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Southern Chartism

  • Roger Wells (a1)
Extract

Chartism, the first genuinely working-class mass political movement, has attracted numerous general, regional, and local histories. The overwhelming proportion of these works concentrate on Chartism's strongholds in London, provincial urban centres, and the theatres of industrialism — including those in Scotland and Wales. Yet despite these regional characteristics, the common assumption is that Chartism was a national movement. This assumption is implicit in works including J.T. Ward's Chartism, while Dorothy Thompson, the author of the most recent notionally national overview, suggests that countryside Chartism has been underestimated.

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Notes

1 Ward, J.T., Chartism, (1973); Thompson, D., The Chartists, (1984), esp. pp. 173–9.

2 Brown, A.F.J., Chartism in Essex and Suffolk, (Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, 1982); cf. Fearn, H., ‘Chartism in Suffolk’, in Briggs, A. (ed.), Chartist Studies, (1959).

3 Pugh, R.B., ‘Chartism in Somerset and Wiltshire’, in Briggs, , Chartist Studies.

4 Kenmitz, T.M., ‘Chartism in Brighton’, (unpublished D.Phil, thesis, University of Sussex, 1969).

5 Hobsbawm, E.J. and Rudé, G., Captain Swing, (1973 edition), pp. 41–3.

6 Wells, R., ‘Resistance to the New Poor Law in Southern England’, in Chase, M. (ed.), The New Poor Law, (University of Leeds, 1985); ‘Rural rebels in Southern England in the 1830s’. in Emsley, C. and Walvin, J. (eds.), Artisans, Peasants and Proletarians 1760–1860, (1985); ‘Tolpuddle in the context of English agrarian labour history 1780–1850’, in Rule, J.G. (ed.), British Trade Unionism 1750–1850; the Formative Years, (1988); ‘Social protest, class, conflict and consciousness in the English countryside 1700–1880’, in Reed, M. and Wells, R. (eds.), Class, Conflict and Protest in the English Countryside 1700–1880, (1990).

7 Wells, , ‘Tolpuddle’, esp. pp. 120–4; ‘Rural rebels’, pp. 140–3.

8 Wells, , ‘Social protest’, pp. 187–95.

9 A'Court to the P[oor] L[aw] Commission], 6, 7, 8, 10 and 26 Aug., 4 Oct., 9 and 17 Nov. (enclosing mss copy of handbill, printed in London, G. Loveless, ‘Grinstead, late of Tolpuddle’) 1838, P[ublic] R[ecord] O[ffice]. M[inistry of] H[ealth] 32/4.

10 In the event his attendance was ‘utterly impossible’, owing to his inability to pay somebody to work on the Essex smallholding, provided by trade unionist campaigners for the Martyrs on their return. Loveless, to Lovett, , 13 04 1838, B[ritish] L[ibrary] Add.Mss. 34245A, f.240.

11 A'Court to the PLC, 9 and 22 Nov. 1838, PRO. MH. 32/4. Dorset County Chronicle, 15 Nov. 1838; Sherborne Journal, 22 11 1838; The Operative, 25 11 1838; Reports, and Vincent to Lovett, B[irmingham] R[eference] L[ibrary], L[ovett] C[ollection], vol. II, ff. 281, 285, 291; Bawm, K.D., ‘Social Protest, Popular Disturbance and Public Order in Dorset, 1790–1838’, (Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Reading, 1984), pp. 217–8.

12 In Mar. 1838, at the time of the first parliamentary scrutiny of the workings of the new system, the Blandford Board formally addressed the PLC praising it as ‘an essential benefit offering a source from which they [the Guardians] may seek an explanation of all doubtful points of law, and a means of affording advice on every measure of importance’; minutes, 28 Mar. 1838, PRO. MH. 12/2724.

13 Frampton, , and Digby, Lord, to Russell, , 22 and 23 11 1838, PRO. H[ome] O[ffice] 40/36, ff. 209–14; Dorset County Chronicle, 22 11 1838; Hartwell, , London, to the Blandford Board of Guardians, 7 12 1838, PRO. MH. 12/2724; A'Court to Lefevre, 3 01 1839, PRO. MH. 32/4; The Operative, 6 01 1839; Vincent, to Lovett, , 16 11 1838, BRL. LC. vol. II, f. 291.

14 BRL. LC. vol. II, ff. 241, 250; Brighton Patriot, 6 and 27 06, 7 08, 25 09, 29 10, 6, 20 and 27 11 1838; Anotated notice of election; Harris, J., Brighton, , to Lovett, , 14 04 1839, BL. Add.Mss. 34245A, ff. 13–4, 244–5; Kenmitz, , ‘Chartism’, pp. 121–39, 376.

15 Brighton Patriot, 26 11 1838; The Operative, 30 12 1838, 3, 10 and 24 02 1839; Letters to Lovett from Claris, n.d., R. Hawes, Canterbury, and L. Snelling, Tonbridge, 21 and 28 Feb., and Stallwood, E., Croydon, , 15 04 1839, BL. Add.Mss. 34245A, ff. 12, 55–6, 78, 248; Maidstone Gazette, 22 01 1839; Kent Herald, 7 and 14 02 1839. BRL. LC. vol. II, f. 301.

16 Brighton Patriot, 4, 11, 18 and 25 12 1838, 8 01 and 5 02 1839; The Operative, 2 and 16 12 1838, and 6 01 1839; Sussex Agricultural Express, 12 01 1839; SirBurrell, C.M. to the Duke of Richmond, 21 12 1838, W[est][ S[ussex] C[ounty] RO, G[oodwood] Mss. 1584. BRL. LC. vol II, f. 282; Sherborne Journal, 20 12 1838.

17 Letter from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, cited Godfrey, C., Chartist Lives. The Anatomy of a Working-Class Movement, (1987), p. 196; The Operative, 27 01, 3 and 24 03 1839, Brighton Patriot, 26 02 1839. Convention sub-committee minute, 23 Feb. 1839, BL. Add.Mss. 34245A, ff. 61–2.

18 Brighton Patriot, 2, 9, 16 and 30 04 1839; The Operative, 7 and 14 04 1839; Freeland, J.B., Richmond's agent, Chichester, to the Duke, 29 03 1839, WSCRO. G.Mss. 1602; Linden, A.J., Gosport, , to O'Brien, , 30 04 1839, BL. Add.Mss. 34245A, ff. 200, 345–6; BRL. LC. vol. II, f. 354.

19 Harris, to Lovett, , 14 04 1839, BL. Add.Mss. 34245A, ff. 244–5; Blackman to Richmond, 25, 26, 29 and 30 Apr; Richmond, to Russell, , with enclosures, 1 05 1839, WSCRO. G.Mss. 1601; PRO. HO. 40/24 (2), ff. 178–81, 186–93; Brighton Patriot, 30 04 1839.

20 Brighton Patriot, 14 05 1839; Blackman, to Richmond, 30 04 1839, PRO. HO. 40/24 (2), ff. 186–9; Sussex Agricultural Express, 27 04, 4 and 11 05 1839; Sussex Advertiser, 29 04 and 29 07 1839.

21 Brighton Patriot, 21 05 1839; Anon., Tunbridge Wells, to Lovett, , 28 04 1839, BL. Add.Mss. 34245A, f. 325; Kent Herald, 7 and 14 03, 4 and 11 04, 30 05 and 27 06 1839; Kent's experience is among those confirming Gammage, Chartism's first historian's stricture, that ‘Nearly all’ the Convention's missions eschewed the ‘more unenlightened parts’ in favour of fairly firmly established centres. Gammage, R.C., History of the Chartist Movement, (1894 edition), p. 107.

22 Sussex Agricultural Express, 4 05 1839; Sussex Advertiser, 6 05 1839; Brighton Patriot, 7 05 1839.

23 Brighton Patriot, 28 05 1839; Hampshire Telegraph, 27 05 1839; Brighton Guardian, 29 05 1839; Freeland, to Richmond, , 10 07, 10, 13 and 14 08 1839, WSCRO. G.Mss. 1607; Gray, to Collins, and Hartwell, , 2 05 1839, BL. Add.Mss. 34245A, ff. 373–5; Wells, , ‘Social protest’, p. 183.

24 The record which is almost certainly defective, reveals minor food rioting, wage and poor relief protests during the wartime famines, and a more full-blooded, if ephemeral, mobilisation of the entire district during the Swing rising; Mrs D'Arblay, diary entries, 3 and 22 Mar. 1800, Hemlow, J. et al. (eds.), The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney (Madame D'Arblay), 4 vols, (Oxford, 1973), IV, pp. 401, 407; Wells, R., Wretched Faces; Famine in Wartime England, 1793–1801, (Gloucester, 1988), p. 426. Crawford, , Dorking, , to Peel, , 19 11 1830, PRO. HO. 52/10, ff. 204–5.

25 Dale, to Lovett, , and to Hartwell, , 21 03 and 8 05 1839, BL. Add.Mss. 34245A, ff. 143–5, 422; Sussex Agricultural Express, 23 03 and 6 04 1839; Brighton Patriot, 2, 9, and 23 04, and 30 07 1839.

26 A line of argument particularly attractive to the many Brightonians who were migrants from the Weald, a stronghold of small farmers, but where the equilibrium of many little proprietors was currently threatened: Reed, M., ‘The peasantry of nineteenth-century England: a neglected class?’, History Workshop Journal, 18, (1984); ‘“Gnawing It Out” a new look at economic relations in nineteenth-century rural England’, Rural History, 1, 1, (1990).

27 Brighton Patriot, 4 06 and 23 07 1839; The Champion, 14 07 1839; Justice Seymour, Brighton, , to Russell, , 25 07 1839, PRO. HO. 40/24 (2), ff. 204–5; Parsinnen, T., ‘Association, convention and anti-parliament in British radical politics 1771–1848’, English Historical Review, 88, (1973); Sussex Advertiser, 29 07 and 19 08 1839; Brighton Guardian, 25 08 1839; The Champion, 25 08 1839.

28 Melbourne, to Russell, , 1 12 1838, Saunders, L.C. (ed.), Lord Melbourne's Papers, (1889), p. 386; Mayor of Southampton to Wellington, and reply, 18 and 20 Dec: Wellington, to Normanby, , 24 12 1839, Southampton University Library, Wellington Papers, 4/1/10/57, 63, 66.

29 Blackman, to Richmond, , 26 and 29 04 1839, WSCRO. G.Mss. 1599; for Blackman's skilfull demolition of the resourceful Barcombe gang shortly afterwards, see Wells, R., ‘Popular protest and social crime; the evidence of criminal gangs in southern England 1790–1860, in Stapleton, B. (ed.), Conflict and Community in Southern England, (forthcoming).

30 Letters to Richmond from, Earl of Chichester, 5 Apr., F.F. Hastings, Shoreham, 28 May, Rusbridger, 9 and 17 Aug., and Freeland, 10 Aug: Home Office to Hastings, 11 Jan, and to ?, May 1839, WSCRO. G.Mss. 1600–2, 1863.

31 Seymour to the Home Office, 13 Mar: Letters to Richmond from Seymour, 7 June, 18 July and 2 Aug., and Chichester, 1 and 14 Aug. 1839, WSCRO. G.Mss. 1600, 1606; Sussex Advertiser, 29 07 1839; Richmond, to Russell, , 14 10 1839, PRO. HO. 40/24 (2), ff. 210–3.

32 Northern Star, 7 08, 4 09 and 4 12 1841, and 3 09 1842; cf. The Operative, 23 12 1838, ‘We do not want speeches’.

33 Sussex Advertiser, 16 02 1840; Southern Star, 16 02 and 8 03 1840; Northern Star, 16 02 1842; Brighton Gazette, 7 01 1841; Harris, to Lovett, , 14 04 1839, BL. Add.Mss. 34245A, ff. 244–5.

34 For further information on Brooker, see Wells, , ‘Southern resistance’.

35 Southern Star, 2 and 23 02 1840.

36 Brighton Gazette, 10, 17 and 24 06, 1 and 8 07 1841; Northern Star, 10 and 17 07, and 7 08 1841, and 23 04 1842.

37 Brighton Gazette, 17 and 31 03, 14 04, 5, 12 and 19 05 1842; Northern Star, 26 03 and 9 04 1842; English Chartist Circular, 2, 59.

38 Epstein, J., The Lion of Freedom. Feargus O'Connor and the Chartist Movement 1832–1842, (1982), pp. 230–3.

39 Plummer, A., Bronterre. A Political Biography of Bronterre O'Brien 1804–1864, (1971), pp. 156–7; Northern Star, 23 04 1842.

40 Northern Star, 24 04 and 1 05 1841, 23 and 30 04, 25 06, 2 and 16 07, 27 08, 22 and 29 10, 5 and 19 11 24 and 31 12 1842, and 28 Jan. 1843; British Statesman, 23 07, 6 08, 17 09 and 8 10 1842. Brighton Gazette, 8 12 1842.

41 Southern Star, 19 and 26 01, 2, 9 and 23 02, and 1 03 1840. BRL. LC. vol. IV, f. 174.

42 Northern Star, 19 09 1840.

43 Northern Star, 28 11 1840, 3 11, 12 and 19 06, 28 08, 9 10, 20 and 27 11, and 18 12 1841, 1, 8 and 29 Jan., 12 Mar., 23 Apr., 25 June, 9 July, 12 and 26 Nov., and 18 Dec. 1842; Southern Star, 21 06 1840.

44 Kent Herald, 20 01, 28 04 and 12 05 1842.

45 Northern Star, 21 12 1841, 1 and 29 Jan., 5 Feb., 11 Mar., 2 and 23 Apr., 21 May and 25 June 1842.

46 Northern Star, 5 and 19 02 and 23 04 1842.

47 Northern Star, 12 and 19 11, 1842; Hampshire Independent, 4, 11 and 18 03 1843.

48 Northern Star, 18441847, passim., but esp. 29 June 1844 and 11 Jan. 1845.

49 Northern Star, 7 09 1844, 1 03, 26 04 and 1 11 1845, 3 and 31 Jan., 25 Apr. and 17 Nov. 1846, and 12 Feb. 1848.

50 Brighton Gazette, 21 01 and 22 07 1847; Northern Star, 23 01, 6 and 13 02 1847.

51 Brighton Gazette, 16 03, 6 and 20 04, and 25 06 1848; Maidstone Gazette, 11 and 18 04, 2, 23 and 30 05 1848, and 2 01 1849; Northern Star, 1848, passim, esp. 1 and 22 Apr. and 17 June; letters to the Home Office from Mayor of Hastings, 9 Apr., and Justices' Clerk, Worthing, 19 July 1848, PRO. HO. 45/2410B.

52 Brighton Gazette, 3 05 1849, 11 07 1850, 27 03, 3 04 and 31 07 1851, 26 02 1852, and 19 03 1857.

53 PRO. Board of Trade 41/474–6. For a discussion of localised support from this source see Chase, M., ‘The Chartist Land Plan and the local historian’, The Local Historian, 18, 2, (1988). My thanks are owing to Dr. Chase for discussing many aspects of the topic with me.

54 Northern Star,7 08 and 4 09 1847.

55 British Parliamentary Papers, ‘Second report of the select committee of the House of Commons on the National Land Company’, (1847–8), vol. xiii, Questions 1799–1802; Maidstone Gazette, 23 05 1848.

56 J. Moore, Secretary, Gosport WMA, to the Convention, n. d. (May 1839), BL. Add.Mss. 34245B, ff. 21–2; Northern Star, 11 12 1847.

57 Northern Star, 25 01, 1 02, 4 05, 2 06, 7 07 and esp. 6 12 1845, 24 and 31 Oct. 1846, 6 and 13 Feb., and 31 July 1847.

58 Northern Star, 31 07, 14 and 21 08, 4 09 6 11 and 11 12 1847.

59 The Operative, 14 04 1839; Brighton Gazette, 29 05 1839. J. Beaumont and three others, Croydon, and C. Cox, Southampton, to the Convention, 8 and 30 May; Gray, J., Chichester, , to Collins, and Hartwell, , 2 05 1839, BL. Add.Mss. 34245A, ff. 74–5, 419; 34245B, f. 27.

60 Jones, David, Chartism and the Chartists, (1975), p. 25; Thompson, , Chartists; Brown, , Chartism, pp. 50–6; Fearn, , ‘Chartism’, pp. 161–2, and esp. p. 172; Pugh, , ‘Chartism’, p. 216.

61 Maidstone Gazette, 23 05 1848.

62 Report of Proceedings, (1842), BRL. LC. vol. IV, f. 247.

63 Wells, , ‘Social protest’, esp. pp. 168–73, 200–1.

64 Jones, D., ‘Thomas Campbell Foster and the rural labourer: incendiarism in East Anglia in the 1840s’, Social History, 1 (01 1976).

65 Northern Star, 25 01 1845; English Chartist Circular, 2, 73.

66 D. Compigné, Hants and Dorset Fire Office, to Normanby, 4 May 1840. cf. Chairman Penrith Petty Sessions to Russell, 24 Dec. 1839, who asserted that three fires resulted ‘from the exhortations to violence constantly held out by travelling leaders of the Chartists’. PRO. HO. 64/9, ff. 125–6; 64/10, f. 142.

67 Sussex Agricultural Express, 25 05 1839; cf. Sherborne Journal, 29 11 1838.

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