History - Threats to Liverpool 1812-1822


The Luddites

Date: 1811-15

Causes: Skilled workers like handweavers were suffering from industrialisation by causing unemployment and cutting wages. This was due to new machines like steam powered machinery

Events: Starting in Nottingham, farm and factory machinery were smashed, and soon these attacks became personal - mill owners and their homes and family were attacked

Results: Frame breaking was made punishable by death and in 1813, 17 Luddites were hanged. Volunteer militia controlled and dispersed riots

Liverpool's fault?: No, they were just simply losers of the industrial revolution, and not directly related to Liverpool's actions.

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Spa Fields Meeting and Riots

Date: 1816 (Meetings were in November; Riots in December)

Causes: A crowd met in Islington to demand that land should be owned more communally, not by elites, and there to be more open space. There were calls for lower taxation and parliamentary reform (among those calling was Henry 'Orator' Hunt) and a petition addressed to the king was sent to the government but it was ignored.

Events: There was a peaceful meeting in Islington, London. Soon, it turned into a riot and the crowd began looting. The French Tricolour flag was raised.

Results: Militia dispersed the crowd. Dozens were injured, but one was killed. Leaders were arrested and charged with high treason (although all released). Habeas Corpus was suspended, and the Seditious Meetings Act of 1817 banned assemblies of over 50 people.

Liverpool's Fault?: Partly, because he didn't do anything about the petition, which led to the riots

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March of the Blanketeers

Date: 1817

Causes: Many were still angry about the events of the Spa Fields Meetings/Riots. Handloom weavers wrote a petition demanding: parliamentary reform, abolition of the Corn Laws, action against unemployment and high taxes and the re-instatement of Habeas Corpus

Events: 300 men set off for London with the petition addressed to th Prince Regent. There were women waving goodbye to them, calling for them to "overthrow the gentry".

Results: Militia stopped them a few miles later. One man killed, several wounded and many arrested. It was held for several weeks. It was only a peaceful protest and one man died for it.

Liverpool's Fault?: Not directly, since the Militia are responsible for the death (the Militia aren't government controlled). However, the introduction of the Corn Laws, abolition of Habeas Corpus and high taxes were all Liverpool's fault.

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The Derbyshire Pentrich Rising

Date: 1817

Causes: A government spy convinced and encouraged men in Derbyshire that a national uprising was about to begin which would set up a new government to help the poor.

Events: 200 poorly armed men marched to Nottingham, probably led by ex-Luddite Jeremiah Brandeth. They were expecting to meet other rebels there, however, troops were there waiting for them and arrested them.

Causes: 45 were tried for high treason; 3 were hung, drawn and quartered and 30 were transported to Australia.

Liverpool's Fault?: Yes. Government action caused this. Ironically, he created a radical challenge in order to stop the radicals.

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The Peterloo Massacre

Date: 1819

Causes: 60,000 met at St Peter's Fields, Manchester to hear Henry Hunt speak about parliamentary reform.

Events: A local magistrate feared violence, even though it had been peaceful so far and everyone was wearing their best dress, and send in the militia to arrest Hunt. This panicked the crowds. Cavalry were armed with sabres and charged into the crowds; yeomenry were drunk.

Results: Troops clashed with the panicked crowds. 11 died, 400 wounded. More women were attacked, even though there was proportionally more men. They were targeted, probably because it wans't fit for women to be involved in politics. Speakers were arrested and imprisoned, including Hunt. Led to Six Acts.

Liverpool's fault?: No. His government said not to send in the militia unless already violent. This means it was the local magistrates and the militias fault. (militia aren't government controlled).

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The Six Acts

Causes: Set up in direct response to the Peterloo Massacre.

1. Seizure of the Arms Act: Extended powers to local magistrates to search property and people for weapons.

2. Seditious Meetings Prevention Act: Banned public meetings of 50+ people without consent of magistrate or sheriff

3. Newspapers and Stamp Duty Act: Put duty on journals and newspapers, hitting low cost radical publications as they're now more expensive.

4. Training Prevention Act: Anyone gathering to train and drill could be arrested and transported for seven years

5. Misdemeanors Act: Reduced delay in bringing those involved in treasonous acts to trial.

6. Blasphemous and Seditious Libels Act: Much stronger punishments for writings against the Church and the state

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The Cato Street Conspiracy

Date: 1820

Causes: There was anger over the heavy handed government response to Peterloo with the Six Acts.

Events: Arthur Thistlewood and his gang  plotted to blow up the cabinet and seize London. George Edwards, a government spy, infiltrated the gang and betrayed them.

Results: One policeman died. The gang were arrested. 5 were hanged and 5 were transported to Austrialia for life.

Liverpool's fault?: Arguably yes because the government is responsible for creating the Six Acts, which is the main grievance causing this event.

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The Queen Caroline Affair

Date: 1821

Causes: In 1795, the Prince of Wales married Caroline of Brunswick on his father's orders. They hated each other and George only agreed to recieve help with debts. Liverpool attempted to arrange a divorce for the king, who had been paying her £3000 pa since 1814 to stay in Italy. In 1820, George III died, so their relationship became even more embarrassing. Protests met up to support her, and furious petitions were sent to Downing Steet about her mistreatment.

Events: Caroline died 1821. Liverpool wanted to keep this discreet, but people hijacked the subtle funeral procession and forced it off the back streets and on to the usual royal route.

Results: Militia shot two men during the disturbance. Liverpool became convinced things must change. The King and parliament were clearly hated by most of the public, which led to a cabinet reshuffle.

Liverpools Fault and response: No one particularly liked Caroline, but the government was so unpopular that people were willing to support her. Partly his fault - he tried to be too discrete.

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