The Popular Will: Reformism, Radicalism, Republicanism & Unionism in Britain 1815-1960

Lockdown has provided me with an attempt to delve deep into the array of Republican, Radical and Reformist Politics in the United Kingdom between the Napoleonic Wars and the passing of the Great Reform Act in 1832, consequently, I've launched a major rewrite of my previous timeline, From The Ashes of the Old, which reached around 1860. Initially I was going to produce a set of revisions, but it's progressed and changed so much that pretty much everything has changed!

I have a nice backlog of completed writing that I'm just going through and editing and I'll be releasing sections from the first part, taking stock of the Radical and Reformist Movements within the United Kingdom previous to the Acts and the opposition from within Parliament to any kind of reform.

The Book is divided into 8 Parts;
Part I will cover 1815 - 1832
Part II will cover 1832 - May 1850
Part III will cover June 1850 - 1874
Part IV will cover 1874 - 1887
Part V will cover 1887 - 1896
Part VI will cover 1896 - 1908
Part VII will cover 1908 - 1929
Part VII will cover 1929 - 1960

So without further ado, Part 1, Chapter 1 & Chapter 2 comes out today! Keep a look out.
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Part I, Chapter I
I, I: The Dynasty

In 1831, the Britain that we knew died, but when did it become sick? In a rush and a scramble, 162 years of continuous rule was ended, for a brief period it looked as if nothing would emerge in it's path. Victorious in the Napoleonic Wars, the British Government suffered an 'atrophy of victory' - a period of sharp economic decline, with the perfect electrical storm of a glut of servicemen re-entering the workforce, a technological overhaul of the economy that dumped millions into poverty, and an archaic system that radiated complacency.

After the Congress of Vienna restored Europe and pushed the reset button on Revolutionary France's grip on the attention of the continent, Britain, on the foreign arena and at home, personified lethargy. With its array of ‘Old Corruption’, spanning from pocket boroughs, rotten boroughs of small electorates that could be counted by hand, ‘treating’ - code for bribing the electorate directly, open ballots and a tiny overall electorate of 1/12th of the population, it performed as a haven for the rural landowners, shutting out new urban wealth, the emerging middle class and the workers of the nation. Having introduced the hugely unpopular Income Tax during the war, the eras oligarchic electorate of landowners wished a policy of laissez-faire, low-spend governance, and gifted the Government of Lord Liverpool power to entrust and enshrine those constraints. If they were to stray off the course, as the attempted to do in the aftermath of the victory at Waterloo by reintroducing the Income Tax to reduce a growing War Debt, men trying to control the Commons on behalf of the Government would have to contend with the vast plain of Crossbenchers who made Government a basis of continuous Coalition-building rather than relying on traditional political parties. The combination of ideological commitment restrict the growth of Government while protecting property, the status-quo and the institutions of power, like the Magistrates, Army, Navy and Landowners led to a tough uncompromising conservatism, an "opposition in power", so to speak.


Lord Liverpool, First Lord of the Treasury and Leader of the Government 1812-1825

Tax and Government were, in the eyes of landowners, were the antipathy of the victory - against Revolutionary & Napoleonic Ideals of equality before the law, constitutional government and reform of parliamentary politics and the balance of power between landowners and nobility. The deficit in the Government's purse however, rendered tax a much needed emergency measure, but still the Treasury's refusal to attempt to cross the political minefield caused a gap of a fifth of revenues for the state. They were instead forced to take on bonds and print Exchequer's Bills, the guarantee of payment with interest. Property owners, represented in institutions such as The Times, rejoiced at defeats against measures to tax wealth creators while ripping a whole in the nations accounts. The historic "Tory" wing in the Commons, a loose coalition in support of the political lethargy of Liverpool, coalesced to become the preferred brand of the Landowners, the Military, the Property Owner and the Nobility - a fearsome prospect for reform. The system of rotten boroughs, unequal constituencies and disinterested politicians with an iron grip on power caused a dwindling attendance in the chamber that allowed small cliques, like the one surrounding Liverpool's Government, who also managed the expectations and relationship with the Crown, who had a deep mistrust of Liberal elements, to dominate power.

While the power on financial matters centred around the Commons, the main political heavyweights fought it out in the House of Lords, an extravagant charade of tradition which centred the directional course of the politic of the Union. While Government's managed the Commons, they ruled from the Lords. Appointed by the King, the Lords set an ever-reactionary tone and with an Anti-Reform agenda, ensured an resistance to reform of the political system to achieve the goals of an ever-growing movement of public sentiment towards greater representation and democracy. To them, the spectre of the French Revolution still hung incredibly heavy and many in the aristocracy, were forced into a period of reaction and extreme conservatism by the need to keep their heads attached to their necks. The Presence of the Duke of Wellington, the General victorious at Waterloo, in the Lords ensured the members of that. The gross-overreaction of the post-Napoleonic period that was the personal passion project of men like Viscount Castlereagh, Lord Liverpool, Earl Eldon and Prince Metternich, saw the establishment of a Committee of Secrecy, a secret committee designed to find and eliminate organised opposition.

The development of the Liverpool clique controlling the Commons was enabled and encouraged by the inactivity of the opposition. The Whigs, representing the Commercial Interests in the Cities, constitutional monarchy and the parliamentary system, had little sympathy with the Reform Movement and had little zeal to impose it's will on the direction of travel of the country. Throughout the decade after the victory over Napoleon, there was no formal Leader of the Opposition in the Commons and Whig leadership in the Lords was patchy at best and their development to a formalised political party was earlier in it's process than the Tories. They had a massive amount to gain from expanded franchise, with their traditional relationship with the non-conformists, the groups of religious faiths disestablished from the Church of England and concentrated in Celtic Nations, Lancashire and Yorkshire. Rebellious, Radical MPs, like Francis Burdett, whose pro-French, pro-Reform and pro-Universal Suffrage made many an enemy within the establishment, were incredibly few in number. Attempts to reform in the Houses of Parliament summed John Russell's attempts to reduce 'rotten boroughs' and transfer their representatives to emerging Industrial Cities. This lethargy, this inertia to popular reform and the growing divide between the Parliamentary Oligarchy and the People would continue to develop over the next 16 years and topple the power structures of the old British Monarchy forever.
Part I, Chapter II
I, II: Bread or Blood

Outside of the bubble of Westminster, the basic game of politicking failed to quell malcontent in the nation they supposedly ruled over. Discontent at poor relief, parliamentary representation, lack of work, inflation and unemployment due to a post-war economic slowdown, forced the previously solid war-time alliance of property owners against skilled and guild workers, seeking protection and fair wages for their labour in ever-worsening conditions first damaged by the Napoleonic Continental System, then by the Inflation, bad harvests and depression that followed, to break down and caused previously ultra-loyal Urban Property owners to waiver towards a new politics of milder, ‘responsible’ government. A collapse of under-regulated country banks added to economic crisis and growing Government debt adding to economic fragility as the Government absorbed the liabilities of the private institutions. For the working class, the Treasury were reeling from a rapid increase in the Poor Law Relief debt, which topped £8 million in 1817. The poorly managed relief programs, purposefully underfunded in the line with the laissez-faire economic policy, now proved to be an expensive waste of Treasury funds and time. Lack of relief and the economic conditions caused Agricultural Farmers in East Anglia, largely apolitical to that point to riot demanding bread due to inflation the same year, brandishing a slogan that summed up the fervour of their ill-feeling: Bread or Blood. The correct belief that the aristocracy had ample access to food brought an anti-aristocratic sentiment in the areas of unrest. Suddenly, pro-establishment rioting against reformist plots, including Anti-Catholic riots and Anti-Reformist riots, prevalent before the war, ceased to be the foundation of any violence. The era of the rage against the machine had begun.


John Cartwright, Early Leader of the Reform Movement

Many Reformers were attracted to the spectacle of the candle-lit public meeting, with veteran Reformer John Cartwright attracted a massive following in the years following the victory at Waterloo, proposing equal constituencies, annual parliaments and universal manhood suffrage. A new breed of Reformers, like Henry Hunt, staged public meetings and began to attract a more revolutionary basis of support. Hunt's speaking tour attracted large numbers of attendees in major emerging Industrial Centres like Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham and Stockport, where crowds of up to 100,000 would gather to hear him speak. Hunt, a landowner with a reformist streak, would prove popular with the masses with his confident style and assured oratory. He would gain the moniker 'Orator Hunt', and would quickly, alongside Cartwright, become an early leader for the movement.

Influence of groups like those attached to Thomas Spence, the common-land philosopher whose followers practised a cult-like society of collaborators steeped in the secret societies of the age in cities like Newcastle, brought the radical movement to bookshops, newspapers and intellectual circles. The Spencean Principles & Constitution of Oceania, which called for the end of aristocracy and landlords, the nationalisation of land into self-governing 'democratic parishes', a social dividend of rents from the land, universal suffrage and a representative 'National Senate', represented the extreme-left of the ideology of Radicalism, but provided much of the basis of the paranoia exhibited by the establishment. Most Radicals wanted annual of more frequent elections, social guarantee of income during sickness or unemployment, equal constituencies and expanded suffrage with less power for the aristocratic House of Lords, but Spenceans remained a key organising force in the early parts of the Movement, especially in London, where the Spenceans had melded the land reform and free politics with a witty, pragmatic relationship with the cities poor and underground. They acted as a magnet for unemployed tradesmen, failed merchants of the metropolis of the capital and created an "obscene populism" of anti-clericalist sentiment found throughout the language of the "arse-bishops". The Spenceans were radical, controversial but ultimately were "a loosely-linked, semi-clandestine network of political organisations, groups, coteries and alliances", according to McCalman. The Committee of Secrecy saw it differently, noting in 1817 that 'the doctrines of the Spencean clubs have been widely diffused through the country either by extension of similar societies or by missionaries.'

Early in the post-war period, the Spenceans organised meetings and speeches as part of an agitation strategy for growing support for the wider movement to destroy the Social Order. They invited Hunt to a meeting in 1816 in Islington, London, where they would, on mass, present a petition to the Prince Regent demanding reform. Hunt was to deliver the petition alongside Francis Burdett. After the first in mid-November meeting was postponed until the next sitting of Parliament, on December 2, the Revolutionary Spenceans planned to cause a Riot, take over the Tower of London and the Bank of England and raise the tricolor, the symbol of the French Revolution over London. James Watson, a local Spencean, attempted to whip the crowd while raising the flag into a frenzy but only managed a few hundred or so out of the 10,000 crowd to follow the tricolor. Despite this, a Riot broke out and banks were robbed and the most violent riots since 1780's Gordon Riot, began. The Spa Field Riot of 1816 kicked off an nearly uninterrupted 15 years of violence in Great Britain. Soon followed an act of Parliament declaring Spencean Clubs to be illegal.

Sensing the coming struggle, in January 1817, Radicals from across the country met in London, bringing together Francis Burdett, who represented the Parliamentary-wing of the Radicals, John Cartwright, the veteran Radical rabble-rouser Henry Hunt, who represented urban Industrial towns, and William Cobbett, representing the press-wing. This meeting attracted men from all over, and allows an observer to understand the composition of the Radical organisation in Britain at this time.

Francis Burdett was a veteran Member of Parliament who was the epitome of the Radical cause through the Commons. He denounced corporal punishment in the army, was a staunch anti-corruption limelight and highly steeped in Radical lore through his early adoption of a range of Radical Pillars; universal male suffrage, equal electoral districts, vote by ballot and annual parliaments. He also was an early campaigner against Roman Catholic disabilities, which drew support from the emerging Political Catholicism movement in Ireland and parts of the North-West.

John Cartwright was also in the 'veteran Radical' section of the movement, and been a member of the Society of the Friends of the People, an early Radical group within the Whig Faction in 1790s. Since the forced dissolution of the organisation under the Pitt Government, he remained a firebrand speaker who was capable of bringing greater consciousness to the masses. He was, even in 1817, considered a Father of Radicalism by the movement. His thinking in terms of reform of the political system centred around a basic tenet:

Universal Freedom - Based on the Declaration of the Rights of Man
Annual Elections - To ensure a link between Representative and Constituent
Voting by Ballot - To ensure a fair result
Equal Representation - To ensure the representation of Urban, Industrial Cities

He wished to create amongst the diverse coalition of Great Britain "A Sacred Union of Free States", with the traditional balance of power between different groups, a hallmark of the English System. He also enshrined the need for the right to effectively petition and have representatives who are bound to listen and base themselves in their districts.

Henry Hunt was a prosperous farmer, who was drawn into politics during the Napoleonic Wars, supporting Francis Burdett. He began circulating the political scene of Bristol, where he led campaign against both Whig and Tory and proclaiming himself a supporter of 'Democratic Radicalism'. After the Spa Field Riot in 1816, he was thrust into the national light and became known as the "Orator". He embraced a programmed that included annual parliaments and universal suffrage, but unlike the Spenceans, operated in open, favouring a tactic known as 'mass pressure', which he felt would achieve pressure on the establishment through large public acts on defiance and public meetings in the open would show the national support for the regimes. He attracted tens of thousands of supporters on a speaking tour throughout 1816, and radicalised large sections of the community in economical distressed areas. He represented the will of the people and the public face of Radicalism, supported by a Radical press that had exploded after the post-war tax decrease on printing. His non violent rhetoric was his hallmark and benefited from respect from both the papers and the moderate Radicals.

William Cobbett had been in the limelight for a number of years as an MP, but in January 1817, he was the King of the 'Two-Penny Trash', a pamphlet, rather than a newspaper that made it cheaper to the working man. His paper, the Political Register went from selling a thousand or so copies to a circulation of nearly 40,000. This made him a wanted man - with the events to follow, he would have an axe from the Committee of Secrecy over his head. At this time, he was a wanted man, although Radicals such as Samuel Bradford saw the influence of the burgeoning Press Baron;

At this time the writings of William Cobbett suddenly became of great authority; they were read on nearly every cottage hearth in the manufacturing districts of South Lancashire, in those of Leicester, Derby, and Nottingham; also in many of the Scottish manufacturing towns. Their influence was speedily visible. He directed his readers to the true cause of their sufferings—misgovernment; and to its proper corrective—parliamentary reform.

While the members agreed on the key cornerstones of the Radical agenda; annual Parliaments, universal suffrage and equal constituencies, they began to coalesce while the wider movement disagreed around strategy. The subject of violence, and the need for it in the name of reform divided Hunt, who was fiercely non-coercive, from the rest of the group who understood the realism of the country, patrolled by the Committee of Secrecy. This divide would be the main fault-line of the Democratic Radicalist coalition. In urban, working-class areas, the economic hardship had made the issue of violent uprising that much more acute.

After an attempt on the Prince Regent's life in February 1817, claimed by some to have been caused by a rock thrown into the carriage of the Prince (although some maintained the 'rock' was in fact a potato), the Lords reconvened quickly and in response to the deteriorating domestic situation, revoked Habeas Corpus in the House of Lords, ending the right to fair trial. They swiftly also made it treason to assassinate the Prince Regent an act of High Treason, and passed the Seditious Meetings Act, banning any meeting of more than 50 people. The law did allow meetings, but required a complex glut of red-tape for the meetings to be legal. This attempted to stymy opposition, but did not stop the proliferation of violence in the country. The Pentich Rising saw a Derbyshire town attempt a rising to among a list of conflicting and vague demands, cancel the National Debt. Two to three hundred men, mostly stockingers, quarrymen and iron workers set out to march to Nottingham with light arms, pikes, scythes and a small collection of guns hidden in a quarry. Jeremiah Brandeth, the so-called 'Nottingham Captain' and his three men in the leadership of the gang were brash but compromised - William Oliver, a member of the group was a spy answering to the Committee of Secrecy, the plot was foiled and Brandeth and his accomplices Isaac Ludlam and William Turner, were hanged and beheaded at Derby Gaol. That year, a petition to parliament signed by 750,000 people was presented to the Commons, but the members rejected it outright - insisting there was no more perfect a system.


Henry Hunt, Leader of the Radical Reform Movement and Main Speaker at the planned Manchester Patriotic Society meeting at St Peter's Field

The heightened tension continued but the postwar fervour gave way to a period of paranoia among the elites and effective suppression of Radical activities in the aftermath of the Pentich Rising, the next eighteen months or so were relatively quiet. Despite this, the organisation and passion of the Radical base was growing, not subsiding. Especially in industrial areas in the belt across the North, meetings, gatherings, periodicals and newspapers became to flower advocating parliamentary reform and began shifting their strategy towards controlling the feeling of public anger towards mass action. Effectively, Hunt seized control of the movement and re-embarked on a tour of mass meetings across the UK with a strict exception to violence. He received an offer to speak at an event in Manchester, organised by the Manchester Observer, at St Peters Field, where an decision of a was set to be made of whether to meet at a later time to elect a Representative in lieu of a Member of Parliament. Hunt wished to postpone this vote to not be associated with any attempt at forming a para-state outside of the Commons. Regardless, the meeting went ahead and around 60,000 people gathered to discuss reform. The Magistrates in the City had no time for the protesters, who arrived in Manchester in their Sunday best and controversially and at Hunt's specific orders, without arms. Many of the Radicals in the city had seen meetings violently broken up using the tool of choice for repression in the post-Napoleonic period - the Yeomanry.

These volunteer brigades had been raised during the Napoleonic conflict from the need to police and guard the streets during the foreign conquest, managing the domestic disturbances that came with post-war economic depression, mechanisation and subsequent loss of employment for many in the previously cottage dominated industries. With policing shared between the Parish Constable, The Watchman and newer, more temporary measures such as the Special Constabulary, the Magistrates, the civil authority in a particular region, felt reassured to use the loyal Yeomanry, drawn from local landed gentry and loyal middle-class, rather than Militias with more working-class recruits. Subsequently, these units were trusted to deal with Radical suppression and their numbers were expanded throughout the late 1810s as a result. Their use and their development as an antipathy of the Radical & Reform Movements meant their reputation preceded them. Beginning with the suppression of the Combination Movement, they were called out to break up large scale meetings and their assert dominance and submission from the Radicals. Their use in throughout 1819 and 1820 would propel them, and the Radical cause into the national consciousness.
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Part I, Chapter III
I, III: Peterloo & The Beginning of the End

Before 1819, Radicals met in public houses and drank ale while plotting a revolutionary future. Henry Hunt brought their cause into the open, championed it and refined to be a way to occupy the mainstream of British political consciousness at the right time. But their venom, their bite, was no match for the antidote of feeble opposition and a lacklustre, ideologically inactive and reactionary government. To win power for the people, they needed action. Groups such as the Spenceans, drawing from Jacobin culture began, after the Spa Fields Riot, pivoting to organised violence and attempts at causing a wider uprising. Hunt opposed the violence and heightened the difference between the Radical movement, which moved more towards the Revolutionary means and subsequently withdrew to the secret societies and the Reform movement, which stepped out into the public and demanded Parliamentary representation but we’re growing more coherent and more confidently, seizing mass support to the point where Hunt and his followers could make a serious claim to be the leading voice of working class sentiment. While the platform changed around the country; annual parliaments, universal manhood suffrage and vote by ballot were the common factors.

In Manchester, economic concerns, fuelled by the transition of the city to a growing urban industrial metropolis and the post war slump from 1815-1817, they were hit by a second slump early in 1819 that further pushed many into destitution. The answer to the working class and the growing urban middle class was simple - suffrage. A mobilised and politicised middle and working class would improve productivity and bring much needed vigour to the creaking political system. With the new economic deterioration, the Reform movement sought the time was right to harness political ill-will to force a government change to bring about parliamentary reform and the franchise. In August, it was the Manchester Patriotic Union, who consisted of well to do urban middle class patrons who invited Henry Hunt to speak in a Peters Field meeting advocating Reform. The gathering of over 60,000 attendees in the field was watched over by magistrates, who wished to immediately crush and disperse the crowds. They called on the Manchester & Salford Yeomanry to break up the meeting and arrest Hunt. After a hefty feed of ale, the Yeomanry broke into the meeting, charged into the crowd knocking down a woman and killing a child. They apprehended Hunt, when the Cheshire Magistrates chairman, William Hilton ordered the 15th Hussars to disperse the crowd. They charged with sabres at the crowd and killed around 15 people. In the ensuing chaos and panic, 700 more were injured. The papers including the Manchester Observer, who covered the meeting extensively, dubbed the massacre Peterloo, an ironic twist on the battle that won the British the Napoleonic War, it’s finest moment. News of Peterloo spread like wildfire, and sparked a year of localised retaliatory riots in British Cities. Hunt was incarcerated, people were shocked and the Liverpool Ministry praised their actions. People of all classes who saw the massacre saw this as a turning point. It was.


Depiction of the
Peterloo Massacre, 1819

Agitation for constitutional reform from the Radical movement increased during this time, and in the movement at large, with Hunt in prison, a differing coalition of Radicals and Reformers, now splintering into more defined groups, came to the fore. In Scotland, the Radical War saw Glasgow’s Committee for the Organisation of a Provisional Government once again take advantage of poor economic conditions to call a General Strike, pulling 60,000 workers out of the production line. The Yeomanry were once again called out, 88 men were charged with treason, the leaders were hanged and over 20 were transported to Australia. They called it the “Battle of Bonnymuir” in the “Radical War”. Similar uprisings occurred in Yorkshire, where in Huddersfield outside Radical militias marched on the city, with 400 members in a town of 15,000 forming a fifth column to support the revolt. The Uprising was aborted for an unknown reason, although as in Peterloo, Magistrates were already on the scene in the town when the Radicals arrived and they dispersed.

The violence and use of Yeomanry continued into 1822 with violent collier strikes in South Wales seeing the Monmouth Troop assisting the Army to use the flat of their swords to disperse the mob. Yeomanry were called out 19 times in 1822. Senior players were now openly repressed by the authorities with little regard for status. In 1820, Francis Burnett was prosecuted, sentenced to prison for three months and fined £1,000 for reporting, despite heavy censure on the Peterloo massacre, writing later;

My opinion of the liberty of the press is that every man ought to be permitted to instruct his fellow subjects; that every man may fearlessly advance any new doctrines, provided he does so with proper respect to the religion and government of the country; that he may point out errors in the measures of public men; but he must not impute criminal conduct to them. The liberty of the press cannot be carried to this extent without violating another equally sacred right; namely, the right of character. This right can only be attacked in a court of justice, where the party attacked has a fair opportunity.

While the post-Napoleonic transition to peacetime economy were not good for the majority of the working class and even the middle class, the upper crust of society had done well from an expansionary monetary policy from the Liverpool Ministry as the economy contracted after the victory. By 1825, the crash that hurt the working class spread to the richest, as speculation brought about by through investments in Latin American countries (some of which didn’t exist, like Gregor McGregor’s Poyals investment for a territory that was not real) caused a speculative bubble that introduced a new, more familiar phenomenon - the stock market crash. Joint-Stock Companies had boomed and the stock market became an ever important component alongside the market for debt. The crash also caused a run on the developing Banking system, taking out nearly 60 County Banks and 6 London Institutions, with the trauma spreading through to business activity - bankruptcies skyrocketed in 1825 and then doubled again in 1826. The crash was blamed in the cities on rural county speculators, further imprinting in the mind of the urban poor and middle class that the rural Tories were the masters of the economic hardship. The major impact on the Radical cause, aside from the fertile political ground, was the impact on the press. The financial pressures made life hard for established papers, and many indeed went bankrupt. This opened the door for a new cohort of more modern, lighter newspapers and pamphlets that were cheaper to print. These brought Radical and Reform press to the fore, and brought the reporting and messages delivered by them.

Despite the economic panic, the small electorate of the unreformed Commons elected once again in 1826, and Liverpool was returned to power and retained his leadership of the Government. Despite this, his time was ending and the race to succeed him began. George Canning, representing greater emphasis on Catholic Emancipation and Free Trade and Earl Eldon, who represented the continuation of the Liverpool ideology of enthusiastic inaction. The two would also need to muscle out the domineering force of the Duke of Wellington, the Napoleonic General who represented a nostalgic vision of Great Britain and Robert Peel, the moderniser who represented the rising ranks of the Tories. When Canning was chosen in 1827, neither Peel nor Wellington served in the cabinet, and Eldon also withdrew. This split the old Tories in Parliament as the supporters of Canning, with the 'Ultras', a term borrowed from the French Chamber of Deputies faction representing the hardline royalist and anti-reformist members in the Commons and Lords, and the Canningites, who supported the new Prime Minister. Canning was forced to look to the Whigs to find members to support his government, and successfully formed a coalition with a faction led by Viscount Goderich. Canning was set apart from the Tories on two issues; Free Trade and Catholic Emancipation. Hopes of reform began to emerge but Canning would not see out the term - he would die in August 1828 as he was already ill when he took the post and would be replaced by Viscount Goderich, who wouldn't be in position for too long, as the Canningites moved back into coalition with the next, and final, Prime Minister of Great Britain, the Duke of Wellington. He was a war hero and a handy operator in the House of Lords, but his intention was to firmly put Reform on the back-burner.

Wellington did concede on one issue, and acted against the Tories central will. The Catholic, Daniel O’Connell would force the promise made to the Irish People in 1801 in exchange for Union: Catholic Emancipation. O’Connell used the socially powerful Catholic Church in Ireland to organise a political movement surrounding his return to his home county to Clare to stand for election. His mass popularity and charm and the influence of the Catholic Association saw him elected, although he could not serve as Catholics were not permitted to sit in Parliament. The Association was people powered; dues were cheap, funded by large meetings, organised through the main meeting point of the poor, catholic class community. With no land, only tenant farming income and a closed community denied change for hundreds of years, O’Connell convinced them, and a generation of talented reformists, that change was possible through the British State. O’Connell won the seat and defeated a cabinet member in the process. Catholic Emancipation was achieved by Oath of Supremacy - O’Connell refused and Peel and Wellington (who was half Irish and had a greater leniency towards the cause) persuaded the fiercely anti-Catholic George IV to pass the Catholic Relief Act with Whigs, while Non-Conformists were granted rights the year before in 1828, Catholics were finally Emancipated in 1829. O’Connell became known as ‘The Emancipator’. His next task and his next campaign, was to restore the Irish Parliament and Repeal the Act of Union to bring representation back to the 85% Catholic Nation.


Daniel O'Connell, Leader of the Catholic Association and later the Repeal Association

The lengthening economic concerns, which had now ravaged for nearly a decade, began to seriously wear down the patriotism and loyalty of the crowns subjects within Britain. In the rural areas, William Cobbett toured Southern England, and reported on the disquiet of the labourers and the decline in traditional practices. The rural economy, stable for generations had been under attack from newness, new styles, new machinery and new money flowing from the urban metropolis. With cities attracting the masses from the countryside who were in search of work in the growing number of factories, many who were left behind thought that the technological revolution wouldn't spread to their way of life. The need to modernise saw former labourers who before would 'live-in', or live on the site and work the farm all-year round, having to work on individual jobs as casual labourers with no guarantee of work. With massive over-supply and mechanical improvements, pay declined as food was sent to the cities and hoarded by Landlords. The social gulf between the Farming Gentry and Labouring Classes widened as the employment for less than a year disqualified the workers from poor rates. Systems were designed to address this gap and this was not a new issue - the Speenhamland System of 1795 but the system further depressed wages becoming a safety net in the winter and became part of the economic eco-system in the region. With Poor Laws like these raging out of control, they were cut as deterrent not to avoid work that simply didn't exist. The failure of modernisation, the confusing system of ownership of land, the inability of the surplus population to migrate to the cities, the development of technology which undercut their work and a population increasing created a powder keg which would frame the crisis that began the collapse of the British Monarchy.

In 1830, demands from these workers for change sparked - demanding higher wages across the south and east of England and an end to the threshing machines that destroyed most of their winter employment. In Sussex, Hampshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Devon, Dorset, Huntingdonshire, Gloucestershire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Kent, riots broke out. They had no organised leadership, aside from 'Captain Swing', a fictional character who became a symbol for the movement, similar to 'Blood or Bread' protests earlier in the post-war period. They primarily wanted an end to the process of enclosure, which had cut off their access to common land and forced them to become wage-workers. In the Swing Counties, this process had been accelerated the most and the wage depression was most enhanced on these regions. As a bad harvest began in June and wages were once again depressed, fires on machinery began followed by machine breaking in August, the first of the disturbances. They were disturbed by a further turbulent period in British power, with George IV's death causing a brief search for the successor. They found William IV, deemed more moderate by most of the masses and more tolerant towards reform and the Whigs in Parliament. The change in monarch forced the dissolution of Parliament, and elections were called in the backdrop of constitutional revolts across Europe, in the Southern Netherlands and France, with the two crowning liberal regimes. Hopes were high and while the Whigs, led by Earl Grey, were more cohesive in their platform and their intent to bring electoral reform.

News of the events were spread by word of mouth and agricultural workers, with their proximity to gentry and local middle and upper classes, the ideas of popular sovereignty would come in the coming months, but the simplistic messages of revolution turning over society were prevalent. The election was fought on the attempts to make the Poor Law harsher, unemployment and the control of the Church of England on the rural areas - it was in essence a rural election set in the frame of parliamentary reform.

Meetings were organised across October as radicals began agitating, with Spencean forces spreading ideas of re-establishing common land ownership amongst the labour workers. In November, spurred on by further revolts in Europe - this time in Poland - the machine breaking began again as winter threshing began, and a combination of all the tactics; fires, tithe riots and machine breaking all occurred alongside more radical harassment of Justices of the Peace. The riots broke up after that, but the local gentry were sympathetic to their ideas and needs to be protected. Despite this, the Committee of Secrecy identified over 500 suspects for transportation and hung the leaders. Radicals like William Cobbett argues the Swing Riots were a down streaming effect of a lack of post war reform. They caused over £150,000 worth of damage and spooked the gentry to the seriousness of the need for reform and arguably swung a proportion of the electorate. The Whigs, led by Earl Grey, won an increased number of seats, without a majority, up against the divided Tories.

There were 1,976 trials in total. Of the men tried, sentencing was as follows:

Sentenced to death252
Commuted to life transportation233
Acquitted/bound over800

The Riots showed one thing to the agricultural workers and the gentry alike - the power of the combined agricultural labour force. Without organisation, they managed to cause enough of a bloody nose across the agricultural Swing Counties. The lack of use of the police, organised by the Ultra-Tory Robert Peel in 1829, were used surprisingly infrequently throughout the riots. There were no unions formed in the aftermath, no lasting effects and the rioters demands were once again ignored, and the Swing Riots would act as the final signal to most that change could not occur through the unreformed Commons.

In November, Wellington lost a key vote and William IV requested Grey form a Ministry, the first Whig dominated Ministry since the Ministry of All the Talents. Grey pledged to pass electoral reform and reform the House to allow greater representation and eliminate rotten boroughs. His ‘Reform Act’ was presented to the Commons and failed in its first attempt in March 1831, and Grey asked the King to dissolve Parliament, which he was unwilling to do. He believed that another election would stir agricultural tensions once again which could be combined with urban agitation for insurrection. William was however not as moderate and liberal as his reputation, but he was especially irritated by the conduct of a cockily confident opposition in the Lords to the bill, who announced an intention to vote against dissolution. This was interpreted as an attack on royal prerogative, and the King was prepared to go in person to the House of Lords and prorogue Parliament. When told that his horses would not be ready, he offered to go in a Hackney Cab. The Times described the mood, saying "It is utterly impossible to describe the scene ... The violent tones and gestures of noble Lords ... astonished the spectators, and affected the ladies who were present with visible alarm."


Portrait of the House of Commons during a debate on the Reform Acts, 1831

He immediately declared new elections, which the reformers, led by Grey, won. This just created a new division - Commons, in favour of reform, against the Lords who were against it. The Public was captivated by the motions in Parliament; Lord Londonderry brandished a whip in the chamber to thrash Government supporters, brawls broke out and the King burst in and dissolved the Parliament. Excellent drama. The crisis broke down while the King had his coronation in September 1831. It was a low key affair, less than a quarter of the lavish coronation that George had thrown. Traditionalist ultra-Tories threatened to boycott the "Half-crown" coronation.

At the beginning of the reform crisis, the formation of a group in Birmingham would bring a reluctant revolutionary to the fore of the national politic. In 1829, the Birmingham Political Union (BPU) was founded, with it's first meeting taking place on January 25th 1830, attended by between 10,000 and 15,000 people. Stating it's aim as the reform of the House of Commons, it's aim was politically savvy - it aimed to combine the "two industrious classes of the nation.... middle and lower... who have been deceived into attacking and blaming each other for their sufferings." While it was founded with the joint cause of parliamentary reform and the repeal of the Peel Acts, wishing the return the currency from the Gold Standard to a Fiat Currency, the coalition it build between Radical-aligned Artisans, Extreme Radical Working Classes and the Moderate Middle and Industrial Classes, who all wanted representation, was a powerful force.

The Political Union Movement spread and it's organisation was copied across the country. This put Grey in a difficult position as the Reform Acts were drafted - the Political Union Movement were in support of Grey's Government, and used the Daniel O'Connell model of non-violence, large political association and cooperation within the system for public pressure of change. This peace was delicate, however, as the movement would likely disperse with the passage of the acts, the delay of the acts put them at odds with the Commons support they had. The BPU had an advantage with it's leadership, with Thomas Attwood's ability to turn a discredited cause, blighted by Riots and Conspiracies throughout the 1820s, into an articulate and sincere cause led by a respected individual. Their aims, and the aims of the BPU were clear; the right to vote for all men who paid tax, shorter parliaments (falling short of the old radical rallying cry of annual parliaments), and the abolition of property qualifications for MPs and the professionalism of MPs to allow members outside of the rich establishment.

Predictably, as the Bill went back to the Parliament in a revised version, the bill was voted down again in the House of Lords. Demonstrations began around the country across against the King and the Lords, and the demonstrations grew violent. Grey urged the King to create new Lords to ensure the passing of the Bill, but the King was reluctant, having created 22 new peers as part of his Coronation. Grey wished to continue with the passage of the act, and reintroduced it to the Lords and to the surprise of many, the Lords did not reject the bill, but decided to add a number of amendments to the bill to dilute its reformist agenda. Grey met with his cabinet and decided to resign if the King did not agree to the creation of the peers. William was not to be moved, he accepted their resignations. He called the Duke of Wellington to reform a ministry and as he left, on October 8th 1831, he left Parliament around 9:45pm to a hostile crowd of workers, artisans and bourgeois capitalists alike. As he entered his carriage, with mud being slung towards it from the crowd outside the gates, he exited Westminster and began to return back to Bushy Palace in Teddington. Reaching an unlit corner, late at night, he encountered a group of protesters who continued to throw mud at the carriage, but this time, the mud was followed by rocks and finally, a gun shot. The perpetrator was never found, but the King lay dead in his carriage, with the shot piercing his neck and causing him to bleed out. When the King's Guards attempted to round up all the witnesses, more shots were fired towards the Guards: 3 Guards were shot and 13 civilians were killed or injured. It begun.

*Edited 7/9/2021 to replace 'Austrian' with 'Southern' Netherlands
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Part I, Chapter IV
I, IV: The Regent

As the bullet fired through William, only one thing was sure; Princess Victoria of Kent would assume the role of Regent of the Crown. It was assured, with some conditions, in the Regency Act of 1830, passed just 10 months before. Heir Presumptive Victoria, her daughter, had been prepared for royalty since she was born through the 'Kensington System', a complex set of rules devised to close her off from the rest of society. It withdrew the younger Victoria to the personal and public life unless guided by her mother, the Regent. This was the ultimate aim of the Kensington System, to control Queen Victoria in the event of her coming to the throne came early, i.e before her 18th birthday. The Regency Act even forbid her to marry without her express written consent from the Regent. Upon hearing the news of William's death, she was remarked to have said: "my time has come". She boarded a carriage to come to Bushy House, accompanied by her side, as always, by her Private Secretary and confidante, John Conroy. Conroy was a controversial figure in the Royal Court, with his links to the Regent questioned and his motives even more so. His influence on the new Regent was unparalleled and he seemed to be rising the ladder quickly. Regardless, as the Princess became Regent, Conroy became incredibly important to the United Kingdom.


Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Regent of the United Kingdom October1831 - May 1832

With Grey having resigned his post, the Duke of Wellington assumed the role of First Lord of the Treasury and was keen, despite not holding the confidence of the House of Commons, to govern Britain back to health. This was further complicated with the automatic dissolution of Parliament due to the King's Death. A new election would have to be held, and the political stalemate over Reform would sludge and delay yet further. In the aftermath of the death of the King, Grey resigned himself and withdrew while Parliament was yet to recall. The debate over the Reform Act would cease for now in Parliament but would continue to rage in the streets of major cities. Directly responsible for quelling the violence in the hastily arranged Wellington Ministry was Earl Eldon Home Secretary, Lord Chancellor and an Ultra who detested the reform movement, and like Wellington, considered the Reform Acts unnecessary. Revolts were occurring on the streets of London, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Glasgow, Sherborne, Exeter, Southampton, and Eldon, while in his prime years, was the man to take on these unruly urban dwellers. He quipped at Thomas Hardy, member of the London Corresponding Society, that he was trying to install "representative government, the direct opposite of the government which is established here" - his reformist credentials were the antithesis of what the country needed. Working without having Parliament recalled, he drafted with a group of Ultras an act designed to restore discipline and control over the country and quash reform for good: the Protection of the Realm Act.

In the days after the assassination, the difference in mood was stark. In Cities and working-class towns in the North primarily, but also in the South Welsh Valleys and the Swing counties, there was a celebratory mood. Not for the death of the monarch, but in anticipation of the Regent. It was felt the new monarch would be more liberal and would welcome a new era of Young Monarchy with reform at the centre. In traditional, Tory Britain; in the military, in the estates and the Conservative elements of the Nobility, the death was a sign that it had arrived, the spectre of Revolution. All the fears of the Ultras, that Reform would unleash the masses onto governance, was correct. There would be no reform without disorder and ultimately, the completion of the growing cloud hanging over the men derided by the Reformists as 'Old Corruption'': seeing their power ebbing all around them with the big, Whig commercial barons holding the next baton of the establishment, leaving them in the dust. Their rural interests swatted aside by the cities' agenda of free trade (harming their wheat price), reform of the poor law and reduction of the national debt (which would inevitably see the return of the dreaded income tax) and larger suffrage (which would reduce their political leverage). All of Britain mourned, thousands from the cities and countryside alike, including most major radical leaders (Hunt, Attwood, O'Connell in particular) signed registers of condolence. There was anticipation that this was the apex of the violence. Most political marches were suspended for a few days, with public demonstrations cancelled. Rioters, after hearing the news, tended to wander home and disperse naturally.

But the truce only lasted so long. Political Unions began calling meetings together from the 12th October, while in reality, political agitating had moved indoors during the period of relative calm. The new monarch had ignited debate in the Political Unions, the only organised movement in favour of reform. They were disparate, unorganised and had no set agenda. The most advanced in terms of membership, scope and influence was Thomas Attwood's Birmingham Political Union, which despite espousing the natural unifying points of reformism at the time (more frequent parliaments, professional MPs, and equal constituencies based on population), had it's own bent, in its creator's image, on currency reform and abandoning of the gold standard. It was united by the heavily complex trade network of Birmingham, with artisans and merchants forming a more advanced middle-class, which share a uniting problem - lack of representation. Others often reflected the cities they were in; in Manchester, their local bent of Liberalism, centring on free-trade and representative government, saw a greater influx of working-class members into their Political Union. They wanted annual elections, universal suffrage and more power to the people - removing price ceilings and tariffs and opening up the country to the world with free trade. This tilt of the political unit was itself fused with more radical agendas, such as better, 'responsible' municipal governance and elections for magistrates and accountable courts, and codifying the common law of the country. Similarly, the London group, the Metropolitan Political Union, had a mix of workers and the middle-class in it's Union Council of 36 members.

More Radical elements of the Reform movement were concentrated in Glasgow within working-districts, Nottingham, Newcastle, Oldham, Huddersfield, Leeds, Wakefield, Liverpool Derby and Bristol - cities with high numbers of artisans and lower-paid workers alike, alongside middle-class merchants who were Whig and Reformist leaning. In the South of Wales, especially, the agenda was radical and addressed many political ills. They meshed the Political ends with Social demands, adopting both platforms that strengthened workers rights, such as abandoning the Combination Acts, but also advocating widespread democracy and power to ordinary people, redistribution of land amongst unemployed peasants. They crossed most with the followers of Captain Swing and had an agrarian tinge to their radicalism. The Unions divided, roughly, into the spectrum by city, Birmingham on the moderate end, South Welsh on the radical end, and Manchester sitting roughly in the centre. This hampered attempts at creating a cross-city coalition, as the Birmingham camp did want to include too much radicalism on their platform, risking retribution. In late October, Francis Place attempted to centralise efforts from London, but with local interests not keen to wield power to London, internal divisions of their platform doomed them from the start. In the month of October, they divided on the scope of suffrage to support, whether to pursue reform or simply support the restoration of the Whig Ministry by the Regent and negotiating a more balanced reform, like the reform plan which retained potwolloper boroughs, but eliminated certain rotten boroughs and assigning their seats to Counties with large populations to address the imbalance.

While these debates were had, protests continued, marches and meetings continued and people sensed the inertia of the regime stifling reform, like reforms to the Corn Laws and Poor Laws and every advancement achieved since the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Amongst leadership, moderation was the key, but amongst the membership, radical sentiment grew. Politically, the moderation of the Political Unions would grow unhelpful, as the actions of the Regent would grow increasingly erratic. In the end, the Political Unions had to act to control and direct the protests for reform, which had reached a nasty conclusion. Rioters in Bristol took control of the city from the 29-31st October, when an anti-reform judge, Charles Wetherell entered the city. The working-classes revolted, which was only brought under control when a posse comitatus was formed between conservative middle-classes and members of the military in the city. The crisis brought municipal reform to the forefront of conversation amongst radicals, as the Corporation was caught brutally under-prepared and unaware of the situation. Even more condemning for the Reformist movement in the city, the Mayor, Charles Pinney, was a supporter of the Reform Act but was undermined critically by a mainly corrupt, Tory administration. These failures of government brought the need for root and branch reform to the forefront of the conversation. Members of the Bristol Political Union, including it's President, William Herapath assured the cities magistrates that order could be maintained by their neutrality in the riots, providing troops were not used. Despite this, this truce was called off on the 25th October, two days before the serious rioting began, as the Corporations reactionary elements called troops in anyway.


Bristol on the night of 30th October in Queens Square (Now Herapath Square)

When the cities corporation asked the Government to provide troops, they were happy to do so, sending in 500 men from the 14th Light Dragoons and the 3rd Dragoon Guards. Earl Eldon personally saw that the 14th were used, as they were unpopular in the city due to their role in the suppression of the Swing revolts. Despite this, their commander, Thomas Brereton, had reformists sympathies. As Wetherall entered the city gates, the cities working-class were waiting and stoned him and Pinney from their horses. Middle-class merchants and professionals cheered them on from their windows. Soon they burned corporation buildings shouting "Oh, its only Corporation property", and "Tear down the churches and mend the roads with them". The burning of major public houses and churches made quite the impression on the cities middle-classes and turned their fear into action. Three thousand men volunteered to take hold of the city, which they managed with ease, even beating the arrival of a shipment of 500 more troops from London. These troops took direct control of the city and a state of insurrection was declared. Eldon tried several of the cities magistrates, and the cities Mayor, but Pinney was acquitted in a controversial public trial. While the Reformist movement claimed the rioting was the result of youths in the city, the composition was said to be male, and from workers in the city. Estimates of the death toll range from 100-250, £300,000 of damage occurred to the city and the city was divided more than ever. This fragility of the coalition between the working and middle classes was exposed, even at this early stage.

The incident brought home the ineffectiveness of municipal government, with their slow response and corrupt administration widely panned. Pinney, as the leader, unfairly took on a lot of the criticism, and Brereton was painted by Conservative pamphlets as not only incompetent but also arguably mutinous. What was noticeable about the criticism of Brereton was it was not shared by his soldier corps and his military record within the companies themselves was not tarnished by the incident. While general support was with the restoration of law and order, except in working-class districts where sympathy lay with the 200 workers who were killed in the riots, however in London, this overstated the importance, as to most in Parliamentary circles it was a mere Provincial matter. This may explain the decision to keep the troops in Bristol for four months. A simple matter to a simple problem. Agitation in Westminster centred around its recall date, with the Commons keen to reassemble to debate Reform. The Regent, however, insisted that she would issue writs for a new election once the violence had ceased, claiming an election would excite the population.

"An election of the Commons in this climate would excite the populous already whipped up in fear of Reforms and revolts. The House of God burning, the way of life perfected in this land disturbed." - Princess of Kent, 1st November 1831.

This model of politics, suspending it until after a political riot is completed and order is restored, is patchy at best. The Regent misread the mood of the public, but she was not alone in this; the Prince Regent in 1819 misjudged the mood at Peterloo & William misjudged it when he dismissed Grey. A Grey Ministry would have at least pacified the Whig members of the house and allowed for Government work to continue on a fresh Reform proposal. The Regent did not trust Grey and wanted a calm, stable military man to calm the mood of the country, hence appointing Wellington without the support of a Tory Parliament. She believed in Monarchy in the traditional sense, of one guiding vision for the Kingdom through the Regent - a dangerous dogma in reform-minded populous. It was in this naive, misunderstanding mind that she issued the writs for election on 4th November but elected to wait on the advice of John Conroy, to call the election for 14th June, leaving the country without a Parliament for eight months. In that time, the Privy Council, to be convened in December, would rule the country directly. When the news of this emerged, the mood amongst middle classes and working classes alike were aligned again. What was most important to both was a strong and functioning representative Parliament. This was taxation without representation.
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Part I, Chapter V
I, V: Council Rule and Collective Action

Grey condemned the decision and condemned Wellington for his compliance with it. With this condemnation, Political Unions were able to mobilise against the actions and organise meetings. Public meetings began again for a second phase in November, and their agendas began to circle firmly on the Regent. Takeovers by Radical elements demanded new elections for councils in Political Unions, with a more radical council base taking hold in Bristol, Nottingham, Derby and Manchester, where the Tory members of the group were ejected in favour of a coalition of the free-trade liberals and more radical democratic elements. Soon, the demands of the Reform Act were not enough for the Political Unions. Thomas Attwood bemoaned "we have lost the Union in our spirit of democracy." While the radicalisation was least pronounced in Birmingham (they merely upgraded their platform to call for annual elections and the recalling of Parliament by December by the Council meeting in November), but most pronounced in the provinces, where the line for the reformists had struck significantly more to the left of the Whigs reforms. They dressed this as a protection of the constitution. "Since the times of Charles, we have not had a ruler which denies the right of Parliament, even as Parliament wants to reform itself. The separation of powers, it was argued, was "criminally corrupted". Inside the Philosophical Circles, talk began of convening an interim Assembly (they would not use the word Parliament) could be convened to discuss the real grievances of the political question from middle-class and working-class members alike. This was echoed in the Northern branches of the Political Unions, who had been attempting to convince the southern, more moderate Unions like Attwood's since Peterloo about the election of ceremonial delegates to represent them and also the support of Henry Hunt, who was against the idea.

Fury inside and outside of the Westminster Circles was once again was enraged when the Regent made John Conroy a Lord and promoted him in the cabinet to Lord President of the Council. This overt cronyism ignited William Cobbett, who claimed: "the system is rotten to its core, it needs to be abolished and a new one built with the confidence of the Commons and the country." Cobbett began claiming that only the National Convention would have the legitimacy to restore faith in Her Majesty's Government. In the north, political unions began to form larger units, with the North West Palatines Political Union, a merger between the Manchester, Oldham, Stockport, Wigan, Preston, Bolton and Blackpool Political Unions claiming to represent the County Palatines of Chester & Lancaster, they elected Edward Curran as President and John Knight, from Oldham, as Vice President, with the organisation becoming known as the Palatine Union. Similar calculations were had in Yorkshire, where vicious attacks by countrymen against the cities led to the political murders of several radical leaders in Keighley, Kirkheaton and Almondbury. The lynching of a radical leader, Joshua Holbert, led to a meeting of the All-Yorkshire Political Union, which was accompanied by the secret covenant of sympathetic weapons makers to arm a reformist militia, solely to protect the meetings. It was formed out of the necessity of violence increasing against it.

Legions of armed men, mostly from the rural countryside and sympathetic peasants (that were wooed with the promise of free beer and bread for the expeditions) raided meetings and beat up the speakers. These incidents began as sympathetic elements within the countryside (including many churches and priests sympathetic to the Crown and weary of losing to power) all loyal to the queen organised through political and cultural sway to deploy policing patrols on cities in their County and used peasants as collateral damage. These "County Divisions" increased their violence throughout late 1831 as violent suppression was seen by some as the only way to control the rising revolutionary threat, alongside the Yeomen and the Army.

"Jacobinism and the threat of desecration of our churches and your homes and the death of your brothers are only protected by armies of God. You must take up arms, you must cleanse the cities of the papist, of the godless and those whom we fought to defeat in 1815." - Pamphlet from a Church of England parish in Warrington, 1831.

This power of the Church in rural England, while significant in the cities, turned the country against the cities. They were seen as godless, French-sympathising heretics throughout the sermons delivered in November and December 1831. While in the landed gentry, the mood turned against reform and towards rebuilding and law-abiding Parliament and loyal subjects, in the working-class suburbs of industrial cities and their surrounding towns, of Bristol workers, of workers in Swing counties, in Ireland and the North, the feeling was turning sour as the chance seemed to be missed again. These groups tended to attract small-scale private farmers and recruited heavily from small, isolated villages with more loyalty to the crown. Some, in Westmorland, was not even aware William was dead. When an "anti-French crusade" was presented for God and Country, they had little awareness of the intricacies of Parliamentary politics. Royalist Lord Mayors and Sheriffs would constantly declare posse comitatus upon arrival of the Divisions. Radical and reformist, and Whig leaders all had to contend with violence at public meetings throughout November and the beginning of December 1831, County Divisions murdered two workers speaking at a meeting at Fixby Hall in favour of the Reform Act. Eldon appreciated the organisations: "It is excellent that these fine men have presented themselves in an action of God and Country."

In Ireland, Britain's "oldest colony", a conflict over religion was brewing. Tithes forced payments in kind, mostly livestock, for the upkeep on the minority Church of Ireland, had bedded much resentment in the Catholic majority. Often forced to pay to Ministers who didn't even live in the parish. After emancipation, elements of the Catholic Association began advocating non-payment of the tithes to damage the Church in its pockets. This campaign was successful, and this civil disobedience would be top of the priority lists for the Privy Council to deal with the eight months of personal rule. They would increase Army units in Ireland and draw up debtors lists to reclaim the money. Despite increasing their enforcement of the tithes from March, the Tithe's conflict turned increasingly violent after the Carrickshock Incident, on December 14th, when a group of 14 protestants trying to collect the tithes from a debtors list in County Kilkenny were ambushed and killed. The Authorities and the Regent, who had an anti-Papal stint to her politics, did not take the disorder quietly. She insisted that control must be maintained and the payment of taxes must be continued. Eldon made the point in letters to her, and Conroy, that the only course of action was to impose martial law in Ireland, a mammoth task, and revoke emancipation of Catholics, including O'Connell until debts were reduced by 80%. O'Connell saw this as the greatest example yet that the English Government did not reflect the will of the people, and was encroaching on tyranny. As plans were distributed to the Privy Council to include clauses in P.O.R.A that "temporarily" revoked emancipation for all believers of faiths outside the Church of England and Ireland in England and Ireland, a measure targeting not only Catholic Church gatherings but Methodist Sunday Schools (long thought a tool to spread radical propaganda) and Non-Conformist groups. Wellington became increasingly skittish, and while Privy Council meeting minutes were never kept, his diaries reflect that even now, in early December, he was considering his position if emancipation wasn't secured and unimpeded. "We cannot allow ourselves to revoke the peace between religions we have benefited from emancipation," he wrote privately "the content of representation for not only Roman Catholic but also Nonconformists in Government settles the matter and secures the privilege of the established church in the Kingdom."

The first sparks in England occurred in Stockport four days after Carrickshock, when a meeting to submit a petition to the Regent, signed by 12,000 people, across the working-class and middle class signed for universal suffrage and the recalling of parliament, but more importantly, the election of privy councillors and the abolition of the House of Lords. The National Political Union, trying to restore its credibility, attempted to present "a thousand petitions" from across the country in the desire of reform, with the Palatine and Yorkshire branches sending 15 petitions, signed by 45,000 people in total. The "thousand petitions" in December 1831 were mild by modern standards; more parliaments, universal suffrage, freedom of religion, freedom of the press and assembly and equal constituencies. In non-conformist areas, they led with freedom of conscience and freedom of religion and expressed the desire to govern their "own" affairs, independent of the Church-Lords-Commons-King paradigm. Their rejection by the Regent was not surprising to those in the moderate Reformists and Radicals previously in Parliament, who knew she would outright reject on the influence of Conroy, who developed the policy of "no reform before the election". The Stockport branch of the Palatine Union met to discuss the regent's rejection of their demands and became increasingly heated. A relatively mixed leadership between middle-classes, commercial bosses and workers, the workers began increasingly exacerbated by the raid from the Divisions across minor workers meetings and political clubs. Some 18,000 met in Stockport on December 18th 1831 to demand political concessions and a recalled Parliament. They were met by the Cheshire Brigade, a County Division from Chester who came with muskets and pikes and who had, as one witness said, "drank their way across the county on the route". They slaughtered 119 men, women and children in, what became known as the "Winter Massacre".


Newark Hill, Birmingham Political Union meeting, December 1831 to sign the BPU's petition to the Regent

The Regent lost her credibility in the North after these dates, proclaiming the Brigade had "acted in the grace of God". Rioting resumed after December 21st across the North, alongside Bristol, which reignited after Thomas Brereton was sentenced to death and Wetherall returned, to judge the case of the 115 rioters who were found guilty of treason and high treason. The choice was purposeful on Eldon's part - he believed further violence in Bristol would discredit the larger Political Unions that were forming and become less conciliatory and more radical by the week. In Manchester, Salford Yeomanry was called out again, alongside the around 100 soldiers. They broke up a meeting of the Palatine Union of over 15,000 people on New Years Day, injuring 700 and killing 13 - evoking memories of Peterloo. This accelerated the radicalisation of the Political Unions in the North and sent them hurtling towards forming an armed militia. They received letters of support from the Yorkshire Political Union, and the Northumbrian Political Union, formed out of Political Unions in the far north, Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham and Barrow - with a radical slant, containing much of Northern shipping routes to Ireland. These three Unions co-wrote an open letter to every Political Union in the country, to meet after electing a National Convention to discuss a written constitution to break the political deadlock. The Birmingham leadership, still headed by Attwood, declined, preferring to support Whig candidates in the upcoming election. Unions from South Wales, Glasgow, Nottingham, Derby & Bristol pledged to attend and began to plan large scale public meetings across January to select their delegates for the convention. In London, the letter was well received by the Radical members of the Metropolitan Political Union, like Cobbett, who expressed support for the concept of an elected convention. This split the convention down the middle, as Francis Burdett and Henry Hunt were united in their desire not to replicate Parliament, symbolically or otherwise. This, it was felt, would cause the break-up of the meetings to be more violent than they had to be.

In Ireland, this movement was blended with a rising feeling of hostility. While Martial Law was not officially called in by Christmas, the number of troops in Ireland increased dramatically. Kilkenny, Limerick, Kerry (O'Connell's County), Tipperary and Dublin saw most of the increases, whereas the North-Eastern sections, dominated by Ultra-Royalist Ulster Protestants, were relatively low. Major Loyalist settlements like Belfast were pencilled to have more freedom than other areas, like the Gaelic-speaking west of the Island which was to be governed centrally from a military base in Tipperary. Tithe collection was boosted by more Royal Irish Constabulary men, which contained a rough mix of the religions in their area. In the south, the combination of regular troops stepping on the jurisdictions of the RIC men, orders from Protestant officers to give increasingly violent orders to Catholic regulars to stave off the arrival of the Army in their towns and villages led to a distrust of Catholics of all Protestants in the state, even moderate Nationalist Protestants. This religious settlement made O'Connell uncomfortable, and his letters to Jeremy Bentham, whom he had a strained relationship as with many of English Radicals, reflected this desire to defeat the retrenchment of Catholic rights, felt more akin to continue fighting within Westminster, but without the institutions of Parliament, he felt lost and in need of legitimacy. His campaign to Repeal the Act of Union was to restore the Constitution of 1782, with the addition of Catholic voting rights. The goal of the Repeal organisation as far as O'Connell was concerned, was less about constitutional ends, however, but a vague concept of returning something from England. In his Bolivarian fantasies, he considered himself the centre of any settlement for the rule in Ireland, and he felt, quite rightly, that a significant proportion of the Irish population wouldn't accept a new settlement for Ireland without O'Connell as Head of Government.

As the Government felt more distant than ever, and people around the Repeal Association began to show splits on the lines of "unilateralism": that calling an Irish Parliament through elections at "monster meetings" would pressure to liberalise the country, bring more access to government for Catholics and, echoing O'Connell's reformist dogma allows for proper, logical reform of the Government in the country, and the "constructionists" who favoured constructive, Island-wide reform along Grey's lines, to bring about reform. The Constructionists, of which O'Connell favoured, wished for monster meetings to take place, but to work within the law to achieve the ends of Repeal. There was a feeling amongst those favouring the unilateral settlement that the time was now, with increased Army presence and the Regent's harsh line on Emancipation, and widespread discontent with the Tithes meant that iron was hot to strike. O'Connell favoured waiting until the election when a further Whig majority would be sure to Reform, which would springboard the issue of Repeal. The feeling that the unilateralists had was that this would lead to home-rule, perpetual domination by England within the confines of self-rule. If O'Connell's brand of liberal Catholicism was the former and not the latter, and that Radicalism was compatible with the models of Radicalism in the rest of Britain, he would need to impose a constitution at some point, why not now? This radical streak was voiced most noticeably by Feargus O'Connor, who advocated the calling of an "Emergency National Assembly" to discuss the next steps for the Irish Nation. On January 4th 1832, O'Connor insisted that the concern of home-rule for Ireland was of little importance in Westminster, so Dublin must take it into their own hands. "Must we ask while Westminster is incapacitated, that a Dublin Castle administered by the populous, not by such inertia in Parliament?"

Jeremy Bentham, by this stage, was in his last days and felt that his 'disciples', such as J.S Mill, James Mill, Henry Hunt and (in his opinion) Daniel O'Connell, were longed to carry his legal and political reforms forward into the next, post-Reform generation of British Politics. Bentham worked on his final works, the Constitutional Code, and many in the Radical circles who wanted positivist, utilitarian reform of Government awaited his release of the manuscript with bated breath during the six-month recess. As popular sentiment turned against Wellington & the Regency, but also against the Church of England, "Old Corruption" and against the inertia and paralysis of the Westminster system, Radicals craved a practical proposal with the detail sure to be contained in a plan from Bentham. O'Connell was particularly keen to learn of the contents of the code, a learned follower of his legal analysis as a celebrated lawyer alongside his political career. He didn't anticipate it as code for any new constitution, but he wished to make reforms inspired by it. O'Connor, however, was attracted to the contents of the book and considered asking the Repeal Association to wait until the publication of the code before making any decisions on electing a Parliament. Surely, at this moment, a Parliament elected in any sense would have been a higher concern, but O'Connor's career was all about missed opportunities.

All this was fantasy, in the end as a report from the 'Secret Committee', revived for the ongoing agitation by reformers Seditious Activities Commission, a 3-man committee of Eldon, Edward Knatchbull (an over-zealous anti-Catholic) and Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan, who had been High Sheriff of Cornwall and was too known as an Ultra, forced the hand of the Government. Presented to the Regent on January 15th, it said that insurrection in the North and Ireland was imminent, and Political Unions were more radical and less in alignment with the Government. It summarised two options; a military dictatorship from Whitehall without Parliament for at least a year, or elections within 30 days. Eldon insisted that with PORA, that stability and order could be brought about by a prolonged period of tight censorship, political repression and a tightly centralised state. Wellington protested about sections in the report relating to religious freedom, which consigned all religions but the Church of England in England & Church of Ireland in Ireland (religious interference in Scotland would provoke a reaction from the Scots if was felt) would be forbidden from organising openly, wearing any related dress (especially aimed at Jews), and meeting in public. The Regent, however, said the recommendations should be "implemented immediately", with the Protection of the Realm Act receiving Royal Assent, without Parliamentary approval, on 24th January to widespread fury. Whigs, Reformists, Radicals, Non-Conformists and Irish Catholics were united in disgust. On 28th January, a Radical speaker, Willaim Benbow, published a pamphlet entitled the Grand National Holiday and Congress of the Productive Classes. In which he advocated a general strike of the "working and commercial classes, united in their desire for political reform". It enhanced the calls from the Northern Political Unions that it was time for a national convention, but advocated that mill-owners should shut their gates, workers should down tools and they should together bring the country to a stop until reform was achieved. It advocated the adoption of local committees which were developed upon by William Herapeth, jailed in Bristol, who advocated new City Charters with Responsible Government. Finally, Hunt broke his silence and came out in favour of the Convention, saying "It is time to convene and discuss a permanent solution with the confidence of the people."

Calls for public meetings, in defiance of magistrates, the Army and Yeomanry patrolling the streets, became louder and the desire for a National Holiday to select a convention to write a constitution for the United Kingdom became a unifying cry. In Ireland, similar protests began to start up, with the support of the Catholic Church. The political leadership group around O'Connell, who ultimately wished to repeal the Act of Union, saw the National Convention as an attempt to form an Irish Parliament. Worryingly for the Dublin Castle administration, February 1832 was littered with reports of mutiny from the ranks of the RIC, as Catholic recruits loyalty began to wear incredibly thin. Reports of the ransacking of armouries and gun-lockers in RIC stations were becoming widespread, and secretly, a society across Ireland called the United Irishmen began to prepare to defend the Convention elections, whenever they came. Similarly, the Palatine and Yorkshire Political Unions had been arming themselves, as had more working-class organisations, like the Glasgow Political Union, led by Radical War veteran George Kinloch, whom himself wanted to proclaim a Scottish Provisional Government to seize independence for Scotland, among other things. In Nottingham, Derby & Birmingham, the Political Unions decided to merge into the Mercian Political Union and elected Thomas Attwood it's President. He condemned the violence and the preparations for arming the conventions in both public speeches and letters, but promised to elect a new Union Council at the Grand National Holiday, and was "prepared to carry out whatever the intentions of the public desire". Since the violence on the mass scale of the Winter Processions and the growing violence across the Kingdom folding seamlessly into a military dictatorship, the window of public opinion looked to eliminate the corruption of the monarchy, eliminate the gridlock of reform and finally bring responsive government. In the Swing Counties and South Wales, the demands had taken more Radical ends, with demand for Economic Relief alongside the political reforms - and they were prepared to use violence and confiscation as hinted at during the Swing Riots the year before, as an ends to achieve their goals.
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Part I, Chapter VI
I, VI: The Grand National Holiday & Provincial Charters

On February 18th, as a meeting of Quakers at a Friends Meeting Hall in Liverpool was violently broken up by Yeomanry, leaving 6 men dead and the Meeting Hall burned to the ground, Wellington privately called upon Eldon to make an example of the Yeoman involved, the Cheshire and Warrington Yeomanry, but Eldon refused. Later that day, he tendered his resignation to the Regent, leaving Eldon in charge. In the North, the Regent became known as Vicious Victoria. While the opinion of the Queen, young Victoria, was still held in high regard, her mother and Conroy was felt to be toxic to the constitution. Conroy in particular, as Lord President of the secret Privy Council meetings, was in line for significant criticism. Britons across the islands desired for better government: commercial classes wanted competent economic policy and a reduction in the national debt, agricultural workers wanted either their share of land (in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and the Swing Counties) or protection from enclosures (in the ever-Industrialising North), workers wanted the vote, better wages and conditions and the Liberal Nobles had grown weary of the constant militarism and incompetency that they were too exacerbated to protest at the traditional order. Even in the military, some questions arose, like "We swear loyalty to the Queen, do we need to listen to her Regent?", as one soldier interviewed in the Political Register said in an investigation on radicalism in the Army. The officer corps, continually loyal throughout the ages, did not feel the need to submit to an unpopular Regent and in Conroy, a promiscuous prat, especially when murdering innocent workers in cities, rather than international conquest, occupied the majority of their terms between 1829-1832. Loyalty had wavered.

While the violence in the South began to mellow throughout March, the weather improved briefly and protesters began to re-emerge and the reinforcement of P.O.R.A by domestic forces became lethargic. Removing Wellington collapsed support within the Officer corps, Eldon was seen as a cruel and old-fashioned Minister with far too much power. This third wave of protest, bigger and more public demonstrations saw more resigned enforcement of officers and yeomen, as the growing ranks, including more and more liberal-leaning nobles, who wished to vote to remove the Wellington Ministry, meant that they were often attacking neighbours, friends and family. A Tory Member of Parliament, George Child Villiers, noted that "The enforcement of the law became a farce in the spring, as men refused to shoot on their own. An attempt to switch enforcement out of town, and use Yeomanry to suppress Sedition, was met with equal lethargy. One officer who lost his troop found them sat, discussing the aims of the meeting with a speaker." As economic depression took hold and the long-term effects of the full transition from cottage economy, to the largest wartime economy until the 1900s, to an industrial economy in the space of 30 years became stronger, strangled further by the Corn Laws, which made Bread Riots a regular occurrence throughout March in areas without martial law. High Sheriff of Leicestershire, a relative county of peace throughout the riots across the country, George J.D.B Danvers said on March 1831 wrote in his diary "many of the reliable actions of state have become worrisome... there is talk of the Yeomen running out on the Grand National Holiday on mass".

In the north, however, the repression had been sent into a spiral. By breaking up the spirits in the North, Eldon argued, a more 'compliant' peoples would become ready for reform. Eldon had used his time as Home Secretary to recall transported criminals from the colonies to form squadrons to 'remove' Radical leaders. A Radical Speaker, John Denton, was brutally beaten in the street and hung from a cross by one of these squadrons, who arrived first in February and were stationed, usually, as Eldon described them, as "packs" throughout major industrial cities. Any resistance and help would be treated as treason, although the gangs would usually ensure there were few survivors. In Hull, 6 men were bayoneted in a liberal-leaning debating society, in Liverpool, a distillery hosting a radical speaker was burned down, killing the speaker, Thomas Bish and the family of 13 who lived and worked there. In the press, sympathy moved slowly to the idea of armed agitation, as noted by Henry Hunt's admission on April 5th that a speech that "in the north, Her Majesties Government has turned its criminals, its military might and its bayonets on workers that are asking for the vote. Men have been killed in greater numbers and in such prolonged time and, understandably, individuals may want to protect themselves and their families. No liberty, no representation and no freedom is not the tonic for tranquillity." In Rochdale, military drills had been held for weeks now, in the moors in East Lancashire, often practising with experienced cells, of over two months of preparation themselves, from Yorkshire. One member, Theodore "Teddy" Smythwaite, who drilled with the groups in April said:

"The discipline brought by officers, who were usually those with military service in the Wars of Napoleon. This particular group was led by a veteran of the War in Spain and Portugal. They trained communication, working in groups, ambushing and used their numbers to cover as much ground as possible to confuse the battalions of the army. Once these drills were done, they would eat, drink and bare-knuckle fight, But they were prepared to take on, man by man, the armed guards. They would fight them in taverns, they would hunt them into alleys. They were determined to protect their jobs, their families and their towns and counties."

The concern - Theodore Smythwaite was a serving member of the British Army. The weapons they used were army issued, by him. He said he "got them by sneaking through the window of the arsenal, and passing them to the militiamen". Teddy was part of a growing movement, expanding like wildfire after October 1831, of agitators within the Army. One soldier was shot for mutinous activity in April 1831, a first in around a year as relative calm in the military had continued throughout the post-Napoleonic era. But problems began to emerge, and by May 1832, it had reached seven per day. Low pay and the long service, which was compounded by the definition of the military's paymaster that putting down rebellions, the only job for the mostly working-class recruits still enlisted, counted as 'stoppage', meaning half-pay, to save costs. The national debt was nearly 200% of GDP in 1832 and with costs of internal policing, a small percentage of the military's use in the previous 5 years now accosting for a military occupation of the north, troops came back to promises of pay, poor conditions and overcrowding and discontent turned to outright covert agitation in Northern barracks. They would use leave to train militias in military tactics and most began adopting a tactic described as the rather derisory "catch-and-police" system, which combined policing powers at events like meetings (after all, they were here to protect their wives, children and parents from the mob), and to "catch" Army guards on alert, arrest them and force them to convert to the other side (hopefully) or kill them (hopefully not).

In Political terms, this brought impatiences from both sides. The union leadership was split between more appetite for moderate reform in the South, but more alienation and agitation in the North and Scotland. Leaders of five of the major Unions (Scotland, Northumbria, Yorkshire, Palatine and Mercia) called on 25th April for a list of reforms in a letter to the Times, the Government paper of record. They called for elections to be held immediately, Parliamentary sovereignty, more local civic governance and end to martial law or else the leaders would advocate the National Holiday and workers would down tools on 1st May, where public meetings would elect a National Convention to decide a popular constitution. It was astounding in political terms, with Thomas Attwood signing on behalf of the Birmingham Union, showing the public opinion away from the Regent. It was interesting that subsections from every class spoke in favour of reform; Charles Grey, an aristocrat and reformer, albeit an extremely moderate one, Henry Hunt, landed gentry and popular reformer, Joseph Parkes, the commercial class reformer of the Birmingham Political Union and schemer of agitation, thousands of the middle-class, and millions of the working class cursed now Regent nightly and secretly, in halls and backrooms in taverns, men moved against the crown.

In Ireland, the rioters began more organised, looted police armouries, and to O'Connell's disdain but growing acceptance, continued to resist violently against the Church of Ireland's tithes, but now had a growing list of reforms including Repeal and the re-establishment of an Irish Parliament with an Irish Executive. Thirty arrests made during the first wave of Tithe protests after Carrickshock were brought to trial the week of the Union Letter, on the 27th April, however, O'Connell's defence of the men, who discredited the trial by questioning juries and witnesses' ability to conduct a fair trial, saw the men acquitted and bolstered the Nationalist mood. A slight easing of the restrictions (due to a quell in violence due to National Holiday planning and the post-Tithe trial calm in tensions) and a short period of good weather (1832 was a wet year), brought people out over the 28th and 29th, especially in the South, but in Cork, the home county of Feargus O'Connor, a significant rising would occur. Men walking out of an Anglo-Irish Owned workshop in Cork City in a wildcat strike for Reform and better pay were met with an Army regiment to restore order and return the men to work. Upon arrival, the men were ambushed, carefully and precisely, and their weapons were seized. The owner was lynched and his country house was burned and the men included the Catholic RIC chief and several local rebels, who seized key buildings and declared their support for the Irish Convention. They were brutally crushed and while they had got the dates out, two days later, workshops, factories and farms downed tools in support of Repealing the Act of Union an in the sympathy with Cork and favour of reform.

In Britain, the strikes began on May 1st, informally, but after all, attempts to contact the Regency and the Privy Council had failed, Political Unions across the north called for a Grand National Holiday to show their support for Reforms and to elect delegates to a National Convention. The Glasgow Political Union (a flagship for Scottish Radicalism), Mercian Political Union, Palatine Political Union, Bristol Political Union, Yorkshire Political Union, Northumbrian Political Union & Metropolitan Political Union all co-signed the letter calling for a four-day walkout, with the fourth day finishing with a National Convention on May 6th. In Northern Cities, middle-class business owners shut up shop, refused to pay taxes and rates, and amassed and began to protest for civic representation, the recall of Parliament, and the adoption of a new constitution that included expanded representation. Workers paraded onto the streets, cheered from their balconies by their bosses. Then, as sure as day, the Army arrived. But in Manchester, in Blackburn, in Preston, in Stockport, in Oldham, in Huddersfield, in Leeds, in Hull and Wakefield, it was all the same. The men who had ridiculously marched in the fields were ready. Again and again, armed militias of workers began to fire back, seriously arm and defeat Army regiments. In Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire, Army regiments were pushed out of the city and County Divisions, who joined the fighting after the Army had attacked, were arrested and held in skirmishes in Leeds, Huddersfield & Manchester. While the Political Unions were not responsible, they maintained a level of contact with the militias in the newly radicalised Union leadership and their support was made known. Political Union leaderships were keen to make the militias aware they were on their side - a marked change from the scenes in Bristol the year before.

In essence, the "Conventions" were no more than public meetings, in which ceremonial "delegates" were elected. The real work, however, was done in the weeks leading up to the conventions amongst the Liberal Middle-Class, who began to form "Constitutional Committees" in the lead-up to the meetings to discuss the minutiae of the constitutional form. A number of them, who were connected an impressive internal postal system developed during the multitude of crises of the previous six-months, began to be influenced dramatically by the publication of the Constitutional Code by Bentham, earlier than announced, on April 28th. This indicated a Government that protected democracy and guarded against oligarchy with a Ministry of fourteen men, elected by a Supreme Legislature and holding the confidence of it. Influencing the work of drafters, like Richard Potter, member of the Little Circle of Philosophical who became an influential figure in these deliberations. A week before the Holiday, before the militias had intervened in Stockport, Potter contacted a member of the Committee of the Northumbrian Political Union, Frederick George Howard, and Huddersfield Radical Lewis Fenton, and proposed the adoption of Civic Charters to elect a Legislature and a Ministry for their "counties and Provinces". The Conventions, he argued, could be used to establish permanent Government.


Jeremy Bentham, posthumous inspiration for the Philosophical Movement and leading Political Economist and Philosopher, author of the Constitutional Code

Potter's note found it's way Daniel O'Connell, who read it with interest on May 2nd. "My mind is opened with the Code, and the notion of a proliferation of Civic Charters to proclaim democracy in Britain may well be the way for us to not be left in the cold," he said in a letter to Potter on May 3rd. The meshing of liberal political ideals with the Repealer desire for Autonomy and events in the mainland convinced O'Connell that now might be the time to make the symbolic gesture to establish the Irish Parliament, under Bentham's direction. The detail was dizzying, and in O'Connell's eyes unnecessary, but O'Connell's decision swung the favour immediately to the unilateralists within the Repeal Association, Potter's argument won to localist sentiment in meetings of the Yorkshire P.U and the Palatine Union, the same night O'Connell wrote his correspondence, in meetings in Keighley & Oldham respectively. The growing movement for the declaration of Civic Charters in striking areas was complete by May 5th, when copies of the letter were sent to London and Glasgow along with the motions for the adoption of Civic Charters for the City and the country of Scotland respectively. These Charters were varied - high on detail, like Potter's draft of the Charter of Government for the County Palatines of Lancaster & Chester, and Fenton's draft of the Provincial Charter of Yorkshire, which specified an elected-Governor with the power to sign Bills into Law, a Ministry, led by a Premier, and a unicameral legislature and an independent judiciary while some, such as the City Charter for London pronounced universal suffrage and annual elections, as well as an elected Mayor, but very little else. Finally, Thomas Attwood abstained on a Union Council vote in Mercia to adopt a Provincial Charter on similar lines early on May 6th, but the vote passed and the measure to adopt a Charter was adopted, establishing an Assembly for Mercia.

"In the absence of trust, true and fair governance is this County" the Yorkshire Charter began, "it is left to the subjects themselves to declare their citizenship to the County within this Kingdom". On the day of the Convention, 100,000 people in Leeds signed the pledge, guarded by militias who swore an oath to the Charter and the County. They christened themselves, in front of the Political Union leadership, the Civic Guard of the Four Ridings of Yorkshire. In Manchester, where 115,000 gathered in St Peter's Field, site of Peterloo, their military regalia was complete with uniforms made in factories in Blackburn and Darwen, and the meeting even went so far as to elect Potter interim-Premier until an election could be held. "The Regent needs to understand this", Potter said to the Crowds in Manchester "we cannot be treated like a colony of England, filled with vagabonds and paupers. We need representation". They brought banners saying "Our Government, Our Charter" and "Representation or Death", "Blood or Bread" and "Down with Old Corruption". As Yeomen tried to break up the meeting, the Militias attacked them with Sabres before they could enter the field. This stretch of Manchester was under rebel control. After four hours, the Militias drove them out to the City limits, before meeting Militias from Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale and Huddersfield, who were rallied after reports of a Peterloo style massacre and marched across in formation to Manchester.

Agitators within local barracks saw the convention as their time to encourage mutiny. Soldiers feared retribution and reprisal if they took part in any massacre of workers in the cities, and were aware militias were approaching. Agitators, like Smythwaite, called on officers to be arrested, yearly elections called, higher pay and better conditions. In Manchester, Soldiers began to join the protesters, who brought weapons and fortified a barricade around the city on the night on May 7th, turning the National Holiday Strike action into a general mutiny of Northern Soldiers. Hasty, local recruitment to soak up unemployed, originally conceived by Wellington to better control troublesome provinces with locally recruited units. These units, littered across Northumbria, Lancashire, Cheshire, Durham, Yorkshire and the County of Lincoln began staging mass desertions, looting and a lack of discipline after the resignation of the Duke of Wellington, when he vacated his post of Commander-in-Chief as well as First Lord of the Treasury, meant officers, who themselves were wary of internal military manoeuvres and offered little in stopping the mass walkout of units between May 9th and May 15th, as military options began to become exhausted. Joyous declarations of Town, City and Provincial Governments began to be proclaimed and people celebrated on the streets. The drastic loss of control in the North discredited Earl Eldon, and moves were pondered to approach the Political Unions to bring about an end to the strike and to bring workers and soldiers back to work.

The Regent was forced into a decision, and she made one, dismissing Eldon and, against the advice of Conroy, issuing writs for elections on May 15th, with Parliament set to convene in September and elections to take place between 1st June and 15th August. Political Union councils voted unanimously that an interim Ministry led by Grey would be a condition of ending the strike, along with amnesty for rioting cities and counties, recalling Parliament and recognition of the charters. Metropolitan Political Union leader, 32-year-old William Lovett, also demanded the Regent use her Royal Assent to pass legislation to conduct the election under universal suffrage. "The Union is under threat," she said in a letter to Wellington, "I believe we need to act." She elected to begin negotiations with Grey, whom she had sidelined not 8 and a half months before. Grey desired to form a Government but wanted to curb the powers of the Lords to block the Reform Act and perhaps give it Royal Assent without Lord's approval. Essentially, the choice was between an uprising in the North which could, and probably would spread to Ireland and Scotland, major cities like Bristol, Newcastle, Nottingham and Birmingham and then probably London, or institute a major constitutional overhaul as a Regent, not the Queen.

After deliberation, which was fraught and resulted in a crowd of 20,000 appeared to find out the outcome, the Regent decided she would decide in the morning, and dismissed Grey without asking him to form a Government. On his exit from Bushy House (the Regent's temporary residence since the assassination of William), a man in County Division uniform charged his carriage and planted a bomb which exploded, killing Grey, the armed man and fourteen people. The crowd turned vicious, rushing the Guards, who were overwhelmed by the bomb and immediately the crowd, assuming the Regent had tried to assassinate Grey, attempted to find and arrest the regent. They stormed the palace and found the Regent in a study, where workers and commoners with pikes and sabres pulled her out, elected a "popular magistrate" by a show of hands and sentenced her to death. As workers fought yeomen rushing to save the Regent, and Police trying to storm the House, on the balcony, a man pierced her with a sabre to a cheering crowd and was forced to hack her several times before Army units were able to arrive and back up the Guards, most of whom had been overwhelmed by the furious crowd. The Queen, however, simply couldn't be accounted for. Britain suddenly had no Regent, no Monarch, no Prime Minister and no Parliament. The Police overwhelmed most of the leaders, but the damage was done. Britain had descended completely into the unknown.

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Any comments or questions would be much appreciated - I’m trying to cover everything but recommendations or considerations for future research topics would be much appreciated to help with the accuracy!
Would there still be a Privy Council? If so they might claim governmental powers in the emergency, while they hunted around for rhe new Sovereign?
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Will see some changes in India in this new timeline?

Yes, there'll be some investigations into India, definitely. Although I'm not entirely sure in what format. Would love to know your thoughts

Would there still be a Privy Council? If so they might claim governmental powers in the emergency, while they hunted around for rhe new Sovereign?

As far as I can see, the 'constitutional' process would revert rule to the Privy Council - there would be the question of certain 'compromised' figures on it, however, such as Eldon, Wellington and Conroy (who would not have been removed at this point) and the actuality of a secretive council ruling at this time might prove problematic. The fundamentals of the problem is representative government, so you would think any authority would want to pass it onto a representative assembly, be that Parliament or whatever.
Yes, there'll be some investigations into India, definitely. Although I'm not entirely sure in what format. Would love to know your thoughts
I would think that since the East India Company loaned money to the Crown it would be the first target of any new government. India may also become the home for Royalist exiles.
Maybe a more sympathetic governor will create an ideal atmosphere? I think they will try to reduce the power of the raja and Maharaj. I mean they dealt with their version of tyrants why they will suffer the native version? I am hopeful Hindu and Muslim reformers will get further support which they never got in the canon timeline-like ram Mohan ray and Vidyasagar. We will certainly see lots of religious reform movements. I am particularly interested in how they deal with Vedanta and Vivekananda? Will there be a conflict or some sorta compromise? Is max Muller butterfly away in the new timeline?
As far as I can see, the 'constitutional' process would revert rule to the Privy Council - there would be the question of certain 'compromised' figures on it, however, such as Eldon, Wellington and Conroy (who would not have been removed at this point) and the actuality of a secretive council ruling at this time might prove problematic. The fundamentals of the problem is representative government, so you would think any authority would want to pass it onto a representative assembly, be that Parliament or whatever.

Wouldn't finding a new Sovereign come first, as only he/she could legally call a Parliament?

There will still be one, since there is a whole platoon of descendants of Sophia of Hanover, many of them not residing in the UK, and succession is automatic.
Wouldn't finding a new Sovereign come first, as only he/she could legally call a Parliament?

There will still be one, since there is a whole platoon of descendants of Sophia of Hanover, many of them not residing in the UK, and succession is automatic.

I would say Ernest Augustus would be the next in line, but the succession would struggle to agree to a popular constitution, which would surely be the condition most of the opposition would put on taking the Crown. As a known Conservative and Reactionary, it’s also fairly certain to say the people would react badly to his ascension.