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William Pitt and the origins of the Loyalist Association Movement of 1792

  • Michael Duffy (a1)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

This article presents new and conclusive evidence to resolve the long-running controversy over whether the loyalist association movement of 1792 was spontaneous or was crafted by government. It shows that Pitt and his colleagues did not know in advance of John Reeves's proposals for the Crown and Anchor association before they were published on 23 November and it suggests who Reeves's original collaborators probably were. It then goes on to show how Pitt and his cousin, Lord Grenville, confronted with many demands and proposals for associations at this time, quickly seized upon the Reeves project as the most adaptable to their own ends and produced a new draft, redefining his proposals in the directions they were prepared to see such a movement take. This they induced Reeves to publish as a second declaration on 26 November and they went on to promote as the example and inspiration for a wider association movement.

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1 London, Public Record Office (P.R.O.), PRO 30/8/157(1), fos. 142V–143. For discussion of the seriousness of the agitation see Goodwin A., The friends of liberty. The English democratic movement in the age of the French revolution (London, 1979), pp. 208–67; Dozier R. R., For king, constitution and country. The English loyalists and the French revolution (Kentucky U.P., 1983), pp. 2654; Logue K. J., Popular disturbances in Scotland 1780–1815 (Edinburgh, 1979), pp. 30, 46–7, 148–51, 160–1; Emsley C., ‘The London “Insurrection” of December 1792: fact, fiction or fantasy?’, Journal of British Studies, XVII (1978), 6686.

2 David Eastwood, ‘Patriotism and the English state in the 1790s’, in The French revolution and British popular politics, ed. Philp M. (Cambridge, 1991), p. 154.

3 Harry Dickinson, ‘Popular conservatism and militant loyalism 1789–1815’, in Britain and the French revolution 1789–1815, ed. Dickinson H. T. (London, 1989), pp. 121–2.

4 Reeves J., The Association papers (London, 1793), p. IV.

5 Reeves to Windham, 2 Aug. 1794, British Library (B.L.), Additional MSS 37, 847, fos. 42–42V.

6 Reeves to Pitt, 7 Nov. 1795, P.R.O., PRO 30/8/107, fos. 255–255V.

7 Rose J. H., William Pitt and the Great War (London, 1911, reissued 1934), p. 68; Ehrman J., The Tounger Pitt, Vol. II, The reluctant transition (London, 1983), 231 and n. 4; Tomline G., Memoirs of the life of the Rt Hon. William Pitt (London, 1822), III, 463. Earl Stanhope too discussed the Association Movement as the creation of Reeves and separate from Pitt: Life of the Right Honourable William Pitt (London, 1861), II, 178.

8 Laprade W. T., England and the French revolution 1789–1797 (Baltimore, 1909), p. 79; Dozier , King, constitution and country, p. 58.

9 Dictionary of national biography. From earliest times to 1900, ed. Stephen L. and Lea S. (Oxford, 19211922), XVI, 858–9.

10 P.R.O., H[ome] O[ffice Papers] 42/21, fos. 277–8, Reeves to Nepean 2 Aug. 1792.

11 Black E. C., The Association (Harvard, 1963), p. 237; Ginter D. E., ‘The loyalist association movement of 1792 and British public opinion’, Historical Journal, IX (1966), 179.

12 Mitchell A., ‘The association movement of 1792–3’, Historical Journal, IV (1961), 159.

13 H.M.C. Fourteenth Report, Appendix, Part v (henceforth HMC Dropmore), II (London, 1894), 337.

14 Dozier , King, constitution and country, p. 59.

15 Mitchell , ‘Association movement’, p. 59 and n. 19; Ehrman , Pitt, II, 230–1. See also Dozier , King, constitution and country, pp. 51–2, 57; Dickinson , ‘Popular conservatism’, p. 122 and n. 48; Caulfield J. A., ‘The Reeves Association: a study of loyalism in the 1790s’ (unpublished University of Reading Ph.D. thesis, 1988), pp. 1819; Mori J. C., ‘The impact of the French revolution on the ideas and policies of William Pitt, 1789–1795’ (unpublished Oxford University D.Phil, thesis, 1992), p. 88.

16 Mitchell , ‘Association movement’, p. 59 n. 19; Ehrman , Pitt, II, 231 n. 1.

17 Grenville to Buckingham, ‘Dropmore, Friday night’, Huntington Library, Stowe MSS, STG Box 39/6. A home office investigation by Nepean in October/November produced a list of fourteen towns and cities where there were now ‘Associations for relief of pretended Grievances’ (H.O. 42/22 fos. 216–18).

18 B.L., Add MSS 58, 876, fos. 160v, 165–168 (cf. HMC Dropmore, II, 344–6). The extract quoted earlier and cited in n. 13 above is part of a paragraph which begins ‘As to the declaration of association I have no doubt that it has been better considered and with more time than I can give it, but I have added words with a pencil which I wish you to consider as they would meet a very material and growing part of the mischief it not only bids discedere a contactê but it adds dividite turbidos. [The extract already quoted then follows and continues]… and a notice that counterparts of it are lodged with Messrs ABC etc at Aylesbury, Buckingham, Amersham, Wycombe, Chesham, Marlow, Colebrook, Beaconsfield, Newport and Olney. The money to be collected for and lodged with the County Treasurer. This will avoid county meetings which we do not wish to multiply’ (fos. 167V–168). The letter concludes with a discussion of Buckingham's ability to call out the militia in an emergency.

19 This letter is printed in Memoirs of the courts and cabinets of George the Third, ed. duke of Buckingham and Chandos (London, 1853), II, 228–30, and contains references to announcing the association about the time of the quarter sessions and to securing signatures of farmers and yeomen.

20 Memorandum of Thomas Grenville (quoting Burke) 15 Nov. 1792. B.L., Add MSS 60, 487(B).

21 Quoted by David Eastwood in ‘Patriotism and the English state’, pp. 151–2.

22 Court and cabinets, II, 228. See also Dundas's 22 November letter to Pitt quoted at the start of this article.

23 John Gifford, A history of the political life of the Right Honourable William Pitt (London, 1809), III, 282–3. Gifford changed his name from John Richards Green after his bankruptcy in the 1780s. For his connections with Reeves see de Montluzin E. L., The anti-Jacobins 1798–1800. The early contributors to the Anti-Jacobin Review (London, 1988), pp. 93–5 (he was also a friend of the journalist John Taylor who dined from time to time with Reeves pp. 32, 67); Mallet J. L. (Reeves's house-guest in 1798), John Lewis Mallet: an autobiographical retrospect of the first twenty nine years of his life (Privately printed, Windsor, 1890), p. 199 (I am grateful to Mrs Elizabeth Sparrow for bringing this reference to my attention).

24 Reeves to Nepean, 2 Aug. 1792, H.O. 42/21, fo. 277V; Dictionary of Canadian biography, VI, 1821–1835 (Toronto, 1987), 636.

25 Montluzin , The anti-Jacobins, pp. 67–8; Gentleman's Magazine, LXXXIX (1819), pt. 2, 565–6; Morning Chronicle, 30 Nov. 1792, p. I (for the list of committee members of the Crown and Anchor Association appointed at a meeting on the 29th). Werkmeister L., A newspaper history of England 1792–1793 (Lincoln, Nebraska, 1967), pp. 137, 403. For Bowles's subsequent pamphleteering activities see Emma Vincent, ‘“The real grounds of the present war”: John Bowles and the French revolutionary wars, 1792–1802’, History, LXXVIII (1993), 393420.

26 The history of parliament. The commons 1790–1820, ed. Thome R. G. (London, 1986), IV, 832–4; D.N.B., XV, 1318–20; Morning Chronicle, 30 Nov. 1792, p. 1. Was the position of king's counsel granted to Plumer on 7 Feb. 1793 a reward for his services on this occasion? Plumer had defended Sir Thomas Rumbold before the house of commons in 1786, and was one of Warren Hastings's three counsels during his impeachment 1787–94. For his defence of Reeves in 1796 see Beedell A. V., ‘John Reeves's prosecution for a seditious libel, 1795–6: a study in political cynicism’, Historical Journal, XXXVI (1993), 799824.

27 Connections could be made with Sir James Eyre, chief baron of the court of exchequer and at that time chief commissioner of the great seal, in that Reeves dedicated one of his earliest legal works to him, Plumer in his early career attended Eyre on circuit, frequently assisting him by taking down evidence at trials, and that Eyre died in 1799 (Beedell , ‘John Reeves's prosecution’, p. 801; D.N.B., VI, 963–4, XV, 1318–20). Eyre was promoted to chief justice of the common pleas in February 1793. Equally, however, there was Sir William Ashhurst, judge of the King's Bench and also a commissioner of the great seal, who died in 1807, whose famous charge to the Middlesex grand jury on 19 November 1792 expressed sentiments similar to those supported by the association and was the first work it published (see The World, 3 Dec. 1792, p. 1). Perhaps the description ‘respectable’ rather than ‘distinguished’ judge denotes lesser fry at the same level as Reeves himself rather than these: all is speculation. Mary Thale in editing Selections from the papers of the London Corresponding Society 1792–1795 (Cambridge, 1983), p. 30, names Charles Yorke, without supporting evidence, as the single co-founder of the movement along with Reeves. Yorke, M.P. for Cambridgeshire, was another barrister and original member of the committee of the association, and he also appointed Reeves superintendent of aliens while he was home secretary in 1803, but he does not match so closely any of the three descriptions given by Gifford.

28 The existence of John Moore has been much debated. His total disappearance lends credence to the assertions of Thomas Wright, printer of The Association papers in 1793 and of Reeves's controversial Thoughts on the English government in 1795, who told the commons committee investigating the authorship of the latter ‘…that J. Moore was a man in nubibus. He explained by stating that he, J. Moore, was merely a fictitious name; that no such person existed as secretary to the society; and that he knew it at the time he printed their proceedings, but that the name had not been continued after a few meetings…. That it was at his suggestion originally that the fictitious name of J. Moore was adopted by Mr Reeves pro tempore, as it might be afterwards dropped; and at the meeting of the 30th November, he mentioned the circumstance to the committee who resolved that the name should be dropt’ (The parliamentary history of England from the earliest period to the year 1803, XXXII [London, 1818], cols 661–2). However, as E. C. Black and Mark Philp have pointed out, the endorsements on the association papers presented by Reeves to the British Museum (B.L. Add MSS 16, 919) are in two hands – Reeves and another using the initials J.M. (Black , The Association, p. 237 n. 8; Philp M., ‘Vulgar conservatism 1792–3’, English Historical Review, CX (1995), 4269, see p. 47 n. 4). Could this have been John Bowles?

29 For the affiliations of these two newspapers, which had combined their newsgathering facilities, see Werkmeister , Newspaper history, pp. 31, 34–5, 37, 120 (the Star moved towards neutrality by the start of 1793). Dozier , King, constitution and country, p. 56, followed by Dickinson , ‘Popular loyalism in Britain in the 1790s’, in Hellmuùth E. (ed.), The transformation of political culture (Oxford, 1990), p. 517, mistakenly credits the Star with the first advertisement, whereas it fills the first one and a half columns of the second page of the Morning Chronicle of 23 November. The advertisement in the Morning Chronicle on the 24th, referred to by Dozier (p. 57), is in fact a further unique report of another meeting held on the 22nd. This undertook to reprint a sermon preached by the Rev. Dr Vincent on 13 May 1792 on the text ‘Ye have the Poor always with You’ and added ‘Many Gentlemen having honoured the Society with signifying a wish to assist in promoting the design of it, the Society are anxious to express their sense how happy they feel, that the good cause they have engaged in, has so many respectable persons to aid and assist in its support. The Society will be happy to see the number of these persons increase, and in the meantime will take into their consideration in what manner they shall act, so as to deserve and make use of the support offered to them’. Was it this article that finally stirred Pitt into action? Why these advertisements appeared first in the opposition press is the major remaining mystery of the story. It may be, as Reeves wrote to Pitt in 1795, that he did not wish the government to appear too identified with it from the outset and hence avoided the government press (n. 6 above), but why use the opposition papers rather than any more impartial? Could it be that he had contact with someone with influence over them (and able to defray the costs of very large advertisements of one and a half columns in length) ? Might this explain the otherwise obscure and unsubstantiated claim in The Times on 30 November that William Windham wrote the first ‘elegant address’ from the association and also Reeves's mysterious thanks in 1794 for Windham's ‘generosity on a former occasion when those thankless men [ministers] were silent…’ (B.L. Add MSS 37,874, fo. 36V) ? Windham, however, is silent on the matter and the evidence points to his energies being directed elsewhere (see n. 57 below) while associators who included Bowles were not short of pamphleteering talent.

30 In the copy subsequently reprinted in the Association papers, the Annual register…for the year 1792 (London, 1810, pt. 2, p. 159) and by Laprade , England and the French revolution (pp. 76–7), Thursday is also added to these days. It was not in any of the original advertisements and may reflect a later desire for consistency by making the original conform with the days fixed subsequently for committee meetings.

31 Morning Chronicle, 23 Nov. 1792, p. 2.

32 See The Times, The World, Sun, 24 Nov. 1792.

33 Heriot to Reeves, 29 Nov. 1792, B.L. Add MSS 16, 919, fo. 11 iv. Cf. Dozier , King, constitution and country, pp. 56–7, and Philp M., ‘Vulgar Conservatism 1792–3’, p. 47, the short paragraph in the Sun on the 23rd that ‘The better order of Britons are at length roused by the boldness of domestic enemies, and are forming themselves into Associations, for the purpose of repressing and defeating pernicious doctrines afloat in this country. The plan does infinite honour to the projectors, and we doubt not will be followed up with spirit and effect.’ is almost certainly the afternoon paper's response to the Morning Chronicle advertisement earlier in the day. I am grateful to Mr Christopher Harrison for locating copies of the Sun for me in Birmingham Central Library (copies of all other newspapers referred to are in the British Library).

34 Public Advertiser, 28 Nov. 1792, p. 2. This crucial interview was first noticed by John Caulfield (‘Reeves association’, pp. 21–2) but not knowing of Pitt's letter toDundas next day he could only guess at its implications. Heriot's letter to Reeves on 29 November (n. 32 above) would seem to indicate that the interview was in the morning, giving Nepean time to authorize free advertisement of the initial declaration for that afternoon's edition of the Sun.

35 Reeves to Windham, 1 Aug. 1794, B.L., Add MSS 37, 874, fo. 36V.

36 Court and cabinets, II, 228–30, Grenville to Buckingham 25 Nov. 1792. In the absence of Pitt's letter and of knowledge of the interview with Reeves, Grenville's letter has long been thought to refer to the meeting of London merchants, bankers and traders at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall, announced on 28 Nov. and held on 5 Dec. (Laprade , England and the French revolution, pp. 7475; Mitchell , ‘Association movement’, p. 60 [locating it at the Grocers' Hall], Goodwin , Friends of liberty, p. 264 n. 257), though this view has been challenged by Ginter , ‘Loyalist Association movement’, pp. 179–90, and by Caulfield , ‘The Reeves Association’, p. 19, on the grounds that the declaration of that meeting was nothing like that intended by Grenville in his letter. The events of the 24th–26th, about which Grenville was writing, and Pitt's concurrent letter to Dundas, confirm their doubts and show that Grenville was referring to the government's projects for developing the Reeves association.

37 Dundas to Pitt, 22 Nov. 1792, P.R.O., PRO 30/8/157(1) fo. 143; Grenville to Buckingham, 25 Nov., Courts and cabinets, II, 229.

38 P.R.O., PRO 30/8/198, Notebook 4, fo. 109.

39 Cf. PRO 30/8/198, Notebook 4, fo. 108v, with Court and cabinets, II, 226–8, and fo. 110 with Huntington Library, Stowe MSS, STG Box 39/6 ‘Dropmore, Friday night’ [16 Nov. 1792].

40 See appendix para 3; Court and cabinets, II, 229; Dundas to Pitt, 22 Nov., P.R.O., PRO 30/8/157(1), fo. 143.

41 Gifford , Political life of Pitt, III, 288–9; Ehrman , Pitt, II, 231 n. 4. Reeves concluded his second declaration, published on the 26th following his interview with Pitt, with a statement deprecating private political meetings, condemning the terms on which the radical clubs had associated as seditious and often treasonable, but justifying meetings of his own association ‘ for suppressing sedition, for propagating peaceable opinions, and for aiding the magistracy in subordination to the direction of the magistrates’ as allowed by the law and required by the times (The Times, 26 Nov., p. 1).

42 See appendix, paras 3 and 4.

43 See appendix. There have been attempts to see Grenville as implicated while Pitt was not (Ehrman , Pitt, II, 230–1), but as shown above they rested on the mistaken transference of part of Buckingham's letter of the 27th to the 18th, and they totally disregard the intimate relationship between the two cousins: ‘…so inseparably connected that there is but one sentiment between them…’ (Selections from the letters and correspondence of Sir James Bland Surges, ed. Hutton R. [London, 1884], p. 174), ‘…whatever is written to one may be considered as written to the other…’ (Journal and correspondence of William Lord Auckland [London, 18611862], II, 414). Throughout this period the two worked in close cooperation (see Duffy M., ‘Pitt, Grenville and the control of British foreign policy in the 1790s’, in Knights errant and true Englishmen. British foreign policy 1600–1800, ed. Black J. [Edinburgh, 1989], pp. 151–77).

44 P.R.O., H.O. 42/22 contains two proposals (both for armed associations), one dated to 17 November for an ‘Ante[sic]-Levelling Society instituted for supporting the Civil Power in suppressing tumults and for maintaining the Constitutional Government of this country in KING, LORDS and COMMONS for the General Welfare’ (fos. 401–8), and the other (fos. 490–491V) in a package received on the 26th from Lt. Col. Robertson of The Grainge, Alresford, Hants., dated 23 Nov.

45 See appendix, start of para 5.

46 See appendix, para 4, and Court and cabinets, II, 229. Pitt and Grenville worked together closely on the 24th. A board of trade official trying to deliver a letter to the foreign secretary found Grenville ‘so busily employed with Mr Pitt’ that he could not see him and had to leave it with an under-secretary (Fawkener to Hawkesbury, 24 Nov. 1792, B.L., Add MSS 38, 192, fo. 135).

47 The Times, 26 Nov., p. 1. See also The World, the Sun, the Morning Chronicle, and the Star (where the Crown and Anchor meeting is dated the 22nd). Papers such as the Public Advertiser which had not published the first advertisement on the 24th, published it on the 27th, followed by this second declaration on the 28th. The correlation between the new declaration and the contents described in Pitt's and Grenville's letters leaves no doubt that it was to this that Grenville was referring when he wrote on the 25th that ‘…we are preparing an association in London which is to be declared in the course of next week’ (Court and cabinets, II, 229).

48 de Castro J. P., The Gordon riots (Oxford, 1926), pp. 144–7, 162–3, 168–70; Stanhope , Life of Pitt, I, 41–2. Pitt's attitude on this occasion seems similar to that of the military officer in 1780 who locked the gates on the Temple volunteers to save his soldiers from being shot by ‘friendly fire’! (de Castro, p. 168).

49 See Grenville's letter to Buckingham on the 16th quoted above pp. 946–7.

50 For which see D. Philips, ‘Good men to associate and bad men to conspire: associations for the prosecution of felons in England 1750–1860’ and King P. J. R., ‘Prosecution associations and their impact in eighteenth-century Essex’, in Police and prosecution in Britain 1750–1850, ed. Hay D. and Snyder F. (Oxford, 1989), pp. 113207.

51 See n. 38 above and HMC Dropmore, II, 339.

52 Grenville to the Attorney and Solicitor Generals, 23 Nov. 1792, B.L., Add MSS 59, 364; the circular letter was printed in the newspapers in the following week (see the Sun, 26 Nov., p. 2; Public Advertiser, 28 Nov., p. 2) and can be read in the Gentleman's Magazine (1792), pt. 2, p. 1146. The government newspaper, the Sun, alerted its readers on 23 Nov. (p. 2) that ‘GOVERNMENT, we are assured, is taking every necessary and effectual measure for the conviction and punishment of those, in every quarter of the Kingdom, who are accessory in disseminating those principles of Sedition and Treason which have been of late so industriously propagated.’ On the same day as the circular to the Custos Rotulorum, the treasury solicitor also circulated all regional government solicitors with instructions to prosecute all libellers, publishers and distributors of seditious libels (Black , The Association, p. 239).

53 The Times 26 Nov., p. 1; Justice Ashhurst's Charge can be read in Charges to the grand jury 1689–1803, ed. Lamoine G. (Camden Fourth Series, Vol. XLIV, London, 1922), 447–50. It was followed by a similar charge from the chairman of the Middlesex bench, William Mainwaring, on 10 December (ibid. 451–5). The government-subsidized Sun printed Ashhurst's charge on 26 Nov. (p. 4, cols 2–3).

54 Perhaps Pitt was watching how Paris had become ungovernable once the Sections had been granted on 25 July 1792 the right of permanence – to convene frequent meetings by their own authority – and on 13 August were allowed to set up their own volunteer military companies. See Slavin M., The French resolution in miniature (Princeton, 1984), The making of an insurrection. Parisian Sections and the Gironde (Cambridge, Mass., 1986), and his article on the Sections in Historical dictionary of the French revolution 1789–1799, ed. Scott S. F. and Rothaus B. (London, 1985), II, 885–9.

56 Appendix, paras 3–4; Court and cabinets, II, 229.

56 Appendix, para 5; Court and cabinets, II, 229; Pitt to Dundas, 15 Nov. 1792, William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Pitt papers.

57 See above n. 5 and n. 33. Reeves later asserted to Dundas that having begun the association without any communication from government, ‘when it was on foot I then had some communication with persons at Whitehall. I have never had any money from Govt to carry it on’ (Scottish Record Office, GD 51/1, f. 264, 14 Dec. 1795, cited in Philp , ‘Vulgar Conservatism’, pp. 46–7, n. 5). While strictly true this rather overlooks the free services provided for him.

58 Pitt to Windham, 24 Nov., B.L., Add MSS 37, 846; entry for 25 Nov., The diary of the Rt Hon William Windhum 1784 to 1810, ed. MrsBaring H. (London, 1866), p. 267; Anstruther to Windham, 30 Nov., Mulgrave to Windham, 1 Dec. 1792, B.L., Add MSS 37, 873, fos. 181, 183. Mulgrave had just succeeded to his brother's Irish peerage and sought the reversion to the British peerage which had lapsed with his brother's death. After some difficulty in obtaining signatures, he and Windham launched an association ‘of noblemen and gentlemen’ at the St Alban's Tavern – John Anstruther (another opposition M.P.) complained that ‘the middling rank of people in this country are so accustomed to see great names at the head of public meetings that they wait to take their tone from them’. Mulgrave peddled to Windham the Pitt line that the association should conduct its business through small standing committees in different parts of the county without calling together all who signed their resolutions except in extraordinary circumstances. Their association finally announced itself in the press on 7 Dec. (the Sun, p. 2) with the aims of discovering authors, publishers and distributors of seditious writing in the city and liberty of Westminster and its environs, binding associators to use their utmost endeavours to enforce the law against them, and pledging to help maintain the public peace and support the civil authority against riots.

59 See appendix, postscript.

60 Public Advertiser 28 Nov., p. 2. How far did these interviews lead to the meeting of merchants, bankers and traders at the London Tavern on the 28th, which in turn called for a general meeting at the Merchant Taylors' Hall on 5 Dec. where resolutions supportive of the constitution were agreed to and left for others to sign, or to the resolutions of the City common council on the 29th to defend the constitution, suppress unlawful and seditious assemblies, and recommending the city wards to consider the best means of preserving tranquility and securing obedience to the laws (Annual register for 1792, Pt. 2, pp. 160–3)?

61 Public Advertiser 28, 29 Nov., p. 2; The Times 29 Nov., p. 2; The World 30 Nov., p. 2, which reported that ‘…the List, which is already in number near 400, will in a few days, amount to as many thousands…’. The Sun carried two supportive paragraphs on the 27th, one on each of the 28th and 29th, and four on the 30th including the announcement that ‘Hundreds of the most respectable Citizens of all descriptions daily enroll their names at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, for the purpose of assisting the patriotic views of the New Association’ (all on p. 2).

62 Rose to Auckland, 7 Dec. 1792, B.L., Add MSS 34, 446, fos. 65–65V; Dozier , King, constitution and country, pp. 5967.

63 Public Advertiser 12 Dec. 1792, p. 2. In early 1793 the Gentleman's Magazine (1793, Pt. I, p. 48) listed II corporate bodies, 21 City wards, and 12 livery companies which had associated in London to support ‘the King and Constitution as established at the Revolution of the Year 1688’.

64 Burges to Auckland, 18 Dec. 1792, B.L., Add MSS 34, 446, fo. 161. Caulfield (‘Reeves association’, p. 20) has suggested that Grenville himself may indeed have played an even closer role by attending a meeting of Reeves's committee on 12 Dec, but this is a misinterpretation of a letter from Buckingham on the 8th (HMC Dropmore, II, 312–13) referring to the normal presession meeting of peers supporting the government, over which Grenville presided, and to his anticipation of the response of parliament when it assembled the following day. Buckingham excused himself from the presession meeting to be present at the first meeting of the Buckingham association.

65 Mark Philp's study of the correspondents to the Reeves association points to the number from ‘slightly lower in the social structure’ uncertain whether they were socially qualified for such activity (‘Vulgar conservatism’, pp. 51–2). For examples of membership of associations see Dickinson , ‘Popular conservatism’, pp. 115–16; Strange N. E. J., ‘Manchester loyalism 1792–1798’ (unpublished Manchester University M.Phil, thesis, 1990), pp. 96102. Pottle M. C., ‘Loyalty and patriotism in Nottingham 1792–1816’ (unpublished Oxford University D.Phil, thesis, 1988), contrasts the Nottingham Constitutional Association which made no specific reference to the Reeves association with that of Birmingham which adopted the Crown and Anchor resolutions (pp. 21–4). Strange indicates the importance of the second Crown and Anchor declaration to the leading Manchester association, the Bull's Head Association (pp. 79, 131–64). Reeves subsequently claimed that 2,000 associations were formed (Association papers, p. v) and Dozier estimates between 1,000 and 1,500, of which nearly 200 corresponded with Reeves's own association (King, constitution and country, pp. 61–2).

66 Reeves to Windham, 1 Aug. 1794, B.L., Add MSS 37, 874, fo. 36V. In 1793 Reeves received the Stewardship of the Manor and Liberty of the Savoy to add to his cache of remunerative posts (Black , The Association, p. 236).

67 Reeves to Windham, 1 Aug. 1794, B.L., Add MSS 37, 874, fos. 38–38V.

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