The defeat of the Second Reform Bill in October 1831 – An overview of public responses (part 2 – In the metropolis)

Satire with the civilian troops of the Reform Bill attacking the Duke of Wellington and Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the metropolis… 

The defeat of the Second Reform Bill

After five days of debate, around 6.00am on the morning of Saturday 8th October 1831 the House of Lords divided on the passing of the second reading of the Second Reform Bill. A journalist described the atmosphere: 

The excitement which pervaded the House [of Lords] on Saturday morning during the latter part of the debate was extraordinary beyond any thing that was ever known within the walls of parliament. Throughout the night, and up to the hour of the division, the house was crowded by members and the public, almost to suffocation.[1]

Although the Second Reform Bill proposed a relatively minor extension of the franchise, its principal aim was to reorganise constituencies, to disenfranchise the so-called ‘rotten boroughs’ which were largely in the hands of Tories. This shift of power from rural to industrialising urban centres certainly suited Whig electoral interests. Their landslide victory in the election of April-June 1831 had been predicated upon a growing desire amongst the population for reform, which was reflected amongst the electorate. The scale of the Whigs’ success within the unreformed system meant that the Reform Bill easily passed through the Commons in July by a solid majority of 136.  

On October 8th, virulent anti-reformer and former Tory prime minster, the Duke of Wellington, made the final comments in the debate in the Lords urging them to “reject this Bill with reference to its own merits and independent of any other consideration”.[2] The “any other consideration” may have been a veiled reference to the fervour amongst large sections of the population of Britain and Ireland for parliamentary reform. Wellington’s appeal to the Lords was apparently successful as the Bill was finally defeated by 41 votes. This numerical difference in itself became immediately politicised. Amongst the 199 Lords who voted against the Bill, the ‘Lords Spiritual’ were an important symbolic block. Of the 23 bishops represented in the House of Lords that morning, 21 voted against the Bill, including the chief prelate, the Archbishop of Canterbury.[3] A quick piece of arithmetic demonstrated to many that if the clergy had supported the Bill it would have squeezed through despite the efforts of the staunchly anti-reforming Tory secular Lords.[4] This simple sum was soon being widely discussed, framed some of the discontent and in some cases was acted upon.

Within hours of the result of the debate, which had been followed avidly in the press, the first London based newspapers began to publish details of the result including detailed transcripts of the speeches and roll calls of the Lords (and their proxies) who voted for and against.[5] Through these means and by word of mouth, news of the defeat of the Bill spread rapidly through the city and its environs. Bells of churches rang muffled peals to signify the ‘bad news’ and the “flags of many vessels in the river [Thames] were seen to be flying ‘half-mast high’, many of them surrounded with black crape [crêpe]”.[6] The Observer newspaper commented: 

a feeling of deep regret appeared to prevail in every parish. In the forepart of the day a vast concourse of individuals assembled in St James’s Park, and several minor crowds congregated in the vicinity leading to the House of Lords…[7]

Spontaneous demonstrations close to the seats of power and public meetings at parish and ward level would be a feature of the following days in the capital.  

Parish meetings and spontaneous demonstrations

On Sunday morning, the day after the announcement, several newspapers reported that 10-12 parishes were already holding public meetings to support reform. On the Monday lunchtime a pro-reform meeting of the parish of Marylebone at the Horse Bazaar on Portman Square was massively overcrowded. The meeting was hastily rearranged for the afternoon, first to Hyde Park and then to Regents’ Park to keep it within the parish boundaries and thus ‘legal’. This semi-spontaneous protest eventually drew tens of thousands of demonstrators, many of whom were bedecked in laurel leaves, “tricoloured cockades and ribbons”.[8] Other smaller, though no less vociferous, crowds gathered at the Palace of Westminster to verbally intimidate anti-reforming MPs and Lords as they arrived at Parliament. Many were forced to get out of their carriages at unusual places to avoid recognition by the crowd. Around 5.00pm the Duke of Wellington’s carriage approached the House of Commons and it was spotted by members of the crowd. Instantly the Duke and another gentleman inside the carriage were subjected to a barrage of stones and mud from the protestors which put through the windows and left the coach “nearly covered in filth”. Less than a mile away in King Street, Seven Dials the Duke’s effigy was hung in a mock execution.[9]

Besides the main protests, smaller, more militant street meetings were taking place. In the early evening in King Street, St James’s, just around the corner from the Palace, a Police Inspector in plain clothes observed four men in a carriage followed by a crowd of 2,000 people: 

They [the four men] were addressing the mob, applying the most disgusting epithets to the aristocracy, and shouting “Burn the Bishops”, “Down with the Boroughmongers”, “Down with the New Police”, “Kill the ____” and at intervals the cry was “No rates, no taxes”.[10] 

After dusk “mobs” of “ruffians” made selective attacks on the properties of anti-reforming Lords. The Duke of Newcastle’s house on Portman Square and that of the Duke of Northumberland on the Strand were damaged by stone-throwing crowds of 6-700 persons, whilst Lord Camden’s abode in Arlington Street off Piccadilly was surrounded by a crowd led by a protestor who knocked at the door with “considerable violence” and “commenced in the reforming dialect to abuse all the Noblemen who had voted against the Bill”.[11]  

Grand House, London
The Duke of Northumberland’s residence in Charing Cross 1752[12]

In nearby Berkeley Square:  

3000-4000 other persons assembled in a riotous manner…shouting out “Down with the Bishops,” “Pay no more taxes” and upon the remonstrance of the police, [a group] flourished cudgels in a menacing manner: upon which the police, with considerable risk to their personal safety, took them to the station house, although several desperate attempts were made at a rescue.[13]

Around 11.00pm the police had managed, with “great difficulty”, to clear the streets in the vicinity of the House of Commons. However, less than a mile away across the river, further problems were brewing for the authorities.  

Lord Camden’s residence at 22 Arlington Street, St James, October 2014.[14]

By the autumn of 1831 the Rotunda, a building close to the southern end of Blackfriars bridge, already had a fearsome reputation amongst the authorities as a centre of republicanism, sedition and blasphemy. For nearly two years, under the management of the recently imprisoned radical and atheist Richard Carlile, it had hosted numerous lectures and meetings of social, political and religious radicals and reformers. That Monday evening, radical MP and orator Henry Hunt had been speaking to a packed audience. Hunt and his supporters at the Rotunda opposed working-class leaders such as Francis Place who advocated support for the Second Reform Bill as a stepping stone to universal suffrage. Instead, as uncompromising universal suffragists, they were not so much protesting the Lords’ vote as demanding a great deal more.

At the cessation of the meeting, Hunt jumped into a Hackney coach and proceeded to the House of Commons followed by a crowd of 1,000 ‘Rotundists’. Meetings at the Rotunda were regularly spied on under the orders of the Home Office, and thus it was no surprise that police in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster received news of Hunt’s supposed ‘march on Parliament’ in advance of his arrival. A “strong body” of police quickly formed a cordon at the southern end of Westminster bridge and verbally ordered the procession to halt. The crowd continued to advance and fighting broke out as they pelted the police with mud and stones. The constables violently dispersed Hunt’s supporters into the surrounding streets, injuring bystanders and marchers alike, while Hunt’s carriage was allowed across the bridge.[15]

The following afternoon a hastily organised pro-reform meeting of the parishioners of Chelsea took place in Sloane Square to determine the content of their address to the King. The open-air event drew a crowd of several hundred “men, women, boys and girls” who were described contemptuously by a journalist from the anti-reform Morning Post:

The former two descriptions of persons [men and women] made up the residue who assisted on this glorious occasion, and consisted of idle and gossiping women, both young and old, and sundry lazy-looking beings, who honoured the Meeting with their countenance because they had no better occupation.[16] 

As the meeting came to an end some of the 4-500 audience who remained in the Square noticed a group of police escorting an arrestee to the nearby Station House and attempted to rescue him. A struggle ensued and the Constables in the Square were pelted with stones and brickbats by the crowd who hooted and jeered. Several people were arrested in the confrontation.[17]

West End of London showing locations of reform related protests and disturbances (8-12 October 1831). Note: click to enlarge[18]


  1. House of Lords
    • Sat 8 Oct 1831 – Second Reform Bill defeated; crowds gather after news of the defeat spreads.
  2. St James’s Park
    • Sat 8 Oct 1831 – “A vast concourse of individuals” assemble spontaneously to demonstrate after hearing of the defeat of the Reform Bill.
    • Wed 12 Oct 1831 – Anti-reformers the Marquis of Londonderry and the Duke of Cumberland, both on horseback, assaulted by crowds who also clash with police.
  3. Portman Square
    • Mon 10 Oct 1831 – Pro-reform meeting of the parish of Marylebone at the Horse Bazaar draws a crowd of tens of thousands. They move on to Hyde Park and then Regent’s Park.
    • Mon 10 Oct 1831 – Anti-reformer the Duke of Newcastle‘s house attacked by stone-throwing crowd of 6-700 people.
  4. Palace of Westminster
    • Mon 10 Oct 1831 – Crowds gather to intimidate anti-reforming MPs and Lords. Duke of Wellington’s coach is stoned and “covered in filth”.
  5. Seven Dials
    • Mon 10 Oct 1831 – Effigy of the Duke of Wellington hung in King Street.
  6. St James’s Square
    • Mon 10 Oct 1831 – Demands from a militant street meeting include “Burn the Bishops”, “Down with the Boroughmongers”, “Down with the New Police”, “No rates, no taxes”
    • Wed 12 Oct 1831 – Anti-reformer the Earl of Bristol’s house attacked twice by stone throwing crowds.
    • Wed 12 Oct 1831 – Parties of police attacked with missiles by the crowd, causing many injuries. Clashes with police continue into the evening.
  7. The Strand, Charing Cross
    • Mon 10 Oct 1831- Anti-reformer the Duke of Northumberland’s houseattacked by stone-throwing crowd of 6-700 people.
  8. Arlington Street, St James
    • Mon 10 Oct 1831 – Lord Camden’s residence (now known as Wimbourne House) surrounded by a crowd and given ‘rough music’.
  9. Berkeley Square
    • Mon 10 Oct 1831 -Crowd of 3,000-4,000, some armed with cudgels, gather in a “riotous assembly” chanting “Down with the Bishops” and “No rates, no taxes”.
  10. Rotunda, Blackfriars
    • Mon 10 Oct 1831 – After a public meeting radical MP and orator Henry Hunt is followed by a crowd of a 1,000 as he made his way to the House of Commons.
  11. Westminster Bridge
    • Mon 10 Oct 1831 – Henry Hunt and a crowd of 1,000 attempt to cross Westminster Bridge. Considerable violence ensues before they are dispersed by a “strong body of policemen”.
  12. Portland Place
    • Wed 12 Oct 1831 – Assembly point for marches from Clerkenwell Green, Claremont Square, St Pancras, Marylebone and the parishes of St James, Westminster and St Mary, Newington.
  13. Hanover Square
    • Wed 12 Oct 1831 – Meeting point for the march for the parish of St James, Westminster.
  14. St James’s Palace – principal royal residence in 1831
    • Wed 12 Oct 1831 – Confrontation between 60,000 demonstrators, 1,000 police and a troop of the Royal Horse Guards cavalry regiment.
    • Wed 12 Oct 1831 – The King and Queen arrive at the Palace escorted by the 9th Regiment of Lancers.
  15. Apsley House
    • Wed 12 Oct 1831 – Duke of Wellington’s residence surrounded by a large crowd who pelt it with missiles along with his nearby memorial statue, before being driven off by 200 police.
  16. Dudley House
    • Wed 12 Oct 1831 – Lord Dudley and Ward’s residence is surrounded by a stone-throwing crowd before being driven off by police.

The parishes combine – Wednesday 12 October 1831

The pattern of parish meetings, large semi-spontaneous public protests along with peripheral, targeted “rough music”,[19] damage to property and clashes with police continued in the capital. This became particularly apparent when the majority of the central London parishes came together a few days after the defeat of the Bill for a mass pro-reform demonstration on Wednesday 12 October. A series of meeting points were chosen, reflecting the locations of the various groups of parishes, that allowed crowds to gather and then march towards Portland Place, south of Regent’s Park where the different processions were planned to combine. The final stage of the demonstration was to be a parade to St James’s Palace, the seat of monarchical power where the Corporation and representatives of the various parishes could present their addresses to the King.

On the day of the demonstration the atmosphere on the streets for a weekday was unusual. The majority of shops and businesses in whole swathes of the city were closed and shuttered either because of fear of riot or because the owners and workers were participating in the protest. In Marylebone, many businesses displayed pro-reform placards with slogans such as “The King, Liberty and Reform”.[20] In other areas, the impromptu ‘strike’ was enforced by crowd action. For example, at around 9.00am, a group of young men paraded down Aldersgate Street near the Barbican forcing shops to close that hadn’t already. In one case, the windows of a recalcitrant shop owner were put in and a “mob” attempted to enter the shop but scattered when police arrived.[21]

As early as 9.00am two large crowds assembled at Clerkenwell Green and Claremont Square. These represented the parishes in the east of the city including Clerkenwell, St Luke’s and St Mary’s, Islington. Around 10.15am the two marches linked up and proceeded west towards Paddington. The Clerkenwell contingent carried banners with the slogans “Reform, Radical Reform” and “The Sacred Love of our Country speed us”. On the way they were met by two further processions, both several thousand strong, from St Pancras and Marylebone. The former was headed:

by the two churchwardens, carrying the address [to the King], preceded by two beadles, and on either side caps of liberty, surmounted by the crown, were carried by two porters. Upon a large placard were inscribed the following:- “Take away the wicked from before the King;” and upon a black flag was displayed – “Englishmen, support your patriotic King and his Ministers” There were also several flags edged with black crape [crepe]

The latter carried:

a white flag, edged with pink, with the following inscription:- “The King, the Commons, the people’s rights.” Other placards and banners were also displayed, such as “Equal rights – Union is strength”

Upon reaching Portland Place the vast crowd was joined by further contingents from the parishes of St James, Westminster, who had assembled at 10.00am in Hanover Square, and St Mary, Newington from south of the river. At 12.30pm the now huge procession, moved off in good order down Regents Street towards Pall Mall and St James’s Palace.[22]

The authorities had made significant preparations in advance of the demonstration. The previous morning an extra guard had been assigned to the magazine in Hyde Park, orders had been sent to Woolwich Arsenal to have “artillery in readiness” and large quantities of ammunition had been “delivered out to the troops at their respective barracks”. In addition, military units at Hounslow barracks were in a “state for immediate service” and even recent recruits were being armed.[23] On the day of the protest, large bodies of police were placed along the route of the marches whilst about 1,000 police along with a troop of the Royal Horse Guards cavalry regiment were stationed at the St James’s end of Pall Mall to protect the front of the palace. A second troop of cavalry was held in readiness, out of sight in the Palace yard. A double guard of the household cavalry was placed at Horse Guards with another 80 cavalrymen in the Gun House both at the eastern end of St James’s Park, whilst a horse patrol was parading in the grounds of the Park.[24]

The procession, which was estimated as at least 60-70,000 strong by this stage, arrived in the vicinity of the Palace filling St James’s Street, St James’s Square and the western end of Pall Mall whilst other marchers over-flowed into Green Park.[25] A reporter described the crowd of “artisans and trades people”:

They were almost to a man decorated with oak and laurel leaves, light blue or tricoloured ribands, tri-coloured cockades, or crape [crepe] cockades; and the different parishes were accompanied by flags hung with crape [crepe], banners with various patriotic and animating inscriptions, and in one instance red caps of liberty, surmounted by crowns and fringed with black.[26]

In St James’s Square the procession was joined by the Lord Mayor and his entourage of 31 carriages carrying Aldermen and Common Councillors.[27]

As the front of the march reached the junction of Pall Mall and St James’s Street, they were met by the police cordon protecting the front of the Palace. At this point the police attempted to stop the parade. Though, through sheer weight of numbers, they were easily pushed aside by the marchers. Presuming that the protestors were attempting to storm the Palace the police called for assistance from the nearby troop of the Royal Horse Guards, who quickly “formed up and received the order to ‘charge’” and then began to move forward. This order and action, which was heard and seen by many of the demonstrators at the front of the march, caused them to scatter in fear of their lives and hide behind lamp posts, whilst others shouted “shame” in expectation of the bloodshed to come. Fortunately, at the critical moment the cavalry troop halted before physically engaging with the crowd and the police quickly returned to marshal the march and allow the delegates from the parishes through to the Palace to make their pro-reform addresses to the King. Nevertheless, it had been a close-run thing, a misunderstanding between authorities and crowd about their respective intentions which could have had dramatic and fatal consequences.[28]

Front gate of St Jame’s Palace[29]

At about 1.45pm the King and Queen arrived at St James’s Palace escorted by a “strong body” of the 9th Lancers Regiment. The crowds in the vicinity of the Palace cheered and threw their hats in the air as the Royal procession arrived. As soon as the party had passed through the palace gates they were hurriedly closed and a military guard along with a large contingent of police stationed outside. The incident outside the place gates was not the end of confrontations between police and protestors but instead marked the beginning of collective attacks upon anti-reformers and their property.

Shortly after the procession arrived at the Palace a “mob of the lowest class” assembled outside the Earl of Bristol’s house in St James Square and smashed its windows before being chased off by some “respectable” protestors and a “strong body of police”. About 2.30pm the dispersed “mob” entered the southern end of Hyde Park in smaller groups and then, “yelling fearfully”, began to attack the front of Apsley House the residence of the Duke of Wellington with missiles. Some members of Wellington’s household staff threatened the crowd with pistols, which further enraged them, leading to successive volleys of stones. By this stage the group attacking the house had grown to “several hundred” and it was only the fact that the ground-floor windows were already barricaded that stopped members of the crowd from entering the residence.

After a desperate call for help, a detachment of 100-200 police arrived from the nearby Vine Street station armed with staves. By this stage the crowd had moved to the rear of Apsley House, and at the appearance of the police, they retreated to the statue of Achilles, the memorial to the Duke of Wellington in Hyde Park.  At the shout of “Let’s give it the figure” they began to launch missiles at the memorial in earnest, whilst shouting vociferous insults. The police responded by charging the crowd and were stoned in the process before violently dispersing the group with staves.[30]

Apsley House, residence of the Duke of Wellington with the entrance to Hyde Park to the left.[31]

During the afternoon the skirmishes and running battles between police and groups of protestors continued, with arrestees often violently liberated from the police by “mobs” who were clearly growing in confidence. In St James’s Square at 4.00pm a party of police escorting an arrestee were followed by a crowd of thousands who hooted and booed, before they overwhelmed them. The arrestee escaped and there followed a further violent confrontation in Waterloo Place as a large body of police were attacked with missiles by the crowd, causing many injuries. The police were eventually driven off by the crowd and chased down Pall Mall. The violent nature of these clashes in the afternoon was exemplified by the following incidents. In St James’s Park amongst the “great crowds assembled” there, “one man fought desperately with four or five policemen, and it was generally reported that their violence had caused his death”. In a separate incident a police inspector who was in plain clothes on Pall Mall was recognised by members of the crowd and “kicked and beaten in a most brutal manner, and he narrowly escaped with his life”.[32]

At about 5.00pm the Marquess of Londonderry, along with a group of other “gentlemen”, rode on horseback through a large crowd of several thousand protestors in St James’s Park on the way to the House of Lords. Londonderry was recognised as an anti-reforming Lord by the protestors and stoned, until upon being struck several times he drew a brace of pistols and threatened to shoot the next person who “dared to molest him”. The crowd were at first deterred before chasing the group of riders with further volleys of missiles towards Horse Guards. One stone struck the Marquess on the head knocking him out and it was only the timely intervention of the military that saved him from further assault. He was later conveyed in a Hackney carriage to his mansion on Park Lane. The Duke of Cumberland suffered a similar fate that afternoon when he was recognised and pulled from his horse by an angry crowd in St James’s Park and “very roughly used by the multitude”. In this case, he was rescued from a beating by the police who escorted him on foot to Horse Guards.[33]

Dudley House on Park Lane, Mayfair and residence of Lord Dudley during 1831.[34]

At dusk some of the “mobs” reformed and made their way to Dudley House at 100 Park Lane, the residence of Lord Dudley and Ward, a recent Foreign Secretary. They proceeded to break the windows but were surprised by a body of policemen who were waiting in ambush for them within the building. The crowd was beaten by the stave-wielding officers and driven through the Cumberland Gate into Hyde Park. Meanwhile in St James’s Square, whilst more “respectable” reformers were listening to speeches from representatives of the parishes, a “body of the lowest of the low” gathered and renewed their attacks on the Earl of Bristol’s house, destroying what was left of the ground floor. A reporter noted:

A vast number of respectable individuals loudly vociferated against such an outrageous proceeding, and observed that they were doing a very serious injury to that great cause which they had that day been advocating. A gentleman harangued them, begging them to desist. No man, he observed, could be a friend to his Sovereign, the Ministers or Reform, that would act in the violation of the law, when the King and his Ministers were doing their utmost in support of the people’s rights. The mob were addressed by several others, but they remained in the Square for some time after, hooting and making a great noise.[35]

As the evening wore on the stubborn ‘occupation’ of St James’s Square in the vicinity of the Palace by the “mob” appears to have become both an expression of collective power and a rallying point. Around 7.00pm around 200-300 protestors armed with “sticks and bludgeons” made their way down Piccadilly towards the Square but were beaten off by a detachment of police. It wasn’t until 10.00pm that the “mob…and the outrageous gangs” had been completely dispersed from the west end of the capital.[36]

Discussion – Butchers, Bakers and Copper Engravers

Public pro-reform events in London in the immediate aftermath of the defeat of the Second Reform Bill had certainly been instructive, demonstrating both the potential instability of the political situation and differences within the movement over conceptions of acceptable protest. The accounts in the press suggest that the expressive direct action in the form of ‘rough music’, assault and damaging property that occurred was largely driven by ‘non-respectable’ working-class crowds. These were variously described by the newspapers of different political persuasions as “ruffians”, a “rabble”, “young thieves and pickpockets”, “not a working man in sight” (The Times), a “mob of the lowest class”, “young and daring ruffians and pickpockets” “juvenile depredators”, “worst of characters”, “thieves” (Observer) and “un-English ruffians” (Morning Post).[37] However, these characterisations present us with some serious contradictions.

According to the recorded evidence, the attacks by the so-called ‘thieves’ and ‘ruffians’ were very selective, accurately targeting anti-reform Lords and their property, whilst leaving other wealthy individuals and their homes alone. If the crowds carrying out direct action were as lumpen as the journalists suggest, then it is highly unlikely they would have been directly affected by the Second Reform Bill. That is, they were not going to be enfranchised. So why were they out protesting? If the claim is that they were ‘opportunistic criminals’ converging on the protest as a cover for acquisitive crimes, then why were their attacks so expressive, politically selective and high profile? Surely, criminals would want to avoid the attention of the police rather than brazenly attract it? Besides, there is little evidence of acquisitive crimes in the form of looting or burglary during the disturbances. Instead, outside of attacks on anti-reformers, the main confrontations are through crowds attempting to rescue arrestees of the New Police, whether they were part of the demonstration or not.

One potential solution to this conundrum is to try to assess who the so-called ‘thieves’ and ‘ruffians’ were. A brief study of arrestees listed in the newspapers who were directly involved in the disturbances of 10-12 October in London provides us with the sample of 29 men in Table 1 below. A few “pickpockets” were arrested during the protests and are listed in the press. However, they were detained for robbing the marchers rather than taking part in the actions of the crowd, so they have been excluded from Table 1.[38]

Table 1: Sample of arrestees apprehended during reform-related disturbances in London (October 10-12, 1831) Note: Click to enlarge.

The first point of interest in Table 1 is that there are no charges relating to acquisitive crimes, all are related to public disorder or damaging property. Thirteen of the sample gave home addresses, all of which were in inner London. There are specific details of occupations given for 11 men and these are mostly artisanal in nature. The only exception is the Barrister, Lewis Flanagan, who was targeted and arrested several weeks after the demonstrations, unlike the rest of the defendants.[39] Although occupations are not listed for more than half of the sample and it is possible this could be a sign of a lumpen class status, there is no positive evidence of this as such. Instead, looking at our group’s occupations, we are reminded of the phrase “The Butcher, the Baker and the Candlestick-maker”. Interestingly this expression denoted a collective of artisanal trades in the mid-nineteenth century but over time began to signify “anyone at all”.[40] So hardly the convergence of ‘thieves’ and ‘ruffians’ described by the press.

Having considered the protests and disturbances in London we now turn to how the rest of Britain and Ireland reacted to the news of the defeat of the Reform Bill? A journalist from the Observer prophetically noted the day after defeat in the House of Lords:

Very serious consequences were and still are apprehended to take place in the metropolis, but more especially in the country, where the fatal tidings are, long ere this, in the possession of everyone.

Feature image “Satire with the civilian troops of the Reform Bill attacking the Duke of Wellington and Archbishop of Canterbury” February 1832 Hand-coloured etching (possibly transferred to a lithograph stone) © The Trustees of the British Museum

Follow the link below to Part 3: Black flags and dumb peals: the spread of news of the defeat


1 Monmouthshire Merlin 15 October 1831
2 Morning Post 08 October 1831.
3 Morning Post 10 October 1831.
4 The Globe newspaper, for example, helped readers by publishing the calculation. The Globe 11 October 1831.
5 For example, the Morning Chronicle began publishing at 9.00 am, within three hours of the adjournment, with 17 large folio columns covering the debate. Within 48 hours of the division national newspapers the Observer and the Morning Post published lists of the Lords with their voting choices. Observer 09 October 1831; Morning Post 10 October 1831.
6 Monmouthshire Merlin 15 October 1831.
7 St James’ Park was opposite the principal monarchical seat of power in 1831, St James’ Palace. Buckingham Palace did not officially become the primary seat until 1837. Observer 09 October 1831.
8 Estimates of the crowd size in Regent’s Park range from 4,000 from the virulently anti-reform Morning Post (11 October 1831) to 40,000 (The Times 11 October 1831; Evening Mail 12 October 1831) and 80,000 for the pro-reform Observer (16 October 1831).
9 Morning Post 11 October 1831, 12 October 1831; Observer 16 October 1831; The Times 12 October 1831
10 Morning Post 12 October 1831.
11 Ibid.
12 AcknowledgementCanaletto, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
13 Baldwin’s London Weekly Journal 15 October 1831.
14 Acknowledgment: Gareth E Kegg, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
15 Observer 16 October 1831; The Times 12 October 1831.
16 Morning Post 12 October 1831.
17 Ibid; Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser 14 October 1831.
18 This map is based upon London Sheet VII.SW
Revised: 1893 to 1895, Published: 1894 to 1896 from the National Library of Scotland:
19 ‘Rough Music’ is a reference to the collective practice of creating a loud cacophony, booing or jeering as a protest or demonstration of indignation outside someone’s house. It in its more extreme forms this could involve physically jostling or man-handling a victim.
20 Observer 16 October 1831.
21 Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser 14 October 1831.
22 The Times 13 October 1831.
23 Morning Post 13 October 1831.
24 Observer 16 October 1831; The Times 12 October 1831, 13 October 1831.
25 Estimates of the overall size of the demonstration(s) on 12th October vary. The Observer (16 October 1831) suggests 300,000, The Times “at least 60,000” at St James’s Palace (13 October 1831), the Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser 200,000 (13 October 1831) and the anti-reform Morning Post tellingly refused to comment on this issue.
26 Observer 16 October 1831.
27 The Times 13 October 1831.
28 Observer 16 October 1831.
29 October 2010, Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
30 Observer 16 October 1831; The Times 13 October 1831.
31 © Copyright PAUL FARMER and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.
32 The Times 13 October 1831.
33 Observer 16 October 1831; The Times 13 October 1831.
34 © Copyright Jim Osley and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
35 Observer 16 October 1831.
36 Ibid
37 The Times 12 October 1831; Observer 16 October 1831; Morning Post 13 October 1831.
38 The seven “pickpockets” were made up of two groups tried at Marlborough Street. The first was a gang of youths described as being in an “abject state of wretchedness”, with the oldest member being under sixteen years of age and the other a “pair of reputed thieves”. They were arrested in St James’s Park and Charing Cross respectively. The source also refers to a number of “vagabonds” who were arrested for pelting the police with stones in St James’s Park though unfortunately it does not name them. It does refer to “Mr Charles Palin” (see Table 1) who attempted to rescue them from the police. Weekly Dispatch (London) 16 October 1831.
39 Flanagan was arrested on the basis of retrospective statements given by the Marquis of Worcester and the Marquis of Douro. Morning Post 8 November 1831, 15 November 1831.
40 Pascal Tréguer, Meaning and origin of “The Butcher, the Baker and the Candlestick-maker” Word Histories name themckmaker/