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An extract from the Duke of Newcastle’s diary, dated 14 October 1831, about preparing defences for his country house during riots in Nottinghamshire, which were provoked by the House of Lords’ rejection of the Reform Bill

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An extract from the Duke of Newcastle’s diary, dated 14 October 1831, about preparing defences for his country house during riots in Nottinghamshire, which were provoked by the House of Lords’ rejection of the Reform Bill. The Duke was a prominent Tory.
When I arrived, I found 200 guards and a troop of yeomanry within the grounds. Such preparations are indeed formidable. But yesterday morning I decided to dismiss the yeomanry and retain twenty picked men, nearly all old soldiers. I made my office a barracks for them and placed a chain of sentries in a ring around the house. One arrested me last night when I forgot the password. We shall soon be all together and comfortable again. I have heard of no fresh aggressions. past papers (Jan 2009 GCE Unit 2)
From a letter written by John Wilson Croker to Lord Hertford in January 1832. Croker was an Irish MP, and like Hertford, a Tory.
I believe the danger has narrowed. I really believe that if the King were tomorrow to send for the Duke of Wellington and make him first Minister, we should not have even as much of riot or disturbance as we had when the Bill was rejected by the 10 Lords. The Bill has no friends outside the government. past papers (Jan 2009 GCE Unit 2)
From private records written by Francis Place. He was a keen supporter of reform and is writing here about the crisis of May 1832.
We were within a moment of general rebellion, and had it been possible for the Duke of Wellington to have formed a government, the King and the people would have been in conflict. past papers (Jan 2009 GCE Unit 2)
From a speech given by the Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, during the parliamentary debates on the Reform Bill in 1831
The government’s aims are to give representatives to the great manufacturing

towns, to add to the respectability of the electors, and to increase the number of those who claim the right of choosing MPs. Ministers have no intention of severing the existing ties between the middle classes and the aristocracy. The great merit of the Bill is that it restores the Constitution by placing the middle class in that situation to which they are entitled. past papers (Jan 2009 GCE Unit 2)

From the Poor Man’s Guardian, October 1832. It was a radical newspaper edited by Henry Hetherington, who became one of the early leaders of the London Chartists.
The Whigs’ aim was not to undermine or even remodel our aristocratic institutions, but to consolidate them by reinforcement from the middle classes. The Whigs have too much to lose to desire real reform. The Reform Act was, in effect, an invitation to the shopocrats of the enfranchised towns to join the Whigocrats in keeping down the people and thereby quell the rising spirit of democracy in England. past papers (Jan 2009 GCE Unit 2)
A cartoon about the Reform Bill, published in the satirical magazine, The Looking Glass, in 1831. The magazine had Radical sympathies. The figure at the top is Lord Grey, who is saying ‘I’ve set open the Flood Gates and if they are simple enough to place themselves in its way they do it at their own peril.’ past papers (Jan 2010 GCE Unit 2)

From a report, in The Times newspaper, of a speech made by Lord John Russell at a banquet on 28 July 1837
Lord J. Russell said that he was not for further change in the great institutions of the country. He went on to observe that he was sure, whenever the opinions of the people were unequivocally declared, the House of Lords would know its place and would not oppose the wishes of the country. past papers (Jan 2010 GCE Unit 2)

From a letter written by Richard Cobden to John Bright in 1849. The two had worked closely together and were both middle class, radical MPs.
The citadel of privilege in this country is terribly strong. We are a servile, aristocracy loving, lord-ridden people who regard the land with as much reverence as we still do the peerage and the gentry. Half a dozen great families still decide on the choice of candidates for parliamentary seats. The most discouraging situation is in the Lancashire boroughs, which apart from Manchester, are in the hands of the stupidest Tories in England, thanks to the power of the aristocracy and their allies, the snobs of the towns. past papers (Jan 2010 GCE Unit 2)
From Thomas Carlyle, Chartism, published 1840. Carlyle wrote this pamphlet to draw attention to the conditions of working-class life, which he believed to be the cause of Chartist violence.
A feeling very generally exists that the condition and attitudes of the Working

Classes poses a threat at present. Where does this bitter discontent come from? What will condemnation and banishment to Botany Bay do to end it? Chartist violence is just a symptom of this discontent. You abolish the symptoms to no purpose if the disease is left untouched. Frenzied Chartism is forcing thinking men to consider this vital matter. past papers (Jan 2010 GCE Unit 2)
From a speech given by Lord John Russell, introducing the First Reform Bill in the House of Commons, 1 March 1831
The whole measure will add to the electorate about half a million persons, and

these are all connected with the property of the country, having a valuable stake amongst us and deeply interested in our institutions. They are persons on whom we can depend in any future struggle in which this nation may be engaged. past papers (June 2009 GCE Unit 2)

From a speech made in parliament by Lord Palmerston, the Foreign Secretary, 3 March 1831

Any man who looks at the workings of the present system must see that there are several great blemishes. It is necessary to remove these in order to strengthen the bonds of influence, respect and deference which give the constitution authority. The measure before the House is not intended to affect this power, but to give additional reasons for supporting and defending it. past papers (June 2009 GCE Unit 2)

From Sir Robert Peel’s speech in parliament in March 1832, opposing the third version of the Reform Bill despite the concessions that had been made to conservative interests
I will continue my opposition, believing as I do that this is the first step, not directly to revolution, but to a series of changes which will totally change the character of the mixed constitution of this country. I am not opposed to a well-considered reform of any of our institutions, but I am opposed to this reform because, by changing our inherited constitution, it tends to root up the feelings of respect, reverence and loyalty, which are the only sure foundations of government. past papers (June 2009 GCE Unit 2)

From a pamphlet published by the government in 1833

The present Ministry began the work of reform by reforming the House of Commons. Patronage, the main weapon of former politicians, inevitably perished and has left the present, and all future ministries, dependent directly on the support of the people. By this we demolished the foundations of all previous administrations. past papers (June 2009 GCE Unit 2)

Parliamentary Papers 1835 viii (Report on Bribery at Elections)

I consider that almost every place has a system of corruption peculiar to itself, where the same end is obtained, and the same system of corrupt practices prevail, but in different modes; I have seen many gentlemen openly pay down agreed sums, and before the poll, and I have been privy, that is I have had a personal knowledge: generally speaking, the bribery is contracted to be done after the expiration of the period for petitioning; I am now confining my observations to direct money bribery, but which of course I do not consider to be the only species of bribery; money' s worth is equally bribery.… I mentioned to the Committee, that peculiar customs prevail in particular towns; some towns are particularly free from certain practices of corruption, and other towns from other practices. I never heard in my life of a bribed voter at Warwick, till the election of 1831, though a native of Warwick, and present at many elections, and the demoralising effect of it was most lamentable when once commenced. I heard it insinuated to have taken place in 1831, I am not sure that it was practised then, but in 1832 it was most openly practised.…

Dr Marjory Ploy, ‘The Peel Web’.

A Year at Hartlebury or The Election (1834)

This book was jointly written by Benjamin Disraeli and his sister Sarah. Originally it was published under the pseudonyms of Cherry and Fair Star. Hartlebury is the Disraeli home at Bradenham; Fanchester was in reality High Wycombe where Disraeli stood as candidate twice - unsuccessfully. It seems clear that the political comment in these extracts is Disraeli "thinking aloud" and is perhaps at least semi-autobiographical. This might explain why Disraeli never did acknowledge authorship of the book.

But with all this superficial appearance of triumph, the career of the new candidate was by no means so prosperous as it appeared. The Whig party at Fanchester was very strong….. Fanchester boasted of several considerable manufactories. Their masters, sleek sectarians of all denominations,….. were all of course, supporters of the present administration, and full of what they called "gratitude" to Lord Grey. This click, though not numerous, was very powerful……. This click hated Mr. Bohun. They hated him because he was a gentleman………. If ever a revolution come round in this once happy country, we may trace all our misery to the influence of the low Whigs. These are the real causes of Manchester massacres, though they are always abusing the magistracy……... It is the fashion now "to go along with the people", but I think the people ought to be led, ought to have ideas given them by those whom nature and education have qualified to govern states and regulate the conduct of mankind.

Whatever might have been Mr. Bohun's fancies when absent from his country, his keen brain, on his return, soon detected the spirit of the Reform Bill. He saw it was a Whig measure, and not a democratic one. He perceived that its only object was to destroy the balance of parties in the state, and that it intrenched in power a party who by the course of circumstances, had become pledged to an anti-national policy. Mr. Bohun cared nothing about the wretched struggle of factions, but he wished to be the subject of a great empire, and not to sink into the miserable citizenship of a second-rate island. He knew the Tories could never have remained so long in power, unless they had maintained a national policy: he knew the Whigs, in expelling them from their places, were bound to maintain an adverse system, and therefore he foresaw the dismemberment of the Empire. This was the reason he opposed the Whigs.

Dr. Marjory Ploy, ‘The Peel Web’.

Pamphlet: The Reform Ministry and the Reformed Parliament (1833)

It is the fortune of the present Government to be encountered by two hostile factions, the Tories and the Radicals, who appear to agree in no principle either of preservation or destruction, and have no object common to both, except that of endeavouring to persuade the people of the imbecility of the Ministers.…

But it must be remembered that the present Ministers are invested with the highest trust which it ever fell to the lot of men to execute. Their junction with either of the adverse parties must be fatal to the quiet of the country, and defeat, for a long period, all the good we have obtained, or may expect.

They must trust to the good sense of the great body of their fellow-citizens, to permit them gradually and steadily to repair the injuries which the country has sustained by a misgovernment of nearly fifty years, and claim a confidence for integrity for the future, by an impartial review of what has already passed.

Dr. Marjory Ploy, ‘The Peel Web’.

Peel on 'Conservative principles', 1838

Peel had identified what he called 'Conservative principles' in a letter to Henry Goulburn in 1833. In 1834 he had published the Tamworth Manifesto in which he stated his political views. In this extract, Peel again defines what he means by Conservative principles.
Sir Robert Peel ... We feel deeply and intimately that in the union of the conservative party in the country is one of the best guarantees for internal tranquillity and the maintenance of our ancient institutions... By that union we shall best be enabled to maintain the mild predominance of the Protestant faith in this country and in every part of the United Kingdom. By that union we shall be enabled and by that alone to promote what we call conservative principles. If you ask me what I mean by conservative principles... I will, in conclusion, briefly state what I mean...

By conservative principles I mean, and I believe you mean, the maintenance of the Peerage and the Monarchy the continuance of the just powers and attributes of King, Lords, and Commons in this country. By conservative principles I mean, a determination to resist every encroachment that can curtail the just rights and settled privileges of one or other of those three branches of the state. By conservative principles I mean, that co-existent with equality of civil rights and privileges, there shall be an established religion and imperishable faith, and that that established religion shall maintain the doctrines of the Protestant Church. By conservative principles I mean, a steady resistance to every project which would divert church property from strictly spiritual uses.

Dr. Marjory Ploy, ‘The Peel Web’.

The Tamworth Manifesto: text 18 December 1834

Peel wrote the following letter to his electors in Tamworth when he stood for re-election after accepting the post of Prime Minister in 1834. It has been seen as the first statement of Conservative principles. The Quarterly Review published a comment on the Manifesto early in 1835.

To the Electors of the Borough of Tamworth.


On the 26th of November last, being then at Rome, I received from His Majesty a summons, wholly unforeseen and unexpected by me, to return to England without delay, for the purpose of assisting His Majesty in the formation of a new government. I instantly obeyed the command for my return; and on my arrival, I did not hesitate, after an anxious review of the position of public affairs, to place at the disposal of my Sovereign any services which I might be thought capable of rendering…

Gentlemen, the arduous duties in which I am engaged have been imposed on me through no act of mine….. The King, in a crisis of great difficulty, required my services. The question I had to decide was this - Shall I obey the call? Or shall I shrink from the responsibility, alleging as the reason, that I consider myself, in consequence of the Reform Bill..........

But the Reform Bill, it is said, constitutes a new era, and it is the duty of a Minister to declare explicitly - first, whether he will maintain the Bill itself, secondly whether he will act on the spirit in which it was conceived.

With respect to the Reform Bill itself, I will repeat now the declaration I made when I entered the House of Commons as a member of the Reformed Parliament - that I consider the Reform Bill a final and irrevocable settlement of a great constitutional question - a settlement which no friend to the peace and welfare of this country would attempt to disturb, either by direct or by insidious means.

Dr. Marjory Ploy, ‘The Peel Web’.

Lord John Russell's "finality" speech: 20 November 1837

Lord John Russell made this speech as part of his Address at the meeting of the first parliament of Queen Victoria's reign. As was customary on the accession of a new monarch, there had been a general election: this was one of a succession of general elections while the Whigs held office. Thomas Wakley, the MP for Finsbury, had proposed that the Reform Act of 1832 should be amended to include a further extension of the franchise, the introduction of a secret ballot and the repeal of the Septennial Act that required a general election to be held every seven years. Russell opposed these changes and it is from this speech that he acquired the nickname "Finality Jack".

The hon. Member [Wakley] who moved the amendment has brought forward questions which have also been dwelt upon by other Members, and he has asked me whether I will support them. He has mentioned the question of the ballot - he has mentioned the question of the extension of the suffrage, and the question of triennial parliaments. … I cannot conceal the disadvantages and the injuries to which the Reform Act is subject. I admit that at the late elections corruption and intimidation prevailed to a very lamentable extent….. I admit that with respect to the registration of voters in particular, great amendments may be made….. But these are questions which are totally different from those now brought forward, such as the question of the ballot, the extension of the suffrage, and triennial parliaments, which are, taken together, nothing else, but a repeal of the Reform Act, and placing the representation on a different footing. Am I then prepared to do this? I say certainly not……… it would be a most unwise and unsound experiment now to begin the process again, to form a new suffrage, to make an alteration in the manner of voting, and to look for other and new securities for the representation of the people………. Do I then say that the measure is in all respects final? I say no such nonsense…… But I am not myself going to do so.

Dr. Marjory Ploy, ‘The Peel Web’.

The People’s Charter: the Six demands called for: Universal suffrage, secret ballot, equal representation, abolition of property qualifications for MPs, payment for Mps and annual parliaments.
Newspaper accounts of riots in Preston, August 1842
(Catalogue ref: 2a. ZPER 34/1 f.236, Illustrated London News, 20 August 1842; 2b,c,d. HO 45/249A, Preston Pilot, 13 August 1842)

Illustrations of a meeting of Chartists on Kennington Common, 1848
(Catalogue ref: ZPER 34/12, Illustrated London News, 15 April 1848)

Prince Lieven to his brother Alexander, 2nd March, 1831.

I was absolutely stupefied when I learnt the extent of the Reform Bill. The most absolutely secrecy has been maintained on the subject until the last moment. It is said that the House of Commons was quite taken by surprise; the Whigs are astonished, the Radicals delighted, the Tories indignant. This was the first impression of Lord John Russell's speech, who was entrusted with explaining the Government Bill.

I have had neither the time nor the courage to read it. Its leading features have scared me completely: 168 members are unseated, sixty boroughs disfranchised, eight more members allotted to London and proportionately to the large towns and counties, the total number of members reduced by sixty or more.

James Grant, Random Collections of the House of Lords (1836)

The name of Earl Grey is one which is, without question, destined to be better known by posterity than of any other statesman of the present day. The zeal and energy with which, in early life, he expoused those liberal principles of Reform which he afterwards not only lived to see triumphant, but whose triumph was chiefly brought about by his own instrumentality. He was the author of that great measure, and the Minister under whose auspices it was triumphantly carried through both Houses of Parliament, in defiance of a most decided and powerful opposition, that gives him that commanding station which he now occupies in the eyes of the country, and which his memory will inevitably occupy in the eyes of future ages.

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