The Radical Club, and other papers

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London Record Society

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D.J. Rowe (editor)

Year published

1970

Pages

119-134

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'The Radical Club, and other papers', London Radicalism 1830-1843: A selection of the papers of Francis Place (1970), pp. 119-134. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=39491 Date accessed: 31 July 2014.


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70. [Add. Ms. 27796, f. 292]

The Radical Club

On the night of the 5 June 1833 when I and several of my most esteemed friends, who were present at the Council of the [National Political] Union, resigned we walked up Holborn together, talking of the way in which the men into whose hands the management of the Union had fallen, would conduct it and the almost certain consequence, debt and disgrace they would bring upon it, unless they should find themselves incompetent to the charge they had taken upon themselves and abandon it, which some of us anticipated as all but certain, in which case it was suggested that we should be ready to take the matter up and bring it to an honourable close. This was asented [sic] to by all. When we were about to seperate one of us I believe Mr Rainford, said it was a pity that we and others who had acted so well together should become wholly disunited when Mr Samuel Harrison, one of the most considerate and honest hearted men I have ever known, proposed that some plan should be adopted to bring us together occasionally. This produced a conversation which ended in an agreement that as many of us as could make it convenient should meet on a day then named and consider of a plan. We met accordingly and agreed that the best mode would be to form a small club, to consist of as many of the members of the Council of the Union as we should hereafter select as original members, and that such as chose to join the club should be proposed by some members and be ballotted for.

71. [Add. Ms. 27796, f. 295. Printed.]

Rules of the Radical Club. Established 4th July, 1833.

I. That the Annual Subscription be Twenty-five Shillings.

II. That Persons of the Working Classes be admitted on payment of Ten Shillings yearly.

III. That when any Person, not a Native of Great Britain or Ireland, but a temporary resident in this country, shall be elected a Member of the Club, he shall not be called upon to pay any Subscription.

IV. That Annual Payments be made in advance on or before the first day of July in each year, or in proportion for new Members elected at any other period.

V. That the Society dine together four times in each year, on 30th January,— April, 4th July, 31st October, the expense of each dinner to be paid from the Subscription, and not to be less than Five Shillings or more than Seven Shillings for each Member.

VI. That every Person proposed to become a Member be nominated by two Members in writing, the nomination to be delivered to the Secretary at least fourteen days previous to any General Meeting; the Secretary must give notice to the Members of each such nomination, and the Persons proposed shall be ballotted for at the next Meeting of the Society.

VII. That on the nomination of any Candidate the Proposer or Seconder shall attend and answer as far as he is able any question which may be put to him respecting the qualifications of the Person proposed.

VIII. That when any Person proposed shall be elected a Member, his Proposer or Seconder shall pay the first Subscription on the night of the Election.

IX. That if on ballotting the number of black balls shall amount to one fourth of the whole number in the box, the Person proposed shall not become a member.

X. That if any Member should by his improper conduct become generally obnoxious to the Members, on requisition signed by four Members the subject shall be discussed at the next General Meeting after notice given in the summons to all the Members, and the question of his expulsion decided by ballot, a majority of votes of the Members present deciding.

XI. That a Committee of five shall be chosen from the Members annually in July, who shall have the superintendence and controul [sic] of the Affairs of the Society,—they shall call Meetings of the Members whenever in their opinion it may seem expedient—arrange and give the proper notices respecting the Quarterly Dinners, and keep regular Accounts and Minutes of all Proceedings.

Samuel Harrison
Secretary

23, Great Ormond Street

71 a. [Add. Ms. 27796, f. 296 Printed. Membership of the Radical Club at 29 January 1838]

William H. Ashurst, New Bridge Street, Blackfriars
Alfred Austin, 49 Doughty street
Alexander Baylis, 8 New Basinghall street
Samuel Baylis, Whitecross street, Cripplegate
J. Roberts Black
Thomas Brooksbank, 14 Gray's-inn square
Samuel Courtauld, Booking, Essex
George Charlwood, Covent garden
H. S. Chapman, 2 Tillotson place, Waterloo bridge
H. B. Churchill, 2 Raymond buildings
William Cooke, 43 St Mary Axe
George Coode, 26 Euston place, New road
John Crawfurd, 27 Wilton crescent
William Cumming, Carpenter's hall, London wall
John Duce, 9 Wilmot street, Bethnal green
Howard Elphinstone, 19 Eaton place, Belgrave square
John Epps, 89 Great Russell street, Bloomsbury
Thomas Falconer, Gray's-inn square
Edward Farn, 14 Gray's-inn square
Edwin W. Field, 41 Bedford row
William J. Fox, 366 Strand
Charles J. Fox, 67 Paternoster row
Robert Franks, Redcross street, Barbican
Alexander Galloway, West street, Smithfield
Thomas Gibson, Hanger's lane, Tottenham
George Glazier, 16 Titchfield street, Marylebone
G. J. Graham, 21 Basinghall street
W. P. Gaskell, Cheltenham
Samuel Harrison, 4 Cottage green, Camberwell
C. J. Hector, M.P., Reform Club, Pall Mall
G. H. Heppel, Mansion-house street
William Hickson, jun., 13 Park Lane Piccadilly
Joseph Hume, M.P., Bryanstone square
J. B. King, 2 Bartholomew lane
William Lawrence, Pitfield street, Hoxton
James Longmate, 4 Princes street, Red-lion square
J. T. Leader, M.P., 8 Stratton street
James Murray, 8 Suffolk street, Hackney road
John Melville, 16 Upper Harley street
John Milner, 149 Albany street
Sir William Molesworth, Bt. M.P., Reform Club Pall Mall
Augustus Mongredien, 21 Finsbury square
Edward Mottram, Little Britain
M. Mazzini, 9 George street, New road
Daniel O'Connell, M.P., Reform Club, Pall Mall
Robert Owen, Mark Lane
J. Osborne, 25 Bucklersbury
Erskine Perry, Chester street, Grosvenor place
Joseph Phelps, 44 Paternoster row
Francis Place, 21 Brompton square
Michael Prendergast, 21 Castle street, Holborn
William Pritchard, Gordon court, Doctors' Commons
Thomas Prout, 229 Strand
Edward Rainford, 86 High Holborn
Samuel Revans, Austin Friars
Henry Revell, Burton crescent
Elias Regnault, Camberwell and Paris
Nathaniel Saxton, Bankside
W. D. Saull, Aldersgate street
James Savage, Bethnal-green road
Charles FoxSmith, 64 Queen street, Cheapside
J. D. Stiles, 27 Stamford street
J. C. Symons, Radnage, Stokenchurch, Bucks
J. T. Selles, 15 St Mary Axe
John Travers, St Swithin's lane
John Taylor, 17 Kent terrace, Regent's Park
Richard Taylor, Red-Lion court, Fleet street
Peter A. Taylor, 5 Euston square
T. Perronet Thompson, 13 Hanover terrace, Regent's Park
J. B. Tomalin, 1 Riches court, Lime street
Dr Usiglio, 9 George street, New road
William Wallis, 19 Elizabeth street, Hackney road
John Wade, 4 York terrace, Camberwell new road
R. G. Welford, Stockwell, Surrey
William Williams, M.P., Watling street
Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange
D. W. Wire, St Swithin's lane
William Weir, Glasgow

72. [Add. Ms. 27797, ff. 4-7]

On Monday the 22nd of April [1833] at a meeting [of the National Union of the Working Classes] held at the Rotunda in St Georges Fields. Mr Parkins, late editor of the Christian Corrector in the Chair.

Mr Cleave proposed the following resolution

'That we view with indescribable indignation the guilty speed with which the new secretary for Ireland has cooperated with Lord Anglesea in carrying into execution the infamous coercion bill, notwithstanding the repeated assurances to the contrary, both expressed and implied, made by the Whig Ministers in the house of commons, and by Sir John Hobhouse in particular at his second election; and therefore, we solemnly call on our Irish brethren to take the subject of a convention of the people into their most serious consideration.'

Mr Cleave spoke of the character of the bill and of some proceedings at Kilkenny. 'The resolution called upon them to take into their serious consideration the calling of a National Convention, and he was sure that until that was done and the Irish Nation put Daniel O Connell at the head of an Irish Republic the people of Ireland could procure no releif [sic].' (loud cheers)

Mr Mee seconded the motion. He observed that the lying press of the day told us the Reformed Parliament would do everything for us, and that we must therefore dissolve our Unions. They deceived us and we will not be deceived again. He was sorry the Irish members of parliament who were expected had not attended the meeting, as they would have seen the sympathy and fellow feeling of the working classes for their brethren in Ireland, and it might tend towards bringing about a closer connexion between them (cheers). They would likewise have become acquainted also with their determination to take their affairs into their own hands. They wanted to meet Irish delegates in London to form a National Convention (hear hear) and found a system of universal equity. It might be said, that he was a leveller—that he wanted to do away with the privileges of certain classes— they were right who said so. (cheers) It might be said you don't respect the laws, it was true they could never respect laws made without their concurrence calculated to injure them and benefit the privileged classes who enacted them (hear) men who had no feelings in common with the working people. Their interest was to make partial laws ours to make universal laws, and sure he was that the justice of the principle would ensure a certain victory. (cheers) He instanced the budget as proof that they had no desire to benefit the working man, and they would never do any thing to benefit him until they were compelled. (cheers) They were for keeping up the hereditary privileges which were brought into this country by that bastard of a Fish Fag—William of Normandy. He thought the people would be much to blame if after the lives of the present possessors, they retained their plunder any longer.

The resolution was agreed to unanimously.

Mr Yearly—then brought forward the resolution, which had been adjourned, as proposed by Mr Lee. Mr Plummer seconded it. [A resolution to call a national convention.]

Mr Cleave proposed an adjournment, the business was too important to be passed without further discussion. Adjourned.

The proceedings of this Union were strangely conducted, neither of these resolutions which seemed to the members to be matter of much importance had originated, or been even adverted to, in the General Committee of the Union, nor is there in the minute book up to this time any notice respecting a National Convention. There is however the following entry under date, 17 April 1833. 'General Committee, Bowling Square Chapel. On the motion of Messrs Cleave and Mee a sub committee to consist of Messrs Preston— Coddington—Cleave—Mee—Petrie—Yearly—Fowler—Brown and Plummer, be appointed to prepare resolutions for the meeting to be held at the Rotunda on the 22nd instant.'

In all other societies of which I have had cognizance, the business to be brought forward at general meetings was prepared by the Committee or Council—or Managers—or Directors. But in this Union many motions were at once proposed and without notice not only to the members in general meetings, but to the members so assembled with a large body, generally as large sometimes much larger than the members, of persons who were not members, but strangers admitted by payment at the door as auditors for the evening.

In the present case the motion which was made by Mr Lee was probably adopted by the sub-committee and therefore again proposed by Mr Yearly —and that the resolution proposed by Mr Cleave was framed upon it, yet neither of those motions were stated to have been recommended by any committee, but were entertained simply as the motions of Mr Cleave and Mr Yearly.

73. [Add. Ms. 27797, ff. 11-16. Proceedings at a subsequent meeting of the National Union of the Working Classes, 8 May 1833.]

It was resolved that 500 double Crown Placards be printed announcing the meeting in the following form.

A Public Meeting will be held on the Calthorpe Estate

Cold Bath Fields

On Monday next May 13 1833 at Two o Clock To adopt preparatory Measures for holding a National Convention

The only means of Obtaining and Securing the Rights of the People By order of the Committee of the National Union of the Working Classes John Russell Sec.

The following resolutions were finally adopted by the committee.

Resolutions for the Meeting in Cold Bath Fields on May 13 1833 1st. That this meeting disgusted at the barefaced hypocricy [sic] of the miscalled representatives of the people in the house of commons, take this opportunity of publicly declaring to their fellow countrymen, that until the working people of Great Britain and Ireland, obtain Universal Suffrage, they will be the dupes of designing factions.

2nd. That this meeting convinced of the ignorance of the many relative to the Rights of Man, (fostered by the designing few, who hold those rights in contempt) is the fatal cause of all the ills which afflict mankind, hereby proclaim the following declaration, to the end that the people may always have before their eyes the basis of their liberty and happiness, the Magistrates the rule of their conduct and duty, and Legislators the object of their appointment.

Declaration of Rights

All men are born equally free and have certain natural and unalienable rights, any infringement on which is a gross violation of the laws of nature and ought to be resisted;—consequently all hereditary distinctions should be abolished, as being unnatural and opposed to the equal Rights of Man.

The end of Society being the public good, and the institution of government being to secure to every individual the enjoyment of his rights, all government ought to be founded on those rights, and all laws instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of all the people, and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any man, family or set of men.

The Rights of Man in Society are Liberty, Equality, Security and the full enjoyment of the produce of his own labour. Liberty is that power which belongs to a man of doing every thing that does not infringe on the rights of another. Its principle is nature, its rule justice, and its moral limits are defined by this maxim—'Do unto others as you would that others should do unto you.'

The Law is the free expression of the public will, it ought to be the same for all whether it protects or punishes; it cannot order but what is just and useful, it cannot forbid but what is hurtful.

A people have always the right of revising, amending and changing their constitution, one generation cannot submit to its laws future generations.

Every adult member of society has a right to a free voice (either by himself or his representative) in making the laws which he is required to obey, and in regulating the amount and appropriation of public contributions.

Intellectual fitness and moral worth and not property should be the qualifications for representatives, and the duration of parliaments should be but for a year.

Statement of Grievances

The necessity for announcing these rights implies the existence of grievances, we therefore, the unrepresented classes of the Metropolis enumerate the most prominent of the evils under which we are now suffering.

1. Individual appropriation of the soil, which is the natural right of all; from whence arises that odious impost on the first necessary of life the tax upon corn.

2. The law of Primogeniture, by which the spurious portion of society are fastened like leeches upon the industy of the country.

3. The Funding System which has created a thousand millions of debt and deluged the world with human blood.

4. Hereditary and exclusive legislation passed by a corrupt and selfish few which has produced and maintained among others the following National Curses.

I. An Hereditary Monarchy costing at the least 3 millions per annum

II. A Civil List of Male and Female Pensioners 1 million do

III One hundred and thirteen privy councillors costing £600,000 per Annum

IV. A Law Church Establishment costing 9 millions per Annum

V. A Debt requiring for interest alone 35 millions do

VI. A Standing Army costing 7 millions do

To these may be added Inclosure Laws—Mortmain Laws—Game Laws —Stamp Laws—Trespass Laws—Subletting Laws and Excise Laws— Impressment for Sailors—Tithe Exactions—with expensive erections of Palaces—Prisons—Churches—Barracks—Workhouses. Monopolies in Commerce—Monopolies in trade—Taxes on Knowledge—Taxes on houses —Taxes on the light of heaven; with a thousand other fertile sources of oppression through the medium of indirect taxation on the labour and industry of the productive classes of the community.

3. That this meeting calls the attention of their fellow countrymen to the aforementioned glowing declaration of Rights and to devise the most effectual means of carrying them into effect.

In the preceeding resolutions which were agreed to by the General Committee of the Union it will be seen that the intention to call a National Convention was abandoned. No notice being taken thereof in any one of the resolutions.

In the meetings of the sub committee who prepared the resolutions as entered in the minute book of the Union, it does not appear that any member said a word respecting any proposition to be made at the meeting respecting a National Convention.

All the proceedings of the committee of the Union were probably, (the leading members say certainly) made known to the Government, they had they say nothing to conceal and an inspection of their minute books confirms so far as such a document can the truth of the assertion. Nothing seems to have been said at their committee which was not said at their public weekly meetings at which reporters attended and were accomodated [sic], yet their reports were scarcely ever inserted in the Daily papers and the reporters were consequently not paid for by their proprietors. That they did nothing they wished to conceal is not to be doubted.

Mischief was meditated by some of the members of whom Mr Petrie was now the leader. This man had been a soldier during several years and had seen much service. He had or thought he had grounds of complaint which were not attended to at the War Office, and this it was supposed induced him to become a member of the Union. He was one of the most violent of the members. He now suggested that, as the meeting would consist of an immerse multitude that they should move off the ground at the conclusion of the business in two columns one to attack the Bank the other the Tower of London. In these suggestions he shewed what some considered dishonesty, and this it has been said was the reason of his being objected to as Chairman of the meeting, when in the committee on the 8th he was named for that office, and Mr Mee was appointed.

At a meeting of the committee on the 10th a letter was read from him as follows

Bulls Head Court May 10 1833

Mr Russell

Sir

I request that you will present this note to the sub committee.

'When faction rules and wicked men hold sway, The post of honour is a private station.'

The conduct of the majority of the committee, on wednesday evening (the 8th) which not only justifies me, but compels me to state that the respect I owe to myself prevents me from taking any part whatever in the business of the public meeting on Monday next.

George Petrie

Preparations were made for the meeting—two vans were hired. Movers and seconders of the motions were appointed. The placards were ordered to be posted. Four men with boards on which placards were to be pasted were ordered to be hired.

74. [Add. Ms. 27797, f. 15. Printed government notice banning the meeting.]

Whereas, printed papers have been posted up and distributed in various parts of the metropolis, advertising that a public meeting will be held in Coldbath Fields, on Monday May 13th, to adopt preparatory measures for holding a National Convention, as the only means of obtaining and securing the rights of the people;—And, whereas, a public meeting holden for such a purpose is dangerous to the public peace, and illegal:—All classes of his Majesty's subjects are hereby warned not to attend such meeting, nor to take any part in the proceedings thereof.

And notice is hereby given—That the Civil Authorities have strict orders to maintain and secure the public peace, and to apprehend any persons offending herein, that they may be dealt with according to law.

By order of the Secretary of State.

75. [Add. Ms. 27797, ff. 16–20]

The notion of their being a great Public Meeting was clearly given up, the ultimate organization being the vague resolution that the sub committee which consisted of Petrie—Lee—Mee—Bayley—Yearly—Preston and Plummer, in all seven—But Petrie and Bailey [sic] having resigned—the whole was left to five men no one of whom was at all know[n] out of the Union, neither were they of much weight in the Union.

It does not appear from any entry in the minute book that the presence of even, such men as, Cleave—or Hetherington—or Lovett were expected to attend and the whole matter was as wretched as any such thing could be. It is more than probable that this sub-committee of five would have given up the whole matter had they not lacked the resolution, to encounter the charges and sarcasm of those who would have availed themselves of the circumstances to annoy them.

In the first instance the projectors of the meeting had persuaded themselves that all the world had their eyes upon their proceedings, and they imagined that nothing more was necessary than a public meeting in which the people should be called upon to send deputies to London to form what they called a convention to induce them to comply with their request, as they proceeded however this absurd expectation left them, and the proclamation even such as it was convinced them that there was no likely hood of any assemblage worthy the name of a public meeting at all likely to be held.

It would, be impossible on the whole to conceive anything more absurd and contemptible than were the proceedings of the Union respecting this meeting.

With the knowledge that they who called the meeting, lacked the means of accomplishing any purpose, whatever, either for evil or good, with the certain knowledge that any resolutions which the persons who took part in the meeting could propose would produce no effect whatever, Government could not fail to conclude that no meeting of the least importance could be held, and that there needed a very small portion of the police force and none of the Army to keep the peace. 50 police men could have kept the ground and all the approaches to it clear and that too without any incivility or much annoyance to any one. Whatever other force the Government might have thought it prudent to assemble should have been carefully concealed, instead of being thrust into notice unnecessarily.

Lord Melbourne knew well from experience that if the Government did not desire to commit outrages on the people, but were desirous as became men charged with the grave duty of governing such a nation as the British People composed, and were therefore more desirous of preventing than of punishing that they needed do no more than has been alluded to to insure that peace, and had their purpose been to preserve they would most certainly have so acted.

This was also well understood by at the least some of the Police Superintendents, one of whom, and one too of the most respectable and best informed of them, told me that with ten men he could have kept the ground clear of people and that too without producing ill temper and scarcely any annoyance whatever. This he proposed to do but was not attended to.

In fact the members of the Sub-committee in whose hands alone the whole matter rested wanted an excuse for withdrawing and this as Lord Melbourne will [well] knew could have been easily supplied; but he and his coadjutors who were vigorous only against the common people had made immense preparations for display, on the use of which they would have followed the example of Lord Castlereagh and his coadjutors, and grounded some bad laws on the result of their own mis-conduct. It would have been no great stretch of either disposition or power in Lord Melbourne who supported and justified and thanked the men who committed the Manchester Massacre to have played the bad game over again in London if the opportunity had offered. The administration was at this time courting the Tories, they had done much in endeavoring [sic] to please them, and a resolution to put down and keep down the people which the present occasion appeared to afford would have done much in the way of reconciliation between the two parties. They however did too much, and may be said to have failed in every particular, the consequence of which was, hatred towards them on the part of the common people, contempt on that of the Tories.

The following account of the proceedings is taken from the daily papers of the 14th.

The best and I have reason to believe that which is nearest to the truth is from the Times—as follows.

It commences by saying the meeting was called by placards and forbidden as illegal by Proclamation—and it goes on thus.

'Notwithstanding this mandate by 12 o clock about 300 persons had assembled on the ground, but none of the leaders of the intended meeting were among them.

'Shortly after 12 a strong detachment of the Metropolitan Police marched into the neighbourhood and took up their quarters in the Riding School (near the place of meeting). Colonel Rowan and Mr Mayne the two Commissioners of police as also Lord Melbourne had arrived. The two Commissioners were accomodated [sic] at a house in the neighbourhood attended by two clerks. Mr. Laing the Magistrate of Hatton Garden Office was stationed in the House of Correction as were other magistrates and a strong body of the Police force. Two officers of the 1st Regiment of Life Guards were on the spot in plain clothes, who kept up a constant communication with their regiment a detachment of which was under arms and ready at a moments warning.

'Matters remained in this state till near 2 o clock when the number of people had greatly increased, we should say there were between 3,000 and 4,000 present. Some doubts were expressed by some of the persons assembled as to the meeting taking place as no caravan or hustings was prepared.

'During this time the committee consisting of 6 persons were holding their council at the Union Public House, Bagnigge Wells, and some discussion arose among them as to which of them should ascend the hustings first, and after much time had been spent in arranging this point which they considered most important, a young man named James Lee undertook to open the proceedings by proposing a person to take the chair.

'Shortly before 3 o clock a caravan which had been hired for the purpose took its station and instantly young Lee jumped into it followed by a person named Mee and several others. Lee waved his hat several times which was answered by the shouts of the assembly. The owner of the van however did not like the appearance of things, and instantly drove off, the committee jumping out of the van. Lee was then carried on the shoulders of some of the mob to some railings and being there supported he proposed that Mr Mee should take the Chair which being seconded by some person Mr Mee stood up, and addressed the meeting. He called upon those present to beware of those hirelings of the government who were paid to induce them to commit a breach of the peace. Just at this moment a large body of members of the Union came up with colours and banners and took their position around the Chairman who continued to address the meeting.

'About 200 of the police force of the A division, followed by as many of the others marched up to the railings with their truncheons ready for action. The mob gave way a little but Mee the Chairman never moved until he saw the danger which awaited them, and then Mee jumped down and effected his escape amongst the Crowd.

'The scene that followed was dreadful. The Police furiously attacked the Multitude with their staves felling every person indiscriminately before them; even females did not escape blows from their batons, men and boys were lying in every direction weltering in their blood and calling for mercy. The inhabitants from their windows and balconies cried Shame! Shame!! Mercy! Mercy!! but the Police men continued their attack which they kept up for several minutes. A large space of ground within our view was st[r]ewed with the wounded, besides others who were less injured and were able to crawl to a surgeons. A policemen belonging to the C Division 95 named James [sic] Culley was stabbed to the heart by a man who was carrying a banner, and which he attempted to take from him. He walked a few paces and then fell dead. His brother John who belonged to the same division was also stabbed but not mortally. Serjeant Brooks of the C Division was also wounded through the thick part of his left arm.

'The following are the names of the persons arrested—then follows several names—and among them James Furzey [sic], and the writer observes—that it seemed to be believed, that Furzey was the man who murdered the Policeman, as a dagger with a sharp point, and a loaded pistol were found near the spot in a stable where he was standing after he had been arrested. The dagger corresponded with the wound in Culleys side and those of the other Police-men. The same man made a thrust at Mr Baker the Superintendant [sic] of the C Division and he must have fallen had not two policemen Merchant and Ossett, have struck his arm and taken him into custody.

'With the above exceptions we heard of no loss of life, but we should think upon a fair calculation from what the writer of this article saw there must have been 50 people more or less wounded.'

The Times condemned the Meeting and justified the dispersing of it— and in its leader in no way condemned the Police for making the Riot and ill using the people.

76. [Add. Ms. 27797, ff. 277-80]

Conversation with George Fursey respecting the stabbing of Brooks and Redwood two police constables.

Sunday 3 June 1838

Went to the house of George Fursey, Bricklayer in the Albany Road, Kent Road—(the same house he rented in 1833) and had a long conversation with him respecting the meeting held on the 13 May 1833.

I told him I had taken pains that he should be informed by some of his friends that I was collecting materials for an accurate account of the proceedings of the 'National Union of Working men and others', and especially just now of the meeting called by them on the 13 May 1833 in Cold Bath Fields, for the Riot on which, and for the stabbing two police men at which, he was tried at the Old Bailey on the 5 July 1833.

That I had taken care he should be well informed who I was, as it was necessary for the elucidation of the matter that he should believe I was a friend to the working people and had no purpose in my enquiries beyond that of being enabled to do them justice.

I said I had been told by those who knew him well that he was an honest sedate man who would not deceive me, and that I trusted he would not. That unless it was quite agreeable to him to answer my enquiries fully and without the least concealment I was not desirous to question him at all, but that as I believed he had reason to conclude that I was the working mans friend, and as no fact if known could now do him any injury I hoped he would give me very fully the information I wished.

He said he had long known me by report and was not unacquainted with the good I had done the working people, and would willingly tell me truly and without any reserve whatever related to the whole facts of the case, so far as he knew them.

He was he said a member of the National Union etc.—and approved of the meeting—though he now confessed it was a very foolish proceeding. That he went to the meeting with a number of members of his own class accompanied by his friend Mr Simpson, each of them having a small flag in their hands, that they entered the ground by Calthorpe Street followed by their brother members and marched up to the place where Mee was standing upon a rail addressing the meeting. That they had scarcely reached the spot when a cry was raised of the police, he saw them coming, the people making an opening to let them up to the place where he was. Simpson said to him there will be mischief we had better go away, and instantly drew back with his flag which he threw down an area and got away being squezed [sic] out by the pressure of the people behind the Police. That he on the contrary held his flag staff in his right hand and called to the people to 'stand firm', He meant, don't run away; the police were at this moment beating the people, several of them (the police) rushed forward, some seized hold on him some struck at him with their staves and one seized his flag staff with both hands and a struggle ensued the staff was broken and he was knocked down, as soon as he was down he was struck by several police men his head was cut open and he was stunned, No one of the policemen spoke one word to him, he lost his flag was seized and taken away to a Coach house in which were several Policemen and here he was confined until he was marched away to the public office in Bow Street.

This he said was the whole transaction and all the words [?] in the world could make no more of it. The whole matter from the time the police was announced to his being knocked down, bruised in several places his head cut in two places and his being stunned could not have occupied one minute.

I then said but you stabbed Brooks and Redwood at the moment you were assaulted?

He. Oh, no, I stabbed neither of them I assure you, they & others pressed upon me, seized the flag and broke the staff knocked me down and stunned me when I was down. I do assure you most solemnly I neither struck at nor stabbed any one of them.

I. well that seems very odd. I concluded you were the man who had stabbed them both?

He. I again assure you that I did not. I had neither knife nor tool nor instrument of any sort with which I could stab any one about me on that day.

I. why it was given in evidence against you, that you were taken to a Stable where you sat yourself down in a stall on some straw with your back leaning against the wall, and that close by the place where you had been seated a poiniard [sic] was found?

He. Yes, I know it, but I assure you I never was taken into a stable at all and of course never sat down upon any straw in a stall. I was taken to a coach house, and no poniard, or knife or instrument was found upon me or in the place where I was confined. I had no such instrument with me, and I never struck at any one that day.

I. well that is very strange. How was it, this did not appear at your trial?

He. it was an ommission of Mr Phillips the Councillor. It was in his instructions, but he omitted it. When Mr Phillips said 'that is my case' and my trial was ended, I was uneasy on account of his never having questioned the witnesses respecting the place I was confined in and the more so as Popay the Police Spy who was in Court and with whom I was well acquainted was present, he [had?] come into the Coach House and said he was very sorry to see me in custody—I therefore mentioned the fact to one of the keepers of Newgate who was standing close to me, he had behaved with much civility to me in the prison and therefore I spoke to him. He said never mind, the jury does not believe one word the fellows have been swearing against you, Councillor Phillips knows what he is about so do you let him alone. I was afterwards told, that it was an inadvertence of Mr Phillips occasioned by his anxiety to procure me an acquittal.

I. do you know who it was that stabbed Brooks and Redwood or either of them.

He. I must solemnly assure you, I do not, I did not see any one stab them. I had no time to see any thing that passed. I was seized thrown down and stunned so suddenly, that I had no time to observe any thing. It is all as I have told you, it is every word sacredly true and it is all the truth. There is nothing else it is the whole.

My full belief is that it is the truth and the whole truth.

Fursey is as he was represented to me, a plain simple man, who would I have no doubt have told me he stabbed the man had he done so. He said they richly deserved to be stabbed, or knocked on the head for their wanton and ferocious cruelty, but he neither struck nor stabbed at any one, but he should not have been sorry if he had killed all who attacked him, for he thought a man had an undoubted right to kill any body who attempted to treat him as he was treated by the police men.

77. [Add. Ms. 27797, ff. 69-70. Place's comments on the verdict of justifiable homicide brought in against the unknown person who killed the police constable Robert Culley on Calthorpe Estate.]

Immediately after the verdict was given the morning newspapers attacked it, in almost every was [way] in which it was possible to attack it. Some comments of the Editors and some of the communications sent to them shewed both the knowledge and the talent to make the most of it.

The laws relating to public meetings—the decisions of the Courts—the practice of such courts, and the opinions of many—legal—authorities were stated, as such, and then, in some, cases, unwarrantable inferences were drawn, and every case and circumstance which made against the writers were [sic] carefully suppressed by them.

The verdict was questionable if not actually incorrect in words, since it was the result of an inference only, and the jury were sworn to enquire into facts. It should however be observed that in a great many cases on which an inquest is held nothing but circumstantial evidence can be produced and yet from circumstances and appearances the jury are compelled to come to a decision which no one will question. So it is sometimes in other criminal cases no verdict can be given on any but circumstantial evidence, whether it be for acquittal or condemnation, and it is quite clear that the jury which sat on the body of Culley knew that they were going upon circumstantial evidence, and believed they were perfectly justified in finding that his death was a justifiable homicide. They believed, that Culley was stabbed by a man whom the police, he among the rest, assaulted, and put in bodily fear and danger, and for that reason the verdict which they gave was justifiable homicide. The evidence of this fact did not appear before the jury, and their verdict was consequently an inference from other facts.

They knew that no riot act had been read,—they knew that no proclamation to disperse had been made,—they knew that no attempt to preoccupy the ground by the authorities had been made,—they knew that the police force, (as it is called) were marched in order and blocked up nearly the whole of the persons who were assembled in the open space intended for the meeting.—They knew that even then, when every caution had been purposely omitted, for the purpose of misleading and entrapping of very absurd people that no attempt to take the leaders into custody was made in a decent orderly way,—and they must have believed; what, although they did not know it, turned out to be the actual fact, that no one altho' he attended the meeting yet if he conducted himself properly and did not commit a breach of the peace, nor in any way make a riot was not committing an indictable offence, as would have been the case had there been sufficient evidence to have borne out such a prosecution.

They knew it was in the power of Ministers—in that of the Magistrates, of the Commissioners of Police, either to have prevented the meeting or to have quietly dispersed it, and that they would have done one of these things probably the first if they had not intended to make an example of the people, and put them down by their own ill advised vigilance, a course of conduct no ministry well acquainted with the people of this country would ever have consented should have been used.

All these things the jury knew but they did not know specifically, how Culley came by his death. The verdict was therefore too precise and not fully warranted by the evidence.

The finding of the jury was therefore wrong, but not more so than many others much more important verdicts which have never been at all disturbed nor questioned in any court of law, or questioned by any authority even when their errors have been proved, or made evident by the discovery of circumstances.

The quashing of this verdict as it afterwards was quashed, was an anomalous proceeding, and under all the circumstances of the case, done more for the purpose of establishing authority in the King and the judges than for any other reason. It will be seen by the proceedings that it was none at all in conformity to any act of parliament, or any usage since the keeper of the Kings conscience could in all such cases do just what he pleased, without being questioned by any one but his master, whose, in almost every case, tool he was.

78. [Add. Ms. 27797, ff. 238-44]

Meeting at the Crown and Anchor Tavern

On the 19th of June a public meeting was held at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand London. 'To take into consideration the circumstances connected with the after proceedings relating to the verdict of the Calthorpe Street Jury.'

The Great Room was densely crowded long before the time announced for the commencement of business. Colonel Evans the member for Westminster was to have taken the chair but he having sent a shuffling excuse, the chair was taken by Lord Dunboyne. Having opened the business.

Mr Carpenter addressed the meeting. He felt very strongly on the subject on which the company had assembled, and could not but comply with the wish of the managers to come forward and make the first resolution. It had been said that the meeting was hostile to the constitutional institutions of the country. This was absurd, when the very purpose of the meeting was to support one of [the] most important of these institutions. He thought the meeting might very safely leave the monarchy and the aristocracy to themselves to take care of such of these institutions as related to themselves or principally to themselves while the people looked to such of them as principally related the masses. He need not argue that it was the undoubted right of the people to meet and discuss political matters, that right was unquestioned. It was fully proved that the meeting in Cold Bath Fields was perfectly peaceable, and he believed the purpose of the meeting was both legal and constitutional; this was certain that notwithstanding the assertion of Mr Lamb in the house of commons, there was no disposition on the part of the people to break the peace. On the contrary they took every precaution in their power to prevent any such occurrence. They were quite orderly in their proceedings and did not evince any disposition to commit violence even after they had been ferociously attacked by the Police. He was present at the proceedings on that day, for the purpose of observing and noting the circumstances which might occur. He saw how the police before they commenced their attack upon the people stopped up all the avenues by which the people could have escaped. He had testified on his solemn oath that the Police commenced the attack while the people were perfectly peaceable. He saw the Police knock the people down. He saw them beat them with their staves when they were down and trample on them. He saw the Police beat two women most brutally—two innofensive [sic] women. (shame) But as the meeting was well acquainted with the occurrences of the day he would dwell on them no longer.

He was confident the resolution would have the hearty concurrence of the meeting. The people had no reason for believing that the proclamation prohibiting the meeting proceeded from the Government, it might have proceeded from some individual to answer some sinister purpose as placards had proceeded on former occasions, yet purporting to proceed from the parties calling the meetings, of which there were some remarkable instances. (Loud cheers) Was it to be wondered at if the people, when thus treated should shew a disposition to resort to illegal means to obtain a redress of grievances. For the last 25 years the petitions of the common people, aye and their complaints in every form had been treated with perfect contempt by the Legislature and by the executive government. It was the sense of this which sometimes goaded them on to acts of which in their cooler moments they would disapprove.

Mr Carpenter moved. 'That it is the undoubted right of the British Subjects to assemble for the purpose of discussing their grievances, and petitioning the legislature for their redress or removal: and that the employment, under the sanction of a notice or proclamation issued by a secretary of state, of unnecessary violence, under the pretext of dispersing a meeting in Cold Bath Fields, (which had been permitted to assemble uninterruptedly) was highly censurable, and has a strong tendency to alienate his majesty's people from their dutiful and confident dependence on the constitutional laws, and their attachment to the government.' Mr Courtenay seconded the resolution.

[The following resolutions were also passed.]

That this meeting present their best thanks to the members of the Coroners Jury, convened at the Calthorpe Arms in Grays Inn Road on the 13 May last on the death of a police-man named Culley, slain in the attack on the people in Cold Bath Fields, for the sagacity and patience manifested in their performance of an arduous and painful duty, and in their unanimity of their verdict of 'justifiable homicide', by which they have ably assisted in maintaining the right of 'Trial by Jury'.

That the application made to the Court of Kings Bench by a law officer of the Crown to quash the honest and conscientious verdict of the Jury appears to be unprecented in the history of English Jurisprudence in as much that it was not contradicted that the jury had deliberated upon the evidence of all the witnesses permitted to be brought before them, was incorrupt, intelligible with the strict tenor of the oath they had taken; and that the quashing of such verdict of the court without evidence inquiry or investigation was novel, and has a tendency to subvert the trial by jury, and to diminish that sacred regard which has long been cherished as the great bulwark of british freedom.

That a petition be presented to the honourable the house of commons praying an inquiry into all the circumstances of the late proceedings in reference to the meeting in Cold Bath Fields; the Coroners performance or neglect of duty, the inquest, and the conduct of the police on that occasion, as well as the subsequent events connected therewith. That it be entrusted to Mr Hume for presentation and that Mr Roebuck, Col. Evans, Mr O Connell and other honourable members who supported the petition of the jury, be requested to give this also their support.