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Protest and Repression 1815-22

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1 Protest and Repression 1815-22

2 Key Tories Lord Liverpool - First Lord of the Treasury and Leader of the House of Lords and Prime MinisterFirst Lord of the Treasury Leader of the House of Lords Lord Eldon - Lord Chancellor Lord EldonLord Chancellor Lord Sidmouth - Secretary of State for the Home Department Lord SidmouthSecretary of State for the Home Department Lord Castlereagh (Lord Londonderry after 1821) - Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Leader of the House of Commons Lord CastlereaghSecretary of State for Foreign AffairsLeader of the House of Commons

3 Luddism The luddites were handloom weavers made redundant by new machinery in textile industry They lost their skilled employment, wages and status. Between 1800-1820 their wages declined from 27 shillings per week to around 8 as factory work replaced old techniques

4 Luddites The luddites attacked the new ‘wide frames’ introduced to the industry. Luddism started in Nottingham in 1811. The Luddites organised raids on mills at night during which wide frames would be smashed Luddite tactics spread later to Lancashire and Cheshire were new ‘power looms’ were being introduced with many factories being stormed and machines smashed

5 The Government’s Response to Luddism Lord Liverpool’s government made machine smashing punishable by death in 1812. Leading luddites were rounded up and executed – many followers of the Luddites were transported

6 Spa Fields Spa Fields was planned by a radical group called the Spencian Philanthropists who followed the revolutionary ideas of Thomas Spence. Spence believed in the nationalisation of all land and the abolition of all taxes except for progressive income tax In 1816 the Spencian Philanthropists planned a huge open air meeting in Spa Fields on the edge of London where a giant petition demanding reform was to be presented to the Prince Regent. The vents however turned into 2 meetings as there was a split between the Radicals (who wanted first and foremost the vote for all men), and the Spencians who supported the more socialistic programme

7 Spa Fields With such a large number of demonstrators in London (10,000+) some trouble was perhaps inevitable, and the more extreme of the protestors were seen carrying French tricolours, and a gunsmiths was broken into and some weapons stolen. A mob marched on the city were they were dispersed by a force collected by the Lord Mayor.

8 The Government’s Reaction Liverpool’s government was thoroughly alarmed by these events (remembering the French Revolution, and basing their reaction from information given by Lord Sidmouth’s spies some of whom had stirred up the trouble to give them something interesting to report.) The Government suspended Habeas Corpus and past laws banning ‘seditious’ meetings

9 What is Habeas Corpus? Habeas Corpus is the body of law which protects an individual from unfair trial, and imprisonment without charge The suspension of Habeas Corpus meant that the government could arrest and imprison anyone they suspected of ‘sedition’

10 The Blanketeers 1817 The march of the blanketeers was planned by a group of Manchester radicals to petition the Prince Regent for political reform (votes), relief of poverty and the reversal of Sidmouth’s repressive measures following Spa Fields The blanketeers (so called because they carried blankets) were to march from Manchester to London to deliver the petition A meeting was planned at St Peter’s Field Manchester to give them a big send off, but before the march could start it was broken up by troops and the leaders arrested. Many were arrested and imprisoned without charge as Habeas Corpus had been suspended

11 The Pentrich or Derbyshire Uprising 1817 In the Spring of 1817 rumours of an uprising in Derbyshire were being reported back to the government by Sidmouth’s spies. One particular spy named Oliver was sent by Sidmouth to infiltrate the heart of the conspiracy. Oliver made it his business to stir up an armed rebellion which would give the government an excuse for yet more repression. Only a few men were persuaded by Oliver the Spy to take up arms – in Huddersfield and Derbyshire. In Derbyshire Jeremiah Brandreth headed around 200 poorly armed men and was quickly captured by troops, arrested and executed with 3 other ‘ringleaders’. 14 others were transported to Australia

12 Peterloo 1819 With the return of poor harvests and unemployment the agitation of the period reached a climax in the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. A mass meeting was planned at St Peter’s Fields to demand political reform. It was to be addressed by Orator Hunt and was planned to peaceful. There were no weapons allowed, and the demonstrators were instructed to ‘wear their best clothes’ A vast crowds gathered faced by a force of yeomanry collected together by local magistrates. Hunt started to speak but half way through his address was arrested, general chaos ensued the yeomanry were ordered to charge the crowd. 11 people were killed by the yeomanry, including 2 women and a child. Over 400 people were injured

13 Government Reaction to Peterloo Sidmouth immediately congratulated by letter the Manchester authorities for what they had done at Peterloo. He then rushed through Parliament ‘The Six Acts’ – repressive measures aimed at ‘keeping public order’

14 The Six Acts The Training Prevention Act prohibited civilian bodies from training in the use of weapons. The Seizure of Arms Act, linked to the Training Prevention Act, gave JPs and magistrates the right to search private houses for weapons, to seize them and their possessors. The Seditious Meetings Act restricted to parish level all public meetings that were called to discuss 'any public grievance or any matter on Church and State'. Organisers had to proved local magistrates with due notice of the time and place of the meeting. The magistrates were empowered to change the date and/or time of the meeting at will, to prevent any attempt to organise insurrection. This was, perhaps, the most serious infringement of public liberty. The Blasphemous and Seditious Libels Act fixed the penalties for these activities to fourteen years' transportation. Magistrates were empowered to seek, seize and confiscate all libellous materials in the possession of the accused. The Misdemeanours Act provided for speedier legal machinery so that people could be brought to trial faster. This reduced the likelihood of bail being obtained by the accused; it also allowed for quicker convictions. The Newspaper and Stamp Duties Act greatly increased the taxes on printed matter, including newspapers, periodicals and pamphlets. Publishers and printers had to provide securities for their 'good behaviour'. Any publication appearing at least once a month, and costing less than 6d. was subject to a tax of 4d. The Act restricted the freedom of the legitimate press. Radical publications simply went 'underground'.

15 Public Reaction Many were horrified by the thought of English troops charging a peaceful crowd and public opinion swayed against the government and the repressive measures it introduced The name ‘Peterloo’ suggests the general and ironic contempt most people had for the victory of the magistrates and the government

16 Cato Street Conspiracy This was a plot by the Spencian philanthropists, led by Arthur Thistlewood, to assassinate the entire cabinet They planned to assassinate a number of cabinet ministers, overthrow the government and establish a Committee of Public Safety to oversee a radical revolution, similar to the French Revolution. According to the prosecution at their trial, they had planned to form a provisional government headquartered in the Mansion House. French RevolutionMansion House

17 Cato Street The involvement of Sidmouth’s spies was important again in stirring up this unrest. The plotters had intended to blow up the cabinet as they dined together – the ‘Dinner’ was an invention of spies and infiltrators and eventually Thistlwood and 11 other conspirators were tried and executed. Thistlewood himself was the last man in England to be beheaded

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