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Some Aspects of Chartism on Tyneside

  • D. J. Rowe
Extract

In the decade since the publication of Chartist Studies there have been published a considerable number of studies of Chartism in different towns and regions of the country. These have been of great use in the correction of generalization in our knowledge of the subject; in assessing the type of support for Chartism and the regional strength of that support; in showing the local factors which caused people to join the movement and assessing the relative importance of economic and political motives; and many other aspects which have deepened our knowledge. In this flow of studies the north east has been neglected, situated as it is between the importance of Chartism in Lancashire and Yorkshire (in Chartist literature invariably referred to as the north) and the equally interesting moderation of Scottish Chartism. As a result there has been only one article on Chartism in the region, by W. H. Maehl, which, although it contains much useful information on 1839, tends to exaggerate the significance of Chartism in the area and the extent to which the pitmen were active in the movement. This article is an attempt to look at further evidence in order to draw some new conclusions with regard to Chartism in the area.

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References
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page 17 note 1 Briggs, A. (ed.), Chartist Studies (1959).

page 17 note 2 Maehl, W. H., “Chartist disturbances in Northeastern England, 1839”, in: International Review of Social History, VIII, 3 (1963).

page 18 note 1 See the Northern Liberator, 21 Oct. 1837, and Maehl, W. H., “Augustus Hardin Beaumont: Anglo-American Radical (1798–1838)”, in: International Review of Social History, XIV, 2 (1969).

page 18 note 2 McCord, N., “The Implementation of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act on Tyneside”, in: International Review of Social History, XIV, 1 (1969).

page 19 note 1 Quoted in Hovell, M., The Chartist Movement (Manchester, 1918), p. 97.

page 19 note 2 Quoted in Gammage, R. G., History of the Chartist Movement, 18371854 (rev. ed., Newcastle upon Tyne, 1894), p. 26.

page 20 note 1 Public Record Office, Home Office Papers, 40/39, dated 5 Jan. 1838. The Home Office Papers are the source of many of the references in this article. In order to avoid over-loading it with foot-notes such references are unacknowledged. The main categories are HO 40/42 and 40/46.

page 21 note 1 See House, J. W., North Eastern England: population movements and the landscape since the early nineteenth century (King's College, Newcastle upon Tyne, Department of Geography Research Series, 1, 1954).

page 21 note 2 Museum, British, Additional Mss 34245A, ff. 66–7, dated 26 Feb. 1839.

page 21 note 3 Quoted in Northern Liberator, 7 Dec. 1839.

page 22 note 1 Maehl, , “Chartist disturbances”, p. 389.

page 23 note 1 Ibid., p. 393.

page 23 note 2 Northern Liberator, 10 Aug. 1839.

page 23 note 3 Ibid., 9 Dec. 1837.

page 24 note 1 Ibid., 24 Feb. 1838.

page 24 note 2 Ibid., 30 June and 7 July 1838.

page 24 note 3 Gammage, op. cit., pp. 22–8.

page 25 note 1 Northern Star, 30 June 1838.

page 25 note 2 It is interesting to note that Newcastle was one of the last towns to elect its delegates. Even London, which had been later than most other towns, had elected its delegates in September.

page 25 note 3 Schoyen, A. R., The Chartist Challenge (1958), pp. 41–2.

page 25 note 4 Northern Liberator, 29 Dec. 1838.

page 26 note 1 Ibid., 12 Jan, 1839.

page 26 note 2 Ibid., 2 Feb. 1839.

page 26 note 3 Ibid., 27 April 1839.

page 26 note 4 Northern Star, quoted in Place Papers, British Museum, Add. Mss 27821, f. 191, and Northern Liberator, 25 May 1839.

page 27 note 1 R. C. Elliott to W. Lovett, 2 May 1839, British Museum, Add. Mss 34245A.

page 27 note 2 Northern Liberator, 8 June 1839.

page 27 note 3 The letters are in HO 40/42.

page 28 note 1 Northern Liberator, 13 July 1839.

page 28 note 2 Maehl, , “Chartist Disturbances”, pp. 395–6.

page 28 note 3 Newcastle Courant, 19 July 1839.

page 29 note 1 Maughan, J., “History of Blaydon District”, in the Courier, Blaydon from 03 1955 (bound copy of the full series in the Northumberland Room, Newcastle Public Library).

page 29 note 2 Copy in HO 40/46.

page 29 note 3 See Maehl, , “Chartist disturbances”, pp. 402, and HO 40/46.

page 29 note 4 Devyr, T. A., The Odd Book of the Nineteenth Century (New York, 1882), p. 186.

page 30 note 1 Schoyen, op. cit., p. 80.

page 30 note 2 Reproduced in The Charter, 21 July 1839.

page 31 note 1 Rudé, G., The Crowd in History, 1830–1848 (1964), p. 182; Challinor, R. and Ripley, B., The Miner's Association – a Trade Union in the Age of the Chartists (1968); Miller, E. (ed.). Eyewitness – the North East in the early Nineteenth Century (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1968), pp. 32–3; and Cole, G. D. H. and Filson, A. G., British Working Class Movements – Select Documents, 1789–1875 (1951), pp. 392–3.

page 31 note 2 Accurate evidence on employment in the mines in the early nineteenth century is difficult to obtain. In his report for 1846 the mines' commissioner, H. S. Tremenheere, estimated upwards of 22,000 for the underground establishment of all north-east coal mines (quoted in Cole and Filson, op. cit. p. 468); the usual average was one workmen above ground for every two underground, which would give a total employment of about 33,000. In 1844 the Newcastle Coal Trade Office gave a figure of 34,000 (quoted in Challinor and Ripley, op. cit., p. 142).

page 31 note 3 Northumberland County Record Office, ZRI 27/12.

page 32 note 1 See, for example, the evidence which Dr McCord has assembled with regard to the comments of military officers and local magistrates, “The Government of Tyneside, 1800–1850, in: Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, fifth series, XX (1970), pp. 1011, and 19.

page 32 note 2 Newcastle upon Tyne Public Library, T. Wilson Collection, VII, f. 1541.

page 32 note 3 Maehl, , “Chartist disturbances”, p. 405.

page 33 note 1 Quoted in Cole and Filson, op. cit., p. 367.

page 33 note 2 Sir M. W. Ridley to Duke of Northumberland, 15 Aug. 1839, Northumberland County Record Office, ZRI 27/12.

page 33 note 3 Welbourne, E., The Miner's Unions of Northumberland and Durham (Cambridge, 1923), p. 54.

page 34 note 1 HO 40/55, 1 Dec. 1839 and 4 Jan. 1840.

page 35 note 1 Northern Liberator, 7 Sept. 1839.

page 35 note 2 Ibid., 7 Dec. 1839.

page 35 note 3 Devyr, op. cit., pp. 193–206.

page 36 note 1 Maehl, , “Chartist Disturbances”, p. 414, n. 2, found one reference to support Devyr's testimony.

page 36 note 2 Handbill dated 22 Aug. 1840, copy in Newcastle Public Library, T. Wilson Collection, VII, f. 1648.

page 37 note 1 Hovell, op. cit., pp. 239–40.

page 37 note 2 Gateshead Observer, 20 Aug. 1842.

page 37 note 3 Warren, J. G. H., A century of locomotive building by Robert Stephenson & Co. 1823–1923 (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1923, reprinted Newton Abbot, 1970), p. 95.

page 37 note 4 Middlebrook, S., Newcastle upon Tyne: its growth and its achievement (2nd ed., Wakefield, 1968), p. 178.

page 38 note 1 For the connexion between the pitmen and Chartism see the general evidence produced by Challinor and Ripley, op. cit., although it should be remembered that these authors accepted, uncritically, the letter to the Chartist Convention in 1839 which stated that the pitmen in the region were striking for the Charter.

page 38 note 2 Gateshead Observer, 3 Sept. 1842.

page 38 note 3 Two instances may be adduced of the local relationship between Chartists and members of the middle classes. When in 1839 a group of farmers and others was trying to obtain the closure of Cookson's chemical works at South Shields because of the nuisance caused by waste gases, the South Shields Political Union, a Chartist body, supported the chemical manufacturers, commenting, “However we may differ from the Owners of those Works in our Political Creed, yet we must express our approbation and acknowledge the benefits we receive, in common with our Townsmen, from those enterprising and spirited undertakings.” Handbill in Newcastle Public Library, T. Wilson Collection, VII, f. 1496. A year earlier the Chartists had been harsh in their criticism of Cookson's, where persuasion and threats had been used in an attempt to prevent the workmen from attending the first major Tyneside Chartist meeting, Gammage, op cit., p. 26. Secondly, in 1840, when two Chartists, Devyr and Richard Marsden, had skipped bail and emigrated to America, the Member of Parliament for Gateshead, Sir William Hutt, interceded on behalf of their two Chartist sureties, Blakey and Horn, in a successful attempt to prevent Government from confiscating the bail money. Hutt stressed that he had been active in helping to put down the Chartist movement but told the Home Office that Blakey and Horn were genuinely repentant “of the folly they had engaged in” and that to confiscate the bail money would be “really harsh and impolitic”. HO 40/55, 28 Dec. 1840.

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