Showing posts from May, 2009

'As I tried to bludgeon Chartist demonstrators in the square'

The quotation above of course is made up by Half Man Half Biscuit, in 'Letters Sent.'

Chartist demonstrations almost automatically bring to mind urban settings of protest - particularly 'monster' meetings in Georgian and early Victorian civic squares: Stevenson's Square in Manchester, Clayton Square in Liverpool, Paradise Square in Sheffield, and so on. Many of the big meetings - and conflicts - occurred in what should be 'public' space, but in fact were not freely open to all, but controlled by local elites opposed to any threats to public order.

Yet Chartist demonstrations were not solely urban in character. Partly because they were being forced out of 'public' spaces in towns, and partly because inhabitants still had connections with the countryside, 'camp meetings' and demonstrations also occurred in rural areas, especially on moors and commons. Processions from towns out to the more remote moors connected urban with rural. Monster meeting…

The revival of 'Old Corruption'

Probably one of the many posts I'll write beginning with 'Twas ever thus.'

The sustained outrage in the press about the expenses of MPs has many echoes in the campaigns against 'Old Corruption' during the long eighteenth century.

'Country' Whig MPs and radicals outside parliament had many solutions for parliamentary corruption, from annual elections to cutting the civil list.

The 'South Sea Bubble' of 1720, the 'credit crunch' [how I hate that phrase] of their times, renewed suspicions about the government's handling of the economy, but Britain's 'saviour' Sir Robert Walpole also had much mud slung at him for his shady deals to keep in power. John Wilkes revived calls against parliamentary corruption in the 1760s, and supporting 'economical reform' became a badge of the Association movement of the 1770s and 1780s.

The most vivid campaign arose in 1809, during the Napoleonic Wars. Huge scandals emerged around major figures…

first of all, a plug for my book

My new book, Loyalism and Radicalism in Lancashire, 1798-1815, is published with OUP.

link to OUP website