1819, Jan 18
Meeting on St Peter’s Field, Manchester.
‘The meeting on St Peter’s Field, attended by crowds of 8,000-10,000, was a regional display of support for Hunt and the radical cause. All the major leaders, organizers, journalists and martyrs of north-west radicalism were on the platform: unfortunately, their combined weight caused the hustings to collapse midway through the proceedings! John Knight, the ‘Lancashire Major Cartwright’, was master of ceremonies; Joseph Harrison of the Stockport Union Society introduced himself as their ‘Chaplain on the Field of Battle’ and reminded the meeting of the plight of Bagguley, Drummond and Johnston; Joseph Mitchell, the first self-appointed political missionary, stressed the need for organization; William Fitton, a Jacobin veteran from Royton, welcomed the demise of Church and King mobs which he attributed to the ‘great moral revolution’ effected by the ‘public spirit of such gentlemen as Mr. Hunt’; and poor old ruptured Ogden, the septuagenarian letter-press printer and habeus corpus detainee, addressed his fellow Mancurians on the merits of radicalism.’1
1. “Orator Hunt”, J. Belchem, 1985.
Henry Hunt Esq.
1819, Jan 18
Certain remarks made by some of the Reform orators at the public meeting at Manchester on Monday the 18th Dec 1819 which are omitted from the Observer.
‘…Harrison stepped forward and expressed a wish that if there was any money left after the expenses of the day were discharged it might be sent to Bagguley, Johnston & Drummond at Chester Castle. They were afraid as well as he himself was that they would not have a fair trial at Chester. They wished to be removed by Habeus Corpus to the Kings Bench and tried there, but that would cost a deal of money. If however, all the Reformers would contribute a penny a week each it would be effected. To prevent fraud he would advise the appointment of a great number of treasurers – ten or twelve in each village and a hundred or more in every large town. They would not all prove villains. He then urged them to persevere and assured them that the day was not far distant when they would have to try to recover their lawful rights and he should be proud to be their chaplain in the field of battle – this was followed by large acclamations…’1.
1. HO 42/183
1819, Jan 18
Letter from Norris to Sidmouth Secretary of State dated 18 Jan, 1819.
‘…The persons on the hustings were Hunt, Knight, Mitchell (most violent), Ogden, Fitton of Royton, Saxton a stranger, Harrison of Stockport, Cheetham of Stockport…’1
1. HO 42/183
1819, Jan 18
Dinner for Hunt at the Spread Eagle Inn.
Harrison’s initial impression of Hunt was not a favorable one as evidenced by the following excerpt.
‘… at the conclusion of Sir Charles Wolseley’s letter, a general expression of disapprobation ran through the room and a vote of censure was proposed, this was opposed by E. Grundy, Esq. and J. Knight, who observed, it was better to approve of what was good and bury the unpleasant part in silence, rather than go for a vote of censure. This sentiment was sanctioned by the Chairman, H. Hunt, Esq. but a Mr Harrison, not satisfied with this decision, began to eulogize him, which caused the company to become so indignant, that after Sir Charles’ letter had been read, the following Resolution was passed with only four dissentients.
Resolved – That reviewing the distinguished and consistent conduct of H. Hunt, Esq and feeling a deep sense of gratitude for the great benefits we have derived from the writings of W. Cobbett, Esq. this Meeting cannot refrain from expressing their abhorence to the disrespectful language applied to these gentlemen in Sir Charles Wolseley’s letter, addressed to Mr. N. Whitworth, Secretary to the Patriotic Committee, who have had the arrangement of this Public Meeting and Dinner…’1
1. A full and particular report of the proceedings of the public meeting held in Manchester on Monday the 18th of January, 1819. John Knight.
Harrison’s view of Hunt would change however and he would become one of his greatest supporters:
‘…he himself, was at one period, at a loss what to think of him; but he thanked God, the veil had been taken off, and he had appeared amongst the friends of liberty in Lancashire, in all the semblence of unsophisticated purity. He was, he conceived, most deservedly entitled to their very warmest thanks.’1
1. Manchester Observer, 19 June, 1819.
Sir Charles Wolseley
1819, Jan 23
Report from Norris on the Dinner after the Manchester Meeting 18 January, 1819
‘…Hunt replied – he believed Sir Charles to be the pupil of Sir Francis Burdett who did not go to the same lengths as he did – praised Sir Charles for the sincerity of his principles – blamed him for his disrespectful remark towards himself – some person moved for a vote of censure o Sir Charles Wolseley – some friends of Sir Charles interfered said he had taken a disgust to Hunt from his conduct at Westminster Election – They became violent on both sides of question – several up at once to speak – a deal of contention regarding priority…’1
1. HO 42/183
1819, Jan 23
Lloyd to Hobhouse Under Secretary of State dated 23 Jan, 1819.
‘…It was said that we were to have a meeting in this town on Monday or Wednesday next – but no advertisement has yet appeared – I think I may venture to promise that we will not be disgraced by the Cap of Liberty being borne over our bridge…’1
1. HO 42/183
1819, Jan 24
Letter from Henry Hunt to the Inhabitants of Stockport dated 24, Jan, 1819.
“MR. HUNT’S LETTER TO THE INHABITANTS OF STOCKPORT.
Manchester, Sunday noon, Jan. 24, 1819.
GENTLEMEN.—-l seize the earliest opportunity of expressing my gratitude, for the very kind and flattering attention I received from all classes of the inhabitants of Stockport, during my short stay with you on my way to the Public Meeting, held here last Monday. If the result of that day be properly estimated by the good and wise throughout the whole kingdom, it must produce the most heart-cheering and beneficial effects. To express the pleasurable emotions of my heart, when I reflect upon the beautiful spectacle exhibited in your Union Rooms, when I was honoured with an introduction there last Sunday evening, is impossible; but, believe me, the remembrance of it will never be obliterated from my breast. To witness such an assembly of youths of all ages and both sexes, vieing with each other to acquire useful and rational knowledge, must and ever will be grateful to every mind endowed with common feelings of humanity and philanthropy; but, to behold men of talent and education, employing their valuable time in the endeavour to inculcate true religion, by the example of practical morality, is a scene pleasing in the sight of God as well as man. I am convinced, that the public feelings and sentiments of the people throughout the united kingdom, are in unison with yours; and I am also convinced, that it now only requires the union of those particular principles upon the basis of your society, to be followed throughout the country, to make the success of the cause of Reform to triumph throughout the land.
I beg to subscribe myself, Gentlemen,
Your much obliged and sincere Humble servant, H. HUNT.
To the Gentlemen of Stockport, and particularly to the Union Society.
To the care and confidence of Mr. J.Mitchell.
P.S. You will have seen by the public prints, the unmanly and cowardly insult and assault, that was offered to me and my excellent friends who accompanied me to the theatre on Friday evening. Our friend, Mr. Mitchell, who has kindly offered to be the bearer of this, will communicate the particulars.”1
- MO, February 6, 1819.
1819, Jan 26
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse Under Secretary of State dated 26 Jan, 1819.
‘…Hunt confessed he was applied to by letter from a gentleman of Stockport (Harrison the Preacher) about the Chester prisoners and that he had taken the advice of an eminent counsel who gave his opinion that they could not remove the trial to London but might make affidavits if they suspected partiality in Cheshire & have their trial in an adjoining county – If he will come to Stockport to hold a meeting I will see what can be done – if Manchester – the powerful police of Manchester are confounded by the miscreants – Pardon me – I reflect upon no one in Office – Zeal in a good cause makes me think they ought not to have closed the theatre…’1
1. HO 42/183
1819, Feb 15
Meeting at Sandy Brow, Stockport (Sandy Brow Fight).
‘In the course of his observations, Mr. Saxton, alluding to the expected attack, “pointed most significantly to the cap of liberty. This constitutional ensign, said he, a ruffian banditti are at this moment contemplating to wrest from your grasp. For this part, should an illegal seisure [sic] be attempted, his mind was made up to perish in its defence.” The Chairman, aware of the uproar that was about to be commenced by a gang of hired ruffians, was at this moment exhorting the people to peace and good order…Birch, Walker, Pass and others, mounted on horseback, and followed by a multitude of raggamuffins, entered the ground, striking the women and children with their sticks as they passed along…It was indeed, laughable to see one stout fat fellow…address the Chairman in these words: “I-I-I dede-demand th-th-that cap cap of li-li li-liberty – in th-th-the name of the ki-king!!!”…Some of the hired men, bumbailiffs, we were told, now attempted to seize the Cap of Liberty, when the row, that had been courted by some of these hellish miscreants commenced. “Stand firm,” was the order of the day, and the air in an instant was darkened with nature’s ammunition, brick bats, stones and mud. The Gentry on horseback had by this time quitted their bridle-reigns (some of which, it is said, were cut) and the necks and manes of the horses were every vestige they could contrive to lay hold of, to enable them to keep the saddle. The horses…galloped from the ground, and the footpad crew that were enlisted for the Sandy Brow Expedition, were driven before the majesty of the people with the rapidity of lightning… The business of the Meeting…was then proceeded in; and after a short speech from Mr. Saxton, who had taken the Cap of Liberty and placed it for a moment on his head, and replaced it in its wonted station, which was received with acclamations from the populace… The meeting having been earnestly requested to retire to their homes, resolved first to see the Chairman and Speakers safe to the place were [sic] a most excellent dinner was provided for the occasion. A Company of Military, the Rev. Mr. Prescot, Rector of Stockport, a Magistrate, and a number of Constables, &c. followed soon after. The crowd that surrounded the Wind-mill room was immense, cheering the Speakers, &c. as they went to dinner. The riot act was read; the people, nevertheless, remained stationary. It is but justice to say, that the demeanor of Mr. Prescot towards the Speakers and the Gentlemen who had signed the Requisition to the Meeting, was such as to entitle him to the thanks of the friends of Liberty; for when he found that his power, both as a Magistrate and an inhabitant was ineffectual, he very politely requested Mr. Harrison to have the goodness to use his influence in order to induce the people to retire, being well persuaded, he acknowledged, that a word from him would have the desired effect. He assured Mr. Harrison and Mr. Fitton, that it was by no means his intention to take any person into custody, and could not but lament what had happened, to disturb the peace of the town… Mr. Harrison then went and addressed the multitude out of doors, desiring them to retire peaceably. But the People said, No, —they only want us to go, that they may take you. The people were at length prevailed on to retire, after they were assured all was safe, and that the Windmill Room would be closed in one hour. This simultaneous movement of the People proved only an adjournment to the Market-place, were [sic] a number of their friends had been abused by the vanquished party; and, indeed, there again the fight commenced; when the military and Magistrates attended a second time, and read the Riot Act. The multitude again dispersed; but rallied the following hour, and, we understand, gave their opponents such a complete drubbing, as they will have cause to remember to the last moment of their disgraceful existence. The riot act was read a third time; the people retired to their houses, and as they went on, the streets rung in full chorus the popular song “MILLIONS BE FREE.” The Dinner Party returned at half past five o’clock, and about 180 sat down to a very excellent repast… The Rev. Mr. Harrison addressed the company — Gentlemen, I beg leave to propose the health of a gentleman, who has on all occasions, since he commenced his political career, proved himself the firm advocate of radical reform. The gentleman I allude to is, Mr. Fitton, (the Chairman) whose conduct; I am sure, you cannot but approve of, for his manly and judicious endeavours to impress upon the minds of the people at the meeting, the necessity of acting lawfully, at that critical moment, when the police of Stockport attacked us on the hustings , and endeavoured to wrest the colours and Cap of Liberty from us… The dinner party broke up about half-past ten o’clock. During the greater part of the evening, they were protected by the military, outside the buildings, with fixed bayonets; which had only the effect of giving life and interest to the occasion…’1
John Horatio Lloyd (John Lloyd’s son) was beaten up by the mob, ‘because he was recognised as the son of a gentleman, whose duty as well as inclination have ever prompted him to activity in supporting due obedience to the Throne and the Government of his country. Such a man, from the nature of things, became obnoxious to the maledictions of the violators of the public peace…the youth, though seriously injured by the kicks and bruises he received, is likely to recover from their effects, and that some of the villains having been found out, are now in custody.’ 2
[John Horatio Lloyd was 21 years of age at this time.]
1. Black Dwarf, February 24, 1819. 2. The Morning Post, February 23, 1819
1819, Feb 15
Excerpt of Harrison’s speech – Sandy Brow, Stockport 15 Feb, 1819.
‘The Rev. Joseph Harrison said, Gentlemen, I come forward to second the motion or resolution that has now been moved by Mr. Saxton, viz. that the subscription which has been set on foot towards the defraying the expences of the trials of Messrs. Bagguley, Drummond, and Johnson, be vigorously maintained – The time is at hand, therefore delays may be dangerous – It has been reported that their friends in Stockport will not raise 40 pounds; but we have it in our power to prove such reports to be false and scandalous. We consider them as suffering not merely for themselves, but for us. They were in such circumstances as to be able to provide themselves a comfortable livelihood, (notwithstanding the great oppression of them times), having little more to provide for than themselves, but their hearts were almost wrung to peices with the wants and cries, and groans, and miseries of large families, where the support of a great number depended upon the earnings of a few, and those earnings very disproportionate to the labour they were pretended to reward; therefore, they came boldly forward to plead the cause of the labouring poor, and shewed themselves ready to sacrifice both liberty and life in hope that the higher powers would be induced to listen to our cries, redress our grievences, ease our burdens and restore our rights; for which intrepid and patriotic conduct, they are now incarcerated in jail, and expect ere long to stand before their Judge. Shall we now abandon them to their fate? No, let us rather hope that they will be so supported as to obtain a fair trial, and that justice which they deserve; but the opinion which their enemies entertain of their desert may be very different from the opinion which we entertain. Are they not worthy of liberty as ourselves? – (Cries of “Yes, Yes!” from all parts of the Meeting.) – Then, we may indulge the expectation, that the time is not far distant when we shall again hear their pleasing voices proclaim liberty, sweet liberty, upon this memorable spot of ground. It is pleasant to hear of liberty, but we had much rather enjoy it. Ah! my friends, but how is it to be obtained? – (Cries of “that’s the question.”) – Shall I advise you to take up arms and fight for it? – (“Yes, yes!” said the people.) – No, no, that I will not do, I will not advise you in the case at present. You have heard much, and read much, and thought much, therefore act as your own prudence dictates, and as the urgency of the case requires. You have petitioned long to no effect, now you are remonstrating, and perhaps it will be with as little effect. Words are but wind. But I know your patience – you have borne long. – I know your humanity, – it must be dire necessity that will compel you to harsh measures. It is not cowardice, but a tender feeling for your fellow creatures which makes you forbear in the manner you do, you are the patientest people in the world…’1
1. Manchester Observer, Feb 20, 1819.
1819, Feb 16
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse Under Secretary of State dated 16 Feb, 1819.
‘Sir The Reformers advertised a meeting for the 8th February to take place at Stockport but owing to the Royton Meeting postponed it to the 15th (yesterday).
Having an intimation that the Cap of Liberty was to be brought in from Manchester – I got ready with 2 or 3 men to take it on the bridge but it was smuggled in I suppose for after the orators had been some time on the stage and collected numbers to give them sufficient confidence they hoisted the Cap upon the pole of one of their flags – “The Rights of Man” the other “No Corn Bill.”
I had my friends on the spot – the Orators had to ? and just before the breaking up of the hustings 5 volunteers mounted galloped up had a struggle for the staff from which the Cap was soon dislodged & debased – but it seems it was picked up by one of the mob – the five volunteers – Pass of Altrincham & Birch Hunt Dakin & Booth of Stockport were sorely pelted with stones and driven from the place – the Reverend Prescot (the Magistrate) with myself and some 4 or 5 gentlemen went up followed by a company of the 80th stationed here. The whole mob dispersed & the leaders assembled at the Wind Mill Room which was surrounded by a very extensive & outrageous mob who commenced an attack upon the soldiers. – The Rector himself went into the Room and demanded the Cap of Liberty, which had been carried away they said by some one not there. We searched and then Harrison signed a paper that if he had it in his power he would give it up – The proclamation was made & the people were dispersed – & again in the market place where a concourse was assembled – They were forcibly dispersed & when the military had marched off the mob reassembled & fell on a few constables with whom was my younger son whom they got down and attempted to kill – They succeeded in punishing him for the love they bear the father – of such cowardly materials are Reformers made but I do wrong to call them by so mild a name – They are traitors & Revolutionists – and I am enabled to prove what I say – They are now organising for a Revolution – I have bless God succeeded in getting one of the villains who kicked my son on the ground & the name of another against the prisoner I have good proof of his identity throughout the day – & he must have noticed the lad at the hustings – You will have minutes of some of the language at the hustings from Manchester – Fitton Chairman Harrison Knight Ogden Saxton the speakers – I shall be able to give some further information soon – Excuse me further now as I am under great irritation rather preferring to punish the brutes myself.’1
1. HO 42/184
1819, Feb 16
Letter from Captain Maclean to General Byng dated 16 Feb, 1819.
‘Sir I know not if I am correct in troubling you with the communication contained in the letter but I trust I am wrong to be favoured with instructions for my future guidance under similar circumstances – The Chief Magistrate of this town, The Reverend Mr Prescot, appears anxious that I should state to you what passed, I presume with a view to shew, that a military force is essential to the maintenance of tranquility – It had been summized for some time, that the Manchester & Stockport Reformers intended to meet between the two places, and to march with the latter, preceded by the Cap of Liberty and other symbols of disloyalty – I had in consequence received instructions from Mr. Prescot, to hold my men in readiness to turn out in aid of the civil power, should it be necessary.
Yesterday a very numerous meeting took place on an elevated spot near the upper part of the town and although the Cap of Liberty did not before make its appearance, yet here it was exhibited on a long pole accompanied by several flags, one of which bore in legible characters “Paine & the Rights of Man” – In consequence of an attempt on the part of some loyal subjects to seize the Cap of Liberty, a scuffle ensued & although the cap disappeared, I believe the loyal party was compelled to retire, after one of them had sustained some severe wounds – during this time, I remained with my men within the limits of the Barrack, nor did I move out until required as to do by the civil power, when I lost no time in repairing to the scene of conflict – All was quick on my arrival there, but after a pause of some minutes, and previous to the riot act being read, my men were assailed with a shower of brick bats, by which one of them was materially hurt, but the number of women & children in the crowd would have prevented me from firing even had the riot-act been read. – I trust, Sir, you will approve of my forbearance on this occasion, as I could have dispersed the riot by means of the bayonet & butt end of the musket, had not Mr. Prescot expressed a wish to avoid coercive measurres – I must say, it has never been my fate, at any period of my life, to come in contact with such a miscreant & cowardly race of reptiles – Amoung the crowd, I am sorry to say, I have reason to believe that there were many recently discharged men from the army, & who are at this moment receiving pensions from Government.’1
1. HO 42/184
Letter from Joseph Harrison to Bagguley (undated.)
‘Sir Charles Wolseley informed me that he intends to send you a copy of a petition to the corrupt House of Commons for you to sign. He is aware that petitioning will do you no good but may serve to let the house and Public know the amazing stretch of power which the Judge exercised in requiring such an excessive bail.
He has consulted two lawyers in reference to your removal. They both agree that in case you were removed there would be a hazard of your being sent back again for trial – We trust you have been able ere this to determine relative to your future proceeedings – When you write again please to let us know (if you are able) when the Chester Assizes commences. Also give us a particular account of your health and whether you are yet in the hospital – Give my best respects to your worthy Govenor & Son and accept Gentlemen the best services of your sincere friend Joseph Harrison.’1
1. HO 42/184
1819, Feb 28
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse Under Secretary of State dated 28 Feb, 1819.
‘…Meetings are held in the open ground and in private houses – Access to which can only be had by cards or signs – The 10th March is still spoken of – and I should not be surprised if you have applications for our military force to be increased for our Magistrate is anxious to put down these Meetings…’1
1. HO 42/184
Joseph Harrison’s son Massah discharged from Stockport Sunday School. State of Learning – Writing. Reason for discharge – Non Attendance.1
1. Stockport Sunday School registers, Stockport Heritage Library.
1819, Mar 4
Letter from Harrison to Bagguley dated 4 March, 1819.
I had written on Wednesday as usual & thought of sending the letter & cloth together but the man who should have brought them not being punctual to his time this morning made me suspect that he was not steady therefore made enquiry & found my idea correct; the cloth will come by the carrier, there is only 6 yards, as Mr Drummond’s are sending or have sent some for Samuel, but as it is not our intention to make fish of one & flesh of another, you will have the goodness to let us know what will be wanted to make your suits complete & if we cannot do what we will, we will do what we can according to our means. – Your Dear Father is the principle subscriber on this occasion. Be of good cheer the friends are improving you need not be destitute of counsel for fear of expence; for I am well persuaded that the Public will be ready to defray the expence let it be what it may. We are greatly represented by your letter on Monday – have taken leave to send it to the Observer because I consider it much calculated to promote subscriptions in your favor. My dear friends you are in a state of confinement but the cause for which you are thus suffering is glorious – I say again be of good cheer our cause will be finally victorious. I had rather perish in the struggle than give it up – Let the tyrants have dungeons chains money, men, cannons, muskets, swords, & bayonets on their side – We have mercy, justice, reason & truth on ours, and what are their pathy and contemptible weapons compared with ours, but more we can have all theirs besides if necessity required but I hope we possess too much humanity to make use of some of them, yes leave them to tyrants & oppressors till the Earth is rid of such monsters in human shape.
There is at present a great deal of talk about pikes being amongst the Reformers but am certain it is a Police plot to injure you on your trial – If arrangements of that kind were making amongst the Reformers, you may be sure that I should know of it – But I assure you sir in the presence of God that it is not the order of the day with us. And I say again that as I stand at the Head here, if there were any such this I should [know] it. I have not doubt but pikes have been made in the ____ neighbourhood & are now in making but it is a Police trick by which a few unweary souls will be entrapt – the Reformers Sir have no hand in it – Enclosed is two pounds & a poem with the cloth.
Please to acknowledge it in your next – likewise the last one and two as your letters are my receipts.
J. Harrison, in great haste’1
1. HO 42/185
1819, Mar 25
Letter from Harrison to Bagguley dated March 25, 1819.
I hope our epistolary correspondence is drawing to a close & the time approaching when you will resume your station here in spite of all your foes can do Amen.
I should have wrote sooner but you thought if we waited till today we could have choice of cloth as it is the fairday.
We have fulfilled your order by sending you 6 3/4 yards and 5 pounds. We wish you to give 10s to Silas Marsland and if you are deficient we will make out when we come.
Peace and love seem to prevail amongst us all are willing to help according to their ability wishing each and every of you all that comfort which your present situation will admit.
I remain Gentlemen your sincerest friend
I went ot Manchester on Tuesday when I received your letter but could not see Teale nor his clerk shall go again on Saturday morning though I am apprehensive he will be at Lancaster – The last week will be a very busy one for us all.’1
1. HO 42/185
1819, Mar 27
Letter from John LLoyd to Henry Hobhouse Under Secretary of State.
‘Sir On the 18th Bagguley sent a petition, addressed to the House of Commons, to Sir Charles Wolseley – who acknowledged the receipt by letter to him received on the 25th says he sent it to James McDonald Esq MP for Calne & Sir Charles says – “Remember he is only a moderate reformer. I did not chuse to send it Sir Francis as he behaved rather oddly when I wrote to him about bailing you.” ‘1
1. HO 42/185.
1819, Mar 28
Letter from Bagguley to Harrison dated March 28, 1819.
‘My Dear Sir
I received the parcel, letter, and money, safe yesterday, and am glad to hear all is going on well, an epistolory correspondence you justly observed is it is to be hoped drawing near a close, and your constancy, integrity and friendship have been such owing its continuance as deserve a higher reward than am able to confer. Have not a moments time, received a letter last Wednesday and another ths morning from Sir Charles Wolseley wrote letters to Sir F. Burdett, Sir Robert Wilson and J. Macdonald Esq. and am busy at the request of Sir Charles in drawing up a petition to the House of Lords.
Is this a dagger which I see before me.
Received notice on Friday night that we are to be tried by a special jury consisting of nothing but Baronets & Esquires. The jury is to be nominated tomorrow we are determined to be present I have no more time believe me to be yours truly
1. HO 42/185.
1819, Mar 30
Letter from Bagguley to Harrison dated March 30, 1819.
‘My Dear Sir
I should like you to be here on Sunday the 11th inst, it is my intention to put off my trial until Thursday the 15th inst, it will not be necessary for the witnesses to come with you, you can arrange matters on that subject but let nothing deter your arrival anxiously expecting you and eagerly anticipating a glorious discussion in our favour.’1
1. HO 42/185
1819, Mar 30
Letter from Bagguley to Harrison dated March 30, 1819.
‘My Dear Sir
You have received a list of names out of which our juries are to be selected be kind enough to make enquiries relative to the characters and principles of as many of them as convenient. Be kind enough to purchase immediately for me a book entitled the Law of Juries and another wrote by the poet Lauriett [sic] entitled Wat Tyler the receipt of them by Monday will be of infinite importance as that is the day appointed to reduce the juries. Delay will be defeat our enemies are already in the field…’1
1. HO 42/185
1819, Mar 31
Letter from Harrison to Bagguley dated March 31, 1819.
I sent the cloth and money according to your request hope they came safe to hand in due time but having not heard from you since am rather doubtful that there has been delay by the coach as there was previously by the carrier. If there were no delay you would receive them on Saturday last since which there has been time to have sent an answer – The public have never complained of the postage of your letters being a burden. It is earnestly recommended by your committee that you would plead your own cause. They do not know that you intend otherwise but having heard nothing on that head lately thought proper to mention it – You will understand at the same time that they wish you to have the best counsel that can be got hoping that truth and justice will be finally triumphant. I remain Gentlemen
Your sincere friend
NB enclosed is a two pound note –
P.S. If you have it in your power we think it prudent that you assist Marsland & we will reimburse you
Intend being at Manchester tomorrow, but do not expect much being done in your case till next week; on account of the Lancaster Assizes.’
1819, Apr 2
Letter from Wolseley to Bagguley dated April 2, 1819.
‘… I am sorry to hear that some rascal has been writing against Mr Harrison – I fear he made himself enemies in his exertions to get rid of Mitchell.’1
1. HO 42/185.
1819, Apr 4
Letter from Bagguley to Harrison dated April 4, 1819.
‘My Dear Sir
My souls in arms and eager for the fray.
Yours of the 31st came duly to hand & I should have answered it before this but for a press of business.
I wish you to understand that it is our intention each and all to plead our own causes. I have hitherto opposed the proceedings touching the special juries & I am determined to resist all illegal incroachments.
I received a letter this morning from Mr. Wooler & his opinion and mine are in unison relative to the qualification of special juries.
Having placed my lot upon the cast of a die being determined to resist oppression.
I remain your sincere friend
You will hear from me next post.’1
1. HO 42/185.
1819, Apr 10
Letter from T. Walker, Hull to Rev. Joseph Harrison, pledging a subscription to support the patriots (Bagguley, Johnston and Drummond).
[The letter was transmitted to Wooler on 10 April by Joseph George Bruce, (the man later implicated in the shooting of Constable Birch,) to be included in the Black Dwarf, under direction from Joseph Harrison who was currently at Chester for the Assizes.]
‘…The sentiments expressed at the above Meeting by you, have our entire approbation; and as soon as we have extended a Subscription as far as we can, we shall lose no time in sending to you the produce of it… …we have formed ourselves, into an institution of Political Protestants, which we most earnestly recommend to be adopted in every town and village in the nation. We divide ourselves into classes of twenty each, and each class meet once a week, where they think proper; the members subscribe a penny each weekly, and read over Cobbett, and Sherwin’s Registers, Wooller’s Black Dwarf, and other works, calculated to diffuse political knowledge… I have written to Sir Charles Wolseley, Bart, in Staffordshire (whose very excellent letter to the country gentlemen, you most likely have seen) to solicit his patronage and co-operation with us; I have received his answer wherein he says “the Institution is excellent, and you may rely upon my willingness to co-operate with the political protestants of Hull, to the utmost of my power… You Sir, are most sincerely entreated by the political protestants, on the behalf of themselves and their much-injured country, that you and all the friends of reform, in your neighbourhood will join with us to form a temperate, rational and firm union throughout the nation, as the only means of effecting our political salvation…’1
1. Black Dwarf, April 14, 1819.
Johnston, Bagguley and Drummond sentenced to two years at Chester Castle for “uttering such expressions as to incite the people to disrespect and hatred of his Majesty’s government.” Livesey one of the witnesses in the trial had received £30 payment from Lord Sidmouth.1
1. Black Dwarf, April 28, 1819.
1819, Apr 17
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse Under Secretary of State dated 17 April, 1819.
‘Sir I have the honor to add to the information before sent you that I prepared a bill of indictment against Joseph Harrison for a libel against the Justice Mr. Prescot relative to his conduct on the day of the riots but upon a consultation with the attorney general and Mr Parke I was advised not to present it and consequently he is not at present under any prosecution – I had consulted Mr Parke upon another case I had against Knight & others for the part they took at the last reform meeting and he also drew an indictment but advised me to wait the assizes of our other trials…’1
1. HO 42/186
1819, Apr 18
Anonymous letter appearing in the Observer describing Constable Birch’s bad behavior.
“To the Editor of the Manchester Observer.
As a constant reader of your invaluable paper, and a friend to reform, I take upon myself the task of informing you of another outrage having been committed upon the peaceable inhabitants of Stockport.
On Sunday evening, the 18th of April, there was a sermon preached at the Windmill School, in this town, when, shocking to relate, while Mr. Joseph Harrison was employed in preaching to a very numerous and respectable congregation, they were insulted with the appearance of William Birch, our Sheriff’s Bailiff, and two of his friends, who are acting as special constables; one of their names is Robinson, a corn dealer, and the other is Andrew, an extensive brewer, who were, until this time, considered as men of probity and talent: but their conduct, on this occasion, has betrayed such a mass of ignorance and impudence that they are now fallen to the level of a Birch or a Nadin, or any other degraded character you can imagine; for their behaviour was so unbecoming, and of such a disgraceful nature, that it would have put a Hottentot or a wild African to shame.
Sir, you must know, that at this time the trial of Bagguley, Drummond and Johnston was just over, and we had heard they were likely to be sentenced to imprisonment, and from the unfair proceedings, the town was resolved to enter their protest against them; so that at this time we were assembled to hear a sermon, and to subscribe our names to the protest. This transaction was going on with peace and good order at the outside of the school, when we were insulted by Birch and his companions, who came to disturb the peace of this meeting; and he actually took away a pen or pens, and made a snatch at the sheets that were laid for signature; and when remonstrated with upon his conduct, he called them a riotous assembly, and swore he would read the Riot Act, and take upon himself the power of the Magistrate. But finding they could not disturb the tranquility of the assembly, they, with oaths and imprecations, adjourned to a neighbouring public house, where the landlord takes in your Observer paper; and when Birch called for the paper, the landlord told him one part of it was engaged, but he might have the other half if he pleased; and when the landlord produced the half of the paper, he swore he would have the other half, and immediately went into another room where the paper was engaged, and actually snatched the paper out of the hands of the person who was reading. And when the landlord remonstrated with him upon his conduct, he swore he would throw him into the fire, and immediately threw the Observer into the fire. The company decrying his bad behaviour, he took up a vessel with its contents, and threw it, beer and all, at the head of the women whose husband had been reading the paper, and cut her face in a most shocking manner, and spoiled her clothes with the liquor. He then took up the fire poker, and brandished it over the head of the landlord, and swore he would clear the house. And when, by his bad behaviour, he had caused a crowd to assemble before the house, he swore that the landlord had caused them to assemble, in order that they might have an opportunity to kill him. After these outrages, he, with oaths and imprecations, swore he would have more liquor. By this time, his companions had left him, and ordered the landlord not to fill him any more liquor; and on the landlord informing him that his order was to fill him no more, he again brandished the poker over the head of the host, and then told him he was master of the constables, and that they should soon understand. He then demanded of the landlord to take him home, and on the landlord’s refusal, he told him he would take from him his license.
Now, Mr. Editor, please to inform us, peaceable inhabitants of Stockport, how long we shall have to endure such unprecedented overstretches of the law, without retaliation; for I am apprehensive, if we have to experience such insults much longer, our patience will be exhausted.
Your insertion of these facts will much oblige yours,
- Manchester Observer, May 15, 1819.
1819, Apr 19
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse Under Secretary of State dated 19 April, 1819. (In reference to guilty verdict given to Bagguley, Drummond and Johnston.)
‘…At Stockport I find tonight there has been a meeting of the disaffected whom the leaders are arriving with the idea of a new trial & have voted petitions – they were opposed by some constables, who might not have conducted themselves altogether temporately, and I hear they got hold of the petition and got stoned…’1
1. HO 42/186.
1819, Apr 19 – 22
Joseph Harrison had a petition signed by the townspeople of Stockport which was presented to the Magistrates of Chester requesting a re-trial of Bagguley, Drummond and Johnston. The petition was however ignored.1
‘In April, 1819, Bagguley, Drummond and Johnson were put upon their trial at Chester and received sentence of two years’ imprisonment. A petition signed by 4,450 persons, on their behalf, from the Rev. Joseph Harrison, was presented to the Court for a new trial.’2 .
1. William Astle’s History of Stockport, 1922. 2. Advertiser Notes and Queries, 1881, p84
1819, Apr 22
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse Under Secretary of State dated 22 April, 1819.
‘…I have succeeded in my prosecution against 5 conspirators & exhibited a very strong case which will be published and do some good…
The rioters pleaded guilty & threw themselves upon my mercy & I showed them that when I had the power I was not inclined to abuse it as they had done & we took their bail for 2 years – One was discharged in this manner today – The other seems to be without friends & remains in the Castle; although he was supported there by subscriptions from Harrison & the Reformers at Stockport –
Harrison & about 5 men have arrived with a scroll of parchment 12 yards long they say – The protest against the verdict signed by thousands in the streets of Stockport- I hope they will carry it to the Judge…’1
1. HO 42/186
1819, Apr 24
Letter from “R. S.” to the editor of the Black Dwarf criticizing Joseph Harrison for the way he managed the trial of Johnston, Bagguley and Drummond.
‘…I am desirous to make a few remarks – Report says a certain character, with “Reverend” prefixed to his name (of whom more in a future letter) has had the chief management of the defence; has been the depository of subscriptions to a large amount for purposes connected with it; and has even now a sort of exclusive direction of, or in other words a carte-blanche to apply the funds as he pleases. This man has been closely identified with the prisoners; has been a main spoke in the terrible revolutionary wheel, and with a courage second to none, braved the peril of the pitiless storm which was detailed with so much judicious pomp and circumstance by the witnesses. “How is’t when all Taranto wear the chains of bondage, that thou alone art free?” how, good sir, have you contrived to keep your well known head out of the noose? but above all, how is it that your efforts to defend your less happy associates seem so like anything but honest, are deficient of everything but imbecility and ignorance? Witnesses in abundance were at your beck, why were they not called? what mattered it that Williams advised their being kept back? you ought to have known the trickery of lawyers, to have been able to counteract it, or to have shrunk from the task of hazarding the liberty, perhaps the lives of men whose credulity placed their fate in your hands…’1
1. The Black Dwarf, April 28, 1819.
1819, Apr 25
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse Under Secretary of State dated 25 April, 1819.
‘Sir Livesey did not say that which the papers impute – He was questioned as to what he expected for the job – He sad he did not know he had only had one pound yet he should expect to be paid for his time. The magistrates of Manchetser had made him a present of 30 pounds for furnishing them with information as to the proceedings at the Reform meetings – He believed the magistrates had got it for him & that it came in a letter signed “Hobhouse”… Mr Evans who held one of our briefs was a magistrate at the time, and explained that Livesey had been employed by them & they thought he deserved remuneration for his trouble.
On the day after the trial of the 3 prisoners at Chester Mr Evans gave me a letter which Livesey had addressed to him for an allowance to be made for his trouble & he (Mr Evans) had written there on a recommendation which was signed by the attorney general & himself for 50 pounds. I have been since asked by Mr Evans if I had sent it up to you – I told him I had made no communication to & I expected no letter from you.’1
1. HO 42/187
1819 Apr 28
Declaration of the Stockport Union, appeared in the Black Dwarf.
‘…being desirous of commencing an Establishment which will effect a better order of society, do resolve to unite with all friends and fellow-citizens who will join us in promoting human happiness; taking for our motto and guide, the maxim of “Doing unto others as we would they should do unto us.” For these reasons we do solemnly declare in the presence of the Supreme Being, that we will adhere to this principle; and by these rules endeavour to obtain legally our Rights as Men and Citizens. Resolved, That “men are born, and always continue free, and equal in respect of their natural rights. Civil distinctions, therefore, can only be founded in public utility.” “The most essential end of all moral and political associations is, the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man; and these rights are, liberty, protection of property, security, and resistance to oppression.” …For promoting the object of the Union, it is requisite the town be divided into twelve Sections; each section to elect two General Committee-men…their duty is to transact all business at the regular meetings of the General Committee, one half to go out of office every three months. That a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary, shall be appointed from and by the General Committee; the President and Vice-President to continue in office one week, to be appointed by rotation; the Treasurer and secretary to continue in office during the pleasure of the Committee. That a place or places be provided, for Lecturing, Reading, Conversation, &c.; also for teaching the rising community, such good and moral principles as may lead the will to the practice of the great laws of God. All members of the Union to be classed, with twelve members to each; to elect a leader from amongst themselves every three months; and meet once every week at the house of one of the members of the class, or at the Union Rooms, for reading, or conversing. Each member to pay weekly one penny for carrying into effect the object of the Union… That the room be opened every Sunday from nine till twelve o’clock in the forenoon, and from half-past one to four in the afternoon; and on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday Evenings for instructing, in reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Grammar; on Wednesday, for Reading such books as the Committee approve; and on Saturday to recite moral and political pieces. A Library to be attached to the Institution…which all members shall have free access… That as soon as convenient, we intend to depute some good and well-tried citizen, as our Representative to London, to present our Petitions and Remonstrances to the Chief Magistrate… …each member of this Union must…promote, by all means in his power, a radical reform of Parliament, by means of suffrage of all male persons of mature age and sane minds, who have not for any crime forfeited the right – of Parliaments having a duration not exceeding one year, and of Election by ballot…’1
1. Black Dwarf, April 28, 1819.
1819, Apr 28
Article in the Black Dwarf in support of Harrison, regarding the letter from “R.S.”
‘In another part of the Dwarf is inserted a letter, which implicates in the charge of negligence, at least, those who had the management of the defence of the prisoners; out of court. A wish to ascertain the truth is the only motive why we insert it; as random accusation may be undeservedly thrown at any man. It is however important that the truth should be known; and it is but justice to the Rev. Mr. Harrison, to tell him that he is accused of neglect, that he may rebut the charge. In his behalf we are however enabled to state that he earnestly endeavoured to obtain for these injured men, the exertions of Mr. Charles Pearson, as their attorney; and that the numerous and indispensible engagements of that gentleman in town, which he was unable to leave without injury to his clients, that alone prevented the repeated application of Mr. Harrison from being successful. The truth ought to be elicited; but the want of success is not a good reason for differences between men seeking the same object. Having failed to redeem the victims from incarceration, we should now endeavour to lighten their fate as far as possible…’1
1. Black Dwarf, April 28, 1819
1819, May 6
Letter from Joseph Harrison, Stockport to Wooler, editor of Black Dwarf, defending himself against accusations of negligence in the management of the trial of Bagguley, Johnston and Drummond, made in the letter by “R.S.” dated 24 April 1819.
‘DEAR SIR, It is with genuine feelings of gratitude to you that I take up my pen on the present occasion; your disinterested kindness in taking the edge off that sword which was levelled [sic] at my head, has excited these feelings. The subject to which I refer is a letter in the Dwarf, April 28, 1819, and your previous remarks in the same number. The letter itself is anonymous to me, as I must feel it is at a loss to know who is the author, where the initials (R.S.) only are given… To know our enemies as well as our friends, is a native wish in a man; and I hope, dear Sir, (in addition to all other kindness bestowed) you will have the goodness to assist me in discovering this obscure officious individual, who like a “madman throws about fire-brands, arrows, and death,” and then signs himself R.S… 1. “How is it when all taranto wear the chains of bondage that thou alone art free.” A. O Lucifer!!! 2. “How, good sir, have you contrived to keep your well known head out of the noose.” A. “Questions may be propounded by a fool, which no wise man can answer for his soul.” No contrivance of mine good sir. 3. “But above all, how is it that your efforts to defend your less happy associates seems so like any thing but honest, are deficient of every thing but imbecility and ignorance.” A. What, Sir, I succeeded in obtaining support for these unfortunate men, when violently opposed by an association called the Stockport Union? Is it this that offends you? 4. “Witnesses in abundance were at your beck, why were they not called?” A. I was appointed by the prisoners to be a witness myself, and therefore was waiting to be called for. 5. “What mattered it that Williams advised their being kept back.” A. I knew nothing of William’s advice till after the trial was over. But why were not you there to bring them forward? Every aid was requisite. 6. Tell us “What marvellous [sic] result you anticipated from this ingenious, tedious, counsel’s lengthy address, &c. &c?” A. It would have given me much satisfaction to have had our witnesses examined, though the proof of conspiracy rested upon two things, first they had complimented one another with the title of friends. Secondly each is represented as nodding consent to what the others said. 7. ”Did you expect that Williams would coax the jury to decide according to his speech?” A. Mr. Lloyd took care that he had not a jury made of such pliable materials.
It is not to be expected that this discourse will have a good effect upon R.S. But I hope it will satisfy the friends of freedom that I had not in any way been injurious to these hapless victims of tyranny…
1. The Black Dwarf, May 12, 1819.
1819, May 13
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse Under Secretary of State dated 13 May, 1819. (Regarding Livesey requesting payment.)
‘…I never would have supposed the impudent fellow would trouble your presence – I, before the trial, had given my opinion of L. I did not depend entirely on him – & that I could do without him – & that I did not admire his general character.
I considered him a a prattling fool very little to be depended upon as to circumspection & secrecy.’1
1. HO 42/187
1819, May 20
Excerpt of letter from John Thacker Saxton to the editor Manchester Observer dated May 20, 1819.
“…At length I come to the patched up document, pompously represented to have been communicated to me on my first attempt on the Reformers of Stockport. The answer that has been laid before the public, it is necessary to say, is one that I received to a note I sent to Mr. Charles Marsland, which was, from some cause, opened by a few of the partizans of a Reverend divine; but, as the resolutions of the respectable Stockport Union, signed by Mr. Thomas Brookes as chairman, were perfectly favourable to the measure, it is unnecessary to say that this. bantling of opposition to the People’s Press, was strangled in its infancy. However, it may not be amiss to endeavour to account for a cause of opposition to me personally: —-about six months ago when on a visit to Stockport, I found faction: spreading itself among the disciples of the Rev. Gentleman, and even the passions of his hearers roused from the imposing cant of pulpit eloquence, for the purpose of crushing the persecuted and unfortunate Mr. Mitchell; the man whom I had previously known to be an ornament in domestic life, a sincere friend, and a good citizen—-the man, too, upon whose head Sidmouth first laid his infernal fangs—the man whose whole soul was concentrated in the happiness and welfare of the people—-the man, whom the bloodhound, Oliver, was set on as his first victim; for the crime of independently standing up to support my belied, and betrayed friend; for the crime of protecting injured innocence; for the crime of exercising an opinion, which, with tho same impression on my mind, I shall hold to the last hour of my life; for this crime did I highly offend against holy orders, and was refused the support of this right Rev. Gentleman; a man, destitute of political knowledge, and whose conduct for a length of time past has tended to divide, rather than unite a host of the most enlightened patriots of England.—- This, to say the least of it, is the fact, and I have merely to refer the public to a letter of that Gentlemen’s, in vindication of himself, in the Black Dwarf of last week, in confirmation of the above assertion, and which stands upon record “to damn him to eternal fame.” But more on this subject hereafter…”1
- Manchester Observer, 22 May 1819.
1819, May 21
Letter from Johnston, Chester Castle to Joseph Harrison, Stockport refuting attack in Black Dwarf that Harrison was incompetent in managing trial of Bagguley, Johnston, Drummond.
‘…I do most ardently wish you all to live in love and peace, whether in one undivided society, or otherwise; but I would take the liberty of advising you to mark such as may be contentious, and make them the objects of the execration of all parties; and if they persist in manifesting a contentious spirit, cut them off from amongst you. And now, my friend,whilst upon the subject, I cannot help adverting to the base conduct of some (at present unknown) firebrand, who has thought it fit to attach the blame to you on the conviction of my young friends and myself. Now, “mark what I am going to say, and I say it coolly and fearlessly” – because, truly, that no man could have been more upon the alert to save us than yourself. You left nothing undone which ought to have been done, and which it was in your power to do, and you did nothing which you ought not to have done. But there was no power in you to save us; for, (yes, I will say it) we were condemned before trial; which trial was but mere form; and I hesitate not to say, that there was but one cause of regret on the part of ______, (I won’t tell who) [Lloyd?] namely, that they could not hang us!!! No, no, my esteemed friend you have my unlimited confidence and warmest thanks; and I am certain that I write the sentiments of both Bagguley and Drummond, as well as my own. Not unto Joseph! not unto Joseph ! be the glory of our conviction, but to those only who were packed and nominated for the express purpose, and over whom you had no control. If, indeed you had, in any one instance, acted towards us as that high morality man, John Edward Taylor, of Manchester, did, amongst the Concentrics, at Liverpool, it would have been another matter; (more of this anon) but your conduct throughout the whole business, ever since our imprisonment, has been uniformly that of the real, hearty and enlightened friend…’1
1. Black Dwarf, June 2, 1819.
1819, May 22
Lloyd visited Hobhouse in London to discuss expenses for the prosecution. (this coincides closely with the time that Hunt delivered the Stockport petition to Sidmouth.)
‘Lloyd’s most respectful compliments to Mr Hobhouse and leaves for his perusal and directions the bills, with the papers relating to them, as directed by Mr Hobhouse’s note; and he will do himself the honor of calling at the office on Monday to know Mr Hobhouse’s further plans and when to call again for the papers.
13 Arundel St Strand 22 May 1819’1
1. HO 42/187
1819, May 29
Letter from Hunt to Sidmouth dated May 29th, 1819.
When I delivered the Manchester remonstrance and the Stockport petition into your Lordship’s hands to be presented to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, you, with your accustomed politeness, assured me that you would read it over, and unless it contained any thing improper you would deliver it to your royal master… I have now received a letter, signed “H. Hobhouse,” informing me that your Lordship declines presenting to his royal highness the Prince Regent the remonstrance and the petition of the people of Manchester and Stockport, without assigning and reason whatever… Your Lordship will therefore, please to return to me the petition and remonstrance, that I may endeavour to find some other means of making the prayers and complaints of the suffering people of Lancashire and Cheshire known to his royal highness the Prince Regent.’1
1. The Black Dwarf, June 2, 1819.
1819, 30 May
On Sunday the 30th May, 1819, Two sermons will be preached in the Windmill Rooms, by the Rev J. Harrison; and collections made for the relief of the families of the cotton spinners now confined in Chester Castle.
Service to begin at two oçlock, and at six in the evening – Morning service as usual.
N.B. A select committee will be appointed to superintend the application of the money, according to the necessities of the spinners and their families.1
1. Manchester Observer, 29 May, 1819.
1819, Jun 1
Letter from Harrison to Bagguley dated 1 June, 1819.
‘Dear Sir the intelligence brought us last week by our friends who visited you is in many respects gratifying though we cannot help expressing our grief that your confinement is more close than it ought to be, on account of false reports. I am confident of this that were the reformers of Stockport inclined to release you it would require at least 12 months to prepare for such an undertaking. In America the people have the national arms at their own command to protect their rights and liberties, but it is not so in England Nay the English are forbidden to possess arms unless they possess property to a certain amount. Therefore you may sleep peaceably in your beds without fear of the castle being battered down about your ears. The above mentioned report is probably a trick of your old friend Mr Lloyd with a view to make your imprisonment as irksome as possible but I hope your worthy penetrating and generous hearted govenor will see this such flimsy stuff and act accordingly. It must appear to him as ridiculous as to talk of three obscure individuals utterly destitute of the means endevouring to overthrow the mighty Government of Great Britain. Were our minds never so well disposed to deliver you we are destitute of the power therefore unless the Government tumbles down and breaks to pieces by its own weight you may rest contented till time comes and throws open your prison doors – I suppose you have heard enough of our agitation relative to joining the Union almost all operations have been suspended since the assizes on that account but the new machinery was put into the mill last night, the sail cloths are again spread – the wind blows steadily from the west, and the work seems likely to go on pleasantly. The scribbling part of the machinery has not been replaced by new and as the old treasury box is not impaired by use it is associated with the new machinery you may expect to hear no more of discords and divisions for I hope the union friends will be steady to their post and let us alone and that we shall endeavour to give no offence to any one.
I remit you the usual sum of two pounds which sum you may expect to receive three times every month if the times grow no worse – There is no appearance of mending yet as tradesmen keep breaking every day – Hindley and Bradshaw failed yesterday and I have to inform you of the death of old friend of yours (Robert Harrison of Cheadle) he went last Friday to Manchester to celebrate the birthday of Mr Pitt. “Tis probable that he took too much for as he was coming down stairs at the Exchange he tumbled over the ballastrades fractured his empty scull and in a few hours entered upon an endless state. I will not rejoice at such calamities but remain your sincere friend. J. Harrison’1
1. HO 42/188
Harrison’s son Joseph discharged from Stockport Sunday School. State of Learning – Writing. Reason for discharge – Another School.1
1. Stockport Sunday School registers, Stockport Heritage Library.
1819, Jun 6
Letter from Bagguley to Harrison dated June 6 1819.
‘My Dear Sir
We have just received the political pamphlets and it appears to me that an important crisis is near at hand – nay so sanguine am I in my expectations that often in imagination I behold the septim tottering, then reassuming its former strength then tottering again, then like the almost extinguished taper, which emits superior radiancy and seems as though it would burst into flame, though in reality its sparkling is only a presage for its destruction, for after which a moment scarcely elapses are it is reduced to nihility – Such appears to me to be the present state of England but when I contemplate the destruction which must inevitably be the ulterior of the present septim: and ask myself where the people will look to for a constitution. Perhaps some will point to Magna Charta and say there is our constitution:- But if such an indefinate scroll, such a piece of unitelligible jargon as that is to be the standard of the Reformers and the guide to Reform; I am afraid a scene of anarchy will yet be witnessed in this country infinitely superior in barbarity to the cold blooded merciless of poor unfortunate Ireland.
To prevent such scenes ought to be at least attempted: But where is the rallying point where the declaration of rights, who is to fix the one or draw out the other, do not suppose a Cobbett or a Cartright will do either! It is the people and the people only are to effect this without which the scenes before mentioned must and will occur – Now Sir as a matter of preparation let corresponding societies be established all over the Kingdom, the result of which will be a national union: such societies will inform us of our strength and in the time of need we shall know where to look for assistance: and in the hour of danger for a friendly asylum. Again Sir it is absolutely necessary to the cause of freedom that an end be put to the spirit of faction, for where faction prevails: power and stability are strangers; has it not been the primary object of our enemies to vilify the Reformers and callumniate their leaders for an other purpose but divide in order to conquer, witness the wretch the soulless truthless wretch who attempted through the medium of the Black Dwarf to wound your character: but my friend heed not the darts of callumny no not even when barbed with falsehood, for to a mind possessing conscious rectitude they pass unnoticed like the playful zephyrs. – You have been my friend and I know you have not been my enemy and though the whole world forsake you I shall ever remain a sincere a grateful but a poor unfortunate friend Why does not R.S. avow himself, why sculk in secret, why remain behind the scenes, let him come forth and though a prisoner I will meet and rebut his false and groundless charges, whoever this R.S. is I accuse him of unmanly cowardice and premeditated falsehood, and if he thinks proper to answer these charges he will find a strenuous friend to the designing Mr Harrison in the person of your obediant Humble Servant John Bagguley
P.S. Received your letter and 2 pounds shall send a packet of letters in a few days excuse inaccuracies have not time to look it over.’1
1. HO 42/188
1819, Jun 7
Letter from Chippendale to Sidmouth reporting on the Meeting at Oldham on June 6.
I consider the following information of sufficient importance to be transmitted directly to your Lordship without being comminicated in the first instance to Col Fletcher the usual channel thro’ which my information & [illegible] reaches the Office under your Lordship’s direction.
Yesterday a Meeting of Reform Delegates was held in the Union Rooms in this town which was attended by Deputies from a considerable distance
round. Amongst many of the Places the names of which I was unable to learn were the following [illegible] Leeds, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Halifax, Elland, Ripponden, Mixenden, Rochdale, Bury, Haslingden, Blackburn, Bolton, Chowbent, Manchester, Royton, Middleton, Ashton under line, Saddleworth, New Mills in Derbyshire, Stockport, Macclesfield etc.
Amongst the leading Men and Speakers the following were the most conspicuous – viz John Knight of Manchester who was in the Chair, Harrison the Rev’d from Stockport, Cheetham, from the same Place, Fitton from Royton, Haigh & [illegible] of this Place etc.
The [illegible] first and principal Subject for Consideration and discussion was a general Rising which they entered upon without the smallest [illegible] and ventured to debate with open Doors. It appeared that many of the Delegates particularly that from Leeds and others from a Distance [illegible] in the full Expectation of finding this Part of the Country completely ready and were excessively disappointed when [illegible] this present impulse from the inflammatory [illegible] that are circulated with so much Industry amongst the working Class [illegible] Sherwin, the Black Dwarf etc. Unless some check be imposed upon them it is to be [illegible] that the [illegible] of 1817 will again be renewed and with [illegible] exasperation in the minds of the Disaffected –
I have the honour to be
Your Lordships most [illegible]
To The [illegible] Viscount
Secretary of State
1819, Jun 9
‘Drummond to his Father 9 June 1819 –
Says he is sorry he suspects Harrison whom he defends as honest disinterested and upright –
Mitchell he does not look upon him as a spy – but he is sure he is no patriot – Self aggrandisement is his object – He is bold ambitious & presuming & will have the lead or will create disunion (and he laments disunion) which he ascribes to Mitchells conduct.
He accounts for Harrison not being indicted with them – He had nearly finished his address when the witnesses for the prosecution arrived at the meeting – Livesey had said he did not pay any attention to the speeches of any but the 3 from which Drummond concludes that LLoyd was determined to have those 3 punished right or wrong and thereby revenge himself (as he had vowed) for having exposed his villainous attempt on our lives at a former meeting.
He concludes after repeating a compliment to Harrison – “Do not fear I shall survive the venom of despotism and sting the tyrants in their turn – It is not imprisonment that can deter me” etc.’
1819, Jun 14
Meeting at Hurst near Ashton-under-lyne at 1.00PM.
From 12-15,000 people assembled. Rev Joseph Harrison chairman read the requisition. Joseph Johnson who was unable to attend sent an address which was read by Harrison. Wright Smith, John Thacker Saxton and Dr. Healy were speakers.
‘…The Rev. Joseph Harrison was called to the chair, who after reading the requisition for the meeting, opened the business by apologizing for the unprepared state in which he was to perform the important task which had devolved upon him. He dwelt with energy on the present distresses of the country, and the necessity of obtaining redress for all grievances. The time had now arrived when misguided opinions were about to be revised, and acted upon in a shape that must ultimately render them triumphant over despotism. The hard earnings of the industrious, wrung from the sweat of their brows, had hitherto pampered the idle and the indolent; and the very panders of office, with morality on their lips and blasphemy in their hearts, with whips in their right hands and scorpions in their left, were the first to treat with contempt the supplications of a brave and long-suffering people. He concluded with the most pathetic appeal upon the deplorable condition of the labouring poor, and their half-starved and famishing progeny, and exhorted to the people to the preservation of peace and good order…. Mr. Wright Smith then addressed the meeting, and expressed a strong hope that the borough tyrants would soon hear their infamy proclaimed even in their own tabernacle…’1
The fifth resolution highlighted the government’s wasteful expenditure with, ‘22,000l. in presents for snuff-boxes, to individuals basking in riches from the robbery of millions…The assigning of a yearly stipend of 10,000l. per ann. to the Duke of York, (though already possessed of the enormous sum of 40,000l. a year) for performing the least of all paternal duties, namely to see an insane father once a month…’2
[Note: Wright Smith was later injured at Peterloo. He was possibly the future father-in-law of Betsey Harrison who married William Smith in 1841. The marriage certificate shows the groom’s father as Wright Smith.]
1. The Times, June 22, 1819. 2. Ibid.
The following is an excerpt of Harrison’s speech from the Ashton (Hurst) Reform Meeting. It shows that Harrison was at first critical of Hunt but changed his opinion after meeting him in January, 1819.
‘…The Chairman [Harrison] then read the resolution of thanks to Mr. Hunt, which he accompanied with a very warm eulogium upon the character of that respected individual, – a Gentleman, he said, who was more perhaps the object of the solicitude and regard of the nation, than any other subject in the British dominions – a gentleman, whose private character had been assailed by both town and country newspapers, emanating from the factions of both Whig and Tory – Not satisfied with this, Mr. Hunt had been compelled to make great sacrifices even in his fortune – in fact, he had suffered every way, that the engines of despotism were capable of devising. – indeed, the torrents of abuse had poured so unsparingly upon his devoted head, that in numerous instances they had staggered some of the best patriots of the age; and he himself, was at one period, at a loss what to think of him; but he thanked God, the veil had been taken off, and he had appeared amongst the friends of liberty in Lancashire, in all the semblence of unsophisticated purity. He was, he conceived, most deservedly entitled to their very warmest thanks. He commented in very warm terms, upon the treatment Mr. Hunt experienced at the Manchester Theatre, by dandy officers, etc. and concluded with the last verses of Bamford’s poem on the occasion:-
But, true to Dandy stile and trim,
They risked neither life nor limb;
O! it had cheered me,
To see our gallant gang so stout,
At clog and cudgel have a bout;
So fast, so firm, amid the rout,
For HUNT AND LIBERTY.
O! it had been well worth one’s while
To travel many a weary mile,
Midst cold, and wind, and rain;
But come, my lads, some other day
We’ll pin them, ere they sneek away,
And they shall either play or pay
When HUNT returns again.’1
1. Manchester Observer, 19 June, 1819.
1819, Jun 14
Excerpt of Harrison’s speech at Ashton Meeting, 14 June, 1819.
‘…Mr Wooler is certainly the most disinterested political writer that England possesses, and his writings are calculated above all others to enlighten the more learned part of society. He writes in a higher style than Mr. Cobbett, and therefore not so easily comprehended by the illiterate. He possesses a very extensive mind, and is the best satyrist that ever handled a pen. Mr Cobbett and he have jarred a little, but the little abuse which Mr. Cobbett has sent him across the Atlantic, he has been wise enough to put in his pocket, or throw it into the fire rather than return it, which indicates that if Mr. Cobbett returns while Mr. Wooler lives, they will shake hands and be friends. It is certainly the aim of the Boroughmongers to divide (and keep divided) the friends of freedom; you will hear a thousand lies, but believe not every report; your leaders may disagree in little personal matters, but they will be one in the general cause, instance the case of myself, Mr. Saxton, and others, this day. (Loud Cheering.)
On the Address of praise to Mr. Carlile, the Chairman said, Gentlemen, you may think it strange that I as a Minister of the Gospel, should bring forward this motion, but my sentiment is, that reason ought to be opposed to reason. If Mr. Paine’s opinions, as published in the age of reason, are errorneous, let them be overthrown by reason, and truth, for it would be unfair to attack the publisher with prosecutions, fines, and imprisonments, as it would be to attack this unarmed, and peaceable meeting, with a large body of armed men…‘1
1. Wardles Manchester Observer, June 19, 1819.
1819, Jun 15
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse Under Secretary of State dated 15 June, 1819.
‘Sir You would be apprised of the meeting which took place at Ashton underline yesterday for making a new Government and you will have received particulars of what took place there from the Reverend Mr Chetwode and others – Harrison the preacher from this town attended and was a principal actor – The Manchester Herald of this day observes upon the advertisement convening the meeting…’1
1. HO 42/188
1819, Jun 15
Letter from Harrison to Bagguley dated 15 June, 1819.
‘My Dear Friend I received Mr Drummond’s letter this morning & as the Reverend John Harrison Minister in the New Connection is returning to Chester tomorrow morning I take the opportunity of sending these few lines & five pounds by him. I did not pay the postage of last weeks letter – being induced from circumstances to send it to Manchester in a packet of letters to a friend who forwarded it to the post – I have matter before me for a very long letter but you must be content with a very short one as I have not time to write much – You understand now that there are two Manchester Observers – You may be favoured with them both if you choose but if only one you will let us know which you prefer. I directed Mr. Wardle to send you his last Sunday, suppose the old one is continued to you – Our meeting at Ashton yesterday was very peaceable and numerous – many idle threats were afloat previous to its commencement, but the aristocrats never attempted to pollute the Cap of Liberty. – You know my sentiment relative to the cause of reform is, that it is all down hill work now. You may have a few more incarcerated companions but don’t let that thought disturb your minds; for if the object is not worth suffering for; it is worth nothing – The sweet anticipations of the enjoyment of our rights and liberties, make us almost forget our sufferings and privations & wish you may have still more abundant cause to forget yours – Excuse haste, it is a busy week – give my love to our brethren and companions in tribulation and I remain your sincere friend Joseph Harrison
P.S. Inform Mr Drummond that the words mentioned in his excellent letter & attributed to him are new to me, & as every thing of that kind is either dead or dying – we have nothing to do but help it away and bury it – for I can say in reference to you all, that the duly variation which I have felt in my friendship is, an increased attachment to you and devotedness to the great cause in which we are engaged.
NB I think I did not mention the death of Mr. Washington in my last post – He was
[Joseph Washington born 1791, buried Stockport 14/6/1819]
1. HO 42/188
[Note: The Rev. John Harrison mentioned was most likely from the Methodist New Connexion Chapel at Trinity-Street, Chester. There is a sermon advertised by him in the March 31, 1820 edition of the Chester, Cheshire and North Wales Advertiser with proceeds going to the Sunday School.]
1819, Jun 15
Letter from Norris to Lord Sidmouth dated 15 June, 1819.
‘The number at the Ashton meeting yesterday from all I hear were about 3000 & one third of them from Stockport & the language highly inflammatory – Harrison told them that their duty was what his friends in Chester Castle had before told them at Stockport – they had with them the cap of liberty & on his stating that the Rector (the Rev. W. Chetwode) had offered 50 pounds for it the crowd to the sum of near 1000 persons held up very large bludgeons & declared they would defend it with their lives…’1
1. HO 42/188
1819, Jun 17
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse Under Secretary of State dated 17 June, 1819.
‘Sir I have had some of the Manchester Gentleman with me today about the intended meeting there wishing advice as to whether they must take the Cap of Liberty when hoisted.
I merely observed that we should do so without the assistance of constables or military – both forces, however, would be ready if it occasioned any serious disturbance – I have handed one of the accountrments of the Stockport meeting to Mr. Prescot, who will forward it to you or my Lord Sidmouth –
The magistrates will be upon the alert I trust – The object of the meeting at Manchester is to acquaint the persons who remonstrate that Lord Sidmouth would not present the remonstrance and at Stockport Mr. Harrison has to explain that his petition is likewise rejected – for “forming a national union” – for “deciding whether they shall submit to additional taxes, or the borough monger usurpers shall submit to a Radical Reform.”‘1
1. HO 42/188
1819, Jun 18
Letter from John Johnston to Harrison dated 18 June, 1819.
‘Dear Friend I duly received yours – per your namesake, inclosing substance and shadow, to the usual amount of two pounds. My friends Bagguley and Drummond are in the same mind with me in preferring Wardles Observer. – It is truly pleasing to hear of such public meetings, as are taking place in various parts of the country upon the great subject of liberty and as the cause of freedom is at length become all down hill work, I would say roll on as fast as you can my Brave Countrymen and you will soon get the bottom. You have much rubbish to bury hasten them to roll it into the ocean! Wash yourselves from such filth and corruption – and come up out of the water – baptized, pure!! Enjoy the mighty blessing! and eternally sing, Liberty! Liberty!
Weavers of Carlisle! Will ye patiently submit to perish for want of food? Whilst Vanistart, Castlereagh etc. demand millions more of your countrymans cash in taxes to give to our already overgorged rulers & dependants!!! Weavers of Cheshire! of Lancashire and Yorkshire – Potters of Staffordshire! Hosts of half famished workmen in every part of the Kingdom!! Will you all?! Will any any of you? Even hear of more taxes being raised – in what ought to be Commons House, whilst you and your families cannot by the labour obtain half the necessaries of life! – and not spontaneously resolve rather to perish by the swords of dandy cavalry!! or Waterloo dragoons!!! than submit – to any fresh burden of taxation at the civil hands of your headless & rapacious rulers? God forbid!! Methinks had I been at the elbow of Nick and the Triangle – when the first proposed and the second supported – the demand for 3,000,000 from the already generously distressed people of England. – I would have aimed a deadly blow at both – and instantly proclaimed the people absolved – from their allegiance – towards their useless Royalty! and seperate from & independant of Parliament. – Lord and God of heavenly powers! how long! will thou suffer these inhuman monsters to reign over us? Gird thy sword on thy thigh! Great Lord of Hosts! go forth with us, and lead us on to conquest and to glory! Amen! Oh – My full heart Amen!!
Oh for emancipation from my dungeon only for a short season – to lead a hand in destroying the oppressors of my country and then shut me up for ever! Vain wish!
My country has my heart but my personal services all impossibly go on and prosper my oppressed and insulted countrymen, remember that our enemies have not stood upon trifles with you! Take this one lesson from them and be no ye ever scrupulous in your turn.
Destroy them! I say Destroy them! or they will yet more effectually destroy you! But is therefore – for ever out of their power again to tyranise over you or yours. Spare them not! I charge you – as you regard yourselves, your children and your childrens children!!!
By your love of country! By your hatred of oppression! By your hope of plenty! By your fear of starvation! I conjure you in the sacred name of liberty! Spare not your country’s foes!!! – Let state dungeons be filled! Let bread and water be our lot! Welcome all! in the struggle for liberty! and come at length thou heavenly guest no never after leave us.
Now my kind friend what will you think of me in this giving way to the strong feelings – and ardent desires of my heart I cannot tell – Probably you will on your cool but determined mind – set me down mad! be it as – yet my heart prompts me to write on – and were it not for shame of giving you so much trouble in making it out I believe I should scrawl, two sheets full instead of one. I will however for the present bid you adieu – hoping to have a full and satisfactory account of the Ashton Meeting, in the next Observer. Such am Dear Friend Yours with esteem John Johnston.
P.S. You will surely think this is rubbish of paper – to send to you but it such as Mr Wroe thought fit – to forward to us – along with the Dwarfs etc. We received two quires of it and one hundred pens.’1
1. HO 42/188.
1819, Jun 24
Letter from Wolseley to Oldham (Postmaster of Stockport) dated 24 June, 1819.
Sir, in reply to your letter of 30th June received yesterday I beg to say that no letters belonging to any persons whatsoever have been either detained or opened in this office. Neither has anyone ever presumed, directly or indirectly required of me so gross a breach of my duty. I am glad to say that I have the honour to be in a service where such base compliances never are required R Oldham.’1
[ But the letters were being opened, not by the Postmaster it is true, but by a “confidential officer”]
1. HO 42/189.
1819, Jun 26
Warrant request to open letters of Joseph Harrison, Knight, Mann, and Willan.
‘To J Freeling Esq., Private Dear Sir I enclose Lord Sidmouth’s warrant for opening the letters of John Knight the Chief Demagogue of Manchester, of Joseph Harrison who fills the same station at Stockport and of Mann and Willan who are mentioned in Mr. Temple’s letter which you yesterday placed in my hands. It is Lord Sidmouth’s wish that this warrant should only be acted on by your confidential officer who will cause all innocent letters to be delivered and will exercise his discretion with regard to others it being Lord Sidmouth’s wish to posses a copy of all material passages [papers] but not to retain the original letters unless it shall appear likely to be useful as evidence against the author. Believe me dear sir for H Hobhouse.’1
1. P. R.O. HO 79/3.
1819, Jun 26
Letter from Ethelston to Sidmouth dated 26 June, 1819.
‘… I am also informed that 2 delegates from Ireland are expected at the Stockport meeting on Monday next, that a Mr. Harrison an unitarian preacher in Stockport is extremely active in giving lessons to the different delegates & in correspondence with Hunt Wooler & others…’1
1. HO 42/188.
1819, Jun 27
Sir Charles Wolseley arrived at Stockport.
‘Sir Charles Wolseley reached Stockport on the Sunday evening previous to the day of Meeting, accompanied by some friends from his immediate neighborhood. On their arrival they repaired to that very excellent establishment, “The Stockport Union, for the promotion of human happiness,” from whence had emanated the requisition for the calling of the Meeting and Sir Charles and his friends experienced an unexpected gratification in witnessing the steady organization of the institution.’1
1. The Black Dwarf, July 27, 1819.
1819, Jun 28
Meeting at Sandy Brow Stockport. (composite of reports.)
Prior to the meeting many people at a public house talked of Sir Charles Wolseley and wished that the cavalry would come for they were prepared for them that day.
The proceedings commenced at one o’clock.
Sir Charles walked up to the meeting by the direct road up John Street, Lewis was arm in arm with him.
Crowd estimates ranged from 5,000 to upwards of 20,000.
‘[Nadin’s] gang was there, but the captain had “married a wife and could not come,” – What a pity!!! Numbers of persons repairing to the Meeting had been attacked separately by posses of privileged marauders, and their bundles searched…under the pretence of searching for Pikes.’
Mr Knight requested the patience of the people until the arrival on the hustings of Sir Charles Wolseley. Whilst waiting Harrison read a letter from Bagguley, addressed to the meeting, dated 24 June, Chester Castle. The letter argued that the Deity created man for happiness and that when a government was guilty of destroying or diminishing the happiness of the people, such government acted in direct opposition to the will of Heaven, and rebellion against it was an imperative duty!
Constable Collier from Manchester, who had been one of the men searching individuals on the road from Manchester to Stockport was pointed out by some bystanders calling out, ‘that is Nadin’s runner from Manchester’, and was clubbed over the head. The assailant was in the act of repeating the blow when the bystanders told him it was unnecessary as the man was already dead. Collier was carried off the ground unconscious and medical aid was obtained. On recovering he found himself in a house and a woman was washing his head. Collier testified later that he did not search or molest any of the people.
Meantime, Sir Charles Wolseley, a British Baronet, having heard that certain ‘ill disposed persons had conspired to interrupt the meeting by creating disturbances’ with the intent of placing the blame on the reformers, wrote to Rev. Charles Prescott, the principal magistrate of Stockport, informing him of their designs and to provide the meeting with an adequate attendance of the civil power to keep order and tranquility.
‘Sir Charles Wolseley presents his compliments to the Rev. Mr Prescott, and begs to inform him, that being in the town of Stockport with the intention of attending the Meeting that is to take place this day on Sandy Brow, and it having been rumoured, that there is an intention on the part of some ill disposed individuals to endeavour to create a riot, he hopes Mr. Prescott, as one of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, will on this information, take those measures best calculated to frustrate such evil designs. Stockport, June 28, 1819.’
‘The deputation found the Rev. Gentlemen surrounded by a host of peace officers; and after he looked at their direction – then at the deputation, again at the letter – after looking twice for the time of the day – and feeling three times for his pocket handkerchief – the dreadful seal was broken – “Sir Charles Wolseley – ah!” said he, and proceeded to read.’
Prescott assured he could render no other assistance other than sending an armed force. Fitton remonstrated against a military presence and assured Prescott that ‘if he would attend in his own person, every respect due to his situation would be preserved.’
Prescott said, ‘No, no…fine talking, when stones and sticks are flying, to think that it is in the power of two or three individuals to stop the torrent.’
Prescott’s son pleaded with his father not to place himself in the midst of such an assembly, to which he acceded and politely wished ‘good morning’ to the deputation.
Upon the arrival of Wolseley, Harrison shook hands with him and proposed Sir Charles be requested to preside as Chairman which was received with a continued shout of ‘Wolseley forever’.
The main speakers were Joseph Johnson, Lewis, Fitton, Ogden, Harrison, Willan of Dewsbury etc. Others on the hustings were Goodman, Wroe and the Stockport Union Committee.
Wolseley proclaimed ‘I am now standing on Sandy Brow, and Sandy Brow may be most justly stiled [sic] the Land of Liberty (immense applause). I cannot describe the sensations of pleasure which I experience at meeting with my brave countrymen on the very spot where they so gallantly defeated the base, hireling fools of fast-perishing despotism; the spot, where at your last meeting, you obtained a noble victory over your direct enemies (applause).’
He trusted ‘Sandy Brow would be more famed in history than the field of Waterloo.’
The crowd then called out for the Cap of Liberty.
‘If you wish for the Cap of Liberty, Gentlemen, it shall be hoisted….The Cap, gentlemen is now gone for and will be here in a few minutes.’
Wolseley then stated that a letter of invitation to attend the meeting had been sent a week earlier but he had never received it. ‘a palpable fact that there has been foul play somewhere. Our enemies are here again defeated.’
Wolseley then spoke of his hate for the spies that came to the meetings to take notes, ‘I cannot tell you how much I despise you and your execrable masters. I detest and abominate your Castles and Castlereaghs, your Olivers and your Sidmouths (immense applause).’
‘Mr. Willan, from Dewsbury, one of the Society of Friends, begged to offer his opinion on the propriety of introducing “The Cap of Liberty,” he considered it an article of parade, without any real importance being attached to it, and perhaps on the whole it would be better not to hoist it, (Loud calls for the Cap.) The Cap of Liberty was then hoisted.’
A blue flag was hoisted over the hustings bearing on one side “Annual Parliaments”, “Universal Suffrage” and “Vote by Ballot” on the reverse “No Corn Laws”. The flag was crowned with the Cap of Liberty.
Sir Charles then took off his hat requesting that three hearty cheers might be given to the Cap of Liberty.
Harrison then addressed the meeting and spoke at considerable length in favour of manly remonstrations. He spoke of the practice of petitioning the House of Commons in its present state as ‘absolute folly’.
‘It is a grand principle that a whole nation cannot err; and if there be a thousand walls between us and our prince, we will blow them down either to heaven or hell, but we will have them down (great applause). And let us see what sort of animal sits upon the throne. Is it a man? … We are ground down to the very dregs of misery, and yet, we are denied access to the throne, upon which we are taught to look for relief. (this speech was received with the greatest applause).’
Harrison in the course of his speech said ‘that those who embarked in the cause of reform must hold their lives as he held his hat (it was in his hand): nay, they must not be afraid to let it go (here he threw it among the people): it was not worth 7s. In the cause of freedom.’ When his hat was returned he said, ‘You see my friends we shall get our lives again!’
Wolseley stated that ‘his political career commenced in France; that he was one of those who mounted the ramparts of the Bastille at the commencement of the revolution in that country; and if he did that for France, he should never shrink from attacking the Bastilles of his own Country.’
‘I was at the taking of the Bastille; and heavens know how gladly I would assist in assailing the Bastilles of England.’
The meeting was dissolved at about five o’clock.
After the meeting the reformers walked in procession to the Union Rooms where they sat down to a dinner.
1. The Times, July 1,6 1819; Wardles Manchester Observer, July 3, 1819; The Black Dwarf, July 27, 1819; The Morning Chronicle, Apr 12, 1820.
1819, Jun 30
Letter from Wolseley to Postmaster of Stockport dated 30 June, 1819.
‘Sir Charles Wolseley begs leave to inform the Postmaster of Stockport that he much suspects that a letter that was written by the Rev. Mr. Harrison and delivered into his office on the 14 of June, before witnesses – directed to Sir Charles Wolseley, & only
arrived to day – has been knowingly delayed in his office – To serve the purpose of some corrupt men in Stockport – Sir Charles begs to say however, that he would advise for the future that no such delays take place – for he has taken such measures as will ensure him the proof – Whenever Sir Charles for the future shall think proper to write to Stockport – He means to seal such letter with his own arms – which cannot be counterfeited – and if broken open is felony – He thinks proper to say thus much as Mr. Harrison told him a letter had arrived a day or two ago – that had been broken open by some one – and it might as well have been his or any bodies elses.’1
1. HO 42/189.
1819, Jun 30
Letter from Joseph Harrison to Bagguley dated 30 June, 1819.
‘My Dear Friend,
I should have wrote yesterday, but there is so much hurry and bustle attends a public meeting, that one is some time before there is an opportunity of engaging in private business, but trust you will have the letter as soon as if it had come yesterday, only posting them at Manchester often prevents the postage being paid.
Our meeting on Monday was by far the most numerous; we had the honor of Sir Charles Wolseley for Chairman, Mr. Lewis of Coventry was with him, and Mr. Goodman from Birmingham, or Warwick, I forget which —
The Resolutions were to the same effect as those at Ashton, but rather stronger, and the appeal to the nation the best that has ever been made. – One flag “Universal Suffrage” “Annual Parliaments” “Election by Ballot” and the other side “No Corn Laws,” over which was placed the Cap of Liberty. — The principal speakers, Mr. Lewis, Fitton, Knight, Saxton, Self, two Sailors, and one Soldier. — Great threatenings had been made to take the Cap, and many loyal souls had vowed and sworn to bear it off in triumph — but no black faces, no beesoms, no dandies, no military, attempted to put the resolution in force. — We met peaceably, staid peaceably, and peaceably departed. Upwards of 200 sat down to dinner in the Union Rooms; Sir Charles honoured us with his company till nearly 9 oçlock, and then amidst the cheers of ten thousand, rode off with Mr. Johnson, to Manchester; Messrs Goodman and Lewis accompanied him.
You will have a full account in the paper of Saturday next. — I am afraid Wardle will not be able to carry on; he but printed 50 last week, owing to the stamps not being arrived, which will give him such a check, and he will not easily recover, and therefore perhaps it may be as well at present to continue the paper you have. It is the wish of your friends that you would now and then furnish Wooler with an article direct, and that you would publish the evidence taken in your favour, at least some of it may be easily introduced into a letter to Mr. Wooler, or Sherwin, as the Affidavits of the Witnesses.
As soon as you have leisure, I wish you to write a political dialogue betwixt Bagguley, Drummond and Johnston. — This method of writing always arrests the attention, and sells well. — It will be the means of increasing the funds, as many would buy a paper that would not give a penny. — The Weavers are the best givers, but alas, they have nothing to give now; as the cause of reform advances, it becomes more and more circumscribed, therefore the greatest exertions must be made to obtain a sufficient support for those in a state of confinement.
Enclosed as usual Two Pounds.
I remain your sincere Friend,
N.B. Had not time to write more at present.’1
1. Chester Chronicle and Cheshire and North Wales General Advertiser, April 14, 1820.
1819, Jun 30
Letter from Dr. James Watson (London) to Revd. Joseph Harrison (Stockport) dated 30 June 1819.
I am desired by the Committee for conducting a subscription to defray the expences incurred by that valuable friend of the people, H. Hunt Esq. to inclose to you the resolutions entered into for raising a fund to indemnify that gentleman for the pecuniary sacrifices he has made in advocating the great cause of freedom, and to request the favor of your influence in furtherance of the subscription in your part of the country.
I am Sir, with great respect your obedient servant J. Watson.’1.
[Letter included Watson’s printed resolutions.]
1. HO 42/190.
Dr. James Watson
1819, Jun 30
Letter from Henry Hobhouse (Under Secretary of State) to John Lloyd, Stockport.
‘…Harrison’s letters clearly show that the spirits of the disaffected are very elate and I fear that everything which has since passed is rather calculated to raise them. If you wish to have the letters again you shall have them….What is the cause that your peace officers at Stockport were so few? I think the measure suggested in your separate letter is rather to be discouraged because Parliament is so near rising.’1
Wolseley wrote a letter to the postmaster at Bridport, complaining of some delay that took place in the delivery of a letter addressed to Harrison.2
1. P. R.O. HO 79/3. 2. The Morning Chronicle, Apr 12, 1820.
1819, Jul 3
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse dated 3 July, 1819.
‘Sir In reply to the letter of the 30th ult. you did me the honor to write & ask the cause why the peace officers were so few? I can only account for it in a manner that is not only disgraceful to the town but those who have accepted the Office of special constables individually and I will say it is fear –
Those not possessed of personal courage are afraid of their profits as “shopkeepers” being affected. They are calculating very erroneously.
I trust you see the Observer papers from Manchester – they this week contain ample evidence of their own shewing – I inclose a note from Mr. Tatton the magistrate in which he expresses a hope that Sir Charles may be called to answer for his conduct – He does not know the difficulty of making public the name of a witness with any advantage – Mr. Tatton called upon me to say that Mr. Broughton meant to lay Sir Charles W’s conduct before the Court of Quarter Sessions at Stafford, & wanted facts to go upon – Sir C has written an independent letter to our Postmaster charging him with opening letters to & from him & of delaying them –
The Postmaster has replied most spiritedly – The Baronet’s letter is such a blackguard product that I would like to have it published. I got Bairn’s speech published in our neighbouring provincial papers, & give circulation to the Liverpool Courier thinking they were calculated to do good.
There are some excellent articles in the Pampleteer – “What is a Revolution?” & the “Equality of the Constitution.” I wish I could get them more generally circulated & read. I wish who I may be allowed to take measures against Sir Charles & Harrison in time; that is, before we get into confusion for we must certainly have to combat with arms if not with opinions – I trust I shall have some evidence in the course of the evening about a manufacturer of pikes.
I want to spring up the better people to Loyal Associations. Our Wellington Club will lead the way.
I have a copy of Capt. Chippendale’s report.
I have the honor to be sir
Your very obediant humble servant J. Lloyd.’1
1. HO 42/189
1819, Jul 3
Letter from Byng (Pontefract) dated 3 July, 1819.
‘My Dear Sir –
I write for the satisfaction of Lord Sidmouth to acquaint you that I returned here yesterday, and that I heard by todays post from X.Y. that Sir Charles Wolseley had attended and taken the Chair at the Stockport Meeting last Monday – I can not but consider such communication of great importance, as I am fearful the countenance of a person of his consequence to the object of the meeting as well as to the kind of language held at it may lead to the worst of consequences. With this opinion I have deemed it right to apply to the Quarter Master General & to expedite the movement of one if not of both squandrons of the 15th Hussars destined for the County of Lancashire – and in the exchange of quarters now going on with the Regiments in the district, I will take care not to leave that part of the county without troops.
I send you a letter from Lt. Colonel Dalrymple 15th Hussars who inspected the Oldham Troop of Cavalry, when out for six days duty at Preston. I take haste to Captain Taylor to acquaint the troop of the praise the Lt. Colonel bestows on them – Whether his Lordship may consider it requiring a letter from his office I cannot tell but I think it best to send you the report – The Troop mustered well for their numbers –
Yours sincerely J. Byng’1
1. HO 42/189
1819, Jul 05
Blackburn Reform Meeting. (composite of reports.)
At one o’clock the people began to assemble on an open space of ground usually occupied in exercising the horses of a troop of Hussars. At two o’clock Mr John Knight of Manchester was called to the chair.
Crowd estimates were from 2,000 – 30,000, many of whom were women and children. The principal speakers were Joseph Harrison, John Knight of Manchester, J. T. Saxton of Manchester. Wroe (publisher of the Manchester Observer), J. Mitchell of Liverpool, William Fitton of Royton, Nathan Broadhurst of Manchester. From Blackburn- Latus (a chair maker), Dewhurst (a reed maker) and Austin (shoe maker) of Blackburn.
Knight addressed the meeting, he spoke of the people’s ignorance and apathy in permitting the national debt in the last 64 years to increase from less than 80 million to upwards of 800 million and annual expenditure from less than 10 to upwards of 70 million. He then attributed the drop in wages to the Combination Act which ‘prevents workmen from uniting to resist reductions in their wages—and individual efforts, can only produce the discharge of the individual from employment, and leave him and his family to starve.’ He attributed the rise in prices to the Corn Laws and other restrictions and duties on the importation of agricultural produce.
The meeting was thrown into confusion by an alarm being given that the cavalry were coming. The women and some timid ran in various directions . The alarm was owing to a water engine being drawn hastily down the street at the time when the female reformers were entering to present the Cap. About five or six thousand in number misunderstood the words the ‘Cap of Liberty is coming’ with the ‘Cavalry is coming’. The majority of the meeting stood firm holding up their shilalehs to prepare for an attack. Order was restored and hats, bonnets, shawls and shoes were collected and brought to the hustings and returned to their respective owners at the close of the meeting.
The Committee of the Blackburn Female Reform Society appeared at the entrance to the ground. They were neatly dressed and each wore a green favour in her bonnet or cap. Saxton signified that an opening be made in the crowd to allow the ladies to make their way to the hustings. The ladies assembled the hustings and presented the Chairman with the Cap of Liberty which was immediately hoisted upon a banner and raised to the continual shouts and huzzas of the crowd. ‘LIBERTY or DEATH’ and ‘God bless the women’ was uttered from every mouth. The ladies address was then read and received with great applause. ‘We the Female Reformers, of Blackburn, therefore earnestly entreat you and every man in England, in the most solemn manner, to come forward and join the general union, that by a determined and constitutional resistance to our oppressors, the people may obtain annual parliaments, universal suffrage, and election by ballot, which alone can save us from lingering misery and premature death.’
The Times report was not as flattering as the Radical papers and wrote that a ‘most disgusting scene took place…The public scarcely need be informed, that the females are women well known to be of the most abandoned of their sex.’
Harrison observed ‘he could not say anything in favour of the people carrying arms; he thought they were sufficiently strong to resist all attacks without them…The soldiers, he was well aware, from the highest General to the lowest private, were in favour of their rights; and he had no doubt but, if it was brought to issue, that nine out of ten would join them.’
He told the people that ‘when the merciless hand of arbitary power had been stretched out against them, they had shrunk back like rats in their holes; but as they had made their appearance again on the political stage, he hoped they would demonstrate their resolution and courage by a firm and steady perseverance.’
He also passed a resolution that ‘whenever the Boroughmongers attempt to suspend our rights, laws and liberties, the people should take it as a signal for generally assembling throughout the nation, to defend themselves, and preserve their liberties.’
Harrison said he was fond of two kinds of meetings, ‘the one for the acquirement of his rights and liberties as an Englishman- the other for the salvation of his immortal soul.’
A dispute broke out between Mitchell and Saxton. Mitchell recommended household suffrage as a sufficient extension of the liberty of voting for the acquirement of people’s rights, Saxton interrupted and said that ‘to accept of household suffrage when universal suffrage was our right, would be compounding the basest felony that was ever attempted on a great community.’
Toward the end of the meeting Saxton observed two officers in the Hussars heckling the proceedings. He said ‘it would better become them likewise if they would depart from hence, and “GO HOME AND GET SHAVED”,’ which was received with laughter.
The meeting broke up at six o’clock and the speakers, friends, male and female committees retired to the General Wolfe where they ‘partook in an excellent dinner provided for the occasion.’
1. The Times, July 8, 9, 13, 1819; Wardles Manchester Observer, July 10, 1819; The Manchester Observer, July 24, 1819.
1819, Jul 5
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse dated 5 July, 1819.
‘Sir I cannot forbear to hand to you a copy of a letter Sir Charles Wolseley has sent to our Postmaster Mr. Oldham whose conduct is known to be above suspicion, together with a copy of his reply – and I may make use of the words I have heard from the likes of some of those Reforming “Gentry” –
“Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.”
…In the Observer you would see a letter which has been put in by one Moorhouse I suppose, which has some what disconcerted our worthy Rector whom they call “Noodle” his son – “Doodle” – The High Constable of the Division – “Tom Pudding” & myself by the more honourable or distinguished name or title of “Jack the Giant-Killer…””1
1. HO 42/189.
1819, Jul 5
Circular advertising the Smithfield Meeting.
‘PUBLIC MEETING will be holden in SMITHFIELD MARKET PLACE, on Wednesday the 21st instant, for the purpose of discussing and adopting the best means, and the most prompt and decisive measures, for obtaining a RADICAL REFORM in the Commons House of PARLIAMENT… July 5th, 1819, E. J. BLANDFORD, Sec HENRY HUNT, Esq. invited to the Chair. Sir Charles Wolseley, T. Northmore, Esq., Major Cartwright, Mr. Cobbett, jun., John Gale Jones, Esq., Mr. Wooler, Dr. Watson, Mr. A. Thistlewood, Mr. J. Gast, Mr. Johnstone, Manchester, Mr. Mann, Leeds, Mr. Edmunds, Birmingham, Mr. Marman, Winchester, Mr. Taylor, Norwich.’1
1. Wardles Manchester Observer, July 10, 1819.
1819, Jul 8
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse dated 8 July, 1819.
‘Sir I am sure you will be pleased to find that the Manchester Gentry are forming themselves into loyal associations a measure suggested by me some little time ago – I was with them again on Tuesday, & I hope have prevented an application for permission to arm themselves by pointing out the impolicy of asking for a privilege which could only be granted generally – I hinted that if they, as a police, took patrol duties, they might properly arm themselves & to be answerable to the Chief Constables, to whom they should report themselves & that the Association should go out from time to time entirely under their directions – You will excuse me if I appear to be arrogating the legal province in giving this as my private opinion – I know you will forgive my vanity from your knowledge of my zeal. I expect much good from the example – which I have pretended to there leading men is but secondary to the Wellington Society at Stockport – But you will ask where are they now, or what did they for the honor of the town on the 28th ulto. That shall be answered in some little time – I had a clerk on the ground – The making of pikes is finally certain, but the only evidence I have obtained is from a man of the name ‘N’ who was disturbed by the hammering of a blacksmith in the night – arose at 4 oçlock went to his shop & found him forging a thing like a halbert which he (the blacksmith) cast away on ‘N’ coming in – When the constable went to the spot it was too late –
I see by the papers the grand meeting is for the 21st at Smithfield. Our delegates etc. will be there – This is the event so confidentially reckoned upon by the disaffected here as the commencement of the Revolution – The utmost vigilence shall consequently be exercised in the mean time.
The persons under the warrant for an outrage in the country where they went to reform the people are at present out of the way – but Mr. Harrison has promised to produce them –
Yours very respectfully J. Lloyd’1
1. HO 42/189
1819, Jul 8
Hunt wrote to Edward James Blandford, Committee of 200, accepting invitation to Chair the meeting at Smithfield on July 21st.
‘The Courier, The Times, and other equally corrupt Knaves of the Daily London Press, begin to discover again in a considerable degree of uneasiness at the tranquility with which the great Public Meetings in the North have been conducted. They want Riot and Bloodshed, in order to afford a pretence for their Employers to resort again to Special Commissions, Dungeons, and Hangings. But I have full confidence, the “good sense, moderation, and real Public Spirit of the People,” will continue to disappoint those blood-thirsty men.’1
1. The Bristol Mercury, July 19, 1819.
1819, Jul 12
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse dated 12 July, 1819.
‘Sir I understand Harrison goes to town to day to confer with the Committee of 200 previously to the intended operations.
Inclosed you have a copy of the paper I drew up for the High
Constable to send by the Petty Constables of the different
townships in the Division who met to pay their quarterly pay – They are to procure signatures & to return the list on Friday next – In point of date we precede Manchester – The Stockport list goes on well – Society is unhinged – Men’s minds are in a deplorable state – a very small spark would produce a great blaze I find some trouble to get on as I could wish. The sessions are tomorrow – I am to dine with the Orange Society.
Since writing the above I have been at Manchester, and have dined with the Orange Society in this town I found it had increased & that another lodge has been also much increased to which I have sent my sons to dine – They are loyal & to be depended upon – & have made me an offer to take up arms in the cause of their King & the laws –
They are very busy at the police office in Manchester with the declarations etc. & we shall see the whole published in the papers tomorrow – There are a variety of opinions amongst the inhabitants. Some disapprove of their steps from its indicating an alarm that the Reformers will be pleased with as a making them of consequence – I wish these promoters were as ready to furnish real support as to pledge themselves – I wanted a witness from amongst them; but they have urged an objection which has determined me not to ask favors.
I have the honor to be Sir Your very obediant humble servant J. Lloyd’1
1. HO 42/189
1819, Jul 12
A circular was delivered to the inhabitants of Ward of Farrington signed Robert Waithman, Alderman of the said Ward.
‘Being directed by the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor to return a sufficient number of proper persons, to be sworn as Special Constables for this ward…in consequence of a meeting advertised to be holden within this city on Wednesday, the 21st of July.’1
A similar circular was distributed amongst the inhabitants of Southwark on July 16th.2
1. Caledonian Mercury, July 19, 1819. 2. Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, July 22, 1819.
1819, Jul 12
A Reform Meeting held was held in Birmingham to elect Sir Charles Wolseley as ‘Legislatorial Attorney of the People of Birmingham in Parliament for one year.’
‘A Reform Meeting was held in Birmingham on Monday…the meeting invested the town of Birmingham with the right of sending a Member of Parliament; and without waiting for the Speaker’s writ, or any other old-fashioned process, nominated and elected Sir Charles Wolseley, Bart. to that honour, under the title of “Legislatorial Attorney of the People of Birmingham in Parliament for one year.” Sir Charles can boast a numerous body of electors, as it is said not fewer than 50,000 persons were present.’1
1. Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, July 22, 1819.
1819, Jul 13
At Knutsford Sessions, the Grand Jury found true bills of indictment against Joseph Harrison and Sir Charles Wolseley for the meeting on 28th June at Stockport.
John Thomas Stanley, Bart., foreman, read the charge and said that ‘the banner of rebellion was unfurled, and that, although no act of aggression had yet been committed, yet, as far as words went – so far as the seditious and blasphemous expressions used at the late public meetings went, this country might be said to be in a state of civil war.’1
1. The Times, July 20, 1819.
1819, Jul 14
Letter from Lloyd (Knutsford) to Hobhouse dated 14 July, 1819.
‘Sir I was too late to inform you last mail that a true bill has been found at the present sessions against Sir Charles Wolseley & Joseph (the Reverend) Joseph Harrison for a misdemeanor inciting the people by seditious speeches to insurrection & for conspiring to disturb the public peace etc.
– I first advised with counsel and was prepared to prefer for the words but we all thought that their indictments may still be prepared at the assizes, to which I had intended to have the present indictments removed – But the manner the counsel has taken it up I am obliged to yield to its zeal & to send for Sir Charles & Harrison by bench warrants at once & the officers are now out for them to be brought whilst the Court sits – The Court has been filled with all the magistrates – the Lord Lieutenants present- Sir J. T. Stanley our Chairman & the whole of them have expressed to me their anxiety to put down the spirit that prevails and I yield to their directions in the prosecution – which they wish to continue in the same Court. Declarations etc. are to be published with the names of all present signed by the Lord Lieutenant which no doubt you will get tonight. I have the honor to be your very obediant servant J. Lloyd.’1
1. HO 42/189
1819, Jul 14
Letter from Harrison to John Johnston dated 14 July, 1819.
‘Dear Friend I received Mr. Drummonds very interesting letter yesterday & Mr. Bagguleys last Thursday – which containing an address to the weavers, I rather think they will answer it – The weavers of Stockport have invariably protested against petitioning the legislature of transportation – They are better informed than the Carlile weavers who are sorry that any thing of a political nature has crept into the meetings.
Your last letter was a very warm one, I think written too much in the spirit of revenge. – But there is one thing in your letter calculated to give general satisfaction that if the acknowledgement of money received, – which my other friends your companions in bonds are apt to omit sometimes and when their letters are read it makes some people respect that I have not sent them any money I just give this hint here for the sake of themselves and others in future for I do not know who may be employed as Secretary in the time to come, not that I am declining the office, but I received intelligence from Knutsford yesterday that myself and others are indicted for conspiracy sedition and high treason on account of the last Stockport meeting. But I am conscious that I have not been guilty of either conspiracy, sedition or treason, either in word or deed, but that is no reason why I may not be indicted for any or all of them, but it is a good reason why I should neither fear nor flee. – Therefore if the report be true, they may apprehend me as soon as they please for if more will advocate the cause of reform for fear of imprisonment & death – we and our posterity must sink into the most consummate state of degredation & slavery; If I be thrown into a prison I wish you may have another friend raised up by the divine providence that will be as solicitous to your welfare & comfort as I have been – as to myself it is not worth a thought let Sidmouth do as he pleases, as long as he can, but my wife, my children, my friends –
Neither the principles of christianity nor philosophy are calculated to destroy natural affection – No, – it is vice – it is vice alone that destroys natural affection & the grateful ties of friendship.
I am invited to attend the London meeting this day week – I intend to go if it please God and Lord Sidmouth & if not, I believe they will do very well without me -.
It is not the apprehension of me, or Mr. Knight or Mr. Fitton or Sir Charles, that will arrest the progress of the cause – if it do I am more mistaken in my Countrymen than ever, – Great bodies move slow – we cannot expect that a National cause can be brought to an issue in a few days or a few years – It has taken a many years to bring us down to the state we are in – & we may be brought lower yet – & when we get to the bottom – it will take a many years to rise to our former state – To calculate according to the natural order & common cause of things – It will take more than 60 years ( from the time reform takes place ) to restore this nation to the same state of prosperity it was in 30 years ago. I know the Almighty can produce a great change in a little time – Uphill and down hill are both alike to him – but it is a query with me whether we are to look to miraculous interposition of divine providence as in former times.- Miracles are necessary to confirm new and extraordinary revelations from Heaven, in order to procure credit to them but when general credit is given to such revelations, miracles become unnecessary, miracles are an impulse upon our senses to put reason in motion – reason is in motion on political matters, consequently miraculous interpositions are unneccessary – I could illustrate these ideas from scripture and history but my paper is nearly full therefore I shall conclude by saying that I send you 2 pounds. as usual & remain with best respect to B & D. Your sincere friend Joseph Harrison
You will be anxious to hear something concerning brother Jump – He and two others went to Marple on the 4th inst & having taken rather too much beer with a friend, were noisy on their return home. – A certain chapel warden attempted to take them into custody from whom they broke loose – They were waited indicted for an assault & rescue & for speaking against His Majesty’s Ministers – They are bound over to the Assizes but it is not likely there will be any prosecution -‘1
1. HO 42/189.
1819, Jul 15
Letter from Lloyd (Knutsford) to Hobhouse dated 15 July, 1819.
‘Sir The officer brought in Sir Charles Wolseley, (accompanied by old Major Cartright) this morning – He found him at Wolseley Hall with the Major and Wooler who had been attending the meeting at Birmingham wherein Sir Charles told the officer the people to the number of 50,000 assembled had elected him their representative to attend at congress in London – Soon after his arrival he was brought up to plead & upon the indictment being read he pleaded not guilty – The Court required him to enter into a recognisance in 500 pounds & to find 2 sureties in this county to be bound in 250 pounds each – He advised with Mr. Hill the counsel, being the only one in Court disengaged & it was well there was one – Sir Charles was then committed to the custody of the keeper of Chester Castle (then attending) till he should procure the bail – He sent express to Stockport & the Court adjourned at 4 o’clock for 10 in the morning – It is now 7 and I understand some persons are come in but they have not reported themselves to me the prosecutor, for bail – The Court ordered that I should have notice & time to enquire into their sufficiency and directed me to wait here till the morning – If anything further transpires before the mail goes out, I will add a postscript or give you another letter.
I send herewith copies of the last letter to J.B. from Chester – I have shown them to Mr. Trafford and the Court but have not kept copies – They are curious productions.
I have the honor to be Sir your very obediant humble servant J. Lloyd.’1
1. HO 42/189
Note: Letter mentioned was fom Harrison to Bagguley at Chester Castle dated 30 June.
1819, Jul 17
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse Under Secretary of State
dated 17 July, 1819.
‘Sir The bail arrived after the mail time at Knutsford. John Lawton of Stockport grocer and Edward Sanderson of the same place clogger & shoemaker the latter of whom I know to be sufficiently substantial – the other I did not so well know & I examined him & was satisfied – They took chaise accompanied by the Clerk of the Peace & went at once to Mr. Egartin’s Tatton Park & the recognizance was entered into that night – The Baronet & the Old Sinner did not depart before 10 next morning. Harrison is out of the way at present – after the
officer had searched & the people rose to prevent his arrest – This morning an offer of some persons for bail have been made to me but I would not have any thing to
say to them till they produced the principal.
If he goes to London I will have him taken there – The prosecution has produced considerable surprise – The Reformers have chalked the tower over “Death to LLoyd –
The Traitor” an epithet which I could the better apply to the writer – I think we shall have an opportunity of deciding soon which is the traitor – But having your approbation I know I am right & am not unmindful of your last compliement –
I remain your grateful & faithful servant J. Lloyd’1
1. HO 42/189
1819, Jul 17
Harrison “fled” and made his way to Nottingham via Sheffield. At Sheffield, ‘he, found the cause of reform going on in a satisfactory way. That 25,000 in that town received relief from the poors-rates, and the town officers had declared they could no longer provide money for their relief, and therefore they would be left to starve.’1
1. The Times, July 30, 1819.
1819, Jul 18
Arrest of Sir Charles Wolseley after his mother’s funeral.
‘Birch, the constable, was despatched with a Bench warrant to apprehend the Baronet. On reaching Stafford…Birch produced the warrant for the purpose of having it backed by the Court, which was immediately done…He then proceeded to Wolsely-park, but did not execute the warrant till the afternoon, on account of the funeral of the Dowager Lady Wolsely, which took place on the Morning of Wednesday. When the officer made his appearance, Sir Charles, the “Old Major,” and his brother itinerant, Wooler, were taking “sweet counsel together” in a field adjoining the house…Sir Charles surrendered himself immediately, and a little before 8o’clock set off in his own carriage, accompanied by the Major, the officer riding on the dicky…When they reached Knutsford at half-past ten o’clock, Birch surrendered his captive in the Court, where Sir Charles, on being called for his plea, answered “Not Guilty.”…[Major Cartwright presented himself for bail] but was refused by the Court, not being a householder resident in the county…The prisoner was committed to the custody of Mr. Hudson [gaoler]… [Bail was eventually obtained from] John Lawton, of [Stockport], grocer; and Edward Saunderson…shoemaker.’1
‘Sir Charles is about 45 years of age, nearly 5 feet 9 inches high, long pale features, and (as may be guessed) a remarkably wild look…Parson Harrison is at present “non inventus.”’2
1. The Times, July 26, 1819. 2. The Times, July 19, 1819.
1819, Jul 18
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse Under Secretary of State dated 18 July, 1819.
‘Sir I inclose the last letter of Harrison by which his intention of attending the meeting at London is known & shall be attended to.
One of the active Reformers in this town has assured Mr. Smith that Harrison is found out to be employed by Government! & as proof he says they all say if not why did not Mr. Lloyd cause him to be apprehended or why did he refuse to take bail? There is nothing too ridiculous for such men to believe – Yesterday it was reported that Government had caused me to be arrested & sent to London for meddling with Sir Charles!
There was much talk last night in the publications about the Revolution, & the spinners who had been receiving 35s/per head for a week’s work were ready to join in the
general rejoicings that their deliverance was at hand – disregarding what the consequences must be to themselves.
As I did not wish that Hudson should have it to say it was by any directions of mine I have addressed a letter to the Magistrates who adjoined their meeting with hints as to the effect of seditious letters being allowed to pass the Castle walls into an incendiary paper etc…’1
1. HO 42/189.
1819, Jul 19
Meeting of the Female Reformers of Stockport, cries of “Harrison and Liberty for ever!”
One female member addressed the assembly: ‘“I understand that the intention of this union is to co-operate with other unions for the general cause, and to give relief to the incarcerated victims who are suffering and are likely to suffer. I need not say that it is to be feared you will have to look to our worthy, patriotic, and brave friend, the Rev. Joseph Harrison, who, it is said, has a bill found against him for doing, the devils themselves do not know what, at the last Stockport meeting.” As soon as Mr. Harrison’s name was mentioned, an involuntary torrent of tears was the event. After a few moments of profound silence, cries of “Harrison and Liberty for ever!” proceeded from every part of the room.’1
1. The Times, August 4, 1819.
1819, Jul 19
Letter from Lloyd (Stockport) to Hobhouse dated 19 July, 1819.
‘Sir I have dispatched the officers to London to fetch down the Reverend Reformer Harrison –
Persons are creeping up towards London from our part of the country expecting the Smithfield meeting will produce the grand change.
I am your respectful & faithful servant J. Lloyd.’1
1. HO 42/189
1819, Jul 19
Letter from Alexander Manson (Nottingham) to Lord Sidmouth dated 19th July, 1819.
‘….They conducted themselves in an orderly manner and dispensed without any tumult or confusion. The principal speakers were Harrison, the dissenting preacher from Stockport; Simpson a hawker of pamphlets; Farrands a shoemaker; and Frank Ward of this town, well known to your Lordship.
The declared object of the speakers was “to obtain a radical reform in Parliament and if they could not accomplish this by fair means they said that they would be by foul.”
Harrison said “that he would by no means recommend the assassination of their enemies, but, to watch their conduct, and, to mark those that were opposed to them, because the almighty has said vengeance is mine and I will repay it, now the usual way is that he puts the sword of justice into the hands of the creatures to accomplish his providential purposes, and then it would be lawful to do that which would be unlaful at present.” It was also distinctly mentioned that “the suspension of the Habeus Corpus Act, or any steps taken by government to prevent them from assembling together would be the signal for a general insurrecion.” These are all the particulars respecting the meeting that I can depend upon,not having been present myself…’1
1. HO 42/189.
1819, Jul 19
Nottingham Meeting, Harrison was the “Grand Pivot.”
‘The meeting was held in the Market-place, and attended by…from five to ten thousand. Business began by calling Mr. R. FARBANDS to the chair. Some irritation was excited by a stone thrown on the platform, but fortunately it did not hit any person…Mr. G. Simpson then [read the resolutions]… The Rev. Joseph HARRISON from Stockport, observed, the people of England had an undoubted right to find fault with the Parliament; the lower house was called the house of commons; as such it was the people’s house, and the people ought to possess a decided voice and authority there. But the people had not authority in their own house; they had been going down on there knees to their servants; they had thrown away their own authority; and by so doing had been acting both foolishly and unconstitutionally. Latterly they had been termed gentlemen, and gentle they were with a witness. Were he to fall on his knees before a servant of his, and ask, petition and implore for what he wanted instead of commanding it he would justly be considered a very gentle man, and might be dubbed foolish, meek and quiet. They were not only termed gentle, but also men, and this was because they began to assume what belonged to them, they were resolved no longer to petition but to dictate in that house; they were determined no longer to suffer others to possess their rights, but would take possession of them themselves. The momentous question was, how were the people to obtain their authority in their own house? Some said they must fight for it, but there was no wisdom in adopting harsh measures when others would be equally efficient. If the whole people were once united and firm in demanding Reform, they had only to speak, nay he believed they would not have occasion even to speak; they needed neither sword nor bayonet, nor spear, nor even a pike; they had only to tie a ticket at the end of their little fingers, with the inscription – “our rights, our rights, our rights,” and they would be sure to have them. Instead of talking of moderate reform, why had they not granted it. Here the Whigs and Tories granted this! It was scarcely possible to tell the sum of evil from which this country would have been saved. But as no step has been taken towards moderate reform, the people were determined to demand their just rights a radical reform. Suppose in the last Session, instead of laying on 3,000,000 of additional taxes. The Parliament had done that which might very readily and properly have been done, taken 6,000,000; and declared their intention of making a serious inquiry into the state of the representation of the people, instead of 50,000 person being assembled this day in different places at political meetings, there would not have been fifty hundred and perhaps not fifty score, for it would be supposed the ministers were in earnest and meant to reform themselves; but instead of taking off 6,000,000, they had laid on 3,000,000 more, by which they had given an undeniable proof, that they intended to reform all the people into downright slaves…Mr. Harrison said had he the talents of a Gabriel he would use them, in pleading with the Prince and the Lords, and entreating them with heavenly accents, so redress the wrongs of a suffering, but brave people. This cause was peculiarly interesting to the King and the Princes; all the nobles, the judges, the lawyers, the priests, both those belonging to the state, and those belonging to dissenters, young and old, rich and poor, male and female, the present generation, the next generation, and all the generations to come, all, all were most intimately concerned in this important subject. The question was one of liberty or slavery, of freedom or absolute despotism; for one or the other must surely be the fate of England. Mr. Frank Ward [who had been incarcerated during the suspension of Habeus Corpus]…went through the history of his sufferings, from the time when his house was searched without a warrant…all the way through his confinement in the dungeon at Nottingham, and in the cell, called Botany, at Oxford, until his release. He then stated his demands for justice in the Court of King’s Bench, the refusal he met with, and finally the verdict he obtained against the proprietor of a newspaper, who had traduced his character.‘1
‘Mr Harrison seemed to be the grand pivot for giving motion to the machine. In his declamations, he spared neither the Prince Regent nor the House of Lords and Commons; but those whom he pleased to denominate boroughmongers, were the peculiar objects of his animadversion. Major Cartwright’s plan, for a Radical Reform, Annual Parliaments, Universal Suffrage, and the voting by Ballot, were the only panacea for the cure of all the woe under which the country laboured. If Reform was not granted by fair means (said the Reverend Divine) “IT MUST BE OBTAINED BY FOUL.” Taxation without Representation was no longer to be endured. In talking of Penny Societies, he said they had already been, and would be, of the greatest use, so far as they were appropriated to defray the expense of public Meetings, of printing, and to defend those highly valued patriots, who might render themselves liable to prosecution. In allusion to private assassination, which had been talked of, he strongly deprecated the idea, and declared his abhorrence at the shredding of blood. Towards the conclusion, he informed the Meeting, that Delegates were to be chosen, who would assemble at Oldham, or elsewhere, to consult upon the measures to be pursued in the furtherance of the grand object of obtaining a Reform in Parliament.’2
‘[The Meeting] happily passed over very quietly…every precaution had been taken by the civil authorities to secure the peace of the town. A number of constables were in readiness to act, and a part of the 5th Dragoon Guards, which were on their march, were detained to support the civil power if necessary.’3
1. The Black Dwarf, July 28, 1819. 2. The Morning Chronicle, July 22, 1819. 3. The Times, July 22, 1819.
1819, Jul 19
Letter from James Driver (Turkey Hall near Rochdale) to Harrison dated 19 July, 1819.
By the Manchester Observer I presume that you are already apprised of a public meeting being called here to take place on Monday the 26th of the present month; and as our sections unanimously call, with the greatest ardour for your presence, I have most earnestly to intreat, that you will not by any means, disappoint their anxious expectations, At the Wellington Inn, in this town, you will meet with a kind reception.
I am Rev Sir
Your humble servant
Secretary to the Rochdale Union’1
1. HO 42/189
1819, Jul 20
Joseph Harrison accompanied by Frank Ward spent the day travelling by coach from Nottingham to London, visiting Leicester on the way.
‘From Nottingham, Harrison stated, that he had been to Leicester, where he found 7,000 weavers out of employment, and walking the streets in procession, all of them exhibiting the most wretched appearance.’1
1. The Times, July 30, 1819.
1819, Jul 21
Reform Metting at Smithfield (London), Joseph Harrison is arrested on the hustings. (composite of reports.)
‘A most inflammatory placard was attempted to be posted, inciting the People to the commission of outrage. The editor asserts, that only two of these placards were put up, and that they were indignantly torn down by the populace. From whence then did the editor of the Courier obtain the copy of this placard, which he has inserted in his paper? Did he receive it from Lord Sidmouth, or from whom? This is altogether a very black affair.’1
Some days prior the Lord Mayor (Atkins), ‘conceiving that he possessed, in his official capacity, the right to prevent the projected meeting of the reformers in Smithfield, summoned a Court of Aldermen…upon which a debate ensued; and it was ultimately agreed that the city solicitor should draw up a case, and lay it before the Recorder and Common Sergeant. A second Court was held to receive the opinion, which was read, and asserted that the city had no right vested in it to prevent the meeting. The Lord Mayor then contended, that…he had a right as a Magistrate…and that he would make application to Lord Sidmouth, to ascertain whether…he could stop the meeting. Lord Sidmouth…was of opinion that the people had a right to meet, and it was neither the intention nor wish of his Majesty’s Government to prevent them; but recommended the city to be prepared with the proper legitimate means to resist violence, and quell any riot that may ensue… The Recorder and Common Sergeant are said to have given it as their opinion, that the Lord Mayor had the power to put a stop to the meeting, after it had commenced, provided any language was employed having a tendency to propagate sedition and excite riot.’2
Hunt later wrote in his memoirs: ‘I made up my mind to be particularly careful as to what resolutions were passed, &c. and by no means to be led in to the scheme of electing any legislatorial attorney…I found, however , that they had only a few very vague and imperfect resolutions drawn up; but the Doctor produced a letter from Joseph Johnson, the brush-maker at Manchester, saying, that it was the wish of the people of Manchester, that I should, at the Smithfield Meeting, be elected the representative and legislatorial attorney for the unrepresented people of the Metropolis, &c. He also alluded to the great public meeting, which was to held at Manchester in the beginning of August, and stated, that it was the intention of the people on that day to follow the example of the people of Birmingham and the Metropolis to elect me their legislatorial attorney, was, that he might be elected for Manchester at the ensuing meeting. On this proposition I at once put a negative, by referring to the Gazette, and to the proclamation, adding, that it would be worse than folly to run our heads against such a post…It was also decided, that certain conciliatory resolutions, and an address to the Catholics of Ireland, should be submitted to the meeting. Of these resolutions I highly approved… The then Lord Mayor, John Atkins, was a corrupt and devoted tool of the Government, and he made himself particularly officious in this affair. Six thousand constables were sworn in the day before, and in the city all was hurry and bustle; and all this was done in order to work upon the fears of the timid and foolish part of the community, to create a prejudice in their minds against the Radicals… A warrant had been issued against Harrison, by the Magistrates of Cheshire, with which the officers had followed him up to town, and, having got it backed by the Lord Mayor, he was apprehended upon the hustings by the city officers. This was evidently done with the view to work upon the feelings of the multitude, and to create and appearance of a tumult, that the military might be called in and let loose upon the people, with some apparent show of necessity.’3
‘[As] early as nine o’clock…some had taken their stations in Smithfield, and by eleven o’clock the assemblage was pretty numerous in the open space, as well as in all avenues leading to the market. The central point of attraction was the Greyhound Inn, on the west side of Smithfield where rumour generally circulated in the course of the morning that Mr. Hunt and his friends were to make their appearance from the balcony of this inn… At twelve o’clock precisely, about thirty men, with white wands and four flags, and a placard, on which was inscribed “Order! order!” proceeded from Smithfield bars to the entrance of Cloth Fair, on the east side of the market. A wagon was here in waiting, on which a part of them mounted, among whom we recognized Preston as most prominent. Fourteen men, with white wands, and two flags, now proceeded down Giltspur Street, as a deputation to wait on Mr. Hunt, and attend him to the meeting…The numbers assembled appeared to be about ten thousand. The deputation proceeded to the Parrot public-house, Green Arbour Court, Old Bailey, whence they returned, headed by Dr. Watson, a few minutes before one o’clock, with Mr. Hunt in the centre of them, mounted on horseback, and ‘dressed in a stile of elegance which formed a striking contrast to the appearance of his escort…’4
‘At a little after one o’clock, Hunt arrived at the wagon, accompanied by some members of the Committee…and also by the dissenting clergyman, the Harrison, from Stockport, and one or two others who were understood to be delegates from the country. His arrival was hailed with long and continued shouts of applause, accompanied by waving of hats and clapping of hands. There were at that time in the market…not less than 10,000 persons assembled…. Hunt, after repeated bows of acknowledgement for the applause with which he was greeted, took his place in the centre of the wagon. On his left were Messrs Thistlewood and Preston; on his right the Rev. Mr. Harrison and Dr. Watson. The other parts of the vehicle were principally occupied by the members of the Committee, who continued to hold their staves of office. At one side of the orator was a white flag, on which were inscribed in large black letters, the words “Peace and good will.” On the other side was the old flag, with the inscription “Universal Suffrage.” There were besides these, two large boards, on each of which were painted the words “Order, order.”… Mr. Gast came forward and proposed that Mr. Hunt do take the chair.’5
‘It was known…that in the different areas of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, the outer gates of which are kept shut, there was a large body of the police and constables, ready to act at a moments notice, should there be a necessity; and a considerable military force at hand to support them, should their aid be required… Mr. Hunt…introduced the business of the day…. He deprecated the conduct of several of those who, he affirmed, had not shewn themselves sufficiently interested in the cause of the people. The apologies of others, he admitted, were valid.’6
‘Sir C. Wolseley, the friend of the people, would have attended on you, had he not been prevented by the death of a relative, and his arrest in Staffordshire by the Government, for having addressed a public meeting of your fellow countrymen at Stockport. But though he is absent, I am glad to inform you, that the Rev. Joseph Harrison, who acted with him on that occasion, now stands before you. (Loud applause.) Nothing has deterred him from coming forward to do his duty manfully, and I am glad that you receive him as he deserves. He has kindly offered to assist you this day, and you will be delighted to hear from his own lips those patriotic sentiments which he has expressed with eloquence elsewhere.’7
‘[Hunt continued], “I have ‘received several anonymous letters, threatening me that I would certainly be shot if I attended this meeting…if necessity called for it, I should, like Wat Tyler, glory in the dying at your head”. He then urged the people strictly to maintain order – “for by order and decorum alone their cause could be triumphant. Mr Gast, shipbuilder, then moved a long series of resolutions. [Eighteen in total] The Rev. Mr. Harrison seconded the resolutions. He said, “’Approach your Prince with humility, mixed with courage; as long as he is to you indulgent, be to him duteous and obedient. We respect our Prince, and venerate the family and title by which the House of Brunswick holds the throne. I am persuaded we may obtain our rights and privileges without bloodshed. The horrible scenes of revolutionary France will never desolate our beautiful island. We have no occasion for fighting. Let every village and city act like the people of the metropolis, and what could resist them? A nation never can err. Jehovah will bless you, and assist your exertions. Your cause is his.”8
Another newspaper reported Harrison’s speech as follows: ‘He began his address, by calling the multitude “fellow-citizens,” and by informing them that he rose for the purpose of seconding the resolutions which had just been read. Though he had not seen every idea contained in them, he had looked over the greater part of them, and he thought it his duty to say, that he did honestly approve of that part which he had seen. Certainly it was such a string of resolutions as had never before been proposed or adopted by any meeting whatsoever. It was such a step as it was requisite for the people to take; not, indeed, to request, but to resume possession of the rights of which they had been defrauded; and yet they seemed as if they intended to address the Prince Regent. To such a measure he had no objection, as they would thus combine humility with their courage, and respect for their Prince with the remonstrance which they were addressing to him. So far as that Prince had a title to the crown and the throne, so far were they willing to acknowledge it; so long as he was determined to protect the rights and privileges of the people, so long would the people be determined to protect him (applause); so long as he acted the part of a kind and indulgent parent to the people, so long would the people be good filial children to him. “Demean yourselves,” continued the Rev. Orator, “with propriety towards him. Act as becomes your rank and station: you will thus do your duty, and prevent those scenes of bloodshed, anarchy, and confusion, from occurring here which unfortunately occurred in France.” He was certain, that among the multitude which he was addressing, there was not a single individual who would not shudder at the idea of a repetition of the bloody scenes of France in this our beloved, our beautiful, and our highly-favoured island. (Applause.) There were some big men who had said, that it was impossible for Englishmen to obtain their rights without fighting for them; others, however, and he was one of them, deemed fighting totally unnecessary. If every country, town, village, and hamlet, would meet and adopt the same resolutions as the inhabitants of the metropolis were now going to adopt, what more would be necessary, what more could be desired by the warmest friend of freedom, in order to obtain his long-lost rights? Thus, they would at once express their sentiments and their feelings; thus they would at once demand their rights, and thus they would at once obtain them. This would be the constitutional manner of proceeding. A nation could never err: it could not do any wrong relatively to the description of government or laws which it thought proper to impose upon itself; and if it did, where was the man who could—nay, where was the man that durst—call it to account? None but the eternal God of Heaven could do it, and none but fools would attempt it. “While you act,” continued the reverend gentleman, “with righteousness, justice, and benevolence, the great Jehovah will pour his blessings upon you, as an abundant reward for all your exertions. Your cause is his.”’9
‘A person very meanly dressed was the observed bustling through the crowd, upon which Mr. Hunt desired the multitude to let the gentleman pass. They did so; and after some exertion he reached the wagon, and was hauled into it by Mr. Hunt, Dr. Watson, and others. The gentleman then stated his name to be Mr. William O’Connor, and not an Irishman but an Englishman. He said that having observed that a great majority of the crowd had been named by Mr. Harrison as favourable to all the resolutions, he had thought it requisite to come forward, as he knew that there was a diversity of opinion with regard to those resolutions which respected the Catholics. It was, therefore, requisite that those who agreed with them should separate from those who disagreed, and that the latter should sign a deposition barring the resolutions respecting the Catholics. (Hootings, with partial applause.)…Mr. Hunt then explained the object of Mr. O’Connor, and said he was in hopes that, in the 19th century, Englishmen had been too enlightened to be led away by bigotry and a spirit of religious persecution…He trusted they would now convince them that they were come there to assist persons of every religions denomination in regaining their full civil rights. He had himself taken little concern in religious disputes; he had always judged it proper for every man to worship God in the way he thought best… The flag which had been taken down was then raised and unfurled. It was divided into three compartments. In the upper compartment “ENGLAND” was inscribed, in gilt letters on a red ground; in the middle, “SCOTLAND,” on a white ground; and in the lower, “IRELAND,” on a green ground…Mr. Hunt announced to the meeting that ‘this was the Union flag of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Their enemies would say that it was the bloody tricoloured flag of he French revolution : it was no such thing, nor was it intended to convey any such meaning. (Cheers.) Another flag of a blood red hue, was then unfurled, and bore the words “Liberty or Death,” inscribed upon it. The unfurling of this flag was received with even greater cheering than that of the former one.’10
‘[Later on], a considerable bustle took place, which was occasioned by the arrival of Brown and Wontner, the city marshals, with a posse of 30 constables to arrest Mr. Harrison. On their getting into the wagon, Mr. Hunt turned to Brown and said, “If you want me, I’ll go with you.” Brown said, “No, no; I don’t want you, but Mr. Harrison.” Mr. Harrison was then taken away by the constables, without any resistance on his part, or on that of the multitude. Mr. Hunt, then, turning to his audience, who seemed surprised at what was passing in the cart, explained to them the object of the constables. A few voices murmured, “They sha’n’t take him;” on which Mr. Hunt requested them to attend to him, and to let him go quietly if the officers attempted to execute a warrant on him.’11
‘Mr. Hunt then informed the meeting, that he understood it to be the intention of some gentlemen to propose to them a vote of thanks to the Lord Mayor of London, for his great anxiety in affording protection to them that day, and he trusted that this motion would be successful….He had now simply to put to them whether they were sincerely of opinion that the present Lord mayor of London was entitled to their grateful thanks. (Loud scoffings and hootings.) The motion was then negated, and Mr. Hunt observed, that it should be his care to apprise his Lordship that the resolution of thanks to him was carried unanimously in the negative. (A laugh.)’12
‘At four o’clock the business of the meeting in Smithfield terminated…Way was then made through the immense mass for Mr. Hunt, who mounted and rode off amidst the cheers of the populace. At the time the meeting broke up, it amounted to not less than 50,000 persons…Mr Francis Ward, of Nottingham, and some persons from Stockport had attended by invitation. It appeared that the letters of invitation were forgeries.’13
‘Mr. Hunt rode through the crowd, after having cautioned them against any acts of violence. An immense crowd followed him to a house in Wych-street, where he addressed them from a window, repeating his caution. The Meeting at Smithfield gradually dispersed.’14
‘After the business of the day, a party of the Reformers dined together at the Golden Cock, and spent the evening with great hilarity.’15
1. Sherwin’s Political Register, July 24, 1819. 2. Caledonian Mercury, July 21, 1819. 3. Memoirs of Henry Hunt, Esq. Vol 3. 4. Caledonian Mercury, July 21, 1819. 5. The Times, July 22, 1819. 6. Caledonian Mercury, July 21, 1819. 7. The Times, July 22, 1819. 8. Caledonian Mercury, July 21, 1819. 9. The Times, July 22, 1819. 10. Ibid. 11. Ibid. 12. Ibid. 13. Caledonian Mercury, July 21, 1819. 14. The Examiner, July 25, 1819. 15. The Leeds Mercury, July 24, 1819.
Smithfield Meeting, Arrest of Harrison
A. Henry Hunt.
B. Arthur Thistlewood.
C. Dr. James Watson.
D. Rev. Joseph Harrison.
E. Police constables Brown and Wontner.
1819, Jul 21
Joseph Harrison was detained at Giltspur Compter (Gaol).
‘At the very moment Harrison was brought into the Compter, Alderman Waithman rushed in, and said, “I protest against the apprehension of Harrison.” The worthy member [Mr. Smith] maintained that the conduct of Alderman Waithman was on this occasion the most indecent of which one man could be guilty to another. Shaking or rather waving his hand at the measures of his Lordship, he repeated his protest against it. His Lordship then remonstrated with him, and explained the reasons of his conduct, when the Alderman burst out of the room, and renewed his protest in the public streets, against the interference of the military… Mr. Griffiths…having gone in company with the constables to the place where Harrison was arrested, he had heard him say that he had not been bailed. He had, he stated further, no friends then at hand, but the business of the meeting would be over in a few hours, after which he should find friends to bail him…’1
1. The Times, July 24, 1819.
1819, Jul 21
Arrest of Harrison at Smithfield.
‘As soon as Mr. Hunt returned from the Meeting in Smithfield, he dispatched two confidential friends to enquire for Mr. Harrison, and to say, that if he wished for bail in London it should be procured for him in the morning. These gentlemen found Mr. Harrison in Giltspur-street prison, and on their return to Mr. Hunt informed him, that Mr. Harrison was about to be sent off with the Officers to the county of Chester (where he had bail ready,) in the night, or at day-break in the morning. However, about eleven o’clock in the morning, Mr. Hunt received a message to say, that Mr. Harrison was still in Giltspur-street prison, and wished for bail; upon which Mr. Hunt procured two friends, responsible resident citizens and householders, and proceeded with them to the prison, where he told the Jailor that they were come to give bail for Mr. Harrison, but they found that he had been sent off into the country about twenty minutes. This was a little after two o’clock.’1
1. Manchester Observer, July 31, 1819.
1819, Jul 22
Joseph Harrison was visited by Arthur Thistlewood in Giltspur Compter.
‘A little after 11 o’clock, Mr. Arthur Thistlewood entered the [Guildhall] office, and addressing Mr. Teague, the keeper of Giltspur-street compter, said he wished for an order to see Mr. Harrison, who had been arrested on a warrant from the Magistrates of Stockport…Mr. Teague said there was no objection, but it was necessary he should give his name. When On his mentioning his name, Mr. Teague hesitated, and referred the application to the Magistrate, adding, that everything had been done to render Mr. Harrison’s situation as comfortable as possible; he had been visited by his friends, and had expressed himself satisfied with the attention that had been paid him. “But Sir,” said Mr. Thistlewood, “I wish to bail him.” Mr. Teague replied, that was impossible. Bail had been offered, and refused by the Lord Mayor on Wednesday, on the ground of the wording of the warrant, which directed the officers to bring the prisoner before them the signing Magistrates. Mr Thistlewood said, “I beg your pardon; you will find he can be bailed. Am I to understand you refuse to let me see him?” Mr. Teague said, it was with the Magistrate to give an order. Mr. Alderman Magnay observed that as the warrant had been backed by the Lord Mayor, and Mr. Harrison kept in custody by his authority, he would rather not interfere; and advised Thistlewood to apply to apply at the Mansion-house, where he would find his Lordship then sitting. Mr. Thistlewood bowed and retired, but returned shortly afterwards, his Lordship being from home on a water excursion. The Alderman expressing no further disinclination, Mr. Teague left the office, and accompanied Mr. Thistlewood himself to the Compter.’1
[Thistlewood was later imprisoned at the Tower of London for treason and executed by hanging and beheaded for organising a plot to murder the members of Cabinet.]
1. The Times, July 23, 1819.
1819, Jul 22
Letter from Joseph Harrison, Giltspur Street Compter to Bagguley, Chester Castle regarding his arrest.
‘I may consider myself your fellow prisoner and tis probable I may be brought shortly to keep you company…The warrant that was issued against me at Knutsford session was brought to me upon the hustings at Smithfield Market yesterday in the presence of 150,000 people, Henry Hunt, Esq. Chairman. The people began to be in motion but I begged by all that was dear that no resistance might be made on my account. Therefore I was conducted in safety by the City Marshall and a few constables before their Lord Mayor where I found William Birch of Stockport and William Pass of Altringham who recognised my person. I was informed by the Lord Mayor that bail could not be accepted in London and that I must remain a prisoner in Giltspur Street prison until Messrs Birch and Pass had an opportunity of conveying me to Stockport where bail I understand is provided but Mr. Lloyd did not choose to accept it till he saw me. I attended a public meeting at Nottingham with great satisfaction on my way to London. I have seen some of the gentlemen of the committee for the relief of the suffers under the suspension…Mr Charles Pearson is employed as solicitor for Sir Charles Wolseley and he, Pearson, assured me yesterday morning that he would do all that he could for us. Am treated here in the best manner the house will afford. Suppose we shall commence our journey to Stockport this day.’
‘P.S…I was arrested in the same place where many martyrs have suffered death and where Wat Tyler was assassinated.’1
‘Thursday evening a great concourse of people were assembled at Stockport in expectation of the arrival of Harrison; and an empty chaise passing through the town, in which it was stated he had been brought, was instantly demolished; the driver however escaped unhurt.’2
1. HO 42/190 July 22, 1819. 2. Caledonian Mercury, July 29, 1819.
1819, Jul 23
Harrison arrived back in Stockport and Constable Birch was shot.
‘Last night Parson Harrison was taken from the Compter, accompanied by two officers, in a post-chaise and four, in order to be conveyed to Chester.’1
‘The Reverend Joseph Harrison yesterday morning, at an early hour, left the Giltspur-street Compter in custody of two offices from Chester. He will arrive at Stockport in the early part of this day [23rd], when it is expected he will be immediately bailed, notice having been sent to his friends for that purpose.’2
[Letter from Constable Birch at Newcastle-under-Lyme (to Lloyd), Friday afternoon, July 23.] ‘Sir, – I have arrived here with Harrison, the Preacher, whom I am conveying through Congleton and Cheadle, to Stockport. I am, in haste, yours, Wm. Birch.’3
Harrison later, ‘expressed himself in very high terms of the attention which he had received from Mr Birch during their journey.’4
Also reported that Birch, ‘had executed his legal duty towards the prisoner Harrison with the greatest delicacy and humanity.’5
‘Mr. Birch made known his intention to Mr. Harrison of taking him to Stockport. Mr. H. strenuously urged the impolicy of such a step arguing such a procedure may raise a tumult; and it would be far preferable to go to some country magistrate to give in bail. Mr. Birch would not consent. They arrived back at this town at 8 o’clock on Friday evening. The police had used every secrecy of conveying him to the place of his confinement; but notwithstanding all the arts of a designing police, the circumstances flew like lightning. Thousands ushered to the spot, anxious to be near the esteemed firm…A number of his respected friends went immediately to Mr. Lloyd, the prosecutor, to receive an answer of his acceptance or nonacceptance of a number of gentlemen who had stepped forward to give bail…[Lloyd] said he was perfectly satisfied with the offered bail, but strange to say, none of the proposed bail would come forward when waited upon…[It appears] some evil disposed person or persons, advised them to keep back.’6
‘Having brought Harrison to Stockport, the circumstances soon became known, and a considerable crowd assembled round Birch’s house, where his prisoner was secured. Several threats having been made by the mob that they would pull Birch’s house down, and liberate Harrison.’7
‘Thus situated, Birch deemed it necessary to take advice from Mr. Lloyd, and for this purpose, under disguise, he went out of the back door of his house, about eleven o’clock; Mr. Lloyd, however, was not to be found; and Birch, on his return home, being unfortunately recognized by one of the Reformers, was immediately surrounded.’8
Birch later said, ‘I knew Bruce at the time by name; I believe Bruce asked me if I had brought Harrison to my house; that was the first thing he said, to which I replied, Harrison was at my house, and at that moment a man towards my left…walked on till he came to my rear; I kept my eyes on Bruce all the time he was coming; I had particular reason to look round, as a great crowd assembled in the street around my house; but still I kept on my conversation with Bruce, whom I asked, if a man I saw near, as he was a friend to Harrison, would be one of his bail. Bruce said, he had not seen him this last hour. These were his words. – By this time the man who was in my rear moved back again until he came in front of me. When I made the inquiry about Sims, Harrison’s friend, Bruce looking towards the man who had stopped with him, asked if…you have seen him? I can’t say to whom he addressed himself, but one of them said no, I have not seen him this hour, or this last hour. Bruce gave in the answer that he had not seen Sims before, he got the same answer from the man he addressed; as soon as the man got in front of me and behind Bruce, I saw a movement with his right hand, he had something in it; before I could observe any thing else, I was shot’9
‘Bruce – “All I have to say is, I did certainly speak to Birch, but with no evil intention. I wished to see Harrison, to render him what assistance I could. I heard a person call after me; it was Birch. He asked me where he could find Sims? I said I believed he was not in; and whilst we were in conversation, the pistol was discharged in the direction of my left cheek…I had only been three months in Stockport… I took the charge of Harrison’s school for him on Sandy Brow; he employed me as writing master. I was directed to apply to Mr. Harrison for a situation, when he said you are in good time, for my time will be fully employed at Chester during the Assizes. I then took the charge of the School, and acquitted myself with honesty. Sometime after I purchased the good will of a School from Mr. Marsland’s book-keeper, for 8pounds; and on the evening of the day in question, I walked out to-wards Mr. Harrison’s.”’10
‘…one of the men…immediately fired a pistol close to the left cheek of Bruce, at the body of Mr. Birch, who…fled, groaning, over the palisades of Mr. Lloyd’s garden, and past the windows of the room, where sat Miss Holmes…Mr. Flint, surgeon of the Dispensary, the two Miss Lloyds, and both the sons of Mr. Lloyd, at supper… The moment Mr. Birch had passed the windows, still violently calling out, the whole party rose up, and went together (much alarmed of course) into the garden and were met by…many more neighbours, who live in Loyalty-place. The garden was searched, but no one found, as it afterwards appeared Mr. Birch had got over a wall and into Mr. Lane’s house. Mr. Lloyd’s clerk Beely, was standing…at his own passage door, nearly opposite; and his other clerk, Bullock, was going up the Church-gate, opposite the Brittania…at the time the pistol was fired.’11
‘[Birch] reached the house of Dr. Killer before he fell; the three men then fled.’12
‘Bruce immediately after ran off with the two McInnises; they ran up the Churchgate, and Birch ran down.’13
‘Wm Pearson, [journeyman weaver], ran after Birch into Loyalty-place, and was followed by David Davies, who lives with Mr. Leah, in Edgely.’14
Pearson later said, ‘I saw Jacob McInnis again that night, perhaps an hour after the pistol was fired; we met at our lodgings…and about 20 minutes after his brother James came in…they said they wanted to speak with me, and I said speak up; they replied, let us go into these fields, the hedges have ears; then we went into Gee’s fields; Jacob asked me if I knew what had been done in Church-gate? I answered, was I a witch to know every thing as was done in Church-gate? He (Jacob McInnis) said, Birch has been shot, and you saw me do it : he drew the pistol, and any one who lodges the least information before the Magistrates should have the benefit of it, and he would go himself to the North of America.’15
‘William Pearson …was employed as a weaver at Stanley Hamilton’s, in Edgeley, and slept in the house; and that in that month one Jacob McInnis…came to weave at the same place, and for four or five nights before the twenty-third day of July last he slept in the same bed with him.’16
Pearson’s name also appeared on the requisition for the Stockport Meeting of September 1, 1818. “William Pearson – Hempshire-Lane.” 16a
Pearson also knew Bruce and at least one occasion attended his school. ‘Bruce – did you know me in Stockport? [Pearson] – I know you kept a Radical speaking-school there, for I was in it one night.’17
‘Mr Killer first saw [Birch] after he was shot, and probed his wound. Mr. Killer was afterwards assisted by Mr. Flint and Mr. Ameers…[and later a] surgeon of the 15th Hussars…Mr. Lloyd, at the same time was fortunately with Messrs. Armstrong, Wood and Bowyer, who had met with him at the Warren Bulkeley Arms, concerning the bail for Mr. Harrison.’18
‘Joseph George Bruce (a person not much known in Stockport), but who states that he came lately from London, and last from Dublin, and who has been for a few weeks assistant to Harrison in his school of reform, and is also designated as Secretary to the Stockport Reform Society.’19
‘[Bruce] is about 30 years of age, of very insignificant appearance, being about five feet high, and a good deal deformed; but his face is intelligent, and his manner and language are those of a man of some education. According to his own account, he was almost a stranger in Stockport, having arrived there only in March last, to apply for a situation as teacher in a school, and was employed by Harrison as his usher, but, after some time, set up a school himself. He says, that on the evening of Birch’s arrival with Harrison, seeing a general commotion, and knowing the cause of it, he was led by mere curiosity (having nothing to do, his scholars having just left school for the evening) to go amidst the crowd.’20
‘Bruce said, that hearing of Harrison’s arrival..he went towards the house in which he was confined, for the purpose of assisting in procuring bail, or of rendering any other service in his power.’21
‘The alarm being given, a messenger was sent to the barracks at Manchester, and a troop of Hussars (the 15th, we believe) arrived soon afterwards, and peace was restored for the night.’22
‘A troop of horse marched into Stockport very early this morning [Saturday 24th], and the town remains quiet at this hour.’23
‘[John Horatio Lloyd], when about twenty years of age he assisted his father in his efforts to restore order…His father was hated by the lower class of the people of Stockport, and on one occasion owed his life to the circumstance of another man being shot in mistake for him. At the time Mr. Lloyd was away from home, in another part ot fhe town, and his son John Horatio went to warn him that the people were much excited against him, and to recommend him to return home by back-streets. This, however, Mr. Lloyd positively refused to do, and, accompanied by his son, he marched through the streets, which were filled by an angry and excited mob, who gnashed their teeth at him with rage, but forbore to attack him.. John Horatio Lloyd was sent up to Oxford in 1818…His father…had not the means of maintaining his son at the University, but the expenses were privately met, with well-timed generosity, by Lord Sidmouth, a minister of the Crown, and Mr. William Hobhouse, the brother of Lord Broughton.’24
1. Caledonian Mercury, July 26, 1819. 2. The Times, July 24, 1819. 3. The Times, July 27, 1819. 4. Caledonian Mercury, July 29, 1819. 5. The Newcastle Courant, July 31, 1819. 6. The Black Dwarf, July 28, 1819. 7. The Morning Chronicle, July 27, 1819. 8. Ibid. 9. The Morning Chronicle, April 10, 1819. 10. Chester Chronicle and Cheshire and North Wales General Advertiser, April 14, 1820. 11. The Times, August 17, 1819. 12. The Times, July 27, 1819. 13. The Morning Chronicle, April 10, 1820. 14. The Times, August 17, 1819. 15. The Morning Chronicle, April 10, 1819. 16. Ibid. 17. The Times, April 11, 1820. 18. The Times, August 17, 1829. 19. The Times, July 27, 1819. 20. The Times, August 2, 1819. 21. The Morning Chronicle, April 10, 1820. 22. The Morning Chronicle, July 27, 1819. 23. The Times, July 27, 1819. 24. Obituary, John Horatio Lloyd, Institution of Civil Engineers, 1884. 16a. Manchester Observer, August 29, 1818.
1819, Jul 23
A Court of Common Council was held at Guildhall, London to discuss the actions taken by Lord Mayor Atkins in relation to the Smithfield Meeting.
‘The LORD MAYOR held a Court of Common Council at Guildhall…his Lordship informed them, that he had last night received a communication from Lord Sidmouth, which it was material not to withhold from the Court… His LORDSHIP then read a letter from Lord Sidmouth, expressive of the Prince Regent’s gracious approbation of the measures adopted by the Lord Mayor for preserving the public peace of the city of London on Wednesday last… His Lordship then alluded to a printed bill, of a most inflammatory kind, that was posted about the town on Wednesday, inviting the people to action on that day…it comprised a plot to an extent no less monstrous than that of firing this great City and murdering the inhabitants… Alderman Wood [a friend of the Radicals] then came forward, and begged to ask his Lordship, whether he had directly or indirectly, any information of the author of the printed bill, or any possible means of discovering him? It was his duty as a magistrate to put such a question, but it remained with the lord Mayor to answer it or no, as seemed good to him… Alderman Wood trespassed still further upon his lordship’s patience for a more satisfactory answer. The Lord Mayor had stated, that he had the best information as to the persons who had printed and published the atrocious placard to which he had alluded. If he had had such information, he (Alderman Wood) trusted that he would bring both the printer and publisher immediately to justice…He could not help recollecting, that…a paper similar to this had been
posted up everywhere, on the very morning of the Spafields meeting…He had ascertained that it had been printed in Bridewell, by a servant of the city in that institution, by a man much connected with the Government of that country…The present placard might have come from a similar quarter… …at the very moment Harrison was brought into the Compter, Alderman Waithman rushed in, and said, “I protest against the apprehension of Harrison.” The worthy member [Mr. Smith] maintained that the conduct of Alderman Waithman was on this occasion the most indecent of which one man could be guilty to another. Shaking or rather waving his hand at the measures of his Lordship, he repeated his protest against it. His Lordship then remonstrated with him, and explained the reasons of his conduct, when the Alderman burst out of the room, and renewed his protest in the public streets, against the interference of the military… [Waithman stated] The persons who were at the door when I left the Compter were respectable gentlemen of my own ward, who had voluntarily enrolled themselves as special constables. To one of them I did indeed observe, that I protested against the apprehension of Harrison; but this was all I said, and this I was perfectly justifiable in saying… Mr. Griffiths…having gone in company with the constables to the place where Harrison was arrested, he had heard him say that he had not been bailed. He had, he stated further, no friends then at hand, but the business of the meeting would be over in a few hours, after which he should find friends to bail him…’1
Alderman Matthew Wood later stage managed the return of Queen Charlotte who arrived at Dover on 5th June 1820 and entered London to a rapturous welcome. ‘The Tories put up Wellington to negotiate a compromise settlement with Henry Brougham, her Attorney General by which, in return for ₤50,000 a year she would live abroad and allow her name to be removed from the liturgy. Alderman Wood, however, decided that Caroline would concede nothing. Two nights the mob stoned Sidmouth’s house, almost catching him, Wellington and Eldon as they arrived in Sidmouth’s carriage at the very Minute the attack began.’2
1. The Times, July 24, 1819. 2. Wellington. Pillar of State, E. Longford, 1972.
1819, Jul 24
‘Birch is still alive but Mr. Killer, the surgeon, has not as yet been able to extract the ball.’1
‘Harrison was sent to the Lock-up-house, but has since been liberated on bail.’2
‘The bail required was 500l, and himself in 500l. which was soon procured. The magistrates said , we are going to bind you in 100l. more, not to attend any Public Meetings in future. He replied, he considered it to be the birth-right of every Englishman to meet and advocate his rights; and, as a free-born Englishman, he would never bind himself from doing that which he believed to be constitutional, lawful and right; but if he could live to see the people’s authority established in the Commons House, he would give up politics, and as a public character, confine himself to religion. They then demanded him to give bail himself, in 100l. more, to keep the peace, to which he cheerfully consented.’3
‘Harrison, the seditionist, obtained bail on Friday. The respectable personages he procured as his sureties we are told, were, a man named Massy, of Bramhall, a small farmer; and one Moorhouse, of Stockport a staymaker.’4
‘Harrison is stated to have expressed deep regret for Birch’s accident, and said he did not wish to have been taken to Stockport, and neither was it intended he should. He was expected to have come by the Defiance coach to this town, and a person was in waiting to prevent him going further. Another line of road had been chosen for his conveyance to Stockport by the Manchester Coburg coach, which runs through Lichfield, Newcastle and Congleton.’5
‘Three men (one of whom is Bruce) have been taken into custody, and have undergone a long examination this day before the Rev. C. Prescott, J. W. Tatton, and P. Marsland, Esqrs.; 2 of them, viz. Bruce and a person of the name of David Davies,…are remanded; the third has been discharged.’6
1. The Times, July 27, 1819. 2. The Morning Chronicle, July 27, 1819. 3. The Black Dwarf, July 28, 1819. 4. Caledonian Mercury, August 5, 1819. 5. The Times, July 27, 1819. 6. Ibid.
1819, Jul 24
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse.
‘Sir, – Birch brought in Harrison at 8 o’clock, and was followed to his own house, where he lodged with him, by a mob. I took the Justice there to have him committed, and we were insulted. The bail were directed to wait upon me. Whilst I was examining them as to their sufficiency…one of the three fired a pistol at Birch.’1
1. The Times, November 26, 1819.
1819, Jul 25
‘Hunt was at a meeting at the White Lion Wych St. [London] on Sunday last. [25th July] Watson, Thistlewood & Preston were there and the accounts settled. The Meeting it appeared had cost twenty two pounds and one shillings. A further subscription was raised to carry the men back to Stockport who had accompanied Harrison to London. About a pound & piece was subscribed for them. There were two men.’1
1. HO 42/190.
‘The meeting then collected … for Longford Mr. Harrisons Clerk to carry him home to Stockport whom he proceeds this morning. Longford is to send up 2 pamphlets that have been printed at Stockport, that the Society may reprint them in London…’1
1. HO 42/190.
1819, Jul 25
Harrison preached to a congregation of 5000 persons in the streets of Stockport.1
1. The Black Dwarf, July 28, 1819.
1819, Jul 25
Letter from Prescot (Stockport) to Lord Sidmouth dated 25 July, 1819.
‘My Lord I am concerned to state that a constable has this moment been with me and says that the sentinels at the barracks have been pelted with stones.
The darkness of the night has hitherto prevented the soldiers from discovering these secret assasins. Though I have represented to the inhabitants of the town, to form armed associations for the protection of their lives and property my arguments have not prevailed most of them are too indolent, the attempt to take away the life of the officer who arrested Joseph Harrison in London on Wednesday has however created a strong sensation and I think that if you would favor me with an order for twenty pistols from any of his Majesty’s stores, I could with twenty pikes which I have already of my own, very easily collect an armed body of 20 men and this would probably induce many others to follow the example – The barrel of the pistol which I would recommend is about nine inches long – The calibre in all should be about the same to prevent confusion as to the balls. I beg leave to submit this to your consideration and in great haste, subscribe myself your most obediant humble servant Charles Prescot
P.S. The pistols might be sent by the mail, one of the coaches, or Pickford’s Flying Waggon – Some news of Birch. The bullet not yet extracted -‘1
1. HO 42/190.
1819, Jul 26
Rochdale meeting Joseph Harrison “was the prominent character”. (composite of reports.)
‘The principal speakers were Mr. Harrison, of Stockport; and Messrs. Fitton, Knight, and Saxon, of Manchester.’1
‘Meeting was held at Cronkayshaw, near Rochdale…The meeting was to have begun at 12 o’clock; but until after 2 o’clock not more than a dozen persons were assembled at the appointed place…a band of music and the display of two flags, one of which was painted in large letters “No Corn Laws”, and on the other side “Universal Suffrage”, “Annual Parliaments”, “Election by Ballot,” they had contrived to collect in the country about 500 persons, chiefly women and children; and these passing through the town in procession, enabled them to muster about 2,000 persons by the time they arrived at the place fixed for the meeting… It was nearly 3 o’clock before they proceeded to the business of the day, when a cart having been provided, the intended speakers all took their stations in it; and Fitton of Royton, being called to the chair,…began to read a string of resolutions, nine in number…’2
Joseph Harrison then came forward, ‘he observed that he had left Stockport in the greatest haste, not having even time to communicate the purport of his journey to his family, as the coach was leaving just at that time.’3
‘[He] said that he at one time thought it would be impossible for him to have had the pleasure of seeing them that day; but when he was in bed early in the morning, he recollected that there would be many faces that he wished to see, and therefore exerted himself that he might be amongst them; that he had that morning been running up and down Stockport, in consequence of two persons being in custody, owing to a bullet having been put into a Sheriff’s officer – that he had been neglecting his school, and had been under the necessity of engaging two persons to attend to it, but he was determined no consideration should direct his attention from the public good. He concluded by moving that the resolutions be read, and submitted to the meeting for their approbation together.’4
Harrison again came forward. He stated that, ‘within the last ten days he had visited Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, and the City of London.’5
At Sheffield, he, ‘found the cause of reform going on in a satisfactory way. That 25,000 in that town received relief from the poors-rates, and the town officers had declared they could no longer provide money for their relief, and therefore they would be left to starve. He had also been to Nottingham, where he found the same cause for exultation from the determined spirit of the reformers. He stated, that the average weekly earnings of the best stockingweavers did not exceed 5s. or 5s. 6d. per week. From Nottingham, Harrison stated, that he had been to Leicester, where he found 7,000 weavers out of employment, and walking the streets in procession, all of them exhibiting the most wretched appearance; that he did not find that the lower classes in London had so much room to complain as those in the country; but all the wants and privations which they were then enduring, arise entirely from the boroughmongering faction passing the infamous corn bill. That the people were supposed to be always present in the House of Commons, which, by its very name, denoted the descriptions of persons who ought to sit there; but as no house could be built large enough to hold all the people who were at an age to vote, they sent certain persons to vote for them; but it was evident that people had nothing to do in the present House, or all their petitions would not remain unanswered. He had nothing to complain of in the House of Lords, except that there ought to be as many Bishops or clergymen of the Dissenters sit there as there were Bishops of the Established Church. He said, he was told by his friends behind him he had talked long enough: he should therefore only move that the resolution do pass… Harrison again appeared. He said he did not mean to trouble them long, but as he could not stay until the close of the meeting on account of its being necessary he should be in Stockport by 8 o’clock, he wished to make the present opportunity of addressing them again. He stated that some persons called it sedition to speak of the Prince Regent’s speech without its being sedition. In his speech, when Parliament was prorogued, he pledged himself to support the magistrates in preserving peace, &c. Now as the Ministers, the magistracy, and even the ministers who should preach the gospel, have conspired, cannot we (said he) unite and resist their conspiracy? When wicked men conspire, good men unite. He said, “I was reading the other day the names of those who signed the famous arming declaration at Manchester, and my flesh shuddered on my bones, and my blood curdled in me to read such names as Wm. Roby, minister of Grosvenor-street Chapel, John Stephens, and Sam. Bradley.” (Here Knight said something to him.) He said, “I am glad to hear from my friend, Mr. Knight, that several of Mr. Roby’s hearers having waited upon him, he has been obliged to withdraw his name. I was going to have said something of him, but it is now not necessary.” He paid a high compliment to Hunt for his perseverance in the cause of liberty, and recommended them to pass a vote of thanks to him…’6
‘[He] took his leave amidst the shouts and acclamations of the whole assembly.’7
‘Their language was on the whole more moderate than on some former occasions, and the resolutions entered into were founded on Major Cartwright’s bill or rights and liberties- embracing annual parliaments, universal suffrage and election by ballot. During the meeting an alarm of the approach of the military prevailed, which produced some panic, but no interruption was offered to the proceedings. The people dispersed at around 7 o’clock.’8
‘There were about 3,000 persons assembled. No sticks were displayed…The women were the most noisy and turbulent. Many persons left the ground before the meeting was over.’9
1. The Times, August 3, 1819. 2. The Times, July 30, 1819. 3. Sherwin’s Political Register, August 7, 1819. 4. The Times, July 30, 1819. 5. Sherwin’s Political Register, August 7, 1819. 6. The Times, July 30, 1819. 7. Sherwin’s Political Register, August 7, 1819. 8. The Times, August 3, 1819. 9. The Derby Mercury, August 5, 1819.
“The Rev’d Mr Harrison rose to address them and after dwelling on their favourite topics – corruption, rotten boroughs, taxation, Church & state etc. on which he descanted with considerable ability. He begged of them to beware of strangers, for it was difficult to tell who to trust. That the agents of government were at work, and intimated there might be some present even magistrates. That if they wished to succeed they must trust no one. They must depend on themselves. Be united & victory is yours. There might be magistrates present. That nothing was more terrible to ministers and their supporters – than the very idea of Reform. Things could not continue as they were. That Union amongst themselves would provide the desirable event. They must be firm & persevere. That they were fighting for a Reform of the Commons House of Parliament and hoped to be able to obtain it without bloodshed. That they did not want to strip the Royal family of their allowances. They wished to allow them something to support them in a proper manner. They should even have abundance. That the enemies of Reform held them up as the vilest of monsters. That they themselves were the monsters, who not content with draining the Country & grinding the poor, had placed additional burdens o their already broken backs. They must either shake them off, by bringing about a reform or they must sink under them. They have now got so far on their way that they could not return. They must persevere. Advised them to conduct themselves orderly and peaceably. That their enemies could not have a shadow of a plea against them; for many agents there was no doubt were afloat in the country. But the government would be obliged to give them their rights or I know one thing, that you will take them. That he had seen a paper wherein the friends of social order & government were called upon to arm themselves & mentioned the names of several of them who had signed the requisition; that it made him shudder with horror; froze his very blood to see the name of (supposed Roby) who pretends to be a minister of the Gospel (Mr Knight here told the speaker that his congregation had obliged him to withdraw his name.) The speaker there commented upon the connexion between Church & State; that the Church was filled, at least the heads of it, with nobleman sons, who had had an interest to support things as they are, that this system was become absolutely necessary to the support the present system. That the minds of the people had become enlightened; that they now saw through these things. Did these men of the Church & State practice what they preached? No. Did they follow the example of our blessed Redeemer? No. If the people do not practice what they preach, how can they expect others to do it, particularly those who are starving? That they might soon preach to empty benches and the rich…” (HO 42/190 fol. 125)
1819, Jul 26
Proclamation issued by Lord Sidmouth promising a reward for information on person who fired the pistol at Constable Birch.
‘His Royal Highness…is hereby pleased…to promise His Majesty’s most gracious pardon to any of them (except the person who actually fired the said pistol) who shall discover the accomplices therein, so that they may be apprehended and convicted thereof…
And as a further encouragement, his Royal Highness is further pleased to promise…who shall discover and apprehend…for the person who actually fired the pistol, the sum of 300l.; and for either of the two other persons who were present at the firing of the said pistol, the sum of 50l…’1
1. The Times, July 27, 1819.
1819, Jul 26
Letter from Lloyd (Stockport) to Hobhouse dated 26 July, 1819
‘The promptitude of your reply has produced astonishment –
It was received in 62 hours from my dispatch by the Saturday’s mail guard, & has given the most decided satisfaction – We have been upon the examination all the day & made great progress, inasmuch as we can have little doubt as to the perpetrators of the horrid outrage against poor Birch – Who yet languishes in a hopeless state.
You will not require of me, at present, to state to you the effect of the evidence against individuals in custody, but I have no hesitation in saying I believe there will be a sufficient case tomorrow against one of the men in custody, James George Bruce; a principal man in the Union, and that we shall at least know by accurate description the person of the man who actually discharged the pistol over the shoulder of Bruce – he being one of 3 – who encompassed Birch – The sensation it has created is not so favourable here as one might have expected from the inhabitants – In other places I believe it is felt & acted upon with horror & proper indignation.
We have obtained extraordinary evidence of conspiracy in the affair which will require time to bring to due effect – The members of the Union are all alive & identify themselves in a manner that lead to further investigation, which will be pursued & the magistrates, Reverend C. Prescot, Mr. Tatton & Mr. Marsland adjoined at 3 to-day till 10 tomorrow.
I have the honor to be Sir, your very obedient humble servant J.
1. HO 42/190.
1819, Jul 27
Letter from Lloyd (Stockport) to Hobhouse dated 27 July, 1819
‘Sir Bruce has this day been committed to Chester Castle for trial as one of the 3 who were concerned in the outrage upon poor Birch (who is yet alive) – Edmonds who concealed the name of the man who fired is in custody here – & this day we have got James Martin a teacher of the Union on suspicion – he being a teacher (& it was a teacher who shot) & not coming forward with the rest – This has occasioned considerable hustle & some panic – for they cannot know from us how matters bear – but it is important – that Bruce was the usher of Harrison, living in his house, Edmonds the person who officiated in the writing department during his absence, & Martin a teacher – In Edmond’s examination to day he denies being on the spot – and prisoner Davies whom we have let out on his recognizance says he saw him in the crowd after the shot enquiring – I hope to be able to prove, what I believe to be the fact that there was a conspiracy to commit the act & that it was done in pursuance of that conspiracy & that it was formed in the Union Rooms.
Excuse me further at present – I have been at Manchester sessions since the business of the day & have just got your packages – with the posting bills which has raised the hopes & encouraged the expression of exertions in our townsmen now assembled.
I have the honor to be your very faithful servant J. Lloyd’1
1. HO 42/190.
1819, Jul 28
Letter from Lloyd (Stockport) to Hobhouse dated 28 July, 1819
‘Sir All the magistrates have met to day – The case did not hear against James Martin & he was discharged – Alex Edmonds was remanded (he still concealing the name & denying being on the spot)
We have examined numbers & I have sent to Liverpool letters to instruct the proper Officers to be vigilent & to make proper enquiries as to persons going out to South America – Referring to the letter received from the agent there by Bruce & giving a description of the person who fired according to Bruce’s account.
I have had Captain Chippendale over – He speaks of marchings & triflings in the neighbourhood & it is also said marchings have been seen in our part of the country only in the morning –
I send you copies of the last letter from Chester –
Bruce is no doubt safely lodged at Chester no cavalry – no bustle at the time he was removed hence.
Two gentlemen of the town have been privately convened for this evening to do something, but I am so mortified & vexed by their supineness that I am not with them – I am better satisfied to rate them for their dastardly conduct. I suppose there will be a meeting of 10 & they will resolve to meet again and then they will resolve to do — nothing.
The adjoining township of Heaton Norris takes the lead – Shame be to us.
I have the honour to be your very obediant humble servant J. LLoyd’1
1. HO 42/190.
1819, Jul 29
Excerpt of letter from Norris to Sidmouth dated 29 July, 1819.
‘…Harrison himself I hear preached in the streets of Stockport on Sunday & appeared at Rochdale where he spoke on Monday notwithstanding all that had occurred. This sufficiently denotes the hardened depravity of this monster.’1
1. HO 42/190.
1819, Jul 29
Excerpt of letter from Hunt to Joseph Johnson dated 29 July, 1819.
‘…pray write and tell me the particulars relative to Birch the Stockport constable; there is no believing one word that appears in the rascally London papers. If it be true that this man is shot his blood will be upon the head of the miscreant the Lord Mayor. It was known that I had procured good bail for him in London, and that we were coming to bail him with most responsible bail, when he was dragged away to make a show of him through the country, and to exhibit him in custody at Stockport. Pray tell me of this Birch is one of those monsters who behaved in so inhumane a way to the poor Blanketeers. If it is one of those wretches I am not surprised to hear of their vengeance being at length wreaked upon him…’1
1. HO 42/190.
1819, Jul 30
Report from Wakefield Journal.
‘In consequence of the alarm excited by the atrocious attempt upon the life of Mr. Birch, of Stockport, a general movement of the military from the South and East has taken place towards that district. The Horse Artillery which has so long had its head-quarters at Pontefract, passed through Wakefield early yesterday morning, and the two troops of the 6th Carbineers, stationed at Wakefield, march this morning for the vicinity of Stockport and Manchester.’1
1. The Times, August 3, 1819.
1819, Jul 31
Macclesfield Reform Meeting. (Harrison was not present).
‘A man of the name Swindells presided; he is evidently unused to his office. The speakers were Burtinshaw and Buckley, both from Stockport. A female was upon the hustings, and recommended an union of females in Macclesfield similar to the one in Stockport, whom she represented.’1
[These men would later be convicted of the charge of sedition and blasphemy and become fellow inmates with Harrison at Chester Castle.]
1. The Times, August 3, 1819.
1819, Jul 31
Letter from Lloyd (Stockport) to Hobhouse dated 31 July, 1819.
‘Sir I have been with General Byng to day at Manchester, & at my suggestion, he sent over the surgeon of the 15th Hussars to see Birch – He reports him to be doing well but it is impossible to give an opinion as to his ultimate safety.
He agrees with the other surgeons that the ball is lodged betwixt the lobes of the lungs in the midriff. Change of its position might be fatal –
We have been a great deal engaged upon examinations – We have one man in custody who had threatened to shoot Birch – Another who was on the spot whom Bruce said knew the name of the man who fired the pistol – And a third, Edmonds, whom I have before named who has not given up the name.
I shall meet Mr. Trafford & Mr. Tatton by appointment in Manchester & I think I have persuaded the latter to see Bruce at Chester.
I am your respectful and humble servant J. Lloyd’1
1. HO 42/190.
Report from the Litchfield Mercury.
‘The march of troops to be pouring particularly on the counties of York, Lancaster and Chester. A division of artillery, which reached this city on Monday last, continued their route on Tuesday, for the Northern districts; on Tuesday and Wednesday, the first and second divisions of the 31st regiment of foot marched in upon us; and proceeded on Wednesday and Thursday, on their route for Stockport, which seems to be a marked point, round which a cordon of troops, both horse and foot, are forming in considerable numbers.’1
1. Caledonian Mercury, August 5, 1819.
1819, Aug 2
‘A party of the 51st Regiment of Foot, in number near 200, entered this town [Manchester], to be quartered here till further orders; the remaining part of the corps are expected in the course of the week.’1
‘1000 stand of arms, with a proportionate quantity of ammunition, under the escort of an officer’s party, were forwarded from the depot of Chester Castle, to Manchester.’2
‘At about 12 o’clock Mr. Barrett, the Police Officer of Stockport, safely lodged in Chester Castle, James George Bruce. The prisoner is a little fellow, much deformed in person.’3
‘Bruce is confined by himself in cell, No. 1, on the North side of the jail.’4
‘[Bruce] seems to be treated very kindly by the gaoler; though, owing to the crowded state of the prison he is at present very indifferently accommodated. From his brogue he is evidently an Irishman.’5
1. The Times, August 5, 1819. 2. The Derby Mercury, August 5, 1819. 3. Ibid. 4. Caledonian Mercury, August 5, 1819. 5. The Times, August 2, 1819.
1819, Aug 3
Various reports in the Times.
‘The meeting appointed some time ago for Manchester, at which Hunt is to preside, will certainly take place on the 9th inst., and will be attended by Sir C. Wolsely, Parson Harrison, and other performers. …[Bagguley], has not, since his sentence, permitted himself to be shaved, and has declared his determination to preserve his beard till the termination of his imprisonment. …The meetings that have taken place among the Reformers, and the general dissatisfaction of the lower orders in consequence of diminished wages and want of employment, have created very considerable alarm. The publications, of the most seditious nature, that have been disseminated among them, and the speeches made at the public meetings, goading them on to resistance of the existing authorities, have led a great majority of the poor, in many districts, to expect and believe that a revolution will be effected. …A meeting is announced to be held here [Manchester] on a very grand scale, on the 9th instant, but our Magistrates are putting forth a notice this afternoon, warning the public from attending it, stating it to be ‘illegal,’ and that those who attend will do so at their own peril.’1
1. The Times, August 3, 1819.
1819, Aug 3
Except of letter from Joseph Johnson (Smedley) to Hunt dated 3 August, 1819.
‘…I had forgot to inform you that it is the same Birch along with his father and the Lloyds that behaved in so infamous a manner to the Blanketeers the people therefore ought not to forget them. I understand the Stockport Union have written you an invitation to sleep and stay all night with them…’1
1. HO 42/191.
1819, Aug 4
Letter from Lloyd (Stockport) to Hobhouse dated 4 August, 1819.
‘Sir One of the most outrageous Reformers who has always dreaded me has betrayed his friends but it must not be known & through his means I have this day obtained the names of the 2 persons concerned in shooting poor Birch and I have constables with warrants in all directions to apprehend them – God speed – Their names are James McInnis & Jacob McInnis from County Down lived near this town.
I have the honor to be Sir your very obedient humble servant J. Lloyd’1
1. HO 42/191.
1819, Aug 4
Letter from Edward Blandford (London) to Arthur Thistlewood dated August 4, 1819.
‘Dear Sir, – With the greatest reluctance I have to communicate a circumstance which I would most willingly attribute to forgetfulness, and consign it altogether to oblivion; but that there are other circumstances attached to it which entirely set aside such a conclusion. I confess I do not like its complexion, which has for some days occasioned some very unpleasant reflections; I say this in confidence, as I would not on any account that it should go forth to the world, being of that nature which would give our enemies full scope to descant very unfavourably upon the conduct of our champion.
To state it fairly, and submit the whole to your candid and impartial appreciation, I must refer to some circumstances anterior to that which I herein allude to.
You doubtless remember, that prior to the Smithfield meeting, the committee for the penny subscription was summoned to attend on special business; that they voted the sum of 4l. 14s. 6d. then remaining in the hands of the treasurer (Mr. Hunt) should be applied to the defraying of the expenses of that meeting in Smithfield, and instructed their secretary, Dr. Watson, to make out an order to draw the same, which he did, and gave it to me as Secretary to the Committee of Two Hundred for that purpose, which order I presented to Mr. Hunt: he looked at it, and said, he had no cash till he had sent a check to the Bank; this was on Monday morning, the 19th ult.
In the afternoon I called again, and urged our want of money for present use: he requested me to call in the evening. I, in your presence, borrowed a 1l. note of Mr. Baldric, and in the evening called again upon Mr. Hunt, who, after some hesitation, said he could not pay the
sum without the sanction of the public, which must be obtained at the public meeting: this, I observed , would place us in a very awkward situation, and that if he persisted I must be necessitated to borrow more money, or the business must stand still, and the object of the meeting weakened, if not defeated: here I left him, and Dr. Watson advanced 1l. towards the furtherance of what we were in pursuit of. The meeting past, the following
morning the obtaining bail for Mr. Harrison occupied our attention for some time; after which I again urged the payment of the penny subscription-money, and was by no means pleased with this seeming reluctance to comply. He asked me if there were any deficiency? I replied, “Sir, I believe there will be a deficit of upwards of 6l.” He exclaimed, “What, after the 4l. 14s. 6d. is paid.” – “Yes, Sir, although the expenditure is nearly 7l. under our calculation.” He requested me to call again in 2 or 3 hours, and he would have change for a check. I called at the time, and he then asked me if I would take a check to the Bank of William Williams and Co., Birchin- lane, to be cashed; I agreed. The check I found was
drawn by Charles Pearson, Esq. for five pounds. I presented it, and had the amount in five one-pound notes: these I gave to Mr. Hunt, and he requested Mr. Giles, who was in the room, to oblige him with silver for one of them. Mr. Giles did so, and Mr. Hunt gave me
four of the notes, and 14s. 6d. in silver, the amount of the penny subscription, which (though he, as a thought, seemed reluctantly to part with) he said he was glad to
get rid of.
Now, Sir, we come to the point which baffles my conjectures, and which I most unwillingly touch upon. You had informed me that Mr. Pearson had promised, that after the meeting, should there be a deficit, he would make it up to the amount of 5l. Mr. Hunt had left town,
and at your instigation I waited upon Mr. Pearson relative to the above, accompanied by Dr. Watson; but Mr. Pearson had not returned from Birmingham; was expected at 4 o’clock p.m. On the following day I had an interview, and producing 3 bills due for printing, posting, etc. the placard offering the award of ten guineas, etc. Mr. Pearson observed, “What have I to do with them? do they expect more money from me? I have given 5l. towards the expenses of the meeting, and do the Committee expect more of me?” “Sir,” I replied, “I have called in consequence of your having assured Mr. Thistlewood, that if there were any deficit after the meeting, you would cover it to the amount of 5l.” Mr. Pearson answered, “I did not wait till after the meeting; I gave it; I gave a check for 5l. to Mr. Hunt for that purpose, and surely they do not want more of me.” Guess my astonishment! Out of that check I had received the penny subscription, and not the amount of it, as intended by Mr. Pearson. I could only reply, that I was quite in the dark, further than I had explained, fearing to say more lest the exposure should subject Mr. Hunt to public censure, and sink him into nothing. Think of this and be silent, for a breath would destroy him; therefore be dumb for his sake, for ours, and for the cause. Yours sincerely Edward Jos. Blandford.
London, Aug. 4, 1819.
To Mr. A. Thistlewood.
Do not show this to any person, except the Doctor.’1
1. The Times, Oct 29, 1819.
1819, Aug 5
Magistrates declared the Manchester Meeting for August 9th illegal.
‘We, the undersigned Magistrates, acting for the counties of Lancaster and Chester, do hereby caution all persons to abstain at their peril, from attending such illegal meeting…Yesterday a party of the 51st Regiment of Foot, in number near 200, entered this town [Manchester], to be quartered here till further orders.’1
‘[Harrison] has long preached to crowded congregations of cotton-spinners, and the very lowest classes of the community, on subjects relative to what he calls “constitutional right;” and therefore styles himself C.P.N.- in words, “Chaplain of the Poor and Needy!”’2
1. The Times, August 5, 1819. 2. Caledonian Mercury, August 5, 1819.
1819, Aug 6
Radicals produced new requisition for Manchester Meeting to be held on the 16th August.
‘MANCHESTER PUBLIC MEETING. A requisition having been presented to the boroughreeve and constables of Manchester, signed by above 700 inhabitant householders in a few hours, requesting them to call a PUBLIC MEETING, “To consider the propriety of adopting the most LEGAL and EFFECTUAL means of obtaining a REFORM in the Commons’ House of Parliament,” and they having declined to call such meeting, therefore the undersigned requisitionists give NOTICE that a public meeting will be held, on the area, near St. Peter’s Church, for the above-mentioned purpose, on Monday, the 16th instant – the chair to be taken by H. Hunt, Esq. at twelve o’clock. “Major Cartwright – Mr. Wooller – Mr. Pearson – Mr. Carlisle – Dr. Crompton – Edward Rushton – Mr. J Smith – Mr. Thos. Smith – will be invited to attend this meeting. Manchester, 6th August. 1819.”’1
1. Manchester Observer, August 7, 1819.
1819, Aug 7
Letter from William Perry to Henry Hunt dated 7 August, 1819.
I am particularly requested by the General Committee of the Stockport Union for promoting Human Happiness to solicit you & your friends to arrive in Stockport (on your way to Manchester) on Saturday or Sunday next, & oblige us with your Company until Monday. The Reformers in this part of the Country all look up to you & yr noble patriotic companions to assist them in the great & glorious undertaking they have so spiritedly & determinedly engaged in, it is the bold, manly & disinterested part you have taken that causes us to place so much confidence in your future exertions the idea of yr arrival here strikes terror to the very foundations of the Borough faction in this part of the country there is nothing but hurry & bustle amongst men, this fortnight past, troops marching artillery flying – & every species of falsehood that they can possibly circulate with intents to intimidate & warp us from our object, but no, their arts we despise, & every effort they make against us tends to shew their weakness & adds to our strength; our object is our Rights & Liberties, equal laws & strict justice but theirs apparently is the direct contrary, but the brave Reformers of Lancashire & Cheshire are not to be intimidated by such a puny & despicable Race of half throttled Dandies; for who but a witch unworthy of existence can countenance their actions & who but one that was sunk beneath the very dregs of society, could have sanctioned the outrage committed on you in the Manchester Theatre, & yet you see the villains who committed it must be sheltered from justice by a set of worthless miscreants. But the day is not far off when ever one will receive the reward he so justly merits; the day Sir, is close at hand when we hope to see justice done to the principles of a Paine, a Hunt, a Cobbett & Cartwright & these principles widely & extensively disseminated
I remain Sir on behalf of the
Committee Yours respectfully
(signed) Wm Perry
Union Rooms London Place
Stockport Aug 7, 1819′
HO 42/191 folio 252.
1819, Aug 7
Letter from Lloyd (Stockport) to Hobhouse dated 7 August, 1819.
‘Sir William Perry lives in this town and has been examined as a teacher of the Union school – He acts a principal part in that concern. Cleans the rooms out & receives the pennies – He is a weaver but no time to work – He sells sedition at his home in London Place near the factory wherein the
school is kept…’1
1. HO 42/191.
1819, Aug 7
‘…the reform meeting, intended to be held here on Monday, has been postponed till that day se’nnight…Hunt is, nevertheless, resolved to be among his friends at the time originally fixed. He is expected at Stockport to-morrow, and will make his triumphal progress to the residence of his friend Joe Johnstone, the brush-maker, here, after hearing a sermon on domestic reform from Parson Harrison, and chopping politics with the president of the female union club…It is lamentable to witness the scenes which the wretched inhabitants of Stockport, and of some of the streets of this town, present to the view even of the passing stranger. Poor men are wandering about, with emaciated faces and dejected despairing looks, apparently without employment or the means of support, while their houses seem neglected, their wives and their children in rags.’1
1. The Times, August 10, 1819.
1819, Aug 8
Hunt rests at the Red Lion Inn at Bullock Smithy.
Thomas Tiddler, the owner of the Inn, said: ‘Moorhouse stopped opposite my house in the morning, and did not call; he did at his second visit when Mr. Hunt was gone; it was a matter of public notoriety that Mr. Hunt was there; Mr. Hunt stopped four hours at my house; Mr. Johnson of Manchester, did not call there; one Jump did, and asked to see Mr. Hunt, into whose room he was admitted.’
1. The History & Political Life of Henry Hunt Esq, Robert Huish, 1836.
[Note: The person of Jump mentioned above is most likely Robert Jump who was a member of the Stockport Union. Robert Jump attended Harrison’s sermon on the 15th August and acted as witness at his trial. Harrison also mentions in one of his letters to Johnston at Chester on July 14 that ‘Brother Jump’ had ‘taken rather too much beer with a friend’ and was indicted for ‘speaking against his Majesty’s Ministers.’
In a statement made by Pearson on August 25 he mentions that Robert Jump makes weekly collections at the Windmill Room and he suspects that this goes toward the purchase of pikes and that these are concealed near Jump’s house.
Lloyd mentions that on August 29 a pike was found near Jump’s house.]
1819, Aug 8
‘[Hunt] dined at Bullock Smithy…and supped at the Union Rooms, Stockport (the place where the Female Reformers hold their meetings, and remained in Stockport all night.’1
‘Upon reaching Stockport visited Harrison at the Union Rooms in the evening and sat down to supper with 100 of his friends.’ ‘Late on that night Mr. Moorhouse and Mr. Johnson came to Mr. Hunt at [Henry Lomas’ house, White Lion].’2
Hunt slept at the house of Moorhouse, and planned to leave Stockport at 11 o’clock the following morning.
‘Jacob McInnis [the man who shot Birch] arrived in a vessel at Warren-point, Newry [Ireland]; search was accordingly made in the neighbourhood by Rev. Holt Waring, magistrate for the County of Down; the supposed culprit had, however fled.’3
1. The Morning Chronicle, August 12, 1819. 2. The Trial of Henry Hunt, T. Doley. 3. The Times, September 11, 1819.
1819, Aug 9
Hunt, Wolseley, Harrison, Moorhouse and Johnson held a triumphal parade through Manchester in a gig and a chaise. (composite of reports.)
‘This morning Henry Hunt, Esq. and Sir C. Wolseley proceeded in two carriages from Stockport…to Manchester.’1
‘Sir Charles and Mr. Hunt were accompanied in the carriages from Stockport by Mr Moorhouse and Mr. Harrison; Mr Johnson met them near that place, where he was taken into the chaise. On arriving at Ardwick Green, he changed places with Sir Charles, and took is seat beside Mr Hunt, probably to direct the movement through the town.’2
‘There appeared to be about 300 people coming in with them. The crowd increased as they went along.’3
‘It was announced at the Manchester Observer Office this morning, by a large placard, that Mr. Hunt would arrive in the town at twelve o’clock.’4
‘The cavalcade passed along Piccadilly, and down Market-street. When they arrived opposite the Observer Office they gave three cheers; and when opposite the Exchange, the Gentlemen…received him with hisses, which the mob returned with cheers.’5
‘The procession went along Old Mill-gate, Hanging-ditch, &c. and at the outskirts of the town, near St. Michael’s Church, Hunt stopped and harangued the mob. He said, he had not heard that the meeting was adjourned till he got to Bullock Smithy, and very sorry he was to be informed it was postponed.’6
He declared the meeting to ‘have been perfectly constitutional; and that the nine Magistrates who had declared it to be illegal, were even less than tailors, the whole nine not being equal to one wise man.’7
‘He desired they would all go to their homes, and pledged himself to attend their Meeting next Monday. The bulk of the crowd left Hunt and his party at this place.’8
‘The carriages then drove to Mr. Johnson’s residence [at Smedley, about a mile and a half from the town], where the gentlemen, after dinner, spent the evening very agreeably until the time of Sir Charles’s departure, which was by the mail [coach], to Wolseley Park.’.9
1. Caledonian Mercury, August 14, 1819. 2. Ibid. 3. The Trial of Henry Hunt, T. Doley. 4. The Morning Chronicle, August 12, 1819. 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid. 7. Caledonian Mercury, August 14, 1819. 8. The Morning Chronicle, august 12, 1819. 9. Caledonian Mercury, August 14, 1819.
1819, Aug 9
Letter from Norris (Manchester) to Sidmouth dated 9 August, 1819.
‘My Lord my information to your Lordship of last night that Mr. Hunt had arrived in this quarter turns out to be true – He arrived at Stockport yesterday & Sir C. Wolseley followed him – they repaired to the Union Rooms there & I believe threw that town into great confusion. This morning about one o’clock P.M. the High Constable of Stockport came over to us at the instance of Mr. Prescot to say that Hunt & Sir Charles Wolseley, Harrison & Johnson were setting out for Manchester accompanied by a great concourse of people & that messengers had been sent out to the neighbouring disticts to convene the multitude to assemble at Manchester at four o’clock at which time they intended to hold their original meeting. This as you may imagine has thrown the town into the greatest consternation as it was considered to be a ruse to guerre & that something very violent was intended. The military were instatly ordered under arms & all the civil power on the alert. Hunt made his appearance about 2 o’clock accompanied by many thousands; as he came into the heart of the town & when opposite to the Observer Office Hunt stopped his gig & gave 9 cheers directing the mob – to do the same which they of course did. He also honored the public exchange with the same species of salutation & then proceeded to Mr. Johnsons at Smedley – where they now remain. Harrison has returned home – It appears that the messengers from Stockport to the neighboring towns must have been sent for the purpose of collecting delegates to meet here or elsewhere tomorrow to discuss the measures that are now to be pursued…’1
1. HO 42/191.
1819, Aug 9
‘Three, p.m. We have just been informed that the individual [McInnis] who is reported to have shot at Birch, has been traced to Liverpool.’1
1. The Morning Chronicle, August 12, 1819.
1819, Aug 11
Letter from Hunt to the Inhabitants of Manchester and Neighbourhood.
‘Our enemies will seek every opportunity by the means of their sanguinary agents to excite a riot, that they may have a pretence for spilling our blood, reckless of the awful and certain retaliation that would ultimately fall on their heads. Every friend of real and effectual reform is offering up to Heaven a devout prayer, that you may follow the example of your brethren of the Metropolis: and by your steady, patient, persevering, and peaceable conduct on that day, frustrate their hellish and bloody purpose. Come, then, my friends, to the meeting on Monday, armed with no other weapon but that of a self-approving conscience; determined not to suffer yourselves to be irritated or excited, by any means whatsoever, to commit any breach of the public peace.’1
1. The Times, August 16, 1819.
1819, Aug 12
Letter from Henry Hunt to the Editor of the Star.
‘On my reaching Stockport on Sunday evening, the first thing I did was to inquire after Birch the constable. I was informed, with a smile, that he was convalescent. From all that I could collect on that evening and the next morning, I found that the general impression was that he had not been wounded at all by a loaded pistol; but, if any pistol or other explosion of squib or cracker had injured him it was from the effect of **…I saw some females who were present at the time the transaction occurred …they also saw some person immediately run from the spot; and having stated to a relation who they thought this person was, they and their relation have been since taken before a magistrate, and examined on a charge of conspiring to accuse the son of the famous Mr. Lloyd of being the person whom they suspected of having shot Birch…Another report is, that Birch’s father has said, that when Birch jumped over the wall and paling the bullet dropped out of his bowels. Mr Harrison who called to see him the day after the disaster, saw all but the wound, Birch’s wife having lifted up the plaster that covered it, within an inch, as he told me, of the very mark where the ball entered. She also showed him the shirt, which had a hole and some blood upon it. Mr. Harrison also saw his waistcoat, which had a hole near the 5th button-hole; but, although he examined it minutely, there was not any blood whatever upon the waistcoat, although Birch had run 200 yards and jumped over a wall and some pales after the supposed ball had been fired. It is a remarkable fact, that the only surgeons that have seen this wound are those connected with government, and it is said that Birch and they are at issue…Altogether, it is a most mysterious affair; but at all events Birch is now out of danger, as he was seen on Saturday last performing the sword exercise with a stick, which by the bye is not very improbable, as playing soldiers is said to be very much the fashion in this part of the world…Sir Charles Wolsely was very anxious to call upon Birch when he came to Stockport, but declined to do so in consequence of these reports…With regard to the distresses of the weavers, they have increased, instead of diminished, since I was here last; and for the want of better employment, I believe it is too true that they, many of them, pass a considerable portion of their time in what they call playing soldiers, or in other words, learning to march, wheel, &c., and other maneuvers practised by the military. The parties (one third of them at least) having either served in the militia, the local militia, or the regulars, I am informed, make a respectable drill, in the most orderly manner possible…A gentleman informed me yesterday, that he saw 1,400 men formed in line, marching, &c., on Sunday morning last, and that 800 of them marched a considerable distance before they were dismissed. This was all done in open day, and not secretly; they have drums, fifes, and bugles, but no arms whatever…I have no doubt but those who are instructing these poor men are in the employ of the *** of Bolton…I have, and shall continue to do all in my power to dissuade them from continuing any such foolish measures. I have been invited to ride on Sunday to review them; no one but a Manchester spy would give me credit for walking with my eyes open into such a trap…We have our meeting here on Monday next, and the preparations for a riot (to be produced, if any, but the agents of the police) are equal to those made by the Lord Mayor previous to the meeting in Smithfield. I have no doubt but we shall conduct the proceeding with great quietness and order, although I dread any mad attempt to produce disturbance, as the people here, although disposed to peace, are much more determined to resist any illegal attack made upon them.’1
1. The Times, August 16, 1819.
1819, Aug 12
‘Letter from Lord Sidmouth to the Rev. Mr. Prescott, the principal magistrate of Stockport, communicating the Prince Regent’s determination to bestow upon Birch a pension for life of 100l.’ And should Birch die the pension will extend to ‘his widow, for the support of herself and the family whom he may leave behind.’1
1. The Times, August 26, 1819.
1819, Aug 14
Letter from John Lloyd to Henry Hobhouse, Under Secretary of State.
‘Sir, – The lower orders are in a dreadful state- not by distress, for there is work for most that may be willing, except the weavers, who are badly off, and yet perhaps not the worst of the reforming crew; I mean they are quite bold and insulting, and reckon on a speedy and radical change to give them complete power over us… The tenants of a gentleman near this town refuse to pay their rents till they know the issue on the Monday’s meeting. J. Lloyd.’1
1. The Times, November 26, 1819.
1819, Aug 15
Joseph Harrison “seditious” sermon preached at Stockport.1 It ‘Was held in his lecture room at Stockport which was known as the Windmill Rooms’2 The magistrates for Lancashire and Cheshire sent over spies to watch Harrison.3
1. Cheshire Courant, August 29, 1819. 2. Chester Chronicle, April 14, 1820. 3. The Morning Chronicle, April 20, 1820.
1819, Aug 16 (Peterloo)
Excerpt of Report of William Chippendale to John Byng.
‘…The Stockport Column will have the most attraction. It will be headed by Major Cartwright, Sir Chas Wolseley, Mr Wooller, Hunt &c. &c. They were all at Stockport last night to hear Harrison preach at the Union Rooms. I need not say more respecting the meeting as the same Post that takes this will convey to you an account from the Police of Manchester of what has actually occurred. I remain … XY.’1
St Peter’s Field meeting “Peterloo” massacre. Hunt etc. arrested. Joseph Harrison did not play any official role as he says he was “not invited”. The Stockport contingent, headed by Moorhouse arrived without him. He arrived later in time to witness the carnage caused by the cavalry.
Harrison later said, ‘Many of you were present at Peterloo, and saw that the merciless aggressors respected neither age nor sex. I was there myself, and saw many endeavouring, but in vain, to escape from the ground, and well, indeed, they might.’1
During his trial for sedition he tried to play down his connection with the event – ‘He was quite unconnected with that meeting; he had not attended the meeting; he had walked towards Manchester on the day of the meeting but before he arrived that meeting had been dispersed by the swords of the cavalry.’2
‘Great stress is laid upon the day, the 16th of August, for which Mr. Hunt and others were indicted, as if their had been some design in my preaching to train, drill and fit the people who heard me for some extraordinary transaction in Manchester. With that I am wholly unconnected; I never designed to go there. But on the day they met, I intended to go there, but arrived after it was dispersed by the sabres of the cavalry; I would have taken no part in that meeting, because I had determined never to go to any public meeting without an invitation.’3
1. The Morning Chronicle, November 12, 1819. 2. Freeman’s Journal, April 25, 1820. 3. The Morning Chronicle, April 20, 1820.
The eye-witness Charles Wright claims Harrison was also on the hustings but this seems unlikely:
‘Before Hunt would ascend the hustings, he commanded the musical instruments to be removed, and many improper persons to get down. This being effected, Knight first ascended, then Hunt, when he was hailed with long cheers. Johnson, Saxton, Moorhouse, Carlisle, and I believe, Fitton then made their appearance. I was told Harrison was also on the hustings, with several others.’1
- TS 11/1056 Statement of Charles Wright, Manchester
St Peter’s Field Meeting, “Peterloo”
1819, Aug 18
Letter from Lloyd (Stockport) to Hobhouse dated 18 August, 1819.
‘Sir Although a Captain of Infantry for many years I thought it an honor to enlist into the Stockport Troop of Cheshire Yeomanry – & to volunteer my services on the glorious day at Manchester – We have come back with honor to day having with our Troop done essential service & obtained praise – on the field on picque & in pursuit of the pike men yesterday in the neighborhood of Oldham.
“We took 2 standards” & have brought home with us the one red & gold – “Let us Die Like Men & Not Like Slaves” on one side – on the other – “Liberty is the Birthright of Man.” The other green & gold “Henry Hunt Esq The Undaunted Friend of Liberty” one side the other – “Cartright Universal Suffrage” with the names of “Wolseley Wooler & Cobbett” inscribed in a scroll. We shall present them to Sir John Leicester – Major Trafford Trafford Esq was present & took hold of the Colour – The casualties are few 4 men hurt & wounded one dangerously –
We have had a glorious meeting to day of all the Cheshire worthies at Stockport – passed some spirited resolutions – & a subscription to Birch – You shall have the papers tomorrow –
Harrison the preacher presented himself at the meeting & was hooted & hissed out of the room – The enemy still talk big & arm themselves – We remain on duty & now is the time to make a good finish – Excuse the hasty epistle of your very faithful & obedient servant J. Lloyd’1
1. HO 42/192.
Harrison reported to have, ‘the modesty to attend the meeting at Stockport, convened by the inhabitants, to declare their abhorrence of the designs of seditious and traitorous individuals; but being under a recognizance to answer an indictment for sedition, was deemed by the meeting not to be “one of the loyal and patriotic inhabitants of Stockport,” within the terms of the requisition convening the meeting, and was turned out of the room with universal hisses. – Macclesfield Courier’1
1. The Times, August 26, 1819.
1819, Aug 20
Magistrates Trafford and Broughton issued warrant against Joseph Harrison.
‘On the 20th. of August Mr. Trafford and Mr. Broughton, two of the magistrates sitting at the New Bailey at Manchester issued their warrant against the defendant [Joseph Harrison] to have him apprehended to find sureties to answer an indictment for the sedition uttered by him on the 15th, and on the following morning he was taken before Mr. Trafford and Mr. Phillips and by them committed to Chester Castle for want of sureties.’1
1. P.R.O. TS 11/48.
1819, Aug 21
Joseph Harrison committed to Chester Castle.
‘He was committed to our gaol [Chester-Castle] on Saturday last by J. Phillips and Trafford Trafford, Esqrs., charged that he (Joseph Harrison) “did, on the 15th day of August, at Stockport, in the County of Chester, utter, speak, and use the following seditious, wicked, and inflammatory words, expressions, and passage following, that is to say, “It is necessary for the consent of all three estates to make laws, which cannot be altered but by the same consent. The Commons House, or House of assembly of the People, should watch their interests; but a few designing persons have the whole sway there, and when the people ask for their rights, by a reform in their own House, they threaten to make war on the people. Can laws proceeding from such a source be called the law of the land, or is it fit we should obey them?”’1
‘Harrison, the reforming preacher, who was lodged in our Castle on Saturday last, is confined in the Yard No. 2; there are several fellows of an equally respectable class with himself in the same division of the gaol, and yet this Professor of “Equality and the Rights of Man,” objects to their company! He consoles himself occasionally, by preaching to them, and the hypocrite sometimes sings a verse or two of a Psalm, in order to add a mockery of religion, to infidelity to the Constitution of his country. The seditious words which he is charged with uttering, were introduced by him in the course of a long insurrectionary discourse, at which he is pleased to call his “Chapel,” in Stockport. Mr. Baguley is still determined to have a luxuriant beard; the appearance of his face is not much unlike that of a larger class of African baboons.’2
1. The Times, August 26, 1819. 2. The Morning Post, August 30, 1819.
1819 Aug 23
Some reports from the Loyalist papers regarding the three radical prisoners in Chester Castle.
‘BAGGULEY, DRUMMOND, and JOHSTON.These sufferers have since their confinement in our Castle, frequently given vent to their spleen through the medium of a vile publication called the Manchester Observer – and at several meetings which have taken place in the neighbourhood of Manchester, letters from them have been read, in which the same revolutionary principles, which they avowed and exulted in at their trial, were again promulgated and encouraged – on paper. Every friend, however, to the Government and Constitution, will rejoice to hear, that at last a stop has been put to this plan of disseminating sedition; the Magistrates have ordered, that no letters are to pass from, or be received by them, till they have undergone the scrutiny of the visiting Magistrates, which, of course, if improper, will be suppressed…(Chester Chronicle.)’1
‘Amongst the improvements introduced in the “Reform” System of Education, at Stockport, is the inculcation of the belief in the minds of the pupils, that- “the Bible is a farrago of absurdities and that it ought to be burnt!” – Parson Harrison and Co. illustrate this pious principle admirably.-(Chester Paper.)’2
1. New Times, August 23, 1819. 2. Ibid.
1819, Aug 21
Letter from Lloyd (Stockport) to Hobhouse dated 21 August, 1819.
‘Sir You will be no doubt made acquainted from another quarter that Harrison the preacher was arrested this morning & sent off to Chester Castle – Mr. Trafford gave me the warrant yesterday at Manchester and in pretty good time this morning I had him taken at his own house without any particular curiosity being excited – He was conveyed in a chaise to Mr. Phillips house the bank near this town where I had appointed to meet Mr. Trafford & the witnesses & he was at once committed to Chester & the chaise conveyed him forward so that he would be at cChester by 2 o’clock this day – There are 3 witnesses in a case of seditious expressions used on the 15th August at Stockport.
I have been with the gentlemen at Manchester & things are going on very well now in both quarters. I have given my examinations & introduced persons to relate facts to the training – & have directed steps to be taken in that part of
the district of our Division where they have exercised which may lead to the discovery of the commanders – I yesterday examined several witnesses relative to the meeting we had at Stockport on Tuesday – & delivered over examinations & received instructions from Mr. Bouchier.
I have the honor to be sir your very obedient humble servant J. Lloyd.1
1. HO 42/192.
1819, Aug 25
Statement of William Pearson given at Chester Castle 25 August, 1819.
‘The voluntary information of William Pearson now a prisoner in Chester Castle – Who saith that little Buckley a weaver living in Sandy Brow in Stockport constantly attends the Union Room in that town as a weekly speaker where he never fails to use the most inflammatory and dangerous
language – that John and James Hamer, brothers, and old Joseph Wood and a man called Cheetham, who keeps a grocer’s shop in Hillgate attends the Union & speaks there also much in the same way – That a man of the name of
Clarkson in Hillgate assists to the utmost, though he is no speaker – That Thomas Cheetham and Robert Jump collect or receive contributions weekly at the Wind Mill meetings to the amount of 1 pound or more each meeting – And further William Pearson strongly suspects that these collections or
contributions go towards the purchase of pikes etc. etc. in conjunction with the collections made at the Union – That he has strong reasons to suspect that pikes in considerable numbers are concealed in some place or places near the house of Robert Jump who lives near the Inn called the Wool
Pack in Stockport – Perhaps in some holes of excavations in the rocks near the house – That the blacksmith who makes the pikes lives near the Wool Pack – That pikes are either sold or given out at a house near the Wind Mill to such persons as they dare trust with them – William Pearson
considers little Buckley as one of the most dangerous of men.
Taken before me. Thomas Armitage a magistrate of the County of Chester’1
1. HO 42/193.
1819, Aug 27
Jacob McInnis was arrested near Dundrum, County of Down, by Special Constable John Ross. He was arrested at his aunt’s house and was in bed wearing a woman’s cap when taken.
John Ross said, ‘McInnis was taken, near Dundrum, in the county of Down; he arrested prisoner at his aunt’s; was in bed when he took him, with a woman’s cap on; when I looked at him, I saw he had red whiskers; I desired him to rise, and his aunt being alarmed, asked him if anything was wrong, and he said, “I suppose I am the man you are in search of;”…I apprehended him as a constable on the 27th August.’1
‘[Jacob] McInnis is described as a young man, apparently about 25, very decently and respectfully dressed in black. He appears by no means dejected, and roundly asserts his innocence.’2
‘[William] Pearson, one of the other persons committed for this offence, we are informed, is wholly discountenanced by the Radicals of Stockport, who have rejected his petition for an allowance.’3
1. The Morning Chronicle, April 10, 1820. 2. The Times, September 11, 1819. 3. Ibid.
1819, Aug 28
Harrison’s son Nathan (10) re-enrolled in Stockport Sunday School. Next to his record is the remark, ‘Son of the Seditionist Parson Harrison.’1
1. Stockport Sunday School registers, Stockport Heritage Library.
1819, Aug 29
Letter from Sir Charles Wolseley to Joseph Harrison (Chester Castle) dated 29 August, 1819.
‘My Dear Sir, I am very sorry to hear that you do not mean to be bailed on your last indictment. This, if you will think a little, must be a detriment in both our affair for if you are convicted on the last you will of course be confined and as your presence at Stockport for some time to come is very necessary pray be bailed. I am now at Manchester but will return home this evening therefore you may write through Mr. Hudson to me at Wolseley. Hunt comes out of Lancaster Castle this evening where the wise magistrates sent him last night merely I suppose to give him trouble. Mr. Grundy and Chapman were his bail and Chapman is gone off with the order to be liberated.
I remain my dear Sir Yours truly C. Wolseley. ‘1
1. HO 42/194.
1819, Aug 29
Excerpt of letter from Lloyd (Stockport) to Hobhouse dated 28 August, 1819.
‘…I am obliged by your communicating Pearson’s information, which I desired might be first sent to your office by Mr. Armistead – Jump therein named is inclined to say something to me – Old Burtinshaw is taken to day by warrant from Macclesfield and Buckley named by Pearson is wanted for the same. They being speakers at the Macclesfield meeting.
A tremendous pike has just been found near Jump’s house which will serve to alarm the timid & satisfy the doubtful – I have sent an account of it to Dr. Stoddard – I will advise tomorrow about a search of Jump’s garden. Moorhouse who is at home under bail has this evening been tendering names
for bail for Harrison at Chester so that there will be little chance of trying him at the present assizes – I fear there will be some inconvenience by reason of the assizes for Chester & Lancaster being on the same day…’1
1. HO 42/193.
1819, Aug 29
‘Extract of a letter from Chester, dated Sunday, August 29, nine p.m.-
“In consequence of a communication received to-day from the Lord Lieutenant, a meeting of the Mayor and Magistrates was held this morning; the positive substance of it has not yet been permitted to transpire; but it is certainly of great importance. The Castle guard has just been doubled, and an extra picket of 100 men of the 71st regiment are to patrol the streets during the night. It is said, that the purport of the intelligence is, that a strong body of the Radicals have determined to march this night on Chester, in order to possess themselves of the depot of arms (at least 40,000, exclusive of 11,000 pikes), and the immense gunpowder magazines. Whatever may be the rumour, the fact is, that the Commanding Officer of the garrison and the Magistrates have been closeted together, and extraordinary measures of precaution are taken. The soldiers of the garrison, instead of being distributed throughout the city, are concentrated in the immediate vicinity of the Castle, and the arms of the soldiers are lodged in the barracks. I am inclined to believe that much of this precaution is founded on mistatement [sic]; but certain it is, that the whole of these local military arrangements are in consequence of an express from the Lord Lieutenant of the County. Every thing is quiet here at present. A division of the picket has just passed my window.”’1
1. British Press, Sept 2, 1819.
1819, Aug 31
Report in the Chester Courant (a loyalist newspaper).
‘Stockport – Parson Harrison. A report that Cobbett’s Grammar was made use of among the Children of the STOCKPORT SUNDAY SCHOOL, having obtained some degree of credence in Birmingham, a friend to that institution was induced to make inquiry as to the fact, in the hope of being unequivocally to contradict so injurious an aspersion; his application produced the following reply from a gentleman resident at Stockport, and connected with the establishment:- “Your letter of inquiry respecting the Stockport Sunday School, I communicated to the Committee of that Institution, and understand that the Secretary has been requested to write to you on the subject. The Grammar you mentioned is used in what is called the UNION alias REFORM SCHOOL, of this town; but into the Stockport Sunday School it never was introduced; nor, than the supporters of that school, is there to be found within his Majesty’s dominions a body of men more sincerely attached to the British Constitution, or more stedfastly [sic] opposed to the present wild and visionary schemes of reform. To be responsible for the behaviour of every person in so large an establishment is impossible, but the conduct of the Committee in watching over those committed to their care, has been the most unremitting and exemplary; and on discovering, a few months ago, that some of the young men in the first class were in the habit of perusing the prophane [sic] ribaldry of Sunday newspapers, they were immediately expelled, and have never since been able to procure re-admission. The report, therefore, which has been circulated in Birmingham is a gross calumny, for, as it respects any participation with the Reformers, or their cause, a more incorruptible Society does not exist. “You have also expressed a desire to know who HARRISON is. The following history, therefore, of this miserable seditionist may not be unacceptable. As he has been called PARSON HARRISON, and a DISSENTING MINISTER, the scandal is gone forth that he is a Dissenting Minister in Stockport; but Harrison IS NOT, AND NEVER WAS a DISSENTING MINISTER IN THIS PLACE. I know not where may be his native place, but he once lived in the South of England (I believe Essex); since that he preached to a small congregation at Glossop, in Derbyshire, and kept a school, but having taken the most indecent liberties with the FEMALE PART of his pupils, he was dismissed from that place with the virtuous indignation which his conduct merited. After that he came to Stockport, and having taken a room near the celebrated Sandy Brow, opened a school and circulated handbills, calling himself CHAPLAIN TO THE POOR AND NEEDY. The poor and needy, however, finding that a collection was made at the conclusion of every service, were not very solicitous to renew their visits; and Harrison seeing no prospect before him in the PREACHING LINE, joined the Reformers, and, by his insinuating address and eloquence of abuse, soon became one of their most distinguished orators. I should observe, however, that Harrison still preaches: he preached lately in the open air to not less than 2000 people. The great object if his sermon was, I understand to prove that Jesus Christ was a Reformer, and by an artful confusion of moral and political reform, sent away his auditors with the conviction that they were the Disciples of the New Testament. I never heard Harrison, but he is said to be the most popular preacher in this part of the country, and has preeminently justified the saying of Dr. Johnson, that ‘he who preaches that every man is equal to his king, will never want a congregation.’ “The moral effects of THIS reform are really dreadful. There seems an inseparable connexion between it and an entire destitution of every religious restraint; nor is it to be wondered at, when it is stated as a known fact, that thousands in this part of the country, spend the Sabbath-day in the recesses of intemperance, reading the pages of the Black Dwarf, the publications of Sherwin, and the unholy ribaldry of the Manchester Observer. In the meantime, Ministers of all denominations in this part of the country are cautioning their people, and solemnly entreating them to take the Bible for their guide, and meddle not with them who are given to change. Several Dissenting Ministers have signed the public declaration at Manchester; the same thing would be followed here if an opportunity offered, and this I hope will convince the world that we have no more fellowship with them or their cause than light from darkness, or he that believeth with an infidel. No, whatever may be the scandal gone forth in the world, the motto of the Dissenters in this place is, in reference to the Constitution – Quod adolescens amavi, non deserem senex.”’1
1. The Chester Courant, September 31, 1819.
1819, Sep 1
At the opening of the Assizes, the Chief Justice addressed the Grand Jury.
‘Gentlemen, the dissemination of wild and abstract political theories have created a degree of unusual feeling throughout the country, that cannot be too soon repressed. Riot and sedition have spread through various districts; and it behoves every well-wisher of the country – every Englishman, to unite in thwarting the objects of revolutionary anarchists, in protecting the country from their influence, and in preventing their excesses and their growth…To forward their designs, the restless and lawless race deride the constitution, and insult its laws; but I trust, gentlemen, that the laws of this country are sufficient to protect the people from the malevolence and hostility of such characters. Much depends on the exertion of gentlemen of your description – gentlemen of fortune, education, talents, and influence – in putting an end to the system of delusion which has too long been permitted to exist…’1
1. The Times, September 4, 1819.
1819, Sep 1
Joseph Harrison entered into his own recognizance before Sir Mainwaring at Chester.
‘Mr. Harrison, the “Chaplain to the Poor and Needy,” has got bail; his sureties are John Longson, shopkeeper, and John Bardsley, hatter, both of Stockport; they are bound over for his appearance at the Assizes in the sum of 250l. each, and for himself in 500l. He has traversed till Spring; and is once more at liberty.’1
‘He made himself very conspicuous afterwards, by coming into Court, and showing himself in various parts of the town.’2
1. The Leeds Mercury, September 11, 1819. 2. The Times, September 4, 1819.
1819, Sep 2
Letter from Harrison to the Editor of the Chester Courant refuting the article that appeared in the Courant on 31 September, 1819.
‘To the Editor of the Chester Courant. Bear’s Paw Inn, Chester, Sept. 2, 1819. Sir – Having accidentally met with a letter in your Paper of the present week , which makes some unjustifiable remarks upon my character and conduct, I thought it a duty which I owed to myself and the public, to endeavour to set the subject in its true light, hoping that you, Sir, as a man of honour and feeling, will take a pleasure in circulating these few lines, through the medium of your impartial Paper. It appears that you have copied the above-mentioned letter from * * * * * * the Courier – It was originally addressed by some anonymous hand at Stockport, to a person in Birmingham, in answer to some inquiries relative to the Stockport Sunday School, Cobbett’s Grammar, and myself; as to the School and the Grammar, they may answer for themselves – I shall refer your readers more particularly to that part which refers to me. It is hard to say whether your author be a Christian, but it is obvious to mankind in general, and to sincere Christians in particular, that he has not written under the genuine spirit of Christianity. Anonymous writers raise suspicions in our minds that their designs are dark. Truth is never ashamed of is author – neither needs its author to be ashamed of it; but the authors of falsehood “love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil,” and those who contend with them; have to contend with Jack the Giant Killer, in his invisible coat. I hope your author is not a minister of the Gospel, though his style too much resembles that of some moderns, who have taken upon themselves that office. There are but two Dissenting Ministers in Stockport, of the Independent persuasion, besides myself, the first is Solomon Ashton, who either is a Reformer, or he makes his people believe so; and the second is Nathaniel Pugsley, who is a gentleman of too good education; honour, and moral feeling, to be guilty of writing such a mean, slanderous and anonymous letter. Your author calls me a “miserable seditionist;” it may be that I am comparatively miserable, and yet enjoy more happiness, even in a prison, than he enjoys in the possession of his personal liberty, and all the luxuries of life. As to sedition, I am not yet convinced (though indicted) that I have ever been guilty of it, either in doctrine or practice for I do not know that any man can be more firmly attached to the Constitutional Government of this country than myself. Your author pretends ignorance of my native place (Essex), where I spent the younger part of my life; but he goes on to say, “Since that he preached to a small congregation, at Glossop, in Derbyshire, and kept a school, but having taken the most indecent liberties with the female part of his pupils, he was dismissed from that place with the virtuous indignation which his conduct merited.” What your author means by saying, “he took the most indecent liberties,” &c. I am at a loss to determine, for I certainly never violated the chastity of those females, neither do a I know whether they are males or females but by their outward appearance. There was one young Lady, the daughter of James Kershaw, of Charlestown, who was much given in joking and nonsense, and sometimes I so far lost sight of the gravity requisite in my situation, as to return joke for joke; but perceiving that it tended to destroy the order of my school, I determined to maintain order by keeping this young Lady attentive to her studies; this displeased the young Lady, and she began to tell tales to her parents, and to influence others to do the like. In a few weeks afterward, a friend was sent by Mr. John Kershaw to reprove me, in general terms, for indiscretion of conduct. This reproof was well received by me, and I returned Mr. Kershaw an answer the following day, frankly and unsuspectingly taking all the blame to myself, for I knew it was my duty and determination to maintain due order and decorum in my school. This was made a handle of by some – a thousand lies were circulated, and a few dissatisfied individuals began to complain of my large family, political principles, &c. I, feeling no disposition to contend, voluntarily resigned my charge about six months afterwards, and I appeal to that congregation, whether they did not censure my resignation as rash and hasty, and whether the congregation has been as large since I left, as when I was with them. * * * * * * But to return; I am not ashamed of my title, “Chaplain to the Poor and Needy;” I do not wish to change it – I only wish to deserve it. Your author further says, that after I commenced preaching at Stockport, ‘ a collection was made at the conclusion of every service.” This, sir, is not true: I acknowledge that a collection was made frequently by the request or consent of the congregation for the relief of prosecuted individuals, prisoners, and persons destitute of employment. My congregation allow me a collection every month, which, upon an average, amounts to 2l, that is 10s per week, out of which I pay a certain proportion for rent, fire and candles. They have often proposed to procure me a more convenient place to preach in, or at least to furnish me with a better pulpit; but I am invariably of opinion, that such money would be better employed in relieving some distressed persons, in these trying times, whilst there are so many “Poor and needy.” – I appeal to them if these are not stubborn facts. – Again, instead of your author saying I “joined the Reformers,” he ought to have said the Reformers joined me. He tells you of my “insinuating address,” of which I am unconscious, and I appeal to all who know me, and have heard me (for your author confesses he has not) whether I ever practice what he calls “eloquence of abuse.” Your author alludes to my “preaching on the open air,” this I have done twice of late, not from a thirst after popularity, but because notice had been given of collections to be made for specific purposes, and my friends assured me; that the room would not contain half the people who were desirous of attending and giving their mites; and as to “the object of my sermon,” it is likely that he who did not hear it might “understand” it better than I who preached it, consequently it would be presumption in me to contradict; yet I hope I know Christ and his Gospel too well to “confuse” them with political matters I remain, yours, &c. JOSEPH HARRISON’1
1. British Press, September 16, 1819.
1819, Sep 2
Bench warrant issued for the second indictment and Joseph Harrison put into custody again.1
1. P.R.O. TS 11/48.
1819, Sep 2
Letter from Lloyd (Chester) to Hobhouse dated 2 September, 1819.
‘Sir Harrison was advised by Sir Charles Wolseley in a letter to accept bail – It was procured for him & he was yesterday liberated – To day a true bill has been found against him & a bench warrant has been issued – He is likely to be in custody again in the morning – But of course will not be tried till the next assizes.
I have had a injunction this day, Court to put off the trial of Bruce & Pearson upon the advice of the surgeon that Birch was not sufficiently reserved to attend and of my self that he was a material witness & that I expected the immediate apprehension of the McInnises – To night there is a letter saying Jacob McInnis has been apprehended in Ireland by the mail I may have an official communication of this fact from the Dublin Police Office with which I have been in correspondence.
The paper I send herewith, I perceive has a paragraph, which is founded upon a letter from W. Birch to his father – But at the post-office I do not find any letter for myself –
The trial, at all events, will not be brought on the present assizes – The grand jury will be discharged early tomorrow forenoon.
I have the honor to be Sir your very obediant humble servant J. Lloyd’1
1. HO 42/194
1819, Sep 2
Letter from Samuel Drummond (Chester Castle) to Magistrates dated 2 September, 1819.
‘Gentlemen In answer to a note which I wrote to Mr. Hudson, requesting him to inform me whether the letter I directed to Mr. Joseph Harrison of Stockport, dated the 7th of August had been forwarded to him, he states that it was put into your hands, and that if Mr. H had not received it you must have obtained it. As Mr. Harrison has not received the letter,
consequently it must be in your possession. I do not well know how far the powers of a magistrate may extend; but I dare hazard it, as an opinion that the laws of this country do not authorize any person or persons to assume the office of censor, and suppress what any individual may be pleased to
write even though he had wrote sedition and till I am convinced to the contrary, I shall consider you guilty in this instance, of me of the most arbitary infringements on the freedom of discussion that was ever exercised in a country calling itself free. Did not Justice Copley, in passing sentence upon me prohibit me the use of pen, ink and paper; did he say you should not write upon politics, or any other subjects that the magistrates of Cheshire may think improper. No he merely consigned me to the care of Mr. Hudson; therefore I contend that you have no control upon me as may halters, and consequently cannot be justified in detaining any letter. Were I only to state that it as much my property as the coat you wear is yours, it ought to convince you of the propriety of delivering it to the owner, or to the person for whom it was intended.
I am gentlemen, yours with the greatest respect. Samuel Drummond.’1
1. HO 42/194.
1819, Sep 3
Joseph Harrison pleads not guilty to second indictment.
‘[Joseph Harrison] again put into custody and the next day pleaded not guilty and elected to be tried at the then assize which was acceded to and the day fixed for the 7th.’1
1. P.R.O. TS 11/48.
1819, Sep 4
Letter from Lloyd (Chester) to Hobhouse dated 4 September, 1819.
‘Sir Harrison was called to plead yesterday & pleaded not guilty – & was allowed his election & chose to be tried – The day has been fixed for next Tuesday & I have sent for the witnesses one of them at Lancaster assizes but I expect them or shall not be freed on – I send you a copy of a letter
from Sir Charles to Harrison a curious document – I am prepared with my brief & I hope to convict.
I have the honor to be Sir your very obedient humble servant J. Lloyd
P.S. I send a copy of Drummond’s letter occasioned by the order as procured at the adjoined last August to prevent political letter passing from or to the Castle.
On 29th August Moorhouse tendered the names of sureties for Harrison & they were accepted and entered into recognizance on the 30th & on the 1st September Harrison himself acknowledged a recognizance before Sir Mainwaring at Chester & was liberated – but on the next day, the bill being found, he was apprehended under a bench warrant & recommitted & the next day (yesterday) pleaded not guilty & is for trial on 7th September. J. Lloyd’1
1. HO 42/194.
1819, Sep 4
Letter from Joseph Harrison, Stockport to Samuel Drummond, Chester Castle.
‘My Dear Friend, I have no doubt but the rapturous sound of liberty is almost enough to make you burst your prison house and join the rank of the reformers in their steady march towards the approaching object. The sound of the trumpet will shortly call the dead out of their graves and the damned out of their doleful cells, but the day is a day of gloominess and darkness, a day of perplexity and trouble, a day of terror and anguish but a most necessary day for the display of God’s justice… “And I saw an angel standing in the sun and he cried with a loud voice saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God that ye may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of captains and the flesh of mighty men…It comes, it comes, the dreadful storm comes rolling on.’1
1. P.R.O. TS 11/48.
1819, Sep 6
Chief Peace Officer Manning arrived in Dublin with McInnis in custody, ‘with whom he will probably depart to lodge him in Chester Castle Gaol.’1
1. The Times, September 11, 1819.
1819, Sep 6
Harrison had second thoughts about contesting the trial on the 7th and traversed to the next Assize.
‘This day it was signified to the Court, that Joseph Harrison wished to address the Bench relative to certain proceedings connected with his trial. The Court immediately expressed its willingness to hear Mr. Harrison, and he appeared at the bar. He observed, that when he addressed the Court on a former occasion, and applied for a copy of the indictment, it was then his firm intention to proceed to trial to-morrow (Tuesday.) On referring, however to the indictment, which was of unusual length, he found that the eight counts which it contained differed materially from each other, and particularly the last, which charged him with inciting the people to take up arms, and levy war against the King. This was false and groundless; and being thus taken by surprise, he felt it his imperative duty to state to the Court his unfitness to go to trial this assizes, and therefore prayed that he might be permitted to traverse till the next session. The Attorney-General said, he was astonished at such an application, at such a time, on the very eve of the day fixed for the trial. The defendant had actually waved his right to traverse, and solicited that his trial might now take place, and his request had been acceded to as an indulgence. With what propriety, or with claim, he applied now to be put in the same situation he was in on Friday last, he could not tell. However, he would leave the application entirely in the discretion of the court, and abide by its suggestion. The Court certainly considered the application extraordinary. After a little consultation, the application of Harrison was granted, and he was admitted to traverse and bail. Mr. Caudilen [Candelet] and Mr Longson, two shopkeepers from Stockport, were bound over for his appearance next session in 250l. each, and Harrison himself in 500l. He was then discharged. 7o’clock p.m. The Liverpool coach has just arrived, and with it, in custody of 2 Dublin police-officers, Jacob McInnis… He was immediately conveyed to the Castle.’1
1. The Times, September 9, 1819.
”Attorney General – Are you prepared with Bail?
Harrison – I have bail in Court. I believe.
The names of William Candilet, of Stockport, roper, and John Longson, of Stockport, shopkeeper, were then called, and they were each bound over for Harrison’s appearance at the Spring Session…Harrison was decently dressed; he had on a black coat, with his hair combed straight down his forehead, like the Field-preachers of the beginning of this century. In speaking, he had all the conventricle whine, etc.’1
1. Chester Chronicle and Cheshire and North Wales General Advertiser, Sept 10, 1819.
1819, Sep 6
Letter from Lloyd (Chester) to Hobhouse dated 6 September, 1819.
‘Sir I have been grievously disappointed & mortified at what has happened to day in Court. Harrison’s friends persuaded him to apply to the Court to be allowed to traverse notwithstanding the trial being absolutely fixed for tomorrow – I of course refused consent the atorney general & my counsel
followed my instructions & did the same & we left it entirely with the Court, & the judges allowed it on his stating that he did not understand the nature of the indictments at first & wished to take advice upon the last count which differed materially from the other & from the first read –
So my witnesses have had their journies for nothing. I came in about noon & I dispatched them back to Manchester – Cowper is since arrived by the Mail & I sent him off again in the morning.I have the satisfaction to inform you that Mr. Manning of one of the police officers in Dublin is this evening arrived with Jacob McInnis – or Magennis who is safely lodged in the Chester Castle & separately confined – I have
sent for a witness from Stockport who will be with me on Wednesday morning & then I will get a magistrate to commit him for trial at the next assizes in spring.
I have the honor to be Sir your very obediant humble servant J. Lloyd
P.S. I have got all the news from Lancaster which is satisfactory in every respect except as to Owen – Mr. Noble will be pleased to send information to the New Times about Magennis’1
1. HO 42/194.
1819, Sep 11
Warrants issued on Jun 26, 1819 for opening the letters of Knight, Joseph Harrison, Mann, and Willan cancelled.1
1. P. R. O. HO 79/3.
1819, Sep 11
Information from informant Daniel White regarding operations of Stockport Union.
“Inform’n of Dan’l White taken before Mr C. W Ethelston 11th of Sept 1819
Who on oath saith
he was at Stockport on Friday the 10th of Sept – Met with Kelly the Committee Man – enter’d into discourse with Deponent & told him that for any thing he or any of his Friends knew that the general rising of the people wou’d take place soon – said the Reformers thought it wou’d have been before this time & that they did not know when the day or the how wou’d be when general orders wou’d be issued (he hinted from Hunt) to all the people in the Union – Kelly futher said those who were not prepared with Arms were getting them ready as fast as possible, some with one kind of arms, some with another. – Saith Piers the Pike maker was so busy he did not know what to do to get them made just enough.
Saith he (Kelly) went to Disley last Sunday to meet some Friends from Chapel le Frith & that one of them of the name of Rickman gave him twelve shillings & nine pence which was the first weeks subscriptions of a new Society form’d there – that they were likely to have many true friends of reform in that place. – Said after they had settled the business they took a walk into Lyme Park near Disley that a little below Lyme Cage he had the greatest delight in sitting down upon one of the Cannon in ye Parks & seeing – 22 pieces there altogether – said they cou’d take them from ye Carriages & have them ready for action in two hours – that as soon as ye general rising took place the 1st thing they wou’d do wou’d be to fetch them – that 2 of the pieces 36 pounders being two & a half yards long wou’d do great executions – Said that when the time came there wou’d be nothing to fear if the Friends of Reform wou’d only be true – said in this case the Military wou’d fly from them like Chaff before the wind – after their discourses Kelly began to talk about McInnis ye Man who shot Birch said he was taken in Ireland brought to Chester & that Pearson the other Man in Custody had turn’d Snitch (viz) Kings evidence – Kelly said Jacob McInnis is the very man who shot Birch – Kelly said further that the Reformers were going to send ye Evidence against Pearson to swear McInnis off & to prove Pearson a perjur’d Man – Deponent saith Kelly declare’d Pearson was a d___nd Rogue for having as he’s had done for (says he) we have supplied him with money & kept him like a fighting cock.
– Deponent further saith a Supper was prepar’d in the Union Rooms for Hunt in his Way to London but he did not pass thro’ Stockport which they took very ill – saith ye people were assembled in ye Stockport Streets expecting Hunt in such crowds you might have walk’d on their heads. – Saith Kelly told him (Deponent) that actions wou’d be commenced against the Surgeons of the Manchester Infirmary for putting poison into the wounds of the maim’d on the 16th on purpose that they might mortify – that Sir Cha’s Wolseley had taken a Rag put into a young Mans wound to Sir Francis Burdett
Sworn before me
C. W Ethelston”
1. HO 42/194 folio 152 dated 13 Sept, 1819.
1819, Sep 14
‘Extract of a private letter from Chester, dated Tuesday, Sept. 14, 8, P.M.:…Harrison, ‘the Parson,’ as he is called, now professes to be an Independent (or Calvinist) religionist; it is certain, that a few months ago, he was a determined Unitarian. [not true] He holds forth on Sunday next at Stockport – of course to a crowded congregation. Bagguley and Co. the Patriots now confined in Chester Castle, console themselves in their sufferings, with feeding a flock of pigeons, which they have tamed to visit the yard in which they are confined. Bagguley (whose beard is to grow till his emancipation) intends, on the expiration of his imprisonment to go to America – that land of real liberty!…’1
1. New Times, September 17, 1819.
1819, Sep 16
Letter from Charles Prescot (Stockport) to Lord Sidmouth dated 16 September, 1819.
‘My Lord Capt Henderson the ordnance storekeeper at Chester Castle having informed me that the Board of Ordnance cannot authorize any issue of arms without an order from the Secretary of State I request that you would be pleased to let me have from 20 to 30 small fire arms such as Capt Henderson says he could recommend. I purpose this preparation fo self defence to be unknown to the public, & hope there will be no occasion to justify the use of them.
I remain with great respect your Lordship’s obedient servant Charles Prescot.
P.S. Moorhouse is expected to make an entry into Stockport attended by the populace.’1
1. HO 42/195.
1819, Sep 23
‘Information of Samuel Fleming
On oath saith he has been very busy according to orders in procuring information – has been several times lately at the Stockport Committee in ye Union Rooms & at the Weaver’s Arms in the private room – saith 3 delegates have been just sent from Stockport, one to Glasgow one to Dublin & another to Belfast to forward the business as much as they can & to see how the people are affected in those parts & what assistance they can tender – Committee say it must be a general rising through ye 3 kingdoms particularly in the large towns – saith a quantity of arms are ordered at Birmingham under pretence of being sent abroad. – saith there is a general expectation that the grand blow will be struck soon. – saith they are as anxious as can be for the orders from London – have been much at a loss for want of Mr Harrison who was of great use to them – Lament his absence much
as he is the head secretary – saith Sir Charles Wolseley, Wooler, & Mr Carlile are expected down very soon – Committee saith Moorhouse is very active in London & corresponds with the Committee. Saith the inquest at
Oldham on Saturday will not pass over quietly. Samuel Fleming.
Signed and Swore before me this 23 Sept 1819 C.H. Ethelston’1
1. HO 42/195.
1819, Sep 26
Harrison’s son Nathan (10) admitted to Stockport School. State of Learning – Bible.1
1. Stockport Sunday School registers, Stockport Heritage Library.
1819, Oct 3
Letter from Lloyd to Hobhouse dated 3 October, 1819.
‘Sir It is proper for me to hint that I believe the petition which you did the honor to submit to my inspection as the petition signed “J. Harrison in behalf of the town of Stockport” was written & signed by his secretary James George Bruce, the person now in Chester Castle, in Harrison’s name – If the question should be agitated in Parliament this may be a good setdown.
I have the honor to remain your very obediant servant J. Lloyd
Excuse me if I give an instance of tameness in our Reformers at our theatre the other night where some disturbance was apprehended from something being said if God save the King would be insisted upon – Of which drew forth a house for a loyal man I had a wish to serve by persons coming to give opposition, a principal Reformer Sampson Robinson, a stage orator, got up from the pit & presented a bottle of rum to me in the boxes to drink – I took it & drank “To the King God Bless him!” whilst Robinson thanked me, & I received partial applause but not the slightest disapproval.’1
1819, Oct 9
Letter from Lloyd (Stockport) to Lord Sidmouth dated 9
‘My Lord, From my understanding of Mr Clive’s last letter bearing date the 5th inst. I am to address your Lordship upon any thing material which passes under my notice – I have therefore the honor to acquaint your Lordship – That Mr Tatton our worthy & active magistrate expressed a strong wish that the indictment against Sir Charles Wolseley should be removed. I therefore went to Chester on the 6th and found that it was the opinion of the Clerk of the peace that Sir Charles intended the same thing – So I resolved to wait till nearer the time of the sessions (on the 19th) but yesterday I was served with a notice of trial by Sir Charles only – This notice was in consequence of Mr. Potts the Clerk of the peace writing to the Baronet to say 15 days notice should be given – whereas the one sent, which is from Pearson the London solicitor, is only 10 days notice and that for one defendant only; the other (Harrison) not yet having pleaded won’t have been intitled to his traverse – This will not suit me, and has made me resolve at once upon the certiorari, which I have instructed accordingly by this night’s mail – In doing which, besides having the sanction of one of the most active magistrates of the Court, I have other weighty reasons for preferring to try at the Assizes, which I shall take the liberty of hinting to your Lordship – For the want of sufficient motive (which by the bye is not signed by Sir Charles but is sent direct from London) these Reformers could have played me a trick in Court,
after I had brought in to Knutsford & exposed my witnesses – The jury at these sessions are humble ignorant farmers who may be influenced by the reitterated clamour of such meetings as Sir Charles attended being lawful – and the rank of the defendant –
And I learn that Sir Charles has been for several days at & about Knutsford & am left in conjection that he has some design of exciting interest & sympathy so as to operate upon the feelings of those who may compose the jury – For I have an instance of their meanness – by Harrison going in the Baronet’s name to the journeyman of a printer who is a witness to desire he would get to know from his master what it was he could prove – and the Union Schools & Harrison inventing a charge against another witness of his stealing apples whilst on duty with the watch & ward – In these I wish a little time to give complete exposure to. –
Again it is desirable to have a special jury capable of discriminating as to the law & the evidence as relates to the pernicious Reform meetings – unawed by the miscreants – The parliament will sit in the meantime, and the Assizes at Lancaster will I trust before our
County Assizes open the people’s eyes to the real state of danger of such proceedings as Sir Charles Wolseley & Harrison have embarked in – And I may be justified under all these circumstances in coming to the determination I have ventured upon – and still be so flattered as to possess the confidence of those whom it is my ardent desire to serve faithfully.
I have the honor my Lord to be your Lordships most
obediant humble servant. J. Lloyd’1
1. HO 42/196
1819, Oct 13
Lieutenant William Swakey’s report of cannons at Lyme Park.
“Manchester Oct 13th
In consequence of your directions I have called on Mr Lee of Lyme & examined the pieces of ordnance in his park. They consist of one Twelve & twenty nine Pounders Mounted on ship Carriages they have been as spiked by Mr Lee, they have no spunges or other side arms. The Carriages can scarcely be considered serviceable but are nevertheless with the exception of two, in such a state that by means of ropes they might be moved along any of the smooth high roads & fixed with for some time without going to pieces, to a very trifling repair would make them or rather many of them useful for a short time & it will be obvious that the spunges etc could be previously prepared. Mr Lee has no ammunition for them – which seems an insuperable as to their being made any use of since I can see no way in which it could be supplied
– It is Mr Lees wish that they should be removed & there is within two miles of his place a canal, which Communicates with almost any part of the Country
The expence of their removal might be avoided by burning the Carriages, to which he would consent ( altho preferring their actual removal ) to their being burned would put any apprehension to the entertained from them beyond the reach of chance.
You will be aware that my examination of them has been with reference to the existing state of things, for such use as would be made of them, if received into any of his Majesty’s depots, a very different report of their state of Efficiency would be necessary.
I have the Honor to be Sir
Your H Servant
Lieuitenant HM Artillery
Lieut Col. L’Estrange” 1.
- HO 42/197 folio 491.
1819, October 14
York Reform Meeting – Joseph Mitchell states that he was a spectator at Peterloo.
‘…Mr Mitchell, an itinerant political orator, then presented himself and said, Gentlemen, – I should not have obtruded myself upon your notice at this time, had I not been an eye-witness to the outrages which were committed at Manchester on the 16th of August last. I was upon the ground an hour and a half, and was rode down by the cavalry. I was there when Mr Hunt came upon the ground. Mr Hunt had not been on the hustings more than a few minutes, when the cavalry rode on the ground with their swords drawn; they paused for a few moments, and then pushed on and rode him (Mitchell) down…’
[Note: above passage taken from the Newcastle Courant, Oct 23, 1819.]
1819, 16 Oct
Letter from Lloyd (Stockport) to Hobhouse/Clive dated 16
‘Sir The loyal party cannot fail to rejoice at the conviction of Carlile – The Editor, who, I suppose is Saxton & publishers of the Observer of this day ought if possible to be persuaded against for the traitorous expressions that paper contains – but what can be done whilst the noble Whigs are abetting them – The secret object may be envy and malignity to the ministers – but how do they know that “whom they have set the whirlwind in motion that they will be able to direct the storm.”
I have seen by the Observer that a very foolish trick (in my opinion if true as stated) has been played off at Knutsford by a letter written to Sir Charles Wolseley –
They have done me no good by it, as it may be believed that some one concerned for the prosecution was at the bottom of it, for any thing mean & despicable can be imputed by Reformers to the loyal part of the community – & we are not allowed to enter into any explanation – or rather we should not – condescend to do so – Matters are carried on with great asperity in this part of the country and the confidence of the disaffected appears to me to be increasing – we are insulted wth threats upon the approahing change as they would have it.
Harrison has advertised for two lectures at the Wind-mill Rooms here for tomorrow – money to be given at the door – [The 57 Geo 3. – perhaps ought to be resorted to]
– The hand bill is headed – “Henry Hunt” & the purpose is for a subscription to send to the London Committee agreeably to its directions.
I have the honor to be Sir Your very obediant humble
servant. J. Lloyd.’1
1819, Oct 20
Knutsford Quarter Sessions. Joseph Harrison refuses to plead, much to the irritation of the Court.
‘At one o’clock Joseph Harrison was brought up to plead to the indictment found against him, with Sir Charles Wolseley, at the last General Quarter Sessions. Mr. Harrison objected to plead alleging that as the indictment had been moved by a writ of certiorari [to a superior court], obtained by Sir Charles Wolseley, the Court had no longer any jurisdiction. A considerable altercation then ensued between the Court and Mr. Harrison.’1
‘Joseph Harrison, being called on, appeared at the corner of the counsels’ table. He was respectfully dressed, and spoke uniformly in the whine and manner of a Methodist preacher.
Sir John Stanley (the Chairman) – Are you prepared to be tried now?
Mr. Harrison – That does not rest with me, but with the Court.
The Clerk – Are you guilty, or not? That is the first thing to be stated.
Mr. Harrison – I feel it difficult to answer that. (A laugh.)
The Clerk – Can you not answer whether you are guilty, or not?
Mr. Harrison – (opening a large parcel of pamphlets, which he held rolled in his hand.) – If to be a Reformer be guilty, I am certainly a Reformer.
Chairman – “Reformer” is not in the indictment. He had better have the indictment read to him.
The indictment was here read. It set forth, that Sir Charles Wolseley and Joseph Harrison, being persons of turbulent and seditious minds, did on the 28th of June last, at Stockport, utter certain seditious and inflammatory expressions, tending to excite hatred and contempt of the constitution, &c. A second count charged them with conspiring, confederating, &c. to excite hatred and contempt of the constitution and laws.
Mr. Harrison – Sir Charles Wolseley is now separated from me.
The Chairman – All that the Court has at present to do, is to ask whether you plead guilty or not guilty. We don’t know the evidence before the Grand Jury, upon which they found the bills.
Mr. Harrison – I can enter into recognizances as sir Charles Wolseley has done, two in 20l. each.
The Chairman – You must plead first. If you do not, you must be committed.
Mr. Harrison – I hope there is no objection to hearing an argument or two.
The Chairman – We will not hear any thing till you plead.
Mr. Harrison – I protest against the jurisdiction of the Court, as Sir Charles Wolseley is separated.
The Chairman – If you will not plead, you must be removed.
Harrison was again beginning to make some observation.
Mr. Trafford (a magistrate) – We have a great deal of business. We cannot be wasting time in this manner.
The Chairman – Mr. Harrison, you will have the goodness to tell us whether you plead guilty, or not guilty?
Mr. Harrison – The indictment is so serious, and so strongly founded, that I must not be hurried. I hope I am not in a court of inquisition.
The Chairman:- No. You are in an English Court of Justice, where equal justice is done to all.
Mr. Harrison – I ought then to be heard.
The Chairman – We are not trying you.
Mr. Trafford – The Court is not to be trifled with. We are losing a great deal of time.
Mr. Harrison – I have bail.
Mr. Trafford – We refuse to receive bail till you plead; that is the decision of the Court.
Mr. Harrison – I refuse to plead then.
The Chairman – You stand committed. Call the next business.
Mr. Harrison – Call Edward Sanderson and Thomas Massey.
The Chairman – We will not receive your bail. Take him away.
Mr. Harrison – (while the officers were dragging him away) – I wish it to be recorded that I have appeared here in Court.
The Chairman – Take him away.
Other business of no public interest was then resumed. Sir Charles Wolseley and Mr. Pearson had stood in Court close by Harrison; they followed him out of Court. Mr. Pearson soon afterwards returned, and obtained a copy of the warrant for this last commitment of Mr. Harrison. At a late period of the day [4 o’clock] Joseph Harrison was again called, and he presented himself in the prisoner’s box. The Clerk was proceeding to read the indictment again.
Mr. Williams – He knows it all; it is not necessary to read it to him.
The Chairman asked, if he wished it to be read.
Mr. Harrison – It is not necessary.
The Clerk – Are you guilty or not guilty of this misdemeanor?
Mr. Harrison – As my family and friends, and my manucaptors may suffer inconvenience, and my health suffer.
The Chairman – We will hear nothing but your plea.
Mr. Harrison – This Court has no jurisdiction to record my plea.
The Chairman – If you don’t plead, I shall order you down.
Mr. Harrison – Mr. Chairman, Sir John. To save my life I plead, Not Guilty. These are my reasons why I did not plead before.
A paper was handed to the Chairman, which was not read, but we have ascertained was in these terms:
“I appear before the Court to plead, inasmuch as myself, my family, my friends, and my manucaptors, would be exposed to inconvenience, and my health would suffer injury from a protracted confinement in a newly-built prison, the walls of which are damp, and the atmosphere consequently unwholesome and dangerous. My objections to plead were and are founded on the opinion, that this court has no jurisdiction to record my plea. 1. Because the writ of certiorari is to remove the record itself to a superior Court, and not to remove it so far as regards one defendant only. (Vide March. III.) 2. Because such writ being duly filed, and operates as supercedeas, as well before as after its return. (Vide Yelverton, 32. dyer, 245. I. Salk. 148.) 3. Because I appear and offer two manucaptors, viz. Edward Sanderson, of Stockport, cordwainer, and Thomas Massey, of Stockport-moor, weaver, to plead to the said indictment in the Court of King’s Bench, and at my own charges to procure the issue which shall be joined on the said indictment, to be tried at the next Assizes to be holden in this county. (Vide March. 27, and 5th and 6th of William and Mary.) Upon these grounds I protest against the right of this Court to record my plea. I, however, plead not guilty, in order to save my life from falling a sacrifice to my perseverance in claiming the benefit of the law of the land.”
Mr. Williams – It may not be immaterial, Mr. Chairman, that the reasons handed to you should be kept.
The Chairman – I cannot keep them.
Mr. Brown (a Magistrate) – Are they private?
Mr. Williams – Mr. Harrison, I understand, intended to have spoken them; and as he found some difficulty in that, he handed them to the Court.
Mr. Brown – Is he sure that he is doing right?
Mr. Williams – Mr. Pearson is his adviser, and knows what he is doing.
Mr. Pearson – He is advised.
The Chairman now spoke of the amount of bail.
Mr. Pearson – You are aware that Mr. Justice Bayley fixed the amount of bail for Sir Charles Wolseley, at 40l. for himself, and 20l. each of two sureties.
The Chairman – Take the same of Mr. Harrison. We don’t mean to ask any thing out of the way.
Mr. Pearson – I did not suppose it.
Edward Massey not being present, Mr. Harrison was removed till the rising of the Court, when he was again brought up, and bound himself in 40l., and Edward Sanderson and Thomas Massey in 20l. each, that he would appear to take his trial at the next sessions. Mr. Harrison objected to be himself bound, but being told by the clerk that it was usual, and being advised by Mr. Pearson, he consented. He paid 1l. 18s. of fees, and was discharged.’2
[The following men would later be imprisoned with Harrison at Chester-Castle.]
‘Joseph Swann, Joseph Birtenshaw, John Stubbs, and John Richards, also pleaded “Not Guilty” to a charge of conspiracy [for the Meeting at Macclesfield on 31st July 1819.]’3
‘John [Joseph] Swan, who was a short time in confinement, is charged in the calendar with a conspiracy. He is a hatter, residing at Stockport; and the particular charge against him is, for having, on the 31st of July last, at Macclesfield, conspired and combined, with others to
disturb the public peace, and to traduce and vilify the House of commons and the Government, and to excite discontent, disaffection and sedition in the minds of the king’s liege subjects, with 100 more unlawfully assembled to disturb the peace, and by seditious speeches to excite the contempt of his Majesty’s subjects for the government of this country. The three following are also charged with the same offence:- John Bertenshaw, aged 66, cotton-spinner, from Portwood; John Richards, 33 a cotton-spinner, of Macclesfield; and John Stubbs, aged 34, a cotton-spinner, of the same place.’4
‘MACCLESFIELD REFORMERS. Robert Swindells, by trade a cobbler, who was some time ago committed…for having in his possession, and vending, seditious pamphlets… William Buckley, a weaver from Stockport, formerly a preacher among a respectable body of dissenters, but discarded by them for his misconduct and revolutionary principles. John Richards, who some time ago kept a small school, and was also a teacher in a Sundayschool in Rainow; but is now a journeyman cotton-spinner in that township… Joseph Burtenshaw, an aged man, also a cobbler, residing in Stockport, a thorough Reformer, and of whom…was a speaker at the reform meeting held in Stockport, in Oct, 1816. Joseph Swan, a journeyman hatter, whose abode is at the Common-gate, in this town [Macclesfield], and who, we are informed…devotes two days to the good cause of reform, by vending pamphlets, for Wroe, of Manchester and other democratical and wicked publishers in London.’5
1. The Morning Chronicle, October 22, 1819. 2. The Times, October 22, 1819. 3. The Examiner, October 24, 1819. 4. The Manchester Observer, October 30, 1819. 5. The Times, August 10, 1819.
1819, Oct 20
Letter from Lloyd (Knutsford) to Hobhouse dated 20 October, 1819.
‘Sir Harrison made his appearance in Court to day but by the advice of Pearson who was also in Court refused to plead & was committed but after remaining in custody an hour or two Pearson intimated to me that he consented to plead & was
brought up & pleaded not guilty & entered into personal recognizance the same as would have been.
I then produced my writ of certiorari, and he & his colleague Sir Charles are now in the same situation to be called upon in the King’s Bench to plead there etc. as the issue comes for trial at the next assizes.
There was an indictment found against Stubbs, Swan, Bertinshaw, Richardson Buckley & another for misdemeanors (inciting by seditious speeches the people against the government etc. ) & another against Swan for publishing a blasphemous libel. These persons have produced bail & it seems were furnished with assistance from Pearson & Sir Charles.
Cross the reporter has been here both days and Peter Finnerty was here yesterday – It was supposed there was an intention to make some allusion to the letter sent to Sir Charles from Mr. Hollins’ Clerks but nothing was said.
There was a good shew of loyalty in the theatre last night when Sir Charles was there & he was pretty well hissed as he left – To night he has given a 1 pound note to some men to go up to the theatre & a party are gone to have “God save the King” – I suppose I shall be there but I shall give them no opportunity of saying anything about me. Your very respectful obedient humble servant. J. Lloyd’1
1. HO 42/197.
1819, Oct 21
The Morning Herald reports that “One of the treasurers to the radicals, has decamped with 50 pounds in silver and copper, collected in this town after two sermons preached, on Sunday last, in one of the radical club-rooms, for the benefit of Orator Hunt. The sermons were announced by bills, posted upon the houses at Stockport during the preceding week.”
1819, Oct 30
Excerpt of a letter from Lloyd (Stockport) to Hobhouse dated 30 October, 1819.
‘…Harrison has got into some disgrace amongst the Radicals by making free with one of his female scholars. Moorhouse has also been publicly hooted for selling his flour dearer that the rest – some few burnt their white hats – others have enlisted with a recruiting party here.
Some still expect a meeting at Manchester on the 1st but I believe none will take place either then or on the 15th also mentioned? – We (as Yeomanry) have orders to hold ourselves in readiness to turn out with ball-cartridge at a moments notice – In the course of next week I shall get a meeting of the loyal Wellington Society to instruct them to be ready with arms – Great anxiety is expressed regarding the London meeting; but I cannot help thinking Thistlewood will be put into custody…’1
1. HO 42/197.
1819, Nov 3
Article in Manchester Observer regarding application of funds by the Stockport Union. It highlights the schism that existed between the Christian supporters of Harrison and the Infidel supporters of Perry.
To the Reformers of Great Britain.
IT is well known that some animosity has some time prevailed amongst the Reforers in Stockport, relative to the application of their Funds. We beg leave hereby to inform the Public, that a general understanding is now taking place amongst us, and that the Union have agreed to remit the usual sum of 30 shillings per week to Messrs. Bagguley, Drummond, and Johnson, now confined in Chester Castle; and having other prisioners to support, and prosecuted persons to assist and defend, we humbly hope that other towns, places and Unions will come forward in affording us that pecuniary aid which is necessary to prevent our funds being exhausted, and those worthy patriots being left destitute of support.
On behalf of the Prisoners’ Committee,
On behalf of the Union Committee,
All Communications to be addressed to Mr. Wm. Perry, London-place, Stockport.
Nov 3, 1819.” 1
1. Manchester Observer, November 6, 1819.
1819, Nov 7
Cobbett was supposed to have arrived back in England from America but the ship arrived without him.
‘A letter from Liverpool, dated Nov. 8, says:- “The Quaker ship Amity (as the notorious Cobbett calls her) arrived here last night, but without him. He applied for a passage by her, but the passengers declared that they would not come in the vessel if Cobbett did. He must have been highly chagrined at this refusal, as he had been informed before this, that the Ann would not take him, for the same reasons. The fact is, that Cobbett’s conduct on his voyage out was not such to induce any master of a vessel to take him if he had other passengers.”
There is an article in one of the American Papers relative to the bones of the notorious Tom Paine. Cobbett, it is said, means to have those relics disinterred, and to convey them to England. At the present moment this is not a very necessary importation. There is enough of Tom Paine in Carlile’s shop, and we can very well afford to leave his bones where they are.’1
1. The Morning Post, November 11, 1819.
1819, Nov 8
Wigan Reform Meeting.
Mr Hasledon and Rev Joseph Harrison addressed the people. Harrison mentions having attended Peterloo. William Cobbett was expected to attend but was left stranded in America.
‘The following is an extract from the speech of Mr. Harrison, on Monday the 8th of November, 1819:- “If any man molests you, or oppress you, knock him down, keep him down, and cut him when he is down.”’1
‘The Chair was proposed to be taken precisely at 11 o’clock, but, as early as nine a procession from Ashton arrived, consisting of between two and three hundred persons, headed by two men who bore white flags edged with black crape. The Ashton troop of Yeomanry Cavalry, about 40 in number, were stationed in the Marketplace, where they remained, I believe, the whole of the day. About 10 o’clock a procession of nine or ten thousand men, accompanied by the Members of the Female Union, and led up by a band of music, moved from Wigan towards Hamberswood Common, which is about two miles from the town. On the road they were joined by processions from Bolton, Warrington, Chowbent, West Houghton, Leigh and several other processions, with music and flags, all of which were bordered with black crape. One of the flags exhibited the figure of a man who had just broken his fetters… Another had the words “Love and Union,” and “Death is preferable to Slavery.” In all there were fourteen, with various devices and mottos, and seven Caps of Liberty. Besides these there were several standards, the emblem of Union, a bundle of sticks, a loaf borne on a stick, and a mop with an inscription beneath it, “A Receipt in full for the Boroughmongers’ Debt, falsely called the National,”… When the processions arrived at the hustings, the Chair was taken by Mr. Walker. There were 18 or 20,000 persons present. So large a number may, in a great degree, be attributed to a general expectation that Mr. Cobbett would be present. – The Committee who managed the Meeting had sent a deputation to Liverpool, with an invitation to him; but on their arrival they discovered their mistake. The banners, flags, caps of liberty, and a board with “Order” upon it in large characters, were hoisted on the hustings, which were formed of three wagons. The Chairman proceeded to the business of the day… At this moment he was interrupted by an unexpected occurrence. The people began to scamper off in all directions. The Ladies of the Union called out, “Be firm – remain where you are.” The alarm soon subsided. It arose from a Gentleman on horseback, who wore a foraging cap, which afforded a pretext to some persons on the outside of the crowd to raise a cry that the soldiers were coming. The real fact was not perceived by the major part of the assembly, and their recollection of the outrages of Manchester, on which, indeed, they had met to deliberate, was yet too lively not to dread the intrusion of raw, undisciplined troops among an unarmed people. The Chairman, as soon as order was restored, said, he was surprised that such alarm should have taken place, apparently without foundation. He begged the people to remain quiet and firm until the Meeting was dissolved… …At this time the Rev. Joseph Harrison arrived, in consequence of an invitation, and was received with three cheers. Mr. Hasledon then read the Resolutions, and address from the Female Reformers of Wigan, on presenting the handsome Cap of Liberty. The Resolutions and Address were similar to those which have been passed at preceding Meetings on this occasion. Mr. Harrison stepped forward to second the Resolutions just moved. Although he thought the Resolutions did much credit to those who drew them up, yet, before he seconded them, he must state, that he had a very strong objection to the eighteenth, in which it stated, that “it is highly desirable for the inhabitants of Wigan to look out for a person fit to represent them in Parliament, unless for the future they are to pay taxes virtually, as they are said to be virtually represented.” To this he objected, because it did not propose the election of two persons as Members of Parliament [applause]. He should not, however, propose and amendment to that effect; for, when elected, where were they to be put? They could not put them in the House of Commons, because, in a Constitutional point of view, there was none in the kingdom. [applause]. He had read and studied many writers on this subject, and he was compelled to deny that a House of Commons existed in this kingdom – There is, it is true, a building so called, but the representatives of the people do not meet there, but the representatives of boroughmongers – of men who had let loose armed yeomen on a Meeting of the people, as peaceable as the one he was addressing. Our ancestors enjoyed a real House of Commons, which did much good to the people. In denying it to be a House of Commons he was not singular; the House of Lords had long given up that name, and called it the Lower House; and, according to its present constitution, it might with truth be denominated the Lower House of Lords [great applause]. It is, in consequence of the number of weighty evils which we experienced, from this Lower House, that so many meetings had been held, for the purpose of reforming these Houses. The greater part of their grievances had their source in the debt, miscalled national, of which these two Houses of Lords were the authors. They had got themselves into this debt by supporting an unjust war against the liberties of Europe. It was the support of their power, while they saddled it on the soldiers of the people; but the people now come forwards, and tell them to bear it themselves; in consequence of which they had entered into wars against the people. The first of these illegal legal wars was, when they answered the petitions of the people with fetters and dungeons – and the next was the present – They had persecuted the reformers, and had increased their numbers, and they endeavoured to thin them, and thus put down the cause by terrorism. For this purpose they had employed the sabres of a Yeomanry Corps. Many of you were present at Peterloo, and saw that the merciless aggressors respected neither age nor sex. I was there myself, and saw many endeavouring, but in vain, to escape from the ground, and well, indeed, they might. It was not, therefore, a matter of surprise to me, that those who had witnessed such a horrid scene, who had experienced the fury and relentlessness of their oppressors, should have again run away, on the alarm that the Yeomanry were coming. Why the confusion had been great, it was easy to explain. Many persons were alarmed, and many were employed for the purpose of disturbing the meeting; these ran away, and the rest ran away, because they saw others doing so. He was pleased to see that their efforts had been partially abortive. He at length concluded by seconding the Resolutions… Mr. Battersby addressed the Meeting in defence of the Reformers, and supported the Resolutions, which were put separately, and unanimously carried… The Meeting was then declared to be dissolved, and the parties returned in procession, with music, flags, and caps of liberty. They marched six abreast, in “military array,” through the Market-place, past the Town-hall, the windows of which were occupied by Magistrates and constables, through Wallgate-street to the Packet-house, where about 150 persons sat down to dinner… The Deputation which was sent to invite Cobbett stated at the dinner, that the ship on which he was expected [from America] had arrived with his family, but that he had been left behind, in consequence of the refusal of the passengers to sail with him’2
1. The Times, November 26, 1819. 2. The Morning Chronicle, November 12, 1819.
1819, Nov 9
Letter from David Ramsay (Bolton) to Rev Prescot
(Stockport) dated 9 November, 1819.
‘Reverend Sir You will no doubt be aware before this that there was to be a public meeting yesterday in the neighbourhood of Wigan. I attended there with about twelve or fifteen thousand more. There was 17 flags and 8 Caps of Liberty, two bands of music. The chair was taken at one by Mr. Walker Secretary to the Manchester Union who addressed the assembly at some length. Just as he, Walker, had finished your townsman Mr. Harrison stepped upon the hustings and spoke at great length. A deal of his language was very inflammatory he remarked that the people could do no good now but by there own physical powers and whether they should arm or not they were able to judge for themselves. Battersby from Leigh next spoke much in the same strain & about two o’clock there was a report sprayed that the Ashton Yeomanry was coming when hundreds fled tumbling in all directions but was rallied again in a short time when all passed up in a quiet manner to the breaking up of the meeting: This meeting is adjourned to a latter day notice of which will be given the reason of the adjournment is thus: if
Parliament should attempt to suspend the Habeus Corpus act that they upon the first intelligence shall meet again to assert their rights. Thus is the general determination through Lancashire and I have reason to believe generally through the country. Harrison said that he would not speak any more at public meetings he having been too much persecuted.’1
1. HO 42/198.
1819, Nov 11
Letter from Lord Balcarras, Haigh-hall Wigan to Viscount Sidmouth.
‘My Lord, – One of the seditious meetings, the nature of which I need not describe, was held on a common, distant about two miles from Wigan, on Monday the 8th instant. Its object was evidently to feel for the disposition of the inhabitants of Wigan and its vicinity. About six thousand persons assembled round the temporary stage, and probably about four thousand persons more were present, but they remained at such a distance as showed that curiosity alone had led them to that spot. The meeting was held at the requisition of some low persons of Wigan, but they were joined on the common by the dangerous rabble of Bolton, who were all armed with bludgeons, and rumour says, with arms, chiefly loaded pistols, which was manifested by the explosion of them towards the close of the day. Harrison addressed them from the stage or platform. The mob carried 18 flags, with the usual symbols of sedition…Sir William Gerard, with thirty-nine of his yeomanry cavalry, being the effectiveness of two troops, attended Wigan at he requisition of the magistrates…the day passed away with greatest order and tranquility…’1
1. The Times, November 26, 1819.
1819, Nov 21
Cobbett arrives back in England from America aboard the Ship Hercules.
‘Liverpool, Nov. 21 – You have heard of the landing of Cobbett; he arrived per Hercules, and with him the bones of the ever-infamous Paine…The remains of Paine – at least the precious relics said to be his, are in an old trunk, and when it was opened the corporal expatiated in a very feeling manner on its valuable contents!’1
1. The Morning Post, November 29, 1819.
1819, Nov 21
Advertisement for sermon to be preached by Joseph Harrison at Macclesfield Union Room on Sunday, November 21, 1819.
‘UNION ROOM, SUNDERLAND STREET, MACCLESFIELD, TWO SERMONS Will be preached By the Rev. JOSEPH HARRISON Of Stockport. AT THE UNION PREACHING ROOM, SUNDERLAND STREET On Sunday, November 21. 1819, And Collections made for the purpose of Furnishing the School and Preaching Rooms, with Forms, Desks, Books, &c. &c. SERVICE WILL BEGIN AT TWO O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON, AND SIX IN THE EVENING. THERE WILL BE A SELECTION OF HYMNS APPROPRIATE FOR THE OCCASION. N.B. To prevent the Room being occupied by uninterested persons; SILVER will be taken at the door.
E. BAYLEY. PRINTER, MACCLESFIELD.’1
1. P.R.O MPI 134/7.
1819, Nov 21
Letter from Lloyd (Stockport) to Hobhouse dated 21 November, 1819.
‘Sir Some of our factory owners beginning to feel alarmed (for their own property, I suppose,) a meeting was convened yesterday, at which subscriptions to the county
fund, for defence thereof, and an increase of yeomanry was resolved upon & about 5 men & horses were then signed for & some subscriptions – Capt Humphreys was amongst the first and best of them and I shall publish his speech in the next Macclesfield Paper.
Our Rector has had a letter from David Ramsay this morning stating that he was at the meeting at Wigan. Walker the secretary of the Manchester Union Society was
in the chair. Harrison of Stockport amongst those who spoke. He left them to infer, from what he said, the necessity of resorting to physical power – particularly in case of any attempt to suspend the Habeus Corpus act.
He said it was not his intention to go again to public meetings as he was a persecuted individual – There were about 1500 people there.
I have the honor to be Sir Your very obedient humble
servant. J. Lloyd.
P.S. Harrison, I am told, is gone to the Leeds meeting – so that my clerk cannot get to serve him with a process from the King’s Bench – Sir one enactment will be to prevent itinerant seditious orators from disseminating their doctrines abroad with impunity – J.L.’1
1. HO 42/198.
Report from a Loyalist Paper.
‘KELSALL RACES- near this city, promise, indeed, to be a scene of sport, fun, and frolic…After the race on Monday, Messrs. Hunt, Wooler, Parson Harrison, and Carlile, (if the latter can obtain leave of absence) will be tossed in a blanket, and then burnt in effigy.–Chester Paper.’1
1. Courier, November 23, 1819.
1819, Nov 30
Confidential Communication to Norris 30 Nov 1819.
Mr Cobbett left Irlam yesterday at 1 O’Clock, after having finished his ???, dated Irlam. He went over the ferry to Knutsford whence he proceeded onwards to Botley. His address was written before he left Liverpool.
Benbow got back from Irlam by 3 O’Clock, Johnson by 4.
The bill of his procession was issued before the Boroughreeves’ letter had been received. Knight wrote it by 10 O’Clock AM – it was at first most violent, but afterwards moderated by Saxon to the shape in which it appeared.
Johnson set off before 11 in order to prevent Cobbetts public oratory & informant had influence in inducing him to change his post. This conduct of Johnson gave great offence to Chapman, Whitworth & many others who think it was all owing to Johnson’s
pusillanimity, & who were very anxious for Cobbett’s entrance.
Cobbett it is thought would have come but for Johnson.
The manuscript of the letter & address were both read at the dinner, at which Harrison attended, & forwarded copies to the Morning Chronicle. Cobbett addressed the mob at Irlam at some length, & was much dissatisfied, swearing, as a person said who heard him, ??? , most violently.
Did not talk of returning to these parts. Benbow is full of the puff-out, & says the scheme will ???, & may be just in full execution in three days at any time – 83 at the dinner yesterday – Scott in the chair – Chapman Vice – Johnson there but left by 7 O’Clock – On table at 1/2 past 5 – The company left at 10. Parson Harrison there, Fitton of Royton – ??? a delegate from Hull – one from Dewsbury & one from Paisley (supposed to be here for the purchase of pistols) – Says that an ??? number of pistols were fired last night for 2 or 3 hours, about the New Cross – Ancoat’s Lane – Bank Top & more than on any 5 Nov. Nothing but water drank – The first toast was the sovereignty of the people.
Bradbury, a brother of Bradbury there – ??? taken for Cobbetts higher tax – Saxon the most violent in his speech & obliged to be stopped by the Chair. He said, in speaking of the House of Commons, that they were a set of damned liars & scoundrels. The Boroughreeves letter to Cobbett was read.
Witness was there: there would have been a row, had Cobbett entered in procession from what he heard the common people say in the morning. Moorhouse at the dinner. Candelet ??? the political ???.
Many left as soon as dinner was over.
Secretary Walker not there – says Johnson is in low ??? amongst the higher Radicals.
Chapman & Whitworth seem to have the lead among the higher Radicals.
Says at the dinner he heard that a great number of pistols were in the hands of the mob & fired on the road between Barton & Irlam – Thinks Johnson has not anything to do with the Observer paper now, but Chapman has. The Hull Deputy at the dinner alluded to a general rising to a Reform ??? on which a number cried out that will never do; meaning that a general rising would never do.1
1. HO 42/199
1819, Dec 5
“Seditious” sermon preached by Joseph Harrison.
He was later indicted for, ‘using the following words seditiously, and with a view to bring the Government into contempt:- “Kings, Princes, Dukes, Lords, Commons, Parliaments, Archbishops, Bishops, Prelates, Rectors, High-Constables, Constables, Sheriffs, Deputy Constables, and Bailiffs, are all corrupt, and the time is near at hand when they will be upset. The people should rise en-masse to suppress such a tyrannical Government as the one of this country; and it will not be long, but very soon, that it shall be overturned, and many a bloody battle may be fought, and many an one incarcerated in prison, before it shall be accomplished.”’1
1. The Morning Chronicle, April 20, 1820.
1819, Dec 5
Letter from LtCol Burrell (Stockport) to Lord Palmerston dated 5 December, 1819.
‘My Lord I have no time in reporting to you that a charity sermon was preached this evening by Mr. Harrison from which the following is an extract – “The World had been destroyed by within in consequence of the tyranny of man, the Roman government had been over turned from the same ??, and that which was at present exercised by the King, the Lords, ??, Arch Bishops, Bishops, Rectors, Police Officers, and Constables was not bearable and recommended the people rising to overthrow such a tyrannical system, that not long, but very soon it should be overturned, many a bloody battle will be fought before it is accomplished, but it will be accomplished, it shall be accomplished, that he and many others might be incarcerated but the result which he had already described was certain” such my Lord is the sermon of this well known Christian and to the accuracy of the ?? I have no doubt than being the man of good character (as I am informed) ready to make saith ??. I have some ways of obtaining information of some consequence tomorrow. In the event of success I will communicate it to your Lordship…’1
1. HO 42/200.
1819, Dec 7
Letter from Lord Palmerston to Lord Sidmouth dated 7 December, 1819.
‘My Dear Lord, If this fly out of Parson Harrison can be well substantiated it seems to amount to a tangible offence. Yours very Faithfully Palmerston.’1
1. HO 42/200.
1819, Dec 9
Excerpt of letter from Prescot (Stockport) to Lloyd dated 9 December, 1819.
‘…The LtCol [Burrell] has sent a very accurate account to Lord Palmerston of what Harrison said in his sermon last Sunday. He thinks the sentiments highly treasonable…’1
1. HO 42/200.
1819, Dec 12
Joseph Harrison arrested for 2nd time. Committed to Chester Gaol for preaching sedition at Stockport on December 5th. He was arrested between 10-11PM, conducted by file of soldiers to the barracks and from there in a post chaise to Manchester New Bailey at midnight.1
1. Manchester Observer, January 1, 1820.
1819, Dec 14
‘We received last night a private letter, from which the following is an extract: “MANCHESTER, DECEMBER 14. …Among other arrangements on the occasion, a Board of Magistrates sat the whole day at the Star Inn. At six o’clock in the evening Parson HARRISON was brought in a prisoner, and after a private examination sent off to Chester on a charge of sedition…’1
1. British Press, December 16, 1819.
1819, Dec 23
Joseph Harrison released from Chester Castle on bail.
‘Parson Harrison, who was committed last week…for preaching sedition, has been liberated upon bail. His sureties are a shoemaker and hatter, of Stockport, in the sum of 250l each.’1
1. The Times, December 23, 1819.
1819, Dec 24
Letter from Joseph Harrison, Chester Castle to Editor Manchester Observer.
‘Sir, in these times of unparalleled trouble we feel very anxious to hear of one another’s welfare. I felt very anxious to hear of our old friend, Mr. Knight, but a paragraph in your paper of last week concerning the suffering of that worthy and disinterested patriot gave me considerable pain, though I am a prisoner myself and in the same cause, but I thank God I have not to complain as he, yet I have frequently as much to bear as my patience will support me under. I really think they intend to ruin both us and our families; three months since this day my imprisonment and release cost me nearly twenty pounds and two months since it cost me four pounds. I am about to be released again the experience of which will be five pounds more; the public have been kind to me but times are so trying it is impossible for them to keep pace with the expense thus incurred. And now we have new laws to meet, the severest of which, in my opinion, will be the libel law. Indeed after these new laws are put into force I think we shall only want one law more to complete the present system viz. a law to establish the Spanish Inquisition in England… I have been twice committed to Chester Castle in less than four months for no other crime than that of preaching the Gospel in my own hired room. The first was for pointing out to the people the gratitude due to God for a plentiful harvest and the second for illustrating and enforcing the principle of doing to others as we would they should do unto us. My last arrest was on Sunday the 12th instant betwixt ten and eleven o’clock at night and conducted by a file of soldiers to the barracks and from thence in a post chaise to Manchester New Bailey at midnight. I was called into court on Monday morning where I saw my Stockport friends waiting to give me bail. I was put back without examination but fetched up to the Star Inn at six o’clock at night when my friends were gone home, naturally concluding that my examination would take place the day following, by which manoeuvre my committal was secured without the possibility of bail being put in and yet the mittimus stated that I refused to find bail. I am indicted for recommending my congregation and the people in general to arise en masse to over run such a tyrannical government as the one in this country. Whereas I can bring five hundred persons to prove that I never mentioned the British government in my discourse that evening and although my bail was ready before I was committed I have been kept a close prisoner twelve days contrary to Magna Carta and in violation of the Bill of Rights. I was hardly permitted to shake hands with my dear friend Bagguly last night before I left the Castle. I saw his countenance look pale and feverish. I saw his manly soul look through his eyes and the big tear roll down his cheek he could scarcely articulate “do all you can my dear friend to keep the people quiet.” My answer was it has always been my endeavour hereto and shall still be. I just saw Messrs. Drummond and Johnson, their health appeared rather better than Bagguley’s, but sixteen hours out of twenty four confinement in those small cells and daily want of air and exercise must greatly injure their healths… Mr. Bruce seems tolerably comfortable he was my bed fellow during my confinement. I might give you more important information but at present I have not the opportunity…’1
[This is the same Mr. Bruce who was implicated with the shooting of Birch]
1. Manchester Observer, January 1, 1820.
Jeremy Bentham writes “The King against Sir Charles Wolseley, Baronet, and Joseph Harrison, schoolmaster : set down for trial, at Chester, on the 4th of April, 1820. Brief remarks tending to shew the untenability of the indictment.”1
1. The King against Sir Charles Wolseley, Baronet, and Joseph Harrison, schoolmaster : set down for trial, at Chester, on the 4th of April, 1820. Brief remarks, tending to shew the untenability of this indictment, Jeremy Bentham, 1820.
‘All the windows in Harrison’s school and house were broken by vandals.’1
1. Urban Workers in the Early Industrial Revolution, R. Glen, 1984. 1820 Feb 24
1820, 9 Jan
Letter from the spy ‘Alpha’ to Langshaw (RA Fletcher)
“Bolton 9th January 1819
My Dear Langshaw,
Alpha is much obliged for the receipt of yesterdays favor and assures the Brethren that a prudent application of the Money intrusted to his care shall be duly attended to and has to acknowledge that his claims of late have now and then been rather overrated but hopes this will be looked over in case such extra applications are not made for the future and has no Idea that more than one Pound per week will be elicited very shortly and this he knows his Brothers inexhaustible sources will afford and further inform them that he might be engaged at a reasonable rate for the ensuing twelve months if they think advisable. he hopes to merit all they may think proper to confer upon him and the ensuing week shall reward with that extra diligence such an extra reward demands. a word to the wise is quite sufficient without any further Introductory Observations.
To proceed to the more important Business of the day your Deputation arrived at Middleton about five Oclock yesterday afternoon and made the Best Inquiries after that zealous advocate for the Cause Saml Bamford
I found him at a Painite House in that street leading up towards the church he told Me to go slyly on towards a little village called three Pits and somebody would identify me I went about a Mile and a Person accostd Me and wishd to Know if I am from Bolton I turned into a gable End House on the Right Hand side the Highway about a stones throw from a Canal Bridge. In this House there were a sum three or four Persons and each had a piece of a Blue Botton Plate I was asked if I had one I produced a piece that the Man from Padiam gave Me and as was received amongst them.
There were six Men in Number One from Oldham, Padiam, Blackburn Middleton Leigh and Bolton. Bamford said there had been a promiscuous Meeting the Saturday before and the Loyal Party had stated some thing to that effect in a third of Circulars but he had been sent for by the Editor of the Observer to know if it was the Case as no Business nor any chairman Elected of [?union] he authorised them to state upon his Authority that no such Radical Meeting had been held in Middleton and lest a Similar Charge should be made again they would take a walk into some obscure Meadow quite Distant from the Town and then no Conjectures Could arise . he then requested that the Parts should be [?faintly] put together and in Consequence he produced a Centre Part of Plate and the rest all Completed this hereby foundation of a part commencement of [?trying] for our liberty.
We then took a walk over Hedge and Ditch till we came to the top of a place like Mr Langshaws Back Door I am speaking in respect of the sham and there was a larger House and some trees as if it might be [?] and they called it Chadderton Hall but I am so little acquainted with that part of the County that on accurate Description will be overlooked especially as it was now eight oclock. Mr Bamford then Congratulated us upon this kind of Meeting being very much adopted in different Parts of the Kingdom the Plan having sent over from Ireland and if the Pieces of Pat tallye they should always say what might be intended but if all did not meet well there would be no obviously done and this would do away with delegate knowing one another Names and the Meeting would always be in a Contrary Place to advertisement – He then said that the object of this Meeting was to see if all towns would make an attempt to raise and form a General Deputation up to London against the next opening of Parliament with instruction to protect against the late New laws and further to Protect and insist upon an enquiry being established into the Manchester affairs and that a General subscription throughout the Country be opened for such Purposes he knew of a Fact that the Spinners and nearly all the Artisans were ready to give a shilling per week towards the Measure and all other Artisans in preparations.
He had a letter from the Champion of Liberty Hunt wishing that some thing of this nature might be entered into a very spirited manner and that Gentleman he was sorry to say was quite indignant at the application of the two thousand pounds that had been subscribed – the Man from Blackburn and Padian said that each Town had more already to do than it would be able to bear and all persons might plainly see that all courts all juries all Judges were prejudiced against the Reformers and any thing of this Kind would be quite useless at this time and where would the Men be found that would go in such a Mission. For his part he would wish that so long as the New laws were in force that People should be still and persevering and ready to burst with double fury upon the Hydras of Corruption as soon as they were abolished same as the present year had borne fruit from the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. They would just ask what had been effected by all the Unions Put together only that expences had been easily Paid in cases of delegation and the [?] of Union had made the Loyal Party Completely alive to the affects that Radical Reformers had in view. Had not Blackburn laid out 30 [pound symbol] and seen now an ungrateful Public thought they had almost done too much. Had not Bolton collected and expend near forty Pounds and what better Prepard were the Public either in Point of Information or willingness in determination that before and had not the Reformers of Manchester expended 160 [pound symbol] all with an intent to have affected more Public Good and what state were the People now in. He said it was almost useless to point out Stockport that had laid out near 500 [pound symbol] on Public Servants and that town was now placed in the Back Ground. Was not the Stockport People an example of all that was persevering and generous. what had they not done for Harrison and the other Chester Prisoners yet wen Harrison said that it would be impossible for the people to keep pace with the expenses that the opposite party would put them to – and as an arguement why nothing should be done that was the aspect of Public execution – What success had the Petition of Bamford had in the house of Commons He presented by the Earl of Grosvenor he should say that the only safe plan would be for information to be conveyed about like this and that Private Meetings like this would ensure every Mans Safety and that some thing like a General Subscription should be opened for the leading Characters amongst the Business but it was his divided opinion that if Hunt would make his appearance Publicly in Lancashire again that even still the People would be again animated and if Hunt was severly dealt with he did believe it to be the Private views of that Man to let and even encourage the People to server themselves in their own way
Mr Bamford then said that a Many of the Characters that had property and were under Bail were determined to dispossess themselves of every halfpenny they had for instance Wroe had already taken the value of his stock and was going to assign all over to another quite fresh Proprietorso that whatever fine might be levied upon him he would never pay a penny and that his [?Carcass] he did not value because the Concern should be turned over in such a way as his wife and Children would derice some benefit from it and further said that he was not a hundred yards from his [?] Office all that nine weeks they were in search of him and every vigilance had been used to find him. Nothing could be arranged in an Conclusive Manner and the Meting broke up little Better than it began only that it seemed to be the opinion of the class from Blackburn and Padian that a Riot would be easily begun by & by in that quarter it was then ordered that the result of this Meeting should be that – it was the determination of the Radical to persevere with a stillness undiscernible by the Loyalists and that if any Reports were circulated by the Public respecting a Second Meeting at Middleton that no Meeting had been Here run within the townships neither would any [?] Prove it However the Friends from the South will be towards [?Meeting] in Macclesfield on Wednesday and if at Stockport one shall be in some fields betwixt Hope Mill and Justice Philips and if towards Macclesfield I can not tell where it will be allotted. However the Proceedings of the day will be left at the Post Office a little before eight this evening and if you have any requests to make you may send a line betwixt and then. I am yours etc Alpha -”
(HO 42/203 folio 386)
1820, 12 Jan
Letter from the spy Alpha to J. Langshaw 12 Jan 1820.
‘My Dear Langshaw
I arrived safely at this town last night and found that a stillness prevails amongst the Reformers in this part. I paid a visit this afternoon to our worthy the Revd Harrison if I may so be allowed the term. I found him in the Stockport Union Room which he rents amidst about twenty very poor children indeed. He was in the same cool deliberate frame that he is remarkably noted for and tells me that nothing gives him as much pleasure as the present stillness of the Radicals at this time he says the Courier is boasting of this as if the principles of Reform and Reformers is done away with but far from that he considers that great progress is daily making amongst them and he was much hurt to hear that we had given up the assembling of numbers together at Bolton & further informed me that they were the same organised body as hitherto they had been and thought rather embarrased and the public a little backward at this moment yet a few days would excite fresh life and vigour amongst us. But he says that it is impossible for the public to support the demands that could be consistently made upon them and he says that there are about fifty of them that will plead to the astonishment of all both judge and jury when brought into open court. He says he is labouring under the keenest embarressment in his circumstances at present but he pretends to have faith in god who he says will deliver out of the enemies hands but I think he is relying more upon the physical force he so often preaches about than the providence – He seems quite offended that Walker should have been elected chairman at Wigan Meeting and advises me to have nothing do with him for he imagines him to be a very dubious character. He then asked me what I thought about Cobbetts new plan and whether I thought the 5000 pounds would be raised or not I told him I thought it would but I had not exactly the right idea of Cobbett’s plan except it was the puff out – he said from all that he had yet been able to learn that was what the money was wanted for to execute plates and appoint a sufficient number of men to carry them to every part of England Scotland and Wales and this or abstinence was the only sure strike that could be acted on the part of the Reformers and if then both failed he should recommend as a last resort hostile measures. And I still am of opinion my Dear Langshaw that these men will do all they can to cause a riot previous to March assises. I then asked him what friends he expected this night and where we should meet he and I must call upon him at his own house Castle Row near Sandy Brow at five OÇlock and the meeting would be at some private house out of the town and a man from Macclesfield and Manchester and Ashton were all that he knew of a certainty would attend. I promised to wait upon him. I then called William Perry the Secretary to the Stockport Union…’1
1. HO 42/203.
1820, Jan 19
Letter from John Lloyd to Hobhouse dated 19 Jan 1820.
Attempted escape of Jacob McInnis.
‘Sir Whilst I was sleeping in the Castle last week McInnis attempted to make his escape by a most desperate effort in which he did not succeed. A noise was discovered by the sentinel which enabled us to secure him – indeed he was unable from the fall he had had, to attempt the boundary wall – It was about half past 3 in the morning – and I officiated as doctor for him – The gaoler will examine him as to the means & how procured when he is recovered.’1
1. HO 42/203
1820, Jan 31
Letter from Wm Dawson (Liverpool) to Lord Sidmouth dated 31 Jan, 1820.
Liverpool 31 January 1820
Baguley who with Johnson & Drummond was convicted of Sedition at the last March Chester Assizes is meditating and escape from Prison by means of a Woman who sells eggs to the Prisoners and who is to convey a Disguise secretly, and by piece-meal. I do not know that Johnson or Drummond are implicated in the scheme but if my ?? be correct it furnished the best solution of Baguley’s conduct on wearing his Beard unshaved from his Conviction, thus what has been deemed a foolish measure may be but the result of an artful scheme. As a test of my verity I refer your Lordship to the enquiry if he does not officiate as Clerk of the Prison Chapel; if so he is surely an improper functionary being guilty (with his ? opinions in Church & State ? ? ? Perjury in every performance of his ? Duties.
If it be asked why I do not rather apply to the Local Authorities than to your Lordship I reply that I ? little of them and with not ? myself with them; and that I have ? reliance from ? Lordships discretion
Your Public and Private virtues are not unknown to me; the former I ? by the
usual diurnal , the ? chiefly by Bamford’s narrative in work ? insignifcant man as it serves to develop your Lordship’s Humanity, and gentle exercise of your Powers. Tis this last revision I principally address you for this well affected towards Administration I would rather conceal my Information than run the risk of involving the ??? aggravating the punishment of the guilty!
Baguley ? would ? ? triumph ?? Apostle, and a further favorite than any of his Party.
I should sign this letter anonymously but ? how little value is placed on such Communication I prefer confiding in your Lordship’s ? and Discretion and only add that I am with great Truth & Respects.
My Lord Your Lordships Faithful Servant
No 2 Scotland Road
[Note at side of page]
Thank the writer
send first paragraph
to the Constable of
Chester Castle 1.
- HO 42/203
1820, Feb 22
Notice appearing in Manchester Observer dated Feb 22, 1820.
“BAGGULEY, DRUMMOND, JOHNSTON AND HARRISON.
THE charitable and humane Friends to Freedom of the United Kingdom, are respectfully informed, that another arrangement has taken place, in the management of the funds for the relief of Messrs. BAGGULEY, DRUMMOND, and JOHNSTON, now confined in Chester Castle.
It will be remembered, that in a recent number of the OBSERVER, notice was given that all money collected for the relief of the above-mentioned incarcerated Patriots, should in future be forwarded to the Union Committee. That arrangement was made solely with a view to add strength to public interest, by allaying the little worthless animosities that then existed amongst us.—It was a consummation devoutly wished by every friend to unanimity and peace; and the object so much looked up to, has in a great measure had its desired effect.
The agreement was reciprocally conditional, and as the conditions are expired, the fund will in future remain in those hands it did previous to that arrangement. Therefore all monies collected for the relief of Messrs. BAGGULEY, DRUMMOND, and JOHNSTON, and also money collected to assist JOSEPH HARRISON to defend his cause upon three indictments at the ensuing assizes, together with all communications connected therewith, must be forwarded to the Rev. J. HARRISON, Sandy-brow, Stockport.
By order of the Committee for the relief of the Prisoners.
Windmill Room, Stockport, Feb. 22, 1820.” 1
- MO 26 Feb, 1820.
1820, Feb 23
Cato Street Conspiracy. This was a Spencean plot led by Thistlewood to murder the cabinet ministers.
Cato Street Conspiracy
1820, Feb 24
‘To the Editor of the Manchester Observer.
Sir, – As my friends at Stockport have honored me, by making me the medium of communication betwixt them and the prisoners in Chester Castle, I wrote the inclosed letter to Mr. Samuel Drummond last week, to which I received the answer inclosed.
Mr Drummond being permitted to see only part of my letter, I wish you to publish it to the world through the Observer, that the public may see that it does not contain any thing calculated to enable the prisoners to make their escape. The treatment which the prisoners receive, is no doubt inflicted on purpose to intimidate us, who, through mercy, are yet at large; but Tyranny always hardens, instead of softening, the minds of Englishmen! Hoping to see better days, I remain, yours,
Stockport, March 1, 1820.
Stockport, Feb. 24, 1820.
Dear Friend. -Ever rolling time is bringing you nearer and nearer to your release from purgatory. It is very reasonable to conclude that you are entered upon the latter part of your confinement; -mine is yet to begin. I have tasted – I have had enough; – the draught is too bitter for one who has naturally a sweet tooth, -and it is no less bitter, because so many have been made to drink of it. I think there are 40 or 50 of us, seditious wretches, who have to take our trials this spring. I hope they will not be considered as so many sacrifices to Moloch, or to the Hindostan Juggernaut, insatiable monsters! It is not yet decided whether my trial with Sir Charles will take place at Chester. The cause of Hunt and others is removed to York, which may probably occasion the Lancaster Assizes to take the precedence of those at York this spring; -for Justice Bayley thinks he cannot put on a face to try the poor fellows at Lancaster for sedition, after he has acquitted Hunt, etc. Besides, the acquittal of those deadful Conspirators will strike such a light into the minds of country Juries, that they will not be able to discover the guilt of persons tried upon such charges, for a month or two afterwards; therefore, prudence suggests that it will be best for them to get their work done before the sun rises, and get as many of us locked up as possible, lest we should be cheered by its rays. Ah! my dear brethren in adversity, what shifts are these! That system must be weak indeed, which needs such support. Thanks be to God, it is in its dotage. It cannot last long; Heaven forbid that it should! -I had better not pursue the subject any futher lest I grow warm, and induce the masters of this great Asylum to give me another ducking, or put me into the same room with a strait jacket, where my friend John Robinson is, who was so kind as to swear me into Chester Castle on the 13th of December, 1819. -I am informed that the thoughts of what he did at Peterloo, have swallowed up the thoughts of what he swore against me in the presence of Mr. Wright. How dreadfully powerful is conscience, when wretches abandoned to every species of vice can be deprived of the use of their reason, and driven to downright madness by its terrible representations! You may perhaps hear more Peterloo ******** going mad with the dreadful thoughts of m-r—-d defenceless innocents! Let us endeavour to keep a good conscience towards God and man, and as we are conscious of guilt either more or less in many respects, let us apply by faith to the blood of Christ which cleanseth from all sin.
Please to write by return of post.
Enclosed is a 2l. Bank Note, the receipt of which you will please to acknowledge in your answer.
I remain yours, most affectionately, J. HARRISON.
N.B. Please to send us word how you all are, and which yards those persons are in who are confined for the Macclesfield Meeting.
To Mr. Samuel Drummond,
Reply of Mr. Drummond to the Foregoing.
Chester Castle, Feb. 27, 1820.
My Dear Friend.
I received a copy of part of you letter, with 2l. enclosed, too later in the evening of the 26th, to allow me to write, as you request, by return of post. The reason assigned for your letter no being forwarded to me is, that it is of a political nature, and consequently must be put into the hands of the Magistrates. I think, my friend, of all the diseases which we frail mortals are afflicted with, that a nervous complaint is the worst. It unmans us; it makes a pigmy a giant; it renders a fool a wise man, and causes him to commit a thousand blunders and meannesses, at a time, perhaps, when he imagines he is acting very prudently. Persons of this description, however, should never be employed in the service of despots; for they require subtle supporters in order to gloss over and hide their crimes. They are great sticklers for religion, loyalty, and morality, in others, while they are committing every species of crime and immorality themselves. But, thank God, this deception is ceasing to have the desired effect. It loses its power as man becomes enlightened, and will, at last, die away, and “like the baseless fabric of a vision, leave not a wreck behind.”
It was my intention to have addressed you at some length, and upon a different subject; but I am not now in a situation to follow the bent of my inclination; therefore I shall proceed to state, as briefly as I can, the disgrace I have fallen into, if it can be a disgrace, to incur the displeasure of a jailor. On Thursday last, Mr. Bagguley and I were ordered by the governor to put on the county clothes, which we both refused to do, alleging at the same time our reason for not complying with his request, which was as follows:- We have been EIGHTEEN MONTHS in prison, during which time we had been allowed to wear our own clothes, without it having been signified to us during that period, either by the Governor or Magistrates that we must wear the county clothes. This reason, however, was not deemed sufficient. I then asked him if I had misbehaved myself in any one instance so as to deserve the treatment? He said, he did not know that I had; notwithstanding which, however, I must put on the livery; which I still refusing to do, he led on his myrmidons to the attack. -We struggled; I was conquered, I cannot complain of having received much injury in my first onset. Mr. Hudson was very kind in that respect; for his chief attack was directed against my shirt, coat, and handkerchief, which he tore to tatters in a most dexterous and masterly manner. Being at length totally subdued, Mr. Bagguley’s turn came on next. Seeing that he was preparing himself for resistance, and knowing he was in a bad state of health, I prevailed upon him to avail himself of Mr. Hudson’s kindness, which he at last did, and put on the county clothes. But Mr. H. was disposed to be kinder to my friend than he wished; for no sooner had he clad himself in his new attire, than the blacksmith was ordered to decorate him with a PAIR OF DOUBLE IRONS. This was too much, and, like a man, valuing his freedom more than his life, he prepared to resist this petty tyranny. But it was in vain; the governor was the second time victorious – and Mr. Bagguley was IRONED, besides having the small of his back much injured. Flushed with success, Mr. Hudson determined to add another laurel to his brow, which occasioned a fresh attack upon me. I defended myself against it as well as I could; but it was useless; for I am now IN DOUBLE IRONS. I have not received very material damage; and though every thing has been done to deprive us of an little comfort which we may have hitherto enjoyed, we do not despair of seeing the day arrive when we shall meet our enemies on more equal ground. We are removed out of the cell which we occupied, and which we had made somewhat comfortable, at an expence, at least considerable to us. However, we do not regret much at being removed. We understand that all the Magistrates in the county will be here on Tuesday next, after which we shall be able to acquaint you with the result of the business. Till then, believe me, yours sincerely, SAML DRUMMOND.
P.S. It was my intention to have sent you my torn clothes, in order that you might show them to my friends, but I shall keep them where they are; for perhaps it is best.’1
1. Manchester Observer, March 11, 1820.
1820, Mar 4
Information from informant Samuel Fleming regarding operations of Stockport Union.
‘Information taken before me C.h. Ethelston one of his Majesty’s justices of ye peace & from Samuel Fleming of Manchester this 4th of March 1820 who on oath saith to us at Stockport yesterday – went to Conley’s the Committee man
– saw Kelly, one of the men taken up on Birch the constable’s business being supposed to be connected with it, sitting with Conley by the fire in his house – began talking about Hunt & his coming to Stockport that night – Kelly said Hunt was fully expected – Deponent saith that in the course of the evening they began to talk about White – said he had been discovered to be the person who gave the information about the cannon in Lyme Park which was afterwards removed according to orders given for that purpose – saith the two men assured him that the Reformists would have got the cannon into their possesion had not White blown the scheme – Kelly (deponent saith) informed him a letter without a name to it had been sent 23 miles off to ye Stockport Committee with information that White was ye man who discovered ye plot – saith Conley soon swore that if they ever (meaning the Radicals) met
with White they would take care he should tell no more secrets – saith Kelly declared he was obliged to leave his lodgings lest he should be approached as one of the party who intended to remove the cannon in ye night – saith
the letter was delivered to the Secretary Parson Harrison who immediately called ye Committee to gather – saith there was a terrible piece of work among the Committee when it was known that the plot was blown – saith Parson
Harrison was in a great passion & zest for Kelly – saith that they (ye Committee) sent after White to Chapel le Frith in Derbyshire the place where White said he lived – saith every enquiry was made after him in vain but that ye Committee have now got to hear White lives in Manchester – Deponent
saith Kelly at first believed he (Fleming) was concerned with White but as his name was not mentioned in ye letter the Committee were of opinion White only was guilty of betraying them. Saith Conley approved of Thistlewood’s conduct & said he was true game but that Hunt was not – conley said that if Thistlewood had been in Hunt’s place on the 16th of August the business would have been settled very differently – Kelly then said that if Hunt was not game there were plenty that would be – Conley then rose up & declared they ought to lie in ambush & shoot all ye men in power in the neighbourhood
of Stockport as the Ribband men did in Ireland during ye Rebellion – Deponent saith before he left Stockport he saw Moorhouse who told him Hunt was expected that night – Deponent waited for Hunt till 12’o clock at night & then walked home. Signed Samuel Fleming’1
- HO 40/11.
[Note: In the trial of McInnis and Bruce for shooting Constable Birch it was mentioned that Richard Kelly and Robert Jump were taken up on the charge and brought before Birch’s bedside to be identified as possible suspects.]
[Note: Daniel White of Manchester was also informant to Ethelston.]
1820, March 12
Report of spy XY dated March 12, 1820..
“…Harrison preaches two sermons to day at Oldham and one at Moorhouses, for the purpose of making collections to support the trials.
A considerable sum is expected to be raised. The poorest person comes forward with his note and the alacrity with which all classes contribute is astonishing. Harrison’s preaching is announced by placards upon the walls which plainly state his object, viz that he purposes preaching two sermons in the Union Room for the purpose of making a collection to support the trial of Hunt and his associates. This is pretty good answer to those persons who palliate the Establishment of Union Rooms and the Sunday Schools connected with them by alleging that the religious part of their system is unconnected with politics – as much as the instruction of a junto. A Mr Butterworth who I believe is one of the new Members for Dover is collecting materials upon that subject. I have procured one of the placards and given it to a friend of his here for his use. Whatever shape it may assume, whatever garb it may wear, Radicalism is Treason in disguise. It is a conspiracy that will sooner or later break thro’ all restraint and bid over defiance to the constituted authorities. I shall have a report of Harrison’s discourses from a friend who will attend him the whole of the day. After accompanying him to Moorhouses he will drive with him in Failsworth and afterwards accompany him to Oldham. Tho’ I am decidedly of opinion that there will be no attempt made against the public peace at York yet I cannot help think that the state of the disturbed districts is a little critical and that the result of the Trials will elicit a very strong feeling…”
- HO 40/11
1820, May 13
Article in Manchester Observer.
“PERMANENT FUND FOR THE CAUSE OF REFORM
A Public Meeting in furtherance of this measure was held on Wednesday evening at the Union Rooms, Stockport. The assemblage was very numerous. Mr. Evans and Mr. Lewis from the Manchester Committee attended by invitation and spoke at considerable length in support of the propriety of establishing a fund with as much speed as may be consistent with the due arrangment of the plan for managing it.
Several resolutions were passed declaratory of their cordial concurrence to the proceedings at the Manchester Meeting on the 28th April, and appointing a committee to correspond and co-operate with the Reformers in other places for this purpose. The principle of the fund met with such general and complete approbation that persons from each of the parties into which unfortunately the Reformers of Stockport have been divided, were nominated on the Committee, and and offer was most handsomely made by one party to coalesce with the other the instant the plan should be matured and put in action, until when, they would continue as heretofore to contribute towards the maintenance of the suffers from Stockport, now imprisoned in Chester, one of whom is condemned to an incarceration of four and a half, His wife and children are literally begging their bread from door to door through the country.” 1
- MO 13 May, 1820.