Britain 1815-1851 - Radicals, Reform Act, Chartism

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  • Created by: Em
  • Created on: 16-01-13 20:18

Britain 1815 - war with France, 20 years, victorious. Agriculture becoming more efficient. Canal + road main ways of transport.

Protest movement before 1820:

  • Rising unemployment - slump in industry; one third of soldiers and sailors demobilised. 
  • Economic depression - industry laying off workers, industries stimulated by war set back by peace, cut in overnment spending, European countries no longer able to afford British goods.
  • Falling aggricultural prices.
  • Rising cost of poor relief.
  • High taxes.
  • Luddites - protest against pay cuts (machines in industries taking jobs), Government sent troops into worst affected areas.


  • Major John Cartwright (1740-1824) travelled around midlands + the North organising meetings, clubs and gaining supporters.
  • Frances Place (1771-1854) involved in reform campaigns.
  • William Cobbett (1763-1835) published a cheap weekly newspaper putting forward ideas about parlimentary reform. Fled to America to avoid arrest, returned, supposedly stirred up Swing Riots.
  • Henry Hunt (1773-1855) gave speeches in meetings about reform. Imprisoned for role in Peterloo.

The Spa Fields Protest

2nd December 1816, protest meeting in Spa Fields, Londen. Approx. 20 men broke away from demonstration, marched into Tower of London. Broke into gunshops. When they got to the tower they were easily dispersed by troops - achieved nothing. Henry Hunt spoke at meeting.

In response, Government made protest meetings illegal and suspended the Corpus Act (meaning people could then be imprisoned without trial).

March of the Blanketeers

March 1817, protest. Unemployed cotton workers. Protesting against Government's meeting ban. Planned to march from Manchester to London but stopped at Stockport, leaders arrested. Got no further than Macclesfield. Protest similar to those before French Revolution.

The Pentrich Rising

June 1817. Derbyshire. Rebels armed with pikes and guns marched to Nottingham, believing they were part of a national rebellion. Government agent encouraged them in order to get them arrested. Three leaders hanged, 30 sentenced to transportation. Despite failure, it again worried people of similarity with protests in France years earlier.


16th August 1819. Meeting on St. Peter's Field, Manchester. 50,000 men, women, children marched to hear Henry Hunt's speech on reform. Magistrates watched the march, having banned previous meetings; they were worried about illegal actions and violence from the protestors. They decided to arrest Hunt before he spoke - however, no military support. Yeomanry were mounted volunteers from property-owning classes so had no…


legend eyre

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