1783 – 1825
William Alexander was executed on the Town Moor, Newcastle, on November
17, 1783, for the forgery of a bill of exchange, purporting to be drawn by Samuel
Jenkinson, of New York, on Messrs. Grey and Ogilvie, London. He died with
great firmness and decency. His Meditations, Letters, and Speech at the place of
execution, were afterwards printed. (fn. 1)
A balloon was set off from the Sandhill, Newcastle, on August 9, 1784, by Mr.
Clarke, jun. for the benefit and enlargement of an eminent teacher, then in Newgate
for a debt contracted when in sickness. The subscription answered the benevolent
On the 26th of the same month, James Chambers and William Collins, seamen,
were executed on the Town Moor, Newcastle, for robbing Mr. Jasper Anderson, of
Coxlodge, near his own house.
Late at night on September 8, 1785, the extensive sugar-house of Messrs. Forster
and Co. fronting the river, in the Close, Newcastle, was discovered to be on fire; and
about two o'clock the following morning, the flames burst forth, and presented a
most awful and tremendous spectacle. This large erection, with Mr. Clapham's
brewery adjoining, were soon reduced to ashes; and the buildings opposite received
On June 28, 1786, (fn. 2) Joseph Smith, a servant to Graham Clarke, Esq. Newcastle,
was killed by a boar in the narrow lane between High Friar Street and the town's
wall. He was endeavouring to drive back the animal, which had escaped from
On August 18, the mayor, aldermen, sheriff, and common council of Newcastle
upon Tyne, agreed to address his majesty, on the attempt upon his life by Margaret
Nicholson. It was presented to the king by the Duke of Northumberland.
Henry Jennings was executed on the Town Moor, Newcastle, on August 30, for
horse-stealing. At the gallows he gave an explanation of the cant terms used by
robbers, pickpockets, &c. which he desired to be published for the benefit of the
On Thursday, September 19, Mr. Lunardi, the aeronaut, proposed to ascend from
Newcastle. During the process of inflation, Mr. Lunardi drew a plug from the funnel, to ascertain the force of the effervescence produced by the addition of some acid,
when the noise caused by the emission of the gas alarmed some gentlemen who held
the balloon, and who rushed from their stations. One side of the balloon being thus
deserted, the neck where it joined the barrel was torn, and, notwithstanding Mr.
Lunardi's exertions, the alarm became general, and the balloon was liberated. Unhappily, Mr. Ralph Heron had a rope, which was fastened to the top of the balloon,
coiled round his hand and arm, by which he was carried up to an immense height
with great velocity, when his weight having turned the balloon, and tore off the top
and the netting, this accomplished young gentleman fell into a garden adjoining,
amidst the groans and exclamations of thousands of spectators. In a few hours he expired, though he did not appear to have received any external contusion from the fall.
On January 30, 1787, the body of a female, without a head, wrapped in a coarse
cloth stained with blood, was discovered a few inches below the surface in the north
side of St. John's church-yard. The coroner's jury, on view of the body, returned a
verdict of wilful murder by some person or persons unknown. The corporation
offered a reward of twenty guineas for such information as should lead to the discovery of the murderer or murderers, "or to a satisfactory explanation of the circumstance occasioning the suspicion."
Four prisoners, on the 15th of August, effected their escape out of the gaol at
Newcastle. On the 20th, John Howard arrived in that town, on his philanthropic
tour through England and Scotland.
On April 1, 1788, the tobacco and snuff manufactory, and some dwelling-houses,
at Chimney Mills, near Newcastle, were consumed by fire.
The renowned pickpocket, Barrington, was apprehended in Newcastle on the night
of June 27, charged with attempting to steal a watch from the Rev. Mr. Warrilow,
Roman Catholic priest, in the theatre. He was sent to London on another charge,
of which he was acquitted.
On Sunday, November 9, the house of Mr. Sweet, baker, in the Castle Garth, with
53 sacks of flour, was destroyed by fire.
On Sunday, February 22, 1789, Thomas Atkinson, tailor, in resenting an insult
offered to him in a public house at Newcastle, by John Elliott, a whitesmith, bruised
the latter so severely that he died on the Wednesday following. Atkinson was tried
at the assizes for manslaughter, fined 6s. 8d. and discharged.
There was a very brilliant illumination in Newcastle, on March 19, this year, for his
majesty's restoration to health after his severe indisposition. At noon, on August 21,
two prisoners escaped from Newgate; but they were both retaken the same day. On
the 15th of November, the body of a woman was found in Stepney-lane, mangled in
a most shocking manner. Fletcher Reynoldson and Robert Grey, two keelmen,
were apprehended, and confessed the murder, each charging the other with the actual
commission of the crime; but at the assizes they were acquitted, no bill being found.
Thomas Watson was executed at the Westgate, Newcastle, on August 5, 1790,
for shooting George Gibson. His body was given to the surgeons for dissection.
About twelve o'clock at night on March 16, 1791, a fire broke out in the house of
Mr. Powell, surgeon, in the Bigg Market, Newcastle, by which it was soon consumed. And on August 18, about the same time at night, the extensive warehouses
behind the High Crane were discovered to be on fire. All that range of buildings
from the house occupied by the Tyne Bank to the Exchange (the west end of which
was damaged) was entirely destroyed.
In July, this year, Dr. Graham, to shew the nature and safety of earth-bathing for
the cure of various diseases, had himself, and a young woman, troubled with a scorbutic disorder, placed naked in the earth, and covered up to their lips, in a field in
Hanover Square, Newcastle, from twelve o'clock at noon to six in the evening of two
succeeding days. Great numbers attended to see this curious exhibition.
In the year 1792, the volcano of the French Revolution burst forth in all its
terrific grandeur, and fixed the attention of every civilized country; while the
Bourbon throne, upheld by the veneration of fourteen centuries, was shaken to
the foundations. The moral agitation reached England, and the "natural and
imprescriptible rights of man" became the subject of keen and angry disputation.
At this period, Thomas Paine, having attacked, with peculiar asperity, both the
religious and political establishments of this country, was burnt in effigy in almost
every town and considerable village in the north, which exhibitions were exultingly
related in the Newcastle Advertiser; but the wisdom of the magistracy of Newcastle
saved that town from such a foolish, disgraceful, and riotous expression of popular
In May, 1792, the mayor of Newcastle refused to call a public meeting, for the
purpose of consulting on the proceedings of a society called "The Friends of the
People;" in consequence of which, the requisitionists signed resolutions against any
change in the representation of the people, and which, after lying for some days at
the Exchange for signatures, were transmitted by Christopher Fawcett, Esq. to his
majesty's secretary for the home department.
On July 17, there was in the neighbourhood of Newcastle a most tremendous
storm of thunder, lightning, and rain. In the county of Durham, the hail, or rather
pieces of ice, destroyed many fields of corn, broke windows, and inflicted damage
which altogether was calculated to amount to £4749, 15s. 10d. A subscription was
raised for the sufferers, and a committee formed to superintend its distribution.
On August 10, William Winter, Jane Clark, and Eleanor Clark, were executed
at the Westgate, Newcastle, for the murder of Margaret Crozer, an old woman,
at Elsdon, in Northumberland. Winter was hung in chains on Whiskershields
Common; but the bodies of his female associates were sent to the Surgeon's Hall for
dissection, and afterwards interred. (fn. 3)
The Northumberland militia was ordered to assemble at Alnwick on Monday,
December 10. On Thursday the 13th, the common council of Newcastle passed resolutions expressive of their determination to support the constitution, to repress the
dangerous spirit of disaffection, and to promote a veneration for the laws; and on
Monday the 17th, a meeting of the gentlemen, clergy, freeholders, burgesses, and
inhabitants of the town, was held in the Guildhall, when resolutions were adopted to
support the magistracy in preserving the peace, and in bringing to legal punishment
all persons concerned in seditious publications.
In February, 1793, the seamen belonging to the port of Newcastle associated to
defend themselves against the threatened impress. A subscription was opened at
this time to encourage volunteers to enter into his majesty's navy, from which fund
320 able-bodied seamen received one guinea, and 77 ordinary seamen half a guinea
each. The common council of Newcastle also offered two guineas for every able,
and one guinea for every ordinary seaman, that volunteered into the navy. These
measures did not, however, prevent the impressment of seamen, which commenced
at Shields on the 15th of February.
On Thursday, February 13, the North York militia arrived at Newcastle from
Richmond; and on Monday and Tuesday, the 11th and 12th of March, the Northumberland militia marched into Newcastle, on their route to Beverley, Scarborough,
&c. They were welcomed by the ringing of bells, and the congratulations of thousands of the inhabitants.
The commencement of hostilities operated unfavourably upon public credit, and
occasioned an alarming run upon the provincial banks. Those in Newcastle were
obliged to suspend payments in specie; and on Tuesday, April 9, a meeting was
convened in the Guildhall, to deliberate on the best means of restoring the public
credit. A committee was immediately appointed to investigate the affairs of the
banks in Newcastle, and which next day reported that the issue of the banks of Ridley, Cookson, and Co.; Surtees, Burdon, and Co.; Baker, Hedley, and Co.; and
Lambton and Co. did not exceed £230,000. A number of gentlemen then signed a
paper, binding themselves to advance, if required, the sum set opposite to their
names, and of which the total amount was £498,600. The public seemed satisfied
with this guarantee; and all the banking houses were re-opened as usual, except the
Commercial Bank, the proprietors of which determined not to resume.
The shop and house of Mr. Richardson, painter, head of the Painter Heugh, was,
on November 2, destroyed by fire. An adjoining house was much damaged.
In the morning of Saturday, January 25, 1794, a dreadful storm commenced at
Newcastle. The wind, which was preceded by lightning, blew from the north with
uncommon violence. The highest vanes of St. Nicholas' and Gateshead churches
were destroyed, several keels were lost in the river, five ships were driven from their
moorings into Jarrow Slake, three were carried upon the Herd Sands, of which two
went to pieces, and one was driven upon the Black Middens. During this storm,
one man was lost on the Shields road, and three on the military road west of Newcastle.
On May 28, Mr. Mollison's bake-house and dwelling-house, at the foot of the Side,
Newcastle, were entirely consumed by fire.
A public meeting was held in the Guildhall, Newcastle, on June 17, to consider
the propriety of co-operating in the measures adopted by other counties for the internal defence of the kingdom. The meeting immediately commenced a subscription
for that purpose, which soon amounted to £993, of which the corporation gave £50.
This sum was added to the subscription of the county of Northumberland, which
was stated at £6248. Subsequently, the total subscription for the town and county
of Newcastle and the county of Northumberland exceeded £8300.
A numerous meeting of the ship-owners and underwriters of the port of Newcastle was held in the Trinity-hall, on October 4, when it was resolved to memorialize
government on the very defective protection granted to the trade in the North Seas.
On December 14, the North York militia, which had been quartered in Newcastle
since the commencement of the war, received orders, by express, to march to Berwick
upon Tweed. This corps was succeeded in Newcastle by the West York militia,
In the beginning of July, 1795, encampments were formed at the under-mentioned
places on the coasts of Durham and Northumberland, which were composed of the
following regiments:—Hendon—Northumberland militia, Roxburghshire fencibles,
and the Berwickshire fencibles, commanded by General Dalrymple. Whitburn—
8th regiment of foot, Durham militia, and Durham fencibles, by General Osburne.
Whitley—37th regiment of foot, Royal Lancashire volunteers, North York militia,
and a considerable park of artillery, by Lord Mulgrave. Hartley—4th dragoons,
21st light dragoons, 44th regiment of foot, 115th ditto (Prince William's), and the
1st West York militia, by Prince William of Gloucester. Cowpen—7th light dragoons, 16th ditto, 55th regiment of foot, 84th ditto, and the Leicestershire militia,
by General Balfour. The camps broke up in October.
On August 8, Thomas Nicholson was executed on the Town Moor, Newcastle, for
the murder of Thomas Purvis; after which, his body was conveyed to the Surgeon's
Hall for dissection.
The Newcastle volunteers, commanded by Colonel Blakeney, received their colours
from Mrs. Mayoress, at the Forth, on Tuesday, August 25; and, on the following
morning, this corps was inspected in Pilgrim Street, by his royal highness the Duke
of York, who, on Thursday, proceeded to inspect the troops encamped between the
rivers Tyne and Blyth. On Friday, about 7000 men were reviewed by his royal
highness on Blyth sands, in presence of upwards of 30,000 spectators. His royal
highness immediately returned to Newcastle, where he partook of an entertainment at
the Mansion-house, and on the following day visited the camps between the Tyne
and Wear. During his stay in Newcastle, the mayor and aldermen waited upon his
royal highness, and presented him with the freedom of the corporation.
On the 9th of September, the 33d or Ulster regiment of light dragoons, which had
just arrived at Newcastle, hearing that they were about being incorporated with the
21st or Beaumont's regiment of light dragoons, assembled in various parts of the
town in rather a tumultuous manner; and, about five o'clock, a party broke open the
repository for the regimental stores, and took from thence a large supply of powder
and balls. About nine o'clock at night, the 4th regiment of dragoons, and, about
eleven, the 37th regiment of foot, arrived from the camps. The gates of the town
were immediately guarded; and strong parties patrolled the streets, while others
were active in disarming the mutinous soldiery. Next morning, they were assembled in Northumberland Street, when General Smith explained to them the necessity
of submitting to orders; and being informed that they had not received the bounty
promised to them, he assured them that all arrears should be paid off before twelve
o'clock the next day, which restored tranquillity. It was suspected, probably without any just cause, that some of the inhabitants assisted in fomenting these disturbances. The following caution was therefore issued:— "That all sober-minded inhabitants will refrain from collecting in the streets, lest, from an idle curiosity, they
should mix amongst those ill-intentioned people, and expose themselves to the misfortunes that may happen."
Great numbers of the working classes assembled on November 10, in the several
markets in Newcastle, and, in presence of the town's officers, retailed the butter at
the reduced price of 8d. per lb. the wheat at 12s. per boll, and potatoes out of the
warehouses at 5s. a load. No violence was committed, except what was necessary in
enforcing this illegal and temporary regulation of the market.
His royal highness the Duke of Bourbon, son of the Prince of Conde, passed
through Newcastle on April 21, 1796, on his road from Edinburgh to London. And
on May 30, his royal highness Prince William of Gloucester arrived in Newcastle, to
assume the command of the troops in the northern district. In July, encampments
were again formed on the coast of Northumberland.
On the 5th of October, three transports arrived at Shields, from Guernsey and
Jersey, with 295 emigrant clergy and 10 women on board, under convoy of the Serpent sloop of war. These unfortunate strangers were received with a degree of
kindness and hospitality honourable to the English character.
The house occupied by Alexander Graham, gingerbread baker, in Hillgate, Gateshead, was, on November 8, this year, entirely consumed by fire. The family with
difficulty escaped by a window in the upper story.
In the beginning of 1797, the rapid and enormous increase of the national debt,
and the alarm of invasion, caused a general run upon the provincial banking houses.
The proprietors of the Newcastle banks therefore agreed, on Saturday, February 18,
to suspend their payments early on Monday morning for a short time. In the mean
time, a great number of gentlemen and tradesmen signed a declaration, to take as
usual the notes of all the banks in Newcastle, Durham, and Sunderland. On the
26th, the privy council issued an order, prohibiting the Bank of England from
issuing cash; and which was followed by a parliamentary enactment, authorising the
bank to issue notes in payment instead of cash, and preventing any person from being
held to bail who offered Bank of England notes in discharge of a debt. This bill
revived public credit, and paper money became the general circulating medium.
There was a grand illumination in Newcastle and Gateshead, on October 29, in
honour of the victory obtained by the British fleet under Admiral Duncan. The
Mansion-house, Infirmary, and the towers of All Saints' and Gateshead churches,
made a brilliant shew.
On Thursday evening, January 25, 1798, (fn. 4) the dwelling-houses of Mr. Matthew
Brown, printer, and Mr. John Rankin, in Dean Street, Newcastle, were destroyed
by fire. Mr. Thomas Elliott, in whose shop the fire originated, was committed on a
charge of wilfully occasioning the same; but at the following assizes he was acquitted.
The common council of Newcastle, on February 28, subscribed £500 annually, to
defray the expenses of the war. It was also resolved, at this desponding period, that
the use of the Mansion-house, and all the occasional and public entertainments usually
given there, should be discontinued after the following Michaelmas-day, during the
existing calamitous state of public affairs.
The numerous troops which the Executive Directory of France were, at this time,
assembling on the coasts of the ocean, called the Army of England, under the command of the great conqueror, Citizen General Bonaparte, excited serious apprehensions of an invasion; while a rebellion raged in Ireland. The impending danger
roused the martial spirit and patriotic ardour of the people, who eagerly took arms
in defence of their country. Newcastle was not behind other towns in this patriotic
movement; for a meeting was held at the Guildhall, on May 3, for the purpose of
forming an armed association for its defence. On the 31st of July following, eight
companies of this corps were drawn out on the Town Moor.
On October 5, a general illumination and rejoicings took place in Newcastle, in
consequence of the decisive victory obtained by Admiral Nelson, at the mouth of the
Nile, over the French fleet under Admiral Brueys.
The Newcastle Armed Association, commanded by Colonel Sir M. W. Ridley,
Bart. was presented by Lady Ridley with an elegant pair of colours, in the Nun's
Field, on the 3d of January, 1799. A troop of horse under Captain Burdon, attached to the infantry, received a standard at the same time.
On August 28, about six o'clock in the morning, a fire broke out in the warehouse
of Mr. Bulman, saddler and ironmonger, head of the Side, Newcastle. A quantity
of gunpowder was lodged in an upper warehouse; but two intrepid men mounted a
ladder, and conveyed the heated barrels, which were near the conflagration, into St.
Nicholas' church! A considerable part of the extensive stock was burnt; but the
fire, by great exertions, was subdued within an hour.
In November, 1799, General Sir Ralph Abercrombie and his suite landed at Shields
from the Helder; and a few days after, seven transports, through stress of weather,
put into this harbour, having on board 1600 Russians and Cossacs, bound for Guernsey. Several of the officers came to Newcastle, where their strange uniforms excited much curiosity. The people of Shields were also much amused with the
singular tastes and nasty habits of the privates.
In the beginning of the year 1800, no less than 69 colliers, out of 73, were wrecked
on their passage to London. On May 11, 144 vessels sailed from Shields, under
convoy, for the Baltic, having on board, besides other commodities, 11,600 Newcastle
chaldrons of coals.
The bad harvest in 1799, and the effects of the war, combined to produce such a
dearth, that wheat in the Newcastle market sold at one guinea a Winchester bushel.
On January 4, 1800, a public meeting was held in the Guildhall, Newcastle, for the
purpose of establishing a public soup-kitchen for the relief of the poor, and to which
benevolent scheme the corporation gave 50 guineas. (fn. 5) At this period of suffering and
ill-humour, the public viewed all those who trafficked in the necessaries of life with
an evil eye; and on August 18, a meeting was held to devise means for bringing to
punishment all forestallers and regraters!
On June 4, this year, Sir M. W. Ridley, Bart. presented an address to the king,
from the corporation of Newcastle, congratulating his majesty on his escape from intended assassination.
On July 29, 1801, the North York militia marched from Newcastle, and encamped
at Whitburn. A general illumination took place in Newcastle and Gateshead on
the 15th of October, on account of the preliminaries of peace between Great Britain
and France being signed.
Peace was proclaimed in Newcastle on the 4th of May, 1802, when the members
of the corporation, with the regalia, appeared on the Sandhill, attended by the sergeants at mace, 18 free porters with battle-axes, 16 with javelins, 16 with halberts,
the Newcastle Volunteers, the Armed Association, and the Gateshead Volunteers.
The reading of the proclamation was preceded by the sound of trumpets, when the
town-sword was sheathed. The procession then moved to the square north of St.
Nicholas' church, where, and at the White Cross, the proclamation was also read.
On returning to the Sandhill, a feu de joie was fired, wine was handed to the magistrates and the military, and the occasion drank amidst general acclamations. In
June, the French clergy, who had taken refuge in Newcastle and the neighbourhood,
returned to their native land.
The peace of Amiens being soon violated, the Newcastle Loyal Armed Association
was again formed, and mustered on the Town Moor August 24, 1803. This corps
contained upwards of 1200 men, and was divided into ten companies, under the command of Colonel Sir M. W. Ridley, Bart. They received their muskets on the 24th
of October, and their colours on the 22d of November. The Newcastle Volunteers,
including a rifle company, commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Clennell, were also reembodied, and received their colours on the 4th of October. The Gateshead Volunteers, under Colonel Ellison, of Hebburn, were likewise re-organized on the 16th of
On Wednesday afternoon, February 1, 1804, a considerable degree of bustle and
confusion prevailed in Newcastle. The drums of the Staffordshire militia beat to
arms, and both horse and foot were instantly in motion. Strong musters were made
of the Armed Association and Volunteers, the Gateshead Volunteers, Usworth Legion, and Derwent Rangers. The alarm of invasion pervaded both the counties of
Northumberland and Durham; but on Thursday, it was inferred that these apprehensions had originated in mistaking the burning of whins on Lammer-muir
hills for the lighting of the signals. To prevent similar alarms, the corporation of
Newcastle published the following notice:—"In order to prevent any Alarm in the
Country, Notice is hereby given, that the under-mentioned Signals, intended to be
made use of in case of Invasion, but only in the Event of the General Officer, commanding his Majesty's Forces in this District, giving Orders for the Removal of the
Inhabitants and Stock of this Town, will be made for the information of the Inhabitants, on Tuesday the 20th Day of March instant, between 12 and 1 o'Clock at Noon,
and between 8 and 9 o'Clock in the Evening; and that such Signals will be a Red
Flag by Day, and a Light by Night, hoisted at the following Places; (viz.)—The
Castle, St. Nicholas Church, All Saints Church, St. Andrew's Church, and the Tower
at the Westgate, accompanied by Five Minute Guns, fired at each of the following
Places: (viz.)—The Castle, All Saints Church, Newgate, and Westgate. Thomas
Smith, mayor.—Newcastle, 16th March, 1804." Agreeably to notice, the signals
were tried at the above places, and were sufficiently seen in every direction to answer
the purpose for which they were intended.
The Newcastle waggon train, containing upwards of 160 waggons, carts, &c. was
mustered on the Town Moor on August 31. This corps was commanded by Captain
Davidson, two lieutenants, and five ensigns; and, except the royal waggon train,
was the only regular establishment of the kind in England.
On August 16, Thomas Clare, a private in the 2d Staffordshire militia, was executed at the Westgate, Newcastle, for the murder of William Todd, while the
regiment was encamped near Hartley. On the 19th of this month, the colourmanufactory of Messrs. Parker, at the Ouseburn, was almost totally destroyed by
fire. The damage was estimated at above £4000.
The corporation of Newcastle, on November 21, 1805, agreed to an address, congratulating his majesty on the grand naval victory obtained by Admiral Lord Nelson
at Trafalgar. A piece of plate, valued at 150 guineas, was voted to Vice-admiral
Collingwood; and it was also resolved, instead of an illumination, to subscribe 100
guineas in aid of the patriotic fund at Lloyd's.
January 9, 1806, being the day appointed for the funeral of Lord Nelson at St.
Paul's cathedral in London, the bells of St. Nicholas' and All Saints' churches in
Newcastle rung muffled peals at intervals through the day.
Early in the morning of February 8, 1806, the premises occupied by Messrs.
Beilby and Hawthorne, watch-glass manufacturers, in Bell's Court, Pilgrim Street,
Newcastle, was totally destroyed by fire. The stock lost amounted in value to between two and three thousand pounds. The work-shop of Mr. John Anderson,
joiner and cabinet-maker, in the Bigg Market, was also consumed by fire on December 3, this year.
Arrived at Newcastle, September 10, on a tour through the British Islands, their
most serene highnesses Prince Frederick Augustus, and Prince Paul George of Holstein Oldenburgh, attended by Count Holmer and Baron Maltzahn.
On Christmas-day, a furious hurricane of wind from the west was experienced in
Newcastle and its neighbourhood. Several stacks of chimneys fell, and the wood
work of the Vicar's Pump in Westgate Street was torn away.
A tremendous thunder-storm took place in Newcastle on May 1, 1807; and on
Sunday, September 6, the river Tyne was so swollen by heavy and incessant rains,
that the islet called the King's Meadows was entirely under water, and several coalkeels were loaded with the grain in sheaf that came floating down the current. On
the 12th of November, almost all the shops, cellars, and lower stories of the houses
standing below the high banks in Newcastle, were inundated, in consequence of a
heavy fall of sleet and snow. Much damage was occasioned by the overflowing of
Three desperate offenders made their escape from the gaol in Newcastle on the
29th of December.
On April 27, 1808, the bark-mill, with two hay-stacks, belonging to Mr. Isaac
Richardson, in his tan-yard near the White Cross, were consumed by fire.
At this period, great exertions were made to cherish the military ardour of the
people. On Monday, June 4, all the troops in Newcastle marched to the Town
Moor, to celebrate his majesty's birth-day. The first line was formed by the following corps: four troops of the Enniskillen Dragoons, the Gibside Cavalry, the
Axwell Park ditto, the Tyne Legion ditto, a brigade of artillery, the East York militia, the Newcastle Volunteer Infantry, the North Shields and Tynemouth ditto, the
Hexham and Corbridge ditto, the Newcastle Associated ditto, and Wallsend Rifle
Corps. The second line consisted of a brigade of artillery, the Wiltshire militia, the
Sunderland Volunteer Infantry, the Tyne Legion ditto, the Gateshead ditto, and the
Sunderland Volunteer Artillery. The two lines together contained upwards of 5000
men. Early the following morning, the two columns proceeded by different routes
to Throckley Fell; the right column under the command of Lieutenant-general
Dundas, and the left under the command of Major-general Johnstone. After being
reviewed, the troops returned to Newcastle, where they arrived about five o'clock in
On August 8, Newcastle and its neighbourhood were visited by one of the most
awful thunder-storms ever remembered. Several houses in Westgate Street were
damaged, and many singular escapes from the lightning were related. A similar
storm was experienced on the 3d of August in the following year. The house and
furniture of Mr. David Sutton, in Prince's Street, were much injured; as was also
the house of Mr. Francis Humble, near the Forth. The bark-mill near St. Andrew's
church was set on fire; and the works of a gold watch, hanging up in Mrs. Hawkes'
house at Jesmond, were melted. On the 12th of the same month, a long and violent
shower of rain swelled every brook and rivulet to an alarming height. The small
stream of water that runs through Pandon rose, and inundated most of the houses at
the Stock Bridge to the depth of three or four feet. A boy named George Innis,
about five years old, was swept away by the current near the mustard-mill in Pandon
Dean, carried through an inclosed conduit 300 yards in length, and precipitated with
great fury down a fall of 16 feet, when he was perceived by a man, who succeeded
in snatching him out of the current. The boy recovered. On the same day, several
cows and horses, at the fair on the Cowhill, were scorched with lightning; and one
man with four horses were killed at the Cowgate.
The Jubilee, on his majesty George III. entering into the 50th year of his reign,
was celebrated in Newcastle on October 25, 1809, with public rejoicings and acts of
enlightened benevolence. In lieu of an illumination, above £600 was subscribed for
founding a public school on the improved plan of education. By another subscription, ten debtors were liberated from prison. To this last the corporation subscribed
50 guineas, and the members for the town 30 guineas, making in all £186, 17s. 6d.
The mayor and magistrates, Lieutenant-general Dundas and his staff, the Newcastle
Associated Volunteer Infantry, the West Suffolk militia, the Royal Artillery, and
the 6th dragoons, attended St. Nicholas' church, where a sermon was preached by the
Rev. John Smith, A. M. vicar. After this, the above-mentioned corps, with the
Newcastle Volunteers and the South Tyne Legion, marched to the Town Moor, and
fired three volleys. The Volunteers then proceeded to the Sandhill, and, as usual,
repeated the firing. The mayor, with the principal gentlemen and officers in the
town, dined afterwards at Loftus's, the Turk's Head inn. Upwards of 500 poor persons, belonging to the parish of St. Nicholas, dined in the yard of the poor-house of
that parish. By the hospitality of Major Anderson and a few other benevolent burgesses, the poor members of the Freemen's Hospital dined together on the green before the house. The boys and girls in each of the charity-schools were treated by order
of a party of gentlemen, who, after the children had dined, ordered the teachers a
dinner, and a bottle of wine each. Sir Cuthbert Heron. Bart. distributed beef and
bread to 50 poor house-keepers in Gallowgate. The congregation of the Rev. William Turner, in Hanover Square, gave to each of the poor belonging to that chapel,
beef, bread, porter, tea, and lump-sugar, to be used at their own houses. Lieutenantcolonel Burdon presented the officers of the South Tyne Legion with a dinner, at
Forster's, the Queen's Head; and an elegant cup, of the value of £120, was presented
by the non-commissioned officers and privates of that regiment to their commandant,
who provided a dinner for them in a field near West Jesmond. In the evening,
there was a ball and supper at the Assembly Rooms, which was numerously attended.
Early on the morning of February 22, 1810, the steam corn and paper mill, on the
premises of Mr. Harrison, baker, Gateshead, was discovered to be on fire; and, in a
short time, the mill, Mr. Harrison's dwelling-house, and an adjoining house occupied
by Mr. Anderson, grocer, were levelled with the ground. The house tenanted by
Mr. John Marshall, printer, was with difficulty saved. There was a liberal subscription for the sufferers.
On December 28, 1811, the house of Mr. Cooke, ship-biscuit baker, New Pandon
Street, with the one adjoining, were consumed by fire.
In the evening of August 9, 1813, the paper-hanging manufactory of Messrs.
Goodlad and Co. in Westgate Street, Newcastle, was consumed by fire. The warehouses of Mr. R. Pearson, dry-salter, and the work-shop of Mr. Hodgson, coachmaker, were also much damaged. A building, with its contents, adjoining the New
Chapel, in Clavering Place, was likewise burnt down on the 20th of November this year.
On January 15, 1814, the river Tyne at Newcastle was completely frozen over.
For several days, the ice was covered with crowds of people, and the scenes exhibited
resembled a country fair or race-ground. Booths were erected for the sale of liquors,
and fires were kindled. Many races, for various kinds of prizes, took place, both
with and without skaits; while fruit and cake sellers, fidlers, pipers, razor-grinders,
recruiting parties, &c. were perambulating in all directions. A horse and sledge, and
a horse and gig, were brought upon the ice. The brilliancy of the moon at this time
caused the sports to be continued till a late hour every night. The ice finally broke
up on Sunday the 6th of February. Its average thickness was 10 inches.
On May 1, the petitions to parliament from Newcastle, against any alteration in
the corn-laws, were transmitted to the representatives for that town. They were
signed, in the course of three days, by 11,500 persons.
On Tuesday, May 10, an illumination and great rejoicings took place in Newcastle,
on account of the peace of Europe. The shot-tower at Low Elswick, being illuminated with coloured lamps, had a fine effect. The town was filled with strangers,
who came to witness the brilliant spectacle. Many persons wore white cockades.
June 25, peace was proclaimed by the mayor, attended by the other officers of the
corporation, upon the Sandhill, in the Wheat Market, Newgate Street, and the Castle
December 16, a most violent hurricane did great damage to the churches and several dwelling-houses in Newcastle. The river came rolling down like a sea, and the
spray was carried by the wind into the lower parts of the town, where it fell like a
shower of rain. The ships at the Quay were obliged to strike their topgallant-masts.
A sailor, in performing this duty, was blown from the mast, and, falling upon the
deck, was killed instantly.
On Sunday, March 5, 1815, the Newcastle petitions against the corn-bill were sent
off to London. There were three petitions, each 60 yards long, which contained
On June 27, Count Lynch, mayor of Bourdeaux, who was the first to hoist the
white flag in France, arrived in Newcastle, on his way to visit his relation, John Clavering, Esq. of Callaly. The populace assembled before the Queen's Head, and congratulated this Bourbonist with repeated huzzas on the defeat of Bonaparte at Waterloo.
Mr. Sadler, the aeronaut, on September 1, ascended from the Bowling Green, now
Prudhoe Street, Newcastle. In 21 minutes he descended at Whitley Park, within
200 yards of the sea.
The sudden reduction of the navy happening at the time of the arrival of the ships
from the fisheries and other trades, a great body of seamen were at once thrown out
of employment. They endeavoured to remedy this evil, by insisting that every ship
should have a complement of five men and a boy for every 100 tons register admeasurement; and, in order to enforce this demand, they laid an embargo on all vessels
in the port of Tyne. On the 20th of September, they mustered 7000 men on Cullercoates sand, while their organization and discipline rendered such meetings extremely dangerous. But on the 25th of October, the navy and military, aided by the
civil power, dissolved the combination, when near 200 vessels proceeded to sea.
On December 9, their imperial highnesses the Archdukes John and Lewis of Austria, with their suite, arrived at Newcastle. After visiting the principal coal, iron,
glass, and lead works in the neighbourhood, they proceeded on their way to the south.
In consequence of a rapid thaw, accompanied by wind and rain, on the 30th of
December, the river Tyne rose to a great height, and immense loss was sustained by
the flood. All the lower parts of the Close and Quayside were overflowed. The
Carlisle London trader tore up the cannon to which she was moored, and broke
adrift; but was soon after brought up and secured. Most of the other vessels at the
Quay sunk the stems of their anchors into the pavement. A keel got fixed lengthwise across the second arch from the north of the bridge, when the cries of the keelmen induced a man and a spirited youth to put off in a boat for their rescue. On
returning from the keel, the boat was swamped; and though the keelmen were saved,
the two generous fellows who had gone off to their assistance were drowned. The
arches of the bridge being choaked up with keels, ice, and pieces of timber, great
apprehensions were entertained for its safety. At Shields, upwards of 30 vessels
drifted from their moorings, and were driven on the Herd Sands. Several keels were
also blown to sea, with their crews, some of which were seen off Flamborough Head.
The timber in the river, that was carried away by the violence of the current, was
valued at £20,000. (fn. 6)
In the night of July 10, 1816, the premises in the Pudding Chare, occupied by
Mr. Beeney, painter and glazier, as a varnishing room, and Mr. Lawson, as a currier's
shop, were discovered to be on fire. By great exertions, the fire was confined to the
upper stories of the building, which were destroyed.
On September 7, James O'Neill was executed on the Town Moor, Newcastle, for
robbing George Angus, the Mickley carrier, on returning from the preceding October
Cow-hill fair. The body was waked in a public house near the gaol, and afterwards
interred in St. Andrew's church-yard.
On Saturday December 14, the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia and suite arrived
in Newcastle, and immediately after inspected the Royal Jubilee School. From
thence the prince proceeded to Wallsend colliery, where the mode of working and
ventilating the mines and shipping the coals was explained to him. Mr. Bewick had
afterwards the honour of laying before the grand duke specimens of his skill in the
art of wood engraving. On the following morning, Sir Thomas Burdon, the mayor,
paid his respects to his imperial highness, to tender him the honours and hospitality
of Newcastle; but his highness, being on the point of setting out northward, was
obliged to decline the invitation.
On February 8, 1817, the mayor, aldermen, sheriff, and common council addressed
his royal highness the prince regent, "on the providential defeat of the late traitorous
outrage" against his royal person.
At this time of general distress, a liberal subscription was raised in Newcastle, for
the purpose of giving employment to the industrious and unengaged poor; as will
be more particularly noticed hereafter.
The new silver coinage was delivered from the mint-office, in the Close, Newcastle,
on February 13. On the 30th of January preceding, 18 waggons belonging to the
artillery passed through the town to Scotland, under a military escort, with 24 tons
of the new silver coin.
On October 11, a numerous company of gentlemen connected with the coal-trade
dined at the Queen's Head inn, Newcastle, J. G. Lambton, Esq. M. P. in the chair,
when a superb service of plate was presented to Sir Humphrey Davy for his invaluable discovery of the safety-lamp.
November 19, being the day appointed for the funeral of the Princess Charlotte,
it was observed in Newcastle and Gateshead with every mark of public solemnity
and sorrow. Business of every kind was suspended.
Charles Smith was, on December 3, executed upon the Town Moor, Newcastle,
for the murder of Charles Stuart. His body was afterwards removed to the Surgeon's Hall for dissection.
On January 12, 1818, a respectable party of gentlemen dined at the Assembly
Rooms, Newcastle, C. J. Brandling, Esq. in the chair, on the occasion of presenting a
piece of plate to Mr. George Stephenson, for the service rendered to science and humanity by the invention of his safety-lamp.
At a public meeting, held in the Guildhall, Newcastle, on Wednesday, February
11, it was agreed to petition parliament to suppress the present mode of sweeping
chimneys by means of climbing boys.
The Grand Duke Michael of Russia, accompanied by his suite, arrived at Newcastle on August 1, when he visited the Royal Jubilee School, Heaton colliery, and
the Low Glass-houses. Next morning, the illustrious stranger proceeded to Alnwick
On August 4, the mayor and other officers of the corporation waited upon the
Duke of Northumberland, and presented to him the freedom of the town, which had
been previously voted to him.
M. Cotter, a French judge, attended the assizes at Newcastle this year, in order to
observe and report to his government the British mode of administering justice.
His imperial highness the Archduke Maximilian of Russia, with his suite, arrived
in Newcastle on November 3, on a tour to observe the mines, manufactures, and architectural curiosities of this kingdom.
December 2, being the funeral day of her majesty queen Charlotte, it was observed
in Newcastle with the usual indications of mourning and respect.
On April 15, 1819, a subscription masked ball and supper took place at the Assembly Rooms, Newcastle. Invention was exhausted to impart interest and elegance to
On Saturday, August 14, his royal highness Prince Leopold and suite arrived at
the Queen's Head inn, Newcastle. In the evening he visited the Northumberland
Glass-house; and next day, being the Assize Sunday, he attended divine service in
St. Nicholas' church, accompanied by Sir William Scott (Lord Stowell), after which
he partook of a collation at the Mansion-house, and then set off for Alnwick Castle,
to dine with his grace the Duke of Northumberland. The public shewed him much
respect, and he was saluted by the guns of the castle.
On September 30, the mayor, recorder, aldermen, sheriff, and common council of
Newcastle, voted "a dutiful and loyal address" to his royal highness the prince regent, deprecating the popular doctrines of Reform; and assuring his royal highness
that they would always be ready to repel, to the utmost of their power, the traitorous
attempts of those who should endeavour, either by open violence or under any delusive pretext, to erect the standard of anarchy and atheism upon the ruins of the existing government of the country.
On Tuesday the 5th of October, a requisition, signed by about 300 of the inhabitants of Newcastle, was presented to Archibald Reed, Esq. who had been elected to
the mayoralty on the preceding evening, requesting him to convene a general meeting, "for the purpose of taking into consideration the late proceedings in Manchester." (fn. 7) His worship refused to agree with the requisition, but, expressing his firm
reliance upon the good sense and prudence of the people, gave permission for holding
the meeting, which he promised not to molest, either with the police or the military.
Notices were immediately issued by "the United Committees of Political Protestants
in Newcastle and Gateshead," (fn. 8) signed "W. Weatherston, Secretary," announcing that
a general meeting of the inhabitants of Newcastle and the vicinity, for the above
mentioned purpose, would be held on the Parade Ground, on Monday, October 11,
at twelve o'clock at noon precisely. (fn. 9)
About half past eleven, on the day of meeting, the Reform Societies of Sunderland,
Gateshead, Aydon Banks, Winlaton, Swalwell, and North and South Shields, began to
pass through the town, and were followed by those of Benwell, Fawdon, and Newcastle.
The hustings, which was in the rear, consisted of a covered platform, raised upon the
frame and wheels of a waggon, and drawn by three horses decorated with red ribbons.
This erection was hung round with black cloth, and on the front were inscribed the
words, "Truth! Order! Justice!" The members of the different societies walked
hand in hand, four abreast, under the direction of their leaders, who carried white
rods surmounted with crape. The divisions were distinguished by banners or flags,
bearing various devices and mottos; and some of them were preceded by a person
carrying a Roman fasces. Several bands of music played popular airs. The procession halted at the Parade Ground, which being deemed not sufficiently capacious to
hold the prodigious numbers that attended, it moved forwards to the Town Moor.
The whole body was one hour and a quarter in passing the Barras Bridge at a quick
pace; from which circumstance it was calculated that above 20,000 men were in
rank. The space occupied by the compact body of the meeting was measured, and
would easily hold 76,000 persons. This is exclusive of the distant and straggling
spectators. (fn. 10)
Several persons addressed the meeting; and resolutions were passed, condemning
the "outrage at Manchester," and recommending a subscription for affording relief,
and procuring justice, to the sufferers. After this, the societies re-formed, and marched
back in the most admirable order. Not a single straggler remained in the town; and
so obedient were these men to their orders, that a division of seamen, from Shields,
drank nothing but water during the day, and passed by the ale-casks on the road-side
without regret. Even in the town, notwithstanding the excitement of the day, the
patrols did not apprehend a single disorderly person. (fn. 11)
The extent and organization of this meeting was viewed with the greatest surprise,
and which in many was combined with the deepest alarm. Some, who thought it necessary to purge themselves of all suspicion of participating in the popular wish for reform, drew out, on the following day, "a Declaration of Loyalty and Attachment to
the Constitution." (fn. 12) A great many persons were sworn as special constables; and
the magistrates invited the "loyal inhabitants" to offer "their services as a Volunteer
Corps, for the protection of property, and in aid of the civil power."
On Thursday, October 14, the mayor, with a party of civil officers, proceeded down
the river, to restore the freedom of its navigation, which had been interrupted by the
riotous conduct of the keelmen. Having retired to the Northumberland Arms inn,
the mob on the New Quay attacked the Speedwell steam-packet, containing the
peace officers, with stones; when the marines in his majesty's boats fired, and one
man was killed. The infuriated mob, conceiving that the mayor had ordered the
marines to fire, attacked the inn with threats of vengeance; but happily his worship,
with Mr. J. Donkin, the high constable, escaped out at a back door.
In December, this year, the Northumberland and Newcastle Volunteer Corps of
Cavalry was formed, under the command of Charles John Brandling, Esq. of Gosforth House; and a troop of Dismounted Yeomanry (the measure having been sanctioned by his majesty's government), to act with the cavalry, was raised in Newcastle,
and was commanded by Captain Archibald Reed, the mayor. The corporation voted
100 guineas to aid in equipping this corps. (fn. 13)
In the evening of January 6, 1820, a dreadful explosion of gas took place in the
house of Mr. Benjamin Slater, Forth Street, Newcastle. The upper part of this
house, and the whole back part of the one adjoining, were blown out and destroyed.
Seven men and women were injured, some of them severely; and one child was
On the 26th of January, a meeting was held in Fletcher's Long Room, for the
purpose of petitioning parliament for "a moderate and constitutional reform in the
representation of the people." This petition received 3016 signatures.
The accession to the throne of his majesty George IV. was proclaimed in Newcastle
on the 3d of February. The procession consisted of the mayor, aldermen, and other
members of the corporation, accompanied by General Sir Andrew Bernard, with his
staff, and two troops of the 6th Dragoon Guards, with the band of that corps. On
the 16th of the same month, the funeral day of his late majesty George III. was observed in Newcastle with all the ceremonies of a public mourning.
In the beginning of July, this year, an address was sent by the Reformers to her
majesty the queen, signed by about 6000 of the inhabitants of Newcastle and the
vicinity; and on September 14, a meeting was held at the White Hart inn, Newcastle, to consider the propriety of co-operating with the committee in London, for
raising subscriptions, at one shilling each, to present to queen Caroline a service
of plate. This measure was adopted, a committee formed, and the subscriptions
On the abandonment of the Bill of Pains and Penalties, a trial of strength and address took place between the Reformers and the Whigs; though some few viewed
the question apart from political creeds. The former held a meeting at Fletcher's
Long Room, on Thursday, November 16, to congratulate her majesty on the occasion; and the latter assembled for the same purpose in the Guildhall, on the Wednesday following. (fn. 14) This last meeting voted an address to the king, expressive of their
reprobation of the conduct of his majesty's ministers, throughout the late proceedings. On Monday, the 20th of this month, the friends of her majesty in Newcastle
and Gateshead joined in expressing their joy by illuminating their houses. Mr.
Price's house, in Gateshead, was one entire blaze of lamps, of various tints and
the most brilliant lustre. The mayor, apprehensive of tumult, had requested the inhabitants of Newcastle not to illuminate; but the general fervour could not be repressed. Though a party of dragoons were, late in the evening, brought into the
town, yet no act of riot or disorder was committed, nor was any insult offered to those
who did not illuminate. An address of congratulation to the queen was at this time
signed by near 7000 females in Newcastle and the vicinity. These addresses were
followed by one from the corporation of Newcastle, professing attachment to his majesty person and government. (fn. 15)
On Thursday, July 19, 1821, the coronation of his majesty George IV. was celebrated in Newcastle. Early in the morning, thousands of strangers poured into the
town, to witness the rejoicings. At six o'clock, a royal salute from the guns of the
Castle, the hoisting of flags and colours, and a peal of bells from the several churches,
announced the commencement of the rejoicings. A boat-race, from Walker Quay
to the Tyne Bridge, attracted an immense concourse of people to the river side. (fn. 16) At
half past nine o'clock, the mayor, recorder, aldermen, sheriff, and common council,
voted a congratulatory address to his majesty; after which, the mayor, George Forster, Esq. was invested with a gold a chain and medallion, which was ordered to be
worn by all future chief magistrates of that town. The gentlemen of the corporation
then walked in procession, preceded by music, to St. Nicholas' church, where a sermon
was preached, from 1 Kings, chap. i. ver. 39, by the Rev. John Smith, A. M. vicar.
An elegant pant, 12 feet high, and surmounted by an imperial crown, had been
erected in the centre of the Sandhill, from which it was intended to supply the populace with wine. When the magistrates returned, and appeared at the great window
of the Town's Court to drink his majesty's health, which was accompanied by a royal
salute from the Castle, the wine began to flow from the pant. An indescribable scene
of the most indecent uproar ensued; and one man clung to the top of the erection
until all the clothes were torn from his body. When the wine ceased to flow, the
pant was torn into pieces, and the mob began to throw about the pots, soaked hats,
caps, &c. Galleries were erected on the tops of some houses, to witness this disgusting spectacle. In the mean time, an ox, that had been roasted at the bottom of
the Old Flesh Market, was hoisted upon a platform, and cut into pieces, which were
thrown amongst the crowd. This insulting mode of distribution was promptly resented, and the persons on the stage were pelted off with the pieces of meat and
bones. The remains of the animal were then dragged, by the chain of the crane,
through the streets to the Sandhill; the furnace was pulled down; and the procession of mail coaches passing at the time was wantonly assailed with brickbats. The
distribution of another ox, at the Spital, was attended by nearly similar circumstances.
The ale-pant in the Old Flesh Market was demolished while the beer was running.
The Spital pant was also pulled down. The beer-pant at the Milk Market was
chiefly surrounded by women and children. About three o'clock, the multitude was
attracted to the Moor, to witness the race, which tended to preserve the peace of the
town. At night, the police succeeded in dispersing the disorderly crowds that continued to demolish the temporary erections in the Spital and the Old Flesh Market.
On this occasion, the inmates of the corporation hospitals and the poor-houses, the
prisoners in the gaol and house of correction, and the children of the endowed charityschools, partook of the bounty of the corporation. There were grand dinners at the
Mansion-house and Trinity-house. In the evening, there was a ball at the Assembly
Rooms; and the pit and gallery of the Theatre were opened to the free burgesses
gratis. About 340 children of St. Edmund's chapel were assembled in the rectorygarden, Gateshead, where they sung "God save the King," and received each a glass
of wine, a cake, and sixpence. A sum of money, which had been subscribed by the
inhabitants, was distributed amongst the poor of this parish.
On July 26, part of the soap-house of Messrs. Clapham and Co. at the Ouseburn,
Newcastle, was destroyed by fire; and on August 9, the extensive glass-works and
warehouses of the Northumberland Glass Company, in the Close, with some adjoining dwelling-houses, were burnt down. The only part left standing was the cone of
the furnace near the river.
On the night of November 30, a tremendous gale commenced at Newcastle, which
did much injury to many buildings. An old widow, named Elizabeth Robson, 86
years of age, was killed in her bed, in Johnson's Chare, Sandgate, by the chimney
falling through the roof.
In March, 1822, the Reformers in Newcastle petitioned the House of Commons to
liberate Henry Hunt, Esq. from prison. This petition, which was presented by J.
G. Lambton, Esq. was rejected, as being insulting to the house. (fn. 17)
On May 24, part of the Northumberland Flax-mill, at the Ouseburn, near Newcastle, with some of the stock, and machinery, were destroyed by fire.
His royal highness the Duke of Sussex honoured Newcastle with his presence on
the 2d of September, 1822. The populace drew the royal visitor, amidst loud cheers,
from Gateshead toll-bar to the Tyne Bridge, where he was welcomed by the sheriff
of the town, and then drawn by the people of Newcastle to the Mansion-house. Here
his royal highness was addressed by the recorder, and presented with the freedom of
the town. After partaking of a cold collation, he followed the Masonic procession
to the scite of the new building for the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle, where a throne had been prepared for him. The Masonic ceremony of laying
the foundation-stone then took place, after which his royal highness adjourned to the
Concert-room, in the Bigg Market, where an especial Grand Lodge of the Ancient
Free Masons of England had been opened. About five o'clock, his royal highness
dined at the Assembly Rooms, with about 300 gentleman; Sir M. W. Ridley, Bart.
in the chair. At nine o'clock, the duke took his leave, and proceeded with Sir Matthew to Blagdon.
On October 24, during a strike of the keelmen of the Tyne, a number of seamen
proceeded to force the crews from some vessels loading at the spouts. The mayor of
Newcastle, Robert Bell, Esq. immediately proceeded down the river in his barge,
with a party of volunteers and police, and took 32 of the rioters into custody, who,
after being guarded all night in a king's cutter, were next day brought to the Castle
of Newcastle. A number of seamen accompanied their captured companions; and,
in the Castle Garth, their conduct was so turbulent, that the riot act was read. Thus
this intended strike of the seamen was frustrated at the commencement. The keelmen,
after a suspension of ten weeks, resumed their labours in the beginning of December.
During part of this time, the Swan cutter was moored opposite to Newcastle Quay.
In January, 1823, the north of England was visited by a dreadful snow storm, that
continued nearly six weeks. For a whole week, all communication between Newcastle and Edinburgh was completely intercepted. On Gateshead Fell, the snow in
one place was level with the top of a two-story house; and the turnpike west of
Newcastle, when cut through, presented in many places a snow dyke 12 and 14 feet
high. When the storm had a little abated, the mails were sent northwards on saddlehorses.
During the representation of Tom and Jerry, in the Theatre-royal, Newcastle, on
February 19, a very melancholy accident happened. Some gas was escaping from a
pipe in the lower tier of boxes, which a person who was seeking for the place of
escape set on fire, when the flame and smoke penetrated through the crevices into
the gallery. The fire was almost instantly extinguished; but the cries of "Fire!—
fire !—Save your lives !" caused an irresistible rush to the stairs, when seven persons
were either suffocated or trampled to death, and a number were bruised and injured.
Mr. De Camp, the manager, did all in his power to dissipate the apprehensions of
danger, or the calamity would have been still more deplorable.
On March 20, forty-seven of the Gentlemen Bachelors of Newcastle gave a most
splendid fancy dress ball and supper, which was attended by 467 ladies and gentlemen, attired in all the splendour, brilliancy, and variety that could be devised.
On July 29, the cordwainers of Newcastle celebrated the festival of St. Crispin, by
holding a coronation of their patron saint in the court of the Freemen's Hospital at
the Westgate, and afterwards walking in procession through the principal streets of
the town. This caricature show produced much laughter and mirth; but, considering the rapid increase of knowledge, it is probably the last exhibition of this kind
that the craft will exhibit in this place.
On September 12, the workmen employed in several of the glass-houses on the
Tyne and Wear walked in procession, with music and flags, through Newcastle and
Gateshead; each man being decorated with glass ornaments, and bearing some specimen of the art, remarkable either for its curious construction, or its beauty and elegance. The day was fine; and the rays of the sun, falling upon the glittering
column, gave it a richness and grandeur of appearance that defy description. A
salute was fired several times from a fort mounted with glass cannon, to the astonishment of the spectators; and a glass bugle, which sounded the halts, was much admired for its richness and sweetness of tone. This novel and interesting spectacle,
in which were exhibited some of the finest efforts of human genius and industry,
received the general and unqualified approbation of all classes. (fn. 18)
In the night of December 10, the engine-house of the saw-mill belonging to
Messrs. Brown and Son, at the head of Northumberland Street, was entirely destroyed
by fire; as was also an adjoining hay-stack, belonging to Mr. Lax.
A meeting was convened at Newcastle, by the high sheriff of Northumberland, on
March 26, 1825, to receive the report of a committee appointed at the Summer Assizes in 1824, to enquire into the practicability of improving the existing communication between Newcastle and Carlisle. The meeting resolved that a rail-road between
these towns was "an object worthy the countenance of the county." The capital
required for this undertaking is £300,000, divided into 3000 shares, at £100 each; of
which, one-sixth was reserved for the land-owners of the country through which the
line passes. The shares were soon subscribed for; the line is now surveying; and
application will be made to parliament, at the ensuing session, for powers to carry
this useful and important scheme into effect.