Joseph Harrison agitated for the repeal of the Combination Laws.
‘The Mayor of Stockport…called a meeting where a crowd, led by Harrison, virtually ignored the question of machinery but bitterly assailed the Combination Laws and the employers and set up a committee to agitate for repeal.’1
1. Artisans and Politics in Early Nineteenth-century London, I.J. Prothero, 1979.
1824, 25 Feb
Report from Brig Major Nathaniel Eckersley to General John Byng dated 25 Feb, 1824.
Mr. Hume’s letter, as Chairman of a Select Committee of the House of Commons, to some of the Civil Authorities in this part of the Country, for information upon “the various law which relate to artisans, mechanics etc” is occupying a little of our attention, at this moment; as it may not have come under your view, I annex a copy of it, together with a copy of a notice which was given by the Mayor of Stockport, for a Public Meeting, which was held there, in correspndence, on Monday last, – Mr. Robinson, the Gentleman with whom I usually communicate there, tells me that the Meeting was attended by all the Rabble of the Town, with Parson Harrison, of Reforming notoriety at their head, and that the room in which it was held, at the principal Inn, was taken possession of by them, at an early hour. – There was a great deal of discussion, but it would seem they almost overlooked that part of the inquiry which applies to the exportation of Machinery, and directed their attention, principally, to the Combination act…” HO 40/18 folio 100.
1824, May 22
Article from a Loyalist Paper regarding the closing down of the Windmill Room.
‘RADICALISM IN STOCKPORT. We have this week to record the total extinction of Radicalism in this town; for on Saturday last the whole of the preaching apparatus of the Windmill Room, near to the far-famed Sandy Brow, so renowned for the Reform Meetings convoked by Johnson, Drummond, Bagguly, and other worthies, was sold by auction under a distress for rent. The valuable and important appointments for this radical lecture-room consisted of a pulpit, a pew, several desks, forms, &c. but the most valuable of all the lots was the pulpit, which obtained the lofty sum of 20s. The purchaser was Mr. J. E. Turner, our loyal townsman, on whose name being announced, the Reverend Joseph Harrison, the worthy lecturer, “grinned horribly a ghastly smile.”’1
1. Stockport Advertiser, May 28, 1824.
Report from a Loyalist Paper.
‘Our readers generally will doubtless recollect that during the height of Radicalism, which disgraced so much this part of the country, Parson Harrison figured most conspicuously. He has recently been converted to the true faith, and has joined a respectable body of Dissenting Christians in this town, and is appointed to preach the gospel at Bullocksmithy.- Stockport Advertiser.’1
1. Atlas, December 24, 1826.
1828, May 1
Joseph Harrison’s son Joseph, occupation ivory turner, married Ellen Jarman at Mottram-In Longendale, Cheshire.1
1. IGI; 1841 UK Census.
Reform Delegates in London.
‘…it was agreed that every city, town and hamlet should hold public meetings and elect deputies to take petitions demanding the full radical programme to London…Brooks and Curran were elected by ballot to be the Manchester deputies: they were the first to set off for London where they hoped to be joined by forty-odd colleagues from the north… George Meikle was chosen at Blackburn, Smedley at Macclesfield…Joseph Harrison at Stockport, and another post-war veteran, William Fitton at Oldham… The northern deputies expected to join forces with the new National Union of the Working Classes in London to mount an effective radical opposition to the Bill under Hunt’s parliamentary leadership. To their dismay, they found the NUWC rather indifferent towards both Hunt and the Bill… …At the NUWC meeting on 22 June, Hetherington introduced Brooks and Curran…They reported on the progress of the radical campaign in the north, and predicted that there would soon be 200 delegates in London, supporters of Hunt to the man. At the next weekly meeting of the NUWC, at which Joseph Harrison, the venerable Stockport was honoured with the chair, Brooks chided the London radicals for their quiescence and complacency…
The northern deputies failed to stir the London radicals into concerted action against the Bill. The public meeting in Portman Market was a one-off affair, and the attendance was far from impressive, although it was enthusiastically supported by old confrontationalists like Benbow. The northerners could not counteract the divisions and rivalries which dogged metropolitan radicalism: an informer reported that they were ‘much disappointed at finding Hunt so little thought of and so little unanimity among the Reformers’. Harrison, Brooks, Fitton and other deputies left the Rotunda in disgust when Jones, Cleave and Hibbert ‘denounced Hunt for his conduct to them as unfit to be thought much of by the people… The northern deputies were able to rouse their London comrades, but some important links were forged between London and the north, chiefly through Benbow and Hetherington, who welcomed the deputies, supported their campaign against the Bill, and shared their high regard of Hunt, who proved most attentive to the deputies while they were in town: they used his house in Stamford Street as their meeting-place, and he arranged parliamentary visits and private interviews for them with various ministers and Radical MPs. He tried to make the most of the petitions they brought with them, which he presented to the House as decisive proof of the popular ‘re-action’, of working-class dissatisfaction with the reintroduced Bill. But he was forced to withdraw the Stockport petition because of its intemperate tone…By the end of July, with nothing to show for their efforts, most of the deputies had left London to return to the north.’1
1. Henry Hunt and English Working Class Radicalism, J. Belcham, 1985.
1831, Jul 4
Excerpt of report from a spy.
“…There are several persons in London now who are deputed from the Radicals in the North to support Hunt in his opposition to the Reform Bill and expect to make a great noise as to what they could do when they came, they are some at friends and some at public lodgings and so little notice is taken of them that it is difficult with an association of all parties to know were [sic] to find them. Th principle Meeting House now of the London Committee of the National Union is the Baazar Coffee House in Castle St Oxford Market of which Gast is one of the principles and Hetherington forms one, but he is far from being very active lately because “he begins to find Hunt is not quite so good as he ought to be.” To this place many of the delegates have often lately met and are to continue and most of them are in constant communication with Hunt particularly Dunn and Harrison, and as Hetherington has been defeated in his appeal there is to be a Meeting at the Rotunda this (Monday) evening on the Taxes on Knowledge in which his case is to be fully entered into, at which most of these Delegates are expected to attend I shall attend and will send a Report early tomorrow. They are to remain in London and hold a Public Meeting in Portman Market…”
H)64/11 Folio 346
1831, Jul 5
Excerpt of report from a spy.
“…I have found as I stated yesterday that these delegates are lodging at various places about London and since they have been here they have met at different places their principle place being Hunts House in Stamford St and not having any particular place else and the only person or chief person of London who has met them there is Hetherington he being still in favour of Hunt. They have not met at Hetheringtons, but have often called there and have met at Benbows Coffee and Beer Shop in Fleet St near Temple Bar often and at the Bazaar Coffee Shop in Castle St Oxford Market and sometimes at Cleaves, but not for any secret purpose their sole object as deputed is to get a petition presented by Hunt from the Working classes of the North stating their dissatisfaction of the Reform Bill as it does not give the Ballot and universal suffrage and this he has done, but withdrawn it as it was illegally worded, to see such Ministers of the Government as they imagined they could obtain a pledge from that either the bill should be altered as to grant this or that the subject should soon be considered by them. They have been with Lords Althorp and Russell and have seen the Attorney General and others of the Government, but are not satisfied at finding they cannot obtain their object. They have also been with Mr Hume who they expected would support them and they say he at first promised to do so, but he has since declined and they speak of him as a Man who is not for the people. I have not been able to fall in with them until last night and then five of them came to the Rotunda. I found they are far from being any way inclined to do serious Mischief and they think of next addressing the King and after having met to take the sense of the public on their plans on Monday next at Portman Market they mean to go back.
Harrison from Stockport and Brooks from Manchester are the principle of them as to ability and they say having been allowed by favour of Hunt to go to the House of commons and hear the debates on their petitions and plans and having been much about companys they are much disappointed at finding Hunt no little thought of and so little unanimity among the Reformers…”1
- HO 66/11 Folio 347-348.
1831, Jul 8
Harrison, Curran and Meikle’s letter to Sir Robert Peel, sent while they were in London.
‘Commercial Coffee House, Temple Bar.
Sir, We, the undersigned, being deputed hither by the Working Classes of Manchester, Stockport, and Blackburn, to make known their just claims to his Majesty’s Government, have caused their Petitions to be presented – have waited upon his Majesty’s Ministers and several members of Parliament, – and we think it to be our duty to apply to you also. Your caution requires us to signify our opinions in writing, with which we most cheerfully comply. The cause, Sir, in which we are engaged, may be expressed in two words; namely, EQUAL RIGHTS. According, to the saying of Edward the First, “It is a most equitable rule, that what concerns all, should be approved by all; and common dangers be repelled by united efforts.” It is well known, Sir, the labouring classes have been sinking in society for these forty years, and that their condition is now become almost intolerable. This is generally attributed to the want of representation. Reform is now offered – many look upon this as the first step towards obtaining their rights; therefore they are patiently waiting the passing of the Bill, or giving it their support. But those who sent us think the question had better be settled now upon the principle of Universal Suffrage, Vote by Ballot, and short Parliaments – that is, one or two years – they are not particular. If they get these, and their sufferings still continue, they will bear them with patience; – if they do not get these, you may depend upon it, Sir, that they will continue to agitate the question in such a way as to endanger the Aristocracy, and even the Throne itself. Now, sir, though you have no place, yet you have power; and by a timely use of your extensive knowledge, and unrivalled [sic] talents you are capable of becoming the most popular man in Europe, by advocating the just rights of the whole people. So far we have endeavoured to discharge our duty, fearless of consequences; and, waiting your reply, We remain, Sir, your most obedient and humble servants, J. HARRISON EDWD. CURRAN GEORGE MEIKLE.’1
1. The Poor Man’s Guardian, July 16, 1831.
Meeting at Portman Market, London.
‘On Monday last…a Meeting of the Working Classes was held (by Permission) in Portman Market, New Church Street, Lisson Grove, “for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of Petitioning Parliament to remove all restrictions upon the Liberty of the Press, and for a full restoration of the Civil and Political Rights of the Working Classes.” Shortly after one o’clock, Thomas Wakley, Esq., was called to the Chair…he thought the Bill would render essential service as a stepping-stone to further and more substantial concessions. He then read a portion of a letter from Mr. Hume, in which that gentleman stated his readiness to move for a repeal of the Six Acts, but thought it could be more effectually done after the Bill had passed. Mr. Brooks, a delegate from Manchester, observed…that the Reform Bill even gave no shew of liberty to the working classes. They were altogether excluded from the right of voting by this Bill…He concluded …by moving the following Resolution:- “That it is the indisputable right of every male adult of the community – called upon to pay taxes or serve in the militia, – to have a voice in electing the Legislature of his country unshackled by property qualification, protected by the Ballot and Annual Parliaments.” Mr. HARRISON, in seconding the resolution, observed, that the present reform measure might be considered as the half-way house to the point in view – many of the working people sat down here to take a little refreshment, and fell asleep, and some of them still remain asleep. This is the case at Stockport, but Mr. Hume had represented them as being a great deal worse than they are:- he stated the other evening in the House, that the working classes of Stockport had only subscribed 2s. 6d. towards the expense of the delegation; – this mistake originated in what the Stockport delegate said at the Manchester meeting on the 13th June. He said that they had tried how much the £10 householders in Stockport would contribute towards the Delegation, and could only get 2s. 10d. but from the working classes they had collected about £9. Mr. Harrison further observed, that the resolution he held in his hand, was for Radical Reform, and that was the very thing they wanted, and the reasons why they wanted it were these: 1st. to restore the labouring classes to their proper station in society – 2nd. to lighten and equalize their burdens – 3rd. to lessen their miseries – 4th. to moralize their conduct – 5th. to diffuse general peace and happiness through the whole of society. “And the best means, said Mr. Harrison, to obtain this, is UNION – Unity of design – of effort, and of heart.” (Applause.) General peace and happiness will not be diffused, unless the conduct of the people be moralized – the conduct of the people will not be moralized, unless their miseries are lessened – their miseries will not be lessened, unless their burdens be lightened and equalized – their burdens cannot be lightened and equalized unless they be restored to their proper station in society – they cannot be restored to their proper station in society without Radical Reform, and Radical Reform will never be obtained without a general union among the working classes; therefore, teach this to your children, as a new edition of the house that Jack built. (Applause.)’1
[The delegates Curran from Manchester, and Miekle from Blackburn were also present.]
Note: Harrison’s reference to House that Jack built:
‘AND THIS IS THE PRIEST, neither shaven nor shorn, Who’d learnt all his lesson by times in the morn,With puritan twang, was to prelude petition, But had it cut short by a Writ for Sedition, A scheme brought to bear by some freedom reviler, Who’d enmity sworn to the spawn of WAT TYLER, As well as to CARTWRIGHT, a Radical Player’2
1. The Poor Man’s Guardian, July 16, 1831. 2. The Dorchester Guide, or a House that Jack Built, 1819.
1831, Jul 10
Sir Robert Peel’s, reply to Harrison, Curran and Meikle’s letter.
‘Whitehall, July 10, 1831. Sir Robert Peel begs leave to acknowledge the receipt of the letter which has been addressed to him by Mr. Edward Curran and Mr. George Meikle.
He regrets that it is not in his power to support the measures to which that letter refers; and he is satisfied that the labouring classes would be the first to suffer by their enactment.’1
1. The Poor Man’s Guardian, July 16, 1831.
1831, Jul 26
Excerpt of letter from spy.
“…On Monday evening I attended at the Rotunda where Hibbert again called a political Meeting. He took the chair about half past eight and him, Jones, Cleave, Curran from Manchester and Osborne each addressed the Meeting in long rambling speeches on the prosecutions of the press and of the state of the Nation who as Monarchies they consider tyrants. 49 who paid threepence and 17 who paid sixpence were admitted the most of whom are constant in their attendance of decently dressed Mechanics.
The Meeting last till half past eleven and in a conversation I had with Curran I find that two of his associates left London for their homes yesterday (Monday) morning and he is to leave this (Tuesday) Morning. Hetherington went with Harrison to Stockport and is to remain in the North for sometime as a delegate from the National Union in London, and during his absence Cleave and Watson are to conduct his business as to continue both the Poor Mans Guardian and the Republican…”
S.S – 26 July 1831
HO 64/11 Folio 393
Henry Hunt’s norther tour of 1831.
‘At the close of October, 1831, Mr. Hunt left London for his northern tour, having received the most pressing invitations from the radicals of the manufacturing districts to pay them a visit. The first place he visited was Macclesfield, at which place he arrived by appointment, on Monday the 1st of November…From Macclesfield, Mr. Hunt proceeded to Bullock Smithey, when he intended to have passed a quiet night, as it was a pleasant retired village, about three miles from Stockport. On his arrival there, however, he found instead of that retirement and solitude which he was seeking, several thousand persons from Stockport accompanied with a coach and four, a band of music, and innumerable flags and banners, the committee of the Stockport union with Mr. Harrison at their head entreated Mr. Hunt to proceed to Stockport, where a public supper to welcome him was provided, and where the Manchester union were to receive him in the morning and conduct him to Manchester. Mr. Hunt accepted the invitation, and proceeded with them, the band playing the whole of the way, being accommodated on the roof of the coach; many many of the houses illuminated in honor of radical reform.’1
1. The History & Political Life of Henry Hunt Esq.
1834, Nov 21
John Horatio Lloyd scandal.
‘Resolved, that the Benchers, having heard the statement of John Horatio Lloyd, involving an admission of great indecency and witnessing his deep contrition, and in consideration of his otherwise unblemished character and compassion of his wife and children dependent on his professional exertions, determine that Mr. Lloyd shall relinquish his chambers in the Temple and give up the key before the opening of Hilary Term, and also be denied admission to the garden or Hall of Inner Temple. [Marginal note: “N.B. Papers & documents relating to complaint against Mr. Lloyd are sealed and deposited on top shelf in strong room and are not to be opened without Bench Order.”]’ (Calendar of Inner Temple Records.)
[Note: John Horatio Lloyd had ‘… exposed himself in the Temple Gardens’ and ‘run naked in the sight of some nurse maids’… ‘Not surprisingly, John Horatio’s career took a tumble. He lost the opportunity of becoming Solicitor-General and was forced to retire from political and legal work for four years, during which time he went abroad to Athens and became a director of the Ionian Bank.’ (Constance
The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde, Franny Moyle, 2011)]
1835, Feb 15
Death of Henry Hunt.
‘In the month of February 1835, [Hunt] set out upon a journey to the west of England, where he had a considerable connection, for the sale of his blacking and annato, or cheese colouring. On the 15th of that month, he stopped at Alresford in Hampshire, and was in the act of stepping from his phaeton, when he was seized with a violent fit of paralysis, which after a short interval proved fatal… It was determined by Mrs. Vince [Hunt’s mistress] that the body of Mr. Hunt, should be deposited in the vault belonging to her family. This, however was strenuously opposed by them…who looked upon his connection with Mrs. Vince as disgraceful…[the body] was finally conveyed to the vault of Colonel Vince at Parham.’1
[Hunt was 62 years old.]
1. The History & Political Life of Henry Hunt Esq.