
but there was a dumb utterance about them which in all 
the portraits I have seen of him was never truly copied. 
His eyes were blue, or light grey not very clear, nor 
quick, but rather heavy, except as I afterwards had 
opportunities for observing when he was excited in speak- 
ing, at which times they seemed to distend and protrude ; 
and if he worked himself furious, as he sometimes would, 
they became blood-streaked, and almost started from their 

On the 25th of January Hunt made a public entry into 
Manchester from Stockport, accompanied by the indomitable 
John Knight ; Ogden, characterized by Canning as the 
" revered and ruptured ;" Mark Wardle, the printer of the 
Manchester Observer, a paper which was established as the 
organ of radicalism ; and a number of others. The procession 
boasted of many gay flags, a kind of display which Hunt 
exceedingly liked. The meeting was very numerous and 
very peaceable, and there was applause enough to satisfy 
even Hunt ; but his appetite grew with what it fed upon, 
and he must needs appear at the theatre, to have his share 
of the plaudits usually dealt out there. He wene on the 
following Friday night, accompanied by a number of friends, 
some of whom, earnest reformers, went reluctantly, thinking 
that men who were working for national regeneration should 
not waste their time in idle amusements. He was received 
with "great applause" by a portion of the audience, and 
that excited the ire of another portion. " God save the 
King" was called for, to show him the loyalty of Manchester, 
H 2 


and, on the pretence that he did not show the usual marks 
of respect for the national anthem, he was rudely assailed 
by some military officers and some hot-headed residents, 
and at length forcibly expelled from the house. Smarting 
under this infliction, which was more disgraceful to his 
assailants than to himself, he sent for Bamford, and told 
him that he meant to go to the theatre another night, and 
that his attendance and that of ten or a dozen " stout 
fellows," in the pit and at the Fountain- street entrance, 
would be acceptable. A party of ten was accordingly 
formed and marched into Manchester. " It consisted of 
myself," says Bamford, " and nine picked men of my ac- 
quaintance from Middleton. Our business was to attend 
the play, to protect Mr. Hunt, if requisite, and to retaliate 
with punishment any insult that might be offered to him or 
any of his friends." They were all armed with sticks; 
" some carried blackthorn, some hazel, and others again 
had taken a fancy to that portable and effective cudgel, the 
green English holly." Here was Hunt going to court 
insult, and poor, simple Bamford and his nine picked men, and 
Irishmen with shillelahs under their long coats, to protect 
or retaliate ! The street was filled, but the door was not 
opened, and the crowd began to be impatient. At length a 
messenger arrived from Mr. Ward, the manager, to announce 
that there would be no play. Bamford demanded to see 
Ward, and was admitted. An old acquaintance advanced 
to meet him : 

" ' Bamford ! wot the d art thou doing here ?' 

'Hallo, friend Nadin; is that you?' was my reply. It 
was Mr. Nadin, the deputy constable, who spoke. ' Me ? 

aye, it's me ; but wot the d 1 dus theaw want i' th' 

teawn at this time o'th' neet ?' 'I'm come to th' play, 
th' same as yo' ar', I suppose. But I want neaw to see 
Mr. Ward, th' manager.' Several persons spoke, and I 
think they said he was in conversation with the head 
constables, ' Wot mun theaw want to see a play for ?' said 


Mr. Nadin. ' Oh ! I'm rather curious to see one ; I under- 
stand it's to be a good un to-neet.' ' I kno' of owd ; 
I've seen thee afore at Middleton. Theaw may go worn ; 
theaw'll see no play here.' ' I'll see one iv there is ony to 
be seen, or I'll ston at yon dur till twelve o'clock : that yo 1 
may depend on, Jozy.' ' Who ar' yon gang 'at theaw has 
wi' the' ?' he said. ' Oh ! they 're a set o' lads fro' different 
heawses obeawt ; they'n tell yo' if yo'n ax' 'm.' ' Well, 

they'd better pack off, an' thee wi' 'em, for by , if 

there's any damage done, I'll look afther yo.' Theaw may 
tell 'em, they'n ha' no play to-neet.' * Then nobody will,' 
said I, as I went out, and shut the door after me. I had 
scarcely got to my former station, when a coach drove into 
the street, and on its being ascertained that it contained 
Hunt, Thomas Chapman, and other friends, a loud huzza 
burst from the dense multitude, mingled with a few hisses ; 
but the minority were quickly silenced. Hunt then 
mounted the box, and addressing the people, stated that 
the manager had written to him, saying there would not 
be any performance that night, and requesting (I think) 
that he would come up and try to get the people to disperse, 
and go home. He next entered on some general topics, 
and with singular bad taste, to say the least of it (for his 
impetuosity over-ran his judgment), he said, ' the autho- 
rities only w r aiited a pretext to let the bloody butchers of 
Waterloo loose upon the people ;' and concluded by 
advising them to retire to their homes peaceably. We 
then gave three cheers ; the carriage disappeared, and the 
street was soon deserted. Our party went to the Robin 
Hood, where we were joined by a score or two others, and 
we set to, and caroused until midnight, and then returned 

Hunt's folly in going to court insult was more than 
matched by the impudence and insolence of some of the 
"respectable" inhabitants. A party of coarse ruffians, in 
the garb of gentlemen, forced themselves into his private 


room in the Spread Eagle, and signalized their bravery by 
offering battle to the few friends who had met to spend a 
quiet evening with him. " They were a set of lucky dogs," 
says Bamford. " Had they been taken by us in the fact, 
there would have been a sore and pitiable account of them 
in the morning." They were not, however, taken in the 
fact. Bamford and his picked men were off to the Robin 
Hood, where they were joined by a score or two of others, 
and these world-regenerators " set to and caroused till 
midnight, and then returned home/' There was a levity 
and flippancy about all this that gives us, as we look 
back upon it now, little proof that the actors had any deep 
feeling of the responsibility they were incurring as the 
advocates of great national rights ; but they also furnish an 
argument that these men, thus idly occupying themselves, 
were very far from being dangerous revolutionists. 

At the spring assizes, at Chester, Baguley and some 
others were tried, found guilty, and sentenced to two years' 
imprisonment, for seditious harangues at Stockport. The 
evidence against some of them was strong enough, if the 
witnesses were to be believed ; but if anything was deficient 
in proof as to the harangues of each individual prisoner, 
the law of conspiracy, as defined by judges, supplied any 
short-coming. They had " breathed together," and there- 
fore each was made responsible for all that had been uttered. 
There was another " conspiracy" at a subsequent meeting 
in Stockport, in which Sir C. Wolseley, an honest, but 
not a very wise man, Fitton, both honest and shrewd, 
indomitable old John Knight, the "revered and ruptured" 
Ogden, and Harrison, took part. Sir Charles and Harrison 
were afterwards tried for sedition, found guilty of having 
breathed together, and imprisoned. 

On the 21st of June, 1819, another meeting was held on 
St. Peter's Field, Manchester, and resolutions were passed 
appointing district delegates for a general national union to 
reform the government. Meetings took place about the 


same time at Oldham, Bolton, Royton, Bury, Heywood, 
Stockport, Ashton- under -Lyne, Failsworth, Gee Cross, 
Lees, Middleton, Rochdale, Todmorden, Barnsley, Holm- 
firth, Leeds, and other towns, all unrepresented in 
parliament ; and, says Mr. Wheeler, " with a view to 
embarrass the government, a pledge was generally entered 
into by the people attending the several places of rendezvous 
to abstain from the use of any exciseable article not 
absolutely necessary to support existence." Hunt, to 
supply the place of coffee, recommended his own roasted 
corn which was found to be a very unpalatable substitute ; 
and sloe leaves did not produce so pleasant a beverage as 
tea. The main stress was laid on abstinence from spirits 
and ale ; and the good old loyalists were shocked at the 
iniquity of soberness from such a motive. A placard, 
signed, " Bob Short," was stuck on all the walls, and dis- 
tributed from house to house, denouncing all as enemies to 
the working people who would persuade them to renounce 
the use of the good old English drinks, and urging the 
readers to return to their good old drunken habits, to prove 
their attachment to king, and church, and constitution, 
endangered by this conspiracy to promote sobriety. The 
expense of this precious production, amounting to some 
eighty pounds, was defrayed from the church-rates ! The 
item for " printing" was objected to at the parish table, on 
the ground that the particulars were not given, but it was 
passed notwithstanding. An application to the Court of 
King's Bench was made, and a mandamus was issued that 
the particulars should be laid before the parish, in vestry 
assembled, on which the churchwardens, ashamed, not of 
issuing, but in being found out in issuing, persuasives to 
drunkenness, withdrew the item entirely from their accounts, 
which were then passed. This attempt to pay out of church- 
rates, for an earnest inculcation of the duty of drunkenness, 
created a desire to inquire more strictly into the church- 
warden's expenditure; and it was found, at a subsequent 


vestry meeting, that three bottles of wine, per man, besides 
brandy, had been consumed at their annual dinner, and I 
remarked, on the use of brandy in addition to this intolerable 
quantity of sack, that probably the three churchwardens 
had remained, after their company had left them, to 
sing : 

" Here are we met three merry boys, 
Three merry boye I trow are we." 

Meeting one of the churchwardens, a few days afterwards, 
he asked " How did you know that we sang * Willie 
brew'd a peck o' malt ?' " 

" It was desirable," says Mr. Wheeler, " to stop these 
combined movements of the disaffected." The combined 
movements were, frequently public meetings, "training," 
and abstinence from intoxicating liquors as for abstinence 
from coffee, all Hunt's popularity could not make a decoc- 
tion from his roasted corn go down. For an account of the 
reasons for training I must borrow again from Bamford : 

" These drillings were also to our sedentary weavers and spinners 
periods of healthful exercise and enjoyment. Our drill masters were 
generally old soldiers of the line, or of militia, or local militia regi- 
ments ; they put the lads through their facings in quick time, and 
soon learned them to march with a steadiness and regularity which 
would not have disgraced a regiment on parade. When dusk came, 
and we could no longer see to work, we jumped from our looms, and 
rushed to the sweet cool air of the fields, or the waste lands, or the 
green lane sides. We mustered, we fell into rank, we faced, marched, 
halted, faced about, counter-marched, halted again, dressed, and 
wheeled, in quick succession, and without confusion ; or, in the grey 
of a fine Sunday morn, we would saunter through the mists, fragrant 
with the night odour of flowers, and of new hay, and ascending the 
Tandle Hills, salute the broad sun as he climbed from the high moors 
of Saddleworth. * * * There were not any arms no use for 
any no pretence for any ; nor would they have been permitted. 
Some of the elderly men, the old soldiers, or those who came to watch 
might bring a walking staff, or a young fellow might pull a stake from 
a hedge, in going to drill or in returning home ; but, assuredly, we 
had nothing like arms about us. There were no armed meetings 


there were no midnight meetings. Why should we seek to. conceal 
what we had no hesitation in performing in broad day ? There was 
not anything of the sort. No arming no concealing meetings. 
Such as I have described were all our drillings, about which so much 
was afterwards said. We obtained by them all we sought, or thought 
of, an expertness and order whilst moving in bodies ; and there was 
no hyperbole in the statement which a magistrate afterwards made on 
oath, that ' the party with the blue and green banners came upon the 
field in beautiful order !' adding, I think, that ( not until then did I 
become alarmed.' " 

These trainings, harmless as Bamford believed them to 
be, excited great alarm, and scouts were sent out to see 
to what extent they were carried, and who were engaged in 
them, in order that if any of those persons afterwards took 
part in any public meeting, a connection might be proved 
to exist between the public demonstration and the partially- 
concealed training. This chain of connection was esta- 
blished very cleverly. An amateur spy, of the name of 
Murray, went, with three others, and witnessed the drilling 
on White Moss. The radicals took an effectual mode of 
fixing the circumstances in his memory. They gave him 
and his companions a sound drubbing. At the trial of 
Hunt and others at York, the drilling was proved, the 
drubbing was proved, and it was also proved that a part 
of the procession, headed by Hunt when he entered Man- 
chester, on the 16th of August, stopped and hooted opposite 
Murray's shop. Ergo, in law logic, the White Moss drillers 
formed a part of St. Peter's Field meeting ; and, ergo, that 
last meeting was an illegal meeting because the first was! 

Were there no gentlemen acquainted with the real 
condition and opinions of the working classes in the 
neighbourhood upon the list of magistrates, to discourage 
the employment of spies, and to repress the violence 
contemplated under the pretence of alarm ? Dr. W. Cooke 
Taylor, in his "Life and Times of Sir Robert Peel," 
says: "In 1819, Manchester was not incorporated; in 
the eye of the law it was a village, and, as such, subject 
H 3 


to the jurisdiction of the county magistrates. A rule had 
been established by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lan- 
caster, that no manufacturer should receive the commission 
of the peace; consequently, the magistrates were either 
landowners or clergymen. The Lancashire squires viewed 
the manufacturing population with a jealousy which may 
have been unreasonable, but certainly was not unnatural ; 
they saw persons suddenly becoming their rivals in wealth 
and influence by a course of industry and economy, which 
hereditary prejudices led them to despise ; and they feared 
that these new men would displace the ancient families. 
The clergy were identified in feeling with the landlords, 
by habit, education, and social intercourse ; for a very 
large proportion of the manufacturers belonged to dissent- 
ing sects. With such feelings they allowed the meeting 
of the 16th of August to assemble, hoping, by a coup d'etat, 
to strike terror into the reformers of Manchester, and, 
perhaps, disposed to show their contempt for spinners 
and weavers by arresting the leader in the midst of the 

The government was alarmed at the frequency of the 
reform meetings, at the vast numbers who thus congre- 
gated, and at the language uttered. On July 1st Lord 
Sidmouth issued circular letters to the lords-lieutenant of 
the disturbed counties, recommending prompt and effectual 
means for the preservation of the public tranquillity, and 
that the yeomanry should hold themselves in readiness. 
On the following day a meeting was held at Newhall-hill, 
Birmingham, where Sir Charles Wolseley was nominated 
" legislatorial attorney and representative" for that town. 
On the 30th of the month a proclamation was issued 
by the Prince Regent against military training, seditious 
meetings and writings, and the election of legislatorial 
attornies. The local authorities supplied the government 
with the assertions of the existence of a dangerous spirit, 
and earnestly besought the means of putting it down. 


On the 1st of July, J. Sylvester, R. Wright, W. Marriott, 
C. W. Ethelston, and J. Norris, magistrates, wrote to Lord 
Sidmouth from the Manchester New Bailey Court House, 
stating that, urged on by the harangues of a few desperate 
demagogues, they anticipated " a general rising ;" that as 
the law stood, they had no power to prevent these meetings ; 
and that they were "unarmed." The magistrates assembled 
at the Knutsford quarter sessions, four of them clergymen, 
passed resolutions declaratory of evil designs on the part of 
the people, and recommending all friends of king and 
constitution to "rally round the standard of legal authority, 
and by the manifestation of their principles, destroy the 
baneful effects of blasphemy and seditious doctrines, re- 
claim the deluded, give confidence to the loyal, and maintain 
inviolate our rights, our liberties and our laws." A meet- 
ing at the Manchester police office, held July 16th, of the 
" Committee to Strengthen the Civil Power," John Brad- 
shaw, Esq., in the chair, petitioned government to suppply 
them with arms and accoutrements for one thousand men. 
On the 20th July, the grand jury, addressing the Man- 
chester magistrates, recommended the immediate establish- 
ment of AEMED ASSOCIATIONS for the purpose of strength- 
ening and supporting the civil power. This document was 
signed by 

Thomas Peel, John Touchet, John Hardman, 

James Hay, Arthur Clegg, W. Hutchinson, 

William Tetlow, J. H. Heron, William Lomas, 

Christr. Parker, T. Worthington, Thomas Helsby, 
Thos. Entwistle, J. S. Barton, John Tetlow, 

William Hatton, William Hill, Eobert Hay. 

The great object was that, as there was no law to pre- 
vent peaceably held meetings, the meetings should be con- 
nected with some illegal act elsewhere. On the 5th of 
August, Mr. Norris, the Manchester stipendiary magistrate, 
writes Lord. Sidmouth, stating that a meeting convened 
for the 9th would not be held. This, he says, would 


be a great disappointment to the neighbouring towns, 
which had provided a number of flags and caps of liberty 
for the occasion. He adds; " The drilling parties increase 
very extensively, and unless some mode be devised of 
putting this system down, it promised to become a most 
formidable engine of rebellion" In the doubt whether 
the open meetings could be connected with the drillings, 
it was thought very desirable that there should be some 
declarations of alarm for personal safety if those meetings 
were held, and, accordingly, we have, on the 7th of 
August, the informations of S. N., S. E., D. N., and D. R,, 
all of Bury the full names are not given before Ralph 
Fletcher, of Bolton, a magistrate, formerly notorious for 
the employment of spies. The informants say : " We all 
upon our oath say, that in various parts of the neighbour- 
hood of -j&ury aforesaid there are nightly assemblies of 
great numbers of men, who meet together to learn and 
practice military training, which these informants verily 
believe to be intended to qualify them for hostile purposes 
against the government of the country and against the 
peace of our lord the king, his crown and dignity, and to 
the disturbance of them, these informants, who hereby assert 
their fears for their personal safety ; and therefore they, 
these informants, pray that these men so training in large 
bodies, to the terror of his majesty's subjects, may be 
apprehended and committed to find sureties to keep the 
peace." Further informations, to the same effect, are sworn 
on the 9th of August, before Ralph Fletcher and James 
Watkins, whose names will be recollected in connection 
with the West Houghton affair, in 1812. Ralph Fletcher 
writes, on the 10th of August, to Lord Sidmouth, repre- 
senting that the public meetings are so demoralizing and 
so terrifying to his majesty's loyal subjects, that, " under 
whatever pretext they may be called" they ought to be 
suppressed. On the 12th of August Mr. Norris, whose 
legal knowledge was about co-extensive with the weakness 


of his judgment, again writes Lord Sidmouth, and says, in 
reference to the drillings : " They affect to say that it is for 
the purpose of appearing at Manchester in better order, &c. 
on Monday next ; but military discipline was not requisite 
for this purpose, and a more alarming object is so palpable 
that it is impossible not to feel a moral conviction that 
insurrection and rebellion is their ulterior object." At the 
same time the Cheshire magistrates, assembled at Knutsford, 
send a memorial to Lord Sidmouth, asserting that thousands 
of young persons in schools were taught principles of a 
most dangerous tendency, and praying that such schools 
should be suppressed, and that " if the existing laws are not 
sufficient for that purpose, others should be framed for their 
prevention. 1 " The names of the persons thus memorializing 
were : 

Earl of Stamford, Sir J. T. Stanley, Peter B 

Edwin Corbett, Davies Davenport, W. Egerton, 

John Ford, John Clegg, Egerton Leigh, 

Thomas Parker, Edward Stracey, E. V. Townsend, 

Trafford Trafford, T. W. Tatton, E. Wilbraham, 

John Brown, clerk, J. T. Law, clerk, J. H. Mallory, clerk. 

On the 13th of August, before the Rev. W. R. Hay, 
" Jonathan Andrew, of Manchester, maketh oath and saith 
that, on Thursday evening, the 12th inst., betwixt the 
hours of eight and nine o'clock, he saw exercising on the 
new road to Rochdale from twenty to twenty-five men, 
armed with staves, from four to five feet long, and appa- 
rently from three to three and a half inches round, similar 
to a brush-stail, but chiefly of green wood. He heard the 
word of command given (by a person separated from the 
rest), ' March,' ' Halt,' &c." Poor Jonathan ! Drilling in 
the open public road with mop-stails of green wood must 
have had a formidable appearance indeed. Why did he not 
swear that he also was alarmed ? With all these depositions 
as to drilling, and oaths of people that they were afraid for 
their personal safety, the magistrates were not sure that 


they had yet made all right. At midnight of the 15th of 
August they were yet in uncertainty as to their power of 
preventing the meeting to be held next day. Mr. Norris, 
in a letter to Lord Sidmouth, dated eleven o'clock, p.m., 
says that although the magistrates, as then advised, did not 
then think of preventing the meeting, they were alarmed, 
and were in a state of painful uncertainty. Can it be that 
while thus writing to Lord Sidmouth, officially, there was 
a private resolution, perhaps directed by him, to allow the 
meeting to assemble and to disperse it with the swords of 
the yeomanry, notoriously known to have been sharpened 
for the occasion? On the very evening on which Mr. 
Norris wrote, Hunt had offered to surrender himself volun- 
tarily. Did the magistrates, as Dr. Taylor supposes, rather 
seek the opportunity of striking terror into the multitude 
assembled by arresting their leader, no matter at what risk 
of bloodshed, before their eyes ? 



THE morning of the 16th of August came, and soon after 
nine o'clock the people began to assemble. From the 
windows of Mr. Baxter's house in Mosley- street, I saw the 
main body proceeding towards St. Peter's Field, and never 
saw a gayer spectacle. There were haggard-looking men 
certainly, but the majority were young persons, in their 
best Sunday's suits, and the light coloured dresses of the 
cheerful tidy-looking women relieved the effect of the dark 
fustians worn by the men. The " marching order," of 
which so much was said afterwards, was what we often see 
now in the processions of Sunday-school children and 
temperance societies. To our eyes the numerous flags 
seemed to have been brought to add to the picturesque 
effect of the pageant. Slowly and orderly the multitudes 
took their places round the hustings which stood on a spot 
now included under the roof of the Free Trade Hall, near 
its south-east corner. Our company laughed at the fears of 
the magistrates, and the remark was, that if the men 
intended mischief they would not have brought their wives, 
their sisters, or their children with them. I passed round 
the outskirts of the meeting, and mingled with the groups 
that stood chatting there. I occasionally asked the women 
if they were not afraid to be there, and the usual laughing 
reply was "What have we to be afraid of?" I saw Hunt 
arrive, and heard the shouts of the sixty thousand persons 
by whom he was enthusiastically welcomed, as the carriage 
in which he stood made its way, through the dense crowd, 
to the hustings. I proceeded to my dwelling-house in 
Salford, intending to return in about an hour or so to 


witness in what manner so large a meeting would separate. 
I had not been at home more than a quarter of an hour 
when a wailing sound was heard from the main street, and, 
rushing out, I saw people running in the direction of 
Pendleton, their faces pale as death, and some with blood 
trickling down their cheeks. It was with difficulty I could 
get any one to stop and tell me what had happened. The 
unarmed multitude, men, women, and children, had been 
attacked with murderous results, by the military. 

The magistrates had resolved, at the last moment, that 
Hunt, and the friends who accompanied him to the hustings, 
should be apprehended in the face of the meeting. It was 
a great assemblage, and, no doubt, they thought the capture 
of the ringleaders in the presence of sixty thousand persons 
would produce a salutary effect. There was abundance of 
force at hand to render resistance hopeless. The number of 
special constables had been greatly increased, two hundred 
additional having been sworn in for the occasion ; a portion 
were stationed round the hustings, and another formed a 
line of communication thence to the house in which the 
magistrates were assembled, a distance of about a hundred 
yards. Near to the field, ready the moment their services 
were required, were six troops of the 15th Hussars, a troop 
of horse artillery, with two guns, the greater part of the 
31st regiment of infantry, some companies of the 88th 
regiment, the Cheshire yeomanry, of between three and four 
hundred men, and the Manchester yeomanry, of about forty, 
the latter hot-headed young men who had volunteered into 
that service from their intense hatred of radicalism. With 
such a force at command, the warrant might have been 
executed without the slightest tumult. Had Nadin, the 
deputy constable, a man of more bluster than courage, been 
afraid to proceed along the line of constables, a few men 
from the regular army might have formed an additional 
line for his protection. No such intention was indicated ; 
Hunt had addressed the dense multitude, now hushed into 


deep silence intently listening to the opening of his speech, 
when, suddenly, at a quick trot past the corner of a wall 
which bounded Brown's cottage, appeared the Manchester 
yeomanry, and drew up in front of the house in which the 
magistrates were met. The crowd received them, as 
Bamford says, with a shout of good will as the aggressors 
said, with a shout of defiance, when, as suddenly as they 
had appeared at the outskirts of the meeting, they drew 
their swords, waved them round their heads, and dashed 
into the crowd ! Nadin had said he was afraid to serve 
the warrant, and this was the way it was to be served. 
As the yeomanry neared the hustings the inert resistance 
of those who could not move out of the way increased, and 
the troops were separated, each man striving to open out 
his own way, some with pale faces and firmly- closed eyes, 
striking with their sabres as if they were insane. At this 
time two squadrons of the hussars came upon the field. 
Sir W. Jollifie, who was a lieutenant in the regiment, 
says ; " It was then, for the first time, that I saw the 
Manchester yeomanry ; they were scattered singly or in 
small groups, over the greater part of the field, literally 
hemmed up, and wedged into the mob, so that they were 
powerless either to make an impression or to escape ; in 
fact they were in the power of those whom they were 
designed to overawe ; and it required only a glance to dis- 
cover their helpless position, and the necessity of our being 
brought to their rescue." The attack was then ordered. 
The hussars, in their turn, and with resistless force, dashed 
into the crowd. " People, yeomen and constables" says Sir 
W. Jolliffe, " in their confused attempts to escape, ran one 
over the other, so that, by the time we had arrived at the 
end of the field, the fugitives were literally piled up to a 
considerable elevation above the level of the field." The 
rescued yeomenry were not satisfied with a charge which 
had produced this frightful effect. Bamford says : 

" On the breaking of the crowd, the yeomanry wheeled ; and 


dashing wherever there was an opening, they followed 3 pressing and 
wounding. Many females appeared as the crowd opened; and 
striplings and mere youths were also found. Their cries were 
piteous and heart-rending; and would, one might have supposed, 
have disarmed any human resentment ; but their appeals were vain. 
Women, white- vested maids, and tender youths, were indiscriminately 
sabred or trampled on ; and we have reason for believing, that few 
were the instances in which that forbearance was vouchsafed which 
they so earnestly implored. In ten minutes from the commencement 
of the havoc, the field was an open and almost deserted space. The 
sun looked down through a sultry and motionless air ; the curtains 
and blinds of the windows within view were all closed. A gentleman 
or two might occasionally be seen looking out from some houses of 
recent erection, near the door of which a group of persons (special 
constables) were collected, and apparently in conversation; others 
were assisting the wounded, or carrying off the dead. The hustings 
remained, with a few broken and hewed flag- staves erect, and a torn 
or gashed banner or two drooping, whilst over the whole field were 
strewed caps, bonnets, hats, shawls, and shoes, and other parts of 
male and female dress, trampled, torn, and bloody. The yeomanry 
had dismounted ; some were easing their horses' girths, others adjust- 
ing their accoutrements, and some were wiping their sabres. Several 
mounds of human beings still remained where they had fallen, crushed 
down and smothered ; some of these were still groaning ; others, with 
staring eyes, were gasping for breath ; and others would never breathe 
more. All were silent save those low sounds, and the occasional 
snorting and pawing of steeds. Persons might sometimes be noticed 
peeping from attics, and over the tall ridgings of houses, but they 
quickly withdrew, as if fearful of being observed, or unable to sustain 
the full gaze of a scene so hideons and abhorrent." 

Hunt and his companions on the hustings had been 
taken into custody during the enactment of this frightful 

Sir W. Jolliffe says : " The hussars generally drove 
the people forwards with the flats of their swords; but 
sometimes, as is almost invariably the case when men are 
placed in such situations, the edge was used both by the 
hussars and, as I have heard, by the yeomen, but of this 
latter part, I was not cognizant; and believing though I 
do that nine out of ten of the sabre wounds were caused 


by the hussars, I must still consider that it redounds to the 
humane forbearance of the men of the 15th that more 
wounds were not received, when the vast numbers are 
taken into consideration with w r hom they were brought 
into hostile collision." Collision is not exactly the term 
to describe an action where the striking was all on one 
side. Every blow was an unnecessary one, for no resist- 
ance was ever attempted. Subsequent inquiry proved that 
the yeomanry had a larger share in the infliction of sabre 
wounds than Sir W. Jollifle attributes to them, and to 
them alone the dishonour attaches of having wounded 
several peaceable persons on the adjacent streets after the 
disper-sion of the meeting. 

It was known that some of the reporters who were on 
the hustings, amongst them Mr. Tyas, of the London Times, 
when the sanguinary attack was made upon the assembled 
multitude, had been taken into custody, and it was feared 
that no relation of the events would reach London, except 
what might be sent by directions of the magistracy, and 
coloured to justify their conduct. Mr. John Edward Taylor 
undertook to write to one London paper that evening, and 
I to another. Our narratives appeared in print on the 
following day, and, bearing greater internal evidence of 
truth, they received credence in preference to the accounts 
sent to government and the government press, and raised 
a strong feeling of indignation, which was deepened in 
intensity, and spread to all parts of the kingdom, when 
the reporter of the Times, rescued from durance, cor- 
roborated all our statements, and added details of still 
deeper atrocity than those which we had described. 

The Manchester magistrates, alarmed at the tone of 
public opinion in London, had a meeting, hastily con- 
vened, on Thursday, the 19th, at the police-office, adjourned 
thence to the Star Inn, where it might be safe from the 
possibility of intrusion on the part of any police commis- 
sioner, who might hold the opinion that a peaceable 


assembly ought not to have been dispersed by the sword, 
Resolutions, as if adopted at a public meeting, were passed 
and published, thanking the magistrates and the soldiers, 
I have mentioned that, from the time of the " blanket 
meeting," reform principles had been making gradual pro- 
gress amongst the middle classes, disgusted by the arbitrary 
and the tyrannical, though cowardly, proceedings of the 
Sidmouth administration. The dispersion of a legally- 
convened meeting aroused a general indignation, which 
proved that the old doctrine of non-resistance to arbitrary 
power was on the wane ; and the smuggled passing of 
thanks, so dishonestly sent forth, occasioned an expression 
of public feeling and opinion, such as had never been 
manifested in Manchester before. The following DECLA- 
RATION and PROTEST against the Star- Inn resolutions was 
immediately issued: 

"We the undersigned, without individually approving of the 
manner in which the meeting held at St. Peter's, on Monday the 
16th of August, was constituted, hereby declare, that we are fully 
satisfied, by personal observation or undoubted information, that it 
was perfectly peaceable ; that no seditious or intemperate harangues 
were made there ; that the riot act, if read at all, was read privately, 
or without the Jcnoivledge of a great body of the meeting ; and we feel 
it our bounden duty to protest against, and to express our utter dis- 
approbation of, the unexpected and unnecessary violence by which the 
assembly was dispersed. 

" We further declare that the meeting convened at the Police Office, 
on Thursday the 19th of August, for the purpose of thanking the 
magistrates, municipal officers, soldiery, &c., was strictly and ex- 
clusively private; and in order that its privacy might be more 
completely ensured, was adjourned to the Star Inn. It is a matter 
of notoriety that no expression of dissent from the main object of the 
meeting was there permitted. 

"We therefore deny that it had any claim to the title of a 
* numerous and highly -respectable meeting of the inhabitants of Man- 
chester and Salford and their neighbourhood ;' and we hereby invite 
those who have presumed so to style it, to join with us in giving to 
the inhabitants at large of Manchester and Salford and their neigh- 
bourhood a public opportunity of expressing their real opinions upon 
the subject." 



In the course of two or three days this protest received 
four thousand eight hundred signatures, including those of 
a considerable portion of persons who, in ordinary parlance, 
would be spoken of as belonging to the "respectable 
classes." It may gratify sons and grandsons to see some 
of the names attached to this declaration, at a time when 
there was some danger incurred by the expression of any 
opinion adverse to the powers that were : 

T. B. W. Sanderson, 
Edward Baxter, 
John Reeves, 
William Wright, 
Samuel Hobson, 
John Hobson, 
Samuel Winks, 
John Robinson, 
Richard Potter, 
Henry Pope, 
John Brooks, 
Joseph Weight, 
Joseph Manson, 
John Radcliffe, 
William Harvey, 
Thomas Johnston, 
John Johnston, 
Jonathan Lees, 
John Harrison, 
Joseph Gallemore, 
James Anderson, 
R. W.B.Sanderson, 
Benj. Holbrooke, 
Isaac Lees, 
John Swindells, 
Thomas Wilkins, 
James Occleston, 
Samuel Livesey, 
James Bates, 
John Richardson, 
William Wood, 
John Mitchell, M.D., 

Thomas Steven, 
John Smedley, 
J. S. Ormerod, 
Richard Woodward, 
William Tuer, 
Peter Tuer, 
John Shuttleworth, 
Hez. Weight, 
W. Norris Buckley, 
John Barlow, 
John Ashton, 
Jesse Gallemore, 
William Shawcross, 
John Braddock, 
William Cantrell, 
John Hayes, 
John Atkinson, 
William Sutclifle, 
James Kershaw, 
J. E. Taylor, 
J. B. Thompson, 
John Fletcher, 
John Kenworthy, 
F. R. Atkinson, 
Archibald Prentice, 
Benjamin Beddome, 
Peter Coe, 
George Johnston, 
William Gadsby, 
Henry Grimshaw, 
John Mangnall, 
Stephen Bates, 

Henry Moore, 
Francis Jackson, 
George Horrocks, 
William Johns, 
Samuel Bates, 
Robert Askew, 
Joseph Anthony, 
Joseph Hawkes, 
Thomas Jones, 
Wilh'am Ryley, 
William Barlow, 
Edmund Lord, 
Jeremiah Turner, 
Samuel Pullein, 
John Grundy, 
Thomas Reed, 
John Gallemore, 
Thos. Tipping, jun., 
Jeremiah Buckley, 
Daniel Lonsdale, 
Thomas Hopkins, 
Joseph Wood, 
George Woollam, 
Richard Wilson, 
Thomas Kershaw, 
Alexander Ealiday, 
Robert Wright, 
Joseph Woodward, 
Charles Pollitt. 
John Dewhurst, 
John Johnson, 
John Blackshaw, 


William Barratt, 
Joseph Barratt, 
Edmund Wilson, 
William Clarke, 
Edward Foulkes, 

J. E. Taylor, 
John Foster, 
Francis Wood, 
William Swindells, 
Thomas Oakden, 

William Harrison, 
Thomas G-rundy, 
William Spencer, 
J. a. Kobberds, 
J. S. G-rafton. 

By way of counteracting the effect of this energetic 
protest, on the 27th of August Lord Sidmouth communi- 
cated to the Manchester magistrates, and to Major Trafford, 
and the military serving under him, the thanks of the 
Prince Regent, " for their prompt, decisive, and efficient 
measures for the preservation of the public peace " on the 
16th instant. This haste to thank the delinquents greatly 
added to the exacerbation of the public mind. On Septem- 
ber 2nd a large meeting was held in Westminster, at which 
Sir Francis Burdett presided, and a remonstrance to the 
Regent was adopted, calling on him to order the prosecution 
of the Manchester magistrates by the law officers of the 
crown. Meetings were also held in the city of London, at 
Glasgow, York, Bristol, Liverpool, Norwich, Nottingham, 
and other large towns, to address the Regent on the same 
subject. Some petitioned for inquiry; others passed a 
strong censure on the Manchester authorities and the 
ministers who had advised the royal letter of thanks. It 
was as the breaking up of a great frost. The middle classes 
had appeared as if they were bound up in the icy chains of 
indifference to the demands of their humble fellow-country- 
men for their fair share of representation ; but the sudden 
outburst showed that whatever opinions they might hold, as 
to how far the elective franchise might safely be extended, 
they were not disposed quietly to witness death inflicted on 
men whose only crime had been, that they asked for uni- 
versal suffrage, vote by ballot, annual parliaments, and the 
repeal of the corn-law. 

Meanwhile hundreds of persons wounded upon that fatal 
16th of August were enduring dreadful sufferings. They 
were disabled from work ; not daring to apply for parish 


relief; not even daring to ask for surgical aid, lest, in the 
arbitrary spirit of the time, their acknowledgment that 
they had received their wounds on St. Peter's Field might 
send them to prison perhaps to the scaffold. A subscrip- 
tion was entered into for their relief ; a careful and rigid 
inquiry was made for many successive weeks, the committee 
meeting in my warehouse, then in Church-street ; and 
thus we arrived at an approximation to the extent of death 
and calamity inflicted. The published statement of the 
committee, at the conclusion of that long and careful inves- 
tigation, records the deaths that had occurred : 

John Ashton, Cowhill, Oldham ; sabred. 

John Ashworth, of the Bull's Head, Manchester; sabred and 
trampled on. 

Thomas Buckley, Baretrees, Chadderton ; sabred and stabbed. 

William Dawson, Saddleworth; sabred, crushed, and killed on 
the spot. 

Fildes, Kennedy-street, Manchester, an infant; rode over 

by the cavalry. 

John Lees, Oldham ; sabred. A coroner's inquest held on the 
body, adjourned without a verdict. 

Arthur O'Neill, Pigeon-street, Manchester ; inwardly crushed. 

Martha Partington, Eccles ; thrown into a cellar and killed on the 

Joseph Whit worth, Hyde ; shot. 

James Crompton, Barton ; trampled on by the cavalry. 

Mary Heys, Oxford- street, Manchester ; rode over by the cavalry. 

The names of the wounded, their ages, their places of 
residence, the manner in which they received their hurts, 
and the amount of pecuniary relief which they received, 
are also given in the published report of the committee. 
Their number was FOUR HUNDRED AND TWENTY, and the 
deputation from London state, that at the time they made 
their report, there were still ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY 
CASES to be considered by the local committee, which con- 
tinued its meetings till these cases were investigated and 
relief administered. The deputation, Messrs. Rayner and 


Hall, report to the central committee that out of four 
hundred of the sufferers whom they visited and relieved, 
one hundred and thirteen were females, being the mothers, 
wives, sisters, and children of many of the persons who 
attended that memorable meeting ; that out of those four 
hundred and twenty persons materially injured, one hun- 
dred and forty received severe sabre cuts, and fourteen of 
those were inflicted on females ; and that a great number 
of the sufferers had declared, "that if their respective 
parish officers had then been 'acquainted with the injuries 
they had sustained by attending the Manchester meeting, 
they would have been deprived of aid when their sufferings 
more particularly demanded it." The deputation further 
remark, that " they could not observe but with sur- 
prise the very general fear and dislike that the sufferers 
manifested against applying for medical relief to the Man- 
chester Infirmary, not from any apprehension that their 
wounds and injuries would have been neglected or unskil- 
fully treated, but they themselves would have been huffed 
and insulted on account of their political principles." As 
to the condition of the sufferers, the deputation report : 
" As the visits of your deputation were made unexpectedly, 
and frequently at those hours when these poor people were 
preparing or partaking of their hard and scanty meals, they 
had therefore ample opportunities of observing that their 
sole subsistence was potatoes, with a small quantity of 
salt, measured out in inadequate quantities to each indivi- 
dual of the family. Here and there was to be seen a little 
fat or dripping mixed up with the potatoes ; but in no 
instance among the weavers did your deputation see a 
morsel of animal food ; and they ascertained, that in most 
families where there were children, the taste of meat was 
unknown from one year to another." 

Eleven persons killed ; six hundred wounded ; sixty 
thousand carrying to their homes the recollections of 
that fatal day ; poverty and misery in every cottage ; deep 


distress, attributable, not unjustly, to heavy taxation and a 
law prohibiting the importation of food. Was there no wild 
revenge for the injuries inflicted no vengeance on the 
instruments of an iron-handed government no retaliation 
with the dagger for the cruel and wanton assault by the 
sword ? There was not. The population of Lancashire 
had faith in the just administration of the law. Its working 
men, rough in manner and rude in speech, but shrewd, 
intelligent, and possessing much of the generous qualities 
of the Anglo-Saxon race, would not stoop to cowardly 
assassination. They had faith in their principles and 
greater belief in moral than physical force. On the day 
after the fatal sixteenth of August, the consciences of the 
guilty conjured up armies of deeply-enraged men, marching 
on Manchester, and devoting it to destruction. Thirty 
thousand pikemen were said to be actually on their road 
from Oldham alone ! In that paralysis of terror, anything 
might have been done. But the men of Lancashire would 
not seek reform through the horrors of a sanguinary revo- 
lution. The belief was strong amongst them that bloodshed 
had never added much to the amount of liberty ; they had 
no faith that freedom could be snatched as a brand from 
the flames of civil war. There was no armed attack ; no 
private exercise of wild revenge. Reverend W. R. Hay, 
who was rewarded with a living of 2,400 a year for his 
services in "putting down" the Reformers; Reverend W. 
C. Ethelston, whose reading of the Riot Act nobody ever 
heard ; stipendiary magistrate James Norris, who sought 
from government a power beyond the existing law ; Hugh 
Hornby Birley, who led the attack upon a defenceless 
multitude ; Joseph Nadin, who harshly apprehended those 
who were to be harshly punished under judge-made law ; 
all these have gone to their graves, without an assault, 
without an insult. 

The subscription was for a double purpose to relieve 
the sufferings of those who, being wounded or bruised, had 


been deprived of the means of obtaining bread and to 
protect and defend the persons who had been arrested. 
At the date of the report, 14th February, 1820, the sums 
distributed to the sufferers amounted to 1,206 13s. 8d.; 
there had been expended 1,077 6s. 9d. in law charges; 
and there was a balance on hand of 768 Is. 9d. towards 
the expenses to be incurred at the approaching assizes, 
and the relief of the persons whose cases had not yet been 
fully investigated. The amount of the subscription proved 
that a deep sympathy for the oppressed and injured re- 
formers prevailed amongst the middle classes, an inference 
which Mr. Bamford has omitted to draw, though he has 
made grateful notice of acts of individual kindness to him- 
self. It was a healthful sign of the times, which should 
not be passed over in silence ; for sympathy with reformers 
gave the promise of co-operation in the work of reform ; 
and from this period may be dated a marked and favourable 
change in the current of public opinion. 

Amongst the recipients of pecuniary aid were the 
persons who were imprisoned along with Mr. Hunt, who 
each had ten pounds. They were : Mr. Joseph Johnson, 
brush-maker, of No. 17, Shudehill, Manchester, the host 
of Hunt ; indomitable old John Knight ; Mr. Moorhouse, 
a coach proprietor, of Stockport ; Mr. Saxton, the printer 
of the Manchester Observer ; Samuel Bamford, of Middle- 
ton, the poet of radicalism ; Healey, of Lees, near Oldham, 
commonly called Doctor Healey ; Jones, Swift, and Wilde ; 
and Mrs. Gaunt and Mrs. Hargreaves. Five persons 
against whom bills had been found for having been on the 
field on the 16th of August, and who had been confined 
five months for want of bail, received amongst them 
28 10s. Twenty-nine persons, imprisoned for various 
offences, but against whom no bills were found, received 
amongst them 47. The following are a few extracts from 
the report, as a specimen of the various cases in which 
relief was given : Margaret Booth, dreadfully crushed in 


the crowd, disabled nine weeks, still (February, 1820) 
unwell, 3. James Beswick, severe sabre cut on his 
elbow, and trampled on by the crowd, disabled seven weeks : 
he had held up his arm to save his head, 2. William 
Butterworth, of Stake Hill, near Middleton, a desperate cut 
on the right arm, just below the shoulder, still disabled, 
4 5s. Peter Blair, of Eccles, weaver, a severe sabre cut 
on his right shoulder, knocked down and bruised, 2. 
Thomas Billington, of Chapel- street, Ardwick, severe sabre 
cut on the top of the head, which went to the skull, and 
both arms bruised; he was repeatedly chased round the yard 
of the Friends' meeting-house, and received this cut on 
going out of the gate, 1 12s. Thomas Blinstone, aged 74 
years, Back Turner-street, both arms broken, and much 
bruised in the body (disabled for life), assisted to remove 
to his parish, 2. I need not multiply instances, but I 
may add that amongst the other wounded were a man 
aged 61, four 60, two 64, one 67, one 65, two men 50, a 
man 70, a woman 55, one 63, three men 63, a man 76, one 
69, a woman 64, one 67, one 74, a man 75, a man 66, one 
61, a woman 71, a man 62 (disabled for life), a woman 70, 
one 66, one 79, a man 74, one 75, a woman 64, and so on. 
Poor old Thomas Blinstone was looking on at the outside 
of the crowd when the yeomanry, turning round the wall, 
rode over him. I recollect him standing in my counting- 
house, with his two arms splintered up, and telling his case 
to the relief committee. At the conclusion he said, " and 
what is wur than aw, mesters, they'n broken my spectacles, 
and aw've ne'er yet been able to get a pair that suits me." 

i 2 



AMONGST the subscribers to the fund for the relief of the 
indigent sufferers on the 16th of August, 1819, was the 
Duke of Hamilton, lord lieutenant of the county of Lanark. 
A snow storm in January, 1820, which, for a time, levelled 
all distinctions of rank, brought the premier peer of Scotland 
and myself together at Berwick-on-Tweed. A few days 
before, one of the London ministerial newspapers had pub- 
lished a most abusive attack upon him, in which it was 
asserted that the money, instead of being distributed to 
mitigate the sufferings of those who had been wounded on 
that occasion, was given to excite further disaffection to the 
government. The duke was glad to hear, on the authority 
of one of the Manchester committee, a native of Lanark- 
shire, whose family was known by him, that substantial 
relief had been given where it was much needed, and he 
listened with deep attention to my narrative of the events 
of that fatal day. He said that, after the forcible dispersion 
of the meeting, he had been much afraid that the irritation 
occasioned would give rise to some tumult in his own county, 
and that he had written to Lord Sidmouth, representing 
the danger of adding to the existing irritation, calling his 
attention to the extreme distress that was endured in his 
neighbourhood a distress that was more likely to increase 
than diminish and suggesting that, in any measure to 
repress tumult, great care should be taken to discriminate 
between those who were urged by misery and those who 
intended to excite to mischief. On his saying that the 
concession of some reform would be more likely to tran- 
quillize the country than coercion, I ventured to ask how 


far he would extend the suffrage. He said he would give 
a vote to all who paid direct taxes. I acknowledged that 
this would be a very important movement in advance, but 
that it was liable to the objection that a great part of the 
revenue of the country was raised by indirect taxation. 
" Would you," I asked, " tax the necessaries of life the 
poor man's bread for instance and allow him no vote?" 
" Sir," he said, " that is not legitimate taxation it is 
extortion, which ought not for a moment to be permitted." 
" Well, my lord," I replied, " there certainly would be less 
discontent in the country, if all who are excluded from the 
right of voting were exempted from the payment of taxes." 
The duke expressed a desire to know how the whigs were 
estimated amongst the active-minded men of the manufac- 
turing districts. I said that there had been a great dispo- 
sition to rely upon them as the friends of progression, but 
that their reluctance to come out in favour of a bold amend- 
ment of the representative system, had greatly diminished 
the confidence of the people in their professions of regard 
for popular rights, and that the degree of confidence which 
remained would diminish till none was left, unless some 
forward movement was made. The duke said that the 
whigs were disposed to move onwards, but that they wished 
to carry the Grenvilles with them. " You had better leave 
them behind you than wait for their advance," I said ; 
" they are nothing as a party ; they hold you back when 
you should advance, and thus deprive you of the public 
confidence. Throw them overboard at once ; come forward 
with a proposal for the destruction of the small rotten 
boroughs, for the transference of seats to the large and 
important boroughs, for shortening the duration of par- 
liaments, and for extending the suffrage so as to include 
the intelligence of the country, for any honest measure 
which shall give the promise of more in due time, and I 
am confident that the whole community will be with you, 
as one man, and with a demonstration of power that will 


compel both tories and Grenvillites to yield all that is 
demanded." It was not until eleven years after this con- 
versation that the whigs did make the move ; they were, 
as I had predicted, nobly and generously supported by the 
country ; and through that support they achieved a victory 
which promised other victories, if they would use the means. 
It would seem now as if there still remained a Grenville 
party to hold them back. The finality of the reform bill 
was declared; and from 1832 to 1850, every attempt to 
improve its provisions has been resisted as strenuously 
as the borough-mongers resisted the destruction of their 
strongholds ; and we have only last year been relieved from 
that tax on bread, which the Duke of Hamilton declared, 
twenty-nine years before, to be an extortion which ought 
not for a moment to be permitted. 

One object of the public subscription was to obtain a 
decision as to the legal character of the proceedings on the 
16th of August. A man named John Lees had died in 
consequence of sabre cuts and other injuries received that 
day, and an inquest on his body was opened at Oldham 
on the 25th of September. Much delay occurred in the 
commencement of this inquiry by the absence of the coroner, 
Mr. Ferrand, from his duty, and the refusal of others to act 
in his stead ; and it was afterwards prolonged to an extent 
unexampled, partly by the number of witnesses brought 
forward, and partly by the frequent adjournments, ulti- 
mately from Oldham to Manchester, which the coroner 
interposed. It was the aim of the solicitor, Mr. Harmer, 
afterwards alderman of the city of London, who conducted 
the examination on the part of the next of kin of the 
deceased, to prove the peaceful character of the meeting, 
and the unwarrantable nature of the military attack. On 
the other side, efforts were made to show that previous acts 
of violence on the part of the multitude, and the reading of 
the riot act, had justified the attack, and exonerated from 
legal criminality those connected with it. Ferrand, the 


coroner, not having seen the body of the deceased, Mr. 
Harmer, on the 2nd of October, suggested the necessity 
of his complying with the law in that respect, and inquired 
if he had seen the body, to which Ferrand replied, " I shall 
give no answer," and, refusing to give any further infor- 
mation on the subject, proceeded afterwards to examine 
evidence for two entire days, and then, on the middle of 
the night of Tuesday, the 6th of October, he caused the 
body to be taken up, without giving any notice to the jury 
or the relations of the deceased. 

After the coroner had seen the body, it was again in- 
terred, and he continued the irregular investigation until 
the 13th of October, when, without any reason assigned, 
he adjourned the inquest to the 1st of December ! It would 
require very great charity to believe that this adjournment 
was not made in order that government might in the mean 
time decide how the matter should be disposed of. The 
Court of King's Bench was applied to for the purpose of 
compelling him, by mandamus, to resume and close the 
inquiry. The coroner showed cause against the mandamus, 
and the court declined interfering, on the ground that he 
had committed an irregularity, by which the proceedings 
might be considered as invalid. The coroner, by omitting 
to observe the law, had placed himself above the law ! If 
the irregularity had been designed, it could not better have 
served the purposes of the government. Mr. Harmer, in 
an affidavit intended to form the ground of the other 
proceedings, which, however, were not taken, says : " That 
on the said 1st day of December he attended at the Star 
Inn (Manchester), the place appointed by the said Mr. 
Ferrand for the jury to meet in and resume their inquiry, 
but the said Mr. Ferrand did not attend ; and this deponent 
saith that his deputy, Mr. Battye, who was there in his 
stead, dismissed the jury, by telling them that the inquest 
was at an end, and their services were no longer required ; 
and this deponent further saith, that when the said Mr. 


Ferrand adjourned the inquest, aa before mentioned, there 
were several witnesses in attendance to give evidence 
respecting the cause of the death of the said John Lees, 
but the coroner refused altogether to take the examination 
of the said witnesses." It had been the boast of Englishmen 
that the sudden and violent death of the most obscure and 
wretched individual could not be passed over without the 
strictest investigation of all the circumstances attending 
such death. Li those days it was the privilege of the most 
obscure and wretched coroner to render the law inoperative. 

Amongst the meetings held to protest against the pro- 
ceedings of the magistracy on the 16th of August, was one 
of the freeholders of the county of York, on a requisition 
to the high sheriff, signed by the Duke of Norfolk, by Earl 
Fitzwilliam, lord lieutenant of the West Riding, and many 
other noblemen and gentlemen. " It is worthy of remark," 
says the Annual Register, "that the reformers left the 
whole business of the day to be conducted by the noble- 
men and gentlemen who had come forward to summon the 
meeting," a proof that the so-much-abused radicals of the 
time were quite willing to be silent when they saw persons 
of station advocating the cause of justice. In consequence 
of the part which he had taken in this public meeting, 
Earl Fitzwilliam immediately received from the Prince 
Regent his dismissal from the office of lord lieutenant, a 
proceeding which greatly increased the unpopularity of 
the prince's ministers. Amidst the indignation which pre- 
vailed, considerable amusement was created by the issue of 
the following remarkable circular : 

" Whitehall, November 6, 1819. 

" My Lord, Having beeen informed that there are laying about 
throughout the kingdom, especially in the maritime part of it, a great 
number of cannon, which are private property, a considerable part of 
which were formerly used in merchant's ships, I beg leave to call 
your lordship's attention to this subject ; and to request that you 
will direct the magistrates under your lordship's charge, to make the 
necessary inquiries within their respective districts, and if any gun 


of this description should be found therein, that they will cause 
immediate steps to be taken, with the consent of their owners, for 
rendering them useless, or for removing them to a place of security. 
I have the honour to be, &c. &c., 

" H. H. Lieutenant of ." " SLDMOUTH. 

This elegant and grammatical piece of official composition 
reminds me of a placard, or proclamation, issued by the 
sapient justices, denouncing the intended meeting to be 
illegal, and yet commanding the people to " abstain from 
attending the said meeting at their peril" In allusion to 
this, Hunt good humouredly remarked, that very likely 
their clerk being gone to his dinner, the justices had com- 
posed this notice themselves, which at once would explain 
the absurdity of its language, for though a commission of 
the peace might have the magical effect of endowing a man 
with law, it did not follow that it could teach him to write 

On the 23rd of November parliament was opened by the 
Regent, who was greeted in no nattering manner by the 
populace. In the lords an amendment to the address was 
moved by Earl Grey, with reference to the Manchester 
proceedings, which were characterised as illegal and uncon- 
stitutional, and ably supported by Erskine, but negatived 
by 159 peers to 34. A similar amendment, after two days' 
debate, was negatived in the commons, 150 members 
voting for, and 381 against, inquiry. With such over- 
whelming majorities ministers saw that they could easily 
carry measures for further coercion. On the 30th of 
November Lord Sidmouth, in the upper house, and Lord 
Castlereagh, in the lower, gave an outline of the coercive 
measures they had in contemplation in the then state of the 
country. They acquired the name of the " Six Acts," and 
consisted of the following bills : 1. To take away the right 
of traversing in cases of misdemeanor. 2. To punish any 
person, found guilty, on a second conviction, of libel, by 
fine, imprisonment, and banishment (as first introduced 

i 3 


transportation} for life. 3. For preventing seditious meet- 
ings, requiring the names of seven householders to the 
requisition which, in future, convened any meeting for the 
discussion of subjects connected with church and state. 4. 
To prohibit military training, except under the authority of 
a magistrate or lord -lieutenant. 5. Subjecting cheap 
periodical pamphlets on political questions to a duty similar 
to newspapers. 6. And lastly, a bill giving magistrates 
the power of entering houses by night or by day, for the 
purpose of seizing arms believed to be collected for unlawful 
purposes. These bills were all carried by large majorities. 
The entering houses by night, and the severity of the 
restrictions on the press were briefly objected to ; but 
there appeared a general concurrence in the necessity of 
strong measures. It was desirable to put down the demand 
for reform, and a borough-mongers' parliament was not slow 
in giving its aid to a tyrannical administration. The " Six 
Acts" did not effect the intended purpose. They had the 
effect of repressing the wilder and more violent of the radical 
orators ; but in so doing, they allowed the principles of 
reform to be more quietly and more calmly considered by 
men who would otherwise have been frightened by the 
fierce front of an intolerant radicalism. In the meantime, 
many men remained in prison charged with the crime of 
having been present at the meeting of the 16th of August. 
Their cases will be before us by and bye. It may here be 
stated, that no time was lost in endeavouring to create a 
prejudice in the minds of the public against those who were 
doomed to be victims of an arbitrary government, for in a 
few weeks Francis Phillips issued a pamphlet which he was 
pleased to entitle : " An Exposure of the Calumnies circulated 
by the enemies of Social Order, against the magistrates and 
the yeomanry cavalry of Manchester and Salford." To 
counteract this slanderous production, an able work was 
written and compiled by the late Mr. John Edward Taylor, 
entitled " Notes and Observations, Critical and Explanatory, 


on the Papers relative to the Internal State of the 
Country, &c. ; to which is appended a Reply to Mr. F. 
Philips's Exposure, &c. Effingham Wilson, London, 1820." 
Numerous other tracts appeared on the subject; but this 
by Mr. Taylor will always be not only an important local 
record, but valuable as containing a detail of the lawless 
tyranny which at that time prevailed amongst officials of 
all ranks and degrees, from Lord Sidmouth down to the 
deputy constable, Nadin. We now come to the trials. 

To the occurrences of 1819, the people of Lancashire 
owe the system of giving regular and full reports in their 
local newspapers of all important public meetings and law 
proceedings. Previously, subjects of great consequence 
were dismissed in a single paragraph. A town's meeting 
in Manchester would be noticed much as follows : " A 
large meeting was held in the Bull's Head, on Thursday 
last, for the resolutions of which see advertisement in our 
front page." The agitation kept up by the radicals, and 
the wanton stretch of power exercised by the Manchester 
magistracy, had excited so much attention that the con- 
ductors of the London press thought it worth their while 
to send able reporters to the scene of action, and the 
eagerness with which their descriptions and reports were 
read, induced the proprietors of the Manchester papers to 
take a little more trouble to satisfy public curiosity. From 
that period the Manchester papers may be referred to for 
a record of public events, coloured according to the politics 
of each, but yet furnishing materials from which he who 
takes the pains to ascertain the truth may furnish some- 
thing like a faithful history. The London Times of the 
period set the example to the rest of the press, in the 
fulness and faithfulness of its reports, and in the paper of 
the 30th of August, it gives a very copious account of the 
proceedings on the examination and committal of Henry 
Hunt and his colleagues, for their appearance on the hust- 
ings on the memorable meeting of the 16th of August. 


As it had been known that on the 27th of that month 
the determination of the government regarding the charges 
against the prisoners would be declared, a great crowd 
had collected in front of the New Bailey prison, and 
when the doors were opened the court-house was instantly 
filled. The only magistrates present were Mr. Norris 
(chairman), Mr. W. Hulton, Mr. Ralph Wright, Mr. 
William Marriott, Mr. T. W. Marriott, and the Rev. W. 
C. Ethelston. The names of the prisoners were called over, 
and answered in the following order : Henry Hunt, Joseph 
Johnson, John Thacker Saxton, John Knight, James Moor- 
house, Samuel Bainford, Joseph Healey, George Swift, 
Thomas Jones, Robert Wilde, and Elizabeth Gaunt. 
Elizabeth Gaunt answered to her name but feebly, being 
unable to speak out from a tendency to faint, in con- 
sequence of being cut and trampled upon in the field, and 
having been twelve days imprisoned. The chairman then 
addressed the prisoners : " When you were last called up 
into this court, you were remanded on a charge of high, 
treason. On remanding you, you were informed that the 
whole of the evidence had been sent up to London, to be 
laid before the law-officers of the crown, and in the mean 
time you were to be detained. It was not until this morn- 
ing that a communication was made from government, 
stating that the law-officers of the crown had for the 
present abandoned the higher charge. This communication 
was not made to me ; but there is a gentleman present, Mr. 
Bouchier, who has come with orders to proceed upon a less 
charge. The charge of high treason is not yet abandoned, 
but government proceeds against you for a minor offence." 

The first witness called proved the purchase of two 
copies of the Manchester Observer, one of them containing 
the announcement of the meeting for the 9th of August. 
" Who urged you to purchase the papers ?" asked Hunt. 
The court would not allow the question to be answered. 
Hunt again asked, " You purchased the second paper 011 


the 14th of August?" The court would not allow the 
witness to answer. Matthew Cowper, the next witness, 
was designated simply " of Manchester." Hunt asked for 
his address. The court would not allow the question to 
be answered. Mr. Hunt, " Of what profession are you ?" 
Witness : " I am an accountant." Hunt : " Is that your 
only profession ?" Chairman : " Don't answer that ques- 
tion." Cowper swore to having seen certain flags and 
colours, one of them with a bloody dagger ; the court 
would not allow Hunt to cross-examine him. Richard 
Owen, a pawnbroker, was then examined, and swore to 
his own alarm, and his belief that the town was alarmed. 
Hunt asked him when it had occurred to him to note 
down what he had deposed to? The witness refused to 
answer the question, and the court decided that he was 
not bound to answer. Other witnesses deposed to having 
seen the male prisoners on the hustings. The evidence 
against Elizabeth Gaunt being only that she had been 
seen on the carriage with Hunt, the solicitor for the 
crown said he would not press for her prosecution, and 
she was discharged. 

Mr. Hunt then addressed the court, denying that any 
sedition was intended, and arguing that there was no 
evidence against them to justify a committal for trial. 
The magistrates left the court for some time, and on their 
return the chairman said : " Henry Hunt, and you all : 
we sent for Mr. Bouchier, in order that we might again 
carefully peruse the depositions. It is a most painful 
duty to me to commit you for a conspiracy. We can, 
however, lay our hands on our hearts and say, we have 
done our duty. As to the charge of conspiracy, though 
you might not have acted all together previous to the 
meeting, yet in the eye of the law, all those who commit 
separate acts, tending to one illegal object, are guilty of 
that crime. Coupling the two meetings together, taking 
into consideration the manner in which the last was 


assembled, with such insignia and in such a manner, with 
the black flag, the bloody dagger, with ' Equal representa- 
tion or death, you came in a threatening manner you 
came under the banners of death, thereby showing you 
meant to overturn the government. There could be no 
free discussion where that flag was unfurled. The charge 
now is, that of having conspired to alter the law by force 
and threats. It is an illegal matter, and sufficiently made 
out, and calls upon us imperatively to commit you for 
a trial by a proper jury. It is now our painful duty to 
commit you to Lancaster Castle. On account of the 
seriousness of the charge, we shall require you, Henry 
Hunt and Joseph Johnson, to give bail, yourselves in 
1,000, and two sureties in 500 each ; and all the others, 
themselves in 500, and two sureties in 250 each." 

Johnson and Moorhouse procured bail, and were libe- 
rated. The other prisoners were sent off in hot haste to 
Lancaster Castle. " From the bar," says Bamford, " I 
was conducted to the yard of my former cell, where I was 
joined by several of the other prisoners, and we were 
asking what we should have for dinner, when an order 
suddenly came that we were to prepare to set off for 
Lancaster Castle. Our meal was soon dispatched, and we 
quickly bundled up our few things. We were then taken 
to the turnkey's lodge, and each hand changed, after which 
we were placed on a four-horse coach, in the inside of 
which were Mr. Hunt, Mr. Knight, Saxton, and Nadin. 
The outside party consisted of myself, Swift, Wilde, Healey, 
and Jones, with a number of constables armed with pistols : 
we were also escorted by a strong detachment of hussars, 
and thus, amid the huzzas of an immense multitude, we 
drove off." On the following night, Hunt and Knight 
procured bail, and left the others in the Castle. Bamford, 
in his " Life of a Radical," describes how they spent their 
time there, and how he was employed from the period of 
his own release till the trial at York. 



The trial, which lasted ten days was commenced at 
York, having been moved by certiorari from Lancaster, 
on the 16th of March, 1820, before Mr. Justice Bailey 
and a special jury. The counsel for the prosecution were 
Mr. Scarlett, Mr. Sergeant Hullock, Mr. Sergeant Cross, 
and Mr. Littledale, the leading men on the circuit. Mr. 
Holt defended Saxton, and Mr. Barrow was retained for 
Moorhouse and Jones. The other defendants pleaded their 
own cause. Mr. Charles Pearson, the late member of par- 
liament for Lambeth, was attorney for the defence. 

One of the first points attempted to be proved was the 
connection of the St. Peter's Field meeting with the dril- 
lings on White Moss. It was conceived that if the legal 
meeting could be connected with the illegal, it would 
prove that both were illegal! Samuel Morton deposed 
that he followed the procession which accompanied Hunt 
and Johnson through Withy Grove ; he was on the opposite 
side of the street when they passed the house of Murray, 
a ginger-bread baker, of Hanging Ditch, the man who had 
been beaten at White Moss ; they hissed as they passed ; 
the mob shouted out that they wanted some White Moss 
humbugs; the town was very tumultuous, and he was 
much afraid. A witness named Chadwick swore to the 
training on the Moss, and that the people in the procession 
hissed as they passed Murray's house. Murray himself 
swore that he had been beaten at White Moss, and that 
the people following Hunt hissed as they passed his house. 
Shawcross, a clerk in the police-office, deposed that he was 
beaten at White Moss. A man, named Heywood, swore 
that on the 16th he saw men, in marching order, coming 
in the direction from White Moss towards Manchester. 
On such evidence was it attempted to be shown that there 
was a connection between the drillings on White Moss 
with the peaceful and legally convened meeting on Saint 
Peter's Field ! 

Further to give that meeting the character of illegality, 


witnesses were called to swear that they were afraid ! 
Roger Entwistle, an attorney, swore that the meeting 
must have consisted of 100,000 men; that they were 
nearly all of the lower order ; and that the meeting was 
certainly calculated to excite terror and alarm. Mr. F. 
Phillips also swore that he was much alarmed, and that 
he had heard many taunting expressions used on the field 
to every man who wore a good coat. Mr. Hunt attempted 
to get from this witness some acknowledgment that the 
yeomanry had attacked the people, but was stopped by 
the judge. The Rev. Dr. Smith, of the Grammar School, 
swore that he was much alarmed, and that he had shut 
his windows and locked his doors. Matthew Cowper also 
swore to his alarm. In cross-examination this witness 
acknowledged that he had left his situation in consequence 
of having taken money from his master's till. Joseph Mills, 
a " runner" of Nadin's body, swore that the meeting was 
calculated to excite alarm. Jonathan Andrews, of Har- 
purhey, deposed as to his own alarm. Mr. Thomas Hard- 
man and Mr. Joseph Green also spoke to their own fears 
and apprehensions. Mr. Hulton, of Hulton, amongst other 
evidence, swore that he had seen from the window, ivhere 
he stood a number of men close to the hustings with their 
arms locked together. He said, in cross-examination, " I 
could perceive the persons locked together, because they 
formed a complete cordon, and were bare-headed. I 
believe solemnly that these people near the hustings were 
locked arm-in-arm. I saw them linked, I believe, by the 
arms. They were close together as they could be, and 
were distinguished from the rest of the crowd. Though 
the distance was so great from the hustings as to prevent 
my distinguishing an individual elevated on the hustings, 
still I, and others, could see the persons beneath locked 
together. I swear this from my own knowledge, and not 
from what I was told." 

Mr. Hunt. Can you, sir, standing in that elevated 


situation, and looking round on the comparatively small 
number of persons now present, see whether their arms 
are locked ? 

When this staggering question was put, which, for the 
moment astounded the witness, some clapping took place, 
both in the body of the court and in the gallery. A person 
named James Kellenbeck was pointed out and brought out 
before the judge as the man who commenced the clapping. 
This was proved by two or three witnesses. Mr. Justice 
Bailey said he would give him time till Monday to make an 
affidavit in excuse. The prisoner said he was ready to 
swear that he did not clap, but moved his hands merely to 
prevent himself from falling. The judge begged of him, in 
the name of God, not to make such an affidavit, for he saw 
him distinctly clapping. After a severe reprimand he was 
committed till Monday, that he might have time to reflect 
upon his conduct, and draw up any excuse he might have 
to ofier. 

Mr. Hunt. You will now look round the benches, where 
that crowd is elevated, one above another, and say whether 
you can see what they are doing with their arms ? 

Witness. Must I answer that, my lord ? 

Mr. Justice Bailey. You may declare whether the 
opportunity you had of viewing the meeting on the 16th 
of August was better than that which you have of seeing 
the people now present. 

Witness. I had a much better opportunity of seeing the 
persons at the meeting than I have of observing those in 
the court ! ! (This witness must have been ten times 
farther from the hustings than he was from the persons in 

Mr. Hunt. Could you see the arms of the persons then ? 

Witness. I could see them wedged, and, I believe, 
linked together. 

Mr. Hunt. Could you see any part of their arms ? 

Witness. I could distinctly see the outside men linked. 


Mr. Hunt. Then, from the appearance of the others, 
you believe the rest were linked ? 

Witness. I have no doubt of it. 

The witnesses for the defence were generally of a more 
respectable class than those who were called for the prose- 
cution. The following are extracts from their evidence, all 
proving the peaceable character of the meeting : 

Mr. John Smith, one of the editors of the Liverpool 
Mercury : " In no case whatever did I see any attempt to 
resist, nor any encouragement to resistance given by Mr. 
Hunt, or any other person, either by word, look, or gesture. 
I saw no sticks lifted up against the military. I saw no 
brick-bats or stones thrown till the close of the dispersion, 
when I saw one stone thrown. If any stones or brick-bats 
had been thrown, or any sticks raised in defiance of the 
military, I must have seen it. I am more than six feet 
high, and therefore was enabled to see all that took place. 
I neither heard any offensive expressions uttered, nor saw 
any acts of violence committed by the people, from the 
time of their assembling to their complete dispersion." 
Mr. Shuttle worth, now Mr. Alderman Shuttle worth : " I 
witnessed several parties pass the Exchange, to go to St. 
Peter's Field. They were marching with considerable 
regularity, in the form of a procession, and conducted 
themselves in an extremely decorous manner. In conse- 
quence of the observations which had been made as to the 
number of sticks carried at previous meetings at Manchester, 
I determined to count, as accurately as I could, the propor- 
tion on this occasion. I did so in several hundreds, until, 
indeed, I thought I had a fair average ; and the result left 
no doubt on my mind that there was not one stick to ten 
persons. The sticks were walking-sticks, such as are 
usually carried by country persons. Their progress (the 
cavalry's) seemed to be checked by the dense crowd, and 
this appeared to me to cause in them considerable confusion. 
I did not observe any of them separated from the rest 




They appeared in one circular mass. The people did 
nothing to resist them. I saw them go on the hustings. 
I saw not a stone, brick-bat, or bludgeon, hurled at them." 
Mr. John Tyas, reporter of the Times newspaper, who had 
been taken into custody on the hustings, deposed : " I 
recollect an officer went up to Mr. Hunt, with his sword in 
his hand, and desired him to surrender. He said he would 
not surrender to a military officer, but if any peace-officer 
came up he would surrender. Nadin then came, as it 
appeared to me, from under a waggon; Mr. Hunt im- 
mediately surrendered, after first desiring the people to be 
quiet. If there had been groaning, hissing, and hooting 
at the extremity of the crowd, the cheering of those round 
the hustings would have prevented me from hearing it. I 
saw no sticks flourished by the people as the cavalry ap- 
proached. Had they been flourished I must have seen them. ' ' 
Mr. James Brettargh, of Pendleton : "I went to the 
meeting about twelve o'clock. When * God save the King ' 
was played, all the people that I supposed belonged to the 
meeting took off their hats, but the constables did not take 
off their hats. Mr. Hunt said, ' If any one create any 
disturbance, put him down and keep him down.' This 
appeared to be addressed to some one belonging to the 
hustings. I did not hear him say, pointing to the military, 
' There are your enemies ; if they molest you, put them 
down and keep them down.' It was impossible, as the 
soldiers had not arrived at the time. When the cavalry 
came in, they advanced at either a canter or a gallop ; they 
came as fast as they could. There were not any stones or 
bricks thrown at them, nor any sticks thrown at or lifted 
up against them." Mr. Edward Baines, jun., of the Leeds 
Mercury : " My eyes were directed towards the cavalry till 
they began to advance towards the hustings. When they 
had got about ten yards into the crowd, I turned away. I 
saw no stones or brick-bats thrown, nor any sticks held up 
against them. I had heard nothing from Mr. Hunt of the 


words ' be firm,' but the words ' give three cheers ;' these 
words were repeated, as were the words ' be firm.' " Mr. 
William Nicholson, of Lees : "I saw no difference in the 
appearance of Manchester on that day, save in one instance, 
I saw a public-house with the windows shut ; a female 
servant said they had received orders from the magistrates 
not to sell any beer on that day. I saw a procession pass ; 
I took notice of their sticks ; I think about one to four had 
sticks ; they were for the most part switch sticks." Mr. 
Thelwall, a builder : " Nothing that I heard or saw on the 
16th of August induced me to believe that my property was 
in the slightest danger. I was in the northern corner of 
the field, at the angle opposite to Buxton's house. I saw 
no attempt to oppose the military. I heard no groanings, 
hootings, or hissings at them, I saw neither stones, sticks, 
nor brick-bats thrown at them, or thrown up in the air as 
they passed. I saw no sticks held up at them." 

Mr. Robert Grundy, who had been one of the special 
constables that day, deposed : " I saw no insult or violence 
offered to any person whatever. I was surrounded by a 
thick multitude. The persons around me were aware that 
we were special constables. Some of the constables showed 
their staves. I perceived no insult offered to them." Mr. 
John Molineux, lamp manufacturer : " I met my daughter 
on the ground. She expressed a wish to go, and went with 
her uncle. My daughter is sixteen years of age. I remained 
on the field till the meeting was dispersed. My daughter 
remained with me and my brother-in-law. I saw the 
military arrive. No opposition was made to the military 
that I saw. There was no groaning, or hooting, or hissing 
at them. I perceived nothing done to intimidate them. I 
saw no stones, or sticks, or brick-bats thrown at them, or 
thrown up in the air." Mr. James Scholefield : " The 
different divisions had bands, which played the air generally 
called ' Rule Britannia,' and the national anthem of ' God 
save the King.' When the latter was played, the people, 


for the most part, took off their hats. I felt no alarm, nor 
did I hear any person express alarm at the meeting. I saw 
the military arrive. As the cavalry advanced, the people 
held up their hats as a sort of guard against the cuttings of 
the swords. There were no brick-bats, stones, or sticks 
hurled against them." The bloody dagger was accounted 
for by the 48th witness for the defence, William Burns, who 
swore that he had something to do in making the Bury flag : 
he made a piece of tin in the form of &Jleur de Us, and was 
to paint it yellow, but not having much time on his hands, 
he painted it red. It came to him on the Saturday evening 
late, and not liking to paint it on Sunday, and having no 
yellow paint by him at the moment, he used red. This was 
the only reason. Mr. T. B. W. Sanderson spoke to the 
peaceableness of the meeting. He was a merchant in the 
firm of Sanderson and Co., at Manchester. He was there 
on the 16th of August, and saw the meeting assemble. He 
transacted his ordinary business during the whole of the 
day. He saw nobody that day in apparent alarm, in conse- 
quence of that meeting, until its dispersion by the military. 
The Rev. Mr. Hindmarsh, of the New Jerusalem chapel, 
Salford, also deposed to the peaceableness of the meeting : 
" I remained upon the field until the cavalry arrived. I saw 
nothing before their arrival which excited any fears for the 
safety of person or property, or the safety of the town ; I 
had not the least idea of any such thing. I saw nothing 
which, in my judgment, could excite the fears of any 
rational, temperate, sober-minded person." 

It had been proved by the strongest evidence, not even 
attempted to be rebutted, that the meeting of the 16th of 
August had been perfectly peaceable. It is worth our 
while to know clearly how that perfectly-peaceable meet- 
ing acquired the character of illegality which justified the 
- cutting down, and trampling upon, unarmed men and 
defenceless women and children, and exposed those who 
attended to a long and rigorous imprisonment. The 


attempt was made, eagerly and vindictively, on the part of 
the prosecution, to substantiate a charge of seditious con- 
spiracy, by bringing evidence to establish some remote 
connection of that assemblage with a meeting that had 
previously been held at Smithfield and with the trainings 
at White Moss ; but the judge, Mr. Justice Bayley,* either 
saw that the evidence was insufficient, or that a conviction 
on such strained construction of the law would be odious 
to the country, and he laid the main stress, in summing- 
up, on the use of flags, as tending to incite the assembled 
multitude. The inscription, " Equal Representation or 
Death," he said, was highly illegal and seditious if in- 
tended to recommend or imply, by the alternative, that 
equal representation must be unconditionally obtained or 
life sacrificed in the attempt ; the inscription, " No Corn 
Laws," if construed as meaning that the people would 
have no such laws, and would forcibly resist them if 
enacted by the legislature, must be considered as illegal 
in an extreme degree ; the inscriptions, " Annual Parlia- 
ments," "Universal Suffrage," "Vote by Ballot," were 
legal enough as an expression of opinion only, but criminal 
if intended to show a resolution to obtain these objects 
illegally; "Taxation without representation is unjust," if 
meant to imply that it is criminal and unjust to levy a 
tax upon any man who had not a direct share in the 
representation, had a tendency to excite contempt of 
the constituted authorities of the realm ; " No Borough- 
mongers," had been an inscription at the Smithfield meet- 
ing, and therefore it was bad ; the main question was, 

* There never was a man better fitted for the purpose than this judge. His 
appearance was prepossessing, tall, slender, and grave ; mild in manner, but 
cunning in effect, and at the very time r he lead the people to suppose he was 
aiding the prisoner, according to the farcical notion of being his counsel, he 
was studiously entangling him in the meshes of special pleading, so as to 
secure his victim upon the altar prepared by Sidney and Castlereagh. For 
services thus rendered, this pious judge, and editor of an edition of the Book 
of Common Prayer, with notes, which teaches humility and mercy, was created 
a Baronet on retiring from the Bench. 


whether such banners and such an assemblage were calcu- 
lated to excite terror, and if the jury thought so they should 
give their verdict accordingly. 

The jury, after an absence of five hours, returned to the 
court and delivered their verdict : " Moorhouse, Jones, 
Wilde, Swift, and Saxton, NOT GUILTY. Henry Hunt, 
Joseph Johnson, John Knight, Joseph Healey, and Samuel 
Bamford GUILTY of assembling with unlawful banners an 
unlawful assembly, for the purpose of moving and inciting 
the liege subjects of our Sovereign Lord the King into 
contempt and hatred of the government and constitution of 
the realm, as by law established, and attending the same." 

The whole of the high treason, for which, in the first 
instance, these men were to be tried the whole of the 
seditious conspiracy for which they actually were tried, 
thus dwindled down into a conviction for having attended 
a meeting which was only at that moment found to be an 
illegal one ; for, let it be borne in mind that Mr. Norris, 
the magistrate acting in the name of the magistracy of the 
district, writing to Lord Sidmouth at eleven o'clock on the 
night previous to the meeting, declared his conviction that, 
as the law stood, he believed nothing could be done, on 
the ground of its illegality, to prevent the meeting being 
held. If the chairman of the Manchester magistracy, con- 
stantly corresponding with -Lord Sidmouth, and with all 
the information that could be obtained from the crown 
lawyers, declared his conviction, on Sunday night at 
eleven o'clock that he could not regard the meeting to be 
held on Monday morning as otherwise than one legally 
convened and legally held when he regretted that such 
was the state of the law that the magistrates felt they could 
not prevent that meeting being held surely it might have 
been expected, in the sentence pronounced on the prisoners, 
that their strong belief of the proceedings being in perfect 
accordance with the law, would be taken into consideration, 
and the mildest possible punishment inflicted. But Hunt 


was sentenced to be imprisoned for two years and six 
months, and Johnson, Healey, and Bamford to one year's 
imprisonment ; and so rigorously was the sentence carried 
out, that Johnson was not permitted to go, in custody of 
an officer, to see his wife on her death-bed ! The three 
prisoners in Lincoln jail, elevated by the severity of their 
sentence to the rank of martyrs, seem to have had no 
solace from their compulsory association. Bamford takes 
some pains to show what a fool Healey was ; and he com- 
plains that when Mrs. Bamford came to the prison, Mr. 
Johnson asked her to partake of breakfast with himself and 
his wife before he told her where her husband was ! Of 
the selfishness of Hunt, confined in Ilchester jail, Bamford 
complains also in the bitterest terms, and loses no oppor- 
tunity of ridiculing his vanity, egotism, and " torn-foolery." 
Of John Knight he writes in equally disparaging terms. 
Some friends at Nottingham had written to Bamford, that 
if a pound note would be of use to him they would send it. 
He says, " I thanked them and declined it, stating at the 
same time that it would be acceptable to John Knight, at 
Lancaster Castle, and it was sent to him. But, as I have 
found, old John would have seen me boiling the stones of 
the castle wall for dinner sooner than he would have done 
me, or any one else, a like turn."' This sadly lowers the 
poetry of the martyrdom. 



HITHERTO the proceedings of the Sidmouth and Castle- 
reagh government had been only against the undistinguished 
amongst the multitude, or the leaders of the mob against 
men whose punishment might be supposed not likely to 
excite the sympathy of more influential classes. Encouraged 
by their success by the great majorities they commanded 
in both houses and in the belief that " well-timed vigour" 
would suppress, at once and for ever, every demand for an 
amended system of representation, and impelled by the 
necessity of going on in the course commenced, they soared 
at higher game. Sir Francis Burdett was not then at the 
height of his fame. Cobbett had denounced him as insin- 
cere, and he had lost some portion of his former great and 
almost unexampled popularity. Whether it was to regain 
his lost ground, or from generous impulse, he stood forward 
manfully to denounce the atrocities of the 16th of August, 
and addressed the following letter, dated the 22nd of 


" Gentlemen, On reading the newspaper this morning, having 
arrived late yesterday evening, I was filled with shame, grief, and 
indignation, on account of the blood spilled at Manchester. 

"This, then, is the answer of the boroughmongers to the petition- 
ing people this is the proof of our standing in no need of reform 
these the practical blessings of our glorious boroughmongers' domi- 
nation this the use of a standing army in time of peace. It seems 
our fathers were not such fools as some would make us believe, in 
opposing the establishment of a standing army, and sending King 
William's Dutch guards out of the country. Yet would to heaven 
they had been Dutchmen or Switzers, or Hessians or Hanoverians, or 



anything rather than Englishmen, who have done such deeds. What ! 
kill men unarmed, unresisting, and, gracious G-od ! women too ; dis- 
figured, maimed, cut down, and trampled on by dragoons ! Is this 
England ? This a Christian land ? A land of freedom ? Can such 
things be and pass by, like a summer cloud, unheeded ? Forbid it 
every drop of blood in every vein that does not proclaim its own 
owner bastard. Will the gentlemen of England support or wink at 
such proceedings ? They have a great stake in their country ; they 
hold great estates, and they are bound in duty and in honour to 
consider them as retaining fees on the part of their country, for 
upholding its rights and liberties ; surely they will at length awake, 
and find they have duties to perform. 

" They never can stand tamely by, as lookers on, whilst bloody 
Neros rip open their mother's womb ; they must join the general 
voice, loudly demanding justice and redress j and head public 
meetings throughout the United Kingdom, to put a stop, in its 
commencement, to a reign of terror and of blood ; to afford consola- 
tion as far as it can be afforded, and legal redress to the widows 
and orphans mutilated victims of this unparalleled and barbarous 

" For this purpose, I propose that a meeting should be called in 
Westminster, which the gentlemen of the committee will arrange, 
and whose summons I will hold myself in readiness to attend. 
Whether the penalty of our meeting will be death by military 
execution, I know not ; but this I know, a man can die but once, and 
never better than in vindicating the laws and liberties of his country. 

"Excuse this hasty address. I can scarcely tell what I have 
written ; and it may be a libel, or the Attorney-General may call it 
one just as he pleases. When the seven bishops were tried for libel, 
the army of James II., then encamped on Hounslow Heath, for 
supporting arbitrary power, gave three cheers on hearing of their 

" The King, startled at the noise, asked, * What's that ?' 
'Nothing, sir,' was the answer, 'but the soldiers shouting at the 
acquittal of the seven bishops.' ' Do you call that nothing ?' replied 
the misgiving tyrant, and shortly after abdicated the government. 

" 'Tis true, James could not inflict the torture on his soldiers 
could not tear the living flesh from their bones with the cat-o'-nine 
tails could not flay them alive. Be this as it may, our duty is to 
meet; and England expects every man to do his duty. I remain, 
gentlemen, most truly and faithfully, your most obedient servant, 



This letter, issued at a time when the public mind was 
strongly excited, producing a great sensation throughout 
the country, ministers were forced from their cowardly 
policy of attacking only the poor and friendless. They felt 
themselves compelled to proceed against the higher delin- 
quent. An information was filed against Sir Francis by 
the Attorney-General. Ministers did not dare, however, 
to have the trial in London, where the alleged libel was 
published. Government had found, on former occasions, 
that London juries were not always to be relied upon. The 
letter had been put into a post office in Leicestershire, and 
it was determined that the case should come before a 
Leicestershire jury, less likely to contain radical elements 
than a London one. The trial took place at the Leicester 
assizes on the 23rd of March. Mr. Denman, counsel for 
Sir Francis, contended that there was no proof whatever of 
the publication of the letter in the county of Leicester, but 
the Judge (Best) over-ruled the objection. This overbear- 
ing best of judges was afterwards made a lord, and 
distinguished himself in support of the Orange clubs and 
other equally creditable affairs. Sir Francis addressed the 
jury with great spirit and eloquence, justified eveiy word 
he had written, and denounced the conduct of the magis- 
tracy as strongly in his speech as he had in his letter. 
The Leicestershire jury justified the belief of ministers in 
their subserviency. After a consultation of only two 
minutes, their foreman stepped into his place and called 
out, " Guilty of libel." 

Mr. Denman remarked that the verdict did not find 
the publication in Leicestershire. Mr. Sergeant Vaughan 
contended that it did. Mr. Justice Best then asked the 
foreman, " Do you find the libel published in Leicester- 
shire ?'' To which that worthy promptly replied, " Guilty 
of libel in Leicestershire /" The case was argued at great 
length in the Court of King's Bench, where the verdict 
had been impeached, but the result' was that Sir Francis 
x 2 


was sentenced to a fine of 2,000, and to three months' 

Close upon this followed the trial of John Knight, George 
Dewhurst, Nathan Broadhurst, John Anderson, William 
Fletcher, John Bury, John Austin, and James Wade, at 
Lancaster assizes, 1st of April. The indictment contained 
twenty-one counts, the substance of which was that they 
had conspired to go, and caused others to go, armed to 
a meeting at Burnley, for the purpose of hindering and 
obstructing the magistrates and peace-officers in the 
execution of their duty. The main evidence against them 
was that Colonel Hargreaves, in making a dash at the pro- 
cession as it went through Burnley, had carried off a staff 
which " appeared to have been prepared for a pike handle ;" 
and a man (suspected of being a spy) had sworn that he had 
seen some men (also suspected of being spies) with pistols 
in their possession. The judge, Mr. Justice Bailey, charged 
that if any person or persons went armed to a meeting, 
determined if attacked to resist, the meeting was illegal. 
All the prisoners were convicted with the exception of 
Wade and Austin, as to whom the prosecution had been 
withdrawn. Under this construction of the law any meeting 
might be made illegal. It would need the employment of 
only two or three spies, who might show each other the 
pistols they carried. 

At the Cheshire assizes, April 10th, Sir Charles Wolseley, 
Bart., and Joseph Harrison, a schoolmaster and preacher, 
were tried for uttering seditious words at a meeting held at 
Stockport, on the 12th of July. The " open and advised 
speaking" was not sworn to by any short-hand writer, but 
on the recollection of persons who had been sent by the 
magistrates. Amongst the witnesses was Mr. John Winter- 
bottom, solicitor, who, a few years ago, underwent the 
sentence of the court for a more serious offence than the 
utterance of what the courts at that time ruled to be 
seditious words. The evidence was from the memory of the 


witness. Mr. Pearson tried the extent of Mr. Winterbot- 
tom's memory, by reading a part of Harrison's speech as 
reported, and asking him to give the court the substance of 
what was read, but the witness confessed his inability to 
do so. On such testimony as this it was shown that the 
ministers of the crown had been abused, that it had been 
declared that the house of commons did not represent the 
people, and that Sidmouth and Castlereagh had employed 
spies, and therefore ought to be detested. On similar 
testimony it was shown that some men had sticks, and that 
a constable, one of " Nadin's runners," had been knocked 
down on pretence that he was a spy. Of course the de- 
fendants were found guilty. 

Joseph Harrison was again indicted, at Chester, on April 
18th, for having, in a sermon, preached at Stockport, on 
Sunday, the 15th of August, unlawfully, seditiously, and 
with intent, &c., uttered the following words : " That the 
government had starved the people, and it was right that 
the people should starve the government." " That the 
commons' house was the house of assembly of the people, 
where their rights should be protected ; but that, when the 
people asked for their rights, they threatened to make war 
upon them." " Can laws proceeding from such a source be 
called the laws of the land ? or is it fit that they should be 
obeyed?" The principal witness was not a short-hand 
writer, but a Mr. Thomas Cowper, an accountant, who had 
made himself somewhat notorious by his evidence on Hunt's 
trial at York. Even he had not taken notes at the time, 
bnt had written them at the Bulkeley Arms, for the use of 
the Manchester magistrates. It turned out that the starving 
of the government meant only that people should abstain 
from beer, spirits, and other exciseable commodities. He 
was found guilty. He was then put on his trial again, upon 
another indictment, and one witness, who was very drunk, 
and was several times reproved by the court, certainly swore 
to very seditious words. The jury, believing the drunken 


witness, found the defendant guilty. For the first offence 
he was sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment, and for 
the second, to commence after the first period had termi- 
nated, another imprisonment of twelve months ! 

Previous to this trial the illustrious Jeremy Bentham had 
published a pamphlet, in which he argued that unless every 
thing charged in an indictment was proved, the jury should 
bring in their verdict " not guilty." Harrison was charged 
with a false libel on the government and the house of 
commons, in calling them tyrannical. The jury were sworn 
to give a true verdict, according to the evidence ; there was 
no evidence that the libel was a false libel ; and, therefore, 
he might have claimed an acquittal. But Harrison made 
a monotonous and tiresome speech of four hours' length, 
wearying out the patience of the jury, when he should have 
been convincing their judgment ; and probably their verdict 
was given more on a consideration of what he said, there 
and then, for which he was not on trial, than on the evidence 
that the drunken witness had given. We shall come to 
cases hereafter in which juries rejected the dicta of courts, 
that charges of falsehood and malice were mere words of 
course and needed no proof. The period of the radical 
agitation was the grand reign of judge-made law. 

The tory ministers, rejoicing in the convictions they had 
obtained in the courts of law, did not lose the opportunity 
of congratulating the country on the suppression of sedition, 
and of assuring it that there was no nation in the world 
which enjoyed so much liberty and happiness. The follow- 
ing passages from the king's speech, at the opening of 
parliament, on the 27th of April, 1820, reminds me strongly 
of what a whig administration said of the prevention of a 
great rebellion on the 10th of April, 1848 : 

" My Lords and G-entlemen, 

" Deeply as I regret that tlie machinations and designs of the 
disaffected should have led, in some parts of the country, to acts. of 
open violence and insurrection, I cannot but express my satisfaction 


at the promptitude with which those attempts have been suppressed 
by the vigilance and activity of the magistrates, and by the zealous 
co-operation of all those of my subjects whose exertions have been 
put forth to support the authority of the laws. 

" The wisdom and firmness manifested by the late parliament, and 
the due execution of the laws, have greatly contributed to restore 
confidence throughout the kingdom, and to discountenance those 
principles of sedition and irreligion which had been disseminated with 
such malignant perseverance, and poisoned the minds of the ignorant 
and unwary. 

" I rely upon the continued support of parliament in my determi- 
nation to maintain, by all the means entrusted to my hands, the 
public safety and tranquillity. 

" Deploring, as we all must, the distress which still unhappily 
prevails among many of the labouring classes of the community, and 
anxiously looking forward to its removal or mitigation, it is, in the 
mean time, our common duty effectually to protect the loyal, peace- 
able, and the industrious against those practices of turbulence and 
intimidation by which the period of relief can only be deferred, 
and by which the pressure of the distress has been incalculably 

" I trust that an awakened sense of the danger which they have 
incurred, and of the arts which have been employed to seduce them, 
will bring back by far the greater part of those who have been unhap- 
pily led astray, and will revive in them that spirit of loyalty, that 
due submission to the laws, and that attachment to the constitution, 
which subsists unabated in the hearts of the great body of the people, 
and which, under the blessing of Divine Providence, have secured to 
the British nation the enjoyment of a larger share of practical freedom, 
as well as of prosperity and happiness, than have fallen to the lot of 
any nation in the world." 

If this had been indicted as the composition of any of the 
persons previously convicted, any Yorkshire, Leicester, or 
Cheshire jury would have found the writer guilty of blas- 
phemy, and of intending to bring the government into 
contempt and ridicule. 

We are now arrived at a period when the forced silence 
of the radicals gave men in the middle classes an interval 
of calm, in which they could quietly consider the defects 
of our representative system, undisturbed by the agitation 


which had raged around them. There can be no doubt 
that the harsh sentences which had been pronounced in 
1820 had struck terror into the hearts of the noisy dema- 
gogues, who, out of their very cowardice, had thundered 
out their recommendation by physical force. In their 
holes and corners they thought of Hunt, immured in 
Ilchester, and of Bamford, Johnson, and Healey, in Lincoln 
jail, none of them even accused of recommending an appeal 
to arms ; and they wisely resolved to keep out of the way 
of danger. Yet radicalism was not extinguished, not even 
damaged, by the compulsory calm. Instead of great meet- 
ings, where noisy braggarts usurped the place due to the 
intelligent and thoughtful men who represented the better 
part of the industrial classes, there were the little congre- 
gations of the workshop and at the fireside, at which the 
principles of representation were calmly discussed, and 
comparatively sound opinions formed, as to what ought to 
be the, real objects of a government. Amongst the middle 
classes, also, the condition of the country became the 
subject of deep consideration, and many were convinced 
that tranquillity could not be expected in a country where 
nine-tenths of the community possessed not even a shadow 
of representation. Besides, the blind old loyalty, which 
had made men respect authority even when they did not 
fully approve of its exercise on some occasions, was greatly 
shaken. Pitt, whose tyranny had an air of some greatness 
in it that inspired awe, was dead ; and his successors, in 
their mingled timidity and cruelty, inspired contempt and 
hatred, rather than respect and fear. Geerge the Third, 
whose regard to the decencies of domestic life had kept 
alive, in spite of his waste of human life and of treasure, 
some of that attachment to royalty in the abstract, which 
had been a characteristic of the people during his long 
occupation of the throne, now slept with his forefathers, 
and a son reigned in his stead, whose undisguised extrava- 
gance, voluptuousness, and profligacy, gave rise to almost 


universal disgust. Men began to think what Loyalty 
meant, when Royalty no longer commanded their respect. 

The employment of spies on the part of government had 
done as much to produce a change of opinion as the harsh 
exercise of authority. There might have been some credit 
reflected on the government by their prevention of the 
projected mad march of the blanketeers on London, by 
their putting down the insurrection in Derbyshire, and by 
their suppression of the rising in Scotland, which resulted 
in the capture of the rebels at Bonnymuir ; but it was 
known that Oliver, a paid government agent, had coun- 
selled the blanket meeting and the Derbyshire outbreak, 
and in Lancashire it was well known that representations 
of the country being ripe for revolt, which occasioned the 
rising in Scotland, were the work of spies ; that although it 
was to have been simultaneous, not one, even of the most 
foolish and rash Lancashire men gave credence for a moment 
to the government agent ; and an incendiary placard, 
posted in Manchester on the 2nd of April, calling on the 
people to effect a revolution by force was laughed to scorn. 
Even the wicked conspiracy of Thistlewood and his con- 
federates to assassinate the king's ministers at a cabinet 
dinner, had no effect in exciting sympathy in favour of the 
latter, for there was the strongest evidence to prove that 
Edwards, a government spy, was the originator of the 
scheme, and that he had provided the arms with which the 
murders were to have been effected. 

The personal character of the king, the combination of 
cowardice and oppression in the conduct of his ministers, 
and especially the baseness of entrapping men into crimes 
which led them to the prison and the scaffold, had shaken 
the long established faith of the people in the constituted 
authorities. It seemed impossible that they could sink 
themselves further in public estimation impossible that 
they could find a lower depth. But the profligacy, the 
cowardice, and the tyranny, were again to be manifested, 
K 3 


the object a defenceless woman the instruments, again, 
suborned and perjured spies ! Manchester partook in the 
general feeling that the Queen was quite as much sinned 
against as sinning, and the proceedings against her did 
much to lessen amongst us that blind reverence to royalty 
which had long characterised the town and neighbourhood. 
The events described, and the course to which public 
opinion seemed to be verging, induced reformers to think 
of some better means than they had previously possessed 
for the expression of their opinions. There had been 
many indications during the year 1820 of an increasing 
desire, among the middle classes, for general and local 
reforms ; and the conviction widened, that they might be 
more easily effected by calm but spirited discussion than 
by violent denunciations proceeding from great assemblages. 
The want of an efficient press began to be felt. I had 
often represented to the gentlemen with whom I associ- 
ated the service that might be rendered to the cause of 
reform, by making Coivdroy's Gazette a more efficient 
organ of our principles ; and in conversations with my 
relative, David Prentice, of the Glasgow Chronicle, and 
with one or two proprietors of the Scotsman, I became 
convinced that not only would great public good be effected 
by the establishment of an able journal, but that it would 
be remunerative as a business speculation. Others con- 
versed on the matter with Mr. Edward Baines of Leeds, 
and Mr. Egerton Smith of Liverpool, whose opinions were 
found to coincide with those I had endeavoured to impress 
upon the minds of my friends. The sum of twelve hundred 
pounds was subscribed by, I believe, twelve individuals, 
and Mr. John Edward Taylor was requested to take the 
undertaking upon himself, he, at that time, being the only 
person of our number whose time was not fully occupied 
by the management of extensive mercantile or manufac- 
turing concerns, and having given, by his spirited defence 
when put on his trial for libel, by his appearances on the 

ME. J. E. TAYLOR. 203 

platform, and by his writings, evidence of the possession 
of abilities which were likely to render him highly useful 
as a public journalist and an oral advocate of liberal prin- 
ciples. My scheme had been to raise a paper upon the 
foundation laid by Cowdroy, and to continue him as the 
printer and publisher. A negociation was entered into 
between Mr. Taylor and Mr. Cowdroy, but it failed, and 
the former resolved to establish a new paper, if the sub- 
scribers to the fund would share with him in the risk. 

It was agreed that the money should be lent on the 
condition that it should be repaid if the paper succeeded, 
so that its re-payment could be made from profits, but 
that it should not be regarded as a debt if it were lost 
in making the experiment. There was generosity in this 
arrangement, the whole risk being encountered by the 
subscribers, except as regarded Mr. Taylor's personal 
services. And yet it was not more than fair, that the 
public benefit being the object, the possible loss should 
not be borne by a single individual. The paper might 
probably be so far in advance of public opinion as' 
to be denied public support. The probability was, from 
Mr. Taylor's avowed radicalism, and his classification of 
Church of Englandism as a marketable commodity, that 
he would encounter bitter opposition, from a very influen- 
tial portion of the community. Under such circumstancs, 
a mere ordinary loan, to be withdrawn at will, might 
have exposed the paper to extinguishment before the 
experiment, necessarily one requiring years for completion, 
could be fairly made. It was necessary for the success 
of a bold movement that it should be made freely that 
the person making it should not have the fear of his own 
ruin before his eyes, in his attempt to lead public opinion 
which lagged far behind. It was a wise and just arrange- 
ment to ensure a fearless course in the attack of general 
and local misgovernment the possibility of being behind 
public opinion, or of a too cautious waiting for its advance, 


was never once thought of. There might occur occasions 
when a little gentle counsel to observe caution might be 
thought necessary it never was supposed possible that the 
youthful and ardent reformer would need the spur. There 
was a road to fortune and to great public utility opened 
and there was no risk but that of loss of time to the indivi- 
dual, a young man, not then in any business for which he 
was peculiarly fitted. 

The prospectus of the newspaper was drawn up with 
great caution. Some of the more ardent reformers thought 
that it should have defined more explicitly the kind of 
reforms that were to be advocated ; but it was argued, on 
the other side, that as the personal friends of the editor 
all knew that he went the full length of the radicalism 
avowed by Sir Francis Burdett, it was better not to make 
a broad declaration of political opinions which would give 
offence amongst the classes having advertisements to 
bestow, but to wait for the opportunities which would be 
sure to arise of vindicating the principles of radical reform. 
Many opportunities presented themselves, but seldom 
thought the right ones, as subsequent events show. The 
following is a copy of the prospectus : 

" On Saturday the 5th of May, 1821, will be published, 

Price Sevenpence, 
No. 1 of a New Weekly Paper, 

To be entitled 


" Printed and published by J. Garnett, No. 28A, Market-street, 
Manchester, where, orders, advertisements, and communications 
will be thankfully received after the 30th April ; and, in the mean- 
tune, by Mr. Sowler, bookseller, St. Ann's Square, Messrs. Kobin- 
son and Ellis, St. Ann's Place, and Mr. John Ford, Market-street. 


" It may be safely asserted, that no former period, in the history 
of our country, has beeen marked by the agitation of questions of a 
more important character than those which are now claiming the 
attention of the public. To any one who regards, for a moment, the 

THE PROSl'ECTL f S. 205 

conflicting views and wishes of the commercial and agricultural 
interests, the consideration which may arise out of the existing laws 
for the regulation of our currency, the present and the anticipated 
pressure of the national debt and of taxation, this statement will be 
sufficiently apparent. 

" But there are other subjects, of greater and more permanent im- 
portance, which the circumstances of the times are forcing upon 
public attention. The effect of the great diffusion of education within 
the last quarter of a century, is attested by the greatly increased 
interest which political subjects excite, and the immense extension 
of the circle within which they are discussed. It is of the utmost 
importance that this increased interest should be turned to beneficial 
account ; that it should be made effective in promoting all those 
ameliorations in our laws and political institutions, of which experi- 
ence has proved the necessity, and in fixing upon a broader and more 
impregnable basis the fabric of our liberties. 

" Though the concerns which relate to the internal prosperity of 
this country must always be of paramount consequence to its inhabi- 
tants, foreign politics will now be a subject of anxious observation ; 
for there perhaps never was a period at which the affairs of other 
nations could awaken, in the minds of Englishmen, so deep an 
interest as at the present moment. The friends of freedom, every- 
where, must watch, with intense anxiety, the progress of those efforts 
which several continental states, as well as others in the new world, 
are now making to free themselves from the incumbering pressure of 
antiquated and despotic governments, and to establish, in lieu thereof, 
institutions conformable to the increased intelligence of the age, and 
calculated for the promotion of public happiness and the security of 
popular rights. Proportionate to the interest with which these mag- 
nificent experiments are regarded, will be the wish that nothing may 
impede the success, or detract from the purity, of their course ; that 
no internal commotions, or external attacks, excited or dictated by 
the unprincipled hostility of foreign and arbitrary governments, may 
defer the consolidation of such political establishments as are suited 
to the condition of the people, as the national will reqxiires, and the 
national wants demand. 

"The considerations which have just been stated seem to render 
the influence of the public press, the spirited discussion of political 
questions, and the accurate detail of facts, particularly important at 
this juncture ; and we believe it will be generally admitted, that no 
existing local newspaper has possessed a degree of public considera- 
tion correspondent with the wealth and intelligence of this town and 


the surrounding district, and their high rank in the scale of national 
importance. The present, therefore, seems a favourable opportunity 
for establishing a newspaper which, by supporting a consistent 
character for sincere and undeviating attachment to rational liberty, 
may promote that union and concentration amongst the friends of 
freedom in this neighbourhood which is in itself so desirable, and the 
want of which has been hitherto so sensibly felt. 

" In conformity with these views, arrangements are now making 
for the speedy publication of a paper under the title above given. It 
will zealously enforce the principles of civil and religious liberty, in 
the most comprehensive sense of those terms ; it will warmly advocate 
the cause of reform ; it will endeavour to assist in the diffusion of 
just principles of political economy ; and support without reference 
to the party from which they emanate, whatever measures may, 
according to the matured and unbiassed judgment of its conductors, 
tend to promote the moral advantage or the political welfare of the 

" The foreign intelligence of the week will be regularly and 
succinctly detailed, whilst particular attention will be paid to parlia- 
mentary debates. The most prominent speeches on each side of 
every important question will be given as fully as possible, and the 
remainder will be condensed with as much attention to the preser- 
vation of the spirit of the debate as the limits of a weekly paper will 

" The commercial connexions and the knowledge of the conductors 
of the Guardian will, they apprehend, give them the means of 
occasionally stating, with accuracy and effect, the condition of trade 
and its prospects, particularly as far as regards that important branch 
the cotton manufacture. They hope thus, in some measure, to supply 
that information on this subject the deficiency of which is often 
so obviously apparent, both amongst public men and those connected 
with the press. 

" Whilst they will exercise the right of spirited and vigorous 
animadversion upon public questions, and boldly expose public 
delinquencies, they will sedulously avoid all tendency to private 
slander, and endeavour to prevent the best prerogatives and most 
important duties of the press from degenerating into calumny and 

" With a view to make their journal as generally interesting as 
possible, occasional notices of new books, and other subjects of a 
literary and scientific character, will be introduced by the conductors 
of the Guardian into its columns, which they will always feel a 


gratification in opening to the spirited and liberal communications of 

" Manchester is the centre of a most populous district, throughout 
which the Guardian will circulate ; and particular attention will be 
paid to all subjects of local interest. Authentic articles of intelligence 
coming under this head, will at all times be thankfully received. 
Details of interesting proceedings, whether of a commercial or 
political nature, in our courts of law, will from time to time be given ; 
whilst every exertion will be made to present to its readers full and 
accurate reports of important public meetings, both in this and the 
neighbouring towns. 

" The Manchester Guardian will commence its course with a very 
considerable circulation. It has secured an extensive and valuable 
patronage throughout the surrounding districts, amongst the classes 
to whom, more especially, advertisements are generally addressed ; 
and whilst its conductors respectfully solicit the support of advertisers 
both in this and the neighbouring towns, they confidently assure 
them that it will offer a most eligible medium for giving extensive 
publicity to their notices. 

It will be seen that there is no promise of opinions 
upon the representative system that might not safely range 
between the annual parliaments, universal suffrage, and vote 
by ballot, of Major Cartwright, or the transfer of the East 
Retford seats to Manchester, the great instalment asked for 
by the editor's whig friend Mr. G. W. Wood. There was 
ample verge and room enough for advocating the greatest 
or the smallest measure of reform, without incurring the 
charge of making any departure from the promises of the 

When the paper appeared, it was seen to be a very great 
improvement upon the then existing journals. With the 
Leeds Mercury and the Liverpool Mercury, the Glasgow 
Chronicle and the Scotsman before him, Mr. Taylor had 
good models to follow. He was the first newspaper pro- 
prietor in Manchester who was capable of acting as editor, 
and he had engaged as reporter Mr. Jeremiah Garnett, a 
young man who had been an assistant in Mr. Wheeler's 
printing office, and was occasionally employed in reporting. 


Regular " leaders," and substaiitively good, if not very full, 
local reports appeared weekly, and there was a business- 
like look about the new paper which none of the others 
possessed. Never had a new journal better chances of 
success. The tory journalists looked with contempt upon 
their bold competitor, and, prognosticating his speedy 
extinction, made no attempt to improve upon their old jog- 
trot method of filling up their columns. "Leaders," with 
them, were a foolish innovation, and reports an unnecessary 
expense. Their way was the old way, and would continue 
to be the best way. New papers had been tried before and 
had not succeeded ; the new-fangled thing would not last ; 
there was no use in making any effort in competition with 
it ; it would go down of itself. A capital thing for the 
circulation of the Guardian was this contempt. And then, 
as to advertisements ; Mr. Wheeler, who had the main 
share, would receive none after one o'clock on the Friday ; 
he had what was then a large impression (about 3,000) of 
his paper to print, and he had to go to press at three o'clock ; 
to bring advertisements at one o'clock on the day before 
publication was a thoughtless thing that needed reproof. 
The Guardian folks received those satisfactory accessions 
as late on the Friday nights as anybody chose to bring 
them received them with thanks ; it was rather incon- 
venient to receive them at a late hour, but the inconvenience 
would be incurred rather than disappoint the respectable 
parties who wished their announcements to appear next 
morning. All this was working into the hands of the 
innovator ; he could not have contrived better had he had 
the contrivance to himself. And yet the paper made slow, 
very slow progress. Mr. Cowdroy's circulation was little 
trenched upon, for the people had respect for his principles, 
and did not like to leave an old public servant, and it was 
the custom to send advertisements to Wheeler, and few had 
the courage to break through the custom. This slow pro- 
gress was discouraging : would there be any harm in 



endeavouring to conciliate, without any sacrifice of prin- 
ciple, a portion of the public who had something to 
bestow ? 

A short time before the establishment of the Guardian, 
it had been resolved to apply to parliament for an act to 
widen Market- street, then a narrow lane ; at one place only 
wide enough barely to allow one cart to pass another, with 
a foot pavement on each side only eighteen inches wide. 
The following gentlemen had been appointed on the 4th of 
April, 1821, to act as eommissioners under the bill : 

Robert Andrew, 
Jonathan Andrew, 
Edward Baxter, 
John Bradshaw, 
James Brierley, 
John Bennett, 
James Bury, 
Richard Clegg, 
John Chippendall, 
James Clarkson, 
T. H. CardweU, 
Robert Duck, 
Jonathan Dawson, 
Thomas Darwell, 
Joseph Flintoff, 
Jeremiah Fielding, 
George Eraser, 
Thomas Fleming, 
George Grundy, 
William Garnett, 
John Greaves, 
R. H. Greg, 
George Hole, 
Thomas Hoyle, 

Benjamin Heywood, _ 
Thomas Harbottle, 
David Holt, 
Thomas Hardman, 
James Hibbert, 
John Harding, 
Thomas C. Hewes, 
John Kirkman, 
James Kennedy, 
John Kenworthy, 
Samuel Knight, 
John Lomas, 
Edward Loyd, 
John Moore, 
Francis Harris, 
F. M. Mallalieu, 
Robert Millington, 
James M'Connel, 
Henry Newbery, 
Richard Potter, 
Thomas Peel, 
Shakespeare Phillips, 
Thomas Potter, 
Thomas Parker, 

John Railton, 
James Ramsbottom, 
Charles Rider, 
William Roylance, 
John Ratclifle, 
Thomas Sharp, 
J. B. Saunderson, 
John Shuttleworth, 
Richard Smith, 
J. E. Taylor, 
Peter Taylor, 
Jas. Touchett, jun., 
Joseph Todd, 
William Tate, 
G. W. Wood, 
Thomas Wilkins, 
John Walker, 
Richard Warren, 
Thos. Worthington, 
W. W. Walmesley, 
Gilbert Winter, 
Thomas Watkins, 
James Wood, 
Peter Watson. 

This was a formidable body of commissioners to carry 
into effect a single purpose ; but 200,000 had to be ex- 
pended, and all parties were comprised in something like a 
fair proportion at the time. One fourth were whigs and 


reformers, one fourth had taken little part in politics, and 
one half were tories. Mr. Taylor, on coming from their 
meetings, used to say that some of them, whom he had not 
met across a table before, had expressed their surprise to 
find him a reasonable gentleman, and not a rough radical 
bear ; and I used to say to him, " Beware, Taylor, lest, in 
your desire to conciliate their good opinion, you permit 
them to rub the rough points off your radicalism ;" and he 
would laugh and say there was no danger. This caution 
was not unnecessary; but, like many others, it failed in 
producing the effect intended. 



A HISTORY of the progress of political opinion, in any 
locality, would be defective without some notice, not merely 
of the establishment, but of the progress and workings of the 
newspaper press. Although, in the first instance, a news- 
paper may be established in consequence of the demand for 
the expression of particular opinions, and may be continued 
mainly to reflect the political feeling of a portion of the 
community, it begins to act upon the public mind, and, in 
its turn, assumes to dictate or insinuate the views of its 
conductors, and from being an organ becomes an instructor 
for evil or for good, as the case may be. There is a 
reciprocal action. The public, or a portion of the public, 
acts upon and influences the newspaper ; the newspaper 
acts upon and influences the public, or that portion of the 
public whose general opinions it represents. The desire to 
promote certain opinions leads to the establishment of a 
paper. It depends upon the principles or the temperament 
of its conductor whether he will, still adhering to the implied 
bond between his readers and himself, urge them onwards, 
or counsel circumspection and caution, whether he will, 
in the same army, be in front with the bold and the impe- 
tuous, or in the rear with the timid and the prudent. In 
either case he will, to a certain extent, be influential. In 
either case he is still with his party ; if at their head he 
has the ardent, if in the rear he has the cautious, with him. 
As the organ of either division, he has the influence of his 
position, and he may use it to accelerate or retard its 
movement, without being liable to the charge of being a 
traitor to the general body. 


The ultimate politics of the Manchester Guardian were 
influenced greatly by the temperament of its conductor. 
The ardour of youth overcame his vis inertia, and, for a 
time, he was an ardent leader ; but, as years grew upon 
him, the disposition grew to eschew rash front- fighting, 
He had, besides, imbibed the leading principles of Malthus 
and one does not often see a Malthusian a very ardent 
reformer : regarding the multitude as intruders upon na- 
ture's feast, after the places at the table have been all taken, 
he can scarcely forgive the impertinence, and seldom gives 
his warm sympathies to the intruders. Mr. Taylor appeared 
as a journalist at the same time that Mr. Scarlett (Cobbett's 
Lawyer Scarlett} appeared as a poor-law reformer. Like 
Mr. Scarlett, he wished to fix a maximum on the amount 
of poor's rate to be paid, no matter how much the amount 
of poverty to be relieved might increase ; and, like him, he 
wished all persons who should be improvident enough to 
marry after that date to be excluded from all future relief. 
A meeting was called, to be held in the board-room of the 
Salford workhouse, on the 24th of May, 1821, to take 
Scarlett's bill into consideration ; and as he had declared 
that he would go and give it his support, I declared, in 
return, that, although I had never previously taken part in 
any public meeting, I should go and oppose him. 

Nobody supported the principles of the bill but Mr. 
Taylor. He said he was rather disposed to approve of the 
principle of fixing a maximum on a liberal scale to the 
amount of rates, and that the clause which prohibited relief 
to persons who should marry after the passing of the act, 
unless in cases of sickness, infirmity, or old age, had his 
decided approbation. With respect to the removal of the 
poor belonging to other parishes, he was in favour of a 
change in the mode of giving relief, rather than an entire 
abrogation of the law of settlement. Mr. Taylor went on 
to a point on which he and I were quite in agreement. He 
said that, great as was the evil arising from the poor-rates, 


there was another burthen, of scarcely inferior importance, 
to which Mr. Scarlett had not thought proper to apply any 
limitation ; he meant the county-rates. The increase of 
these rates had been in a much greater proportion than 
that of the poor-rates ; and, in all probability, a great part 
of that increase might be accounted for from the absence of 
a proper control over the expenditure. The treasurer was 
merely required by law to publish an account once a year, 
in one newspaper ; and this mode of publication was as 
completely nugatory, with respect to the county at large, 
as a notice to the inhabitants of Manchester when affixed 
on the church door. He certainly was not prepared to join 
in a petition against Mr. Scarlett's bill, but if such a petition 
were voted by the meeting, he should move a clause praying 
for greater publicity and an efficient control with regard to 
the expenditure of the county-rates. 

Although one or two in the meeting spoke in favour 
of the principles on which the existing poor-laws were 
founded, I felt that it was necessary that the meeting 
should be further informed before it came to a decision, 
and said that as a clause was inserted in the bill for the 
express purpose of permitting an increase in the amount of 
county-rates, a petition regarding the bill ought to contain 
some reference to that part of it. In the year 1750 the 
amount was only 40,000, which had increased in 1815 to 
2,034,000. Thus it had advanced to fifty times its former 
amount ; whilst the sum expended on the poor, the increase 
of which furnished the argument for the supporters of the 
bill, had only increased ninefold, an increase which was 
scarcely equivalent to the increase of population, of taxes, 
and the price of the necessaries of life occasioned by a 
depreciated currency. The bill seemed to be intended 
entirely to abolish the poor-laws, which were right in 
principle. The clause for restraining marriage was par- 
ticularly objectionable, because if relief was not afforded 
by the parish those who were refused relief would become 


vagrants. The preamble of the bill was false, insomuch as 
it recognised the assumption that provision for the poor 
increased the number of paupers, which was contradicted 
by the fact that in 1750 the amount of rates did exceed, 
and indeed was rather less than their amount in 1688. If 
the law itself had had the least tendency to increase the 
number of the poor, that tendency would have shown itself 
as soon as a legal provision was made for their support ; 
but as no increase had taken place, up to 1750, the period 
from which Mr. Scarlett's statements commenced, it was a 
legitimate conclusion that in periods of prosperity the poor- 
rates would not increase, and that the recent augmentation 
was fairly to be attributed to taxation, the evils of war, and 
the fluctuations of commerce. To attempt to fix a maximum 
was highly presumptuous. Could a maximum be fixed to 
the amount of taxation, or a limit to human misery and 
wretchedness? It was unjust to deprive the labourer of 
that legislative provision to which he was entitled, whilst 
he was exposed to the operation of laws injurious to his 
interests to the corn-law, for instance, which, whilst it 
raised the price of the poor mans bread, lessened the demand 
for the produce of his labour. With regard to the impro- 
vident habits said to be fostered by an unlimited provision, 
it might be replied that the wretchedly poor were the most 
improvident ; that in Ireland, where there were no poor- 
laics, early marriages were more frequent than they were in 
England ; and that industrious habits were more likely to 
be preserved when the distressed labourer was relieved at 
the parish table, and he would return more cheerfully 
to his work when he obtained it there than after having 
been compelled to go forth and beg for charity. 

The resolutions passed were strongly condemnatory of the 
bill as cruel and unjust ; similar resolutions were passed in 
Manchester, and a general feeling against it being mani- 
fested throughout the country the bill was defeated. It 
may be supposed that there could not be a long continuance 


of agreement of opinion between myself and one who would 
have destroyed the future legal provision for the poor, 
whilst the corn-law remained unrepealed, whilst emigration 
was prohibited, whilst a turn-out for wages was punished 
as a breach of the law, whilst for the mass of the people 
there was not even the shadow of representation, and 
whilst the taxation required to defray the expenses of a 
long war was crushing the people to the earth. " Are you 
going to give a report of this meeting ?" I asked. " No," 
was the reply ; "I think it has not been of so much 
importance." I said : " Then, if you think it is of no 
importance to you, you will surely have no objection to 
my asking Cowdroy to report it ?" The report appeared 
in the Guardian, but on the following week appeared a 
laboured defence of the clauses which the meeting had 
condemned, purporting to be in reply, not to me, but to 
William Cobbett. 

The kind of loyalty, which transferred the reverence 
which should be paid to the kingly office to the individual 
who occupied the throne, had been greatly lessened by the 
persecution of the Queen by George the Fourth ; but 
coronations had always been occasions for display, and, 
disliked as the Prince Regent had been, the inhabitants of 
Manchester were not disposed to innovate upon the ancient 
custom. A splendid procession was got up which was 
simultaneously in passage along Piccadilly, Bank Top, 
Downing-street, Ardwick Green, Higher Ardwick, Chancery 
Lane, Ancoats Bridge, Great Ancoats-street, and Swan- 
street, a length of two miles and a half. But the pageant 
was not what it had been in the olden time. There was a 
much more of a staid and sober loyalty than had been seen 
before. At several places in the line of progress, parti- 
cularly in Salford, Bank Top, and in Great Ancoats, the 
Manchester Yeomanry, who had been thanked by the 
Prince Regent for their share in dispersing, at the point of 
the sword, a legally convened and peaceably held meeting, 


were assailed with groans and hissings ; and there was not, 
on the whole route, any manifestation of enthusiasm. In 
many of the trades also there was a strong disinclination to 
join in the festivities of the day, from an idea that to assist 
in the celebration of a ceremony from which the Queen 
was excluded, would seem to imply an approbation on their 
part of the cruel proceedings against her. The people 
enjoyed the spectacle and the holiday, but, so far as the 
procession was concerned, there was an absence of all 
those exhibitions of exuberant loyalty which used to be 
manifested on public occasions during the reign of the 
decencies-observing George III. There needed some- 
thing more than the parade of a procession, to excite a 
livelier demonstration. Loyal feelings required a stimulant 
to rouse it from its langour and it was supplied by some 
who remembered the glorious and uproarious doings of 
more Church-and-King times. The Guardian thus de- 
scribes the scenes which were exhibited in the evening : 

" Here we should have been glad to close our account of the pro- 
ceedings of the day, but we have a further duty to discharge 
unpleasant and perhaps invidious. About five o'clock commenced 
the distribution of meat and beer to the populace. The stations for 
this were the New Market, Shudehill ; the Shambles at Bank Top ; 
those at the top of Bridge-street j in Camp Field Market ; the Gfeorge 
and Dragon, Ardwick ; the Clarendon public-house, Chorlton Row ; 
in Hulme, in Strangeways, in Motram's Field, and in Oldfield Road. 
At many, we fear we may say most of these places, scenes were 
exhibited which even the pencil of a Hogarth would fail to pourtray. 
At the New Market, Shudehill, the meat and loaves were thrown out 
high from the doors and windows of the warehouse where they had 
been stored ; the populace scrambling for them as they could. It 
resembled the throwing of goods out of the windows of a warehouse 
on fire rather than anything else we can compare it to. There was 
shameful waste, and general confusion. At an early hour the stage 
erected for the applicants to stand upon gave way, and one person 
was killed, and several dangerously wounded by the fall. When the 
liquor was distributing, we saw whole pitchers thrown indiscriminately 
among the crowd men holding up their hats to receive drink ; people 


quarrelling and fighting for the possession of a jug ; the strong taking 
liquor from the weak ; boys and girls, men and women, in a con- 
dition of beastly drunkenness, staggering before the depository of ale, 
or lying prostrate on the ground, under every variety of circumstance, 
and in every degree of exposure, swearing, groaning, vomiting, but 
calling for more liquor when they could not stand, or even sit, to 
drink it. Every kind of excess, indeed, which the most fertile 
imagination can conceive, or the most graphic pen describe, was there 
witnessed in nauseous and loathsome extravagance. Never did we 
see, and we hope to God never again shall we see, human nature so 
degraded. The scenes of which we have now attempted a faint 
description, were exhibited, though perhaps to scarcely the same 
extent, at Camp Field, in Salford, and at the Shambles in Bridge- 
street ; and we trust the experience of this day will have given to the 
committee who managed the proceedings a lesson which they will 
never forget. As to the distribution of meat and liquor, there are 
two or three lives lost, and fourteen patients in the infirmary, several 
of them dangerously injured, from the events of the day. It must 
be understood, however, that we consider the bulk of our labouring 
population not implicated in these disgraceful scenes. The wretched 
actors in them were that rabble, without conduct or fixed principles, 
which is always to be found amongst the population of an immense 
town. We do not so much wonder at these brutal excesses, as 
lament that men of education, of character, and of talent, should 
have furnished the temptation to them." 

These beastly excesses excited so much disgust as greatly 
to forward the cause of temperance. Henry Hunt, in his 
desire to cripple an oppressive and tyrannical government, 
had prepared the way by inculcating an abstinence from 
the use of exciseable commodities, and a number of radicals 
had become water-drinkers. The authorities of Manchester, 
alarmed at the progress of such abstinence, had issued, at 
the public expense, innumerable printed papers, recom- 
mending the free use of the " old English beverage," good 
brown ale, and had denounced all who advocated the aban- 
donment of that "cheering and strengthening" drink as 
enemies to the corporeal constitution of Englishmen. Hunt's 
advice to abstain was greatly strengthened by the shameless 
advice from the " constituted authorities" to drink. Work- 


ing men, in their self-respect, began to say that they would 
not make beasts of themselves to please boroughreeve, or 
constable, or parson. There needed but a disgraceful 
exhibition, like that which has been described, to suggest 
the propriety of some association amongst working men to 
discontinue practices which degraded them. From this 
time, irrespective of political motives, commenced little 
social meetings, at which the jug of water on the table 
supplied the place of beer and gin; and these little parties 
were the precursors of that general temperance movement 
which has so greatly improved the aspect of society amongst 
the humbler classes, who are now about as outwardly deco- 
rous as the gentlemen were when I first visited Manchester, 
in 1811, when it was no unusual thing to see three or four 
" respectable" manufacturers staggering down Market- street- 
lane, in the broad daylight of a summer afternoon, trolling 
out their drunken catches. 

The political economy of Manchester was better than its 
politics. It had long enjoyed a singular immunity from the 
distress occasioned by the failure of banks. In 1819, a 
committee of the house of lords had reported that, from 
the year 1790 to 1818, no fewer than 273 commissions of 
bankruptcy had been issued against country bankers, gene- 
rally issuing their own notes. More than half of these 
failures had taken place in five years of general commercial 
distress in 1793, 1810, 1814, 1815, and 1816. In 1814 
twenty banks had failed, in 1815 twenty-six, in 1816 thirty- 
seven. From these failures and their very disastrous conse- 
quences Lancashire was almost entirely free, whilst York- 
shire had suffered largely. In Lancashire there were only 
from three to six banks which issued local notes, whilst in 
Yorkshire there were sixty- seven. In Yorkshire the issue 
of local notes had given the bankers great temptation to 
discount largely and imprudently, and that county was 
deluged with their notes, greatly to the encouragement of 
rash speculation. In periods of adversity the sudden dimi- 


nution of discounts produced great and wide-spread distress, 
aggravated by the failure of banks, against which there 
had been a " run." From these mischievous alternations 
Lancashire was almost free. It had to encounter periods 
of great commercial depression, but they had not been 
aggravated by excessive issues and sudden contractions of 
a local currency. Its exemption from these sudden changes 
might be traced to an event which had occurred long 
previous to the time of which we are writing the failure 
of Livesey and Co., of Manchester, a failure, probably, 
more disastrous and overwhelming than Lancashire had 
ever before encountered, or, considering the relative amount 
of commercial and manufacturing transactions, has ever 
suffered since. The experience derived from that event 
had created a universal dislike of local notes, and the 
general opinion had operated upon the bankers of the 
district, and repressed the issue of those "rags" which 
Cobbett so often declaimed against. 

The Bank Restriction Act of 1797 had permitted an 
extraordinary issue of Bank of England notes, which had 
consequently become greatly depreciated in value. With 
the restoration of peace was to have come the restoration of 
a cash currency. Mr. Wade, in his British History, says 
that this was effected before the passing of Mr. Peel's bill 
in 1819, but the great depression of prices, deeply felt in 
Manchester during the latter half of that year, and the first 
half of 1820 a depression by which the comparatively 
small business in which I was a partner suffered to the 
amount of 3000 showed that the previous preparation 
for the resumption of cash payments had only half done its 
work. Mr. Peel's bill had fixed May, 1823, as the period 
of resumption, but the bank, by an accumulation of gold, 
was enabled to anticipate the fixed time, and recommenced 
specie payments in May, 1821. Mr. Hopkins, in his Great 
Britain during the last Forty Years, says, "It was considered 
that the peace rendered it necessary that preparation should 
i, 2 


be made for the returning, at no distant period, to the old 
metallic standard of value, and for repealing the Bank Res- 
triction Act. This not only induced the Bank of England to 
begin to reduce the quantity of their notes in circulation, and 
to increase their stock of gold, but it also compelled country 
bankers to limit their issues, as they also would be more 
liable to be called upon to pay in gold. Such considera- 
tions no doubt induced a more cautious issue of notes ; and 
the quantity of currency was kept down nearly to what it 
would have been if the exports had been suffered to draw 
gold from the commercial world to furnish a metallic 
currency for Great Britain." Mr. Hopkins, like Mr. Wade, 
attributes alterations of the value of the currency, after 
May, 1821, to other causes than Peel's Bill ; but the dimi- 
nution of bank issues went on till 1822, greatly to the 
depression of prices. 

The total amounts of Bank of England and country bank 
notes in circulation were : 

In 1818 47,109,838 

In 1819 43,024,485 

In 1820 36,320,551 

In 1821 28,863,601 

In 1822 26,393,690 

A gradual diminution of the paper currency to the 
amount of nearly 11,000,000 in five years, and a conse- 
quent fall in the prices of commodities, occasioned the cry, 
like that which still continues to arise from Birmingham, for 
more paper. The country was suffering the consequence 
of its former intoxication, and, in its exhaustion, wanted 
a repetition of the stimulating dram. There were symptoms 
of preparation in Manchester for the issue of small local 
notes. But Livesey's failure, and the failure of country 
banks in 1814, 1815, and 1816, were not forgotten, and 
the first business establishments in the town and neighbour- 
hood were determined to nip the contemplated innovation 
in the bud. A requisition was made to the boroughreeves 



and constables of Manchester and Salford, to call a public 
meeting on 23rd August, 1821, " to consider of the measures 
necessary for securing a satisfactory currency for these 
towns and neighbourhood, in consequence of the cessation 
of the issues of small notes by the Bank of England." The 
following are some of the signatures : 

Hibbert, Wanklyn, & Bradshaw, Thomas Houldsworth, 

John Greenwood, 

W. Birch, 

Robert Duck, 

F. Phillips and Sons, 

Thomas Peel and Brothers, 

H. J. and E. Barton, 

Philips, Wood, and Co. 

John Allen and Co. 

Leighs and Darwell, 

George Neden, 

James and John Holford, 

Dickson, Watson, and Co. 

Broadhurst, Harris, and Co. 

Edward Baxter and Co. 

James Cooke, 

Benjamin Sandford, 

Peter Ewart and Co. 

C. F. Brandt and Co. 

T. Kirkham and Sons, 

W. Hardman and Sons, 

Otho Hulme and Sons, 

Jackson, Bushforth, and Scott, 

John and William Heygate, 

Thomas Potter, 
T. J. and J. Ashton, 
James Beardoe, 
James Burt, 
Buchan and Shaw, 
T. and M. Harbottle, 
Hole and Potter, 
James and William Barrett, 
Thomas Hilton, 
Thomas Wilkinson, 
Stephen Sheldon, 
Holywell Twist Company, 
Eobert and William Garnett, 
John Shuttleworth, 
Markland Brothers, 
W. Grant and Brothers, 
Thomas and Kichard Potter, 
Fielden Brothers, 
John Edward Taylor, 
Benjamin Binyon, 
Blackwall and Sons, 
James Kennedy, 
Gardner and Harter, 
Harvey, Tysoe, and Co. 

Edenborough, Chittenden, & Co. 

Amongst the requisitionists were persons of every shade 
of political opinion, tories, whigs, radicals, and Cobbettites. 
At the public meeting, Mr. George William Wood, after- 
wards member, for a short time, for Lancashire, and 
subsequently for Kendal, partner in the great house of 
Philips and Co., took the lead. The following may be 
taken as a summary of his arguments : 

1st. Local notes were not a legal tender ; no person was 


obliged to receive them in payment of a debt; and an 
angry creditor, or a vindictive landlord, might incarcerate 
a debtor, although payment was offered in the only circu- 
lating medium in the neighbourhood. 

2nd. A great variety of local notes might be put in 
circulation, issued by firms of different degrees of stability, 
whilst amongst the labouring classes, amongst whom such 
notes would chiefly circulate, they would not be able to 
discern the good from the bad, and would be compelled to 
take all indiscriminately. 

3rd. Local notes were not adapted for distant payments. 
The notes which were issued at York would not pass at 
Newcastle, and the currency of Newcastle would be of no 
use at Edinburgh ; and thus the traveller would be com- 
pelled, at every remove, to exchange the notes in his 
possession for those of the district which he was about to 

4th. A serious evil would be the risk of loss on local 
notes. In periods of great commercial distress and alarm, 
it frequently happened that the stability of a bank began 
to be suspected a run ensued, and it fell ; and it not 
unfrequently occurred, that the banks of the district became 
involved in one common ruin. 

5th. A serious objection to the issue of local notes was 
the facility which they afforded to improvident trading. 
An advance of his own notes cost the banker nothing, and 
the speculator procured them with a facility which tempted 
him to trade far beyond his capital, to the great detriment 
of firms whose business was conducted on the solid basis of 
property and capital, 

Mr. Sothern, an agent on the Bridgewater Trust then 
under the management of Mr. Bradshaw, who, from the 
great extent of his power and the manner in which he 
exercised it, was commonly called Duke Bradshaw, informed 
the meeting that if the public were to sanction the con- 
tinuance of issues of local notes, Mr. Bradshaw, who paid 


300,000 a year in wages, would issue his own notes, and 
in all probability would soon have a million in circulation. 
Mr. Thomas Sharp, afterwards of the firm of Sharp, 
Roberts, and Co. contended stoutly that all inconvenience 
from the issue of local notes would be obviated by requir- 
ing them to be payable in London, and stated that he had 
the authority of Messrs. Jones and Co., and Messrs. Hey- 
wood and Co., who were willing to make their notes thus 
payable ; but the meeting, unwilling to allow any modifica- 
tion of a system which had a tendency to create a false 
appearance of prosperity at one time and an undue 
depression at another, refused to listen to the proposal. 
Mr. John Edward Taylor said that no one could doubt the 
perfect security of all dealings with the highly respectable 
banks named ; but others might arise who could not be so 
safely trusted ; the meeting had already heard that one 
gentleman, whose paper would probably be accepted as 
readily as those of our own bankers, intended to issue an 
enormous amount of notes for wages ; and if they might 
credit the expressed determination of other houses, the 
town would soon be deluged with local paper, and exposed 
to the danger of great loss. Mr. Sharp had proposed an 
amendment, but it was negatived, and the original resolu- 
tions were passed by a great majority. They contained a 
series of arguments similar to those noticed as forming a 
summary of Mr. G. W. Wood's speech ; but the practical 
result was the issuing for signature of the following decla- 
ration : 

" Manchester, August 23, 1821. 

"We, the undersigned, being deeply impressed with the incon- 
venience and danger to be apprehended from the circulation of local 
notes in this great commercial town, do hereby declare it to he our 
intention not to receive any such notes in payment after the 31st 
instant, except in cases of extreme necessity ; in all which cases we 
pledge ourselves not to circulate such notes." 

The declaration was very numerously signed, and so well 
observed, that in the great panic at the close of 1825, 


which brought so many country banks to the ground, 
Manchester was comparatively unscathed. The advertised 
declaration, with the names attached, filled the six columns 
of the first page of the Manchester Guardian, a very 
pretty addition to the advertisements of the new paper, 
which had only twenty-seven others, filling four columns, 
about its usual number and measure. 

The defeat of Sidmouth's bill, ten years previous to this 
period, had not extinguished the spirit of intolerance. The 
reader of the present day will peruse, with curious interest, 
the proceedings adopted against a respectable gentleman 
for the crime of preaching the gospel in the open air, and 
will be reminded of the persecution which was encountered 
some half century before, by John Wesley and his col- 
leagues, when they presumed to think that God might be 
worshipped, and his revelations made known, under the 
canopy of the heavens, as well as in temples made by the 
hands of men. 

At the Salford sessions, July the 23rd, 1821, Mr. Samuel 
Waller, a respectable cotton spinner, of Ashton-under- 
Lyne, a lay preacher amongst the primitive methodists, 
was indicted for having, in the king's highway, in that 
town, unlawfully and injudiciously caused and procured 
a great number of persons to assemble together, obstructing 
the said highway, to the great damage and common nuisance 
of the liege subjects of our lord the king ; and with making 
a noise, riot, tumult, and disturbance ; and with making 
such riot by shouting and singing, and wholly choking up 
and obstructing the street and highway. 
_, Mr. Starkie, who ^ras employed for the prosecution, 
forgetting the sermon on the mount, began his address 
to the jury by declaring that if any one would produce 
him a text from scripture to support the practice of open- 
air preaching, he would consent to an acquittal ! He hoped 
that the verdict of the jury would be such as to convince 
the defendant that neither he nor any other person, not 


even a minister of the church of England, if it were allow- 
able to conceive that a clergyman should ever so far forget 
his duty, had a right to obstruct the highway, ranting and 
roaring, to the common nuisance of his majesty's subjects, 
on pretence that he was doing his duty. He did not mean 
to deny the defendant's right to preach ; he had a right to 
preach, in proper places, and there let him rant and roar 
as he pleased. Mr. Starkie then told the jury, that a bear 
had once been removed because his prowling disturbed the 
neighbours ; and he concluded his address by saying, that 
if the defendant, like the bear, was determined to rant and 
roar, he must do it in proper places. 

There was not any proof of obstruction. The deputy con- 
stable said the people were singing merry tunes. Another 
man said they sung like ballad singers down the street. 
When a hearse was approaching, making some noise, Mr. 
Waller preached a little louder, and witness "thowt it 
rather hawkward." A horse or carriage might, he thought, 
go through. 

Mr. Courtney made an eloquent defence, denying any 
obstruction and any nuisance, and asking the jury, as 
Christians, to give their verdict in favour of one who had 
only done what had been done by the Saviour. 

The Reverend W. R. Hay, the chairman of the quarter 
sessions, who had commanded the military attack on a 
peaceable and defenceless multitude on the 16th August, 
1819, and had been rewarded by being presented to the 
rich living of Rochdale, told the jury they had only to ask 
themselves whether the assembling of 200 or 300 persons 
in public day, in the public streets, was or was not a 
nuisance. Christianity, he said," had nothing to do with 
the question. 

The jury having found that Mr. Waller had obstructed 

the street, the reverend chairman inquired whether, after 

the verdict had been given, as he took it for granted that 

the prosecution was not instituted with a view to a vin- 

L 3 


dictive punishment, any compromise could take place, by 
the defendant entering into sureties not again to offend in 
like manner ? Mr. Waller was not disposed to promise that 
he should not again preach in the open air, and declined 
to apply for any mitigation of sentence. 

The Reverend Mr. Hay then addressing the defendant, 
told him that the sentence about to be pronounced was not 
intended to be vindictive, but to show him that individual 
opinion was not to be set up against the law. He was 
then sentenced to three months' imprisonment, and to 
give security, himself in 50, and two sureties in 25 each, 
to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for two years 
from the period of his liberation ! 

On Tuesday, October 19, Mr. Waller, having endured his 
three months' imprisonment, appeared before Mr. Norris, 
the stipendiaiy magistrate, to enter into recognizances to 
keep the peace, the sureties being Mr. John Potter and 
Mr. Thomas Harbottle. When the recognizance was read, 

Mr. Waller begged the indulgence of the court for a 
moment. He understood that the effect of the recogni- 
zance into which he had just entered, was nothing more 
than to bind him to keep the peace, which he might con- 
scientiously say he had never broken, 

Mr. Norris. That is a question into which I cannot 
enter. You are now bound to keep the peace, and you must 
keep it. 

Mr. Waller. I merely meant to say, that as I cannot 
conscientiously refrain from preaching the gospel 

Mr. Norris. You must keep the peace, or your recog- 
nizance, and those of the gentlemen who are bound with 
you, will be forfeited. 

Mr. Waller. It is my intention and wish to keep the 
peace ; but I beg to know whether my preaching the 
gospel, not in the street, will be considered as a breach of 
the peace ? 

Mr. Norris. / shall not ansiver any questions put to me 



on the subject. You appear to have a correct view of the 
nature of the recognizance into which you have entered, 
and I can give you no information on the subject. 

Mr. Norris then directed Mr. Waller to be taken down 
to prison, but his solicitor, Mr. George Hadfield, said that 
he had already been imprisoned three months. The jailor 
said that months were always taken, at the sessions, to mean 
calendar months, and the Justice taking the jailor's interpre- 
tation of the law, Mr. "Waller was taken to prison for six 
days more. It is a maxim of law, that " there is no wrong 
without a remedy ;" but this, like many others, is only to 
be met with in books. In proof of this it may be stated, 
that an application was made on behalf of Mr. Waller to 
the Court of King's Bench, for a mandamus, commanding 
the clerk of the peace to enter on the record the sentence 
as pronounced, which was for " three months," whereas it 
appeared it was entered three calendar months, which 
increased the punishment. However, the court said it had 
no authority to order the court of quarter sessions to draw 
up their record in a particular form and manner, and there- 
fore it refused to interfere. So that if the clerk of these 
justices had inserted twelve instead of three months, Mr. 
Waller, it would seem, had no remedy. Such was the tem- 
per of the times and the determination of what are called 
courts of justice. Mr. Waller was of a sect, some of whose 
members might write " precher," instead of " preacher," 
and to persons guilty of such atrocity the liberty taken by 
the apostles of Christ was not to be permitted in a country 
where Christianity is " part and parcel of the law of the 

Before we take leave of the period of Hunt-radicalism, 
it may satisfy a not impertinent curiosity to look at the 
comparative progress of the old organ of the reformers, 
Cowdroy's Manchester Gazette, and the new paper which 
had assumed to itself the task of directing public opinion, 
the Manchester Guardian. The following gives a list of 



the advertisements in each, commencing from the first 
number of the Guardian : 

May 5 


47 ... 



Aug. 4 . 


27 .. 



.. 12 

42 . 

. 33 

11 . 




34 ... 


,, 18 


.. 23 

June 2 

30 ... 


., 25. 
Sept 1 

44 . 



29 ... 


. 15 . 

29 .. 
29 .. 



39 .. 


,, 22 

29 .. 



37 . 


29 . 

.... 28 . 


July 7 

. 43 

. . 39 

Oct. 6 . 

31 . 



34 .. 
35 .. 



20 . 

41 .. 
35 . 






36 . 


Weekly average : Guardian, 33 ; G-azette, 28|. 

This was but a discouraging commencement of the new 
journal. To have beaten by only five advertisements a 
week a paper printed on old and battered type, and unable 
to defray the expense of an editorial and reporting staff, 
showed, on the one hand, that there was a reluctance to 
desert an old and faithful servant of the public, under what- 
ever disadvantage he continued his labours; but, on the 
other hand, the fact that the two liberal papers could not 
muster more than sixty-two advertisements between them, 
while the tory papers had three times the number, argued 
that the advocacy of wide reforms did not find much favour 
with the " advertising public." Here was seen the wisdom 
of the arrangement that Mr. Taylor should not be called 
upon to repay, except from realised profits, the 1200 
raised to establish the Guardian ; for perseverance, at his 
own risk, in the seemingly hopeless task of establishing a 
new paper, under such circumstances, would have been an 
evidence of public spirit which the projectors could not 
have had a right to expect of any one. It may easily 
be imagined, however, that many misgivings must have 


assailed the conductor, and that many times he must have 
deeply pondered how, of course without any sacrifice of 
principle, he could escape the odium which still attached 
itself, in the estimation of the influential, to an unmitigated 
expression of that sort of radicalism which had been " vul- 
garised" by its association with the names of Hunt and his 
more humble, hard-handed, and not very smooth-tongued 

In the preceding part of this chapter a list is given of 
fifty names of individuals and firms which were subscribed 
to a requisition for calling a meeting in opposition to local 
notes, and it will be perused with a melancholy interest, 
seeing how many of the persons have died since, and how 
many of the firms have been broken up by death or com- 
mercial misfortunes. I had the curiosity, two years ago, 
to ascertain how many of the members of the Literary and 
Philosophical Society survived after a period of twenty- 
seven years. In the list of members, in the society's 
memoirs, made out in March, 1848, the following are the 
only persons who were elected previous to the end of 1821 : 

Samuel Kay, November 1, 1799. 

John Kennedy, April 29, 1803. 

James Ainsworth, January 25, 1805. 

Peter Clare, F.R.A.S., April 27, 1810. 

Laurence Buchan, November 2, 1810. 

Gilbert Winter, November 2, 1810. 

Kev. John Gooch Robberds, April 26, 1811. 

Robert Stuart, January 21, 1814. 

Sir Benjamin Heywood, Bart., F.R.S., January 27, 1815. 

George Murray, January 27, 1815. 

John Moore, F.L.S., January 27, 1815. 

Robert Thorpe, Nov. 3, 1815. 

John Davies, M.W.S., November 1, 1816. 

Robert Hyde Greg, F.G.S., January 24, 1817. 

Joseph Cheeseborough Dyer, April 24, 1818. 

Alexander Kay, October 30, 1818. 

Richard Flint, October 30, 1818. 

Archibald Prentice, January 22, 1819. 


Eaton Hodgkinson, F.E.S, M.E.I.A., F.G.S., &c., Jan. 21, 1820. 

"Rev. John James Tayler, B.A, January 26, 1821. 

John Blackwall, January 26, 1821. 

Thomas Turner, F.E.C.S., April 19, 1821. 

Joseph Jordan, October 19, 1821. 

Eichard ParrBamber, October 19, 1821. 

There were one hundred and sixty-nine members of the 
society in March, 1848, of whom one hundred and forty-five 
had been elected since 1821. Thus does one race disappear 
and another take its place. The attention of the society was 
directed more to physical than to moral or political science, 
and hence it escaped the risk which other associations, 
taking a wider and bolder range of subjects, encountered in 
1794 and 1817. Its existence, from 1781, throughout a 
period peculiarly unfavourable for intellectual pursuits, had, 
no doubt, a beneficial influence on a portion of Manchester 
society, humanizing and refining, while, out of its circle, 
there was so much of mind-degrading intolerance. It may 
easily be imagined how much such men as Robert Hyde 
Greg, Joseph C. Dyer, and Alexander Kay would enjoy its 
sceances, when political bigotry grievously embittered other 
associations. In this point of view the memory of the 
Henrys, the Percivals, and the Daltons, will be regarded 
with veneration, even without reference to their services in 
the advancement of science. 



HISTORY is generally a record of crime and suffering. The 
sword and the spear furnish more stirring descriptions than 
the ploughshare and the pruning-hook. The doings of a 
Bonaparte filled the post horns of all Europe ; the writings 
of a Bentham are read by only a very few philosophical 
philanthropists. The man who storms and fires a city is 
immortalised by the historian's pen; he who enables a 
nation to earn its food by honest labour dies unnoticed, and 
to posterity, unknown. How briefly are periods of peace 
passed over in our oldest and most authentic record ! 
After the deliverance of Israel from a foreign yoke, effected 
under the direction of Deborah, the prophetess, we read : 
" And the land had rest forty years." We read that Tolak 
"judged Israel twenty and three years," and that Jair 
"judged Israel twenty and two years." We hear no more 
of them ; they judged rightly ; the people were at rest ; no 
history of misdoings was needed. The history of eighty- 
five years of tranquillity, of peace, and, as we may presume, 
of plenty, is told in three lines. Would that the history 
of mankind were capable of such brief but precious record ! 
In our little narrow history-ground of Manchester we find, 
now and then, some such refreshing resting-places, some 
such green dew-bespangled fields in the thirsty waste. In 
thirty years of war and scarcity, hunger and nakedness, to 
iree-fourths of the community, are three or four years of 
ice and plenty, nothing to the afflicted minions ? In so 
>ng a period of constantly deepening gloom, was a brief 
*leam of general sunshine nothing ? History was silent, 
it the people were fed. And they thought also, those 


briefly well-fed multitudes calmly, but not less deeply, 
and their inquiry was : " Why should it not always be 
thus ?" Mr. Wheeler, in his history of Manchester, makes 
a great leap from Hunt's trial at York, in 1820, to the 
bank failures at the end of 1825, and the loom-breakings 
and factory-burnings of 1826. There lay a happy period 
some time between. One could then draw the curtains, and 
wheel round the sofa nearer to the cheerful fire, and the 
more enjoy the social meal, from the conviction that there 
was comfort also in the cottage, and no wailings in the 
street. It was worth something, on the Saturday night, to 
see the working man's wife need her husband's help to 
carry home the heavy basket, filled with bread and beef, 
and flour and suet. But then came the reflection that the 
corn-law was unrepealed, and that a single bad harvest 
might mar all this comfort. 

Much outcry came from the landowners at the cheapness 
of provisions. The Saturday's basket of the operative was 
well filled, but the landlord's rents were not well paid. 
What cared the latter about the well-filled baskets, when 
their coffers wanted the supply which hitherto had been 
wrung out from the people by war prices ? The loyalists 
of 1793 were not more horor-struck at the murder of 
Maria Antoinette than the soil-owners of 1822 were at the 
fall of wheat to forty shillings a quarter. They had ex- 
pected that their law of 1815 would keep up the price to 
eighty shillings ; and a profuse issue of paper money, 
accompanying scanty harvests, had kept up prices. In 
1816, 1817, and 1818, deficient harvests occurred that of 
the former being calculated as below the average to a greater 
extent than in any year since the period at the close of the 
previous century, and prices rose in consequence, so as to 
exceed the rate at which foreign corn might be admitted, 
and 2,600,000 quarters of wheat were imported in 1817 
and 1818. The harvest of 1820 was supposed to be one- 
fourth beyond the average ; that of 1821 was large, but of 


inferior quality; and that of 1822 was again beyond the 
average, and was unusually early. In the week ending the 
24th of December, 1822, the average prices were wheat, 
38s. 8d. ; barley, 29s. 4d. ; oats, 18s. 9d. ; rye, 23s. 6d. ; 
beans, 28s. lOd. ; peas, 28s. 4d. ; being 41s. 4d., 10s. 8d., 
8s. 3d., 29s. 6d., 24s. 2d., 23s. 8d., lower than the scale 
which had been fixed upon, ostensibly for the protection of 
the farmer, but really for the protection of the landowner. 
The farmers did indeed now suffer, for, during peace, and 
with a currency much enhanced in value, they were called 
upon to pay the rents which they had paid when they had 
war prices and a greatly depreciated currency. Many were 
the proposals made to relieve this " agricultural distress," 
and parliament resolved to alleviate the pressure upon the 
" distressed landowners," and that 1,000,000 should be 
advanced to them, in exchequer bills, when the average 
price of wheat was under sixty shillings. Great efforts 
were made to make the country believe that the agricul- 
tural labourers were in a most wretched condition in 
consequence of the low prices of corn ; but it began then 
to be understood that the wages of farm labour never rose 
in proportion to the rise in the price of farm produce, and 
that, although they had fallen in 1822, the recipients were 
more than compensated by the low price of food. 

Mr. Scarlett, Cobbett's Lawyer Scarlett, availed himself 
of the cry of agricultural distress to introduce a bill so to 
amend the poor-laws as to prevent removals. He calculated 
on the support of the landowners, who, after having been 
released of the burden of supporting a portion of their poor, 
who had migrated to the manufacturing districts, might be 
supposed very willing to have a guarantee against their 
return to their native parishes. In justice to the landlords 
generally, and to the tories of Manchester, it should be 
mentioned that they withheld their sanction from this 
scheme. It was manifestly unjust that the landlords, after 
taxing the manufacturing districts by the monopoly in the 


supply of corn, should lay another tax upon them to relieve 
the poor who were born on their estates, and had been 
driven out, by insufficient wages, to seek employment in 
the manufacturing towns. When, twenty-four years after, 
the corn-laws were prospectively repealed, it was no more 
than just that labourers should find relief where they had 
given labour. Lawyer Scarlett had, besides, gone beyond 
the principle of his last- session Malthusian bill. He now 
made the effort to empower magistrates to commit to 
prison any person applying for relief, against whom any 
former " misconduct " could be proved. I had been 
forced by conviction, in spite of a very strong disin- 
clination to take part in public meetings, to attend, in 
the previous year, one held in Salford, and to give my 
opposition to his then bill ; and I felt it was my duty to 
attend one held in the collegiate church, in Manchester, 
on the 23rd of May, 1822, that I might protest against 
powers being granted to magistrates which might be used 
greatly to the oppression of the poor. I found that the 
opposition at this meeting was confined to the proposal 
that there should .be no future removals. I told the 
meeting that a question of a legal provision for the poor 
had now become better understood than it had been lately ; 
that it was acknowledged generally' that poor laws were 
absolutely necessary in the existing state of the country; 
that Mr. Scarlett, however, notwithstanding his signal 
defeat last session, had introduced into his new bill a 
clause tending directly to overturn a law which, more 
than any other, had kept alive the moral and physical 
energies of the people. I then alluded to the clause 
empowering magistrates to imprison all such persons apply- 
ing for relief as they (the justices) might deem to have 
been idle, extravagant, or to have misconducted themselves, 
and asked who could tell what was idleness or extravagance? 
Some persons thought the people were idle if they did not 
work more than twelve hours a day, and some that they 


were extravagant if they ate any animal food. Was it 
right that persons so thinking should have the power to 
send a man to prison for what they might choose to call 
idleness or extravagance ? But the bill also went to 
empower magistrates to commit for previous misconduct. 
Could any lawyer present say what misconduct meant? 
" If it were left to the discretion of a magistrate to decide," 
I said, " he might commit any man to prison. He might 
commit him to jail because, like me, he was a reformer, 
or a dissenter, or because he had attended a public meeting." 
My resolution was not opposed, but it underwent much 
verbal criticism: it was, however, ultimately passed unani- 
mously in the following terms, amended\*y Mr. J. Garnett: 
" That the power intended to be vested in justices of the 
peace to commit to the House of Correction individuals 
applying for relief on account of alleged idleness, extrava- 
gance, or misconduct, is not only vague and undefined in 
its terms, but also at variance with the spirit of the English 
laws." Looking back, at this distance of time, upon the 
proceedings of that meeting, and knowing that an expres- 
sion of public opinion from loyal Manchester was not unin- 
fluential in the legislature, I may be permitted to express 
my satisfaction that I did something to keep that opinion 
right on a question so deeply affecting the interests and 
liberties of the poorer classes; for many of my friends 
amongst the whigs, and some amongst the reformers, at 
that time, were more smitten with the Malthusian doc- 
trines than my opponents, the tories ; and it required some 
courage in me, not accustomed to take part in public meet- 
ings, to stand forward and defend the old beneficent law of 
Elizabeth, in opposition to the new lights of economical 
science. From this time I began to be strongly importuned 
to do something towards revivifying Cowdroy's Gazette; 
but I still retained faith in the politics of the Guardian, 
although I differed with it in its political economy. 

Ireland, the mass of its people considered, received little 
benefit by the abundance of corn food. Irishmen did not 



eat wheaten bread, although they raised wheat. Their 
barley was consumed in the manufacture of whiskey, and 
even their oats were exported. Their only food was pota- 
toes, and when they had no potatoes they had nothing. 
Owing to the heavy rains of the previous year, the potato 
crop of the south of Ireland had almost entirely failed, and 
the price of this staple food of the population was quad- 
rupled. Before the end of April, 1822, the province of 
Munster was in a state of actual starvation. The people 
crowded into the towns in the vain hope of finding employ- 
ment and food, and their sufferings were aggravated by the 
wide-spread typhus fever. General sympathy was excited 
in England, and a committee was formed in London, and 
corresponding committees in various parts of the kingdom, 
to originate subscriptions for the relief of Irish sufferers. 
Manchester was not behind other places in the benevolent 
effort. A public meeting was held on May 16th, and a 
large committee was appointed to solicit subscriptions. 
The following were some of the larger contributions : 

Jones Loyd, & Co 




Clogg, Norris, & Co 



Heywood, Brothers, & Co. 
Birley and Hornby 
S. G-reg&Co 




T. Blackwall & Co 
Broadhurst, Harris, & Co. 
Gardner and Harter 


W. Grant and Brothers... 
S. and T. Knight 




Thomas Trueman 
T. and J. Binyon 


J. Hardman . . 


H. H. Birley 


Daintry, Royle, & Co. ... 


Bunten & Co. . 


Thomas Johnson 
Warden and four Fellows. 
J. and R. Barton 
M'Connel and Kennedy... 
W. Douglas & Co 
E Hobson Hope 



T. Houldsworth, M.P. ... 
T. J. and J. Ashton 
Jackson, Rushworth, &Co. 
S. and T. Ashton 
J. and T. Ramsbottom . . . 
Robert Philips 


Thos. and Richard Potter. 
Thomas "W^rthinffton 





T. and M. Pickford & Co. 
J. and W. Touchet 




W. Riffbv 


T and B Parker 


R Slack 


Bradshaw. Wanklvn. &Co. 


T. and J. Todd ., 



These are smaller sums than such houses now contribute 
in cases of emergency ; but very active exertions were made 
to obtain subscriptions from all ranks of the community, 
and the amount raised in Manchester exceeded 4500. Let 
me again say of the men who were the opponents of reform, 
that their practical benevolence was strongly manifested on 
this pressing occasion. 

The " Bridge-street Gang" were at this time in active 
operation. In April, 1821, they preferred bills, at the 
Middlesex sessions, against Wardell, editor of the States- 
man, Thelwal, editor of the Champion, Dolby, publisher of 
the Political Dictionary, and Mary Ann Carlile, for seditious 
libels. They had assumed the name of the Constitutional 
Association, and the functions of the law officers of the 
crown, and were supported by the contributions of the 
excessively loyal throughout the kingdom, including many 
in Manchester. In the autumn of 1821, a poor man, named 
Ridgeway, a bookseller in this town, was convicted of selling 
a libellous publication to a man named Mellor, a spy, or 
"informer," employed by the "gang," and their sole witness. 
The evidence of this fellow having been shaken by the 
testimony of Ridgeway and some of his neighbours, and a 
motion having been made for a new trial, the "gang" 
considered it necessary to strengthen his testimony, and a 
few counter affidavits having been procured, the question 
became one of conflicting evidence. The King's Bench 
decided against Ridgeway's application. Murray, the attor- 
ney of the " gang," determined to put Ridgeway effectually 
down, attended at the Lancaster spring assizes, 1822, and 
presented an indictment of perjury against him, which, 
upon the evidence of Mellor and others, was found. Poor 
Ridgeway was then in prison, his wife and four children 
were dependent upon charity for their subsistence, and he 
- had not a shilling to defend himself. But he found friends 
amongst the reformers of Manchester Richard Potter's 
" small but firm band." His case was investigated, evidence 


was examined, and it was found that there were about a 
score of witnesses, of unimpeachable character, ready to 
testify to the truth of his statement. These witnesses were 
sent to Lancaster on Saturday, the 24th of August, and 
were in waiting there until the following Wednesday, when 
the case was called and put off., on an affidavit from Mr. 
Murray, the " gang's" solicitor, that a material witness 
could not be able to attend until next day. Next day 
came, the witness was present, and the trial was about 
to begin, when the clerk of the crown informed his lord- 
ship that there was a certiorari to remove the case into the 
King's Bench ! 

Mr. Baron Wood. Then of course I cannot proceed with it. 

Mr. Sergeant HullocTc. That is the object, my lord ; we are not 
quite ready. 

Mr. Brougham. Your lordship will see the hardship of this pro- 
ceeding is, that the poor defendant will be compelled to bring his 
twenty witnesses again, at an expense which he cannot afford. 

Mr. Baron Wood. I cannot help that, Mr. Brougham ; I have no 
power. It may be a defect in the law. 

Mr. Brougham. Yes, my lord, and there are always persons (look- 
ing at Mr. Murray) ready to avail themselves of defects in the law, 
for the purpose of oppressing an individual. Then, my lord, there is 
another hardship on the poor defendant. He is now in confinement 
in this jail for a misdemeanour, and I suppose there will be an attempt 
to keep him in prison after the expiration of his term of imprison- 
ment, until the next assizes. If your lordship could make an order 
that he should be admitted to bail at Manchester, where he could 
have no difficulty in procuring bail 

Mr. Baron Wood. I have no power to do that, Mr. Brougham. 

And so the business terminated. Fortunately for Ridge- 
way, the " material witness " himself was in prison before 
his testimony was needed ; and so the prosecution failed. 
The "gang" gained nothing by it but a great addition to 
the odium they had previously incurred. 

In November of this year the members of the yeomanry 
corps presented Mr. Hugh Birley, their commander, with a 
sword, as a testimony of their respect. The Guardian, in 



commenting on the presentation, said : "Whether, however, 
we are to be classed with the ' designing or the deceived,' 
' the ignorant or the ill-disposed,' we have no hesitation 
in avowing our firm and unchangeable opinion, that the 
strongest censures which have been applied to the magis- 
trates and yeomanry, for their conduct on the 16th of 
August, are not stronger than they deserve ; and that the 
sanction of all the special juries, and of all the judges in the 
kingdom, would be quite insufficient to wash out the * damned 
spot' of blood with which that event has tainted them." 
Yet, notwithstanding this declaration of unchangeable 
opinion, notwithstanding the stain of this " damned spot," 
ten years had not elapsed ere the editor of the Guardian 
went, hand-in-hand and arm-in-arm, with Mr. H. H. Birley, 
in the attempt to impose a member of Mr. Birley's choice 
upon newly enfranchised Manchester ! Let no man talk 
of an unchangeable opinion whose opinion is founded on 
present expediency. 

A trial in 1823, arising out of the strong feeling which 
prevailed against the issue of local bank notes, on the part, 
as subsequent disastrous failures proved, of persons whose 
"promise to pay" was valueless, excited a considerable 
amount of interest in Lancashire. An attorney in Man- 
chester, John Dicas a name which afterwards became 
noted or notorious in consequence of numerous actions for 
libel against the London press had been committed for two 
years to Lancaster Castle, for conspiring with a bankrupt 
to defraud his creditors. This had somewhat damaged his 
character in Manchester, and he had subsequently to leave 
the town to avoid a distraint for poor-rates. This man, 
thus banishing himself, was not exactly the sort of person 
to commence the business of a banker and to issue notes, 
but he had formed a connection with a Mr. Williams, in 
. Holywell, Flintshire, and in 1821 they commenced banking, 
and the manufacture of local paper which had some cur- 
rency in Wales. Some of their notes having found their 


way to Manchester, notwithstanding the resolution of its 
merchants, manufacturers, and shopkeepers to discourage 
the circulation of such " rags," the Guardian, in a long 
article against the pouring of the paper " rubbish into the 
once pure stream of Manchester circulation," gave expres- 
sion to the following " broad hints": 

To such an extent do the people of Manchester actually go in this 
folly, in this madness, that we ourselves saw, a few days since, 
notes payable at a place in Wales, which had been issued by two 
vagabonds, one of whom was formerly a pettifogger in this town, 
who, after two years' imprisonment for conspiring with a bankrupt 
to defraud Ms creditors, after being consequently shunned by all 
decent men, after making from his last residence here a moonlight 
flit to avoid a distraint for poor rates, which he had appealed against 
on the ground of poverty, went immediately, in conjunction with 
the other wretch, to commence banking, and is now beginning to 
avenge himself for the treatment he experienced here, by indirectly 
drawing away our solid valuables, in exchange for his dirty rags, 
which present no security but his or his partner's integrity and 

Something else was said about a prison bird and con- 
fessed pauper. A notice of action was served against the 
Guardian, and much speculation took place as to the result. 
Few found fault with the exposure, but there was no doubt 
that a libel had been published. No names were mentioned ; 
no name of a town ; no name even of a county was given. 
Would Dicas prove that the libel applied to him by proving 
that he was the only Manchester attorney who had been 
two years imprisoned for fraud ? He did so. On the trial 
at Shrewsbury, a former clerk of Dicas proved that Dicas 
had been convicted of conspiracy, in issuing a fraudulent 
commission of bankruptcy against a person of the name of 
Bulwer ; he knew it because he was in court when the 
case was tried. This was evidence that the allusion was 
to Dicas, and it followed that the application of the term 
" wretch" was to Mr. Dicas's partner. To prove special 
damages, a clerk in the bank was examined, who said that 


about 1,900 in one pound notes had been in circulation, 
and that in consequence of what had been said in the 
Guardian, notes were sent in to the bank for payment to 
the amount of 1,000 in six weeks, and that no sooner 
were they re -issued than they were sent in again. This 
was indeed a dreadful run a run which, in six weeks, 
brought back the large amount of 1,000. The damages 
were laid at 5,000 ; the verdict of the jury was for 10. 
Probably, had not the partner, who had not run away, and 
had not been imprisoned, been called a wretch, the verdict 
would have been for a farthing. The costs, amounting to 
several hundred pounds, fell on the Guardian; but the 
greater part of the money was repaid by a subscription, 
and the paper had the advantage, from that time, of being 
considered as the guardian of the commercial interests of 
the town and neighbourhood a reputation much more 
valuable, in a pecuniary point of view, than the fame of 
being the advocate of popular rights. 

Very considerable interest was excited by another trial 
this year by an attempt to murder an extensive manufac- 
turer at Preston. On the morning of Sunday, July 27th, 
as Mr. Horrocks was returning from church, and was 
opening the gate of his partner, Mr. Miller, a man named 
Ryding came behind and gave him a blow with a heavy 
kitchen cleaver, which cut through the hat and inflicted a 
frightful wound on the head. Mr. Horrocks turned round 
in time to avert a second blow aimed at the head, and to 
receive it and successive blows on the arm, which received 
several severe cuts. Mr. Horrocks' cries of murder brought 
assistance, and the man was taken into custody, without 
making any effort to escape. There had been a period of 
tranquillity, and comparative prosperity to the working 
classes. This attempt at assassination in broad daylight, 
especially when it became known, from the prisoner's own 
declaration, that he had been the writer of an anonymous 
letter, threatening Mr. Horrocks with death, unless he 


raised the wages of his spinners, gave great alarm, for it 
was believed to be the result of a conspiracy amongst the 
operatives to effect their objects by the murder of masters 
who resisted their demands. Such an atrocity gave the 
more alarm, occurring at a time when the working classes 
were enjoying more than usual comforts. There were 
many circumstances, however, which had soured the temper 
of the operatives, and rendered them hostile to their em- 
ployers. Their efforts to obtain reform in parliament had 
exposed them to the yeoman's sword and the constable's 
staff. Many had their wages paid in " truck," instead of 
the current coin of the realm. The combination laws ren- 
dered them liable to imprisonment if they jointly attempted, 
no matter how peaceable the means, to raise wages, or to 
resist reduction of wages. There was a law, also, to prevent 
their emigration to other countries, where there was a better 
demand for their labour ; and there was a law to impose 
heavy duties on food imported for their consumption. Their 
masters generally were opposed to reform, and firm sup- 
porters of the combination laws. Many of them profited 
largely by the truck system ; most were opposed to emigra- 
tion, in the fear that they would lose their best hands ; and 
few amongst them had the courage or inclination to protest 
against the impoverishing bread tax. It was not surprising 
that they were regarded as the enemies of the working 
classes not surprising that an occasional unavoidable re- 
duction of wages should be attributed to their grasping 
cupidity. Ryding, a young man of twenty-two years of 
age, had been afflicted with a disease in the brain, which 
made him exceedingly desponding at times, and at other 
brief times almost delirious, but did not seem otherwise to 
affect his intellect. Hearing continually of the oppression 
exercised by the masters, this lad determined to avenge the 
wrongs of his class. He considered Horrocks and Miller 
to be the principal movers in a reduction of wages. It 
occurred to him, one night in bed, that it was his duty to 


shoot them. He awoke several times in the night, and the 
same idea always presented itself. It became his day- 
dream, and he became unfit for his work, and was always 
discharged afterwards from every situation he obtained. 
FATE was impelling him onwards. It was necessary, he 
thought, that the nation should know what oppressors the 
masters at Preston were. The conviction, under the com- 
bination laws, of some operative spinners in that town, 
gave a further stimulus to action. He would not kill his 
mind seems to have ultimately revolted against that but 
he would inflict grievous wounds, that he himself might be 
tried for life, and that by his trial and death he might rouse 
the country to a redress of the wrongs under which he and 
his class were suffering ! The jury returned a verdict of 
not guilty, on the ground of insanity, and the victim of 
strangely perverted heroism was lost sight of in the recesses 
of a prison, in which he was to be shut up during his 
majesty's pleasure. 

In the brief periods of comparative commercial prosperity, 
amidst the innumerable wild schemes of speculation which 
start up, there has been usually, in Manchester, the origi- 
nation of some publicly useful institution, which stands as 
a mark that all was not madness at the period. On the 1st 
of October, 1823, a meeting was held at the Exchange, Dr. 
Davenport Hulme in the chair, to consider the propriety of 
establishing an institution for the promotion of literature, 
science, and the fine arts. The principal speaker was Mr. 
George William Wood, but the following gentlemen took 
a part in the proceedings by moving and seconding the 
twenty- two resolutions : 

1. George William Wood Eobert Hindley. 

2. Thomas Hardman Robert Christie. 

3. Thomas Ainsworth Jonathan Dawson. 

4. David Holt J. A. Eansome. 

5. William Grarnett Thomas Sharp. 

6. a. W. Wood 0-. T. Bury. 

7. E. H. G-reg Joseph Birley. 

M 2 


8. William Townend David Holt. 

9. Samuel Zay Charles Brandt. 

10. Thomas Hoyle- Samuel Kay. 

11. Charles Brandt Beresford Turner. 

12. Robert Philips S. Barton. 

13. Henry Hardie, M.D. Dr. Lyon. 

14. 'James Beardoe Greorge Hole. 

15. J. A Ransome John Macfarlane. 

16. E. J. Loyd Joseph Birley. 

17. Thomas A ing worth E. J. Loyd. 

18. Thomas Sharp David Holt. 

19. James H. Heron S. Barton. 

20. a. W. "Wood Thomas Ainsworth. 

21. David Holt Thomas Ainsworth. 

22. Charles Greenway Thomas Sharp. 

The subscriptions amounted, before the end of the year, 
to upwards of 14,000, and being continued into the pros- 
perous year 1824, the Royal Institution was founded, which, 
though not so extensively useful as it might have been, 
and may still be, under more energetic and more popular 
government, is highly creditable to the period when it was 



IN a preceding chapter some account was given of the 
establishment of the Guardian. In describing the de- 
velopment of public opinion in this metropolis of the 
northern provinces, it seemed necessary to notice the 
origin of a journal which became the organ of whiggism, 
from its resurrection, after the horrors of the French 
Revolution had been forgotten, until its decadence, when 
the people began to believe that they had about as much 
interest in the quarrels between the whig and tory factions 
as in those between the rival houses of Montagu and 
Capulet. There was a great leap to be taken to bring 
toryism up to a rational radicalism. Whiggery was a con- 
venient middle stepping-stone, broad enough for men to 
stand upon, and sneer at the tardy fools behind, and the 
too-fast fools before. The Guardian, after a two years' 
experience of the difficulty of progression, took up its 
position half-way, rather disposed to wait for the coming 
up of those who were in the rear, than to march forward 
and join those who were in advance. Throughout the 
whole of its third year it would have been difficult for any 
one reading its columns to discover the hand of a reformer. 
And yet it would have been difficult to point out any 
departure from the promises set forth in its prospectus, so 
vaguely had they been expressed. Had any one said : 
"Here are no reform principles," the reply would have 
been : " Look here here are two lines expressing a doubt 
that the house of commons fully represents the people. 
You say there is no fruit in the orchard. Look here. 
Don'i you see a pear at the top of that branch, behind 



those leaves r" The paper had not abandoned its prin- 
ciples it had only ceased to give them earnest expression. 

Considerable dissatisfaction was expressed by some of 
the gentlemen who had been most instrumental in establish- 
ing the journal, expecting- that it would be a bold and 
uncompromising exponent of political truth and progress ; 
and I was often advised to purchase Cowdroy' s Gazette r 
and offered assistance if I found that it required more 
capital than I could command. The circumstances of the 
times, a well as my own desire to contribute something to 
the formation of a right public opinion, induced me to 
think favourably of the proposition. On the foundation of 
a healthy state of trade, a superstructure of false confidence 
had been raised. The spirit of rash speculation prevailed, 
and I plainly perceived that a panic would follow. I fore- 
saw that the house, from the sale of whose goods I derived 
two-thirds of my income, would not be able to stand, should 
there come, as I was certain there would come, a sudden 
depression of trade, with failures, great reduction of 
prices, and an extraordinary limitation of discounts. If it 
was imprudent to enter into a new business, it was impru- 
dent to wait in one upon which a fearful crash was sure to 
come. I made the purchase of copyright and materials ; 
paid 800 down, and engaged to pay Mrs. Cowdroy 100 
a year for eight years ; laid out 300 more on a new press 
and a new fount of type ; and thus I commenced a new 
career, full of health and hope. Mrs. Cowdroy had derived 
a living from the paper, though a scanty one. The whole 
wages of compositors and pressmen amounted to only seven 
pounds a week. I should have to increase the expenditure ; 
but an increase of the circulation, which was 1,000 a week, 
to 1,500, and of the advertisements in the same proportion, 
would, I expected, meet the extra outlay. 

I had full faith that the principles I held would, iilti- 
mately, be those held by the great majority of the people 
inhabiting Manchester and its populous neighbourhood 


There needed to be, in my firm belief, only earnest and 
frequent appeals to common sense, common humanity, and 
common justice, to effect great and beneficial changes. I 
could not suppose that masters would long ask for liberty to 
combine, while workmen were liable to imprisonment for a 
peaceful agreement among themselves, as to what wages 
they would accept ; that a mercantile and manufacturing 
community would long quietly submit to a law which 
limited their trade, and laid a grievous tax upon the 
people's food; that there would be a continual insult to 
Dissenters, by their exclusion from corporate offices ; that 
Roman Catholics would be long bitterly insulted and deeply 
wronged, by being excluded from all share in the repre- 
sentation of the country ; that the inhabitants of Manchester 
would long submit to the dictation of a petty officer of the 
Lord of the Manor; that Manchester and Salford, with 
200,000 inhabitants, would long remain unrepresented, 
while one hundred boroughs, whose united population 
amounted only to that number, continued to send two 
hundred members to parliament ; or that, in demanding 
freedom ourselves, we could deny it to the hundreds of 
thousands who were enduring the galling yoke of slavery 
in our colonies. I had full faith that these changes might 
be effected, and some belief that I might aid in effecting 
them. Goethe has said : " Our wishes are presentiments 
of the capabilities which lie within us, are harbingers of 
that we shall be able to perform. Whatever we are able 
and would like to do presents itself to our imagination, as 
without us and in the future ; we feel a longing after that 
which we already possess in secret. Thus a passionate 
anticipating grasp changes the truly possible into a dreamed 
reality" In commencing my career as a journalist, I 
KNEW that the principles I advocated would ultimately be 
triumphant KNEW it as certainly as if the chart of futurity 
lay open before me. It might not be in my time as a 
journalist not in my time as a man but " come it would 


for all that ;" and that conviction sustained me throughout 
all subsequent difficulties difficulties which would have 
driven many a man mad. I felt that the existence of a 
thoroughly independent paper for only a few years would 
create a demand for its continuance ; I might fail I might 
die the principles, once fairly enunciated, could neither 
fail nor die. Much that I anticipated has been done ; I 
had some share, however humble, in the doing ; and the 
paper, renovated in June, 1824, and carried on for a 
quarter of a century, as the Manchester Gazette, the 
Manchester Times and Gazette, and the Manchester 
Examiner and Times, is now not only at the head of the 
Manchester press, but at the head of the provincial press 
of the United Kingdom. I knew that the exponent and 
organ of progression would reach this rank ; I always said 
it would said so when I was laughed at for the saying. 
The time ? It is not for man to fix a time ; he must work 
to accelerate the period must have faith that " the braw 
time is coming." All my rejoicing at things done was not 
reserved till they were done. I knew that they would be 
done, and rejoiced while they were adoing. Much is yet 
to do much there will always be to do, for the cultivated 
field will go back to barrenness if it be left alone ; but as 
the work is wanted men will be found to do it. Rough 
pioneers have gone before and cleared away many of the 
most formidable obstructions. Cultivation must follow 7 the 
clearing of the forest and jungle. 

About the beginning of 1824, three gentlemen, Mr. 
William Fairbairn, Mr. Thomas Hopkins, and Mr. Richard 
Roberts, conversing on the proposal to establish an institu- 
tion (now the Royal Institution) for the promotion of 
literature and the fine arts, thought it would be well that 
another should be established to teach the application of 
science to mechanical and manufacturing art, for the benefit 
of young men who needed practical instruction and had 
not the means to obtain it, unless offered to them at a 


cheap rate. They each agreed to contribute ten pounds, 
and to endeavour to induce others to follow their example. 
A public meeting was held on the 17th of April, at the 
Bridgewater Arms, in High-street, Benjamin Heywood, 
Esq., in the chair, at which it was resolved that an institu- 
tion, to be called the Manchester Mechanics' Institution, 
should be formed, the leading objects of which should be 
the delivery of lectures on the various sciences and their 
application to the arts, and the establishment of a suitable 
library for reference and circulation. Mr. Heywood sub- 
scribed twenty guineas, and the following gentlemen ten 
guineas each : 

Joseph Birley, 

Philips and Lee, 

T. and M. Marsland, 

John M'Farlane, 

G. W. Wood, 

Henry Gore, 

John Pooley, 

Thomas Appleby, 

B. A. Heywood, 

James Occleston, 

C. Greenway, 

Joseph Frith, 

Lawrence Buchan, 

Robert' Seddon, 

Thomas Hopkins, 

Charles Ker, 

Grant and Brothers, 

Robert Philips,. 

Thomas Hoyle, 

Dr. Henry, 

J. C. Dyer, 

John Kennedy, 

John Royle, 

H. Houldsworth, 

W. Jenkinson, 

Richard Roberts, 

W. Marsden, 

W. Williams, 

J. L. Bradbury, 

Jonathan Cocker, 

S. R. Brooks, 

Robert Christie, 

Saml. Greg and Co., 

James Lillie, 

Thomas Sharp, 

P. Novell!, 

T. Houldsworth, M.P. 

., James M'Connel, 

Thomas Bury, 

W. Crighton, 

W. Fairbairn, 

S. M. Moore, 

James Murray, 

Peter Taylor, 

Joseph Brotherton. 

Such was the commencement of an institution which, 
after being subject to many vicissitudes, has become one 
of the most popular and most useful of its class, combining 
the diffusion of very valuable and solid information with 
the promotion of rational and refining recreation, at the 
cheapest possible rate. 

The establishment of the Mechanics' Institution, sub- 
scriptions to the amount of 26,000 towards erecting the 
Royal Institution, and of 5,000 towards the enlargement 
of the Infirmary, together with a generous contribution 
M 3 


for the relief of sufferers by great inundations in Germany, 
were some of the results of the prosperous year 1824. 
Manchester had not yet participated much in the rash spirit 
of speculation which was exhibited in London. It had 
mainly manifested itself here in the purchase of the raw 
material in the staple article of manufacture ; but the 
speculations in cotton were kept considerably in check by 
a series of able articles in the Guardian, written by a 
gentleman of great experience in that trade, who exposed 
the various devices made use of to raise prices. At the 
close of the year, however, some symptoms were exhibited 
here of the tendency to enter upon great joint-stock specu- 
lations. The first impulse to the share mania in London 
seems to have been given by the intention of ministers to 
recognise the independence of the South American States 
having transpired. The avidity for shares in the mines 
may be shown by comparing the prices in five of the 
principal companies at two periods, only a month apart : 

Dec. 10, 1824. Jan. 11, 1825. 


Anglo-Mexican 33 prem 158 

Brazilian 10 dis 66 

Columbia 19 prem 82 

Keal del Monte 550 1,350 

United Mexican 35 1,550 

It was computed that in the end of 1824, and the begin- 
ning of 1825, 276 companies had been projected, with a 
proposed capital of 174,000,000 I Of these 33 were for 
canals and docks, 48 for railroads, 42 for gas, 34 for 
metal mines, 20 for insurances, 23 for banking, 12 for 
navigation and packets. A man, in haste to become rich, 
had no more to do than put down his name for shares, pay 
a few pounds for his scrip, sell at a high premium, and 
repeat the process. As John Knox said, when he saw the 
splendour of Queen Mary's court at Holyrood, "Ah, ladies, 
it is a brave world this if it would but last." We shah 1 


hear by and by of the bubble bursting ; and, all the teach- 
ings of experience being thrown away, of fresh bubbles 
being blown, to burst in their turn. 

At the opening of the parliamentary session, February 
2nd, 1826, the contentment and the thriving condition of 
all classes of the people was the most remarkable topic in 
the royal speech. There were some symptoms, however, 
that the prosperity was not to be of very long duration. 
In the general confidence money was so easily obtained, 
that speculation was carried to a considerable height, and 
fears began to be entertained by those who had been accus- 
tomed to mark the causes of commercial fluctuation, that a 
considerable depression would follow. The abundant har- 
vest of 1822 had, for some time, counteracted the mis- 
chievous operation of the corn-law, but advancing prices 
convinced all who had given any thought to the subject, 
that there was great danger to be apprehended whenever 
the crops should yield less than a good average. In 1 825 
a movement was made in Manchester, not for the repeal, 
but for the revision of the law. In its increased vigour 
it had existed ten years, and consequently had become 
"venerable." It had been an "innovation" ten years be- 
fore ; it had now become an " establishment ;" to abolish 
it would have been a " revolution." The movement had 
no energy in it carried no hearty sympathies with it. 
Mr. William Garnett, afterwards an unsuccessful candidate 
for the representation of Salford, was the principal speaker. 
It was a sensible speech enough for a merchant, on a mere 
question of exchanges. There was no allusion to the semi- 
starvation of millions when a scanty harvest came ; agri- 
culture would flourish when trade flourished; prohibitory 
duties provoked retaliatory duties on the part of other 
nations; America might become a formidable manufac- 
turing rival ; therefore it was desirable that the law should 
be revised. It was a sensible speech enough, but without 
life or soul dry as a remainder biscuit after a long voyage. 


One resolution, moved by Mr. John Edward Taylor, seconded 
by Mr. Frederick Lilly, a corn merchant, was as follows : 

" That permanently high prices of corn would be evidently and 
generally injurious : they would either greatly depreciate the condi- 
tion of our manufacturing population, or, by raising ihe wages of 
lalmir, materially increase the facilities for successful rivalship with 
our productive industry abroad ; and the declining condition of our 
trade, which would then ensue, would eventually entail on the agri- 
culturists, in common with every other class of the community, the 
greatest suffering." 

There was here a repetition of the fallacy on which 
the elder Sir Robert Peel, and the other manufacturers 
of Manchester, had opposed the bill of 1815 a fallacy 
which, being thus sanctioned by Manchester, was repeated 
by the landlord class throughout all the subsequent struggle 
for free trade; and their constant taunt to the manufac- 
turing class was, that they were afraid of high prices of 
food, only because they were afraid that they would pay 
a higher rate of wages. The meeting was, however, 
memorable, inasmuch as it was the first held by merchants 
and manufacturers, after the working classes had been 
driven out of the field of agitation for free trade and 
free representation. It was a small movement in the right 
direction, and our gratitude to the movers is not to be 
withheld, because they clung to one or two old fallacies. 
The fault was with the mercantile and manufacturing 
public generally, who believed that the then prosperity 
was to be lasting. 

The Catholic Association, under the energetic leadership 
of Daniel ? Council, had made itself formidable to the 
ministry, and it had become obvious that, ere long, there 
would be a majority of the members of the House of 
Commons in favour of the removal of Catholic disabilities. 
Emancipation encountered a bigoted and intolerant oppo- 
sition; the cry of "no popery!" resounded throughout 
the land, and many men believed that the days of the 



bloody Mary would be revived if a few Romanists ob- 
tained admission into the legislature. Be it noted, however, 
that there were not a few reformers, and not a few 
sincere friends of religious liberty, who had some diffi- 
culty in giving in their adhesion to the cause, seeing 
the terms on which some of the leading Catholics were 
willing to purchase eligibility to seats in either house of 
parliament. These leaders were willing to buy their own 
enfranchisement by the sacrifice of the electoral rights 
of the forty shilling freeholders in Ireland ; and, to give 
an assurance that they would be peaceable subjects, they 
were ready to submit to the degradation of having their 
priests made paid pensioners of the state. In a letter 
to the Catholic Association, read at one of its meetings, 
in March (the last which was held, in consequence of an 
act for its dissolution), Mr. O'Connell said : 

" Although a provision for our clergy is spoken of, it certainly has 
not been spoken of in any shape which could excite the least alarm 
in the minds of the most scrupulous Catholic ; and, as to the principle 
of that measure, is there any one who imagines that the Catholic 
people of Ireland can be finally admitted into the condition of sub- 
jects, so as to constitute a portion of the universal British nation, 
without our clergy having a natural and just claim on the state for a 
provision ? If there be, I am not of their opinion. I own I think 
that our clergy ought to receive a support from that state which we, 
the Catholics, contribute to maintain with our moneys and our blood; 
and as to the details of that provision, are they not safe in the hands 
of our excellent prelates, subject also as they must be to the inspec- 
tion of all the people, Protestant and Catholic of the empire, before 
they can be finally adopted or made into a law ?" 

Mr. O'Connell afterwards changed his opinions with 
gard to the endowment of the Catholic priests. Before 
is death he declared his strong opposition to the endow- 
t of any religious sect ; and he denounced every 
roposal to endow the priests of his own faith, as an 
attempt to make them the miserable slaves of the state. 
But he would have permitted them to accept the insidious 


bribe in 1825. Then it was "safe in the hands of 
excellent prelates." While, therefore, we notice, with 
indignation, the intolerance and bigotry which would have 
excluded men from seats in parliament on account of 
their conscientious religious opinions, let it be recollected 
that there were not a few undoubted friends of religious 
liberty, who were not willing that emancipation should 
be had, accompanied by an agreed-to condition which 
was as much at variance with principle as was the ex- 
clusion of the Catholics from the legislature. The payment 
of the Catholic priests was to have been one " wing" of 
the Catholic Emancipation Bill the disfranchisement of 
the forty shilling freeholders was to have been another. 
Mr. O'Connell, in the letter which we have already 
quoted, said, in reference to this proposed wholesale 
disfranchisement : 

" Let me ask, will not the stimulus to make freeholders exist after 
emancipation as powerfully as at present ? It certainly will ; and, if 
it do exist, is it robbing the poor to make a law which shall compel 
any landlord who wishes to make 40s. freeholders to make to each a 
lease for one life, at a rent which makes the qualification merely 
nominal, and puts the freeholder completely in the power of the 
landlord ? Would it be robbing the poor if the landlords, instead of 
giving a 40s. freehold, gave a freehold of 10 annual value ? Let us 
recollect that the landlords will, after the measure, want 10 free- 
holders as they now want 40s. freeholders. They may, perhaps, not 
make so many of the one as of the other; but every 10 freeholder 
would be a comfortable person. Who will say that the 40s. free- 
holders are so?" 

After reading this sophisticated defence of a sweeping 
measure of unjust disfranchisement, the association passed 
a unanimous vote, declaring, in the strongest terms its 
" undiminished and undivided confidence in Mr. O'Connell." 
Are we to be surprised then that there were many staunch 
reformers who hesitated in giving in their adhesion to a 
cause, the success of which was to be gained by such 
abandonment of all the principles of reform ? 


I do not absolve from the charge of bigotry and intole- 
rance a party of men in Manchester who bitterly opposed 
themselves to Catholic Emancipation. They had no objec- 
tions to endowment if they had all the endowment to their 
own church ; they had no objection to sweeping disfran- 
chisement they would gladly have added the English 
forty- shilling freeholds to the Irish, and swept them away 
all together. Neither reformers nor friends of religious 
liberty, they were actuated only by a deep hatred and a 
frantic fear of the " papists." An honest hatred and a 
real fear no doubt a kind of protestantism run mad, and 
therefore about as much to be pitied as condemned. The 
same class of persons, thirty years earlier, would have 
pulled down Presbyterian chapels, and thought they did 
God service. In March, Sir Francis Burdett's resolutions 
for the relief of the Irish Catholics were carried in the 
House of Commons by a majority of 247 to 234. The 
ultra Protestants of Manchester came to the rescue of the 
" constitution," and at a meeting convened by private 
circular, and held privately on the 22nd of April, they 
passed strong resolutions against any further concessions to 
the papists. The petitions founded on these resolutions 
were sent on the Saturday and Sunday to the ministers of 
the Methodist, Independent, and Baptist denominations, 
with notes requesting that they would allow the sheets to 
be sent to their chapels for the purpose of receiving the 
signatures of their congregations. The Independent and 
Baptist ministers, without concert, declined to allow the 
petitions to be received in their chapels. The Unitarian 
inisters were not asked for their co-operation. On the 
oth of April, the Duke of York, who was a bishop as 
ell as a general, strengthened by the movement in Man- 
chester and other towns, made his famous declaration, 
immediately printed in gold, and sent to all parts of the 
.gdom. " Twenty years," he said, " had elapsed since 
e subject was first launched ; its agitation had been 


the source of the illness which had clouded the last ten 
years of his father's life ; and, to the last moment of his 
existence, he would adhere to his principles, so help 
him GOD!" 

The friends of civil and religious liberty, not frightened 
at the declaration, on oath, of the pious prince and bishop, 
resolved that a public meeting should be held to counteract 
any effect that might have been produced by the resolutions 
passed in private, but paraded as if they had emanated 
from the inhabitants of Manchester. The meeting, con- 
vened by the boroughreeve, was held on the 5th May, in 
the Manor Court Room, which was excessively crowded on 
the occasion. Mr. John Douglas moved the first resolu- 
tion, which was seconded by Mr. Geo. "W. Wood, who, in 
the course of his speech, animadverted very strongly on 
the proceedings of the hole-and-corner meeting which had 
previously been held. This called up Mr. Benjamin Braid- 
ley, afterwards boroughreeve, and a candidate for the repre- 
sentation of Manchester, who, certainly with great boldness, 
defended the private meeting, and moved that the discus- 
sion of the question in a place which could hold so few of 
the protestants of the town was not expedient, and would 
give rise to unpleasant feelings. Mr. John Shuttle worth 
made an able and a cutting reply. At this stage of the 
proceedings, a man in a fustian jacket, who was recognised 
as an operative cotton spinner, named Jonathan Hodgins, 
who had previously taken part in some meetings against 
the combination laws, modestly stood forward and enquired 
if a working man might be permitted to address the 
meeting. Of course he was permitted, and by his plain 
and unpretending manner, his sound sense, and his not 
unfelicitous expression, soon rivetted the attention of the 
meeting. His speech is worth recording, as amongst the 
first delivered by a working man, taking his place amongst 
able speakers, who held high commercial rank in the 
community : 


" I come forward with the view of arguing the question now before 
the meeting, with working men like myself, of whom I see a good 
many here. I know that there are gentlemen present, of great 
eloquence, and much better qualified than I am to discuss this ques- 
tion ; but then their eloquence is not always convincing to the 
working man's mind, because it is frequently above his comprehen- 
sion ; it is a dish of fish that he does not understand. (A laugh.) 
Now I, who am a working man myself, have paid some attention to 
this subject, and having formed certain opinions upon it, I now come 
forward to deliver those opinions to my fellow-workmen. In the first 
place, I beg to make a few observations on the speech of the gentle- 
man who spoke the last but one (Mr. Braidley). I cannot help 
thinking that he wishes rather to inflame our passions than to speak 
to our understandings. I am no Catholic myself, and have no pas- 
sions on this subject to be inflamed ; but I think it would be better 
if we were all to confine our observations to the measure now before 
parliament, and not wander into long discussions about transubstan- 
tiation, and other matters which we none of us understand. Cheers.) 
With the arguments which the gentleman founded on what the 
Catholics have done in former times, we have really nothing at all to 
do. (Cheers.) What was done we cannot tell with any degree of 
certainty ; for a great number of charges which are made by the one 
side are positively denied by the other ; and which speaks the truth 
we have no means of knowing. But of one thing we are tolerably 
certain ; for it is proved by impartial historians of all parties, that, at 
all times and seasons, both Protestants and Catholics have gone to 
extremes and extravagances (loud cheers) ; and as all parties have 
been guilty, it would be the extreme of injustice to inflict punishment 
on the hundredth generation of the Catholics for what was done by 
their forefathers. (Loud cheers.) One argument which has been 
used against Catholic emancipation, amongst that class of persons 
to whom I belong, and to which I now address myself, is that they 
have the same chance of becoming members of parliament as other 
people, if they would conform to the same opinions ; but do you not 
see this sort of argument would go to justify every sort of tyranny ? 
It would justify Ferdinand and the inquisition in Spain. If a Spanish 
Protestant were to complain that he was excluded from civil rights, 
he might then be answered by some Roman Catholic, ' You have 
only to do as we do ; become a Catholic, and you will be entitled to 
the same privileges with us.' (Cheers.) This was something like 
the legislature passing a law that all men with wooden legs should be 


hanged : if a person who had the misfortune to be in that condition 
should complain of the law, on the principle I have alluded to, a 
man who had both his legs might say to him, ' It is the same for one 
as another ; you have the same chance as I have ; for if I had a 
wooden leg I must be hanged too.' (Cheers and laughter.) It would 
seem that the catholics can get all they want in the easiest manner 
imaginable ; for they have only to take an oath to be admitted to 
the same privileges as protestants. Now, as the gentlemen say they 
care nothing about oaths, and can break an oath at any time, why 
need they bother about emancipation ? (Tremendous cheering.) I 
now beg to make a few observations on what Mr. Peel said on this 
subject in the House of Commons, if a working man like myself may 
be allowed to comment on the speech of a minister of state : and I 
would here observe, that I do not find fault with Mr. Peel for oppos- 
ing catholic emancipation. If he honestly thinks it would be 
dangerous, he does right to oppose it to the utmost of his power. I 
think it would not be dangerous, and therefore do not oppose it. I 
think the opposition to it arises from unfounded prejudices ; but 
I hope the time will come, and before long, when even the prejudices 
of Mr. Peel will disappear, and when catholics and protestants shall 
take each other by the hand, and bury their discords and animosities 
in oblivion. (Loud cheers.) Mr. Peel, in his last speech, drew an 
argument from what has been recently going on in Erance. It seems 
they have passed some sort of a severe law in that country, about 
what they call sacrilege ; and Mr. Peel maintained that on that 
account we ought not to emancipate the catholics. But if the French 
are illiberal, I do not see why we should become tyrants. (Cheers.) 
There are in this country a many catholics, and a great many pro* 
testants. Let us all consult each others interests, and cultivate each 
other's good will. (Cheers.) Let us live together as one people ; 
and let foreign nations, if they will, pursue tyranny, till tyranny 
pursues them. (Loud cheers.)" 

The original resolutions were carried by a great majority, 
although two or three speakers, with much fury of utter- 
ance and much frantic gesticulation, attempted to convince 
the meeting that the liberties of the people would be de- 
stroyed if any catholic was allowed to take a seat in either 
house of parliament. The time for emancipation had not 
come. On the 17th of May the Catholic Relief Bill was 


rejected in the Lords by a majority of 178 against 130. 
The bill for disfranchising the forty-shilling freeholders 
was withdrawn. 

At the time when the meeting in favour of catholic 
emancipation was held in the Manor Court Room, it ap- 
peared to me that there was such an equality in the 
numbers in Manchester of those who were favourable and 
those who were opposed, that nothing short of actual 
enumeration could have decided which was in the majority. 
There were many, however, who, so far as any public 
manifestation went, might be supposed to be neuter, but 
who, if canvassed, would have given their suffrage in 
favour of the abolition of all those exclusive statutes which 
were in force against those who did not profess the state 
religion. There were many who deplored the errors and 
the superstitions of the Church of Rome, who were, at the 
same time, convinced that those errors were only the more 
pertinaciously adhered to because that church had been 
proscribed and persecuted. They had seen that penal 
and exclusive statutes had only wedded the people of 
Ireland to their ancient faith. They had seen Catholicism 
strengthened by the very means used for its suppression ; 
and they now wished to see its professors emancipated from 
their disabilities, in order that the irritation, which always 
is the result of oppression, might cease, and that, in the 
succeeding calm, reason and truth might exert their 
legitimate influence. That such irritation paralysed all 
protestant effort, however kindly intended, there was 
abundant proof. The Rev. and Hon. Baptist Noel, at a 
meeting held in Leeds, in April, 1825, declared that, in his 
efforts to establish in Ireland auxiliaries to the Hibernian 
Society, he had found the refusal of civil privileges to the 
catholics one of the greatest obstructions to the success of 
the society. It irritated them against the protestants, and 
made them suspect everything from that quarter, insomuch 
that one intelligent individual in that country said, " You 


might as well hope to do good by sending tax-gatherers as 
by sending preachers, so long as this system continues." 
Mr. Baines, of the Leeds Mercury, who had all along man- 
fully fought the battle for emancipation, in reference to Mr. 
Noel's remarks, said : 

" Mr. Noel gave no opinion about catholic emancipation ; he 
especially declared that he should pronounce no opinion on the 
subject ; but these facts he could not conceal they stared him in the 
face wherever he went ; and he feels bound to declare to the society 
in England what he felt to be the greatest practical impediment 
to his benevolent exertions. Mr. Noel is a most unexceptionable 
witness ; for the treatment he received in Ireland would tend to 
impress him, not in favour of the catholics, but against them, if his 
superior intellect had not penetrated to the causes of things, and 
found that it was the English system, and not the Irish character, 
that was to blame." 

With such evidence of the results of exclusion from civil 
rights, I saw a growing disposition in favour of a change 
of measures, and this disposition, I was convinced, had 
neutralised many whose dislike to popeiy might otherwise 
have made them the determined opposers of every proposal 
to release Catholicism from the bonds which were imposed 
upon it by the fears or the hatred of a less enlightened and 
less tolerant age. Mr. Oxlad, a baptist minister, made an 
eloquent speech, at Chester, in which he expressed the 
sentiments of many who were beginning to think that a 
blind opposition to the claims of catholics was not the best 
way to promote the interests of protestantism. He said : 

"Aspiring demagogues, enlisted on the side of popery, can only 
succeed where the people have then* minds irritated into asperities by 
political injuries. Where they have the means of education, admit 
them to equal rights allow them no pretence for complaining as 
citizens, and your turbulent demagogues lose their influence find no 
materials to work upon, and they are deprived of the only vantage 
ground on which they can ever stand. The political discontents of 
the catholics are the only reasons for alarm, for which emancipation 
is the only cure, and for which our opponents can advise no substitute 


but the augmentation of the discontents. Oppress them, and you 
make them your enemies, and awaken, if you do not justify, their rage. 
You have been exhorted this morning not to suffer the claws of the 
lion to grow which your ancestors pared the propriety of which 
metaphor I shall not question, and only add, that it would be well to 
remember, the lion, when starved and ill-treated, becomes rampant 
and outrageous. Whilst, however, I differ from many in estimating 
the danger of popery, I do not stand up to defend or excuse the 
system. I speak as a protestant, and a protestant dissenter; and 
without intending any disrespect to the respectable catholic clergy- 
men present, I freely declare my abhorrence of popery ; I long for its 
overthrow ; and would not support the cause of emancipation if I 
thought it would in any degree delay this consummation of my 

There were still many persons who really feared the re- 
vival of the fires in Smithfield, if the laws against catholics 
were made less stringent. It was worth while to show 
these timid people that protestantism could persecute in 
its turn. In an article in the Gazette, I enumerated some 
of the horrible atrocities perpetrated in Scotland, in the 
time between the battle of Both well Brig, in 1679, and 
the revolution of 1688, and said : 

" Be it recollected that these atrocities were not committed by the 
papists. Protestant blood was shed by Protestants. The deadly 
persecution was not directed by the Church of Rome against those 
she considered heretics, but by the Protestant Episcopal Church of 
England against the Protestant Presbyterian Church of Scotland. 
Does any one fear that a conventicle will now be attacked, sword in 
hand, because the preacher has chosen to be ordained by his co-pres- 
byters rather than accept of episcopal ordination ? The doctrines and 
government of both churches remain the same ; but there is a change 
in- the spirit with which the doctrines are held and the government 
administered; and with the example of this change amongst the 
members of the Church of England, and the substitution of a liberal 
and tolerant for a bigoted and intolerant spirit, we are justified in 
believing that whether the doctrines of the Church of Rome be 
changed or not, there is such a change amongst its members, so far 
as the spirit with which those doctrines are held, that persecution of 
any other sect would not now be attempted. For ourselves, we have 


no more apprehension of seeing English liberties exposed to danger 
by Roman Catholic influence, than of seeing a Scotch Presbyterian 
shot by the direction of an English Protestant bishop, for attending 
a prayer meeting. Such things were ; but he is ignorant of the spirit 
of the age, and the character of the people of these realms, who fears 
that such things may now be. Were civil privileges withheld from 
all those who hold the same opinions which were entertained by the 
intolerant two centuries ago, we suspect that the members of many 
religious sects would labour under the disadvantages of exclusion. It 
is peculiarly gratifying to all who value the mild and gentle spirit of 
Christianity, to see that those who seek in the sacred volume not only 
for comfort and consolation under the evils of life, but for rules of 
conduct, are becoming more and more convinced that it is decidedly 
opposed to every species of persecution on account of opinion ; and 
that the unholy zeal which actuated the apostles against the Samari- 
tans, when they solicited the Lord to ' command fire to come down 
from heaven and consume them,' is yielding to the spirit of the 
rebuke with which the call was met." 

At the beginning of 1825, Mr. T. Sowler established the 
Manchester Courier. The tory and anti-catholic gentlemen 
of the town imagined that they were not sufficiently repre- 
sented in the press. They had seen the whig Guardian in 
three years and a half attain a circulation of 2,200, and the 
sale of the whig-radical Gazette in half a year after it had 
been my property advanced from 1,000 to 1,500, each with 
a proportionate share of advertisements. There were four 
other newspapers, the Mercury ', the Chronicle, the British 
Volunteer, and the Exchange Herald ; the three first were 
ultra tory, the last what would be now called conservative, 
but the circulation of all together not amounting to so 
much as that of the two liberal papers, both of which 
were progressive, while the others were retrograding. 
Mr. Wheeler did not think his Chronicle needed improve- 
ment ; Mr. Harrop left his Mercury and British Volunteer 
to be compiled by his compositors from the files of London 
and provincial papers, each, scissors in hand, cutting out, 
as " copy," what suited his own taste in politics or poetry, 
dog fighting or horse racing ; and Mr. Aston was too gen 



and too benevolent to make his Herald the vehicle of any 
fierce discussion. A new tory paper was necessary, and 
Mr. T. Sowler was chivalrous enough to undertake to find 
his party an organ. The object was to counteract the 
influence of the whig and the whig-radical press. Mr. 
Taylor had the reputation of knowing something more 
than the value of raw cotton, and I was understood to 
know a thing or two beyond Glasgow muslins and Man- 
chester shirtings and ginghams. It was desirable that 
the editor of the new paper should be a man of literary 
reputation an author by profession one whose name in 
the republic of letters should scare out of the field the men 
of cotton bags and cambrics. Mr. Alaric Watts was the 
chosen champion, a writer of some pretty poetry and some 
sharp criticisms on the fine arts, and, besides, a member of 
the cliques of London literati excellent editorial qualifica- 
tions, no doubt ; but, unfortunately, he knew nothing of 
political science, and, as a poet, had disdained to acquire 
any knowledge of political economy. I had a brief tilt with 
him, but soon returned to the rule I had laid down, rather 
to teach truths than to be combatting against easily-refuted 
error. The Guardian and the Courier, however, found it 
convenient to continue the warfare. It was an easy thing 
to vindicate toryism by attacking the whig Guardian, and 
it was as easy to vindicate whiggism by at acking the 
Courier. By continuing this warfare the public might at 
length be led to believe that there was no other party in 
Manchester than the party whig and the party tory, and 
that there were no other papers than the Guardian and the 
Courier that represented any portion of public opinion, 
so the tilting has continued from that day to this 
tys, and even now, as if there were some real points of 

Perence between them. The meeting in the Manor Court 
in favour of catholic emancipation set this petty 
a going. The Courier said that one half of the 

misitionists were Unitarians; the Guardian, that this 


was false. The Courier called for the names of those who 
were not Unitarians ; the Guardian called on the Courier 
to name those who were Unitarians ; and so the discussion 
went on for weeks together ! 

The Pitt Club needing some revivification, Mr. Watts's 
poetical talents were brought into requisition. The Duke of 
York's health, for his " so-help-me-God " speech, was given 
with three times three cheers and three cheers more. " The 
Cheshire Fox Hounds," coupled with the name of Sir Harry 
Mainwaring, had also three times three ; and Watts's bac- 
chanalian song, which was sung with great glee, and the 
burthen of which was, that 

" One drop less than a bumper would not be the thing ; 
When the drinkers are tories, the toast is the king," 

procured for him the same honour that had been conferred 
on the hounds. It was described as a " most cordial and 
convivial meeting," for there was plenty of noise and plenty 
of wine, and every man appears to have cordially agreed 
with the maker of the song 

" Let whigs drink and be dumb we will make the roof ring !" 

And they did make the roof ring with toasts the utterance 
of which would now be considered as an outrage to common 
decency, even in a tap-room. These were the exultant days 
of a certain " captain," of whom we shall hear something 
in 1831. 



FROM: the real and the apparent prosperity of this period, 
arose the proposal of some really useful public undertakings, 
some of which were afterwards carried into effect. In the 
Manchester Gazette of the 1st of January, 1825, are the 
resolutions of a meeting to form a railway between Man- 
chester and Bolton, with a capital of 100,000, a sum found 
to be very inadequate to the object. In the same paper is 
the prospectus of a railway from London to Manchester, 
by way of Birmingham, to be afterwards extended from 
Manchester to Hull ; the sum proposed for this great work 
being only 2,500,000. In the paper of January 8th, is 
the prospectus of the Manchester and Leeds Railway, with 
a proposed capital of 500,000. In the same paper is a 
notice that 1,000 shares of 100 each, had been subscribed 
for the Manchester, Stockport, and Peak Forest Railway, 
and that double the amount would be sufficient for the 
purpose. In the paper of January 15th, is the prospectus 
of the Grand Junction Railway, with a capital of 2,000,000; 
on January 22nd, appears the prospectus of the Manchester 
Central Junction Railway, to connect Manchester by a line 
passing through Stockport, Chelford, Congleton with the 
proposed line from Liverpool to Birmingham. On January 
29th, there is the prospectus of a Manchester and Oldham 
Railway. On February 5th, there is the prospectus of a 
dp canal from the mouth of the river Dee to Manchester, 
-a project much laughed at and derided, but which will 
)bably be revived, with better effect, at some future day. 
>n the 12th of February I find the resolutions of the 
Committee of the Manchester and Liverpool Railway, and an 


announcement that a petition to the House of Commons 
in its favour will lie at the Exchange Room for signature. 
These were some of the more sober schemes of a period 
which was characterised by the wildest speculation. 

There is a class of persons who imagine that every 
depression of trade might be averted by a liberal issue of 
paper money. The extension of the currency in 1823-4 
and 5 had encouraged a spirit of speculation which per- 
vaded the whole country. Men there were then who held 
that nothing more was necessary to secure the continuance 
of apparent and, as they supposed, real prosperity, than the 
issue of more " promises to pay." The nation was drunk, 
and the prescription of the currency doctors was to increase 
the potency of the exhilarating draught. But the foreign 
exchanges were against us ; gold began to leave the coun- 
try; and the Bank of England had greatly to limit its 
issues, to prevent its coffers being drained of the precious 
metals. The country banks had deluged the country with 
one-pound notes, and the facility of obtaining discounts had 
encouraged the manufacture of a large amount of accommo- 
dation bills on the part of merchants and traders, who were 
in haste to make hay while the sun shone. It was obvious 
that such a state of things could not continue. In Manches- 
ter and its immediate vicinity the issue of small rags had 
been steadily discountenanced, and, in consequence, the 
paper transactions represented, in a great degree, actual 
sales ; and there was in circulation a greater proportion of 
Bank of England notes, and of gold and silver, when com- 
pared with the paper issued by provincial banks, than there 
was in any other part of the kingdom. But the country 
could not generally suffer without involving Manchester 
in the calamity. The country bankers, by the end of 
November, 1825, began to make heavy demands on the 
discounting houses in London. One house, which used 
to have about thirty applications on a Monday, had, on 
Monday, November 28th, no fewer than three hundred. 


The failure of Sir William Elford's bank, at Plymouth, 
added to the alarm in the London money market, and a run 
on the Plymouth banks forced the bankers into London to 
obtain, at any cost, the means to meet the sudden demand. 
The failure of the great bank of Wentworth and Co., 
Wakefield, added to the general alarm in the metropolis, 
and occasioned quite a panic in the manufacturing districts 
in Yorkshire. In Manchester the circulation of provincial 
notes was instantaneously stopped. Every one hastened to 
' pay away what he had, but no one would receive them ; 
and every note (except those which were payable there, 
and which were promptly exchanged for gold, till long past 
the usual banking hours) became, for the time, nothing 
more than waste paper. In the corn market business was 
almost entirely suspended ; cheese, which had been weighed 
out by the ton for the country shopkeepers, was put back 
again when it was found that the buyers had nothing to 
pay with but country paper ; and the shopkeepers, in many 
instances, chose rather to give credit to persons who were 
almost strangers to them, than to take payment in a medium 
which had ceased to be current. 

The general alarm was greatly increased when, on Satur- 
day evening, December 10th, it was announced that the 
London banking house of Sir Peter Pole, Bart., Thornton 
and Company, had determined not to open their doors on 
the Monday, and that Dobson and Co., of Huddersfield, 
had stopped payment. The run on the banks in Wakefield, 
Huddersfield, and Halifax was terrific, but timely supplies 
and declarations of confidence from the leading manufac- 
jrs sustained them in the emergency. From Oldham to 

)bcross the road was a scene of complete hurry and bustle, 
lesmen and manufacturers being seen hastening on their 

ty to exchange the paper of the Saddleworth banks for 

)ld. On the Wednesday bills were distributed, to which 
were attached the signatures of upwards of two hundred 
individuals or firms, stating that " the undersigned, feeling 
N 2 


satisfied as to the responsibility of the two respectable 
banking houses of Buckley, Roberts, and Co., and Harrop, 
Brown, and Co., of Saddleworth, and foreseeing the ruinous 
consequences to trade which must be produced by suddenly 
withdrawing from circulation the provincial promissory 
notes, do hereby express our determination to take their 
notes, as usual, to any amount." This publication restored 
confidence in the stability of the Saddleworth banks, 
although from Manchester there was a continued demand 
upon them for gold in exchange for their paper, influenced 
by some resentment that after former efforts to get rid of 
their notes there should still be so many of them in circu- 
lation. In my paper of December 31st I find the following 
list of the failures of country banks : 

Ashburton. Brown and Co. Will pay every demand in January. 

Alton. Levy and Co. 

Banbury. Gillett and Co. Stopped in consequence of the failure 
of Gibbons and Co., Birmingham. 

Bedford. Bawlings and Co. 

Birmingham. Gibbons, Smith, and Bood. 

Boston. Ingelow and Co. 

Bristol. Brown, Cavanagh, and Co. 

Bath. Cavanagh, Brown, and Co., and Smith, Mover, and Co. 

Bradford, Wakefield, and York. Wentworth, Chaloner, and Co. 

Brighton. Lashmal and Muggeridge, and Gregory, Tamplin, and 

Cheltenham and Gloucester. Turners and Morris. 

Tewkesbury and Evesham. Hartland and Son. 

Chertsey. Lacoste and Co. Since resumed. 

Cambridge. Hillock and Co. 

Chelmsford. Craket, Bussell, and Co. 

Daventry. Watkins, and Co. In consequence of the suspension 
of Sykes and Co. 

Dorchester. E. Pattison and Co. In consequence of the suspen- 
sion of Williams and Co. 

Dorking. Piper and Co. 

Devonport. Shields and Johns. 

Darlington. Skinner and Co. Since resumed. 

Deal. May and Co. 



Diss. Fincham and Son. 

Falmouth. Carne, Lake, and Carnes. 

Gravesend. Branchley and Co. 

Hereford. Garratt and Son. 

HincJcley. Jervis and Co., and Sansoms and Co., who botli drew 

on Sir P. Pole and Co. 
Huddersfield. John Dobson and Son. 
Kettering. Gotch and Son, and Keen and Co. 
Kingston (Surrey?) Shrubsole and Co. 
Lewes. Wood, Hall, and Co. 
Leicester. Clarke and Philips. All demands seem likely to be 

paid in full. 
Maidstone. Edmeads, Atkins, and Tyrell, who drew on Sir P. 

Pole and Co. 

Monmouth. Sneed and Co. Notes still current. 
MelJcsham. Mowle, Son, and Co. Will soon resume. 
Malton. Crichet, Eussell, and Co. 
Nawtwich. Broughton and Grarnett. 
Newcastle-under-Lyne. Sparrow and Co. 
Norwich (and various branches.) T. H. and W. Day. 
Northampton. Smith, Osborne, and Co. 
Peterborough. Simpson, White, and Co. 
Plymouth. Sir W. Elford and Co. 
Poole and Wimborne. Dean, Clapcott, and Co. 
Romford. Joyner and Co., who drew on Esdaile and Co. ; and 

Joyner and Co., who drew on Gill and Co. 
Ripon and Knaresbro\ Charnock and Thackray. 
Saffron Walden. Searle, Son, and Co., and Searle and Co. 
Southampton. "Killon and Pritchard. Have fixed an early day for 

payment of notes. 
St. Neots.Riz, Gorham, and Co. 
Sheerness. E. Bishop. 
Stockton. Hutchinson and Place. 
Swansea. Gibbons, Eaton, and Co., and Haines. 
Teivlcesbury. Hartland and Co. 

Weymouth. Henning, Bower, and Co. 

Wellingbrd'. Morton and Co. 

Winchester. Deane and Co. Since resumed. 

Windsor. Eamsbottom and Leigh. 

Wimborne. Dean and Co. 

Wisbeach. Hill and Son. 

Whitehaven. Johnson, Adams, and Co. 


The failure of so many country banks caused an almost 
unparalleled number of bankruptcies amongst country 
drapers, and these failures bore very heavily on the whole- 
sale houses in Manchester, London, and Bristol, who were 
also, generally holding large stocks, greatly sufferers by the 
sudden fall of the prices of goods. For a time the home 
trade was completely paralysed, and the manufactures 
which should have gone to the home supply, were thrown 
upon the foreign market, working out a further reduction 
of prices. Under these circumstances manufacturers ceased 
to produce, and tens of thousands of the working classes 
were at once thrown out of employment, who bore their 
distress with most exemplary patience. For a year and a 
half I had applied myself as a journalist to explain the 
circumstances which regulated the wages of labour, and 
had succeeded in convincing such of them as were able to 
buy my paper, at a time when government exacted a duty 
of threepence-farthing on every newspaper sheet, that a 
reduction of prices was occasioned, far less by the grasping 
cupidity of masters, than by a mistaken or a selfish legisla- 
tion, under which masters and men suffered alike severely. 
This conviction did much to prevent that bitterness of 
feeling which had been the occasion of many long-enduring 
contests between employers and employed. A number of 
persons so instructed, seeing that the corn-laws, in their 
double operation of limiting the demand for labour, and 
consequently its reward, and raising the price of food, 
were deeply injurious to the manufacturing interests of the 
country, resolved to hold a meeting to petition for their 
repeal, and it was held in the Manor Court Room, on the 
24th of January, 1826, and was attended by from 1,500 to 
2,000 persons, principally of the working classes ; but 
amongst them were a considerable number of the more 
wealthy inhabitants of the town, attracted less perhaps by 
the importance of the subject to be discussed, than by a 
desire to be auditors of an eloquence which few supposed 


to be possessed by the working people, till I had given 
reports of some of their meetings, which, previously, the 
Manchester newspapers had passed over without notice. 
A working man was called to the chair, and requested 
attention to every speaker, whether his sentiments were 
or were not in accordance with those of the meeting 
generally. Another working man, named Foster, who 
had taken an active part in promoting Hobhouse's bill for 
shortening, with the consent of the principal master cotton 
spinners, the hours of labour in factories, proposed the 
first resolution. He said, that the landed interest, in 
order to shift the burthen of taxation from their own 
shoulders, had thrown it upon the shoulders of the manu- 
facturers, and that they, in their turn, had to give less in 
wages, and thus the load came ultimately to be borne by 
the working classes. He congratulated the meeting that 
they could now meet to give expression to their grievances, 
and that they did not now assemble to attack the butchers' 
and bakers' shops, but to petition against the continuance 
of laws which were injurious to all classes of the com- 
munity except the landlord class. Jonathan Hodgins, who 
had distinguished himself by his speech on catholic eman- 
cipation, in seconding the resolution, said that the time 
had been when masters and men contended with each 
other, but now they might cordially unite to give a decisive 
blow to the system which impoverished them both, a 
system which, more than all the tyranny that employers 
had ever exercised, tended to oppress the people. It is 
rather curious that when a dinner, some twenty years after 
this period, was given by the English merchants in St. 
Petersburg to Mr. Cobden, this same Hodgins should argue 
in favour of the continuance of the corn-law ! He had been 
engaged as the manager of a cotton mill in Russia, and 
the humble salary at which he was first employed had been 
gradually raised till he was in possession of an income of 
600 a year. The meeting of the merchants and manu- 


facturers of Manchester had been to obtain a revision of the 
corn-laws ; the meeting of the working classes was to pray 
for their total repeal. 

While the working men were thus proving their capacity 
to exercise political rights, the boroughreeve and constables 
manifested a spirit which was worthy of the palmiest days 
of the church-and-king clubs. A requisition was presented 
to them on the 1st of February to call a public meeting to 
consider the propriety of petitioning parliament on the 
subject of negro slavery in our colonies, and in support of 
his majesty's government in their declared intention to 
ameliorate the condition of the slave population. It was 
signed by 153 individuals of the highest respectability, and 
the subject proposed to be discussed was one which, how- 
ever viewed as to its humanity and policy, could not by any 
possibility have given rise to that warmth of contention 
which occasionally took place when political parties came 
into collision. The requisitionists asked no more than that 
their fellow-townsmen should be called together to consider 
the propriety of petitioning the legislature to give effect to 
its own resolutions. That a refusal would be given to such 
a requisition, no one could have anticipated ; for even sup- 
posing the gentlemen who filled the offices of boroughreeve 
and constables to be so unfortunate in their opinions as 
conscientiously to believe that nothing should be done to 
ameliorate the condition of slaves, no one could have 
imagined that they would have stood in the way of the 
support which their townsmen, by a public expression of 
their sentiments, were disposed to give to his majesty's 
government. So little was it anticipated that these gen- 
tlemen would put their veto to such a requisition, that 
when the question was asked what should be done if they 
were unwilling to call a meeting, such a result was consi- 
dered too improbable to make any ulterior measure a matter 
of discussion. They did, however, refuse. The borough- 
reeve and constables of Manchester did actually refuse to 


convene a meeting, at which it was proposed to strengthen 
the hands of his majesty's ministers, by a public expression 
of the approval which, their humane interposition in behalf 
of the injured negro race had obtained from all ranks and 
every party. "After much consideration," said they, "we 
have felt it our duty to decline calling the public meeting 
proposed in the highly respectable requisition presented to 
us this day" ! In Bristol, or in Liverpool, while the inhabi- 
tants were fully engaged in the guilty traffic of buying and 
selling their fellow-men, and when self-interest warped the 
judgment and deadened the sense of justice, and humanity 
slept, and the cry of God's creatures was unheard except in 
heaven in such times a refusal to call a meeting might not 
have been thought wonderful, though even there the refusal 
on the part of municipal officers might have been considered 
an ungracious prejudgment of the question which it was 
proposed to discuss. The boroughreeve was Mr. William 
Lomas ; the constables were Messrs. Charles Cross and J. 
B. Wanklyn. Their refusal did not, however, prevent the 
meeting being held, and from that time to the total abolition 
of slavery Manchester took a prominent part in the humane 

The manufacturers of Manchester and its vicinity, in the 
belief that the prosperity of 1824 and 1825 would continue, 
had been producing largely, and had considerable stocks on 
hand at the termination of the latter year. The sudden 
and extraordinary depression of trade made it unprofitable 
to produce more until prices had found their level ; and 
although a humane consideration of the distress of the 
working classes led many to strive to keep on a portion of 
their hands, a very great number of them were thrown out 
of employment. For the relief of these, subscriptions were 
raised in most of the manufacturing towns, and in Man- 
chester the amount subscribed, by the end of April, 1826, 
exceeded 8,000, which was expended in a weekly distri- 
bution of provisions. The unemployed had borne their 

N 3 


privations with a most exemplary patience ; but the unin- 
structed multitude began to think that the extensive use of 
machinery was a main cause of their distress ; and as the 
hand-loom weavers were more out of employment than any 
other class of operatives, they attributed their wretchedness 
to the introduction of steam-looms. This was a class of 
workers who, even when in employment, could not afford 
to read a seven-penny newspaper, which might have been 
threepence-halfpenny but for the government tax. There 
was a heavy penalty on the acquisition of knowledge, and 
they remained ignorant ; and an ignorant is seldom a peace- 
able people. At Accrington, on the evening of Tuesday, 
April 18th, a mob of probably two thousand persons as- 
sembled round the steam-loom factory of Messrs. Sykes, 
and proceeded to break the windows. The manager, who 
went out to address the misguided multitude, w r as assaulted 
and treated very roughly, and, fears being entertained that 
still greater violence would be resorted to, the military were 
sent for. On the following evening, when the market 
coach from Manchester arrived at Blackburn, it was assailed 
by a crowd of people, who showered stones upon it, and 
some of the manufacturers, who were in and upon it, 
received severe bruises. 

On the evening of the day on which disturbances were 
commenced at Accrington, Mr. Whitmore brought on his 
motion in the House of Commons for a committee to inquire 
into the operation of the corn-laws. It was strenuously 
opposed by Mr. Huskissou. He had promised, in the 
previous session, that the question should be brought before 
the house, but the circumstances of the Country, he said, 
were now different ; the subject required a more serious 
consideration than could now be given to it ; anxious as 
he was for free trade, it would be highly impolitic and 
injurious to repeal the corn-laws ; it would tend to aggra- 
vate rather than lessen the evil ! This was uttered at the 
very moment when starving weavers were attacking power- 



loom factories uttered at the very time when there was 
abundance of wheat to be had on the continent at half the 
price to which the corn-laws had raised it in England. 
The house supported the minister of trade. There were 
only 81 votes in favour of Mr. Whitmore's motion, and 251 
against it. I remarked on these coincidences : 

" While we would strongly mark our condemnation of every act of 
violence, whatever may be the actuating causes, and whatever excuse 
extreme wretchedness may give, we feel it our duty to say that if the 
legislature do not immediately adopt measures for the alleviation of 
the distresses of the people, it will incur all the guilt of permitting 
thousands to die of actual starvation. By a reference to a table of 
prices of grain at different foreign ports, which will be found in the 
first page, it will be seen that the monopoly enjoyed by the owners of 
the soil in this country has raised the price of corn to nearly double 
what it might be were the trade open. Will any man, not wilfully 
blind to the truth, dare to assert, that while the people are starving, 
things ought to remain in this state ? We had hopes that the liberal 
spirit which has been recently shown by the administration would be 
communicated to that house which ought to represent the people, 
and that this odious and oppressive monopoly would be destroyed ; 
but the result of Tuesday night's debate on the corn-laws has driven 
us back to our old conviction, that, constituted as the house now is, 
the interests of the individuals who compose it will always be regarded 
in preference to those of the community." 

The disturbances at Accrington and Blackburn were only 
preliminary to others of more serious consequences. On 
Monday, April 24th, a great number of persons assembled 
on some high ground at Henfield, between Blackburn and 
Burnley, from whence they proceeded in a body to Accring- 
ton, where their arrival had been fearfully expected. They 
immediately surrounded the mill of Messrs. Sykes and Co., 
and a part of the body entered the mill and began to demo- 
lish the power-looms, sixty in number, which, in the short 
space of a quarter of an hour, they broke completely to 
pieces, destroying also the dressing machines, and materially 
injuring the engine. They then proceeded to Rough Hey, 


where twenty looms in the factory of Mr. Walmsley were 
smashed to pieces. Mr. Bury's factory at White Ash was 
next attacked, and the power-looms, eighty in number, were 
demolished. The military were called in, but the rioters 
had finished their work and were on their march to Black- 
burn. There they immediately proceeded to the factory 
of Bannister, Eccles, and Co., where they deliberately 
destroyed the looms. A troop of thirty soldiers was drawn 
out, but could not act, as there was no magistrate present 
to direct it. The factory of Mr. Oughton, at Grimshaw 
Park, was next attacked, and twenty-four looms broken. 
The soldiers arrived nearly as soon as the rioters, and were 
assailed with stones. In firing in return there was one man 
killed and two dangerously wounded. The rioters then 
retired to Blackburn for the night. 

On Tuesday an attack was made on Turner's mill, at 
Helmshore ; but, a small body of the Queen's Bays making 
its appearance, the rioters fled, leaving, however, fourteen 
of their number in the mill, who were taken into custody 
while engaged in the work of demolition. They were con- 
veyed to Haslingden ; but there the fury of the multitude 
was so great, that it was thought prudent to set them at 

On Wednesday morning, several hundred persons col- 
lected at Rawtenstall, and commenced the work of destruc- 
tion by demolishing one hundred looms, in the factory of 
Messrs. Whitehead. The mob, then, with a great acces- 
sion of numbers, proceeded to Mr. Kaye's mill, at Long- 
holm, where, in a few minutes, they destroyed about twenty 
looms. The next attack was upon the factory of Rostron 
and Sons, at Edenfield, where one hundred looms were 
instantly broken to pieces. The rioters then proceeded 
towards Chadderton, and were met on the road by a small 
party of soldiers, accompanied by Mr. William Grant, one 
of the county magistrates a man of great benevolence, 
and much beloved and respected by the country people 


who addressed them on the folly and wickedness of their 
conduct, and urged them to return to their own homes. 
His advice was disregarded, and the Kiot Act was read. 
This had the effect to disperse them for a time ; but they 
re-assembled, and proceeded to Aikin and Lord's factory. 
Here, being kept in check by the military, they could do 
no mischief, and they moved in the direction of Ramsbottom, 
followed by the soldiers. The field being clear, a number 
of persons who were left behind forced themselves into the 
factory and destroyed the whole of the looms. The soldiers 
were recalled, and on their return were assailed by the mob, 
who showered stones upon them, by which several were 
severely hurt. They were then ordered to fire, and the 
consequences were that three men were killed on the spot, 
and a man and woman were wounded, both of whom died 
in a few hours afterwards. The mob now divided into two 
bodies, one of which went off in the direction of Bacup, 
the other in the direction of Bury. The latter attacked 
the factory of Hanier and Son, at Summerseat, and in the 
course of ten minutes broke thirty-eight looms. They then 
went to Mr. Whitehead's factory at Woodhill, close to Bury, 
where they broke thirty-eight looms. The body which had 
taken the road to Bacup, destroyed six woollen looms at 
Messrs. Ormrod and Son's, of Holt Mill, and also a few at 
Hargreaves' and Hardham's, Bacup. About five o'clock 
they broke open the door of Mr. Munn's factory, and a 
person who was present noticed that they were exactly 
thirty-five minutes in breaking the looms, 51 in number. 
This terminated the riotous proceedings of that day. 

While these disturbances were taking place in the neigh- 
bourhood, veiy little apprehension existed that they would 
extend to Manchester. Some alarm, however, was excited 
on Thursday, by a body of men marching through the 
principal streets in procession, and by an announcement, 
that in the evening a meeting of those who were unem- 
ployed would take place in St. George's Fields. At six 


in the evening the proposed meeting took place. It was 
addressed by one or two individuals, who urged upon those 
who were present the necessity of standing firmly to each 
other, to destroy the power-looms, which, they said, were 
the cause of their being unemployed, and assured them no 
military force could withstand them, if they would only 
assert their rights like men. Amongst the persons led by 
curiosity to the place of meeting was Jonathan Hodgins, a 
man whose name had been made pretty well known by his 
plain and untutored eloquence, and who, feeling, as he 
afterwards assured me, that he should not do his duty if he 
did not oppose the mischievous persons who endeavoured 
to excite the people to violence, ventured forward, and 
succeeded in obtaining a hearing. He expressed his sym- 
pathy with the distress which probably all who heard him 
experienced, but, he asked, could they relieve it by attack- 
ing provision shops, or destroying looms ? " No," said he, 
" the only possible result of such violence would be, that 
they \vould suffer under the swords of the military, and 
that not the slightest alteration would be made in the 
system of which they complained. The parish was bound 
to support the distressed ; and if the parish officers did not 
grant assistance, the applicants might appeal to the magis- 
trate, who would order them relief. Till all these legal 
resources were tried, every attempt to obtain their purpose 
by other means was illegal.'' Mr. Hodgins's address was 
at first listened to with some impatience ; and even when 
he had gained a favourable hearing from the majority, 
there was a manifestation of feeling amongst a part of the 
people which was rather alarming. 

At this time I arrived at the outside of the assemblage, 
accompanied by two young friends. In pressing forward 
to hear what was passing, the crowd fell away on each side, 
opening an avenue for our advance. As I was known to 
many working men, I thought I might have an opportunity 
of advising them of the consequences of the lawless pro- 


ceedings of the strangers who had come to excite them to 
action ; but I was somewhat alarmed when I saw that the 
opening made for our advance was instantly closed behind 
us, and that we were completely hemmed in. When we 
got into the middle of the circle, Hodgins, thus reinforced, 
continued his address, and urged the meeting to petition 
against the corn-laws, the repeal of which might give them 
some relief, and to refrain from violence, which would only 
recoil upon themselves. I then got on a high pile of bricks, 
and, what with the insecurity of my footing, the coldness 
of the day, and the apprehension that I was making a 
rather hazardous experiment, I did not feel that I was stand- 
ing very firmly on my legs. Some threatening cries were 
uttered, but were met by shouts of " Hear him." I told 
them that I had attended a meeting in the police-office that 
very morning, at which the individuals present had sub- 
scribed 1,000 as the commencement of a new subscription 
for the relief of the distress, although they had all been 
contributors to the 8,000 fund, which had already been 
expended; that the king had sent 1,000 to the Man- 
chester, the same sum to the Blackburn, and the same 
sum to the Macclesfield funds ; that there was every dis- 
position amongst the merchants, manufacturers, and shop- 
keepers, notwithstanding the very heavy losses they had 
recently incurred, and the large amount of poor-rates they 
had to pay, to do their utmost to relieve the distressed; 
and that there was ready for distribution next day nearly 
20,000 Ibs. of bacon, and more than 100,000 Ibs. of meal. 
The announcement of this liberality was favourably received, 
and I went on to say that I had, for the last ten years, been 
an attentive observer of the conduct of the working men in 
Manchester; that I had never, during that period, seen 
any attempt of theirs to destroy private property, and I 
begged and prayed, as they respected the reputation they 
hud acquired for exemplary patience, that they would con- 
tinue to manifest the same disposition; that they would 


not listen to the strangers who had come there to urge 
them to acts of violence and destruction, but would all 
follow me out of the field, and peaceably depart to their 
own homes. I then left the place, and was followed by 
probably 3,000 out of the 5,000 or 6,000 who had con- 
gregated. The rest remained on the field, mostly mere 
lads, mixed with the strangers who had come down the 
valley of the Irwell, marking their progress by destruction. 
I instantly gave notice at the police-office of the nature 
of the meeting, and urged the magistrates who were there 
assembled, in mercy to the lads who were likely to be led 
into violence, to send a troop of horse into the neighbour- 
hood, being assured that the very sound of their hoofs 
would disperse the crowds. One of the magistrates said it 
was rather inconsistent that I, who had found so much 
fault with the employment of soldiers on the 16th of 
August, 1819, should now recommend that they should 
be called out. I replied that there was no inconsistency in 
it: on the 1 6th of August, troops were directed against a 
legally convened and peaceably assembled meeting ; here 
was a meeting, the avowed object of which was to destroy 
property, and might be dispersed by the mere show of 
power without bloodshed. The military were not in readi- 
ness till ten o'clock, and by that time Beaver's factory, in 
Jersey-street, had been set fire to in half-a-dozen places, 
and burnt down nearly to the ground. On the following 
day the magistrates ordered the Queen's Bays to parade 
the streets, and this had the effect of repressing the dis- 
turbances, which were confined to the plunder of some 
bread shops. 



ON Monday, May 1st (1826), Mr. Secretary Canning an- 
nounced that ministers intended to apply to parliament to 
vest in them the discretionary power to allow the foreign 
corn then in bond to come into consumption, and to admit 
the importation of wheat, limiting the quantity to 500,000 
quarters, at a duty of twelve shillings, asserting the 
emergency as a reason for a temporary deviation from the 
principle of protection. No discussion on the corn-law was 
permitted, both Mr. Canning and Mr. Huskisson declaring 
that then " was not the time." There was not a single 
argument used in favour of a temporary suspension of the 
corn-laws that would not have been applicable to their total 
repeal. The admission of so much wheat which otherwise 
would have rotted in the bonding warehouses, together with 
very liberal subscriptions in London and in all the large 
towns, and the prospect of a great amount of employment 
being given in constructing the Liverpool and Manchester 
Railway, did much to allay the existing discontent, and to 
preserve the peace. An admirable address to the unem- 
ployed, written from Rouen in France, by Mr. Edward 
Baines, jun., of Leeds, and widely circulated amongst those 
classes which were unable to purchase the heavily taxed 
newspaper, had also a considerable effect in showing that 
the extension of machinery had not been the cause of 

A general election took place during a period of almost 
unexampled suffering. The general body of the people 
took no interest in the choice of members, who, in the then 
state of the representation, were only the nominees of the 



landed aristocracy, or of the owners of rotten boroughs. 
While the farce of election was going on all around us, I 
employed myself in examining the actual state of the re- 
presentative system, and culled out some proofs of the 
falsehood of denominating the members of the House of 
Commons representatives of the people. At the previous 
census, the population of the unrepresented parish of Man- 
chester amounted to 187,031. Being desirous to ascertain 
how many represented boroughs would give a population 
equal to that of this large unrepresented parish, I set about 
adding up the numbers in each, and found that the popula- 
tion of one hundred boroughs, each sending two members, 
amounted to only 185,197. The following is the list : 

Amndel 2511 

Ashburton 3403 

Aldborough 1212 

Aldborough 735 

Amersham 2612 

Appleby 1341 

Barkway 993 

Bishop's Castle 1880 

Bletchingly 1187 

Bodmin 3278 

Boroughbridge 860 

Bossiney and Tintagel . . . 877 

Brackley 1851 

Bramben 98 

Buckingham 3465 

Bedwin 1928 

Beer Ferris 2191 

Corfe Castle 1465 

Callington 1321 

Castle Eising 343 

Chippenham 3506 

Clitheroe 3213 

Cockermouth 3790 

Chricklade 1485 

Dorchester 2743 

Doronton , .. 3114 

Droitwich 2176 

Dunwich 200 

Evesham 3487 

Eye 1882 

Fenny Stratford 521 

Fowey 1455 

Galton 135 

Grimsby 3064 

Grimstead 3153 

Guilford 3161 

Haslemere 887 

Hedon 902 

Helston 2671 

Heylesbury 1329 

Higham Ferrers 877 

Hindon 830 

Honiton 3296 

Huntingdon 2806 

Hythe 2181 

Ilchester 944 

Launceston 2183 

Liskeard 3519 

Loe, East 770 

Loe, West 539 

Lostwitheal 933 

LudgersHall 477 



Lyme Regis 2269 

Lymington 3164 

Maldon 3198 

Malmesbury 1976 

Marlborough 1338 

Midhurst 1335 

Milborne Port 1440 

Newport 977 

Oakhampton 2023 

Oxford 1119 

Petersfield 1152 

Penryn 2933 

Plympton 762 

Queenbury 881 

Eetford 2465 

Richmond 3516 

Romney 962 

Rye 3599 

Ryegate 2961 

Saltash 1548 

Sandwich 2912 

Sarum, Old 

Seaford 1047 

Shaftesbury 2903 

Shoreham 1047 

Steyniug 1324 

St. Gtermains 2404 

St. Ives 3526 

St. Mawes 1648 

St. Michael's 201 

Stockbridge 715 

Thetford 2922 

Thirsk 3502 

Tiverton 1500 

Totness 1035 

Tregony 2712 

Truro 2712 

Wallingford 2093 

Wareham 1931 

Wendover 1602 

Wenlock 2200 

Weobly 739 

Whitchurch 1434 

Wilton 2058 

Winchelsea 819 

Woodstock 1455 

Wootten Basset 1701 

Yarmouth, Isle of Wight 564 

Each of these miserable villages sending two members of 
parliament, while Manchester, with a population greater 
than that of the whole put together, did not send one, and 
while Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Ashton, and Stock- 
port did not send one, was it wonderful that there should 
be deep discontent ? Was it not more wonderful that there 
should be any tranquillity any submission ? The publi- 
cation of this list, over and over again, in every possible 
shape, and year after year, did some good. Was there a 
single instance of disregard of public opinion, out came the 
list to show that the people were not represented. Was 
there a single instance of class legislation, out came the list 
to show that nothing better was to be expected. Men 
committed it to memory, and taught from it as from a text. 
There was nothing new in it ; anybody could have compiled 


it ; anybody could have contrasted Old Sanim with Man- 
chester. But the fact that one hundred boroughs sent two 
hundred members, the whole of those places not containing 
so many inhabitants as the single unrepresented parish of 
Manchester, sunk into men's minds, and prepared them for 
the subsequent contest. An article from my paper of the 
15th of July, printed in small type, on the " Causes and 
Cure of the Present Distress," was sold in thousands, and 
carried instruction to tens of thousands, who seldom had a 
chance of seeing a sevenpenny newspaper. 

In August it was determined to hold a meeting, at which 
public opinion might be expressed upon the state of the 
country. A short time previously the boroughreeve and 
constables had refused to call a meeting to take the ques- 
tion of slavery into consideration ; and it was resolved that 
application should not be made in this instance to those 
petty officers of the lord of the manor. The requisition 
to call a public meeting was, therefore, addressed to the 
churchwardens, who, being elected by the rate-payers, 
might be supposed willing to allow their constituents to be 
heard. Those gentlemen refused. This conduct, on the 
part of these two sets of public officers, did much to create 
the desire for the incorporation of the borough, which was 
afterwards effected. The meeting, however, was called, on 
the requisition of the following gentlemen : 

John Potter, Matthew Hedley, R. H. Hargreaves, 

Joseph Leese, Edward Baxter, Thomas Burgess, 

John Shuttleworth, James Simpson, John M'Clure, 

J. S. Jones, Samuel Winks, Robert H. Greg, 

William Croft, Kichard Potter, James Gv Frost, 

James Bayley. William Harvey, R. Henson, 

John Roberts, R. W. Culverwell, J. P. Culverwell, 

Samuel Pope, J. Wood, G. Culverwell, 

Archibald Prentice, Samuel Pullein. 

It will be seen by those who recollect the names of 
gentlemen then known as usually taking a part in public 
business, that thev were few on the above list of the 


persons who were usually designated as " constitutional 
whigs." They held aloof, and represented the movement 
as being likely to endanger the public peace. The meet- 
ing was held, on the 19th, in the Manor Court Room, which 
was crowded to excess ; Mr. Edward Baxter in the chair. 
The first resolution, declaratory of the general distress, 
was proposed by Mr. Richard Potter, who drew a picture 
of the wretchedness of the working people, which was 
listened to with expressions of the deepest sympathy. The 
motion was seconded by Mr. David Holt. The second 
resolution, declaratory of the mischievous operations of the 
corn-laws, was proposed by Mr. John Shuttleworth, who 
ably combatted the argument of the agriculturists that they 
were entitled to protection because they had to bear the 
" peculiar burthens " on land; he disclaimed all protection 
to home manufactures as more mischievous than beneficial ; 
he demanded a recurrence to sound principles in the trade 
in corn as essential to the preservation of our commerce ; 
and strongly urged the necessity and the duty of a strong 
protest against laws which were ruinous to ourselves, and 
likely to shake with foreign states those relations of peace 
and friendship which shed blessings on all ; and for the 
continuance of which a free trade in corn would be an 
additional, probably the most powerful, security. The 
seconder of the resolution was Mr. Mark Philips, afterwards 
member for the borough, who, it was understood, appeared 
at the meeting much against the wishes of some of his 
whig friends, but who saw, in the stern necessities of the 
times, a strong reason for entering his earnest protest 
against the impoverishing corn-laws. At the conclusion of 
his short but energetic speech, which, from a young man 
making his first appearance, the son of an old and firm 
friend of reform, was received with great applause, he 
modestly apologised for addressing the meeting, but said 
that at a time when tens of thousands were suffering the 
deepest distress, it was an imperative duty to stand forward 


and declare the wretchedness which had been occasioned 
by bad legislation. The third resolution, declaratory of 
the excessive pressure of taxation, was proposed by myself. 
I asked if there was anything in the circumstances of the 
country that would justify an expenditure fourteen times 
greater than it was in the reign of George the First? 
Coming to a later period, a period subsequent to that war 
against our colonies, in which we expended a sum the mere 
interest on which was larger than the revenue of the new 
and prosperous republic that had achieved its independence ; 
even with the interest on the debt, the expenditure in 1 792 
was not more than one-fourth of its amount in 1826, after 
eleven years of peace. It appeared that the machinery of 
the state was the only machinery that had not received 
simplification and improvement, and that while art and 
science had combined to lower the cost of everything else, 
the cost of government had daily become greater and 
greater. Mr. Croft, in seconding the motion, said that 
ministers, in reducing the duties on silk while they resisted 
the repeal of the corn-laws, had acted with great incon- 
sistency and great injustice. The other resolutions were 
proposed or seconded by Messrs. William Harvey, Thomas 
Burgess, Benjamin Holbrooke, Fielding, and Pullein. 

The Guardian newspaper had done what it could to 
prevent this meeting being held. Its proprietor had refused 
to sign the requisition, on the ground, as he afterwards 
alleged, that some proposal would emanate from it for 
breaking faith with the public creditor ! After it had 
taken place, for weeks together, he continued to contend 
that the amount of taxation, per head of the population, as 
stated by me, was less than it had been in 1811, leaving 
entirely out of view the great increase in the value of 
money, occasioned by the resumption of cash payments. 
He had, in the previous year, purchased the copyright of 
Harrop's British Volunteer, incorporated that paper with 
the Guardian, and had thus added a thousand tory readers 


to his former subscription list. He was thus enabled to 
announce that his circulation was double that of any other 
Manchester paper, and this occasioned a great influx of 
advertisements, and made him entirely "independent" of 
the whig-radicals who had furnished him with the means 
of establishing his newspaper. This "independence" he 
now manifested in declining the request of Mr. Baxter, a 
gentleman who had been most active in getting up the 
subscription to establish the Guardian, to allow the peti- 
tion to the king to lie at his office for signature. The 
example of Manchester, however, was followed by many 
of the large towns, and ministers, yielding to the outcry 
against the corn-laws, exercised the discretionary powers 
vested in them by parliament, by admitting certain kinds 
of grain and pulse to be taken for consumption at a small 
duty. The distress, however, continued, in great intensity, 
and parliament showing no disposition to adopt any perma- 
nent measures of relief, men's minds were strongly directed 
to the constitution of the house which professed to repre- 
sent the people. In an article on the state of the country, 
in my paper of the 2nd of December, I said: 

" We suspect that the time is not far distant when the people of 
this country will be convinced by painful experience, that a jealous 
watchfulness of the measures of government, and a firm determination 
to oppose, by every constitutional means, the existence of gross 
abuses in the machinery of the state, and the creation of oppressive 
and impoverishing laws, are as necessary, in order to preserve the 
prosperity of the nation, and, indeed, its very existence, as a 
commercial country, as industry and caution are to the success of 
individuals. How often have we heard the senseless cry of f mind 
your own business, and let politics alone,' whenever a clear-headed 
man endeavoured to rouse the public to a sense of their danger. 
However, the time is not far distant, when every one will find that 
politics MUST be studied, and when the legislature MUST be told, in 
firm, and manly, and most decided terms, that a GREAT EEFOEM is 
absolutely necessary in order to rescue the country from a ruin which 
is not the less certain because its approaches are slow and gradual. 
This time is coming. People begin to learn in the dear school of 
experience that a law which prevents our obtaining the necessaries of 


life from other nations, and at the same time deprives them of the 
power of purchasing our manufactures, is really adverse to our com- 
mercial prosperity. Hence the universal opinion, in this part of the 
country, that an alteration of the COBN-LAWS is necessary for the 
very existence of our trade, and the consequent loud call for their 
repeal or modification. These calls will be followed by others, 
still more loud and importunate, for a GREAT REDUCTION OF 
TAXATION, for it must daily become more obvious, that the only 
argument for the permission of the corn monopoly is, that the 
owners of the soil need high prices, to enable them to pay high 
taxes ; and, as those calls will not be listened to, or if heard, 
will be, by such miserable sophistry as Mr. Canning, with so little 
regard to his reputation, had recourse to the other evening, in order 
to show that the erection of splendid palaces was, in reality, a means 
of lessening the sufferings of the people ; as such calls will be 
answered by such insults to common sense, the people will in time 
acknowledge that it would have been well had they earlier inquired 
into the state of the representation ; and, being at length convinced 
that it was an essential part of their ' business' to take care that the 
public purse shall be entrusted to honest guardians, they will then 
demand a THOROUGH REFORM of the representative system. ' To 
this complexion we must come at last ;' and it is a moral cowardice 
in those who are convinced of the necessity of parliamentary reform, 
to avoid the mention of the great cause of the evils against which 
they remonstrate. At a meeting of the members of the Chamber 
of Commerce, it was resolved to petition against the COEN LAWS j 
but no notice was taken of the doubly oppressive load of taxation. 
At the meeting of the rate-payers, in August last a meeting which, 
whatever the editor of the Guardian, and a few timid, self-styled wliigs, 
might think of it, was one of the most important that ever was held 
in Manchester, and one whose resolutions excited more attention 
throughout the nation than any which preceded them, at that great 
meeting it was resolved to petition for a repeal of the corn-laws, and a 
great reduction of taxation, but no notice was taken of the state of that 
house which sanctioned the imposition of the grievous public burthens 
under which we groan, and, for the interests of its own members, 
passed the law which is so rapidly destroying our trade and manu- 
factures. Another meeting is talked of, and we trust that in remon- 
strating against the continuance of oppressive burthens, the system 
under which they have been imposed will not escape the animad- 
version of our public- spirited townsmen, and that their petitions will 



Six years were still to elapse before any portion of par- 
liamentary reform was obtained ; twenty-three years before 
foreign corn was to be admitted free of duty. If men were 
to foresee all the difficulties to be overcome in effecting 
public good, little would be attempted. In after times, when 
I was asked how soon the abolition of the corn-laws would 
be effected, my reply usually was : "No man can speak with 
certainty as to the time : one thing we are sure of it will 
never come unless we ask for it. It is our business and our 
duty to forward the time as much as we can." 

In the year 1826, in which the deep distress of the poor 
and the timely benevolence of the wealthier classes were 
alike memorable, a society was established having for its 
object the preservation of a right of considerable importance 
to the former. The volumes of smoke which, in spite of 
legislation to the contrary, continually issue from factory 
chimneys, and form a complete cloud over Manchester, 
certainly make it less desirable as a place of residence than 
it is as a place of business ; and the enjoyment of the 
inhabitants would be greatly increased, could they breathe 
a purer atmosphere, and have a brighter and more frequent 
sight of the sun. But, to counterbalance the disadvantage, 
they have the privilege of walking unrestrainedly through 
the fine fields of the vicinity ; and thousands and tens of 
thousands, whose avocations render fresh air and exercise 
an absolute necessity of life, avail themselves of the right 
of footway through the meadows, and corn-fields, and parks 
in the immediate neighbourhood. There are so many 
pleasant footpaths, that a pedestrian might walk completely 
round the town in a circle, which would seldom exceed a 
radius of two miles from the Exchange, and in which he 
would scarcely ever have occasion to encounter the noise, 
bustle, and dust of a public cart road or paved street. The 
beautifully undulating country between the valley of the 
Irk and Cheetham Hill ; the fine valley of the Irwell, with 
its verdant meadows ; the slope from Pendleton to the plain, 


which, commencing between the extremities of Hulme and 
Chorlton-upon-Medlock, extends south and west over the 
greater part of Cheshire; all this scenery, which in any 
country would be admired, but which has a hundred addi- 
tional charms to him who is condemned, day after day, 
month after month, and year after year, to toil in the dirt 
and smoke of a great town all this delightful scenery lies 
open to the pedestrian ; and while he strays along through 
the open field, or wooded park, or the narrow and retired 
lane, and breathes the pure air of heaven, he feels that all 
these fields, and parks, and lanes, are as open to him, and 
to those who hang on his arm, or play by his side, as if 
they were his own, to have and to hold, as long as trees 
grow or water runs. 

But there are " tyrants of the field " men who imagine 
that that which runs through theirs must needs be theirs ; 
and they must be withstood. About some twenty years 
before the period of which we write, a Mr. Ralph Wright, 
of Flixton, a parish a few miles south-west of Manchester, 
possessed an estate partly purchased and partly inherited, 
which had the usual complement of hedges, along which 
ran certain footways, and by which they were concealed 
from his house. Being desirous of giving to his property, 
which did not consist of more than fifteen or sixteen acres 
of land, a more park-like appearance, he levelled the hedges 
and fences ; and finding that this brought the footways more 
in sight of his mansion, he began to use means to prevent 
the vulgar part of his neighbours coming between the wind 
and his nobility. One way, which went right across his 
little park, he shut up altogether, without the formality 
of any magistrate's order. Another, which formed part 
of a church road for several farm-houses, he diverted to a 
distance considerably farther from his house. To these 
encroachments his neighbours, unwilling to be thought 
quarrelsome, peaceably submitted ; but another effort met 
with determined resistance : this was to divert the roads 


to beyond the boundary of his own grounds, so that his pro- 
perty might not be traversed at all. He was a magistrate, 
and he obtained orders signed by two brother magistrates ; 
but, without waiting for the confirmation of the orders at 
next quarter sessions, he stopped up the entrance to his 
grounds, ploughed up the old footway, and sowed the land 
with oats. Mr. Samuel Wood, a farmer in the parish, like 
the spirited old shoemaker of Bushy Park memory, was 
unwilling to leave the world worse than he found it, and, 
assisted by his neighbours, broke down three several times 
the obstructions that had been put up, and restored the 
original road to the public by treading down the oats. 

The magistrate proceeded hesitatingly. In 1824 he ob- 
tained another order : this was appealed against ; but 
when the applicants were ready with their witnesses it was 
abandoned. Another order immediately followed, but it 
was quashed on a point of form. A third order was more 
successful, being confirmed at the spring quarter sessions. 
All this was attended with expenses which were too heavy 
to be borne by a few persons of the class of country farmers. 
Thomas and Richard Potter had aided ; but it was desirable 
that some association should be formed for the purpose of 
preventing this and similar encroachments, and removing 
from individuals the persecution to which they might be 
exposed in resisting the encroaching spirit of powerful 
country gentlemen. A meeting was accordingly held in 
the Town Hall, November 15th, 1826, at which was formed 
a Society for the Preservation of Ancient Footpaths, and 
the following gentlemen were appointed a committee to 
carry its object into effect : 

Joseph Armstrong, Edward Baxter, Kobert Hyde Greg, 

Thomas Heywood, Thomas Hilton, John Kenworthy, 

Edward J. Lloyd, Kobert Millington, Richard Potter, 

Archibald Prentice, John Edward Taylor, Kobert Tebbutt, 

J. B. Wanklyn, George Wm. Wood. 

A pleasant association this of tories, whigs, and radicals, 
o 2 


and one which, in the successful results of its resistance in 
many attempted cases of encroachment, spread amongst 
the country gentlemen a wholesome terror of transgressing 
against the right of the poor to enjoy their own, without 
any one to make them afraid. 

The Flixton people, having now the sanction and coun- 
tenance of men holding at least as good a station in society 
as Ralph Wright, Esq., resolved to make another effort for 
the recovery of their right of road. They sued out a 
certiorari and removed the case into the Court of King's 
Bench, and after many motions and counter-motions, the 
order of the sages of the quarter session for confirming the 
order to stop up the footways coveted by their brotherhood 
of the bench, was quashed; and on Monday, the 14th of 
June, 1827, several respectable inhabitants of Flixton, ac- 
companied by some of the Manchester society, who were 
desirous of witnessing the renewal of a privilege of which 
the public had been for two years deprived, went in pro- 
cession to open the roads, and the application of a saw gave 
them ingress to Mr. Wright's " park." The ground was 
covered with a veiy fine crop of grass, nearly ready to be 
cut ; and the path, consequently, was not very obvious, 
but here and there it was indicated by the growth being 
shorter, and it was easily traced. The party having crossed 
the park, cut down the fences on the other side, and having 
thus asserted their and the public right, retired peaceably. 
I happened to arrive a minute or two after the procession 
had crossed the park, but, though I missed the satisfaction 
of seeing the unlawful impediments cut down, I experienced 
a higher pleasure in observing the fresh marks of the saw, 
the little two-feet wide opening, and the newly-made track 
through the tall grass, than such sights might be thought 
capable of giving. They spoke the triumph of an ancient 
law over the grasping and monopolising spirit of modern 
times. When I reached the middle of the large field which, 
by the destruction of two or three hedges, had been raised 


into the dignity of a " park," I could not help being struck 
with the bad taste, to speak of it in the gentlest terms, 
which sought a solitary greatness by the exclusion of every 
mark of rustic neighbourhood. 

These contests cost the appellants nearly 600, and, as 
they must have been equally expensive to Mr. Ralph 
Wright, it might have been supposed that he would desist 
from any further attempt at encroachment. But the magis- 
trate was bent upon his purpose, and on the 14th September 
four orders were signed by Robert Fielden and James 
Brierley, Esqrs., for stopping up these paths. The perse- 
cuted inhabitants of Flixton entered another appeal. It 
was tried at the quarter session, on Monday, October 29th, 
lasting nearly all day, and ending in the final discomfiture 
of Mr. Wright, but at a cost of 750 to the spirited vindi- 
cators of a public privilege. 

I may have occasion again to mention other contests for 
right of road. In the meantime I may refer to one where 
the opposition to encroachment arose directly from the re- 
sult of the Flixton case. About a mile from Bromsgrove 
resided a Dr. Collett, near whose house a footpath crossed 
between two parallel roads. About the year 1814, he, 
without any magistrate's order, diverted this cross pathway 
to a greater distance from his house, and formed a paddock 
on the site of the old pathway. Dr. Collett, having thus 
driven the public to some distance from him, now wished 
to drive them out of sight altogether. Mr. Wright wanted 
to have his " lawn" to himself, free from public gaze ; and 
Dr. Collett wanted to have his " lawn" in exclusive sight 
as well as exclusive occupation. He found two clerical 
magistrates ready to forward his wishes the Right Hon. 
and Rev. Walter Hutchinson, Lord Aston, and the Rev. 
William Vernon, who, on the 6th of June, 1827, signed 
an order to shut up the road as " useless and unnecessary." 
An appeal was made to the Worcestershire midsummer 
sessions, but the magistrates confirmed the order of their 


clerical brethren. Mr. Ellins, one of the appellants, was 
not disposed to allow a public right to be lost. He had 
heard of the Flixton case, which much resembled his own ; 
he visited Manchester ; consulted Mr. Richard Potter ; had 
Mr. Charles Wood, solicitor to the Footpaths' Protection 
Society, back with him to Worcestershire ; and on the 20th 
of May, 1828, a motion in the Court of King's Bench, for 
quashing the order, came on to be heard. The order was 
quashed, on the ground that the reverend magistrates who 
signed it did not state, as the act required, that it having 
been on "view" found to be useless, it should be stopped, 
but " as it appeared" to them. The fact was, that they 
could not have viewed the road. The road ordered to be 
stopped was not the diverted but the old road, and to view 
it they must have broken through a garden wall, and cut 
through a plantation which had existed for fourteen years. 
At the opening of the road, on the 26th of May, a portion 
of the wall was razed to the ground, part of a greenhouse 
was destroyed, several of the trees in the plantation were 
cut down to the ground, and, as at Flixton, a procession 
was formed of public-spirited individuals who exercised the 
rescued right, and rejoiced in the triumph of the law over 
the grasping designs of another " little tyrant of the field." 
In the beginning of 1827, Mr. Thomas Burgess, one of 
the members of the "Footpaths' Protection Society," called 
my attention to another attempted encroachment, and I 
find the following notice of it in my Gazette of the 17th of 
February : " Every inhabitant of Manchester must have 
observed, with some degree of pride, the wide and noble 
approach to the town from the Liverpool and great north 
road, and they will learn, with feelings of indignation, that 
the space between the houses and what is strictly the public 
road, from the Crescent to Pendleton Pole, has been, or is 
to be, leased by the chancellor of the duchy to an individual 
who will have it in his power to erect cottages in front of 
the elegant mansions which have been built in the faith 


that his majesty, the Duke of Lancaster, would never per- 
mit that noble approach to be encroached upon. When 
so much has been expended in the purchase of old build- 
ings to widen one short street in Manchester, we cannot 
mention, with any tolerable degree of patience, this per- 
mission to cover with buildings one of the finest outlets 
from this great town. We really think the officers of the 
duchy could not have devised any means more likely to 
make the chancellor unpopular; and it is astonishing to 
us, that any inhabitant of the township could be tempted, 
by any prospect of profit, to make a bargain which he must 
have known would be a most odious one in the eyes of his 
fellow townsmen. A meeting has been held at Pendleton, 
at which Mr. Burgess brought forward a draft to the chan- 
cellor on the* subject, and at which Mr. G. Jones acknow- 
ledged, or rather avowed, that the lease conferring on him 
such odious powers was already granted. We trust, how- 
ever, that the chancellor has it still in his power to arrest 
measures which, we are confident, our gracious sovereign 
the Duke of Lancaster, would be sorry to permit against 
the wishes of the inhabitants of this, the second town in 
his kingdom." In addition to the Pendleton memorial, 
one was sent from the police commissioners of Salford, 
and the result was, that Lord Bexley, the chancellor of 
the duchy, refused to complete an arrangement into which 
he had been led by false representations of the nature of 
the property. 



THE necessity for a temporary suspension of the prohibitory 
corn-law of 1815 had led to the belief that a ministry, of 
which Mr. Canning and Mr. Huskisson, both professed 
free traders, were members, would frame a less restrictive 
measure, and the fears of the landlord class were greatly 
excited. Before the opening of the parliamentary session 
in 1827, petitions from the agricultural districts were 
manufactured with untiring assiduity, and eagerly signed 
by frightened farmers, who had been persuaded that, in- 
stead of any relaxation of the monopoly, a positive exclusion 
of all foreign corn was scarcely protection enough. The 
outcry was so loud as to make the opponents of the corn- 
law believe that some really important reform was coming. 
They could not suppose that all this hubbub was for no- 
thing, and the manufacturing districts, seeking, besides, a 
breathing time after the harrassments of 1826, remained 
perfectly quiescent. Here and there, indeed, the public 
voice against the corn monopoly found feeble utterance ; 
here and there were a few radicals who thought and said 
that a bitter enemy to fair and free representation could 
not be the honest friend of free trade ; but our manufac- 
turers remained in the quiet and undisturbed reliance that 
ministers would follow the course which humanity and 
policy dictated. The measure, so much dreaded by the 
landowners, and anticipated by the manufacturers with so 
much reliance on ministerial honesty and wisdom, was 
framed on the assumption that when wheat was at 60s. a 
quarter, the home grower should receive a protection to the 
amount of 20s. The professed free traders, Canning and 


Huskisson, proceeding on this assumption, fixed 60s. as 
their pivot, increasing their duty as prices diminished ; so 
that when wheat was at 50s. the duty should be 40s., but 
diminishing it as prices advanced, so that at 70s. wheat 
should come in free. With what reason the corn growers 
might congratulate themselves on their clamorous activity, 
and the corn consumers might bitterly lament their supine- 
ness, under an ill-founded reliance that ministers would do 
that which they did not think it worth their while to ask 
them to do, with what reason the one class might exult 
and the other might mourn, may be judged by the fact that, 
immediately on the publication of Mr. Canning's long- 
promised and anxiously-looked-for resolutions, wheat expe- 
rienced an advance of 5s. a quarter. The bitterness of my 
own feelings, on seeing the result of a blind reliance on 
ministerial honesty, found vent in the following remarks : 

" On the back of proposals for such an alteration of the laws as 
would give relief to the corn consumer, we have the records of every 
market in the kingdom announcing an advance of prices, and becom- 
ing so many libels upon the proposers of this scheme, and proclaiming 
to a half-bankrupt and half-starved people that their reliance on 
ministerial firmness was miserably misplaced. What a commentary 
on Mr. Canning's vaunted no-drought and no-deluge scheme do the 
reports of the corn-markets furnish. ' A greater degree of liveliness,' 
say the market historians, c was experienced to-day, in consequence of 
the prices at which grain may be imported being fixed higher than 
was expected. Wheat rose five shillings a quarter, and a further 
improvement may be expected.' Well, indeed, might they anticipate 
an improvement, when they knew that, according to the new corn-law 
scheme, wheat could not be imported without the payment of a duty 
of thirty-four shillings a quarter a duty which would make the 
English consumer pay a shilling for every sixpence- worth of foreign 

"While we are compelled to say that ministers have miserably 
disappointed the hopes which were founded on their own declarations, 
we must add that the people in the manufacturing districts are not 
without blame. They knew not only that they were without repre- 
sentatives in parliament, but that it was constituted almost entirely 
of those who had an interest in preserving the corn monopoly un- 
o 3 


broken. They knew that ministers had no influence to oppose to 
that of the land-owners but what was derived from public opinion. 
Yet, knowing this, knowing that an almost overwhelming force was 
to be contended with, they permitted week after week, and month 
after month to slip away, without giving ministers the aid of their 
unequivocally declared opinions, and thus left them no alternative but 
to yield to the stronger power, or relinquish their places. This 
supineness is the more to be regretted, when we consider that it was 
not the result of indifference as to the decision of the momentous 
question whether food was to be dear or cheap. There was but one 
opinion prevailing, and that was, that our very existence as a manu- 
facturing and commercial nation depended upon our being placed on 
something like an equality with other nations with regard to the 
necessaries of life. This was the opinion, but unfortunately it did 
not receive the public expression which it ought to have received ; 
and though men's hearts burned within them when they thought the 
people were starving while there was abundance of food upon the earth, 
a full public utterance was not given to their opinions and feelings. 

" In endeavouring to account for this indifference as to the public 
expression of what every man felt, we are led to think that it might 
be occasioned by too great a reliance on the public journals. The 
tory press, whatever it might say concerning the corn-laws, has always 
discountenanced public meetings ; and, unfortunately, toryism in the 
press has no better opponent than it has in parliament. Your whig 
editor is like your whig member, a creature of mere shifts and expe- 
dients ; and while he can suggest some palliative, will not recommend 
an effectual remedy, and will even then throw obstacles in its way. 
That we do not unfairly characterize the public press will be con- 
fessed, when it is recollected that the most unequivocal expression of 
public opinion which was ever made in Manchester was effected by this 
paper, not merely unaided, but opposed by all its contemporaries. 

" When a blunder has been committed, no time ought to be lost in 
rectifying it. The landed interest has been permitted to get before 
the manufacturing interest in their representations in parliament ; 
but the resolutions so favourable to them, and so obnoxious to us, are 
not yet become a part of the laws j and a strong expression of the 
opinion which prevails in the manufacturing districts might even yet 
be effectual in procuring the modifications which justice and policy 

The strong expression of opinion thus earnestly called 
for was not made. The bill was passed in the Commons by 


a large, majority; but in the Lords the Duke of Wellington, 
after a clever manoeuvre by which he entrapped the simple 
Mr. Huskisson to a seeming approval of his movement, 
succeeded in carrying an amendment which went, in effect, 
to the destruction of the measure as one of comparative 
relief from the acts of 1815 and 1822, which had been 
almost entirely prohibitory. Ministers could not, with any 
show of decency, press their measure any further, and it 
was accordingly withdrawn, to be followed by one on the 
following year, framed in accordance with the Duke's 
opinions as to the amount of protection. Probably the 
adroit diplomacy by which poor Huskisson was made to 
appear as giving his sanction to an amendment which 
destroyed his and Canning's bill, may have suggested to 
Wellington that he, the F. M., was not destitute of the 
kind of knowledge which fits a man for the office of prime 
minister, when a peculiar kind of left-handed wisdom is 
more required than statesmanship. 

While lords and commons, whigs and tories seemed to 
think, or to act upon the opinion, whether they believed it 
to be true or false, that to prevent the price of corn from 
falling too low was a very proper object of legislation, it 
was edifying to read their replies to the starving workmen 
who prayed that something should be done to prevent 
wages from falling too low. The Bolton weavers petitioned 
that a power should be given to boards of trade, consisting 
of the most extensive manufacturers in each district, to 
regulate the prices of weaving ; but in reply to this applica- 
tion they were told that it would be very improper in the 
legislature to interfere in contracts between the workman 
and his employer. It was quite necessary and proper, said 
our law-makers, to regulate the price of corn, but to 
attempt to regulate the price of labour would be at variance 
with every principle of sound political economy. There 
was no disinclination to teach sound principles when practice 
upon such principles took nothing out of their pockets. 


Mr. Canning's elevation, in the summer of 1827, to the 
position of prime minister, gave satisfaction to neither of 
the extreme parties in Manchester. The tories hated him 
for his approaches towards liberalism ; the radicals dis- 
trusted him because he was still an obstructive. The 
friends of "protestant ascendancy" regarded him with a 
bitter scowl because he purposed to remove the disabilities 
under which the catholics suffered ; the friends of religious 
liberty gave him no credit for sincerity, for he was still 
opposed to the repeal of the test and corporation acts. 
The favourers of continental absoluteism looked with alarm 
to acts tending to withdraw England from the influence of 
the " holy alliance ;" but reformers were told, and with a 
fiercely defiant air, that, though he would not succumb to 
despotical dictation abroad, he would strenuously support 
the unmitigated rule of the aristocracy and the borough- 
mongers at home. The landowners raised a furious outcry 
against his modified support of free-trade doctrines ; a 
considerable part of the manufacturers, and almost all their 
workmen, looked on his corn-bill as a proof that he was a 
determined supporter of the corn-growers' monopoly. And 
yet this was a great era a pivot period on which the pro- 
gressive and the stand-still policy stood vibrating, few 
knowing in what direction the turn might be made. The 
middle class reformers, with whom I acted, were hopeful 
that some successful innovation might be made on traditional 
usages of government, and I believe that I expressed their 
opinions when I said our hope arose from the belief that a 
government constituted like that of Mr. Canning would be 
influenced by public opinion, when that was unequivocally 
and boldly expressed, and that any movement it might 
make in advance would encourage the people to bolder 
demands ; and that thus the reciprocal action of government 
upon the people, and of the people upon the government, 
would lead to the recognition of principles from which almost 
all classes of men in parliament had hitherto recoiled. 


When the success of the Duke of Wellington's amend- 
ment in the Lords threatened to be fatal to the proposed 
" amendment" of the corn-law, and to throw the country 
back upon it in its unmitigated rigour, the Manchester 
Chamber of Commerce made a languid movement ; that 
chamber, then behind public opinion, and continuing behind 
it until December, 1838, when it aroused itself, after a long 
sleep, met on the 27th of June. Mr. Hugh Hornby 
Birley in the chair. Mr. George William Wood, seconded 
by Mr. Shakspeare Phillips, moved, " That the chamber 
was of opinion that though the bill proposed a scale of 
protecting duties higher than sound policy suggested, and 
the welfare of the general interests of the country required, 
it was, nevertheless, founded upon just and salutary 
principles, and would tend to mitigate the evils of the 
existing corn-laws." I could not recognise, as a just and 
salutary principle, the imposition of a forty-shilling tax on 
the importation of wheat when its price was fifty, and I 
moved an amendment that the words should be " more just 
and salutary than the existing law." There were 15 votes 
for my amendment, and 16 against it. Had I imagined 
that opinion was so nearly balanced I should have taken 
more pains than I did, but I committed the mistake of 
believing that the chamber was too conservative to allow a 
free-trader to carry any resolution. When the petition, 
founded on the resolutions, was read, I moved again that 
the qualifying comparison should be used, and was sup- 
ported by Mr. Robert Garnett, who had previously voted 
against me. I now thought that there would be a majority 
of one in my favour, but Mr. John Edward Taylor, of the 
Guardian, who had voted for me, turned round and voted 
against me, on the ground that the resolution and the 
prayer of the petition ought to agree. The closeness of 
these divisions betokened a change in the opinions of that 
very timid association, although many years elapsed before 
Cobden, Bright, Smith, Ashworth, Bazley, and others of 


progressive movement principles, took the place of men 
who would put forth all their energy to have a quarter of 
an hour's earlier delivery of letters, but who would not put 
out their little finger to lighten the heavy burthens imposed 
by selfish legislation. 

A public meeting was held in the Town Hall, on the 
5th July, at which Mr. G. W. Wood made a good speech 
against the existing law, but confessed he would have been 
almost satisfied had Mr. Canning's bill been passed. Mr. 
John Shuttleworth did not so much approve of that mea- 
sure as to be much mortified by its defeat. " The fate," 
he said, " which has attended the project, such as it is, 
shows, more decidedly than the loss of a stronger and better 
measure would, the necessity there is for increasing the 
influence and power of those who, with good intention have 
used it, by eveiy demonstration of popular support." Mr. 
J. C. Dyer wished to see the population of this country, 
not as half-starved paupers, but as well-clothed, well-fed, 
and contented artizans ; and if they were permitted freely 
to import cheap food, he was confident that this would be 
their state, and that their prosperity would go on increasing 
and bid defiance to the competition of the world. Mr. 
Richard Potter made an effective speech on the occasion, 
and, in allusion to a phrase used in the House of Lords, he 
said, " Lord Grey, and I regret, and you must all regret 
that such language should have been used by such a man, 
has hinted that a repetition of language calculated to bring 
the ' order' to which he belongs into contempt or disrepute, 
might subject the parties to banishment, but such a threat 
will be treated by the country with the contempt which it 
deserves. If, however, his lordship and the ' order,' by 
which he says he will stand or fall, should proceed to ex- 
tremities, I trust, nay, I am sure, there will be men found 
in the country, yes, in this room, ready to stand up for the 
rights of the people." Mr. Robert Hyde Greg ably exposed 
the fallacies by which the members of the landed aristocracy 


attempted to defend their monopoly, and said that the lords, 
whenever the question of the corn-laws came before them, 
seemed suddenly deprived of common sense, common policy, 
common honesty, common decorum, and common humanity. 
Mr. Greg concluded by quoting the lines written by Lord 
Byron, so often afterwards used during the anti- corn-law 
agitation, and so much to the annoyance of the landed 
interest : 

" And will they not repay the treasures lent ? 
No ! Down with every tiling and up with rent ! 
Their good, ill, health, wealth, joy, and discontent, 
Aim, being, and religion, rent, rent, rent ! ! " 

The resolutions passed at this public meeting did not, like 
those of the Chamber of Commerce, recognise, as just and 
salutary, the principle of Mr. Canning's bill, but they did 
not denounce, but rather approved, the principle of a 
moderate fixed duty, and I believe the free-traders of that 
day would have considered the imposition of an eight- 
shilling fixed duty as a fair compromise between the agri- 
cultural and the commercial interests. But Mr. Canning, 
bitterly as he was denounced as an enemy to the protection 
of agriculture, had neither the wish nor the power to effect 
so great a change, and was now rapidly approaching the 
time when he was to find refuge in the grave from the 
hatred of an aristocracy whose fears he had alarmed and 
whose hatred he had incurred, without gaining any confi- 
dence and sympathy from the multitude, whose miseries 
he had mocked and whose claims for justice he had insult- 
ingly derided. 

Amusing instances if bitter rancour can ever amuse 
of intolerant feeling occurred at all the Pitt dinners of this 
"pivot" period. At "one of their celebrations, held at 
Warrington, the chairman, the Rev. Peter Legh, said that 
Mr. Canning was one of the greatest political swindlers of 
the day, and one who would take advice from every dirty 
radical, insane theorist, and mongrel whig ; that he was a 


political Judas, who would prove the greatest curse that 
ever had afflicted any country ; that if ever there was a 
name in England that deserved public execration, it was 
that of George Canning ; and that he hoped the king would 
spurn from his councils that despicable truckler that 
political profligate and that Pitt's principles might again 
rule the British cabinet. The reverend orator concluded 
by calling upon his clerical friends present " not to cut the 
faggots on which they themselves and their church stood 
a tolerable chance of being devilled." All this abuse 
was lavished because Canning was in favour of Catholic 
Emancipation. His determined support of the Test and 
Corporation Act, and his intolerance towards dissent gained 
him no favour in the eyes of those whose protestantism 
consisted in protesting against any invasion of their sine- 
cures and pluralities. Wellington and Peel, in their eyes, 
were the never-to-yield champions of the protestant faith. 
In less than a year these same champions had repealed the 
Test and Corporation Act, and in less than another had 
granted Catholic Emancipation. 

In this transitive period we were, for a brief time, 
allowed to entertain the hope that our great unrepresented 
town would have the privilege of sending two members to 
parliament. One of the rotten boroughs had permitted 
its rottenness to be somewhat too openly exhibited, and so 
much virtuous indignation was expressed that it might 
have been supposed, by the uninitiated, that corruption 
was only the exception and not the rule. Fortunately our 
expectations were disappointed fortunately, because, if 
ministers had possessed even the left-handed wisdom of 
cunning, they would have granted the Penryn seats to 
Manchester one year, and East Retford seats to Birming- 
ham in another, and thus have spread over fifty years the 
demolition effected at once by the 1832 bill, and have 
gained for themselves the credit of being progressive re- 
formers, slow but sure, occupying the just medium between 



the obstructives and the destructives, between finality and 
radicalism. In April, 1827, Penryn having been discovered 
to be not immaculate, Lord John Russell gave notice, that 
if it were disfranchised he would move that its seats should 
be transferred to Manchester, and Lord Stanley sent a 
communication to that effect to the boroughreeve and 
constables, our then head municipal authorities. This 
created considerable excitement, the tories and whigs 
agreeing in opinion that the commerce of Manchester 
would derive advantage from direct representation, and 
more decided reformers being eager that there should be 
some beginning, some starting point, to an amendment of 
that strange representative system which gave no member 
to Manchester and two to the little village of Newton, and 
two to some mounds of earth at Old Sarum. The reformers, 
seeing that the tories and whigs were disposed to move for 
this instalment of reform, resolved to let those two parties 
have the lead in managing the matter, and held back their 
own signatures to the requisition to call a public meeting 
till the signatures of more cautious politicians were secured. 
I subjoin some of the names which appeared in the re- 
quisition names which probably never afterwards were 
brought into such friendly contiguity of fellowship : 

George "William Wood, Shakspeare Phillips, 

John Barton, 

R. W. Barton, Robert G-arnett, 

H. H. Birley, William Garnett, 

Thomas Ashton, Jeremiah Fielding, 

Edmund Wright, Thomas Hoyle, 

John Kennedy, T. Harbottle, 

James Burt, R. H. Greg, 

B. H. Heywood, Daniel Grant, 

Henry Newbery, Charles Cross, 

Benjamin Hey wood, F. A. Phillips, 

G. R. ChappeU, James Wood, 

James Kershaw, W. Callender, 

Alexander Kay, James Beardoe, 

Thomas Potter, William Haynes, 

Thomas Entwisle, Archibald Prentice, 

John Touchet, 
E. J. Lloyd, 
Samuel Barton, 
Edward Tootal, 
H. Bannerman, 
R. Christie, 
John Runcorn, 
Isaac Hately, 
Benjamin Braidley, 
Robert Stewart, 
Richard Potter, 
William Harvey, 
J. E. Taylor, 
Edward Connell, 


The meeting, called by George Neden, boroughreeve, and 
Michael Harbottle and David Bannerman, constables, was 
held in the unplastered large room of the Town Hall. The 
first resolution was proposed by Mr. H. H. Birley, the 
commander, in 1819, of the yeomanry corps which had cut 
down the people peaceably assembled to petition for reform. 
He said he wished to see the manufacturing interest better 
represented. Mr. G. W. Wood, seconding the motion, 
took nearly the same ground, and his complaint was not 
so much of the narrowness of the suffrage as of the exclu- 
sion of the manufacturing towns. Out of 658 members 
in the House of Commons, he said, there were only nine 
connected with the manufacturing interest. Mr. William 
Garnett, in moving the second resolution, spoke only of 
the importance of the cotton trade, and then argued the 
necessity of its being represented. Mr. R. H. Greg, and 
Mr. Richard Potter, both spoke very briefly, the under- 
standing being that reformers should let the work be done 
by others not previously known as desiring progression. 
The resolutions were all passed unanimously, but a division 
arose upon the nomination of a committee, from which the 
names of persons supposed to be tainted with radicalism 
had been excluded : 

"Mr. Thomas Hoyle proposed that the following gentlemen be 
appointed a committee to carry the resolutions into effect, viz., 
the boroughreeve and constables and churchwardens of Manchester ; 
Messrs. H. H. Birley, G. W. Wood, Shakspeare Philips, John 
Barton, William Garnett, John Kennedy, Thomas Entwistle, E. H. 
Greg, Benjamin Heywood, G. Winter, John Kirkman, Henry New- 
bery, Thomas Heywood, John Euncorn, Isaac Faulkner, John Chip- 
pendall, William Cririe, and Thomas Worthington. Mr. Prentice 
begged leave to say a few words before the resolution was put. He 
had been extremely glad to observe the unanimity wliich had hitherto 
prevailed in the meeting, and it had given him great satisfaction to see 
the requisition signed by persons who, as Mr. Wood had remarked, 
were of every grade of political opinion. But he had no hesitation in 
saying, that the committee which had been proposed did not fairly 
represent the requisitionists. (Hear, hear, hear.) In order, there- 


fore, that the committee, like the requisitionists, should comprise 
persons of all political opinions, he proposed that the names of Mr. 
T. Harbottle, Mr. Edward Baxter, Mr. John Edward Taylor, Mr. 
John Shuttleworth, Mr. Eichard Potter, and Mr. P. E. Atkinson 
be added to the list which had been proposed hy Mr. Hoyle. (Tha 
announcement of these names was received with loud applause.) 
Mr. George Hadfield seconded the amendment. He said he was 
desirous that the committee should be composed of individuals of 
every opinion in politics, as it was desirable that all parties should 
be unanimous ; and he thought that unanimity would be best secured 
by the cordial co-operation of persons who represented the various 
opinions of the inhabitants. Mr. Candelet proposed that Mr. 
Prentice's name should be added to the list. The amended list, with 
this addition, was carried by a majority of ten to one." 

The prayer of the petition was, " that whenever circum- 
stances render it practicable, your honourable house, in 
conjunction with the other branches of the legislature, will 
be pleased to extend representation to the town of Man- 
chester, and such other townships of the parish as form, in 
fact, part of the town. Your petitioners, however, anxious 
that in their case and by their successors, the elective privi- 
lege should be purely, independently, and constitutionally 
exercised, do further pray, that if it shall please your 
honourable house to accede to this urgent request, such 
regulations may be prescribed with respect to the mode of 
election, as shall effectually, and at all times prevent the 
tumult, delay, and expense by which elections for populous 
places are too often attended." 

It will be seen that the petition bore no reference to the 
qualification of voters. It was thought desirable to do no 
more than to convince the legislature that Manchester was 
willing to accept representation, for even willingness to that 
extent was denied by a member of parliament who rejoiced 
in the name of Mr. Lee Keck. A number of the gentlemen 
appointed on the committee were supposed to be favourable 
to the formation of a constituency of all who paid 20 a 
year and upwards, and there were not wanting plausible 


reasons, in the then state of representation, in favour of 
that qualification. In Glasgow, the fourth part of a 
member was elected by a corporation consisting of thirty 
councillors, themselves self-elected. Compared with that 
mockery, a constituency of 4,000 occupiers to the amount of 
20 and upwards, would seem to offer some guarantee for 
an independent and judicious choice. East Retford was 
found to be not less corrupt than Penryn ; and Mary-le- 
bone, Glasgow, Birmingham, and Leeds came into compe- 
tition for the seats. Glasgow seemed disposed to compro- 
mise for a member by offering to confine the voting to 
freeholders within the city. There seemed an excellent 
opportunity of selling seats to the large towns on the 
principle of the Dutch auction. But fortunately the spirit 
of obstruction to all reform was rampant, and the penny 
was clutchingly withheld to the loss of the pound. 

On the 23rd of April, in the following year, a meeting 
was held to pass the constables' accounts, in which appeared 
the sum of 69 as paid to a deputation from the Manchester 
committee to confer with Lord John Russell on the transfer 
of seats. On the motion that the accounts do pass, I 
moved, seconded by Mr. Candelet, that the accounts do 
pass, with the exception of 69, on the ground that the 
deputation had assumed a power which had not been 
delegated to them when they bargained for an exclusive 
suffrage. I said that when Mr. Harbottle had proposed 
that a deputation should be sent to London, it was on the 
ground that an immediate representation should be made of 
the great importance of this town, and of the necessity of 
its interests being represented in parliament ; that this had 
not been done, but at a period long subsequent to that 
meeting, the committee had sent its deputation, not for the 
general object, but in order to traffic for a bill which denied 
to an inhabitant a vote unless he was assessed on a rent of 
20 a year, equal to an actual rent of 25 or 30 a year. 
Could any one, I asked, who was present at that meeting 


ever have supposed that he was sanctioning that which 
would exclude so large a portion of the inhabitants, pos- 
sessing a large amount of the intelligence and respectability 
of the town ? Mr. Jeremiah Garnet attempted to get rid 
of the amendment, by saying that Mr. Prentice himself 
had been favourable to a 20 qualification, to which my 
reply was, that whatever my opinion might have been, it 
did not justify a bargain with parliament for the exclusion 
of so large a portion of my fellow- townsmen. The amend- 
ment was carried. 

The bill for the disfranchisement of Penryn was ultimately 
lost in the House of Lords on June 23rd, 1828. The pro- 
ceedings were thus briefly reported in my newspaper of 
the time : 

" The Earl of Carnarvon moved the second reading of the Penryn 
Disfranchisement Bill. His lordship proceeded to comment on the 
evidence at considerable length, and concluded by stating that, in his 
opinion, it did not warrant him in moving that the franchise of the 
borough should be absolutely annihilated, by its transference to some 
other place, but it was sufficiently decided to make it imperative on 
their lordships to adopt some course to prevent the recurrence of the 
bribery shown to have existed for so many years. The Lord Chan' 
cellar ( Lyndhurst} said, after attending daily to the evidence, and 
after a subsequent perusal of it, he was satisfied that the further 
progress of the measure ought to be resisted. From the evidence it 
appeared that there were 420 voters, and he defied the noble lord to 
show that bribery had been brought home to more than fourteen ; 
and even three of these instances depended upon admissions, and not 
actually upon testimony under the sanction of an oath. Lord De 
Dunstanville remarked that it had been said, that as he possessed 
considerable property in the neighbourhood of Penryn, it would give 
him a decided power in influencing the elections, should this'^bill pass. 
But he was convinced that the independence of the freeholders there, 
especially of the substantial yeomen, was such that if all the men of 
rank were to unite their influence in favour of one candidate, and a 
popular candidate were to start, he would beat their united strength 
immediately. In his opinion no case had been made out, either in 
luw or equity, to justify the present bill. The Earl of Eldon said 
he had never seen a case so utterly destitute of foundation. Lord 


Dacre said he was no friend of these wild doctrines of reform that 
would establish universal suffrage, or even householders' suffrage, in 
every case, for he did not think that any one uniform principle of 
voting could ever be adopted ; but as the object of this bill was to 
transfer the franchise to the commercial from the landed interest, he 
should certainly oppose it. The Marquis of Salisbury called the 
attention of their lordships to the words of the preamble of the bill. 
They ran in this form : ' Whereas, on account of the great wealth 
and population of Manchester, it is expedient that it should return 
burgesses to parliament.' Now, in that single sentence were embodied 
all the wildest doctrines of reform. If there were no other grounds 
for opposition, he should oppose this bill on that ground alone. As 
no other noble lord had objected to the bill on that ground, he had 
determined to enter his protest against such doctrines being smuggled 
into a bill to ruin the constitution. The Earl of Carnarvon ob- 
served, that, as he saw the general opinion of the house was against 
the bill, he would not press it to a division, but would withdraw it." 

And thus the effort for gradual reform was frustrated, 
and fortunately, for the "gradual" progress would have 
been much the same as standing still. There were many 
members of both houses who thought with Lord Salisbury, 
though they did not speak out so plainly, that to regard 
wealth and population as a claim to representation, was one 
of the wildest doctrines of reform, and that its practical 
recognition would lead to the utter ruin of the constitution. 



CONSIDERABLE dissatisfaction had for several years been 
manifested by a portion of the inhabitants of Manchester 
with the management of its municipal affairs. There was 
no elective authority in the town. The boroughreeve, who, 
by ancient custom rather than of right, exercised the func- 
tions of a mayor, and the constables, who were at the head 
of the day police, were elected at the lord of the manor's 
court leet, by a jury nominated by the lord of the manor's 
steward. The police commissioners, whose duties were to 
superintend the night-watch, and the paving, sewering, 
and lighting of the town, consisted of such persons as being 
assessed upon a 30 rental, chose to come forw r ard and take 
the oath of office. The inhabitants had no control over 
the first class of officers, and they had long shown them- 
selves as anxious to apprehend radicals and put down 
reform principles as to detect thieves and prevent theft and 
robbery. The police commissioners, abetted by the court 
leet officers, were, in like manner, apt to forget municipal 
duties in political; and there was a suspicion that, pro- 
vided their servants and the tradesmen they employed were 
sufficiently loyal, there would not be a very sharp inspection 
of their accounts. Amongst the complainants were Mr. 
Chapman, a fruiterer ; Mr. Nicholas Whitworth and Mr. 
William Whitworth, corn dealers ; Mr. P. T. Candelet, a 
draper ; Mr. John Dracup, a draper, and several other com- 
missioners who, even at the risk of personal violence, kept 
rooting after abuses, and succeeded in bringing to light 
some things which certainly looked very like jobs ; for 
instance, it was discovered that each horse kept by the 


commissioners, in addition to a fair allowance of corn, con- 
sumed bran to the amount of forty shillings' worth a week. 
Additional sources of dissatisfaction arose when gas became 
a necessary to the shopkeepers. The commissioners had, 
very wisely, established gas works, instead of leaving the 
supply to any joint stock company. They borrowed money 
to erect the works and put down the mains, repaid it out 
of profits derived, and borrowed more when the works 
needed extension ; and thus they obtained a large amount 
of clear income, to be expended in public improvements, 
without the assessment of the inhabitants to the amount of 
a single farthing. But, in the early stages of the manufac- 
ture, there was reason for complaint that improvements, 
as well as the lighting of the town, to which the whole 
community ought to have contributed, were effected out of 
the pockets of the gas consumers. At that time the con- 
sumption of gas was confined almost to the shopkeepers 
and publicans. It was not used in warehouses, offices, or 
dwelling-houses, or small factories, and the large spinning 
establishments made their own. Probably, not one-fourth 
of the ratepayers were gas consumers. The small trader, 
whose shop, situated in some dark narrow street, required 
much artificial light, complained that the enormous ware- 
houses of the Bridgewater Trust, and the great factories of 
the Birleys, the M'Connells, the Murrays, and the Houlds- 
worths, paid nothing towards the supply of the town's 
lamps with gas, while the whole of that cost was defrayed 
out of the profits derived from excessively high prices. A 
struggle was made by those who believed themselves to be 
unduly taxed, to have a reduction of the burthen. Those 
who escaped from this fair share of contribution, and 
thought that the gas consumers paid only a reasonable price 
for their light, opposed themselves fiercely to any reduction 
of the charge, which at that time was fourteen shillings per 
thousand cubic feet. The question became one almost of 
politics, and it was discussed with even more than political 


rancour. The taxed shopkeeper was the radical, and the 
untaxed warehouseman was the conservative. The re- 
formers, beaten on every division, began to ask accessions 
to their numbers, and as everybody who was assessed upon 
a rental of 30 a year was eligible, it was not difficult to 
persuade many to go and take the qualifying oath, and gain 
the opportunity of putting a check to " oppression." The 
same facility was presented to the other side, and great 
numbers qualified to protect the town's funds from " spolia- 
tion." Thus, the meetings of commissioners were constantly 
becoming more numerous and more stormy, till it was not 
an uncommon thing to see eight hundred commissioners 
present at a meeting, and to witness proceedings as little 
deliberative and decorous as we sometimes see in the front 
of the hustings on the nomination - day at a contested 

At a meeting held on the 30th of January, 1828, at which 
about 900 commissioners were present, it was intended, by 
the advocates for a reduction in the price of gas, to submit 
a i -lotion that it should be reduced, so as to leave a clear 
profit of 4,000 per annum, to be applied either to the 
reduction of the rates or the improvement of the town ; but 
it was soon seen that there was little disposition on the 
opposite side to come to any amicable arrangement. It 
was moved that the boroughreeve, Mr. Charles Cross, should 
take the chair ; but Mr. W. Whitworth objected, on the 
ground that Mr. Cross had not acted impartially at the 
previous meeting, and moved that Mr. Candelet should take 
the chair. It then became a question whether the election 
should be by ballot or by show of hands, and Mr. Oswald 
Milne put that question to the meeting, and declared that 
the majority was in favour of the ballot ; on which Mr. 
Hugh Hornby Bhiey demanded a scrutiny, which was 
effected with difficulty, great delay, and much uncertainty, 
and then the votes were declared to be for the ballot, 418; 
against it, 463. The question then became whether Mr, 



Cross or Mr. Candelet should be chairman, and it was put 
to the meeting by Mr. O. Milne, who declared that the 
majority was in favour of Mr. Cross. Mr. W. Whitworth, 
following the example of Mr. Birley, then proposed a scru- 
tiny, and that it should be taken from the police books, as he 
was convinced that of the names given in last there were 
many of persons who were not commissioners, as well as of 
persons who were not in the room at all. Preliminary to the 
scrutiny, tickets were handed round to obtain the names of 
all the persons in the room, that they might be compared 
with the list of commissioners. The tickets having all been 
handed in, soon after half-past one o'clock, Mr. Milne got 
on the table, and said he would announce the result of the 
scrutiny. " Nay, not the scrutiny," said Mr. John Gyte ; 
" there has been no scrutiny yet ; and the meeting under- 
stands that the scrutiny is to be made by comparing the 
names handed in with the names on the book." Mr. Milne 
paid no attention to this, and said, " The result of the voting 
is that there are 520 for the boroughreeve, and 386 against 
him, and I declare that he is elected chairman. Mr. Cross, 
take the chair." Mr. Whitworth and all of his supporters 
within hearing protested against this, and said that the 
scrutiny should be taken in the way that had been agreed 
upon, and as the meeting had been given to understand it 
should be taken ; but, as I was informed by several gentle- 
men who witnessed the transaction (for I was at the table 
below the hustings), Mr. Milne, instead of paying any 
attention to their protest, or to his own previous agreement, 
hurriedly held out his hand to Mr. Cross, who was at some 
distance, in order to pull him towards the table, over the 
heads of the commissioners who stood 011 the hustings. 
He was resisted in this attempt by their standing closely 
together, and Mr. Whitworth called out, " Don't let him 
into the chair until a fair scrutiny is made ; keep him out." 
On this there was an outcry, " Put him in " " Keep him 
out ;" and a general rush to the hustings from both sides of 


the room took place. As the commissioners either could 
not or would not make way, Mr. Cross, who was standing 
upon a chair near the wall, put one foot on the shoulder of 
a gentleman before him, and seemed disposed in this way 
to reach the table ; but the gentleman shifted a little to one 
side, and Mr. Cross, being unable to reach the table with 
his foot, slipped down. A cry immediately arose that he 
had been thrown down on purpose, and the confusion was 
increased, one party crying out that he was obstructed by 
force, and another that he had no right to be in the chair. 
Mr. Whitworth, who had been on the table in front of the 
hustings, then got over the railing, about the time when 
the boroughreeve had recovered his footing, and called out, 
" He has no right to be in the chair ; keep him out." Mr. 
Milne then stood forward, and called out loudly and repeat- 
edly for constables, and said that if any one would get a 
warrant, he would swear that Mr. Whitworth. had com- 
mitted an assault, and had urged on. his party to acts of 
violence. The- noise now was appalling, and the pressure 
towards the hustings, to see what w r as going on, was so 
great, that imminent danger from the collision of the parties 
was to be apprehended. At this period of the proceedings, 
fearing, from Mr. Milne's reiterated vociferations, that the 
boroughreeve' s personal safety was endangered, I jumped 
over the railing into the hustings, and going up to the 
boroughreeve, said, " Mr. Cross, I have 011 all occasions 
opposed your being chairman of these meetings, but I 
cannot sanction violence, and the man who assaults you 
assaults me." But a few seconds' observation showed me 
that Mr. Cross was in no danger, for he was sitting calmly 
on the table, and on this address he smiled and said, " Oh, 
I am neither afraid nor hurt." Indeed all around the table 
was quiet, but several combats were going on at the extre- 
mities of the hustings, arising, as far as I could judge, from 
disputes as to who began the disturbance. On the left 
of the table a young man, a clerk, as I was told, in the 
p 2 


constables' office, who had been desired to take a Mr. Wilde 
into custody, was laying about him furiously and indis- 
criminately with a constable's staff, and, in the efforts to 
moderate his zeal, several contests arose, in one of which 
Mr. Norris, of Marsden-square, was in some danger of 
being treated roughly. On the other side of the table a 
zealot of the conservative school tore off from the upper 
part of the hustings a piece of wood, five or six feet long 
and three or four inches thick, and brandishing it aloft, 
swore that he would settle his opponents ; but some consi- 
derate friend forcibly dispossessed him of his formidable 
weapon. In front of the hustings Mr. Richard Smith was 
engaged in a contest with a commissioner who had called 
him a liar ; but some one having said, " Why, Mr. Smith, 
that is the usual language here," he quitted hold of his 
antagonist's collar, and, with great good humour, let the 
matter drop. A very serious accident, however, befel one 
commissioner, Mr. Evans, of Ancoats-street, who, though 
standing at several yards' distance from the boroughreeve, 
and taking no part in the disturbance, was accused of being 
opposed to him, and, without any ceremony, was hurled 
from the hustings with such violence that he was driven 
head foremost against a sharp angle of one of the fluted 
columns, and received a wound which, at first sight, seemed 
to be mortal, but which was more frightful in appearance 
than dangerous. 

This riot gave great satisfaction to the opponents of local 
reform, and it was soon seen what use they intended to 
make of it. The tory Courier said : " If the affairs of the 
town are to be conducted, as heretofore, by the whole body 
of police commissoners, the qualification ought to be raised 
from 30 to 50 ;" adding, " we are glad to find that a 
statement of all the circumstances of the outrages at the 
Town Hall have been forwarded to the secretary of state.'' 
The whig Guardian took the same course, saying : " We 
fear the occurrences which have taken place at several of 


the late meetings, render the conclusion irresistible, that 
a new constitution of the body of the police commissioners 
has become absolutely necessary." The tory Chronicle 
stated that there were then 1,800 commissioners, and said : 
" It is now become obvious to every respectable resident in 
Manchester, that some change must be sought for in the 
mode of conducting its public business." This change had 
been long desired by those who did not find it work so 
pleasantly as when a few conservative gentlemen had the 
business all in their own hands. In the meantime it was 
thought advisable to take legal proceedings against Mr. 
Whitworth, who was brought before the magistrates, 
charged with riot and assault, and after a long examination 
he was required to enter into his own recognizance in 
200, and to find two sureties in 100 each to answer the 
charge at the sessions. Mr. George Hargreaves Winder, 
druggist, and Mr. Peter Turner Candelet, draper, entered 
into the required recognizances. The prosecution came to 
nothing, unless its instigators regarded it as something 
that they put Mr. Whitworth to a considerable amount of 

The hints as to the necessity of a change in the consti- 
tution of the police body were soon acted upon. In the 
papers of February 23rd appeared a requisition to the 
churchwardens to call a meeting of the rate-payers to con- 
sider the propriety of applying to parliament for an act to 
confer on all occupiers assessed to the police-rate, at the 
amount of 25 per annum, the right of voting in the 
choice of 240 commissioners from amongst those who might 
be assessed at the amount of 35 per annum. The prin- 
cipal names at the head of the requisition were 

H. H. Birley, 
George Neden, 
Thomas Entwisle, 
James Beardoe, 
J. B. Wanklyn, 

Joseph Green, 
Thomas Hardman, 
Charles Cross, 
Richard "Warren, 
Benjamin Braidley, 

Edmund Buckley, 
Henry Newbery, 
"William Garnett. 
Thomas Sowler, 


and a number of others who had been boroughreeves, or 
constables, or commissioners, or churchwardens, or sides- 
men, in quieter times, when humble men did as they were 
bidden by men in higher commercial station than them- 
selves. Amongst the names were mingled those of Mr. 
George William Wood, Mr. John Edward Taylor, Mr. 
Daniel Broadhurst, and other whig gentlemen who leaned 
a little more to the gentlemanly quietness of conservatism 
than to the rough turbulence of radicalism. The meeting 
was a stormy one, as might have been expected, when the 
object was to consider a proposal which went to exclude all 
who paid a rent of less than about 32 10s. (equivalent to 
an assessment on 25), from a vote in the choice of com- 
missioners. The resolutions proposed at the meeting were 
rejected by a majority of ten to one. It was then seen why 
the churchwardens, parish officers, rather than the borough- 
reeve, a township officer, had been invited to call the 
meeting. At parish meetings the voting was under Sturges 
Bourne's Act, which gave power to an individual, up to six 
votes, according to the amount of assessment. The church- 
warden, in his chair in the Collegiate Church, for, with the 
same design the meeting was held there, decided that the 
voting on this township affair should be under the Parish 
\ r estry Act, and on the call for a poll, decided that it should 
then and there commence. Mr. Shuttle worth then stood 
forward on the table and was received with loud cheers. 
He said that, " though he was convinced, from the astound- 
ing majority which the show of hands had exhibited, that 
those who were opposed to any present application to par- 
liament would be equally victorious under the Vestry Act, 
yet as he considered the voting under that act to be, under 
the circumstances illegal, and the intention now declared 
of enforcing it, one of the most discreditable tricks, even 
in the contentions of party, he had ever witnessed in public 
proceedings ; and as he was also convinced by the violation 
of all fairness in the spirit with which the measure was 


pressed forward, that those who had undertaken it would, 
in defiance of any majority of their townsmen against it, 
however taken and however recorded, still proceed with it 
to parliament, he would advise those who were opposed to 
it to do as he would do take their hats and their leave 
together and walk off. The battle must be fought before a 
committee of the House of Commons ; and the public of 
Manchester had so deep a stake in the conflict that they 
must prepare for the defence of their rights and interests in 
that field with the most determined energy and spirit. Time 
must be devoted, money must be raised, arrangements 
must be made without delay. If the public exerted them- 
selves as they ought, the town would not be injured and 
disgraced by a police bill, founded upon what he could not 
but characterise as insulting, unjust, and factious principles. 
These observations were received with loud cheering, and 
Mr. Shuttleworth, Mr. Baxter, Mr. Richard Potter, Mr. 
Thomas Harbottle, and a great number of gentlemen in or 
near the hustings immediately left the hall, which, in the 
course of a few minutes, was nearly emptied. At the close 
of the poll it was found that out of 8,000 actual ratepayers, 
only 641 persons, whose votes numbered 1,610, had voted 
in favour of the bill. So well had Mr. Shuttleworth' s 
advice been observed, that only six votes were recorded 
against the bill. 

Another meeting, convened by twenty-one police com- 
missioners, was held in the Town Hall, on the 5th March, 
to take into consideration the propriety of petitioning 
against the proposed bill, Mr. William Harvey in the chair. 
The speakers were Mr. Edward Baxter, Mr. P. T. Candelet, 
Mr. David Holt, Mr. J. C. Dyer, Mr. J. Shuttleworth, 
Mr. W. Whitworth, and Mr. Richard Potter. The only 
speaker in favour of the proposed bill was Mr. J. E. Taylor. 
The meeting resolved unanimously that no new police bill 
should be applied for until some general agreement should 
be made as to its provisions, and appointed forty gentlemen 


to oppose it, by deputation or otherwise, if the opposite 
party persisted in pressing it, in spite of the public opinion 
expressed against it. A general meeting of police com- 
missioners, to the number of 500, was held on the 27th 
March, and they also resolved to petition against the 
measure. As the proposers of the bill declined to meet 
and confer upon its provisions, a subscription was com- 
menced, several of the wards subscribed more than 100 
each, and all hope of amicable arrangement being dissipated, 
preparations were made for a hot parliamentary contest. 

On Friday, the 2nd May, the new bill was brought before 
a committee of the House of Commons, a strong deputation 
being there to support it, and Messrs. R. Potter, Joseph 
Brotherton, Edward Baxter, James Hampson, P. T. Can- 
delet, and myself, as deputies from the ratepayers' meeting, 
to oppose it. Again an attempt was made to avoid the 
contest by a proposal to submit the question of qualifica- 
tion, the main point in dispute, to arbitration, but the 
promoters of the bill, as they themselves acknowledged, 
had received instructions from the boroughreeve's party in 
Manchester, to make no concession. The first day's ex- 
amination w r as with the view of proving the preamble. On 
Monday, the 5th, the opposers of the bill agreed they would 
not rebut the evidence as to its necessity, as it \vas quite 
as desirable to repress the irregularities of the " high'' 
party as those of the " low." On this intimation being 
made by Mr. Blackburn, our counsel, the examination of 
Mr. Oswald Milne, the law clerk to the commissioners, 
there fighting against his employers, which had been going 
on while the deputation were consulting, ceased, and the 
promoters of the bill proceeded in their support of the 
several clauses, none of which were opposed till the arrival 
at the one which fixed the qualification of voters at an 
assessed rent of 25. This was objected to, and an amend- 
ment proposed, that the qualification should be 10, the 
discussion of which was deferred till next day, and the 


committee adjourned, having first expressed a wish that as 
the remaining clauses were matter of principle rather than 
of evidence, the two deputations should meet, and come to 
some agreement about them. To this the deputation op- 
posed to the bill offered no objection, although, from the 
refusal of their opponents to bring the points of the quali- 
fication to reference before, on the ground that they had 
no authority to come to such an agreement, they saw no 
probability of the boroughreeve, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Green, 
and the rest of the promoters coming to any reasonable 
terms, particularly after having, as they supposed, obtained 
a victory in proving the preamble of the bill. However, 
the deputation opposing the bill sent to their opponents, 
within two or three hours after the sitting of the com- 
mittee, copies of all the clauses they intended to propose, 
and begged to know when Mr. Cross and his friends could 
meet them. Instead, however, of consenting to any con- 
ference, Mr. Cross addressed a letter to Mr. Baxter, couched 
in a somewhat insolent tone, rejecting at once the clauses 
submitted to their consideration, and expressing their 
opinion that such clauses could never have been submitted 
with any desire to come to an agreement. 

On Tuesday the committee again met and proceeded to 
the examination of Mr. John Thorpe, comptroller of ac- 
counts to the police commissioners, who stated that 3,800 
persons were assessed at 25 and upwards, and about 4,000 
more at from 10 to 25. The latter, he said, consisted of 
small shopkeepers, such as hucksters and green-grocers, 
clerks, warehousemen, and mechanics. This evidence was 
offered to the committee to prove the assertion of Mr. 
Adam, one of the counsel for the bill, that, even at the 
high qualification of voters proposed by its promoters, there 
would be a numerous body of voters, and that the persons 
who would be excluded were of those classes which have 
enough to do in their own affairs, without any further in- 
terfering in police matters than to pay their rates. Mr. 

p 3 


Thorpe stated, also, that the persons who now attended 
police meetings were not of so respectable a class as those 
who formerly used to attend. In his cross-examination, 
he said, that 222 occupiers, who were then police com- 
missioners, would not even have a vote in the elections 
under the new bill, being assessed at less than 25, and 
some at less than 15, and that even more than that num- 
ber of owners, and persons who did not directly pay rates, 
then commissioners, would have no vote. This part of Mr. 
Thorpe's cross-examination not only proved the great ex- 
tent of the disfranchisement that would take place, but it 
saved the opposers of the bill the trouble of proving that 
the assessments were very much lower than the real rental. 
Mr. Blackburn then proceeded to examine Mr. Thorpe from 
certain tables, which had been made up in compliance with a 
motion made by Mr. W. Whitworth, at the meeting on the 
16th of April. By these it was shown, that of the accounts' 
committee, consisting of six persons, four, by the new bill, 
would be disqualified as voters, and five would become 
ineligible as commissioners ; that out of ten of the scaven- 
ging committee, six would be disqualified as voters, and nine 
would be ineligible as commissioners, and so on through all 
the committees. It was next shown, by a cross-examina- 
tion upon these tables, that by far the best attendance on 
these subsidiary committees was by individuals who, under 
the new act, would not only be ineligible as commissioners, 
but who would not even have a vote in the choice of the 
new managers of public affairs. It was also shown that 
the worst attendance was on the part of persons highly 
assessed ; for instance, in the lamp committee, two out of 
the three who were highest assessed, never attended at all, 
while on the fire-engine committee, consisting of persons 
at high assessments, two never attended at all, four only 
once, three only twice, two only thrice, and so on. 

Mr. John Wood, member for Preston, son of Mr. Ottiwell 
"Wood, formerly of Manchester, further elicited from Mr 


Thorpe, that the management of municipal affairs was 
certainly better than it had been ten years previously, 
when it was notorious that, under the management of a 
very few commissioners, of " high respectability," so much 
as 50 a year, for each horse kept, was charged for bran. 

MR. WOOD. Now, Mr. Thorpe, you are obviously well acquainted 
with the business of the police. Do you think it possible that such 
a scandalous job could take place now ? 

ME. THOEPE. I do not think it could. 

ME. WOOD. Are not all contracts made now on the best possible 

ME. THOEPE. I believe they are. 

ME. WOOD. Are not the committees well attended ? 

ME. THOEPE. They are. 

ME. WOOD. Yet a great proportion of those who attend are 
assessed at a low rate ? 

ME. THOEPE. They are. 

ME. WOOD. Do you think the business, generally, of the com- 
mittees could be better done than it is now ? 

ME. THOEPE. I do not think it could. 

The parties for and against the bill were ordered to 
withdraw, and on their re-admission they were told that 
the committee, after considering what ought to be the 
qualification of voters and commissioners, had agreed to 
recommend that it should be on an assessment to the police 
rate on 20. The counsel for the promotion of the bill 
objected to any decision as to the qualification of com- 
missioners before any evidence was heard on that point; 
but they were reminded that this was not a decision, but 
a recommendation. The deputation opposed to the bill 
promptly resolved to agree to the qualifications recom- 
mended by the committee, and an immediate communica- 
tion to that effect was made to the boroughreeve. Our 
deputation, with the lordly letter of Mr. Cross in their 
hands, stating that he and the other members of Ms depu- 
tation at once rejected the clauses submitted to them, 
thought that after that independent course of action they 


could not again evade compliance by pleading that they 
had no authority vested in them. About nine o'clock, 
however, a letter was received from Mr. Cross, saying that 
the deputation (Mr. Cross, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Green, and 
Mr. C. Smith,) had written to their "constituents," and 
that without instructions from them they were wholly 
unauthorized to agree to the qualifications recommended 
by the committee ! This was their third refusal to come 
to any agreement with the opposers of the bill. 

On Wednesday morning, Mr. Adams proposed an adjourn- 
ment till Monday, by which time, he said, the borough- 
reeve's deputation would have received instructions from 
their constituents in Manchester. This was opposed by Mr. 
Blackburn, who protested against keeping the opposers of 
the bill in town at a heavy expense, merely because the 
promoters of the bill could not do anything without in- 
structions. Lord Stanley said that the deputation seemed 
to have much more limited powers than he supposed they 
had, and more limited than other deputations had, for 
gentlemen were usually sent not to demand that one 
course should be followed, and no other, but to do what 
was best under all the circumstances. Mr. Adams replied, 
that the gentlemen felt it necessary to send for instructions, 
because, if the measures recommended by the committee 
were adopted, their friends in Manchester might deem it 
better to abandon their bill altogether. Mr. Stanley said 
there was no occasion to wait for a reply from Manchester, 
for if the gentlemen there did not like the bill, they might 
abandon it in a future stage as well as now. Mr. Adams 
then objected to any decision being come to as to the 
qualification of commissioners, as that part of the bill had 
not been discussed. The last mentioned member said, that 
the adoption of 20 voters bore a reference to the qualifi- 
cation of commissioners, for the committee considered that 
if the one was raised, the other should be reduced. It 
would, he said, be lowering themselves indeed, if they were, 


instead of exercising their own discretion, to wait till certain 
persons in Manchester made up their minds. Sir James 
Graham said it would be quite derogatory to the dignity 
of the committee to suspend, their proceedings merely be- 
cause a deputation was sent which had no discretionary 
powers. Mr. John Wood said it was strange that the 
deputation should refuse to accede to the proposal, for, in 
their own statement, circulated amongst the members, they 
had said they would cheerfully submit to any modifications 
the committee might think advisable. Mr. Joseph Hume 
took the same course, and at length the committee resolved 
that the prayer of the promoters of the bill, that they 
should adjourn till Monday, should not be granted. Mr. 
Blackburn then spoke very shortly, but pithily, and the 
members were left to themselves to decide. When the 
parties were admitted into the room, it was found they 
had fixed on 20 assessment as the qualification of voters. 
Then came the commissioners' qualification clause. After 
some discussion, the parties were again turned out the 
opposers in full expectation of things being right, yet under 
the fear that it was possible that a muster might be made 
to raise it the promoters obviously in great alarm. At 
length the door was opened, when Lord Stanley deliberately 
read over the clause, and instead of thirty-five, read twenty. 
On Thursday the committee, proceeding to other clauses 
of the bill, made short work of a very complicated system 
of election devised by Mr. G. W. Wood, and apportioned 
the number of commissioners to each ward according to 
a scale, suggested by Mr. Brotherton, drawn up with a 
reference to both the number of the population and the 
amount to which property was assessed. Mr. Sergeant, 
solicitor, was the only one present of the original promoters 
of the bill, and offered no opposition to any of the amended 
clauses, all of which were agreed to except one, particularly 
insisted upon by Mr. Candelet, Mr. Hampson, and myself, 
which was afterwards thrown out, to fix the price of gas at 


a rate which would leave a clear profit of ten per cent, per 
annum on the estimated value of the works. On Saturday 
the original promoters of the bill, who had, up to that time, 
shown no disposition to come to amicable terms, or to any 
terms, communicated to our deputation that they would 
allow the bill to pass without opposition, if the qualification 
of commissioners were raised to a 30 assessment, and the 
number of commissioners for each district were in propor- 
tion to the amount which such district contributed to the 
rates. To accede to this very modest proposal would have 
been to abandon half of what had already been gained, after 
a most vexatious and exceedingly expensive contest, and 
the original opposers, now the supporters, of the bill gave 
a prompt refusal to the proposal. 

The care of the bill, during its progress through the 
House of Lords, was entrusted to Mr. Baxter, Mr. Brother- 
ton, Mr. R. Potter, Mr. J. Shuttleworth, and Mr. David 
Holt, the belief being that a strong effort would be made 
there to restore the high qualification ; and that such was 
the intention was soon proved by Lord Skelmersdale giving 
notice that he would move its restoration. But, after all 
the parade, and effort, and expenditure, and boast, and 
swagger, the promoters of the original bill came, cap in 
hand and with bated breath, to propose that if the qualifi- 
cation of commissioners were raised to 28, they would 
consent that the qualification of voters should be reduced 
to 16. To this the now promoters of the bill gave their 
consent, and it was passed. My comment at the time, in 
my newspaper, was : " We must not look on the bill as the 
best which could be framed, but as the best which could 
be passed ; and although it is very far from being one 
deserving unqualified approbation, and though it may be 
doubtful how it will work, there can be no difference of 
opinion amongst the independent and thinking part of our 
community, that we are likely to have much more useful 
commissioners at a qualification of 28 than at one of 35, 


and that the control exercised over those commissioners will 
be much more effective when their election is in the hands 
of persons assessed at 16 than if it had been in the hands 
of persons assessed at 25." In this contest the sum of 
2,400 was expended by the original promoters of the bill, 
and 1,200 by those who contended for its amendment. 
The former had no legal sanction for their expenditure, 
but, having a majority under the new constitution, they 
voted repayment to themselves, accompanying the vote, 
however, with one that the opposers also should be repaid. 
The latter refused to receive the money, and insisted that 
both parties should bear the expenses out of their own 
pockets ; but the original promoters held fast by what they 
had received, and when all hope of their refunding the 
amount was lost, the original opposers who had afterwards 
become promoters, consented to accept of the sum voted 
and set apart for their use. 



WHEN I purchased the copyright and materials of Mrs. 
Cowdroy's Gazette I received assistance from some friends, 
and amongst others from one firm that opened a credit for 
me with a banker. The firm, which was amongst the suf- 
ferers by the great commercial depression of 1826, became 
insolvent ; and I had to repay to the bank the money which 
had been advanced to me. This was the beginning of diffi- 
culties which I need not detail. Demands came upon me 
faster than could be met from the profits of my paper. 
Towards the end of 1827 my friends advised me to offer my 
creditors a composition. I did so, and the greater number 
had agreed to accept it, when one of the persons who had 
became security for me at the stamp -office, becoming 
alarmed, gave notice that he expected the board to use the 
power it possessed of compelling payment. What was 
called " an extent in aid" was issued, and I suddenly found 
not only all my printing materials taken possession of, but 
notices sent to all who owed me money that it was to be 
paid to government. The composition, the arrangements 
for which had been nearly completed, was now out of the 
question, and bankruptcy was the necessary result. I was 
in the condition of the farmer, who, having laid out all his 
money in improvements, was broken down just at the time 
when the return for his outlay began to come in. I had 
added fifty per cent, to the circulation of the paper, and 
much more than doubled its advertisements. It was yield- 
ing an income beyond my expenditure, and promised 
speedily to become a " good property." It was in the way 
of clearing off" all debt upon it, but not speedily enough to 


satisfy the immediate demands, and in this condition it 
was broken down, and I was, for the time, broken down 
with it. When I saw that the process of bankruptcy must 
take its course, but in the hope that the assignees who 
might be appointed for the sale of my interest therein, 
would not allow the paper to die out, and the value of the 
copyright to be lost to my creditors, I published the follow- 
ing address to my readers : 


" At the commencement of a new year, it has been my custom to 
offer to the readers of the Gazette my sincere and grateful acknow- 
ledgments for the support and patronage experienced by me during 
the time I hare had the pleasure, and I trust the not unimportant or 
useless task of holding weekly communication with them on matters 
of local and general interest. I do so again on the present occasion 
with not less sincerity, although under circumstances which, as 
affecting myself, are painfnl and unfortunate, and to which, though 
of a somewhat personal nature, it seems proper for me publicly to 

" All the old subscribers to this paper know that, previously to its 
coming into my hands, it had, for some years, been conducted under 
most disadvantageous circumstances. Its influence upon public 
opinion was very limited; its advertisements, the most profitable 
part of a newspaper establishment, were exceedingly few ; its type 
was fast wearing out ; and although if not a very obviously sinking 
concern, it was a matter of some degree of wonder that it did not 
sink. Still it had a circulation amongst those who were pleased with 
its consistency during more than a quarter of a century ; it had a 
name and a copyright, and this name and copyright, I purchased at a 
considerable price. Once the Gazette had been a very different thing, 
and I looked upon it as capable of being restored to and raised beyond 
its former condition. When I turned over its pages, and conned its 
contents ; when I saw what it was, and knew what it had been ; and 
when I reflected on the wide scope which the increase of the popula- 
tion, trade, and intelligence of the district, afforded for exertion, I 
felt as many an enterprising agriculturist has felt when walking over 
the fields of a once well cultivated and prosperous farm, which, either 
from the neglect or poverty of the cultivator, had become a wilder- 
ness ; but from which, after a liberal outlay, there might still be 


expected a liberal return. Such a man, in such a pursuit, is often 
too sanguine in his views, and prone to look at what the farm may 
bring him years hence, and after he has expended his money in 
improving it, than to the return it can yield in the early period 
of his tenantcy. In counting the future gains from acres which 
are yet unproductive, he will confidently lay out his money in drain- 
ing and trenching, and ploughing, and hedging, and planting (to say 
nothing of the too great price he may pay for his occupation of it), 
the land which is to give its harvest at a future period. And thus, 
while effecting undoubted improvements, the man, if his capital be 
not great, finds his means to be exhausted precisely when the return 
of his outlay is about to be fully enjoyed ; and perhaps he sees the 
fruits of his labours pass into the hands of others who gather where 
they have not strewed. 

" Very much like this have been my calculations and conduct. . I 
have effected the improvement ; I have changed totally the aspect of 
my concern. I have, during less than four years, raised the Gazette 
so far, that, hi circulation, it ranks behind not more than five or six 
of all the country papers, and behind only one of the Manchester 
papers. It has, under my management, acquired some importance 
as the organ of bold and independent sentiments, with regard both 
to local and national topics. It does actually yield a handsome 
income at the present time. But having accomplished thus much I 
find myself, for a tune, at least, overwhelmed with engagements, 
resulting, in a great measure, from my efforts to improve my paper, 
and to make it that which it was capable of being made. 

" There are causes of embarrassment to which the case supposed 
bears no analogy. The outgoings of a newspaper establishment are 
comparatively large sums, while all its incomings are small. The 
former are certain, constant, and admit of no delay. The latter are 
of such a nature, that the most incessant watchfulness and effort are 
necessary to make them available. The accounts for newspapers, for 
advertisements, and for printing, are numerous beyond the concep- 
tion of those who are ignorant of the details of such a business 5 and 
these are almost all credit accounts ; and these little credit accounts 
are precisely those which people in general care least about punctually 
paying, and which it is therefore most difficult to collect. Over this 
department, while labouring in the editorial field, to raise the 
character of the paper, to increase its circulation, and extend its 
advertising connexion, I have been unable to exercise that close and 
watchful superintendence which it required, and the effect has been 


much more than any person unacquainted with such a business could 
readily conceive. If, for having suffered these losses to accrue for 
want of my constant personal superintendence of the department in 
question, I am blameable, (which I do not deny), I must be content 
to bear all the censure I may receive from those who have known 
what it is to feel their minds distracted by the long-continued and 
severe illness of those who are dearest to them, and who also know 
something of the pressure with which this evil has weighed upon 
me a pressure which is now, I thank God, lightened in a great 
degree, and is, I trust, in a course of complete removal. 

" I again offer to the readers of the Gazette my warm and sincere 
thanks for their patronage, and beg leave to express my hope that it 
will still be continued ; for every thing which improves the condition 
of this paper, will improve the situation of my creditors, and facilitate 
my arrangements with them. 

" Gazette Office, January 12th, 1828." 

This address brought around me many sympathising 
friends, including some of my heaviest creditors, who tried 
to soothe my feelings by assuring me that I had suffered 
because I was in advance of public opinion, and by circum- 
stances over which I could have no control, and that better 
times would come. Amongst other notes of encouragement, 
for which I felt grateful, was one from Mr. Egerton Smith, 
who, in the Liverpool Mercury of February 1st said gene- 
rously : " The proprietors of newspapers who dare fearlessly 
advocate the cause of parliamentary reform, and of civil and 
religious liberty, and expose private delinquency, are beset 
with so many perils, that they ought, at least, to encourage 
each other, and especially in the hour of adversity. For 
some reason, for which we are unacquainted, the editor of the 
Manchester Gazette seems to want cheering up a little just 
at this moment ; and we trust our respectable and honest 
contemporary will not be offended if we take the liberty to 
clap him on the back. We have marked his political career, 
and have found him to be one of those public characters 
who cannot be spared in such times as these. We were 
much concerned to hear a rumour that the Gazette was 


about to be relinquished, and we are much pleased to find 
this rumour unfounded." 

The day came for my appearance before the bankruptcy 
commissioners. The kind-hearted Richard Potter, one of 
my assignees, with tears in his eyes and a voice broken by 
emotion, uttered something of ill health at my home, and 
of mistaken calculations of success, and my examination 
was passed with scarcely another word. I went from the 
meeting to the New Quay Company's warehouse, where 
the dead bodies were laid of a number of young persons 
who had been drowned that morning at the launch of a 
vessel in the river. I had scarcely seen death before, and 
the wet and livid bodies presented it in a frightful form ; 
but I found myself, while contemplating the melancholy 
scene, reflecting, with some degree of envy, that after life's 
fitful fever they slept sound. The unnerving thought held 
me but for a moment. There were duties to be done, and 
I resolved, with the help of God, that they should be done. 
I was spared to help forward, however humbly, by my voice 
and pen, many movements to promote the happiness of my 
fellow-men, to see catholic emancipation follow the repeal 
of the test and corporation acts, the passing of the reform 
bill, the abolition of slavery in our colonies, the reform of 
our municipal corporations, the reduction of the duty on 
newspapers, the adoption of the penny postage, the aboli- 
tion of the monopoly of bible-printing in Scotland, a great 
impulse given to early tuition, the repeal of the corn and 
navigation laws, and a wide recognition of the principles of 
peace, to prove, notwithstanding my disastrous and almost 
heart-breaking business failure, that Manchester could sup- 
port a thoroughly independent newspaper, and to leave 
in my editorial place, after nineteen years of further not 
uninfluential labour, men disposed to carry out the principles 
which I had advocated, and a public prepared to demand, 
if it could not be had without a demand, an unshrinking 
expression, through the press, of reform principles. 



The Manchester Gazette passed out of my hands, soon 
afterwards to be incorporated with the Manchester Times, 
which was established by a joint-stock company, consisting 
of a number of gentlemen, several of whom had lost money 
by my bankruptcy, but desirous to secure my public ser- 
vices. In a spirit of delicate generosity to one who might, 
uncharitably, be considered as a fallen man, I was requested 
to draw out the prospectus in my own name, and to give 
ray own assurance to the public that I had full liberty to 
carry out all the principles I had formerly advocated, in- 
dependent of any clique or part} 7 . In the first published 
number of the new paper, which appeared on the 17th 
of October, 1828, amongst other pledges of unabated and 
unflinching devotion to the cause of reform, I gave the 
following : 

" I shall often ask my townsmen whether it is to be believed that 
an assembly chosen by the people ever should have enacted measures 
to prohibit, until actual famine should have begun to rage, the intro- 
duction of cheap corn from all the countries around us, when all 
those countries required from us, in exchange, nothing but those 
manufactured goods, to the production of which the population has, 
by tens, and hundreds, and thousands, been turning the labour which 
formerly went to the cultivation of the earth ; I shall often ask my 
townsmen, who are especially affected by the odious policy, whether 
the people's representatives, seeing surplus corn abroad and surplus 
goods at home, and the proprietors of each needing that which the 
other wished to dispose of, would have decreed that the mutually 
beneficial exchange should not take place, and for no reason in the 
world but this, that a domineering aristocracy should, out of the hard 
earnings of industry, which are paid for the dear bread of home pro- 
duction, continue to derive the exorbitant rents which war and paper 
money formerly enabled them to exact." 

I believe that the public have given me credit for the 
faithful fulfilment of this pledge. There \vere other news- 
papers which advocated parliamentary reform and the abo- 
lition of monopolies, but it was occasionally and incidentally, 
not with the reiterated, earnest continuousness of the Man- 
Times, which waited not for the favourable tide 


of public opinion, but strove to create it ; and I may be 
permitted to say, without any great amount of undue 
assumption, that the constant exposure, in its columns, of 
every landlord-fallacy uttered from 1828 to 1838, contri- 
buted in no slight degree to the lead which Manchester, 
from the latter period, took in the great movement which 
resulted in the repeal of the corn-law. Certain it is that, 
during that memorable contest, I was often cheered by the 
assurance of young, able, and energetic men, throwing their 
life and soul into the agitation for free trade, and its great 
anticipated result the binding of all nations of the earth 
in the bonds of peace that their first lessons in a generous 
political economy were derived from me. I have passed 
through the sandy desert where no water was, and may be 
allowed now to look back, with feelings approaching to 
exultation, to the few green fields that lie between. 

The period at which I renewed my labours as a journalist 
was one of high hope. There was not much movement, 
but men's minds were in the way of preparation for move- 
ment. Some experiments had been made in the direction 
of free-trade, and made without ruining commerce ; the 
test and corporation acts had been repealed, and yet the 
always-in-danger church stood unshaken ; the belief was 
gaining ground that Catholic Emancipation might be 
granted, not only without utterly destroying, but without 
in any degree endangering an enlightened Protestantism, 
and that a considerable reform of the representative system 
might take place without the extinction of our " glorious 
constitution." The friends of civil and religious liberty 
looked forward with hope, the obstructives of progress with 

The bigotry and conservatism which had distinguished 
Manchester and its neighbourhood, were not to be van- 
quished without a struggle. On the 21st Novemeber, 1828, 
there appeared in the Manchester papers a requisition, 


signed by five hundred and fifty persons, including forty- 
four clergymen, calling a meeting of all who concurred 
with the requisitionists in the opinion that the concession 
of further political power to the Roman Catholics would be 
pregnant with danger to the constitution of these realms. 
A counter declaration appeared in the same papers, in 
which the subscribers, four hundred and fifty in number, 
expressed their regret that the harmony and good feeling 
prevalent should be disturbed by the agitation of the sub- 
ject, and made known their desire to have the question left 
to the calm consideration of parliament. Amongst those 
who signed the declaration were a number of churchmen 
and tories, who had never before lent their names to any- 
thing so nearly approaching a liberal movement. Mr. Peel 
had been in Manchester in the early part of the year, and 
had cautiously avoided any pledge to stand firm in his 
opposition to concession ; Eldon had been left out of office, 
and some rather strong suspicions had arisen that the Duke 
of Wellington would yield to expediency on the question. 
The anti-catholic meeting took place in the Manor Court 
Room on the following Monday, and Mr. Lavender, who 
had succeeded Nadin as deputy-constable, stood at the door 
to exclude all who were unfavourable to the object of the 
meeting. I see I have noted at the time that " to the 
honour of those who were thus questioned be it said, that 
as their leaders will not forswear themselves to get admit- 
tance into parliament, they would not tell a falsehood to 
gain admittance into the court-room of the lord of the 
manor of Manchester." The chairman, Mr. Hardman, very 
wisely said that their object was not discussion, but an ex- 
pression of their fears of danger to the constitution. Mr. 
Norris, the paid chairman of the quarter sessions, moved 
the first resolution, a man of narrow intellect and confined 
' views, whose main argument was, that if catholic eman- 
cipation were granted, parliamentary reform would be 
demanded, "and then," he asked triumphantly, "what 


would become of our constitution ? What would become of 
king, lords, and commons ?'' The motion was seconded by 
Mr. John Bradshaw, and of course carried unanimously. 
The other speakers or movers were Messrs. Joseph Birley, 
Francis Phillips, who made a stand for Protestant ascend- 
ancy, Mr. James Brierley, Mr. Benjamin Braidley, then 
rising into a very brief distinction, Mr. Jeremiah Fielding, 
Mr. Charles Cross, Mr. Watkinson, who did not wish the 
king to go to his grave a " perjured character," Mr. Joseph 
Green, whose day of local power was now nearly over, 
and the Rev. Cecil Daniel Wray, who still holds a very 
lucrative office in the church, notwithstanding catholic 
emancipation. The petition to the lords was to be en- 
trusted to the Duke of Wellington, that to the commons to 
Mr. Peel. Alas for the expectations of our protestant- 
ascendancy gentlemen ! In three short months both of 
these statesmen were to be against them. 

The Cheshire Brunswickers followed the example of the 
Manchester obstructives. A county meeting was held at 
Knutsford on Monday, December 28th. It had been con- 
fidently announced that it would be attended by between 
twenty and thirty thousand persons : notwithstanding extra- 
ordinary exertions all over the country, not more than six 
or seven hundred came, including the women and children 
of Knutsford. Peel's ominous silence, and the Duke of 
Wellington's expressed desire for dispassionate considera- 
tion, had prepared the minds of the more moderate for 
some feasible change, and they held aloof. Sir H. M. 
Mainwairing, a renowned fox-hunter, was called to the 
chair, and made a mild speech. He was followed by the 
Rev. Sir Philip Grey Egerton, who was equally cautious. 
Mr. H. C. Cotton was also very moderate. Mr. Trafford 
Trafford, of Oughterington, chairman of the quarter sessions, 
abused O'Connell, Shiel, and the catholic priests; but being 
a man not averse to patronage, if exerted in his own behalf 
or that of his family, forbore to say much against the govern- 


ment, which might possibly turn and ask its friends to turn 
with it. The Rev. C. W. Ethelston reminded his hearers 
of the massacre of St. Bartholomew's day. Mr. W. H. 
Folliott, speaking near dinner time, was listened to im- 
patiently. "Well," said he, "I will not detain you. A 
good dinner is better than a bad speech at any time. Allow 
me, however, to read you what was done in the reign of 
Mary, which lasted four years, five months, and eleven 
days. In that time two hundred and seventy persons were 
burned to death, including five bishops. Think of that 
think of that; and twenty- one clergymen think of that. 
There were also eight laymen and eighty-four tradesmen ; 
and now listen, you husbandmen,- one hundred husband- 
men were burned aye, made beef- steaks of. Think of 
that, farmers of Cheshire. How would you like to be made 
beef-steaks of? Think of that." The farmers of Cheshire 
proved that they did think of it by voting for the resolu- 
tions. The leaders afterwards dined together, and drank 
" protestant ascendancy," all standing who could stand- 
and thus the great county demonstration ended, the last 
that was attempted by the hitherto ruling party in ultra 
loyal and protestant Cheshire. 

At a meeting of the Catholic Association, held in the 
month of December, Mr. O'Connell said he had ascertained 
that an emancipation bill was actually in the hands of the 
lawyers, and that ministers were making preparations to 
have it passed through both houses of parliament, at the 
approaching session. I had a lurking suspicion that the 
catholic leaders would be glad to barter, for the removal of 
their own civil disabilities, the political rights of their 
humbler countrymen, and I thus hinted it in my paper 
of the 28th : 

" The bill, described by Mr. O'Connell, is infinitely less objection- 
able in its principle than that which had his cordial approbation in 
1825, for its defect is only a foolish restriction of catholic votes to 
subjects not connected with the church, while the bill which he and 



his colleagues sanctioned, would have limited the elective franchise, 
already by far too narrow, and thus made a barter of popular rights 
for aristocratic principles. Mr. O'Connell and Mr. Shiel can have 
no objection to sit in the House of Commons, even with a limitation 
of their votes to subjects unconnected with the endowed church ; for 
no sacrifice of principle is made when men enter upon the enjoyment 
of enlarged privileges, though the enlargement be not so ample as 
they desired and contended for; but had Mr. O'Connell and Mr. 
Shiel obtained an extension of their own privileges, by consenting, in 
the name of their countrymen, to a limitation of the elective suffrage, 
it would have been one of the basest instances of selfish bartering that 
ever disgraced the annals of a country notorious for injuries inflicted 
on the many for the benefit of the few. We were amongst the few 
journalists who opposed the flagitious design to disfranchise the Irish 
freeholders, and to place the Irish Eoman Catholic priesthood as 
pensioners upon the produce of the taxes paid by English Protestants ; 
and having denounced the scheme as flagrantly disgraceful to the 
catholic leaders, and to the professed friends of reform, who pro- 
fessed it, we rejoiced that the bill of 1825, with such adjuncts, was 
thrown out of parliament ; and we now rejoice at the prospect of 
a measure, which, emanating in 1829 from an almost Eldon adminis- 
tration, shall more respect the rights of the people than that which 
in 1825 was sanctioned and supported by the whilom leaders of the 
English reformers. We shall have proof, indeed, that the school- 
master is abroad, if the Duke of Wellington dare not attempt an 
abridgment of popular suffrage, which Burdett and Brougham pro- 
posed, and had they had the power, would have carried into effect !" 

The base bargain was made, after all! The boon and 
the blow were accepted together the boon to the leaders, 
the heavy blow to their generous and faithful followers. 
Miss Martineau, in her valuable " History of England during 
the Thirty Years' Peace," says : " On looking back to this 
time, nothing is more surprising than the quietness with 
which the disfranchisement of the forty-shilling freeholders 
took place. There were some few who saw and exposed 
the. badness of the proceeding, but they were very few ; 
and the very men who ought to have understood and been 
faithful to the principle of the case, the very men who, 
in the same session spoke and voted for parliamentary 



reform, helped to extinguish the political liberties of the 
lories ! Mr Brougham regarded it as the almost extra- 
vagant price of the inestimable good which would arise 
from catholic emancipation. Sir J. Macintosh, declared it 
a tough morsel which he had found it hard to swallow. 
Lord Duncannon, Lord Palmerston, and Mr. Huskisson 
tried another method. They did what argument could do 
to obtain the inestimable good without paying the extrava- 
gant price which they did not conceive to be necessary. If 
they had been duly supported by all the friends of parlia- 
mentary reform, there is little doubt that the relief of the 
catholics might have been obtained without the sacrifice of 
so vast an amount of political right. But among the silent 
and idle was O'Connell, who threw overboard his believed 
* Forties,' after pledging his life to destruction, and his soul 
to perdition, if he ever again slighted their liberties ; and 
in a case where O'Connell so failed, we have little power of 
censure to share for meaner offenders." My censure, the 
censure of one of the few, " the very few," who protested 
against the base bargain, extends to all the offenders, great 
and small. It was not Mr. Brougham who had to pay the 
extravagant price ; it was not Sir James Macintosh who 
had the tough morsel to swallow ; it was not Mr. O'Connell 
who made a sacrifice. The act was a wholesale disfran- 
chisement of the poor to obtain privilege for a few of the 
rich. It reduced the electoral body in Ireland to such a 
small handful, that Lord John Russell's administration, in 
very shame, because the whole country was crying shame 
on it, was obliged to come forward, in this year 1850, with 
a tinkering measure to remedy the evil inflicted twenty-one 
years before. It was sickening to contrast the pertinacity 
with which the House of Commons defended the privilege 
of a handful of corrupt voters in a Cornish borough with its 
hot-haste in disfranchising 200,000 voters in Ireland. 

While indulging in the hope of reform I saw that, to 
make an improvement of the representative system pro- 

Q 2 


ductive of really good government, instruction must be 
widely diffused amongst the people, and that instruction, 
to be effective, must be commenced yearly. Schools for 
Infants had been established, but the system had made 
little progress. Samuel Wilderspin had done some good 
by attracting attention to the advantages to be derived 
from very early tuition. Bishops and lords had tried to 
do so, but with little success. Wilderspin illustrated his 
plan. He carried a school with him, and exhibited it 
before the admiring eyes of the benevolent ; and tears from 
the well-spring of the heart, and smiles irradiating lovely 
countenances betokened the triumph of the simple and the 
beautiful exhibition. Societies were formed, and schools 
were built, and hopes were indulged that the infant race 
was speedily to be religiously and morally instructed, before 
vicious habits could fasten themselves with an iron grasp 
upon the infant mind. But to build new schools was an 
expensive process ; the initiative was costly, and the sub- 
sequent required support was costly. The recipients of 
the benefit, parents among the poorer classes, were not 
much disposed to pay for a good which they did not very 
well understand. The Lady Bountiful was very kind ; the 
rich folks were very kind; it was a nice thing for their 
little ones to sing nice little songs and to behave pretty ; 
but " really twopence every week was a good deal for a 
poor man to pay." And some doubted the good to be 
derived. They had not felt the want, and had not sought 
the benefit. It was a new thing proceeding from the rich 
without consultation with the poor, and might be, after all, 
only another scheme similar to the charity school, where 
the principal thing was how poor men's boys should pull 
off their caps, and poor men's girls should make their 
curtsey to the squire and the parson, and the squire's lady 
and the parson's lady. Sad perversion of thought, cer- 
tainly ; but those who entertained it had not enjoyed the 
benefit of early tuition, and the doubt was excusable. 


It struck me that something more practicable might be 
attempted, and I suggested it. All the Sunday schools 
stood invitingly open six days in the week ; why not bring 
them into daily use ? A sum of 400 or 500 would be 
required to build a school for infants. There were hundreds 
of places ready built, used only on the Sunday, ready for 
additional use at a trifling expense. The mere suggestion 
gave a greater impulse to that system of teaching than 
it had previously received. Another suggestion greatly 
lessened the pecuniary responsibility for current expenses: 
To render the schools, as nearly as possible, self-support- 
ing, it was necessary to have a fair number of scholars 
attending and paying constantly. That could not be had 
without convincing parents that it was their interest and 
their duty to send their children, not occasionally, but 
regularly. I sought out school rooms where I could deliver 
lectures on the subject. Parents were called together by 
bell or handbill. They were told that the main support of 
the schools, almost the only support of the schools, must 
come from them. They were told that reading and writing 
were only parts of education not knowledge, but only the 
means of obtaining knowledge ; and that the training of 
the affections and the conversion from bad habits, even 
were reading and writing not attained, was a part, and a 
most important part of education, well worth paying for. 
Where such explanations were given, the schools were 
prosperous, and nearly self-supporting. Where they were 
not given, the main obstacle to success remained, and the 
schools languished, a heavy burden on the hands of the 
benevolent persons who established them. 

Seeing that these gratuitous lectures, delivered in many 
towns in the manufacturing districts during the years 1828 
and 1829, had caused the establishment of a number of 
successful schools, I published a sixpenny tract on the sub- 
ject in 1830, which was widely circulated. In the preface 
to a third edition of it, published in March, 1832, I said: 


" At the period when I send this edition to the press, there 
is an additional incentive to every labourer in the vineyard 
of instruction. The probability of a great extension of the 
elective suffrage makes it the duty of all who have the 
welfare of their country at heart, to promote the means of 
enabling those to whom the right is to be extended, to 
exercise it for the public good. I know of nothing more 
likely to effect so desirable an end than the establishment 
of schools which not only instruct the child, but make it a 
most influential teacher of the parent, by awakening a percep- 
tion of social relations, and the obligation of social duties." 
A fourth and stereotyped edition was published in March, 
1847. As the subject of national education has recently 
excited much discussion, as great encouragement has been 
given to voluntary effort, by the exhibition of what it has 
already done, and as there is a wide-spread conviction 
that religion and moral instruction cannot, without great 
difficulty, be conveyed to considerable portions of the com- 
munity unless it be commenced before the labour of children, 
however small its reward may be, becomes important to 
their parents, I may be permitted here to express a hope, 
that a noble superstructure may rise upon the foundations 
which have been laid. 



THE recollection of a period of general distress, some 
twenty years back, is like the remembrance of a long- 
continued illness at the same distance of time. In both 
instances there is an impression of misery endured, but it 
is softened by the lapse of years, its most painful circum- 
stances forgotten, and the remembrance is scarcely more 
than that of a vague but painful dream. But in the case 
of illness, suppose the sufferer has written down an account 
of the continuance of his disease, day after day, week after 
week, and month after month ; through the dreariness of 
winter, made more dreary by despondency; through the 
hopeful spring, without hope ; through the joyous summer, 
without joy ; through the cheerful autumn, without other 
thought than of falling leaves and decay, to another dreary 
winter, without the slightest prospect of a favourable 
change, suppose such a journal written, and read after a 
lapse of twenty years, every circumstance is recalled with 
a vivid strength which is almost overpowering. Such feel- 
ings have I experienced in looking over the file of my paper 
for 1829, for there is recorded the "state of trade," week 
after week, throughout the year, and every week there is a 
record of deep and still deepening distress. 

In January, it is noted that at Stockport, in consequence 
of the refusal of the operatives to submit to a reduction of 
wages to the amount of ten per cent., no fewer than fifteen 
establishments had been stopped, and two thousand persons 
thrown out of employment ; in the beginning of February 
that ten thousand were out of employment in that town, 
while the failure of country drapers was checking the spring 


trade in Manchester ; in March, that the spinners had 
given notice of working short time, so as to make only five 
days in the week ; in April, that there was no amendment ; 
in May, that the Stockport hands were still out, and that 
wages elsewhere were undergoing further reductions ; in 
June, that some employment was "hoped" for; in July, 
that there were some indications of improvement, but 
without any effect on prices or wages ; in the same month, 
that, notwithstanding the long turn-out in Stockport, stocks 
were not diminishing, and wages continued to fall ; in 
August, that the distress was deepening all around, profits 
and wages daily becoming less ; in September, that the 
shopkeepers, depending on the expenditure of the working 
classes, were in deep distress ; in October, that the down- 
ward progress of wages and profit still continued, and that 
the condition of the weaver was truly deplorable ; in No- 
vember, that the peace between Russia and Turkey had 
brought a few buyers into the market for low-priced 
printed goods, but that for every other description of goods, 
there was little demand; and in December, that every- 
where in the manufacturing districts the greatest distress 
prevailed, and that wages were still falling. And that the 
year, commencing disastrously for both masters and men, 
ended, without an interval of relaxation from distress, 
scarcely with an interval of hope, in a depression of trade 
almost unexampled, bankruptcy and ruin threatening the 
employers and utter starvation the employed. 

During all this downward progress, the press, with very 
few exceptions, laboured earnestly to persuade the public 
that the distress was only temporary. Trade was always 
to be better next week or next month. In winter, it was 
to be better in the spring ; in spring, it was to be better in 
the summer ; in summer it was to be better in the autumn. 
The writers seemed to think, that all that was wanted was 
" confidence," and that prosperity could be restored by 
confident and re-iterated assertions that things were about 


to mend. The Manchester Guardian was in the front rank 
of the hopeful, or professedly hopeful ; and though it had to 
confess, week after week, the delay of the prognosticated 
improvement, there was always some reason given for the 
delay, and new prophecies made that the good time was 
coming any reason but the true one. The truth was, that 
the press generally was committed as to the effect to be 
produced by the withdrawment from circulation, in April, 
of Bank of England and other notes under the value of five 
pounds. Almost every journalist of the period held that 
the bank had, at the end of 1828, made provision for that 
change, and that the consequent increase in the value of 
money, and decrease in the value of other commodities, 
had already taken place. In support of this opinion, every 
successive proof of depression was declared to be only tem- 
porary. I followed Cobbett's opinion to a certain extent, 
believing that money would continue to increase, and other 
commodities to decrease in value, throughout the whole of 
1829; and I earnestly and reiteratedly pressed my views 
on the community, convinced that there was more safety in 
looking the danger straight in the face, than in indulging 
groundless hope of a favourable change. 

The mischief done by representations that the distress 
was only temporary, was soon manifest. The working 
classes could not understand why, under only a temporary 
depression of trade, a constant reduction of their wages 
should go on. If trade was to be " better next week," why 
were weavers to be discharged ? If yarns were to be 'more 
in demand " next week," why were the prices of spinning 
to be reduced ? If manufacturers were all to be prosperous, 
by and by, why were working men to be reduced to the 
condition of paupers in the meantime ? There was a great 
" turn-out," and employers took little pains to explain 
perhaps, like the employed, they did not understand their 
actual position ; and the two classes were arrayed against 
each other in a hostility which daily became more bitter, 

Q 3 


each, taking that antagonistic position to the other that 
they should have taken against what occasioned the distress 
of both ruinous restrictions on trade, and a heavy aggra- 
vation of the burthen of taxation, by the altered value of 
money, without a corresponding reduction of the public 

On Monday, April 27th, the distressed silk- weavers of 
Macclesfield, who had previously borne their privations 
with exemplary patience, assembled in the Market-place, 
to the number of a thousand, and proceeded to Messrs. 
Brocklehurst's factory at Hurdsfield, where they demolished 
all the windows in front of the building, and dispersed 
before the recruiting parties in the town could be put 
under arms. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday they 
paraded the streets with flags inscribed " We only wish to 
live by our labour." On Wednesday a number of men 
at Rochdale, who had turned out, met, and went to the 
weavers who were employed, demanding their shuttles. 
On Thursday the factory of Messrs. Chadwick and Co. was 
surrounded by a great crowd, some of whom entered and 
destroyed a great deal of machinery, and at Mr. Robinson's 
and Mr. Ash worth's factory the same mischief was perpe- 
trated. The military were called out, but arrived too late 
to prevent the mischief. On Friday sixteen men were 
committed for trial at Lancaster for taking part in these 
riots. An event more melancholy was to follow. When 
the prisoners were lodged in the lock-ups, the dragoons 
retired, leaving the place guarded by eleven soldiers, in- 
cluding a sergeant and corporal, of the 67th. Soon after 
the horse soldiers were out of sight, the mob began to rally, 
and about eight o'clock some stones were thrown at the 
soldiers on guard, and in a short time they fell in such 
showers, that the soldiers began to entertain fears of their 
own safety, and the sergeant told the crowd, that if they 
did not desist, he should be compelled to order his men to 
fire. As this threat produced no effect, he ordered two 


men to fire, which they did, taking care, however, to fire 
high. The moment, however, that it was seen that neither 
of the shots had taken effect, the crowd, which had re- 
treated, began to rally, and again to close round the soldiers 
and assail them with stones. The men seem now to have 
been in great danger, and the sergeant, acting, as he says, 
under the belief that the prisoners might be rescued, 
ordered the soldiers to fire. The command was immediately 
obeyed ; but it would seem as if the crowd kept pressing 
upon them, shouting for the rescue of the prisoners, and 
throwing stones with the utmost fury. The soldiers hav- 
ing loaded again, fired, and their volley must have been 
dreadfully destructive, for almost every shot took effect, 
and six or eight persons fell. The mob, seeing this, in- 
stantly took to flight, and the dragoons arriving soon after 
cleared the streets. 

Riots in Manchester were less fatal, but more destructive 
of property. On Sunday, May 3rd, a meeting of hand-loom 
weavers, the most deeply distressed portion of the commu- 
nity, was held at Harpurhey, at which it was resolved 
that the power-loom weavers should be invited to leave 
the factories next day, rather than submit to an intended 
reduction of their wages. On Monday a number of persons 
congregated in St. George's Fields, proceeded thence to Mr. 
Guest's factory in Union-street, and made his weavers leave 
their looms. Hitherto their intentions seem to have been 
to get the men to leave their work ; but when they got to 
another factory in Mather- street, belonging to Mr. Twiss, 
they were not satisfied with requiring the men to leave 
their work, but broke into the mill and cut to pieces all the 
warps in the looms, and broke the reeds and every thing 
that was easily destructible about the looms. They then 
set about tossing the webs into the street, and the street, 
for fifty yards on each side of the factory, was literally 
covered with cloth trampled into the mud. The mob then 
proceeded to Mr. Harbottle's factory, in Pollard-street, and 


having effected a forcible entry, they at once set to the 
work of destruction, as if in their unchecked progress they 
had entirely lost sight of their first intention, for no invi- 
tation was given to the weavers to turn out. Here the 
mischief was much greater than at Mr. Twiss's. The win- 
dows were instantly smashed in, and the destruction of 
machinery was systematic and effective. Forty- six power- 
looms were instantly rendered useless, a single blow with 
a sledge-hammer being sufficient to break the cast-iron 
framing, and another to destroy the regulating pinion- 
wheels. In a spinning-room below less evil was done, for 
the spindles are not easily broken ; but in a long shed, one 
story in height, containing ninety-two dandy-looms, the 
the destruction was complete. One man on each side, 
with a single cut of a knife, cut through the warp, and 
with another the healds, while another man on each side 
followed, and with one blow broke the frames, and with 
another the wheels. After having demolished the whole of 
the windows in front, they went leisurely off. All this 
was done in less than an hour from the time they left St. 
George's Fields. They then came back in the direction of 
Mr. Guest's, from which they had previously induced the 
weavers to withdraw. They seemed now flushed with 
success, for, immediately on coming to the factory, they set 
to work, knocked out the windows, and in a quarter of an 
hour fifty-three power-looms were broken, and a vast quan- 
tity of warps tossed out of the windows and thrown into 
the canal, which was covered with them, as the road had 
been at Twiss's with webs. By this time the beadles, with 
Mr. Lavender, the deputy constable, at their head, had 
arrived ; but this force was soon disposed of. The police, 
finding themselves unable to make head, retired prudently, 
and, though pursued by the mob, they contrived to lay hold 
of two men, who were pointed out to them as having been 
seen throwing stones at the factory windows. They finally 
took refuge from thfe showers of Stones which were thrown 



at them in the Albion Hotel, where some of the magistrates 
were by this time assembled. The mob were, in the mean 
time, taking advantage of their victory ; and while a part 
pursued the constables, another part proceeded to the fac- 
tory of Messrs. J. and J. Parker, in Ludgate-street, St. 
George' s-road, who had taken 3d. per cut from their wages. 
The mob made several attempts to burst in the door, but 
this, for a long time, withstood their efforts, and, in the 
mean time, others were demolishing the windows by throw- 
ing stones at them. The door was at length burst in, and 
the looms and webs were disposed of in the same manner 
as the others. This method being, however, a somewhat 
slow process, and several alarms having been given that the 
military were coming, the factory was set fire to in several 
places. The building was about forty yards long, about 
twenty wide, and seven stories high. There was a brisk 
breeze, and as all the windows on the, undermost floor were 
completely knocked in, the fire spread most rapidly, and in 
little more than half an hour it was all one tremendous 
flame. The blaze from the one window joined the blaze 
from the window above it, so that the whole was one im- 
mense mass of vivid flame. The houses in the streets on 
three sides of the factory were set fire to by the heat. 
Some of these were at the distance of thirty yards from 
the factory, and it was only with the utmost exertions on 
the part of the persons who resided in them that they 
were saved from the flames. Almost, all the furniture was 
removed out of them, there being at one time scarcely any 
hope of saving the houses, the fire having caught hold in so 
many places at once. On the entrance of the mob into the 
lower storey, Messrs. Parker and their assistants retreated 
to the staircase leading to the second story, where they 
remained for the purpose of opposing any attempt to pene- 
trate to the upper room. They had not been there long, 
however, when the progress of the flames, which began 
to ascend on all sides of them, rendered it necessary to 


depart, and they accordingly escaped through the fire, with 
considerable difficulty, and retreated to the house of their 
overlooker, which adjoins the factory gates. The difficulty 
of escape was much increased by the flames issuing through 
the two doors opposite each other at the foot of the stair- 
case, and by the incendiaries throwing staves and other 
missiles into the door of the room on the second story, 
where Messrs. Parker and their assistants were, with the 
view, as it would appear, of preventing their escape. Mr. 
Parker escaped with the loss of his coat and hat, which he 
had placed in the counting-house. While this was going 
on the magistrates and the peace officers were waiting at 
the Albion Hotel for the arrival of such a military force as 
was to be had. A part of the military force which was in 
Manchester had been sent to Rochdale, and a part to Mac- 
clesfield, to quell the riots in those towns, and the remainder 
on Monday morning sgt out for Liverpool, on their way to 
Ireland. Having gathered together twelve soldiers of a 
recruiting party, some armed with bayonets and one with a 
pistol, Mr. Lavender put himself at their head, and led 
them to Messrs. Parkers' factory, where they arrived just 
after the rioters had dispersed, and the fire had gone so far 
ahead as to render any attempt to save the factory out of 
the question. Shortly after, Mr. Foster and Mr. Greaves, 
two of the magistracy, arrived at the same spot, at the 
head of about twenty dragoons. All, however, that they 
could do was to ride through and preserve order in the 
neighbourhood, which was now exceedingly crowded by 
persons flocking from all quarters to learn the cause of the 
disturbances. Though there was no further manifestation 
of any intention to riot, they continued to parade the streets 
during the greater part of the afternoon and evening. The 
terror, of course, spread over the town, and a great many 
of the shops, especially in that quarter where the factories 
were situated, were closed. Several of the masters of other 
factories procured fire-arms, and now and then fired a shot 


to show that they were prepared to defend their property 
in case of an attack. On the Tuesday and Wednesday 
great alarm continued to prevail throughout the town, for 
although an accession of military strength prevented further 
attacks, mobs suddenly congregated in particular places, 
and sacked the provision shops, and levied contributions in 
money and food from private houses, dispersing before any 
force could be brought to bear against them. By Wednes- 
day night order was restored. 

At a time when masters were regarded by the working 
people as grievous oppressors, and when the working people 
were regarded by their masters as unreasoning and brutal 
incendiaries, the duty of a journalist was not easily fulfilled. 
I endeavoured to call the attention of both to the real causes 
of the distress which was prostrating both. In a long 
address, in my paper of the 9th of May, I showed how the 
corn-law had limited the demand for^ goods and reduced the 
wages of labour ; I dwelt on the effect of increasing the 
value of money, and consequently reducing the price of 
every thing except corn, while taxation, in the fifteenth 
year of peace, was as heavy, the different value of 'money 
considered, as it was during the war; I represented the 
injurious effect on wages occasioned by the great immigra- 
tion from Ireland of poor creatures who were ejected by the 
landlords from their native soil in tens of thousands ; I 
counselled petitions for a repeal of the corn-law, for a great 
reduction of taxation, for the extension of a poor-law to 
Ireland, and, as a guard against the recurrence of misery, 
for a thorough reform in parliament. Newspapers were 
then sevenpence, which placed them beyond the reach of 
the mass of the people. My appeal was printed as a penny 
pamphlet, and the sale of thousand after thousand, for weeks 
together, showed that, amidst the bitter and foolish war of 
classes, there were many anxious inquirers into the real 
causes and cure of the distress. 

By this time Colonel Thompson's admirable Catechism of 


the Corn-Laws had appeared in a cheap form, was much 
read, and conveyed much useful and exceeding well-timed 
instruction. I wished to circulate its wholesome truths 
and fallacy-destroying arguments still more widely, and the 
proprietors of the Manchester Times, always ready to pro- 
mote the public good, cheerfully acceded to my request, 
that four thousand copies of it should be printed and given 
away with the paper. This was done in August, greatly 
to the promotion of that thorough knowledge of the corn 
question, which, nine years after, made Manchester originate 
and lead the great free-trade movement. Nor was this 
diffusion of knowlege, on this one point, without more 
immediate effects. The reform bill itself was hastened on 
mainly by the conviction, that without a great organic 
change in our representative system the landlords' mono- 
poly could not be destroyed. There was good seed sown in 
those unpromising times. The humble country journalist, 
when accused of asking for the impracticable, could point 
to Bentham, and Thompson, and Bowring, who, in the 
Westminster Review, were convincing the educated classes 
that radical reform in representation and commercial policy, 
was, after all, not the very rightful wild-fowl it had been 
taken for ; and with the example of such a triumvirate, he 
went on determinedly on his way, hopefully, in spite of 
every discouragement to hope. After this dreary 1829, 
the first number of my paper for 1830 contained the whole 
of a forthcoming article by Colonel Thompson in the West- 
minster, on Radical Reform, which thus concluded : 
" Eschew violence ; cultivate education from A, B, C, 
upwards ; hurry nothing, it will all come in time, like the 
breaking up of a hard frost. Pull down an abuse when 
you can, especially where it is one, like that of slavery in 
the West Indies, whose supporters support all the rest. Go 
on, quietly and perseveringly, and fear nothing. There 
will be no revolution, no disturbance, no violent changes, 
any more than a child, of a span long, turns into a grena 


diet. Sensible men are not to endure an evil for ever, 
through a vague fear of its removal being something they 
have not heard before. Do something ; do a little ; do 
more when you can. Keep the stone rolling ; and see if 
you do not end by proving to all ranks and orders, except 
the downright plunderers, that radical is your only wear." 
In the first week of 1830 William Cobbett delivered four 
lectures in Manchester to crowded audiences. Ten years 
before, on his return from the United States, the autho- 
rities notified to him that he should not be permitted to 
pass through the town. Many of his hearers were persons, 
who, at the former period, approved of that extraordinary 
exercise of power. His leading propositions were, that 
lessening the quantity of the currency had increased its 
value ; that the increase in the value of money had in- 
creased the claims of all creditors, especially the public 
creditor ; and that the fall in the price of every commodity, 
without a correspondent reduction of taxes, had occasioned 
intolerable distress. His wonderful power of illustration, 
on these few propositions, engaged the deep attention of 
crowded audiences every night, and the thunders of ap- 
plause, with which he was greeted at the close of the 
course, must have made some amends to him for his scurvy 
non-reception in December, 1819. Two omissions, how- 
ever, were remarked upon by even his ardent admirers, 
the monopoly of the corn growers, and the want of an 
adequate representation in the House of Commons. His 
then rival Hunt, a man of far inferior abilities, even as a 
speaker, had much sounder notions on the corn-laws ; and 
Cobbett seemed less anxious to have parliamentary reform 
than that he himself should be a member of parliament. 
He said that ere long he would sit on the same bench with 
Mr. Huskisson, but it was long after Huskisson's death 
before he obtained a seat in the legislature. Another lecturer 
had visited Manchester in the previous year, Mr. J. S. 
Buckingham, whose really able exposition of the East 



India monopoly excited a considerable share of public 
attention, and led to a public meeting on the 21st of 
January, at which spirited resolutions were passed in 
favour of free-trade with India and China. The principal 
speakers were, Messrs. G. W. Wood, John Shuttleworth, 
Robert Hyde Greg, and Mark Philips ; and they had the 
aid of some gentlemen who, though they saw nothing 
alarming in the prospect of free-trade with India, would 
have been frightened at the notion of having free-trade at 
home no harm in selling their calicos to John China- 
man, but great mischief in receiving brother Jonathan's 
com. They were, however, taking one step in the right 

A demand for some reforms at home speedily followed. 
On the 20th of February appeared a requisition for a meet- 
ing, to be held in the Town Hall, to take into consideration 
the propriety of addressing parliament on the distressed 
state of the country, and of petitioning, that an immediate 
reduction of the taxes be made, and that commerce be not 
disturbed by again altering the value of the currency. I 
am tempted to give the names of all the requisitionists : 

William Horsley, 

Robert Lees, 

John Ashworth, 

Alexander Horsley, 

Thomas Deane, 

James Cunningham, 

S. Y. Bailey, 

H. J, Barker, 

John Hunt, 

James Wilde, 

H. Prescott, 

William Yates, 

John Hulme, 

John Samuels, 

J. S. Ormerod, 

James Bay ley, 

Gerard Cowell, 

Samuel Pullein, 

William B. Bayley, 

John Wallis, 

Robert Wyatt, 

John Read, 

Joseph Thompson, 

William Labrey, 

J. Smith, 

Edward Shawcross, 

W. B. Grime, 

Robert Sykes, 

Ben. Sandford, 

Thomas Goads by, 

Ben. Holbrooke, 

James Q-. Frost, 

F. Goadsby, jun.. 

John Jackson, 

Edward Daniel, 

Richd. Hutchinson, 

James Hardman, 

Thomas Johnson, 

James Crankshaw, 

Robert Bunting, 

. Jos. Dickinson, 

W. D. Coddington, 

James Ashworth, 

P. W. Danby, 

R. H. Greg, 

Thomas Davies, 

John Todd, 

John Ashton, 

Thomas Moore, 

Samuel Prince, 

Richard Potter, 



William bewail, 
Jolm Whyatt, 
William Maybury, 
Francis Clarke, 
Richard Wilson, 
William Barratt, 
Joseph Barratt, 
J. and W. Ansell, 
H. Richardson, 
James Twisse, 
William Hunt, 
James Knight, 
T. H. Bickham, 
Robert Henson, 
Robert Leake, 
William Marsh, 
Thomas Diggles, 
William Foster, 
Thomas Smith, 

( Isaac Pipe, G-eorge Thorniley, 

James Townsend, John Richardson, 
G-eorge Rowland, Henry Moore, 
J. Everett, Archibald Prentice;- 

John Armstrong, Caleb Lea, 
James Holden, William Nixon, 

P. T. Candelet, Pascoe Aranson, 

G-eorge Bentham, Edwin Stott, 
Roger Reyner, Samuel Lowe, 

Thomas Forrest, 
William Fox, 
William Lane, 
Stephen Sheldon, 
James Massey, jun., 

The boroughreeve, Mr. Bulkeley Price, and the con- 
stables, Mr. Edmund Buckley (afterwards member for 
Newcastle-under-Lyne) and Mr. R. C. Sharp, appointed 
the meeting to be held in the Town Hall, on the following 
Thursday, the first time that any meeting, for any such 
purpose, had been held there. The first resolution was : 
" That the great manufacturing district, of which this town 

James H. Heron, 
Isaac Hudson, 
Thomas Green, 
Nehemiah Gerrard, 
John Shepherd, 
John Deerhurst, 
Thomas Broadbent, 
Jos. S. Grafton, 
Thomas Potter, 
Thomas Fielden, 
John Hoyle, 
George Culverwell, 
William Bayley, 
David Hunt, 
Richard Sutcliffe, 
Robert Clough, 
Daniel Jackson, 
Richard Boardman, 
Thomas Noblet, 
Isaac Pipe, 
James Townsend, 
George Rowland, 
J. Everett, 
John Armstrong, 
James Holden, 
P. T. Candelet, 
George Bentham, 
Roger Reyner, 
Thomas Crossley, 
Thomas Brown, 
William Davies, 
Thomas Gelland, 
G. H. Winder, 

William Harvey, 
John Dugdale, 
John Brooks, 
Josias Foster, 
Nath. Tidmarsh, 
Robert Whyatt, 
Samuel Mitchell, 
Thos. Worthington, 
George Gill, 
T. Smith, 
John Warner, 
Nicholas Wright, 
Thomas Labrey, 
John Whitlow, 
Edward Royle, 
Jos. Fletcher, 
John Roberts, 
John Royle, 
John Faulkner, 
Robert Prichard, 
Michael Peacock, 
John Tomlinson, 
William Wood, 
John Richardson, 
James Oldfield, 
John Kenworthy, 
W. G. Ansell, 
Samuel Johnson, 
James Crossfield, 
William Howard, 
William Fowler, 
Richard ThelweU. 


is the centre and the mart, notwithstanding the unwearied 
and the incessant labour of its inhabitants, is suffering 
under a pressure of distress which, except in short periods 
of depression, is wholly unexampled in its extent and 
severity." It was moved by Mr. Richard Potter, who, in 
describing the wretchedness of the poor man's cottage, 
became so overpowered by his feelings as to be unable 
to proceed. Mr. John Shuttleworth, in a very effective 
speech, gave a statement of the enormous expenditure from 
the commencement of the war to that period, the fifteenth 
year of peace ; alluded to the bankers' and the landlords' 
monopolies at home, and the tea, sugar, and timber, mono- 
polies abroad ; and concluded by saying : " The calamities 
under w T hich this country is suffering arise from inordinate 
and unequal taxation ; from the restrictions on the trade in 
corn, which a sordid aristocracy, for its own advantage, has 
had the power, owing to the unfortunate constitution of 
our legislature, to inflict upon our nation ; and from those 
monopolies which, to the disgrace of our commercial 
system, are perpetuated to gratify the selfishness of the 
powerful few, and at the expense and to the injury of the 
powerless many. These are the causes of the present 
general and unprecedented distress, and the means of alle- 
viation, therefore, are clearly, to remove those causes, to 
repeal the restrictions on the trade in corn, to abolish all 
monopolies, and to reduce taxation." This speech was 
received with loud and reiterated cheers, but the meeting 
would not pass the resolution excepting " short periods of 
sudden depression." An amendment, that these words be 
left out, was moved, and it was carried by acclamation. 
Mr. Robert Hyde Greg moved the next resolution ; " That 
much of the distress under which the people suffer, is to 
be traced to the enormous amount and unequal pressure of 
taxation ; an amount which this meeting is of opinion is 
unnecessary for the purposes of a government anxious only 
to promote the public welfare." He exposed the inequality 


of taxation, and compared the extravagance of the nation 
to that of an individual who constantly drew on his banker 
without making deposits ; said that to have a reduction of 
taxes we must have a reduction of expenditure ; and de- 
clared that the cost of our army, our navy, our colonies, 
and every other branch of public expenditure, must be cut 
down to meet the exigencies of the country. The motion 
was seconded by Mr. John Brooks, afterwards to dis- 
tinguish himself by his energetic opposition to the corn- 
law, and his munificent support of the funds required to 
agitate successfully the question of free-trade. He ex- 
hibited a list of bad debts he had made in the year 1829, 
to the amount of 11,180 5s. 9d., and to the amount of 
981 lls. lOd. from the first of January to that day, "and 
this," said he, " is a pretty commencement for the year 
1830." The resolution was carried unanimously. The 
next resolution enumerated particular instances of unne- 
cessary expenditure, was moved by Mr. B. Grime, seconded 
by Mr. Pullein, and carried unanimously. The next re- 
solution, attributing a great portion of the distress to the 
operation of the corn-law, was entrusted to me. I recom- 
mended the attentive perusal of Col. Thompson's Corn Law 
Catechism ; and proceeded, at greater length than I had 
ever spoken in public before, to expose the mischievous 
effects of the landlords' monopoly. In the course of my 
address, I resolved that the words " radical parliamentary 
reform" should, for the first time, ring through that hall. 
" We see," I said, " the misery that exists around us, and 
we know that no man, whoever he may be, can deny its 
existence, unless he happen to be one of those persons 
who think all are well because themselves are well. Why 
do not members of parliament see this? Because they 
neither go amongst the people nor represent the people ; 
and allow me to say," and I said it very quietly, " that 
there never will be a proper sympathy for the people until 
they are represented in parliament, till there shall be a 


thorough an effectual a radical reform." There was 
here a loud burst of cheering, frequently renewed, each 
time with additional vehemence, during which the borough- 
reeve begged that I would keep to the question. I said, 
" I have done, sir, but I trust that ere long we shall have 
an opportunity of discussing the question in this hall, for I 
cannot doubt that the boroughreeve and constables, who so 
readily convened this meeting, if requested by their fellow- 
townsmen to convene a meeting for the consideration of 
reform, will readily agree to it." We had not long to 
wait for the opportunity. The subsequent speakers were 
Mr. Elijah Dixon, one of the imprisoned in 1817 ; Mr. W. 
Harvey, one of the " small band" of 1815 ; Mr. P. T. 
Candelet, who had always worked with that band ; Mr. J. 
Whyatt, who said that politics were as much a man's busi- 
ness as his own particular trade ; Mr. J. C. Dyer, who was 
afterwards to do essential service to the cause of political 
and commercial reform by his public spirit and close logic ; 
and Mr. Robert Bunting, who was, as the tory newspaper 
truly said, " an acute man though no orator." 

A week after this meeting had been held the " Society 
for the Preservation of Ancient Footpaths" had occasion to 
exercise its functions in defence of a public right ; and the 
two events furnished the Guardian newspaper with occasion 
to animadvert strongly on former friends who had taken a 
part in both. Mr. George Jones had built a handsome 
house at Pendleton, close to a footpath, which he had 
taken the liberty to divert in order to make space for a 
lawn in front of his new mansion. The society had pro- 
tested against the encroachment, and were at first promised 
alterations, with the view of evading their demands, and 
then set at defiance by an insolently couched refusal to do 
anything. The following account of their proceedings is 
from the Manchester Times of March 6th : 

" On the afternoon of Monday Mr. Richard Potter, Mr. William 
Harvey, Mr. W. B. Grime, Mr. E. Bunting, and Mr. Archibald 


Prentice, members of the Footpath Society, proceeded to the ground. 
On their way they fell in with a person named Murray, an overlooker 
of Mr. Jones's workmen, and in conversation with him, had their 
own previous impression of the exact course of the footway confirmed. 
Mr. Jones, and Mr. Street, his surveyor, were in waiting, and Mr. 
Grime was deputed to state to the former the intentions of the 
society. He said that no satisfactory reply having been given to 
their repeated applications, they had resolved to assert the public 
right, which they felt to be their duty, however unpleasant it might 
be to them personally to seem arrayed against an individual. They 
would, however, he added, carry the resolution of the society into 
effect in an amicable spirit. Mr. Jones very warmly retorted that he 
saw nothing amicable in the proceeding. The society, he said, were 
not satisfied with the public having obtained a better road than he 
had shut up, and he could therefore only attribute their conduct to 
private malice and envy. The gentlemen of the society making 
allowance for the irritation of Mr. Jones's feelings, made little reply 
to his invectives, and he, probably mistaking the cause of their for- 
bearance, grew still more abusive, and when they reached that part 
of the carriage road where the opening was to be made in the direc- 
tion of the old footway, and were making preparations to remove the 
obstructions, he said the proceeding was most unneighbourly, most 
malicious, and most ungentlemanly. Mr. Prentice said that these 
were terms which, under circumstances less irritating to Mr. Jones's 
feelings, he, for one, would not submit to hear. Yery few members 
of the committee knew Mr. Jones, and some of them probably now 
saw him for the first time, and, consequently could have no malice to 
him. ' Just to show you, Mr. Jones,' added Mr. Prentice, ' that we 
are not actuated by any such feeling, I, who am a stranger to you, 
will be the first to put my hand to remove your fence.' He then, 
assisted by a labourer who had been brought for the purpose, 
wrenched out the bolts which connected the wrought-iron hurdles 
that topped the fence, and the workman, with a spade, began to level 
down the bank, and to make such an opening into the pleasure- 
grounds as would make the path easily accessible. During this 
process Mr. Jones, in great irritation, charged the society with par- 
tiality in their operations, in having selected him, while other 
persons who had done as he had done were allowed to escape. 
Mr. Potter begged leave to remind Mr. Jones of the cases against 
Mr. Wright, of Flixton, against the Duke of Bridgewater, and 
lately against Mr. Hall, of Ordsall Lane, and several other per- 


sons, to show that the society, whenever they had a clear case, 
would assert the public rights. The workmen having now levelled 
down the bant, the deputation walked across the grounds directly 
in front of and close to Mr. Jones's newly-erected mansion, mak- 
ing their way through the lately laid-out shrubberies and flower 
parterres. Where the footway joined the carriage road at the other 
extremity of Mr. Jones's lawn, another bank needed to be levelled, 
and here again Mr. Prentice volunteered to be the first in removing 
the fence, repeating that no malice or unneighbourly feeling could 
possibly influence him, who had never spoken to Mr. Jones before, 
except on one occasion in the Salford Town Hall, where he had 
experienced much courtesy from him. The society, he said, were 
actuated solely by a desire to protect the public rights, and Mr. Jones 
might rest assured that they would not cease their operations till 
every footway within twenty miles of Manchester, that had been, or 
should be, illegally stopped was opened. Mr. Jones continued, how- 
ever, to complain of the proceedings, and said, if they must have a 
footpath, he should dig one ten feet under the level of his lawn. 
"No," said Mr. Prentice, "we will not permit you to do so, Mr. 
Jones. The public have a right to their old footway as it was, and 
are not to be sent along a deep ditch. The same law which enables 
us to open this footway will compel you to make it a good one." The 
opening having been effected, and men being set to prevent its being 
again obstructed, the deputation took their leave, Mr. Jones assuring 
them, as they went, that he should immediately apply for a magis- 
trate's order to have the road diverted." 

Mr. Jones, on more deliberate consideration, made appli- 
cation to the Society for leave to make such an alteration 
as would considerably shorten the distance ; to which the 
members, passing over his previous insolence, gave then* 
consent. But the editor of the Guardian represented his 
old friends as disregarding private rights, and, connecting 
the matter with the public meeting, as equally regardless of 
vested interests. Five letters, each with the name of the 
writer, appeared in my paper of the 13th. Mr. Shuttle- 
worth replies to an attack on his arguments, and thus 
concludes : " Regarding the offensive tone of the passage, 
not as mere rudeness, but as a manifestation of the ill- 
regulated temperament which, occasionally sacrificing public 


interests to party and personal insinuations, bickerings, and 
contentions, has estranged from the editor his private 
friends, and sunk and degraded him in public estimation, I 
cannot, with reference to the forebodings I entertain of its 
ultimate influence on himself, and on account of the re- 
membrance of past acquaintance and connection, contem- 
plate its present display without the sincerest regret." 
Mr. "VV. B. Grime says : " Nobody but the editor of the 
Guardian would have had the impudence to assert that the 
opening this road was a virtual departure from the objects 
for which the society was established. Censure from such 
a man is praise." Mr. Thomas Potter says : " If Mr. 
Taylor's object be to raise an impression that I, like Mr. 
Jones, illegally stopped a footpath, he endeavours to make 
the public believe what he knoics to be untrue" Mr. 
Richard Potter, in reply to an assertion in the Guardian, 
that the requisition to call the public meeting had not been 
sent to the editors for signature, gives the affidavit of one 
of his clerks that it was presented to Mr. Jeremiah Garnett, 
who said " that there was one point he objected to, but 
would consider of it, and if he determined to sign it, would 
call on Mr. Potter for that purpose," which he did not do. 
A letter from myself follows, in which I tell Mr. Taylor, in 
reply to some injurious insinuations, that his repeatedly 
detected falsehoods had deprived him of all claim to 
credence. It is painful to record these derelictions of 
principle and ruptures of ancient friendship, but having 
gratefully acknowledged Mr. Taylor's former services to the 
public, I do not see that I should suppress these passages. 

There were, as yet, few symptoms of dawn in the poli- 
tical horizon. In the legislature there was a determined 
resistance to every proposed reform, however small. A 
motion for the transference of the East Retford seats to 
Birmingham was negatived by 126 votes against 99. In 
the debate Mr. Huskisson alluded to the formation of the 
first political union : " He saw in Birmingham lately an 



association which, as far as he could perceive its elements, 
principles, and operations, seemed exactly formed on the 
model of the Catholic Association ; for it had its subscrip- 
tions, its meetings, its discussions, and its agitator. The 
purpose of this association was to raise a universal cry for 
parliamentary reform to carry the question by exaggera- 
ting the difficulties, abuses, and distresses of the country. 
He would rather see the leader of the Birmingham meeting 
here, as the representative of that town, than in conduct- 
ing such an association, sending forth those statements and 
appeals to the country, which was, perhaps, too prone, at the 
present moment, to act on the apprehensions generated by 
them. Lord John Russell attempted a slight change in the 
representation by moving for leave to bring in a bill to enable 
Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds to return members 
to parliament. This was resisted by Huskisson, amongst 
others on the ground that such a beginning would lead to 
wider innovations on the constitution of the country, and 
endanger the succession to the throne. Mr. O'Connell 
moved for a bill to establish universal suffrage, triennial 
parliaments, and vote by ballot. Lord John Russell moved 
two resolutions in favour of an increase in the number of 
representatives, and for the additional ones being given to 
large towns and populous counties. The motion and the 
resolutions were both negatived by large majorities. The 
tory rule had been shaken, but the whigs had shown little 
disposition to join the people in their demand for reform. 
Men looked for a change, but knew not whence it would 
come. On the 26th of June George IV died. 




THERE was not much grief at the death of George the 
Fourth not much joy at the accession of William the 
Fourth. There was a plain, unaffected, natural man instead 
of a selfish voluptuary ; but William retained George's 
ministers, who were disliked by a considerable portion of 
the community because they had conceded some reforms, 
and by a still more considerable portion because they con- 
tinued to be opposed to all others. In Manchester there 
was a great concourse of persons in the procession on the 
proclamation of the new r king ; but the meeting held in the 
Town Hall, convened by the boroughreeve and constables, 
to vote an address to his majesty, gave very slight indica- 
tion of the existence of loyalty, for when the business 
should have commenced there were not more than twenty 
persons present. I said it would be a farce to vote an 
address from such a meeting, upon which Mr. Jeremiah 
Garnett said that he had known meetings of five or six 
persons transact very important business. During this 
conversation the meeting grew into one of about fifty per- 
sons, and then the address, w^hich was in the usual strain of 
condolence and congratulation, was proposed. I moved an 
address as an amendment, stating that many and grievous 
evils were endured by his majesty's subjects, from a long 
course of misgovernment, and a wasteful and extravagant 
expenditure of the people's money, and praying him to 
take none into his councils " who would not honestly and 
zealously enforce the most rigid economy in every depart- 
ment of the public expenditure, and promote the real 
splendour of the throne, and its legitimate and beneficial 


influence, by the reformation of abuses which are alike 
derogatory to the sovereign, and offensive, oppressive, and 
degrading to the people." Mr. Garnett expressed his 
dislike to politics being introduced into the address, and 
was supported by a Captain Grimshaw, of whom we shall 
hear more hereafter, and the voting was twenty-eight for 
the original motion and twenty-three for mine. An address 
from twenty-eight persons out of a population of 250,000 
was not very complimentary to the new sovereign. 

In my paper of July 31st I find that I said of France : 
" Royal ordinances have dissolved the chamber ere its 
newly-elected members had met, suppressed the liberty of 
the press, and altered the law of elections. The govern- 
ment of France, which, a few days ago, was a monarchy, 
kept in check by the representatives of the people, is now 
a simple despotism. If these measures do not produce 
another revolution, there is a less ardent desire for liberty 
than we have supposed to exist." The revolution had 
already taken place. France, in three days, had shaken off 
the despotism, and the friends of liberty throughout Europe 
rejoiced in her emancipation, and hailed it as the promise 
of beneficial changes in every country which was suffering 
under tyrannical rule. The boroughreeve and constables of 
Manchester declined to call a meeting of the inhabitants to 
give public expression to their sentiments on the occasion ; 
but the meeting, notwithstanding, was held on Monday, the 
23rd of August, Mr. Thomas Harbottle in the chair. The 
speakers, amidst enthusiastic cheers from the crowded 
assemblage, all referred to the necessity of reform at home. 
" Let us not," said Mr. Mark Philips, soon to be represen- 
tative of our then unrepresented town, " in our admiration 
of that glorious burst of freedom which has just been 
exhibited in France, forget for a single moment that some 
of our own institutions at home are incompatible with the 
spirit of the age ; let it not be a reproach to us that whilst 
France is making rapid strides, England is standing still." 


Mr. Thomas Hopkins said : " Monarchs must now see that 
it is their interest as well as their duty to move with the 
people. The great want of the French people has been a 
real representation, and the same want is felt in all the 
nations of Europe." Mr. Richard Potter, who was then 
making a gallant attempt to open the borough of Wigan, 
where certain corporation-made burgesses had usurped the 
right of voting, which had once belonged to all the house- 
holders, said: " Sure am I that this glorious event will 
make the boroughmongers of England fear and tremble, and 
induce the people of England to throw off a yoke which 
was degrading alike to king and people." Mr. R. H. Greg- 
said that the ministers of our own country would not now 
dare to support despotism in France. Mr. G. Hadfield 
hoped that England would so far imitate the example of 
France as to insist on reform in parliament, and the aboli- 
tion of the grinding and iniquitous corn-laws. Mr. J. E. 
Taylor was scarcely allowed to speak, but his tone was 
nearly accordant with that of the meeting. Mr. Shuttle- 
worth alluded to the employment by the late French 
government of mercenaries of other nations. " One of the 
advantages," he said, " which will result from the change 
is, that the Swiss cantons will be deprived of the best 
market for their detestable commerce in soldiers, for that 
foul traffic in the living blood, and bones, and smews of 
their population by which those cantons are stained with 
the deepest disgrace, and human nature itself is insulted 
and dishonoured." Mr. Edward Baxter trusted that the 
example of France would not be lost on his own country- 
men, and that England would not be long before she 
obtained a thorough reform in the House of Commons. 
Mr. J. C. Dyer said that it had been shown what might be 
the result when rich and poor formed one common union, 
in one common effort, for the overthrow of tyranny and the 
establishment of liberty. The address to the French people 
was agreed to, and Messrs. Mark Philips, Alexander Kay, 


and Joseph C. Dyer were appointed as a deputation to pro- 
ceed with it to Paris, where, with Dr. Bowring, they were 
received with great distinction by the French government. 

The electors of the kingdom partook little of the aroused 
national spirit. In the small boroughs, which sent to 
parliament a majority of the House of Commons, they were 
few in number, and almost all dependent or corrupt. Their" 
rulers or purchasers thought the administration too con- 
ceding, and members were sent rather to impede than to 
promote reform. The few large constituencies shared in 
the prevailing hope that the time was come for some 
change in that boasted " glorious constitution " which had 
worked so ill, and, at the general election, Yorkshire re- 
turned Mr. Brougham, and Middlesex, Mr. Hume. No 
one could tell how a house so constituted, or a ministry so 
little supported, would act. The newly-elected House of 
Commons was not to meet till November, and there was an 
anxious period between. In the meantime disturbances 
again broke out in the agricultural districts always the 
first originators of and sufferers by riot. The much-pro- 
tected farm labourers made war upon the much-protected 
farmers, and their kind common protectors, the landowners, 
could do nothing to repress the destructive spirit. Stack- 
yards were blazing in the dark nights through all the south- 
eastern counties. The rick-burning, which commenced in 
Kent, spread into Hampshire, Wiltshire, Buckinghamshire, 
Sussex, and Surrey. In Birmingham the people took a 
different course. They attributed the evils under which 
they suffered to misgovernment, and formed a political 
union to reform the constitution. 

In this state of the country, parliament met on the 1st 
November, and the king's speech was made next day. In 
the debate upon the address in the House of Lords, the 
Duke of Wellington made a declaration, which did more in 
stimulating the demand for reform than even the results of 
the French and Belgian revolutions. His folly may be 


accounted for by the supposition that, after the outcry from 
the bigotted, which followed his concessions to dissenters 
and catholics, he was hurriedly eager to assure his party of 
his determination to concede no more. Miss Martineau 
says his friends imputed his blunder to a deafness which 
had been growing upon him, which prevented his hearing 
what was said by men of his own party. Earl Grey had 
alluded to the necessity of parliamentary reform. The 
Duke, throwing to the winds the Fabian tactics by which 
he had been distinguished in the Peninsular war, and 
observe the iteration and reiteration of the unmisunder- 
standable declaration, so often quoted afterwards, he 
emphatically said : 

" He had never heard or read of any measure, up to the present 
moment, which could in any degree satisfy his mind that the state of 
the representation, could be 'improved, or be rendered more satisfac- 
tory to the country at large than at the present tune. He was fully 
convinced that the country possessed, at the present moment, a legis- 
lature which answered all the good purposes of legislation, and this 
to a greater degree than any legislature ever answered in any country 
whatever. He would go further, and say, that the legislature and 
the system of representation possessed the full and entire confidence 
of the country DESEEVEDLY possessed that confidence. He would 
go still further, and say, that if, at the present moment he had im- 
posed upon him the duty of forming a legislature for any country, 
and particularly for any country like this, in possession of great 
property of various descriptions, he did not mean to say he could 
form such a legislature as they possessed now, for the nature of man 
was incapable of reaching such excellence at once, but his great 
endeavour would be, to form some description of legislature which 
would produce the same results. The representation of the people at 
present contained a large body of the property of the country, and in 
which the landed interest had a preponderating influence. Under 
these circumstances, he was not prepared to bring forward any 
measure of the description alluded to by the noble lord. He was not 
only not prepared, but he would at once declare that, so far as he 
was concerned, as long as he held any station in the government of 
the country, he should always feel it to be his duty to resist such 
measures when proposed by others." 


Never was the hacknied quotation, quern Deus vult 
perdere, more quoted than it was now. This was on the 
2nd of November ; on the 7th the Duke increased his un- 
popularity by advising the king that it was unsafe to entrust 
himself in the city ; on the 15th Sir Henry ParnelTs motion 
for a select committee on the civil list was carried against 
ministers by 233 votes against 204 ; on the 16th the Duke 
of Wellington and his colleagues resigned ; on the 22nd 
Earl Grey's ministry came into office, and announced, 
through their chief, that they would act on the principles of 
peace, retrenchment, and reform, which became the watch- 
words during the approaching contest. Time was allowed for 
the re-election of members who had accepted office, and in 
December parliament was prorogued to the 3rd of February. 
There was time between that 22nd of November and 
that 3rd of February for the people to think and resolve. 
In Manchester there were some reformers who placed full 
faith in the sincerity of the declaration that peace, re- 
trenchment, and reform, would be promoted. There were 
others who thought that, either to support ministers if they 
were sincere, or to urge them onwards if they were not, 
it was desirable to form an association ready to act when 
occasion required. The ministerial declaration was made 
on Monday the 22nd ; on Wednesday the 24th a crowded 
meeting was held in the Mechanics' Institution. A Poli- 
tical Union was formed, and the following were appointed 
as the members of its council : 

Eli Atkin, John Fielden, John Massey, 

J. Barrow, Robert Froggatt, Thomas Merry, 

George Bentham, Thomas Fielden, William Parr, 

Robert Bunting, P. Gendel, Archibald Prentice/ 

P. T. Candelet, Edmund Grundy, William Pickering, 

James Cox, Geo. Greenough, Roger Reyner, 

Elijah Dixon, James Hampson, Ralph Shaw, 

John Dracup, W. T. Hesketh, David McWilliams, 

Henry Day, James Huhne, John Whyatt, 

Rowland Detrosier, James Jones, G. H. Winder. 


With the exception of the Messrs. Fielden, great manu- 
facturers, and Mr. Edmund Grundy, a gentleman of good 
fortune, retired from business, the council consisted prin- 
cipally of shopkeepers, with a few men of the working 
class, but they were men earnest in the cause they had 
undertaken to promote, and they were afterwards joined 
by persons of higher commercial standing. Mr. Wheeler, 
in his History of Manchester, says that the union " never 
attained any influence," but ministers did not think so 
when they needed its services, and the enemies of reform 
did not think so when they felt its power, not of stimula- 
tion, but of repression, for disturbances with violence would 
to them have been very acceptable. 

The opening of the Manchester and Liverpool Railway 
was one of the events of 1830, which was not without its 
influence, in future days, on the progress of public opinion. 
The anti-corn law agitation was wonderfully forwarded by 
quick railway travelling and the penny postage. Even in 
1830 the railway promoted the cause of reform. It was an 
innovation on the old ways of travelling, and a successful 
one ; and people thought that something like this achieve- 
ment in constructive and mechanical science might be 
effected in political science. It brought, besides, a little 
proprietary borough, which nobody had ever seen before, 
into full view. I recollect when passing over it, for the 
first time, I said to a friend : " Parliamentary reform must 
follow soon after the opening of this road. A million of 
persons will pass over it in the course of this year, and see 
that hitherto unseen little village of Newton ; and they 
must be convinced of the absurdity of its sending two 
members to parliament, whilst Manchester sends none." 

On Thursday, the 20th January, 1831, a meeting was 
held in the Town Hall, to consider the propriety of petition- 
ing for a reform of the representative system. It was called 
by 233 requisitionists, including many of the first merchants, 
manufacturers, and shopkeepers. The boroughreeve and 

B 3 


constables had declined to call it, alleging the " excitement" 
that prevailed in the town and neighbourhood as their 
excuse ; their refusal, of course adding to the excitement. 
The use of the hall was, however, granted by the police 
commissioners, and it was filled with a most respectable 
auditory. Mr. Edward Baxter, who occupied the chair, 
inculcated the duty of every unrepresented locality standing 
forward, because, if they remained silent, it might be said 
that they were indifferent about their rights. Mr. Richard 
Potter spoke at some length on the necessity of reform, 
and adduced a number of instances of the unsufficiency and 
the inequality of representation, and he quoted a statement 
that had been sent out by me, showing that the parish of 
unrepresented Manchester contained as many inhabitants 
as there were in 130 boroughs which returned 260 mem- 
bers, a majority of the English members in the House of 
Commons. Mr. J. Shuttle worth made an eloquent and 
effective speech, in the course of which he said : " We are 
on the eve of a great a radical change. No other change 
can be effected, other means have been tried in abundance 
and found wanting. Our law books are encumbered with 
no less than about eighty statutes, regularly made and 
provided, as their preambles state, to secure and protect 
freedom of election, and to prevent bribery and corruption. 
And yet, in defiance of this multitude of laws, it is notorious 
that freedom of election has diminished, and bribery and 
corruption have increased. To continue patching and 
bolstering up the old system by additional laws, is, there- 
fore clearly vain and illusory. An entirely new system 
must be introduced. There is no other mode of redressing 
present grievances and averting future. The House of 
Commons, as now constituted, is an assemblage in which 
the people, whose house it ought to be, have no power. 
The reform must be such as will return members who will 
have no interest in misgovemment ; members who will act 
for the benefit of the whole community, and not as hereto- 

MB. J. C. DYEE. 371 

fore, for the exclusive benefit of themselves, and borough- 
mongers members who will no longer sacrifice the interests 
of the many to the interests of the few." Mr. R. H. Greg 
showed that in the early periods of our parliamentary his- 
tory there was a much wider extension of the right of 
voting than there was now, and that a large measure of 
reform would be no more than a return to ancient custom. 
Mr. Thomas Hopkins gave some forcible illustrations of the 
inequality of representation, and of the excessively heavy 
pressure of taxation. I followed, and argued the necessity 
of the reform being either wide, sweeping, and effectual, 
or such as would give a guarantee of such ultimate result. 
Mr. Detrosier, a very eloquent young man, who had sought 
and found knowledge under unusual difficulties, strongly 
advocated the rights of the many. Mr. Mark Philips said, 
that while unanimity was most desirable, he thought that 
reform would not be complete without the ballot ; and Mr. 
A. Kay urged the necessity of short parliaments. Mr. J. C. 
Dyer, who had become known and appreciated, made an 
able speech. In reference to the ballot he said : 

" He had the pleasure to receive, in France, a great many powerful 
proofs of its efficacy in overturning one of the most gross despotisms 
that ever afflicted the human race. The ballot, in the hands of only 
80,000 electors, overturned the power of the Bourbons. If these 
electors had had to vote openly, in the face of the bayonets of the 
soldiery, that tyranny would have been established, or the alternative 
would have been a most bloody revolution. The ballot accomplished 
the overthrow of that despotism quietly and effectually. In America 
(where Mr. Dyer was born) he had witnessed the operation of the 
vote by ballot to a great extent, and at a most stormy time, when the 
effects of the first French revolution were dividing the world, and 
causing most nations to gird on the armour of war. The ballot was 
used without a single soldier requiring to be employed to preserve 
order ; and the electors did not fix their choice upon the low, igno- 
rant, or the violent, but on the most virtuous and talented men the 
nation possessed." 

On Monday, January 31st, a meeting was held in the 
Town Hall, Salford, Mr. William Hill, boroughreeve, in the 


chair, to consider the propriety of petitioning that that town 
should be represented in parliament. The speakers were 
Mr. John Smith, Mr. Jerry Lees, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. W. 
Harvey, Mr. Joseph Brother-ton, Mr. Lot Gardner, and Mr. 
J. G. Frost. Resolutions were passed in favour of including 
the town, as a separate borough, in any measure that might 
be brought forward for parliamentary reform ; and an influ- 
ential committee, which afterwards succeeded in its object, 
was appointed to carry the resolutions into effect. 

Amidst the cheering hopes of reform, and the active 
demonstrations to secure it, there was much to throw 
gloom on the commencement of 1831. Two special com- 
missioners had been appointed to try the prisoners who 
had been apprehended during the rick-burning disturb- 
ances, not yet fully prevented. These commissions were 
opened at Winchester on the 20th, and at Reading on 
the 27th December, and proceeded to Wiltshire, Dorset- 
shire, Buckinghamshire, and other counties. The list of 
convictions and sentences is a melancholy one. On the 
9th of January, judgment of death was recorded against 
twenty-three prisoners, for the destruction of a paper 
machine in Buckinghamshire; in Dorset, on the llth, 
against three, for extorting money, and two for robbery ; 
at Norwich, fifty-five prisoners were convicted of machine 
breaking and rioting; at Ipswich, three, for extorting 
money ; at Petworth, twenty-six for machine breaking and 
rioting; at Gloucester, upwards of thirty; at Oxford, twenty- 
nine ; and at Winchester, out of upwards of forty con- 
victed, six were left for execution. Four of these were 
afterwards respited; but two of them were executed on 
the 15th. At Salisbury, forty-four prisoners were con- 
victed, of whom two were executed on the 25th. In the 
whole, upwards of eight hundred of the rioters were tried 
before the commission; and all of those who were con- 
victed, with the exception of the four cases mentioned, 
were sentenced to various terms of transportation and iin- 



prisonment. Sad commencement this for the year of hope. 
In the great manufacturing districts there was no rioting ; 
the people there better knew the causes of their distress. 

Parliament was opened on the 3rd of February. On the 
first day of the session Earl Grey stated that " ministers 
had succeeded in framing a measure which, they were 
persuaded, would prove efficient, without exceeding the 
bounds of that wise moderation with which such a measure 
should be accompanied. Lord John Russell made a similar 
notification to the House of Commons. It was not until 
the 1st of March that the ministerial plan of reform was 
explained, the nation in the meantime waiting the dis- 
closure with great impatience. The measure was quite as 
broad and effective as the people expected broader than 
was expected by those who doubted whig sincerity and 
courage. My comment upon it was : " Our readers know 
that we are advocates of the broadest possible suffrage, of 
the annual exercise of the elective right, and of the pro- 
tection afforded to the electors by secret voting ; and that, 
consequently, no scheme of reform which does not embrace 
all these points, can receive our unqualified approbation ; 
but we never allowed our wishes so far to get the better of 
our judgment as to suppose that we should have a perfect 
system of representation all at once. We have looked 
forward to a prolonged contest, in which we should gain 
a little now, and a little then, and thus be enabled to take 
fresh ground, and to press forward till complete victory 
was obtained. We did not, of course, expect that even 
the most zealously reforming administration, considering 
the strength of adverse interests which would have to be 
encountered, would venture to propose anything like a 
perfect scheme. We have it now before us, and though 
it falls far short of what we demand, and what we believe 
we shall ultimately, and at no very distant period, obtain, 
it is a great deal better than we expected, and ministers 
have our most hearty thanks for it, and they shall have 


oui' strenuous support to carry it into effect, should the 
boroughmongers, as it is probable they will, force them to 
appeal to the country." I believe that such were the 
opinions, throughout the country, of the class of persons 
who professed rational radicalism, as distinguished from 
the radicalism which would have all or nothing. 

After a debate which was prolonged for seven days, the 
motion for leave to bring in the bill was agreed to without 
a division. The utmost excitement, during this tardy pro- 
gress, was manifested in the country. On Wednesday, the 
9th of March, a meeting, to thank ministers, was held in 
the Town Hall, Manchester, called by the boroughreeve 
and constables the first they had called on the subject of 
parliamentary reform and many were present who never 
before had taken any part in the movement. But it had 
now the sanction of the whig administration, and, it was 
believed, of the whig aristocracy generally. Not many new 
speakers, however, had yet appeared. The chair having 
been taken by the boroughreeve, Mr. James Burt, the 
meeting was addressed by Mr. Richard Potter, who drew a 
strong contrast between Mr. Peel's opposition to the dis- 
franchisement of votes in English rotten boroughs, and his 
former haste to disfranchise the whole of the Irish forty- 
shilling freeholders. Mr. E. Baxter asked whether, if the 
king had the power to confer seats, he would select the 
village of Newton or the great town of Manchester ? Mr. 
Mark Philips made a spirited speech, in which he called on 
the county not to waste its power in a skirmish of out-posts, 
but to concentrate its strength and bear down upon the 
corruptionists in one united and overwhelming mass. Mr. 
John Shuttleworth spoke with great eloquence and effect. 
Mr. R. H. Greg said, contrasting Charles X and William 
IV, he had often heard of the revolutionary spirit of the 
people, but he thought those complaints might be retorted 
on the sovereigns. Mr. George Hadfield, an early and 
decided reformer, but who had not taken much part in 

:MR. G. W. WOOD. 375 

public meetings, quoted Mr. Pitt's saying, that no honest 
man could be minister, in his time, as the house was con- 
stituted, and said that its truth was as obvious now as it 
was then. The eloquent Detrosier again asserted the right 
of the over-taxed, corn-law-oppressed poor to representa- 
tion. Mr. E. J. Loyd, one of the 1688 whigs, expressed 
his gratitude to the administration. Mr. James Wood, who 
afterwards recommended Mr. H. H. Birley as a fit member 
for Manchester, said he had travelled all night to have the 
pleasure of attending the meeting. Mr. Absalom Watkin 
spoke briefly but energetically. Mr. G. W. Wood, another 
1688 whig, said he heartily joined in the resolution of 
thanks to ministers. Mr. J. C. Dyer, Mr. Thomas Potter, 
and Mr. Alexander Kay spoke briefly but emphatically ; 
and the vote of thanks was passed unanimously. 

A little episode in the proceedings showed the jealousy 
with which recent converts were received, when there was 
a belief that their conversion was with a view to future 
favours from the new constituencies. A motion had been 
made that the petition to the lords should be presented by 
Earl Grey, and that to the commons by Lord Althorp. Mr. 
G. W. Wood said he would prefer its being presented by 
Lord Stanley and Mr. Wilson Patten, members for the 
county, who had been very attentive to the deputation sent 
to London to obtain the repeal of the calico-print duties. 
Some one asked if Mr. Patten was a reformer. Mr. Wood 
said he did not know ; but it was desirable that he should 
be one, and he hoped their confidence would make him one. 
Mr. Thomas Potter said it was a piece of great presumption 
in Mr. Wood to find fault with the arrangements of the 
committee. I protested against bribing any one with con- 
fidence before he had earned it. The time was coming 
when they would not need to bribe men to be reformers. 
The time was come when those who wished, like Mr. Wood, 
to be thought reformers, should come forward and join the 
ranks of the reformers. To Lord Stanley, and Mr. Wood, 


and Mr. Wood's junto the police commissioners owed their 
banishment from that hall* Mr. Wood attempted to reply, 
but the meeting would not permit him, Mr. Shuttleworth 
said he hoped the boroughreeve would allow nothing but 
explanation, for, otherwise, Mr. Wood would continue ad- 
dressing them until the sun set. Mr. Wood was at length 
permitted to say that he gave an unqualified denial to Mr. 
Prentice's statement, to which Mr. Prentice said he could 
prove it, and that Lord John Russell had, some few years 
ago, been deceived by the committee of which Mr. Wood 
was a member into the belief that a 20 qualification would 
be acceptable to the people of Manchester. 

On the 14th of March the bill was read a first time. On 
the 20th the second reading was proposed, and carried by 
a majority of ONE, in the fullest house ever known to have 
divided, the numbers being, 302 for the motion, and 301 
against it. This narrow majority this almost lost 'sanction 
of the house increased the excitement of the country, 
which showed that the promised reform, or the mutilation 
of the " bill," would not be quietly submitted to. The 
obstructives, however, dared all the consequences. On the 
18th of April the house went into committee, when a 
motion was made by General Gascoyne to the effect, that 
the number of members for England and Wales ought not 
to be diminished, and the house divided with a majority of 
eight against ministers. This was virtually to save a 
number of the rotten boroughs, and to deny to Scotland 
and Ireland the increased proportion of members to which 
they were entitled. Ministers tendered their resignation to 
the king, but it was declined. On the Wednesday night, 
or rather on Thursday morning, they were again defeated, 
when Mr. Banks moved an adjournment, and obtained a 
majority of twenty -two, thus refusing to go into the 
question of supply which should have occupied the house. 
The king was now appealed to, and he resolved to dissolve 
parliament. Miss Martineau gives a graphic account of the 




scene between his Majesty and Earl Grey, with one or two of 
his colleagues. " He was yielding had yielded but 'with 
strong expressions of reluctance, when that reluctance was 
suddenly changed into alacrity by the news which was 
brought him of the tone used in the House of Lords about 
the impossibility of his actually dissolving parliament, un- 
doubted as was his constitutional power to do so. ' What ! 
Did they dare to meddle with his prerogative ?' the king 
exclaimed ; he would presently show them what he could 
and would do. He had given his promise ; and now he 
would lose no time ; be would go instantly that very 
moment and dissolve parliament. ' As soon as the royal 
carriage could be got ready,' his ministers agreed. ' Never 
mind the carriage send for a hackney coach,' replied the 
king a saying which spread over the kingdom, and much 
enhanced his popularity for the moment." 

I was in London at the time, and had been told in the 
morning, by Mr. John Wood, member for Preston, that 
the house would probably be dissolved that day. I had 
come from Jeremy Bentham's house, through St. James's 
Park, and through the Horse Guards, to see what might 
happen ; and there was the king on his way, with a guard 
of cavalry, riding wide of his carriage on each side, not 
preventing persons from coming close up to him. One 
rough sailor-looking man rushed to the side of the carriage, 
pulled off his hat, waved it round his head, and shouted, 
" turn the rogues out your majesty," and his majesty had 
an air of determination on his countenance which declared 
that he meant as much, and without ceremony. In the 
midst of a hot wrangle in the House of Lords on the pre- 
rogative of the king, the sound of cannon announced his 
approach. There was a cry of " the king, the king." Lord 
Mansfield was, amidst the confusion, protesting against the 
conduct of ministers in " conspiring together against the 
state, and of making the sovereign the instrument of his 
own destruction," when the king appeared, and the com- 


mons were summoned, and drawn from an equally exciting 
scene in their own house. The king began in a dignified 
and determined voice, and ended thus : " I have come to 
meet you for the purpose of proroguing this parliament, 
with a view to its immediate dissolution. I have been 
induced to resort to this measure, for the purpose of ascer- 
taining the sense of my people in the circumstances of the 
country, in the way in which it can most constitutionally 
and most authentically be expressed, on the expediency of 
making such changes in the representation as circumstances 
may appear to require, and which, founded upon the ac- 
knowledged principles of the constitution, may tend to 
uphold the just rights and prerogatives of the crown, and 
to give security to the liberties of the people. * * * 
In resolving to recur to the sense of my people, in the 
present circumstances of the country, I have been in- 
fluenced only by a parental anxiety for the contentment and 
happiness of my subjects, to promote which, I rely, with 
confidence on your continued and zealous assistance." A 
proclamation, declaring the dissolution of the parliament, 
appeared next day ; and the new writs were made return- 
able on the 14th of June, 




MY visit to London, at this important crisis, brought me 
into friendly communication with a man whom I had long 
honoured. I had long held the name of Bentham in high 
veneration. His writings had been my political text books, 
and, as he had been an author nearly twenty years before I 
was born, my first impressions of them were as precious 
legacies from the mighty dead, rather than as the produc- 
tions of a contemporary. When I had taken my station in 
the ranks of those who were combatting for reform, and, 
as I believed had been instrumental in popularising some of 
his doctrines, and thereby rendering them, in my compa- 
ratively narrow sphere, the guiding principles of many 
ardent Mends of liberty, my feeling of reverence for the 
great apostle of reform did not wear off; for I heard of him 
as an aged recluse, occupying in useful labours the short 
time that might still be allotted to him, after having lived 
a dozen years beyond the "few and evil" days which the 
Psalmist has assigned to man ; measuring out his remaining 
minutes in works for the promotion of " the greatest hap- 
piness ;" seeing none but men, who, from their talents or 
station, were likely to carry his principles into practical 
operation ; and never stirring beyond his threshold but to 
take his accustomed circumgyrations in a garden which had 
been Milton's, and therefore, in itself, an object exciting 
elevated and spirit-stirring associations in the mind of every 
admirer of high intellect and lover of freedom. With 
such an estimation of Bentham, and not daring to hope that 
I should ever be admitted to any communication with the 


venerable jurist, it may be imagined with what exultation 
I read on the title-page of a book sent me (the first volume 
of his Constitutional Code) my own name neatly inscribed, 
with the addition of " from Jeremy Bentham. Q. S. P. 
llth of April, 1831." I know not if any lover ever read 
with more delight the first epistle from his mistress than 
I did the note accompanying the present, in which I found 
myself recognised as a fellow-labourer with him " in the 
field of parliamentary reform in the vineyard of law re- 
form in the field of veracity and justice." As I had to be 
in London in a week or ten days, I delayed to answer 
certain queries he had put to me, in the hope that, should 
I find no friend having the privilege of admission to the 
venerable jurist, I might have the greater chance of being 
allowed a minute or two in his presence. Colonel Thompson 
and Dr. Bowring, from whom I could ask for an introduc- 
tion, were both absent. In this difficulty I put a bold face 
upon the matter, went right off to Queen-square Place, 
pulled the bell, my heart palpitating the while, and pre- 
sented my card. I was not kept long in suspense. The 
servant returning almost immediately, said Mr. Bentham 
would be with me in a few minutes. 

The walls of the room into which I was shown were 
covered with a dark- coloured Indian paper, seemingly as 
ancient as its owner, with strange birds of the size of phea- 
sants, represented as seated on the branches of vine-like 
stems, with leaves anonymous to the botanist, and flowers 
as yet nondescript. The chairs and a large book-case were 
of the same date, dark and massive, and on a table stood 
a noble bust, inscribed A JEREMIE BENTHAM, P. J. DAVID, 
Amongst the newspapers that lay upon the table was one 
in French, printed at New Orleans, containing a notice of 
the adoption of some of Bentham's " Codifications " by one 
of the South American republics, and I was deep in the 
middle of this when the door opened and the venerable 


sage, his long silvery hair hanging down on his shoulders, 
and his fine features, still fresh and florid, beaming with 
benevolence, appeared before me. All doubt about the 
nature of my reception was at once dispelled, for he ap- 
proached me holding out both hands and exclaiming, " Ah, 
I am glad, very glad to see you. I expected you to write, 
but I. am much better pleased that you have come to see 
me." After a short conversation he invited me to accom- 
pany him in his daily walk round the garden, and there I 
accommodated my pace to his quick short shuffle, and we 
held converse on the promotion of the greatest happiness 
of the greatest number. It was enough to walk in the 
garden of the patriot poet with the patriot jurist, but I felt 
it as an additional gratification that I was enabled to tell 
him I had good reason to believe that an ancestor of my 
own, the right-hand man of Lockhart, the parliamentary 
general, had there often discoursed with the author of the 
Defensio pro Populo. When I conceived that I was about to 
take my leave, probably for ever, of the aged reformer, at 
the little gate that opened into St. James's Park, he said, 
" You must not leave London without having a social chat 
with me," and invited me to dine with him next day. A 
" social chat " with Bentham ! To fill up the measure of 
that day's enjoyment, I had not been five minutes absent 
from him before I saw the king hurrying down to the 
House of Lords to do that which never English sovereign 
had done before to dissolve a parliament because it was 
adverse to reform. It seemed to me that the seed had been 
sown in good ground and that it was bringing forth fruit 
abundantly. If in the reign of that sovereign the produce 
was thirty-fold, may it be a hundred-fold in the reign of 
our youthful Queen ! 

Half-past seven o'clock next evening found me sitting at 
a neatly set out and recherche dinner in Bentham' s library, 
the single French lamp shedding its broad light on the 
table, but leaving the books which lined the walls in a 


darkness visible. We sat on a platform raised about three 
feet from the floor, and extending to within about three 
feet of the wall on each side. The space between the floor 
and the platform I found was intended as a well to contain 
hot air a Russian mode of heating apartments, recom- 
mended by Bentham's brother, Sir Samuel. The conversa- 
tion of my host was light and playful, but full of vigour, 
beautifully combining the wisdom of the sage and the sim- 
plicity and gaiety of the child. I expressed the pleasure I 
felt in observing that advanced years had not impaired his 
cheerfulness. " Sir," said he, "I cultivate cheerfulness as 
a habit. Besides, I have the consciousness of having for 
sixty years endeavoured to promote the happiness of my 
fellow men, and why should I be otherwise than cheerful?" 
The period of my visit was one of high hope. A great 
principle had been asserted, and all believed that it was 
soon to be carried effectually into practice. The nation 
exulted in the expectation of a great reform of the repre- 
sentative system, and already were men's minds directed to 
the means of securing the fruits of that onward movement, 
and the character of many who were likely to take a 
prominent part in the subsequent contests was strictly 
scrutinized. Bentham, at eighty-two, had the confiding 
faith of a lad of sixteen, and unreservedly spoke of all of 
whom I asked his opinion, either as leading statesmen or 
as the probable representatives of new or reformed con- 
stituencies. Of one distinguished by great and versatile 
talent, he said : " I never knew whether he was in jest 
or earnest. He comes here and tells me he has come to sit 
at the feet of Gamaliel and imbibe wisdom from my lips, 
but when I begin to show him that his projected legal 
reforms have no simplicity or breadth of principle, he 
suddenly discovers that it is time to go away to dine with 
my lord this or my lady that, and I see no more of him for 
a month, when he comes again with the same story that he 
is seeking wisdom from the Gamaliel of the law, and again 


he runs away so soon as I begin to show that his reforms 
are only poor palliatives of a system essentially bad." Of 
a prominent member of the commons he said : " I think 
he confounds low-priced government with cheap govern- 
ment. What we want is good government. However, he 
does his part by endeavouring to cut off the springs of cor- 

We talked much of his friend, Dr. Bowring. He said it 
was a great mistake to suppose that Bowring' s literature 
unfitted him for practical business, for he was well ac- 
quainted with all the bearings of commerce, and there was 
not a man in the kingdom more able to simplify and metho- 
dise the public accounts, the complexity of which seemed 
purposely contrived to conceal frauds and keep the country 
ignorant of its financial condition. " You," said he, " are 
practically acquainted with trade, and you shall judge of 
his knowledge of it. Here is a pamphlet written by him 
several years ago, from some very meagre notes of mine. 
Pray glance your eyes over it while I take a little exercise." 
I found the work contained a very lucid view of our com- 
mercial relations with Spain, and that the doctrines of free- 
trade were vindicated with statesman-like ability. When 
I had finished my reading I looked around for my venerable 
host, but he had disappeared. My attention, however, was 
directed to something white, waving backwards and for- 
wards in the dark space between the raised platform on 
which I sat and the book shelves. It was the silver hair of 
the octogenerian, who, having poised himself on both 
hands and lifted up his feet, was swaying his body with all 
the vigour of one of the pupils in his own gymnastic school. 
This was his evening's exercise, as the walk round Milton's 
garden was his exercise of the morning. 

Our conversation resumed, we went back to the days of 
the " Club," Dr. Johnson's corn-law tract being the train 
of association. Bentham had dined with some of the fra- 
ternity one day, and observing that Boswell had made some 


excuse to go back to the dining room when the party were 
on their way to the drawing room, and having some sus- 
picion that the excuse was not the real one, he turned back 
and wickedly detected Boswell in the act of swallowing 
glassful after glassful, hastily poured out from the bottoms 
of the decanters, of sundry varieties of wine that stood on 
the table, under the influence of which, when he joined the 
ladies, the biographer of Johnson became as eloquent, as, 
according to his own account, he bad ever been, under 
similar influence, in the presence of the Duchess of Argyle. 
I amused Bentham by telling him how Boswell's father on 
one occasion had combined frugality with generosity. My 
great-uncle had been tutor to James, and Lord Auchinleck, 
more Scotorum, had rewarded him with a kirk, a cheap 
way of repaying family obligation. When my relative was 
about to be married, the old whig lord was told by one of 
his friends that he ought to make the minister a present of 
some place, but unwilling to lay out money, he took a 
dozen silver spoons from the family store, with the family 
initials upon them, and had the tail of the B altered, so as 
to convert it into a tolerably decent R, the initial of his 
son's instructor, and these with half a dozen small mugs 
of the same metal, and similarly re-inscribed, were presented 
in form. The plate is now in possession of my brother, 
and the alteration is very obvious. 

Bentham had never any sympathy with the politicians 
who were active from other motives than those which arose 
from an enlightenecljbenevolence, and therefore, he did not 
like Home Tooke. " John Home," said he, " was present 
one day where I was at dinner, and his amusement was in 
teazing two American gentlemen by sarcasms on their 
country, conveyed not so broadly as to justify their show- 
ing any resentment, but obviously giving them pain. I 
cannot understand how any man can have pleasure in giving 
pain to another." Nor could he, for, both from natural 
disposition and principle, no man was more attentive to the 


amenities of life than Bentham. He cultivated benevolence 
as he did cheerfulness. 

A friend who held Bentham in great veneration was with 
me in London, and when I left him in the evening had 
earnestly and solemnly conjured me, by the remembrance of 
a twenty years' friendship, that I should procure him some- 
thing from Bentham, were it even his smallest pamphlet, 
with his hand-writing in it. I had teazed my friend 
a little, saying that I could not presume to take such a 
liberty with a man so much beyond my intellectual rank ; 
and, half angry at my affected fastidiousness, he muttered 
something about Scotch coldness and caution. I laughingly 
told Bentham of this, and taking down one of his volumes, 
he carefully selected the best of his pens and said, " I know 
him as a good friend of liberty, and as usefully engaged in 
making good books cheap ;" and I delighted my friend 
next morning, after maliciously keeping him some time in 
suspense, by showing him the book and the carefully 
and neatly written inscription " John Childs, Esq., from 
Jeremy Bentham." 

From the subject of instruction of the young, which 
was introduced by the presentation of a little tract I had 
published on schools for infants, we went by a natural 
transition to the instruction of nations. Bentham had been 
reading Kotzebue's strictures on the conduct of the mis- 
sionaries in the South Sea Islands, and he expressed his 
fears that the inhabitants had only exchanged one abject 
superstition for another, and that no^advance wT>uld be 
made in civilization under the usurped dominion of ignorant 
fanatics. I thought it but justice to remove from the mind 
of such a man his misapprehension of the character of the 
enlightened and devoted missionaries, who had made Chris- 
tianity the precursor of a rapid civilization ; and I told him 
of the cessation of human sacrifices and infanticide, the 
institution of marriage, the appointment of magistrates by 
the voice of the people, the adoption of a simple code of 


laws such as he himself might have recommended, the 
establishment of a printing press, the encouragement of 
agriculture, and the introduction of commerce and the 
useful arts. He was exceedingly interested with the detail, 
and learning that my authority was Mr. Ellis's book, he 
called his secretary, a young gentleman whom he addressed 
with the affectionate kindness of a father, and requested 
him to purchase it for him in the morning. It was now 
half-past twelve, and I took my leave of the venerable old 
man, with a bundle of his books which he had presented 
to me, having first received a cordial invitation to visit him 
whenever I came to London. " My time," said he, " is but 
short, and I cannot have many opportunities of seeing you." 
I saw him only once again. The oil was fast wasting in 
the lamp which had burned so long and so brightly. He 
died on the day before the Reform Bill passed, and he knew 
that it was to pass. 

Before my return home a " true bill " for libel was found 
against me, at our quarter sessions. I procured a copy of 
the indictment, and learned that I, "Archibald Prentice, 
late of Manchester, labourer," being a person of a wicked 
disposition, and instigated by the devil, had, with force and 
arms, printed, and caused to be printed, published, and 
caused to be published, certain false, scandalous, and mali- 
cious things, therein set forth, of and concerning one John 
Grimshaw, commonly called Capt. Grimshaw. What I had 
said was as true as holy writ, but, according to judge-made 
law, no doubt a libel. I had said he had been accustomed 
to give indecent toUsts at public dinners, and everybody 
knew that he had. I resolved to deny the tenability of an 
indictment calling upon the jury, upon their oaths, without 
other evidence than proof of publication, to find that I was 
guilty of the malice and falsehood charged ; but having 
some faint recollection of having seen something in print 
by Bentham upon the law of libel, I sent Dr. Bowring a 
copy of the indictment, begging him to lay it before his 


illustrious friend, and to ask him what course I ought to 
pursue. In the course of a few days I received a pamphlet 
published by him in 1817, denying the tenability of such 
indictments. In a few days more he sent me an examination 
of the indictment, exposing its absurdities and falsehoods, 
and arguing that a jury could not, without perjury, find 
that to be false which was not proved to be false. I was of 
course delighted with having a corroboration of my opinion 
from such a quarter ; and as it was not likely that I should 
find a lawyer bold enough to set the dicta of the courts at 
defiance, I determined to undertake my own defence. The 
trial came on at the Manchester quarter sessions, July 14th, 
and it became my turn to address the jury. I arose, not 
without some embarrassment, for it was a new scene to 
me, and there were fine and imprisonment, at the mercy of 
the court which I was defying, if I failed. But there was 
something in the novelty of the argument, and the plainness 
and earnestness with which it was offered, that strongly 
arrested the attention of the jury. In the indictment I had 
been called a labourer, and I said, in the words of Bentham : 
" Yes ! a labourer I am in a certain sense, and I glory in so 
being. A labourer I am, and a labourer I have long been, 
in the field of parliamentary reform ; and for my labour 
in that field, rather than from any injury to Captain Grim- 
shaw, I suspect I owe my appearance before you to-day. 
A labourer I am, as you see and hear, in the vineyard of 
law reform in the field of veracity and justice." I had 
been charged, in the indictment, with malice and falsehood, 
and I asked the jury : " Can you, upo 1 ^? your oaths, declare 
that to be false, of the falsehood of wliich you have not one 
particle of evidence, and the truth of which you shall hear 
me offer to prove ? Will you, on your oaths, declare that I 
have published a FALSE libel ? I know that you will not. 
I cannot imagine the possibility of there being, amongst 
twelve respectable and intelligent men, one who would 
upon his oath -declare that to be false, of the falsehood of 

s 2 


which there is not only no evidence, but not the pretence 
of evidence, while of its truth evidence is tendered and 
refused." I went on to examine count after count of the 
indictment : " Count the fifth is the same as count the first 
and fourth, but with this very remarkable difference, that 
the word ' false ' is omitted. True or false as the libel 
might prove, here is a trap laid for you to convict me. The 
indictment-drawing attorney has anticipated my objection, 
though the learned counsel has not. He has contemplated 
the possibility of an honest jury being unwilling to declare 
that to be false which, for anything he knew to the contrary, 
might be as true as holy writ. But * vaulting cunning doth 
o'erleap itself.' The very leaving out of the charge of 
falsehood is an express acknowledgment that the charge 
itself is false. Here you have them demanding of you that 
you shall punish me for speaking the truth : and will you 
forget the ancient law of the land, and so confound the 
distinctions between right and wrong as to expose me to 
the same punishment for speaking the truth as would be 
awarded to me if I had been guilty of the most atrocious 
falsehoods." I asked the chairman, Mr. Norris, if I might 
be allowed to prove the truth of what I had asserted con- 
cerning Grimshaw. 

" The CHAIRMAN. Certainly not. 

" Mr. PRENTICE. I have witnesses in court to prove the whole of 
what I have asserted ; but I am not allowed to call them. But my 
case is complete without them. A man who is charged with an 
offence in a court of justice is not called to prove the falsehood of 
the charge. It must b^brought home to him by evidence. If there 
is not proof against him there is nothing for him to rebut, and the 
charge falls to the ground, as this must." 

I went on to say that even had I charged Grimshaw with 
the utmost wickedness that human nature can reach : 
*f even, in such a case, I should have been entitled to a 
verdict of not guilty, for you could not have subscribed to 
all that is contained in this indictment ; and, as I said 
before, if a criminal escaped in consequence of your 


sentence of acquittal, the fault would not lie with you, 
but with the blunderer who crammed his indictment with 
statements unsupported by proof." And thus I went on, 
for an hour, repeating, in a variety of forms, nearly the 
same things, and concluded by saying : 

" Gentlemen, I deny that I have written any libel on Captain 
Grimshaw that calls for punishment ; but if I had, dare you, upon 
your oaths, declare it to be either a false or malicious libel, without 
one particle of proof either of falsehood or malice, and not only 
without proof, but in the face of my offer to prove the contrary ? I 
speak boldly, gentlemen you cannot. As honest men you cannot. 
As Christians, reverencing the sacred oath you have taken, YOU 
DARE NOT. I have not appealed to your passions, gentlemen, but I 
do appeal to your understandings, which are mocked by this in- 
dictment and I do appeal to your consciences, which are insulted 
by this indictment, and I call upon you to regard your verdict not as 
a matter between the lawyers and you, but as matter between you and 
your GOD, and to give such decision as you shall answer for in the 
great day of judgment, in that court where it will be in vain to plead 
custom as an excuse for the VIOLATION OF AN OATH." 

The chairman of the sessions had the usual reply in such 
cases : " The law says if any one personates or writes for 
publication, concerning any individual or individuals, that 
which has a tendency to bring any person into hatred or 
contempt, such writing or personation is a libel ; whether 
the writer intended it should have that effect or not, still it 
is a libel, and, being so, the law presumes that it is false ; 
and the inference is also that it is malicious, and the law 
presumes that it is both malicious and scandalous so to bring 
any one into contempt. A libel, having a tendency to 
excite to a breach of the peace, was said to be against the 
peace of the king ; and it was a customary thing, therefore, 
to say it was done with force and arms." 

Immediately after the chairman had concluded his charge, 
a little after seven o'clock in the evening, the trial having 
lasted two hours, the jury requested permission to retire 
for the purpose of considering their verdict ; and after one 


of the police-officers had been sworn in charge of them, 
they were conducted to the grand jury room, there to 
remain without food, fire, or candle, till they agreed upon 
their verdict. The court sat still for two hours without 
calling any other case. At nine o'clock there being no 
tidings of the jury, the chairman sent for them, and asked 
them if there was any probability of their soon coming to 
an agreement ? The foreman very emphatically said they 
were not likely, and they were then sent again into their 
room, and the court w T as adjourned to Mr. Xorris's house, 
where he said he would receive the verdict at any hour of 
the night. I remained at Mr. John Whyatt's, in Bridge- 
street, expecting, throughout the whole of the night, to be 
called on to accompany the jury to Mr. Norris's house ; 
but hour after hour rolled on, and still the jury remained. 
At six in the morning we went to look up to the windows 
of the grand jury room where they were in durance, but 
still there was no indication of movement. The court 
opened at nine next morning, and still the jury were 
locked up. An appeal case was entered upon and con- 
cluded without any tidings from them. At a quarter to 
eleven, fifteen hours and a half from the time they had 
retired, Mr. Brandt rose, and said, that after the long 
period the jury had been locked up, he was willing to 
prevent their suffering any further confinement, and would 
consent to their being discharged if they were still unable 
to agree. The Chairman : " Do you consent to this arrange- 
ment, Mr. Prentice ?" I said, " I do, most willingly. I 
have no desre to prolong their captivity." The jury were 
then called in, and on saying that they still were unable to 
agree, they were told of the arrangement, and discharged. 

It was afterwards stated by some of the jurymen that 
TEN of their number decided on a verdict of " not guilty" 
in a few minutes after they retired. The foreman, they 
said, was for a verdict of guilty, and that another joined 
him, on condition that if the verdict were " guilty," it 


should be accompanied by a declaration that the falsehood 
had not been proved. The TEN, however, were inflexible. 
One of them had laid himself down, at full length on the 
table. Another asked him, " Hast thou a bowster (bolster) 
there ?" The reply was : " No, I have no bowster but the 
bowster of God's truth and justice, and I winno' bring in 
this man guilty." Another, who had lost his right arm in 
his youth, held up the other and said : "I will gnaw the 
flesh from the bones of this one arm before I find him 
guilty." They had all found the sensation of thirst very 
painfully, and when daylight came they looked out wish- 
fully upon the Irwell flowing past, black as ink, thinking 
it was a great pity that so much good water should run to 
waste whilst they were so dry ! Here are their names : 

G-eorge Jackson, foreman Salford 

William Dixon Do. 

Thomas Bainbridge Do. 

John Fletcher Wuerdle and Wardle. 

William Crossley Todmorden. 

William Scholfield Do. 

Eobert Barker Tottington. 

Richard Howarth Do. 

Thomas Elton Do. 

JohnWilde Do. 

Edmund Pickup Do. 

John Priestley Do. 

Many of the London papers reported and commented 
upon the trial. The Examiner paid me the compliment of 
attributing, from internal evidence, but erroneously, a 
particular part of my speech to the pen of Bentham. 
Cobbett, who had been tried a week before, and escaped 
the conviction that was earnestly desired, expressed him- 
self exultingly at this another triumph over the judge- 
made law of libel. I had written to Bentham, asking him 
to felicitate me on the result, and the following was his 
reply; which will be found also in Bowling's Memoirs 
of the Jurist's Life : 


" Queen's Square Place, Westminster, July 21st, 1831. 

DEAE SIR, Yes ; I do felicitate you ; I felicitate the honest and 
intelligent jurymen, I felicitate the country in general, I felicitate 
myself, on this your virtual acquittal. I say the country in general ; 
for further, much further than to the deliverance of one innocent 
man from the persecution under which he was suffering, do I look 
for the benefit capable of resulting from this event. It not only 
always has been, but will now be very extensively seen to be, in the 
power, not merely of any jury, but of any one man in any jury, to 
effect no inconsiderable progress in the career of law reform. For 
producing an effect so eminently desirable, a very few juries, and 
thence a very few individuals, one in each jury, will suffice. Choosing 
for the experiment those cases in which the acquittal, though of a 
person by whom the offence has really been committed, will be pro- 
ductive of least evil to the public (and many are the cases in which 
it would not be productive of any evil at all) ; making this choice, 
and declaring that the acquittal had no other cause than their deter- 
mination not to join with the judges and their partners in iniquity, 
in the contamination of the public morals, by the utterance of such a 
tissue of solemn and pernicious falsehoods, it will be in the power of 
this small number of individuals to compel those on whom it depends 
to clear all instruments of accusation from the greater part of that 
mass of pickpocket lies and absurdities with which they have hitherto 
been loaded. This may a small number of the lovers of justice do ; 
and thus doing, they will thus pave the way for the establishment of 
that all-comprehensive plan of law reform to the organization of 
which nearer three-quarters than half a century of my life has been 
devoted. And here, sir, you have before you my ground for self- 

" The course which I am thus using my endeavours to recommend 
to jurymen is no other than that which I myself would take were I 
in their place. In former days it happened to me to be summoned 
to serve upon juries of both kinds, grand and special. Having 
received from nature the experienced faculty of remaining without 
food for several days without much inconvenience, it would have been 
in my power in the situation of juryman to command the verdict ; 
and if so disposed, in the situation of member of a petty jury, spe- 
cial or common, to give or sell impunity for any crime at pleasure 
not to speak of the giving to one man the property, to any amount 
of any other. With what feelings and what views I figured to 
myself this power in some hands, I leave you to imagine. On the 


particular occasions then in question, I saw no prospect of rendering 
to my country in a jury box service to so great an amount as it 
seemed to me I could render, and was actually rendering in my 
closet, and thence it was that the invitation never experienced my 

" ' Of a bad bargain make the best,' says one of our old saws, nor 
that the least instructive one. Under the rotten and anti-popular 
constitution, for the change of which into a sound and popular one 
all eyes are looking with such intense anxiety, the main use of juries, 
as at present constituted, is, in my view of the matter, the veto which 
the institution gives to the people upon laws upon bad laws in 
general, and in particular upon all those hi which the oligarchy by 
whom we are plundered and oppressed have a special sinister interest. 

" On a cursory glance, it does not seem to me that you had reason 
to complain, either of the learned gentleman who led as counsel 
against you, or of the other learned gentleman who on this occasion 
officiated as judge. Thus the law is, says the judge ; and in saying 
it, says what is but too true. Thus the law is that is the spurious, 
judge-made law substituted to legislature-made law and to parlia- 
ment-made law, and in this consists the grievance. 

" As to the learned counsel, ' Mischief is capable of being done,' 
says he, ' by taunting men with offences which they have really 
committed.' In this (though it would not come up to his purpose 
by warranting the jury to tell the lies in question) there is unques- 
tionable truth, and it presents a real demand for regulation. Such 
regulation my penal code would accordingly give ; but of judge-made 
law (if to the tissue of irregularities which have no words belonging 
to them the name of law must be misapplied), one of the evil pro- 
perties is, that by it no regulation of anything can be made. 

"It is with no small satisfaction and admiration that I have 
observed the ability with which you turned to account the materials 
\\ith which I had the pleasure of furnishing you, and the important 
additions which you made to them. 

" Dear sir, yours sincerely, 


" Archibald Prentice, Esq., Manchester." 

" P.S. My advice to jurymen is plain and unmisunderstandable, 
and nothing can be easier than to follow it. Examine the indictment, 
and if in any part there be any assertion that is either notoriously 
false or not proved to be true, do not join in declaring it to be true, 
but say ' Not Guilty.' " 

s 3 



FOR once, there was an " appeal to the country;" all other 
so-named appeals, in our modern history, had been to the 
rotten boroughs and the close counties. The popular will 
bore almost universal sway. The election cry was " The 
bill, the whole bill, and nothing but the bill" the meaning 
of the latter condition being "nothing less than the bill." 
The conviction had spread amongst the enemies of reform 
that, if there was not change to the extent promised, reform 
to a much greater extent would be imperatively demanded. 
They yielded to what seemed to be an inevitable necessity ; 
and the curious spectacle was exhibited of rotten boroughs 
sending delegates to vote for their own disfranchisement. A 
stand was made in the universities, and in boroughs where 
the tory aristocracy had unlimited power; but wherever 
there was more than a mere shadow of representation, men 
were elected whose sole pledge was that they should pass 
the bill. There was to be a convention of 1831, as there 
had been a convention in 1688 a convention, not to alter 
the succession to the throne, but to secure the representative 
rights of the people not by a perfect and final measure, 
but by one containing the elements that would produce 
further and more theoretically perfect reforms, without the 
necessity of further fierce agitation. The counties generally 
sent pledged delegates. In Lancashire no tory dared to 
offer himself to the electors, and Mr. Stanley (now Lord 
Stanley) and Mr. Heywood, of Manchester (now Sir Ben- 
jamin Heywood), were elected by acclamation. 

The delegate parliament met on the 24th of June ; on 
the 25th the Reform Bill was again introduced, on the 26th 


it was read a first time, and on the 4th of July the second 
reading was moved. A three days' debate followed, and 
on the division ministers had a majority of one hundred 
and thirty-six. Long and tedious delay took place in com- 
mittee, the tories yielding only inch by inch, taking up 
fresh ground whenever driven from their position, and it 
was not until the 22nd of September that the bill passed the 
lower house ; the country looking on quietly and confident 
as to the result, but prepared for instant action should any 
unforeseen obstruction arise. Many meetings, however, 
took place to prove to the House of Lords that there was 
no relaxation in the desire for fair representation. 

On that 22nd of September a meeting was held in the 
Town Hall, Manchester, Mr. James Burt, the boroughreeve, 
in the chair. Mr. Richard Potter took the lead. " It had 
been said that the ardour for reform had abated, and this 
was one reason for holding the meeting, that it might be 
shown that the people were still animated with the same 
determined resolution which had been manifested through- 
out the long-protracted contest." Mr. M. Philips followed, 
and said, that misrepresentations of the state of public 
opinion might be expected from men whose selfish interests 
or whose want of principle prompted them to advocate the 
continuance of a system under which they had themselves 
fatted on the public plunder. A somewhat turbulent 
person, named Ashmore, a weaver one of a class of men 
who, whether they were honest or not, were doing the 
work of the obstructives as earnestly as if they had been 
well paid for it here rose and asserted that there had been 
a great alteration in public opinion about the bill, which, 
however, bad as it was, he would accept as a stepping-stone 
for more. A working man, named Thomas Johnson, fol- 
lowed, who declared his conviction that the bill would be 
advantageous to the working classes, for which declaration 
he was hissed by Ashmore' s small party. Mr. Thomas 
Heywood said that there was no evidence to show that the 


reformers of May and June were not reformers in Septem- 
ber, and expressed his aversion to the corn-law, to repeal 
which would be the first duty of a reformed parliament. 
Mr. John Shuttleworth then addressed the meeting in a 
most effective speech, in which he asserted that it was an 
imperative and most solemn duty, on the part of the minis- 
ter, by advising an exercise of the king's prerogative, and 
by the creation of the necessary number of peers, how large 
soever that number might be, to carry the measure safely 
through the House of Lords. Mr. Jeremiah Lloyd said that 
the delay in forwarding the bill had had one good effect it 
had shown that the demand for it was not from temporary 
excitement, but enduring conviction. Mr. R. H. Greg 
expressed his conviction that the lords would pass the bill, 
for they must be aware that its rejection would be attended 
with most disastrous consequences. Mr. James Whittle 
and Mr. Thomas Harbottle supported the petition that had 
been proposed. Mr. J. C. Dyer, in a short and pithy 
speech, denied the right of the lords to interfere in the 
constitution of the other house, which ought to represent 
the people. Mr. G. Humphreys, in a first appearance before 
the public, ably asserted the justice of the measure about 
to be submitted to the House of Lords. Mr. G. Hadfield 
characterized the bill as a confirmation of the revolution of 
1688, by the admission of the people to the power intended 
for them, but which they did not obtain, from the want, at 
that time, of a knowledge of the principles of representation. 
After short speeches from Mr. G. H. Winder, Mr. E. Baxter, 
Mr. J. C. Walker, Mr. Thomas Potter, and myself, the 
meeting closed with three tremendous cheers for reform. 
A numerous and equally enthusiastic meeting was held in 
Salford on the following week. 

The second reading of the Reform Bill was moved in the 
House of Lords on the 3rd of October. At a late hour 
Lord Wharncliffe moved an amendment, " that the bill be 
read a second time that day six months," and the debate 


was adjourned till next day, and from day to day, until, at 
four o'clock in the morning of the 7th, Earl Grey rose to 
reply. He concluded his address by saying : " If your lord- 
ships throw out the bill, it will rest with myself and my 
conscience how I shall shape my future conduct. But I will 
not abandon the helm of affairs so long as I can be useful 
to my king or my country." On the anxiously-expected 
division there appeared, contents 158, non-contents 199, 
being a majority of forty-one against the bill, twenty-one 
of the number being contributed by the bench of bishops. 
To soften the disappointment to the country perhaps to 
avoid the consequences to themselves many of the oppo- 
nents of the bill expressed their conviction that the time 
was come when some reform "safe" and "gradual" 
ought to take place ; and the Archbishop of Canterbury, 
on behalf of himself and the right reverend bench, said, 
" he was so thoroughly sensible that some reform was neces- 
sary, that to a temperate and safe reform he would offer no 
objections. He could not help indulging a hope that the 
discussions of that evening would lead to the introduction 
of such a measure as would ensure the union of men of all 
parties." There was no faith in such professions no faith 
in reform from such sources. The conviction had been 
growing up, during the long-protracted discussions, that 
the measure, instead of going too far, had not gone far 
enough ; and a new and fiercer agitation was commenced : 

" The country -pours amain, 
The spirit of our ancestors is up, 
The spirit of the free ! And with a voice 
That breathes success, they all demand reform." 

Early on the morning of Monday the 10th, it was gene- 
rally known throughout Manchester that active measures 
were in operation for convening a public meeting, and in 
the course of the day a notice from the municipal autho- 
rities, in compliance with a requisition signed by upwards 
of four hundred merchants, and other inhabitants, was 


/issued, inviting the inhabitants to assemble on Wednesday, 
in the Riding School, Lower Mosley-street, " to consider 
the propriety of presenting a dutiful and loyal address to 
his majesty, at this alarming crisis, for the purpose oi 
assuring him of their devotion to his person, and of theii 
unshaken determination to give to his majesty, and hi* 
present government, all the support in their power ; am 
also of imploring his majesty to take such decisive con- 
stitutional proceedings as shall counteract the perniciouj 
consequences which may result from the rejection of the 
Reform Bill by the House of Lords, secure the passing 01 
that important measure into a law, and thus preserve the 
peace, and secure the future welfare of the country." At 
the hour appointed the street was filled with people who, 
the moment the door was opened, completely filled the 
place, to the number of four thousand, leaving thousands 
more outside clamouring for adjournment. A vain attempt 
was made to proceed with business, but the cries for 
adjournment were overpowering. At length it was agreed 
that the meeting should be held in Camp Field, to which 
the whole assemblage proceeded, swelling as it went, until 
the number congregated amounted to at least a hundred 
thousand, exceeding, by forty thousand, the number met 
on St. Peter's Field on the 16th of August, 1819. The 
boroughreeve having declined presiding at an open-air 
meeting, Mr. Thomas Potter, now beginning to take that 
active part in public business which he pursued during the 
remainder of his most useful life, was called to the chair 
and received with tremendous cheers. He briefly addressed 
the meeting, and called on the brother of the county mem- 
ber, to move the first resolution. Mr. Heywood spoke in 
a low tone of voice, with some hesitation, and was badly 
heard ; and it became obvious that there would be a demand 
for resolutions more in accordance with the fierce temper of 
the disappointed multitude than those which were to be 
proposed. Mr. Shuttle worth's better voice and more 


assured tone made him well heard over the greater part of 
the meeting, and much of what he said was enthusiastically 
cheered, but his allusion to the necessity of creating an 
additional number of peers was met by cries of "no more 
peers we've had enough of them." A young man of the 
name of Richardson moved an amendment to the effect, 
that the king should be addressed to issue writs to populous 
places, to withhold them from decayed and rotten boroughs, 
and to create no new peers, but to take such other con- 
stitutional measures as should secure the passing of a bill 
on the principles of universal suffrage, annual parliaments, 
and vote by ballot. A scene of extraordinary excitement 
followed. Mr. Shuttleworth and Mr. J. C. Dyer in vain 
attempted to show the propriety of adopting the resolutions 
proposed. I tried to show that a slight alteration of the 
amendment might secure unanimity, but was met with 
overpowering cries of " Don't humbug us." Mr. Hum- 
phreys begged the meeting to support the men who were 
fighting their battles in parliament, and the reply was : 
" We'll fight our battle ourselves." The utmost confusion 
prevailed, but on the amendment being put and declared to 
be carried, tremendous shouts rent the air, and thanks 
being unanimously voted to the chairman, the enormous 
assemblage peaceably dispersed. My comments on this 
meeting were : 

" The congregation of one hundred thousand of the inhabitants of 
Manchester was a proof of the interest which the public feel on the 
fate of the Eeform Bill, and ought, with similiar manifestations 
throughout the country, to convince the lords of the majority that 
the demand for reform is one which, instead of subsiding experiences 
fearful increase by opposition. The tories need not lay the flattering 
unction to their souls that the people will accept their as-little-as-needs- 
be scheme of reform, if they should succeed in throwing out the present 
bill. If that be ultimately thrown out, they may depend upon it 
that the people will be unanimous in demanding one with a broader 
extension of suffrage, and with complete protection to the voter. 
The meeting, in consequence of the fury of a few foolish and mis- 

400 KIOTS. 

guided men, was not effective as an expression of deliberate opinion, 
but it was most instructive as to the consequences of a branch of the 
legislature, whose hereditary sway is only tolerated, throwing itself 
as an obstacle in the way of the people's will." 

The irritated feelings of the people found more alarming 
expression in other parts of the country. On the 1 Oth, 1 1th, 
and 12th October much alarm was occasioned by the assem- 
blage of tumultuous crowds ; the Duke of Wellington was 
insulted on his way to the House of Lords ; the Marquis of 
Londonderry was attacked and stones thrown at him, one of 
which struck him on the temple ; and many of the most 
obnoxious amongst the nobility had their windows knocked 
in and broken. When the intelligence of the rejection of 
the bill reached Derby, a great crowd assembled, broke 
open the town jail and liberated the prisoners. The county 
jail was also attacked but successfully defended. Mr. 
Haden, a respectable inhabitant of the town, was struck 
with a stone, which caused his death. At Nottingham the 
disturbances were still more serious, and the rioting ended, 
after an attack upon Colwick Hall, the seat of J. Musters, 
Esq., whose lady died of the fright occasioned, by the 
destruction by fire of the beautiful castle, standing un- 
roofed till the present day, a monument of blind fury, 
the property of the Duke of Newcastle, who had become 
unpopular, and had given a great impulse to reform, by his 
insolent declaration relative to his dependant voters at 
Newark, that " he had a right to do what he liked with his 
own." On the 12th, Earl Grey informed the deputies from 
various parishes of the metropolis that it would be absurd 
to think of again proposing Lord John Russell's bill, but 
they might be assured that the ministers would support no 
bill that would not secure to the people their constitutional 
rights. On the 26th parliament was prorogued by the king, 
who intimated the necessity of resuming, in the ensuing 
session, the subject of a constitutional reform. This did 
not, however, put an end to the disturbances, of which 


many, caring nothing about reform, joined for the sake of 
plunder. On the 29th Bristol became the scene of frightful 
and disgracing excesses on the public entrance of Sir 
Charles Wetherall, recorder for the city, whose opposition 
to the Reform Bill, in the House of Commons, had been 
characterised by the bitterest and most unmeasured vitu- 
peration of all who promoted it. " The whole of Bristol," 
says Mr. Wade, " was on the verge of destruction ; the 
mansion-house, custom-house, excise-office, and bishop's 
palace were plundered and set on fire ; the toll-gates pulled 
down ; the prisons burst open with sledge hammers, and 
their inmates, criminals and debtors, set at liberty amidst 
the exulting shouts of the populace. During the whole of 
the Sunday the mob were the unresisted masters of the 
city. Forty-two offices, dwelling-houses, and warehouses, 
were completely destroyed, exclusive of public buildings. 
The loss of property was estimated at half a million. The 
number of rioters killed, wounded, or otherwise injured, 
were 110. Of about fourteen or sixteen who lost their 
lives, three died from the shots or sword-cuts of the mili- 
tary ; the rest were mostly the victims of excessive drinking, 
in the rifled cellars and warehouses, which produced either 
apoplexy on the spot, or disabled them from escaping from 
the flames that they had themselves kindled." I have 
spoken of the functions of the Manchester Political Union 
as being more to direct and restrain than to urge urging 
not being required when the association was formed. The 
Bristol Union had not been so effective in preventing out- 
rages, but when they had occurred, it was very influential 
in restoring peace. In my paper of the 5th of November, 
I said : 

Lamentable and disgraceful riots, attended with serious loss of 
life and immense destruction of property, have taken place at Bristol. 
It is impossible to read the frightful details without seeing the peri- 
lous condition of a country in which the mass of the people, having 
no voice in the choice of representatives whose enactments they are 


called upon to obey, nor in the choice of the magistrates who admi- 
nister those laws, have no respect for the authorities appointed for 
the conservation of the peace. The magistrates, knowing that they 
had no one feeling in common with the people, seem to have been 
completely paralyzed ; and the mob, seeing their imbecility, seemed 
to have proceeded from, one act of violence to another, till, maddened 
by unexpected success, like the tiger which has tasted blood, they 
recklessly destroyed all before them, counting life and property as 
nothing. Is it possible that such horrible excesses could have been 
committed in any country where the people, having the enactment of 
their own laws and the formation of their own institutions, could 
say, " They are of our own making we will enforce them ; they are 
of our own creation we will support them ?" If, instead of a tory 
corporation, known for ages as adverse to popular rights, Bristol had 
been governed by magistrates appointed by the people, the riot would 
have been quelled in an hour or two. The application of that corpo- 
ration, after three days' fire and carnage, to the Political Union, is 
pregnant with instruction. It was an acknowledgement that the 
peace could be restored only by authorities appointed by the people. 
The correspondent of the Morning Herald says : " The city may be 
said to be under the protection of the Political Union, to whom the 
magistrates were constrained to appeal in the dreadful emergency, 
and the firmness and patriotism displayed by the reformers merit 
every praise. Mr. Herepath, the vice-president of the Bristol Poli- 
tical Union, was vested by the magistrates with an authority similar 
to that of the under-sheriff. He was requested to assemble the 
members of the union a course which, it should be remembered, 
the vice-president had already determined on ; and, armed with the 
power conferred on them by the magistrates, the reformers applied 
themselves, in the most praiseworthy and successful manner, in the 
restoration of order." " It is impossible," says the Bristol Mercury 
of Tuesday, " to speak of the laudable conduct as we could have 
wished, displayed throughout the night by the members of the Poli- 
tical Union, acting in conjunction with the parochial authorities. 
The firmness and patriotism they have displayed on the present 
emergency entitle them not only to the esteem of their fellow- 
citizens, but to the gratitude of the whole country. A stronger 
contrast can scarcely be conceived than the good order of the last 
evening presented to the uproar and confusion of Sunday night. 
Under their protection we may now say that confidence is restored, 
though the city still bears the appearance of gloom, very few shops 


being open and business still being in a manner suspended." The 
contrast of the good order of Tuesday morning with the uproar of 
Sunday evening is the contrast of an authority appointed by the 
people with one in whose appointment they have no choice. Mr, 
Herepath was the legitimate magistrate, the corporation the usurpers. 
Under them, all was tumult and confusion ; under him, was good 
order and confidence. Under their direction, the military only added 
to the irritation ; under his direction, they were hailed as the 
restorers of peace. The city abandoned to destruction, the reformers 
and the soldiery restored tranquillity. 

Great efforts having been made to create disunion 
amongst the reformers, the council of the Manchester Poli- 
tical Union met on Wednesday, the 9th November, and 
agreed to a series of resolutions, two of which are sub- 
joined : 

" That the members of this council, associated during the Wel- 
lington administration for the purpose of promoting parliamentary 
reform on the broadest basis, having since the introduction of the 
Reform Bill given it their warmest support, as a great improvement 
upon the present corrupt and impoverishing system, though it fell 
far short of their ideas of theoretic excellence, as every reform will, 
in which exclusion is not itself excluded, were grieved and alarmed at 
its rejection ; and especially when it was reported, that, on being 
re-introduced, it would be deprived of some of its best principles, in 
order to render it more acceptable to an aristocracy adverse to any 
extension of the suffrage. 

"That while the members of this council feel it their duty to 
invite all reformers to unite with them hi one call for the adoption of 
the ancient constitutional principle of suffrage, for the frequent exer- 
cise of the elective right, and for the protection to the voter from all 
undue influences ; and though they think all these points are neces- 
sary to a thorough reform, and though they will continue to demand 
them as their right, they feel that it is a duty they owe to themselves 
to declare, that they will not oppose themselves to any such scheme 
of reform, which, though short of then* own ideas of perfection, shall 
effect a real amendment upon the present corrupt system, and tend 
to lessen the evils introduced by a long train of misgovernment, 
while, by showing that their fears of the consequences of innovation 
are groundless, it may lead the way to the peaceable adoption of 
measures which shall restore to the whole people their long-lost rights, 


and sweep away every abuse in the state, the laws, and the church. 
Their principle is to ADVANCE to the extreme point as speedily as 
possible but at all events, to ADVANCE." 

Such was the generous waiving of present demands, con- 
sidered just and reasonable, which the reformers conceded 
to the whig administration, believing that when a beginning 
had been made, and made safely, they would acknowledge 
that principle of progression ; and if they did not them- 
selves urge on other reforms, would at least leave the 
shortening the duration of parliaments, the adoption of the 
ballot, and the extension of the suffrage, as open questions. 
It was an ungenerous return to declare the doctrine of 
finality still more ungenerous to act upon it when the 
declaration of finality was denied. 



THE new parliament assembled on the 6th December, 1831. 
There was faith that reform would be carried, because 
there was the determination that it should be carried. 
The obstructives might appear in unexpected strength, the 
administration might falter in its course, and the king 
might yield to unseen and mischievous influences ; but the 
people were determined to have reform, peaceably if they 
could, but to have it. Every thinking person saw that 
there was to be either reform or revolution, and felt con- 
vinced that the one would be yielded rather than that the 
risk of the other should be incurred. " There was some- 
thing unusually solemn," says Miss Martineau, " in that 
meeting of parliament on the 6th December." It was 
certainly a season of much solemnity, for great issues were 
to be tried, but it was one in which hope greatly prepon- 
derated over fear. The result was not watched with the 
anxiety with which we wait the verdict of a jury, shut up 
until they agree. The country had already pronounced the 
verdict, and parliament was assembled only to put it upon 

Lord John Russell brought forward his new bill, in the 
House of Commons, on the 12th December. On Friday, 
the 16th, the second reading was moved, and the debate 
did not come to a conclusion until Sunday morning, the 
18th, when the majority was 162 in a house of 486. An 
adjournment took place till after the Christmas holidays, 
and the contest was resumed on the 17th January, 1832. 
The house went into committee on the 20th, and every 
possible device to obstruct and to delay having been resorted 


to, it was not until the 19th of March that the third reading 
was moved. On the 22nd the motion was carried, 355 
voting for and 239 against it. 

A more doubtful contest was to take place in the House 
of Lords. They had defeated the former bill, and it was 
known that, although many converts had been made, there 
was still a majority of obstructives there ; yet few would 
believe that they would risk the existence of their own 
order by the positive rejection of the bill, and the only fear 
was as to its possible mutilation. The talk amongst the 
people was, that if the lords would not permit the com- 
mons to be reformed, their lordships' own house should be 
reformed or abolished. On the 26th March the bill was 
introduced there and read a first time. On the 5th April, 
Earl Grey moved the second reading, and a four days' 
debate took place, ending with a division which gave 184 
votes for and 175 against the bill. It became obvious that 
the measure would either be mutilated or lost in committee 
unless peers were created for the emergency. Numerous 
large meetings were held, intended to strengthen the hands 
of ministers if they stood firm to the integrity of the bill ; 
there was the expression of a determined resolution, with- 
out any great amount of excitement ; there was still the 
belief that means would be found to force the measure 
through the obstructive house. The Easter holidays being 
over, the House of Lords met on Monday, the 7th May, 
and resolved itself into a committee upon the bill. Lord 
Lyndhurst moved that the disfranchising should be post- 
poned until after the consideration of the enfranchising 
clauses. The motion was carried by a majority of 35. It 
was now seen that the intention was, regardless of conse- 
quences, either to mutilate or destroy the bill. On Wed- 
nesday, ministers finding that the king was not disposed to 
use the only means left to influence the lords, resigned 
office, and the Duke of Wellington was sent for. The 
people rose, almost as one man, with the manifestation of 


one determined will. A crisis was come. Reform had 
been refused, and the other alternative was forced on every 
one's consideration. It was understood that the military 
had received their instructions. Alexander Somerville, in 
his " Autobiography of a Working Man," says that " the 
Scots Greys at Birmingham had orders to rough-sharpen 
their swords, that they might inflict a ragged wound;" 
but there were rumours also that the soldiers would not 
act against the people. If the king did not exercise his 
constitutional prerogative to ensure the passing of a mea- 
sure so imperatively demanded a revolution must ensue. 
Men pondered whether it would be a three days' contest, 
as in France, or a protracted and bloody civil war. 

The intelligence that ministers had resigned reached 
Manchester soon after seven o'clock in the morning of 
Thursday. It was circulated with inconceivable rapidity, 
and the sensation it created was beyond description. 
Business was at once suspended. Purchasers for the. 
home market, fearing insurrection, would buy no more. 
Foreigners, dreading the effect upon the foreign policy of 
this country that would be the result of a tory administra- 
tion being restored, with all its leanings in favour of 
continental despotism, countermanded their orders. The 
shopkeepers left their places of business, and ran about 
asking, " what is to be done now ?" The working classes, 
in every district of the town, gathered into little knots, 
and, with curses both loud and deep, expressed their 
hatred of the faction whose intrigues had prevailed over 
the voice of twenty-four millions of people. There had 
been a committee appointed at the September reform meet- 
ing in Manchester, and it had resolved to sit every day at 
the Town Hall till the bill was safely passed through the 
House of Lords. Here, then, merchants, manufacturers, 
and others simultaneously assembled, until, with that 
committee, they formed a highly respectable and numerous 
public meeting. Mr. John Shuttleworth was called to the 


chair, and the following petition, prepared by Mr. Absalom 
Watkin, was read amidst loud and enthusiastic cheers : 

" The Petition of the undersigned Inhabitants, Sfc. y 
" Sheweth, That your petitioners have heard, with feelings that it is 
impossible to describe, that the Reform Bill has again been virtually 
lost in the House of Lords, and that Earl Grey and his administra- 
tion have, in consequence, been compelled to withdraw from his 
majesty's councils ; that your petitioners, considering that the plan 
of reform which has been defeated was a measure which merely re- 
stored to the people a right to which they were always entitled by the 
constitution, and of which they have been too long defrauded by a 
faction ; considering also that the bill had been twice passed by your 
honourable house, and was earnestly desired by the people ; and, 
moreover, that it is a measure which legally and honestly can affect the 
people and then* representatives only ; are at a loss to find words to 
express their indignation at being denied their birthright, by the 
manoeuvres of a small number of interested individuals. That your 
petitioners being thus situated, have recourse to your honourable 
house as the constituted organ of their wishes, and then* established 
defence against injustice and arbitrary rule, and do pray your honour- 
able house that you will assert your own collective dignity, and the 
indefeasible rights of your fellow subjects by determined adherence 
to the bill, and by refusing to vote any supplies until a measure 
essential to the happiness of the people and the safety of the throne 
shall be carried into a law." 

The petition was agreed to, without a dissenting voice, 
and it was resolved that it should be carried to London 
that same evening, by a deputation consisting of Mr. 
Richard Potter, Mr. John Fielden, and Mr. Shuttle worth. 
The writing of the petition was not concluded till one 
o'clock, and it was two before placards could be got out, 
stating where it would lie for signature, and nearly three 
before all the sheets were distributed to the appointed 
places ; but at six o'clock the signatures amounted to 
TWENTY-FOUR THOUSAND. The deputation then started 
in a chaise and four for London ; thousands of persons 
enthusiastically cheering them as they drove off. As they 


did not change horses at Stockport, the inhabitants were 
not aware of the object of their journey, but at Maccles- 
field a number of people collected, and with loud cheers 
testified their gratification at the promptitude which had 
been displayed at Manchester. At Leek, in consequence 
of some delay in changing horses, the business of the 
deputation got known, and in a few minutes almost the 
\vhole population were in the streets. A short account of 
the meeting was distributed amongst them, and also the 
petition to the commons. The crowd was so dense, that 
the carriage could not proceed for some time ; the cheering 
of the people was loud and continued, and numbers pressed 
forward to shake hands with the gentlemen of the deputa- 
tion. Although it was midnight when they passed through 
Derby, several persons soon collected, and expressed their 
satisfaction that Manchester had set so good an example. 
Loughbrough and Leicester were passed through in the 
dead of the night ; but Mr. Potter put some of the resolu- 
tions in the post, directed for his friends there. The 
deputation reached Northampton about five in the morning ; 
the object of their journey soon spread, and the inhabitants, 
on hearing the shouts of the people, repaired to their win- 
dows, eagerly inquiring what was the matter, and on being 
told, waved their hands and wished success to the mission. 
In the small towns from Northampton to London, the 
gentlemen were everywhere welcomed with the utmost 
enthusiasm. They reached Palace Yard a little after 
eleven, having performed the journey in SEVENTEEN 
HOURS, a wonderful feat in those days, though at several 
of the towns they passed through in the night they had to 
wait generally a quarter of an hour, and lost, at least, an 
hour and a half in this way. At every town and village 
they distributed a short account of the meeting, and the 
petition ; and as they approached London, copies of the 
petition were distributed to the passengers of the nu- 
merous coaches they met, so that in the course of 



that day intelligence of the Manchester meeting would 
be spread throughout the greater part of the king- 
dom. Immediately on the deputation reaching London, 
they repaired to Westminster Hall and the committee 
rooms, and they soon found John Wood, Esq., the patriotic 
member for Preston, who instantly put his own name and 
Mr. Heywood's on the speaker's list, to obtain precedence 
in the presentation of the petition, and it was owing to this 
prompt proceeding that the petition was presented that 
very night. Mr. Wood, amidst the cheers of the whole 
house, made a most energetic and well-timed speech. After 
securing the presentation of the petition, the deputation 
called on Mr. Hey wood, Joseph Hume, Daniel O'Connell, 
Col. Evans, Mr. Tomes, and several other friends of reform, 
requesting them to support the prayer of the petition, and 
were received most cordially. 

The Manchester petition was the very first which was 
presented praying the House of Commons to siop the sup- 
plies until reform and a redress of grievances were obtained. 
There being no house on Saturday, its presentation on Fri- 
day was most opportune, for the example was eagerly 
followed by all parts of the kingdom. On Saturday and 
Sunday the petition was the general subject of conversation 
in London. On Saturday the deputation were engaged in 
calling on several members of both houses, to give them 
personal assurances that not only was there no abatement 
in the desire for reform, but that the probability of the 
formation of a ministry adverse to it had roused a spirit 
which would render it impossible for any such administra- 
tion to conduct the affairs of government. 

The extemporaneous meeting on the Thursday had been 
held at an hour of the day when the working classes had 
not the opportunity of attending. It was desirable that 
they should have their share in the demonstration, not 
to increase the excitement, but that it might be regulated 
and kept within constitutional bounds. There was no need 


to urge onwards ; more need was there to restrain, or at 
least to keep in the right and peaceful direction a feeling 
smarting under the universal conviction of a great wrong 
and insult having been offered to the nation. It was felt 
that a thoroughly public expression of opinion was the 
legitimate and safe course. A meeting was appointed to 
be held on the following Monday, on St. Peter's Field, the 
scene of former meetings when to ask for reform was a 
crime to be the scene thereafter, in an enormous hall 
erected for the express purpose, of a long series of crowded 
meetings to agitate for that measure of free-trade which 
ought to have been the very first result of the Reform Bill. 
The area was now limited to 8,000 square yards, on which 
were congregated 40,000 persons of all ranks and condi- 
tions not one-third women and children as on the 16th 
August, 1819, but all men, determined men. Mr. Charles 
James Stanley Walker, son of Thomas Walker, whose trial, 
in 1794, has been given in the commencement of this 
volume, " honoured son of an honoured sire," as one of 
the speakers designated him, was called to the chair. 
The venerable Robert Philips, of Park, still holding the 
principles he had supported in 1792, moved the first reso- 
lution, " That this meeting has heard of the virtual loss of 
the Reform Bill in the House of Lords, and the consequent 
resignation of Earl Grey and his colleagues, with such sen- 
timents as it becomes Englishmen to entertain when their 
best interests are basely sacrificed to the selfish views of a 
faction." Mr. Philips's son-in-law, Mr. Robert Hyde Greg, 
seconded the motion. Alluding to the former meeting, 
which he had attended, he said : 

" He had flattered himself that the next time he had the pleasure 
of addressing his fellow-countrymen, it would have been for the pur- 
pose of congratulating them, and the country on the victorious con- 
summation of their struggle in having shaken off the burthen which 
had so long pressed them down that incubus and nightmare, the 
boroughmongering faction. (Great applause.) But the prize, it 
seemed, was too great and valuable to be obtained on such easy terms. 

T 2 


After eighteen months of anxiety after the heavy expense which the 
country has incurred by the general election after the sufferings of 
the people, from the sickness of the heart from hope deferred it 
seemed that the nation was again called upon to fight the battle of 
reform. (Applause.) The boroughmongers were determined, it 
seemed, to make a desperate struggle to retain their ill-gotten wealth 
and misused influence, but their groans and hearings were those of 
dying men. (Cheers.) But as they had thrown down the gauntlet, 
let it be taken up by the nation (long continued cheers) and God 
defend the right." (Eenewed and enthusiastic applause.) 

Mr. Joseph Johnson, who had endured a year's impri- 
sonment for having appeared on the hustings on that very 
spot thirteen years before, moved the next resolution, 
" That this meeting, satisfied that the ministerial plan of 
reform was no more than a partial restoration to the people 
of a constitutional right of which they have been too long 
unjustly deprived, and well knowing that no part of the 
bill could, directly or indirectly, interfere with any legal or 
honest possession or privilege of that body by which it has 
been defeated, is unable to find language sufficiently strong 
to express the indignation with which it has witnessed this 
second refusal of an acknowledged right." At the conclu- 
sion of his speech, Mr. Johnson said, that " if the people 
were satisfied to try the bill ; if they were satisfied to give 
up a portion of their rights for the purpose of trying how 
the measure would work" (here he was interrupted by 
loud cries of, " We are not satisfied ; we want the whole.") 
The speaker resumed : "I am for the whole ; but let us 
get this bill if we can ; and if it does not work well, let us 
go for the whole of our rights." Mr. Thomas Potter, now 
and henceforward to take a generous and most influential 
part in public affairs, in seconding the motion, said it was 
impossible for him to find words sufficiently strong to ex- 
press his indignation of the conduct of the House of Lords 
in rejecting the Reform Bill. Mr. Johnson's speech, and 
the resolution he had read, had been very indistinctly heard, 
and there were strong symptoms that the resolution had 


been misunderstood, as committing the meeting to the bill 
as a perfect measure, instead of being accepted only as an 
instalment. I saw the danger of a division, which would 
have been to strengthen the resisting faction, and begged 
leave to read the resolution again, which I did loudly, 
slowly, and emphatically, so as to be heard by everybody 
in the meeting, to show that it referred to only a partial 
restoration of the people's rights. In the course of my 
address, designed to show that nothing but constitutional 
means should be used, and that physical force should not 
be resorted to until the very last extremity, I said : 

" The object of the present meeting was to obtain support to the 
patriots who were now fighting their battle in the House of Com- 
mons ; and he hoped reformers, one and all, would put aside all 
minor differences, and unanimously agree in one object, namely, the 
stopping of the supplies. (Cheers.) If they did not obtain their 
wish by that course, there were other means, namely, that having 
raised their hands here in support of the resolutions to obtain their 
rights, then after all constitutional means had failed then it 
would be time to hold up their hands with something in them. 
(Tremendous cheers, which lasted some minutes.) He had always 
counselled peaceable and quiet measures, and he knew that he had 
sometimes rendered himself unpopular by it, when indignation hur- 
ried men into rash thoughts ; but though he had always advised 
quiet measures, he knew what measures to propose after all these had 
failed. (Cheers.) * * He concluded by begging the reformers 
of Manchester to sink all little differences of opinion, and to seek 
the attainment of their purpose by peaceable and constitutional 
means. It might be that there were some present that day who did 
not go so far as himself, and others did ; but the meeting should bear 
in mind, that in the event of an attempt to form a Polignac admini- 
stration, the gentlemen who had framed the resolutions, moderate as 
they might seem to be, might in a few days be suffering within the 
walls of a prison. These were times to try men, but he hoped that 
the meeting would follow moderate counsels, although at the same 
time they ought to be ready and determined to struggle for their 
rights." (Loud cheers.) 

The dissatisfaction expressed by a portion of the meeting 
was now removed, and Mr. Elijah Dixon, one of the impri- 


soned of 1817, and a working man named Thomas Johnson 
having expressed their approval of the resolution, it was 
put and carried unanimously, followed by three hearty 
cheers. Mr. William Harvey moved the next resolution : 
" That this meeting concur entirely with the petition that 
has already been sent from Manchester to the House of 
Commons on this subject, and does hereby solemnly call 
upon that house to adhere, with steadfast and unyielding 
determination, to the bill ; and, above all, to vote no sixties 
whatever, until the bill, or a measure in every particular, 
at least, as favourable to the rights of the people, shall have 
passed into a law." True to his temperance principles, Mr. 
Harvey said they could not legally pass a resolution that 
they would pay no more taxes, but they could resolve 
amongst themselves not to consume spirits, malt, tobacco, 
and other unnecessary articles that contributed heavily to 
the revenue. Mr. James Whittle seconded the resolution, 
and it was carried unanimously, as was the petition, which 
was directed to be signed by the chairman. A cordial vote 
of thanks to the chairman having been passed, he said he 
had always been a reformer, he was born a reformer, 
and, if it pleased God, he would die a reformer. He was 
confident there was such a moral force in the country as 
would render an appeal to physical force unnecessary. 

Another meeting was held in the adjoining town of Sal- 
ford, which, under the bill then in jeopardy, was to have a 
separate member. Mr. William Hill, the boroughreeve, 
presided. The speakers were Mr. Hill, Mr. John Smith, 
Mr. Joseph Brotherton (to whose exertions was mainly 
owing the inclusion of the town in the list of boroughs to 
be enfranchised), Mr. Holland Hoole, Mr. Mark Philips, 
following the example of his venerable father, Mr. Heron, 
Mr. Thomas Hopkins, and Mr. Ormerod. One was also 
held in Chorlton-upon-Medlock, then called Chorlton 
Row, which was becoming a very populous township. Mr. 
Joseph Wood, the senior constable, was in the chair, and 


the meeting was addressed by Mr. James Wood, Mr. Henry, 
Mr. Samuel Fletcher, Mr. Burdekin, Mr. Thomas "Wheeler, 
Mr. Westhead, Mr. Kershaw, and myself. Similar demon- 
strations were made in the many large manufacturing towns 
which surround Manchester. 

On Monday, the 7th of May, there was a congregation of 
the political unions at Birmingham, composing the largest 
meeting ever held in Great Britain. The Bromsgrove union, 
which arrived late on the field, was greeted with the Union 
Hymn, ending : 

" Grod is our guide ! No swords we draw, 

We kindle not war's battle fires ; 
By union, justice, reason, law, 

"We claim the birthright of our sires. 
We raise the watchword Liberty ! 
We will, we will, we will be free." 

" Before the echoes of the hymn had well died away,'* says 
Miss Martineau, " before the tears were well dried which 
the plighting of faith had brought upon many cheeks, the 
lords in London had decided, by a majority of thirty-five, 
against the disfranchising clauses." Birmingham, after that 
pause of a day, again took the lead, and the unions were 
everywhere at work. The Common Council of London 
petitioned parliament to refuse the supplies, and appointed 
a committee to sit daily till the bill should be secured. 
Throughout the kingdom men speculated on the point 
whether the military would join with or take part against 
the people ; but none swerved from the determination, let 
the military act as they would, that the bill should pass un- 
mutilated in its full integrity. There was a TEN DAYS' 
agitation as fearful to the obstructives in our kingdom as 
the THREE DAYS of France were to Charles X and his 
Polignac administration. 

On Tuesday, the 15th of May, Lord Grey in the House 
of Lords, and Lord Althorp in the House of Commons, 
announced that communications had been renewed between 


the sovereign and themselves which rendered it expedient 
to adjourn till Thursday. It was known that ministers 
would not have resumed office unless they were assured 
that they should have the sovereign's aid in passing the 
bill. " The words were scarcely uttered," says Miss Mar- 
tineau, in her interesting history of the period, " before 
there was a rush from the houses to spread the tidings. 
There was no electric telegraph then, but the news flew as 
if by electric agency. By breakfast-time next morning 
placards were up in the streets of Birmingham, and pre- 
sently the people thronged to Newhall Hill, after bringing 
Mr. Attwood into the town. As by an impulse of the 
moment, a minister present asked to offer thanksgiving, 
and that prayer that devout expression of gratitude for 
their bloodless victory, and their privileges as exulting 
freemen, was felt by the throng to be a fitting sequel to 
their last week's solemn vow." On the 7th of June the 
Reform Bill became law. 

In the interval, Manchester, about to be enfranchised, 
was already looking out for representatives, and it became 
obvious that some who had come into the field only when 
victory was of certain achievement, would seek honourable 
reward for their late exertions. One defect of the Reform 
Bill was now very obvious. In my paper of the 2nd of 
June I said : 

" Regarding the Reform Bill as now beyond danger, and expecting 
that in another week we shall be enabled to announce that it has 
become the law of the land, our minds are naturally directed to the 
consideration of what persons will be fit and proper representatives 
of the new constituency ; and the first thing that strikes us is, the 
necessity of the bill being accompanied by another, of some half- 
dozen lines, to EEPEAL THE SEPTENNIAL ACT, or that a positive pledge 
should be required from each candidate that he will relinquish his 
seat at the end of a term of not longer than three years. Almost 
every one who is to have a vote has felt the difficulty of making a 
choice of men upon whom a thorough dependence can be placed 
that they will ably and earnestly labour for these PEACTICAL BE- 


FOEMS of which the bill is only the precursor ; and the difficulty 
assumes a formidable shape, when it is considered that an error in 
the selection is irremediable for seven years I We are of opinion 
that circumstances will produce right opinions, and the vigour of 
mind necessary to enforce them, but we fear that they will not pro- 
duce this effect in time for the elections. It is impossible to look 
round us and see men who have no other claims to a seat than the 
merit of having, at the eleventh hour, and when the passing of the 
reform bill was obviously inevitable, given it their support, and to 
know that such to be suspected reformation is by many regarded as a 
reason for selection, without feelings of almost dismay at the possi- 
bility of such an exercise of the suffrage, as shall send, for SEVEN 
YEAES, representatives to the house content to follow in the course 
of their predecessors, the borough nominees, without one single 
effective struggle for these measures which are absolutely necessary 
for the comfort of the people, and the national safety. The term of 
seven years is too long to invest any man, especially any untried 
man, with the representation of opinions. * * Well may the 

Manchester conservatives desire to return, as a representative, one 
(Mr. Stanley, now Lord Stanley) who, under the cloak of whiggism, 
would be found exerting rather formidable talents in resisting those 
practical reforms, which, by extending the commercial relations of 
the country, and lessening to the lowest practicable extent its 
burthens, shall raise it from that gulf of wretchedness, into which 
the borough owners and the aristocracy have sunk it. No, no ! We 
must have no such members for Manchester. FBEE-TEADE, CHEAP 
GOVEENMENT, PBOQEESSIVE EEFOEM, are what the electors want, 
and though they hail the bill, as an immense improvement in the 
representative system, they will give their suffrages to those only 
who will heartily, and with ability, promote those means of amelio- 
rating the condition of the people." 

Manchester was, at last, enfranchised. We have traced 
its history through a long series of years, during which 
tranquillity and comfort were only exceptions to the rule of 
misery, at periods intolerable. It has been shown how, by 
long and stern teachings in the bitter school of adversity, 
its inhabitants were slowly convinced that they needed 
better government to preserve their trade, and even their 
existence. It has been shown how the despised minority, 
patient and persevering, became the overwhelming majority. 

T 3 


It has been shown how one reform, to be the instrument in 
obtaining other necessary reforms, was, at length, triumph- 
antly obtained. To show how that instrument was used, 
and what part Manchester took in other struggles for 
measures which ought to have been the very first fruits 
of the reform act, would be fit occupation for the pen of 
a competent writer, when, after a little more lapse of time, 
the further period of excitation can be looked back upon 
with a calm impartiality becoming the historian. 



ON the llth of December, 1792, a church and king mob 
made a furious attack on the printing office of Messrs. 
Faulkner and Birch ; and on the house of Mr. Thomas 
Walker, as described in my first chapter. The success of 
those resorts to physical force encouraged the then leading 
men of Manchester to make a more systematic organization 
against the reformers. On the following day a meeting 
was held, and the following resolutions passed : 

" Bull's Head, Manchester, December 12, 1792. 

"An association for preserving constitutional order and liberty, as 
well as property, against the various efforts of levellers and republi- 
cans, entered into at Manchester, the 12th day of December, 1792, 
upon the principles contained in the following declaration. 

" We whose names are hereunto subscribed, seriously considering 
the affairs of this juncture, and the various efforts of restless, disaf- 
fected persons, tending to subvert the happy rights and liberties 
equally enjoyed by all descriptions of persons under the auspicious 
protection of a long experience and universally venerated constitution 
and government, composed of king, lords, and commons, do deter- 
mine to form ourselves into an association under the above title, and 
solemnly engage to afford the most vigorous exertion and support to 
the executive power of this country in counteracting all attempts of 
sedition and treason. And for these purposes we declare and resolve 
as follow : 

" That we will, by every legal measure, endeavour to discover and 
bring to justice the authors, publishers, and distributors of all sedi- 
tious and treasonable writings, and especially all persons who shall 
be engaged in any societies or combinations for the dispersion and 
promotion of such doctrines. 

" That we will, by the distribution of plain and undisguised con- 
stitutional principles, endeavour to undeceive such persons as may be 
misled by the sinister and inflammatory insinuations of designing men." 


" A committee was formed, consisting of James Ackers, John Leaf, 
and Joseph Hardman, the boroughreeve and constables of Manches- 
ter, the magistrates for the hundred of Salford, 

Nathan Crompton, Holland Ackers, Eobert Peel, 

Henry Farrington, James Eadford, John Simpson, 

William Major, Henry Barton, Lawrence Peel, 

Samuel Clowes, jun., William Hall, Joseph Pickford, 

James Borron, Kev. John Gatliff, Eobert Markland, 

Ashton Ethelston, Jonathan Beever, William Douglas, 

Nathaniel Kirkman, Nathaniel Milne, James Bateman, 

James Broom, William Barrow, William Fox, 

Joseph Bower, John Eidings, James Barton, 
and many others. 

" Sixty-seven names are attached to the declaration." 

The committee appointed lost no time in going to work, 
for on the same day they made the following orders, offer- 
ing a strong temptation to spies who could give them in- 
formation, and thanking the publicans for their declaration 
as printed in the eighth page of my first chapter. 

" Committee Eoom, Bull's Head, Dec. 12, 1792. 

" Orders of the committee of association for preserving constitu- 
tional order, liberty, and property, against the various efforts of 
levellers and republicans. 

" At a meeting of the committee this day, James Ackers, Esq., in 
the chair : 

" Ordered^ That John Simpson, Esq., be appointed treasurer to 
this society ; and that Henry Farrington, William Hall, James 
Barton, Thomas Stott, and William Hodson, be appointed to audit 
the treasurer's account. 

" That the Eev. John Gratliff be appointed secretary to tliis society, 
with thanks for his accepting the office. 

" Ordered^ That ten thousand copies of the declaration and reso- 
lutions of the meeting on Tuesday shall be immediately printed. 

" That a reward of ten guineas shall be given by tin's committee to 
any person or persons who will come forward, and give such evidence 
as will discover and bring to justice any person or persons guilty of 
writing, printing, publishing, or dispersing seditious and treasonable 
writings, books, or papers, or be guilty of any other species of treason 
or sedition, and particularly those who may have attempted, or shall 


hereafter attempt, to seduce any of the soldiers from their allegiance 
to the king, by circulating any treasonable or seditious doctrines. 

" Ordered^ That the thanks of the committee be given to the 
innkeepers for their laudable conduct in forbidding all seditious 
meetings to be held at their houses. 

" Ordered, That a person be stationed at the door of the com- 
mittee room, to interrogate every gentleman whether he is a member 
of this committee, and to assist the secretary when required ; and 
that he be appointed and paid at the secretary's discretion. 

" Ordered, That in order to put in force the resolution for the 
publication of true constitutional principles, a committee of the nine 
following gentlemen be appointed, viz. : Samuel Clowes, Esq., Rev. 
Mr. Sandford, Mr. E. Foxley, Eev. T. Eadcliffe, Mr. Charles Lawson, 
Eev. T. Seddon, Eev. F. Hall, Eev. T. Griffiths, and Mr. F. Williams." 

The society seems to have been afraid of working in 
broad daylight, as its minutes, also not intended to be 
seen in the daylight of forty-eight years afterwards, clearly 

show : 

" Committee Eoom, December 14, 1792. 
" Samuel Clowes, jun., Esq., in the chair ; 

" Ordered, That every member sign the declaration of secrecy 
before admittance into the committee room. 

" Ordered, That the thanks of this meeting be given in a hand- 
bill to Mr. Martin Marshall and his son, for their endeavour to quell 
all tumult on Tuesday evening, and to all other gentlemen who were 
active in the same cause. 

" Ordered, That no attorney of this committee be concerned, 
either directly or indirectly, in the defence of, or advice concerning, 
any prosecution that may hereafter be commenced against any person 
or persons in cases of treason or sedition." 

The latter resolution covered a wider object than appears 
on its face. No attorney in the body was to defend the 
prosecuted ; any attorney out of the body, guilty of defend- 
ing a " leveller" was to be persecuted. The next object was 
to fraternise with and to direct less influential associations. 

" Committee Eoom, December 17, 1792. 
" Samuel Clowes, jun., Esq., in the chair ; 

" Ordered, That the thanks of the committee be given to the 
members of the Hibernian Society, &c. &c. 


" That Mr. Eobert G-orton, Mr. Kobert Hindley, and Mr. Thomas 
Norris were proposed as members of the committee. 

" Ordered, That the thanks of this committee be given to the 
innkeepers of Stockport, Bolton, and all neighbouring towns, for their 
endeavours to prevent seditious meetings and disturbances." 

" Committee Eoom, December 18, 1792. 
" Mr. Joseph Tipping in the chair ; 
"Messrs. Gorton, Hindley, and Norris elected." 

" General Meeting, December 19, 1792. 
" Samuel Clowes, Esq., in the chair. 

" Ordered, That the thanks of this and the Salford committee 
shall be given to the Salford association for their offers of co-opera- 
tion with the resolutions of this society. 

" Ordered, That 2,700 copies of the paper, viz., ' Minutes of a 
conversation at the Royal Oak,' distributed on the llth of December, 
be paid for at the expense of this association. 

" Ordered, That something be prepared by the committee of 
papers, in order to counteract any bad effects which may arise from 
Mr. Samuel Greg's misrepresentation." 

" Committee Rooms, Bull's Head, Dec. 20, 1792. 
" Dr. White in the chair -, 

" Ordered, That copies of the several papers published by this 
association be sent from time to tune to the Rev. Mr. Fawcett, of 
Oldliam, to be distributed there at his direction ; and that the secre- 
tary write to him accordingly. 

" Ordered, That the thanks of the committee be given to Robert 
Peel, Esq., M.P., for the very handsome manner hi which he defended 
the Manchester association against the unfounded attack of Mr. Greg, 
in the House of Commons, on Monday, the 17th of this month." 

" Committee Room, December 21, 1792. 
" Mr. James Cooke in the chair ; 

" In consequence of a letter sent to the chairman by a society 
under the title of c Church and King Club,' held at the Weavers' 
Arms, Cockpit-hill, it was ordered that two members of this committee, 
viz., Mr. Phethean and Mr. T. Norris, shall wait upon that society 
with the association book, for their signatures, on Monday next." 


And now commenced the proceedings which ruined 
Faulkner and Birch, and put down their paper : 

" Committee Boom, Dec. 24, 1792. 
" Mr. M. Boardman in the chair ; 

" Eead a letter from Eobert Peel, Esq., to Dr. White. 

" Ordered, That a paper called the Manchester Herald, of Dec. 
22, 1792, be recommended to the consideration of the committee on 

" Ordered, That Messrs. Milne and Serjeant be requested to send 
Falkner's last paper to Messrs. Chamberlain and White, Solicitors to 
the Treasury, and to desire they will give such opinion as they may 
think proper as to the legality of it." 

" Committee Eoom, January 7, 1793. 
" Rev. E. Sandford in the chair ; 

" Ordered, That 2000 copies of the publication called 'Equality' 
be printed by Mr. Wheeler, at the expense of the committee." 

" Committee Eoom, January 14, 1793, 
" Eev. J. Griffith in the chair ; 

" Ordered, That two publications sent by Butterworth Bayley, 
Esq., be laid before the committee of papers." 

Thirty-four persons are thus marked out for persecution, 
and, if possible, for prosecution. The list includes the 
names of some of the most respectable, both as regards 
station and character, of the then inhabitants of Man- 
chester : 

" Committee Eoom, January 17, 1793. 
" Samuel Clowes, Esq., in the chair ; 

" Ordered. That the magistrates acting for the Manchester dis- 
trict be requested to summon the following persons to appear before 
them as soon as possible, and to take the oath of allegiance to his 
majesty King George the Third : 

Thomas Walker, merchant. W. Hibbert, merchant. 

Thomas Cooper, whitster. Samuel Greg, merchant. 

Eichard Eoberts, merchant. T. Eobinson, merchant. 

Thomas Bateman, cotton dealer. Eev. M. Hawkes, Princess-st. 

Thomas Kershaw, calico printer. T. Nightingale, Fountain- street. 


Mr. Seddon, attorney-at-law. John G-rimshaw, merchant. 

Richard Walker, merchant. M. Grimsted, schoolmaster. 

G. Wakefield, merchant. G-. Duckworth, attorney-at-law. 

S. Hardman, merchant. Ogden, surgeon. 

R. Norris, merchant. J. Ford, tinman. 

R. Collier, surgeon., Gr. Salvin, merchant. 

S. O. Birch, Manchester. Rees, calico printer. 

G-eorge Phih'ps, merchant. John A ins worth, merchant. 

Samuel Jackson, cotton dealer. Priestley, merchant. 

"William Kigby, jun., merchant. John Fort, calico printer. 

Mr. Paul, paper stainer. Mounsey, merchant. 

Ottiwell Wood, merchant. Allan Jackson, cotton dealer. 

The following, from a society every member of which 
was bound to keep its proceedings secret, is a very rich 
specimen of impudence : 

" January 24th, 1793. 
" Samuel Clowes, Esq., in the chair ; 

" Ordered, That the following advertisement be published in the 
Manchester papers : 

" Whereas some persons have assembled at different times under 
the appellation of a * Constitutional Society,' and have published 
various resolutions, signed by Thomas Walker and others, as presi- 
dents, and Samuel Jackson, as secretary to the said society. 

"We, the committee of an association established at a public 
meeting upon real constitutional principles, do call upon the members 
of that society to publish their names and places of abode, for we 
think it highly necessaay that those should be known who have 
taken so much pains to enlighten the minds of the people, by recom- 
mending to their particular attention a book published by Thomas 
Paine, entitled ' The Rights of Man,' a publication of most seditious 
tendency, and which has been proved by a British jury to be a libel 
upon government. Who have also entered into a correspondence 
with the Jacobin Club of Paris, the avowed enemies of religion and 
of kings, which acts directly contradict their pompous declaration 
and reputed assertions, that a reform in the lower house of parlia- 
ment is then* only object, and that they have assumed the title of 
' Constitutional Society,' to impose upon the ignorant and unwary, 
and to overturn that very constitution they pretend to support. The 
committee likewise beg leave to put the following queries to Mr. 
Thomas Walker : 


" ' Whether his appearance, as a principal in these transactions, 
lias not been the means of exasperating the people against him ; and 
whether the attack upon his house may not be attributed to that cause?' 

" ' By what acts have any of the respectable inhabitants of fhis 
town deserved the opprobious epithets of ' the Enemies of Freedom 
and the Friends of Despotism ?' 

" As to the still more opprobrious term of an ' unprincipled 
faction,' which Mr. Walker has likewise thought proper to apply to 
some of his townsmen in his letter to his friends and fellow-citizens 
at Sheffield, when the Constitutional Society have published their 
names, the public will have an opportunity of judging who best 
deserve that appellation. 

" Ordered, That the committee of papers meet on Tuesday at 
eleven o'clock, and that Mr. Starkie's sermon be taken into con- 

A law was had to put clown what were called " corres- 
ponding societies," and thus to put down the reform 
principles which those associations advocated. It will be 
seen by the following minutes that this loyal and secret 
Manchester society, established to put down reform princi- 
ples, was not to be bound by legal enactments : 

" January 26th, 1793, 
" Dr. White in the chair ; 

" Ordered, Kead the depositions of Martin Marshall, Mr. Tate, 
jun., and James Hallows, with Mr. Topping's opinion thereupon." 

" January 31st, 1793. 
" Eev. R. Sandford in the chair ; 

" Ordered, That Mr. Dauntsey Hulme be requested to present 
the Moravians with the thanks of this society. 
" Eead, a letter signed ' Amicus.' 

" Ordered, That Mr. Webster be requested to make all the inqui- 
ries possible respecting the information given by 'Amicus.' 
"N. Grould unanimously elected a member of the committee. 

" John Griffith, Secretary." 

" February 7th, 1793. 
" Samuel Clowes, Esq., in the chair ; 
" Rev. Mr., Derby unanimously elected. 

" Ordered, That the thanks of this meeting be transmitted to the 
boroughreeve and constables of this town for their very proper and 


spirited conduct respecting Mr. T. Walter's answer to the letters of 
condolence from the Constitutional Society at Sheffield, and that the 
same be published in the three Manchester papers." 

" October 22nd, 1794. 
" James Entwistle in the chair ; 

" Resolved, That Mr. Harrop be paid at the expense of this com- 
mittee for nine copies of the ' Eeport of the Committee of Secrecy of 
both Houses of Parliament.' 

"Read, a letter from Mr. Paynter respecting some expenses in- 
curred in obtaining evidence against several seditious persons." 

"April 7th, 1795. 

" At a meeting of the Association for Protecting Liberty and Pro- 
perty against Republicans and Levellers, 

" John Kearsley, Esq., in the "chair ; 

" Resolved, That the several loyal associations co-operating with 
this society be entered upon the books in the following order : 
1, The Crown and Cushion ; 2, Black Moor's Head ; 3, York Min- 
ster ; 4, The Grapes ; 5, The King, Oldham-street ;' 6, St. Michael's ; 
7, The Union ; 8, Hose and Crown ; 9, White Lion ; 10, King's 
Arms, Turner-street ; 11, Queen Anne, Red Bank ; 12, Crown and 

" That five gentlemen be appointed delegates to attend the monthly 
meetings of the united delegates from the other loyal associations. 

" That the following gentlemen, viz., Mr. Kearsley, Mr. T. Stott, 
Mr. R. Yates, Mr. Thackeray, and Mr. Webster, be the delegates 
from this association for the succeeding month." 

"Bull's Head, Dec. 6, 1795. (Sunday!) 
" John Sedgwick, Esq., in the chair ; 

" Mr. John Barton and Mr. Knowell Stott admitted members of 
this association. 

" Resolved, That the thanks of this meeting be given to Mr. H. 
Farrington and Mr. C. Marriott (the boroughreeve and one of the 
constables), to Mr. Leaf and Mr. Richardson, for having waited upon 
Mr. Greorge Philips (in the absence of Mr. Lloyd) respecting the 
call of the public, to take (what is unjustly termed) the sense of the 
town and neighbourhood of Manchester on the question of the bills 
pending in parliament against seditious meetings, and for the pre- 
servation of our gracious sovereign. 


"Resolved, That every support possible shall be given by this 
meeting to the other loyal associations on Monday, the 7th instant. 

"Resolved, That this and the other loyal associations be requested 
to meet at the New Market Hall, to-morrow morning (the 7th inst.) 
at ten o'clock. 

" Resolved, That James Ackers, Esq., be requested to take the 
chair at the meeting of the loyal inhabitants of the town and neigh- 
bourhood, agreeably to the preceding resolution. 

" Resolved, That the address to his majesty and petition to the 
House of Lords, brought forward by the committee of papers, be 
approved of by this association, with such alterations (if any shall 
be hereafter required) as that committee shall think necessary. 

" Resolved, That public notice of the meeting be given by a hand- 
bill, as now prepared, and that 4000 copies be ordered to be printed. 

" Resolved, That 2000 copies of the notice, that the address and 
petition are lying for signature at the several places mentioned in the 
notice be printed. 

" Resolved, That the address and petition be printed." 

"Bull's Head, Dec. 7, 1795. 
" John Sedgwick, Esq., in the chair ; 

" Mr. Dodgson and Mr. Robert Hindley, jun., admitted members 
of this association. 

" Resolved, That the Duke of Bridgewater and the Eight Hon. 
Lord drey de Wilton be requested to present the petition to the 
House of Lords, and that the address to his majesty be transmitted 
to the county members." 

" Bull's Head, February 17th, 1797. 
" Mr. Edge in the chair ; 

" Received the following resolution from the general delegates : 

" Resolved, That tin's meeting fully concurs with the measure 
recommended by the ' Loyal Association of the Bull's Head.' 

" In consequence of the above, it was 

" Resolved, That a general meeting of the society be summoned 
to attend the general delegation of the several loyal associations at 
seven o'clock on Wednesday evening next, for the purpose of deter- 
mining upon an address to all well-wishers of their king and consti- 
tion, in the towns and neighbourhood of Manchester and Salford, on 
the propriety of immediately forming an armed volunteer corps for 
then* internal defence. 


" Resolved, That Mr. Leaf, Mr. Joseph Hardman, Mr. Gatliff, 
Mr. Hindley, Mr. Foxley, Mr. Serjeant, and Mr. Baldwen, be re- 
quested to draw up the heads of such address. 

" Resolved, That Mr. John Milne be admitted a member of this 

" Bull's Head, February 22nd, 1797. 
" Mr. Leaf, chairman ; 
" That the address to the people now read be approved." 

" Bull's Head, January 8th, 1798. 
" Mr. Kearsley, chairman ; 

" Kesolved, That Mr. Hall, Mr. Foxley, Mr. E. Yates, Mr. 
Tetloe, and Mr. Kearsley be appointed delegates to the united meet- 
ings of the several loyal associations ; and that other members of this 
society be at liberty to attend them in the business of the delegation. 
" That for the purposes of this association, a third subscription is 
necessary, and that the same be entered into without delay." 

"July 3rd, 1799. 

" There being only six members present, viz., Mr. Kearsley, Mr. 
Stott, Mr. Hall, Mr. Foxley, Mr. Harrop, and Mr. Oatliff, a com- 
mittee could not be formed." 


The events of 1812 having shown the Manchester ob- 
structives that they could no longer control and direct 
public assemblages of the inhabitants, they resolved to 
form a Pitt Club, the committee of which could carry on 
the operations of the defunct society to put down levellers 
and republicans ; while the annual dinner, commemorating 
the birth of the " heaven-born minister," would be a safe 
occasion to utter their loyal and anti-reform sentiments. 
The following are the resolutions passed at a meeting held 
at the Star Inn, on the 10th of December, 1812 : 

" That a society be instituted at Manchester, Under the name of 
the Pitt Club, for the purpose of celebrating the birth-day of that 
great, patriotic, and illustrious statesman, the Eight Honourable 


"William Pitt, and that the members do meet annually on every 28th 
of May; and that the first meeting be holden upon the 28th of May, 

" That any person desirous of becoming a member shall be pro- 
posed by a member of the club, at a general meeting then next 
succeeding ; and that the gentleman proposing any new member 
shall declare that he knows the person proposed to be well affected 
to the king and constitution, and that he approves of the political 
principles of the late Eight Honourable William Pitt. 

" That the proposal of each person as a candidate shall be seconded, 
and such candidate, provided he shall have five-sixths of the balls in 
his favour, be declared duly elected. 

" That each member shall wear a medal, suspended by a blue 
ribbon, at the anniversary dinner, such medal to be provided by the 
committee for that purpose, and the medal to be paid for by each 
member on delivery viz., 2 2s. 

" That the following gentlemen do constitute the original members 
of the club." 

The names of 192 gentlemen follow, amongst whom were 
the following clergymen : 

Rev. H. Delve, Rev. J. Holdsworth, Rev. J. Hodgkinson, 

John Clowe, Joseph Bradshaw, C. Huthersall, 

C. W. Ethelston, W. C. Cruttenden, Henry Fielding, 
John Gatliff, Robinson Elsdale, W. B. Guest, 

T. G-askell, J. H. Mallory, John Hunter, 

Jer. Smith, J. T. Allen, E. B. Shaw, 

C. Wray, R. H. Whitelock, B. Johnson, 

Thos. Hodgson, Thos. Blackburn, 1ST. German, 
Moses Randall, Wm. Johnson, W. Fox, 
E. W. Keyt, W. Cotton, C. Prescott. 

W. R. Hay, 

The greater part of the toasts at the anniversary dinners 
were too grossly indelicate to be printed at the present day. 
Amongst those of another class we find, in 1813, "The 
Land w r e live in, and may those who don't like it leave it ;" 
in 1814, " Protestant Ascendancy," and "Chastisement and 
Humiliation to that Government which arrogantly raised 
its feeble arm against this Country when fighting for the 
Liberty of the World ;" in 1815, " Protestant Ascendancy," 


and " The best Process to bleach the Tri-Colour White/' 
On the 15th of January, 1817, the following resolution was 

" That a select committee be formed for the purpose of preparing, 
printing, and circulating suitable political tracts, in order to counter- 
act the poisonous effects of the various efforts which the disaffected 
have so recently and fully manifested ; and that the following gen- 
tlemen be appointed a committee viz.: the Rev. Dr. Smith, Rev. 
Cecil Wray, Rev. J. T. Allen, Rev. Moses Randall, Mr. Simmons, 
Rev. John Gatliff, Rev. Robinson Elsdale, Mr, Joseph G-reen, Mr. 
Thomas Jackson, Rev. C. W. Ethelston, Mr. F. Phillips, Mr. John 
Pooley, Mr. Thomas Hardman, Mr. E. Chesshyre, Mr. P. Crompton, 
Dr. Bardsley, M.D., Mr. John Wheeler, Mr. Bell, Rev. W. R. Hay, 
Mr. James Watkins, Mr. James Norris, Robert Peel, Esq., and Mr. 
Robert Hindley." 

A collection of the tracts published would form amusing 
reading at the present day. The toasts and sentiments 
continued to mark the subjects that succesively occupied 
the attention of the club : 

1817. " May the Dream of Universal Suffrage and Annual Parlia- 
ments no longer disturb our repose." "The able advocate of the 
Protestant Cause The Right Hon. Robert Peel." " Suspension to 
all cart-politicians." " May political errors find forgiveness, political 
crimes punishment." " May the language of sedition blister the 
tongue that utters it." " Reformation to modern reformers." 

1818." The Protestant Ascendancy." " The distinguished Secre- 
tary for Ireland The Right Hon. Robert Peel, the approved sup- 
porter of our constitution in Church and State." " The Electors of 
Great Britain May they ever distinguish between the empty sound 
of patriotism and the solid sense of it." " The Magistrates of the 
Division, with thanks for their past and confidence in their future 
services." " May the British Constitution endure like the oak and 
its enemies fall like its decayed leaves." 

1821. "The Committee of Magistrates." "Mr. Hay and the 
Magistrates of the Division, with thanks for their past and confidence 
in their future services." " Major Birley and the Manchester and 
Salford Yeomanry Cavalry, with thanks to them for their past and 
confidence in their future services. " May the Energies of the Loyal 
always defeat the Attempts of the Factious," 


Many of the members seem to have tired of these annual 
eating and drinking demonstrations. At a general meeting 
held 7th April, 1826, the following resolutions were passed : 

" That ever since the institution of this club the number of its 
members has progressively increased, and yet the attendance at the 
annual celebration has considerably declined, so that more than 
three-fourths of the whole body have really been absent on several 
of those occasions." 

" That such repeated proofs of inattention of those periodical 
assemblies (appointed as they were for the social expression of our 
acknowledged principle and sentiment) materially prejudice the 
spirit and character of the institution, and at the same time indicate 
a great want of respect to the President, who obligingly undertakes 
the arduous duties of that situation at the request of the club." 

Amongst the toasts at the annual dinner on the 29th of 
May, 1826, was, " Captain Grimshaw, a zealous promoter 
of the principles of the Pitt Club." His promotion of 
those principles was the concoction of toasts which, in our 
more fastidious days, would be considered as an outrage on 
common decency. The acknowledgment of his peculiar 
services does not seem to have arrested the downward pro- 
gress of the association. At the annual meeting, held 5th 
of April, 1827, the following resolution was passed : 

" That it appears to be the prevailing sentiment of the members 
present, ' That under the existing circumstances the usual meeting of 
the club for the purpose of dining be not held this year.' And notice 
of an intended resolution to that effect being now given, the subject be 
taken into consideration at the said annual meeting on 3rd of May." 

At the meeting on the 3rd of May the following minute 
was made : 

" The notice of an intended motion for dispensing this year with the 
usual dinner was immediately withdrawn, the gentleman from whom 
it proceeded having expressed his decided conviction of the propriety 
of that course, from the violent and important change of circumstances 
which had recently taken place in the government of the country." 

The club, however, w r as fast approaching to its dissolu- 
tion, as the following resolutions will show : 


" Star Inn, May 13tli, 1829. 

" Moved, seconded, and resolved, That the annual dinner be post- 
poned to the year 1830. 

" Star Inn, Manchester, April 1st, 1830. 
" John Powell, Esq., in the chair ; 

" Resolved, That there shall not be any anniversary dinner of the 
club this year. 

" Star Inn, April 7th, 183r. 
" Dr. Bardsley in the chair ; 

Resolved, That at this important crisis of the state of the nation, 
the following letter be sent to every member of this club without 
delay : 

" Sir, You are requested to address a letter to Mr. Chesshyre, the 
secretary, as early as possible, stating whether you will engage or 
not to attend the next anniversary -dinner, which is intended to take 
place on Wednesday the 1st of June, in consequence of the birth- 
day happening in the Manchester race week this year." 

" Star Inn, May 5th, 1831. 
" Dr. Bardsley in the chair ; 

" The proceedings of the meeting of the 7th of April last were read 
by the chairman. And the result of th'e circular letters sent to the 
members pursuant to the resolution to that purpose passed at the 
last meeting being communicated to the meeting, and it appearing by 
the answers of the members that twenty-four answers were assenting 
to the anniversary dinner on the 1st of June next, fifty-three dis- 
sentients, and seven dubious. 

" Resolved, That in consequence of the above result of the appli- 
cation to members, the anniversary dinner be postponed, and that 
tin's meeting do adjourn to the first Thursday in April, 1832." 


3, T. Parkes, Printer, Market Street, Manchester. 

i I9OI 



HE Prentice, Archibald 

P9265h Historical sketches 

of Manchester