‘Episcopal treason and plot’: effigy burning in the autumn 1831 reform protests

Fifth of November Celebration at Exeter – the bonfire in the Cathedral Close (1882)

Author and acknowledgements

Dr Roger Ball ~ Research Fellow (University of the West of England)

Jane Askew ~ Project Administrator and Researcher (University of the West of England)

Professor of History and Heritage, Steve Poole ~ Principal Investigator (University of the West of England)

Professor of Social Psychology, John Drury ~ Co-investigator (University of Sussex)

I think there is a very great danger – a rock ahead (as sailors say) towards which the vessel of the Church is steering. I mean Parliamentary reform. Everyone who feels for the establishment must tremble to think of the effect of the bill being thrown out in the Lords – for if it is so, rely on it, the Bishops will be made to bear the blame. Some will vote against the Bill, others stay away, and none or hardly any I fear for it. The roar of popular fury will be directed against the Bench and I foresee the very worst consequences. Letter from Lord Chancellor Brougham to James Lush (August 1831)[1]


In our Overall Survey of Protest events in Britain and Ireland in response to the defeat of the Second Reform Bill from October to December 1831, one prevalent activity was difficult to categorise. This was the practice of parading and burning of effigies in public locations, sometimes outside the residence of the ‘victim’. Previous mass data studies of protest in the period such as the seminal Tilly-Horn database of ‘contentious gatherings’, categorised effigy burning as “violence”. This placed the practice alongside property-damage, personal injury and kidnap, and clearly delineated it from the other categories of protest defined as ‘peaceful’ meetings, gatherings or delegations.[2] In our recent study we also drew a fairly crude division between violent (riots and disturbances) and non-violent (meetings, parades, demonstrations) events though, unlike Tilly-Horn, we chose to place effigy burning in the non-violent group.  Clearly some protest behaviours such as the various repertoires of ‘rough music’ do fall in the categorical gap and require further investigation.  The historian E. P. Thompson located the English origins of the word in the late seventeenth century and defined ‘rough music’ as: 

a rude cacophony, with or without more elaborate ritual, which usually directed mockery or hostility against individuals who offended against certain community norms

Thompson went on to qualify this by stating:

It is not just the noise, however, although satiric noise (whether light or savage) is always present. The noise formed part of a ritualised expression of hostility…In other cases, the ritual could be elaborate, and might include the riding of the victim (or a proxy) upon a pole or donkey; masking and dancing; elaborate recitatives; rough mime or street drama upon a cart or platform; the miming of a ritual hunt; or (frequently) the parading and burning of effigies; or, indeed, various combinations of all of these.[3]

Thompson’s use of ‘frequently’ in the case of effigy-burning highlights its survival today through the ritual of Guy Fawkes night while many of the other practices of ‘rough music’ have largely disappeared.

The repertoires of ‘rough music’ rituals are, like any cultural forms, dynamic in nature and subject to social conditions. ‘Rough music’ had its origins in the autonomous (though perhaps patriarchal) social control of rural communities, where it was deployed as much against adulterers and ‘quarrelsome wives’ as it was against ‘wife beaters’ and child abusers. By the early nineteenth century its forms and use had been changed by the massive and ongoing displacement of rural labour to the urban environment and the changing nature of social relations under the emerging industrial capitalism. The ‘old ways’ of ‘rough music’ were now being deployed more frequently as part of protests and direct action in the economic and political arenas. The targets could be recalcitrant employers, officials, politicians and public figures. However, this does not mean that the use of ‘rough music’ should be romanticised or assumed to be wholly progressive. As Thompson pointed out, effigies of the influential radical and public figure, Thomas Paine in the 1790s were arguably the most burned after Guy Fawkes in British history![4]

Effigy burning during the reform crisis

During the reform crisis of 1830-32 some of the surviving repertoires of ‘rough music’ were being employed by protestors. We have already considered the use of some of these practices in earlier articles concerning reaction to the failure of the Second Reform Bill in October 1831. These included collective hooting, groaning and jeering in the presence of anti-reforming Lords and Bishops and crowds traversing cities and towns to protest outside the homes of anti-reformers.[5] However, these behaviours often deviated from the more pacific and representational forms of ‘rough music’ towards more expressive crimes such as damaging property and actually ‘roughing’ up the victims.

One form of ‘rough music’ which was prevalent in 1831 and appears to have largely retained its more representational form was the practice of parading and burning effigies, often in symbolic locations for the ‘victim’ or the crowd. These public protests often involved multiple, elaborate manikins and theatrical performances before the climatic denouement. This carnivalesque theatricality does not necessarily mean that effigy burning was a ‘respectable’ or even acceptable form of protest for middle-class reformers or even Political Unions. Neither does its relatively harmless nature mean that the authorities were happy for it to take place. But in the Autumn of 1831, take place it did, and frequently too.  

Indeed, when news of the defeat of the Bill in the House of Lords reached some cities and towns, one of the first public responses was to create effigies and parade them. For example, when the news reached High Wycombe on the afternoon of Saturday 8th October, the shops put their shutters up, muffled church bells rang dumb peals, and a manikin of the anti-reformer Lord Wharncliffe was paraded around the town and then hung on a lamp-iron at the Market-house. These parades were not always one-off events but part of a series of public gatherings that spanned several days, involving several targets and quite theatrical displays. In High Wycombe the following night Wharncliffe’s effigy was torched to the “hootings and revilings” of a large crowd. On the third night an effigy of Lord Carrington was paraded and burned on St Mary’s Bridge “not many yards from his seat” at Wycombe Abbey.[6]

Although the practice of effigy burning as protest was not directly connected with the culture of ‘respectable’ political organisations such as Political Unions and Reform associations the popularity of the practice, particularly amongst the so-called ‘lower-orders’, meant that it often appeared in tandem with or in the aftermath of pro-reform meetings. A precursor of a mass meeting might involve a predominantly working-class crowd parading a town or city with effigies, banners and music on their way to the main event. Similarly, a raucous parade after a meeting leading to the fiery end for the representation of a hated protagonist, was also common practice. Ironically, in Wellington, Somerset, the town that gave its name to the peerage bestowed to Arthur Wellesley during the Napoleonic wars, this is exactly what happened in November 1831. Flying in the face of supposed local loyalties to the ‘Iron Duke’, after a pro-reform meeting in the town a firework display ensued followed by the parading and burning of an effigy of the Duke of Wellington.[7] 

While it is true that effigy burning crowds might target any recognisable and prominent opponent of reform, including secular figures like Wharncliffe, Colonel Lygon in Worcester, the Marquis of Londonderry in Sunderland and the Duke of Wellington, it was the bishops who bore the brunt. Their culpability as engineers of the Bill’s failure was clear enough for it had been voted down in parliament’s upper chamber by 21 bishops exercising power as ‘Lords Spiritual’. But bishops also represented the authority of the Established church in the provincial cities to which they were attached, making them key figures of conservative reaction in local as well as national contexts. As we’ll see, symbolic action against local bishops in their home towns offered reform crowds across the country a platform from which to express progressive ideas within the politics of place. The fact that in at least one comparatively cosmopolitan London parish (Clerkenwell), effigies of all 21 offending bishops were consigned to the flames perhaps only strengthens the argument that local geographies and associations were critically observed elsewhere.[8] 

Moreover, as leaders of the Anglican establishment, bishops were also associated with the wider role played in propagandising the anti-reform agenda by lesser representatives of the Church. Clergymen and religious writers had been some of the most prominent exponents of reaction during the reform crisis, mobilising, as Robert Saunders argues, “against their opponents an array of scriptural authorities, pitting the principles of the reform movement against the moral law of God”. They were in a very good position to do so too, given the number of pulpits from which they might weekly expound to an attentive audience; a privilege no other institution of the state enjoyed. Reform, it was regularly argued in Anglican sermons, was a challenge to the natural order and to the inequalities of wealth and poverty ordained by the laws of God, “fatal to the moral well-being of those individuals by whom it is entertained”. No radical reform campaign either before or since attracted comparable levels of opposition from the Church.[9]

Knowing how best to respond to the burnings of bishops in effigy, especially given the coincidence of the Bill’s rejection with the annual observation of Guy Fawkes night on 5 November, was not a straightforward matter for the Church. Guy Fawkes night was, after all, an annual public celebration of Protestant alliance between Church and King, in which effigies of the Pope were as likely to be tossed onto bonfires as effigies of Fawkes. While corporate bodies processed and assembled to hear commemorative sermons, the lower classes warmed their toes at approved civic bonfires and drank pots of loyalist ale. Arguments over effigy burning were not so much about the form of popular ritual then, as the detail of its content. As one report from Birmingham put it,  

It has been the custom for many years to usher in the day with ringing of bells and at night to burn the effigy of Guy Faux. But, oh, strange perversion of fate! We had no bell-ringing and instead of effigies of Guy Faux, we had effigies of Bishops. Throughout the whole of Saturday, numbers were to be seen, in full canonicals, carried through the streets and at night consigned to the flames, amidst the cheers of the spectators.[10]

Bishops and clergymen could hardly object to effigy burning per se. One of those who voted against the Bill was Henry Phillpotts, Bishop of Exeter. After his own effigy was burnt in the city in 1831, he explained his reluctance to take any action against it in a letter to the Duke of Wellington:  

The night has gone off with little more excitement than is, I understand, usual on the 5th of November. As the populace has always been suffered to burn Guy Fawkes and the Pope the magistrates very judiciously resolved not to interfere with their usual sport and not be inquisitive as to the additional figures they might choose to burn. This was communicated to me for my opinion, it being known that an effigy of myself, as well as of Lord Rolle,[11] etc., had been prepared. I entirely concurred in the view taken by them and expressed my wish that the burning should take place, for it seemed to me quite plain that it was much better the effigies, as they were prepared, should be got rid of, else the peace would be endangered on some other night when the authorities were less ready to meet the mischief. I mention this circumstance that Your Grace may not suppose if you see any report of these matters in the newspapers that it was weakness on the part of the magistracy which caused the illegal sport.[12]

The letter clearly exposes the relations of force between the authorities and the protestors; that is, the Bishop would rather be burned in effigy than escalate the situation and risk having his residence burned down. These were not idle threats. Only a few days earlier, in Bristol, this is precisely what had happened, when rioters torched the Bishop’s Palace and came close to razing the nearby cathedral.

Henry Philpotts (1778-1869), Bishop of Exeter 1851[13]

Not that Phillpotts was to burn alone. According to Cobbett, Exeter’s reformers planned “to burn the effigy of the Bishop, an officious little Tory Alderman, the Bishops’ secretary, and several other obnoxious characters”.[14] In Exeter the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes and the Pope on bonfire night was an established tradition, though there is less evidence that it often extended to other contemporary, unpopular figures.[15] The context of the wave of reform-related protests and riots in October allied with the fact that both the mayor and the Bishop had received anonymous threatening letters certainly heightened the tension. The ambiguity of the language in the inflammatory letters and notices that were circulating in the city and their reference to the serious reform riots in Bristol that had occurred only a few days earlier, prompted fears that greater destruction was likely to follow. “Rouse ye Exonians”, urged a handbill: 

Take a pattern from the Bristol Heroes. What won’t reform by fair means must by foul… On Saturday the common enemy will be burnt. Arm yourselves and defend the cause!!!  

In response, the authorities  prepared four units of the East Devon Yeomanry cavalry and swore in as many special constables as they could, although the mayor remained apprehensive since “the number of special constables who have come forward on this occasion has been very limited”.[16] This was unfortunate for the authorities were well aware that any injudicious interventions by the military were as likely to exacerbate as calm the situation, and the mayor made sure the Yeomanry “were not permitted to enter the city but were stationed at the Cavalry and Artillery Barracks adjoining it”.[17] This wasn’t quite what the Bishop had been hoping for. “The Bishop has solicited to have a troop stationed within the Palace”, reported the Yeomanry’s commander, Lord Rolle: 

for if burnt, the cathedral could not escape being destroyed as the Palace opens into the Cathedral. This I declined as I considered it might so irritate the mob as to cause the destruction of both Cathedral and Palace.[18]

One thing the authorities were aware of in Exeter was the likely location chosen for the ritual; the Cathedral which, as Lord Rolle pointed out, adjoined the Bishop’s Palace. Outside the west door of the Cathedral had been the traditional spot for the building of bonfires on Guy Fawkes night and the clergy had customarily donated money to help stage the event.[19] In November 1831, the location probably appeared to the pro-reform crowd as ironically providential whilst the authorities began to realise they had a potential nightmare on their hands. It is unclear if the clergy offered their financial support for the event in 1831! 

In Phillpotts’ case the effigy burning was not merely a knee jerk reaction to the failure of the bill; he had been a marked man from the moment Wellington’s government of 1830 appointed him: 

Radicals and dissenters in Exeter…alleged that the Bishop had obtained preferment by changing his views towards Catholic Emancipation in 1829. A High Churchman of national reputation, and a Tory of the extreme right by education, marriage, and political conviction, Phillpotts acquired the image of a political prelate but was an unpopular figure in his diocese where the Western Times and the Evangelical Flying Post took every opportunity to Lampoon him.[20]

Henry Philpotts may have been new to Exeter but it was not the first time that he had come across the practice of effigy-burning as protest. The previous year his elder brother, John had become the MP for Gloucester. His sibling’s support for Wellington’s ailing anti-reform government drew the ire of the “mob” in Gloucester who paraded an effigy through the streets before cunningly burning it outside the city’s boundary where the police had no jurisdiction.[21]

A wall poster from Coventry making the Bishops’ role in the Lords’ rejection of the Reform Bill abundantly clear.[22]

In Carlisle news of the defeat first arrived late on the Sunday night by Express coach, though by Monday morning it was apparently “known throughout the town”. The Carlisle Reform Association organised a public meeting for 1.00pm that day at the Swifts Racecourse which was attended by a crowd of 8-12,000 people. At the end of the meeting the crowd burned an effigy of the Bishop of Carlisle who had voted against the Reform Bill by proxy. The following evening two processions, composed of 4-8,000 people, formed up and paraded the streets. Under the headline “Disgraceful Proceeding” the anti-reform newspaper the Carlisle Patriot described the protest:

a numerous body of operatives and others, a great proportion of which were women and boys, paraded in procession through the streets of this city, preceded by drum and fife, several torches, and flags, with two effigies, the one purporting to be that of the Lord Bishop of the Diocese, with two placards affixed to it, one of them bearing the words “The plunderer of the people” and the other “The enemy of mankind.” The other was that of the Devil! The latter was taken in procession from Botchergate, about eight o’clock, to Caldewgate, there to meet the party with the figure of the Bishop, and the whole then proceeded in one body into the city.[23]

Other sources described the theatrical interaction of the two effigies on the final leg of the procession, with the Devil apparently urging the Bishop on.[24] Both effigies were burned at the Market Cross amidst the “yells” of the protestors. Protests of this scale, performance and longevity were nothing new in Carlisle. In early November of the previous year, at the height of the reform unrest and Captain Swing riots, the populace had responded over several days by:

repeatedly parading and ‘executing’ effigies of Lord Wellington and Robert Peel at the market cross (thereby reversing the ritual of the Corporation who had burned the works of Thomas Paine on that spot in 1795).[25]

A similar procession was got up in Huddersfield. “No funeral was ever conducted with greater order and solemnity”, proclaimed the Poor Man’s Guardian after an estimated crowd of fifteen to twenty thousand marched into the Market Place with the effigy of the Bishop of Llandaff and threw it onto a large bonfire.  

A mask formed the face with a hat upon it; a black calico gown with clerical sleeves covered the body. Under one arm was placed a sheaf and under the other a lamb, representing the tenth lamb and the tenth sheaf. 

 A man dressed in a surplus read the prepared oration: 

For, lo! And behold! Here is a great fat, bloated, blundering bishop, whom we have bartered for the poor, deluded, murdering Guy Faux! This the last Fifth of November which shall constitute the anniversary of a bloody church and state conspiracy, in support of tithes, Easter offerings, oblations, obventions and all the horrible and dreadful train of business, got up by the worse than devils, to deceive their dupes for the purpose of rioting in holy luxury out of the grindings of our bones, to our utter ruin and past and present degradation.[26]

At Coventry, the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry was paraded in effigy and treated to the same indignities when “a man dressed in the gown of a clergyman read a long oration of a humorous nature just before they set fire to the effigy and in the evening it was cried all over the city”.[27]

Elaborately choreographed burnings like these demonstrate something of the challenge posed to local authorities by their policing.  On the one hand, they were “humorous” by design, a carnivalesque channelling of discontent, which, in itself was unlikely to result in extensive material damage. Yet, on the other, there was always the risk of escalation into more serious attacks on property.  As a concerned gentleman in Surrey expressed it in a letter to the Home Secretary warning of plans to burn an effigy of the Bishop of Winchester at Farnham, if the protest was not “temperately kept in check (it) may by possibility produce results not at present contemplated… especially if liquor be given to them.[28] Similar fears were entertained at Worcester where it was feared that a plan to burn Dr Carr, the city’s Bishop could produce “a disposition to riot amongst the lower class”, and at Wells, Somerset where it was expected that an effigy of the Bishop of Bath and Wells was to be paraded and burned at the annual bull baiting on 5 November. “It would give general dissatisfaction to many among the better order of the lower classes to attempt to stop it”, counselled one county magistrate:  “but it might be as well to have a few infantry to protect the Palace and a few dragoons or yeomanry in the neighbourhood.”[29]

A party of constables was certainly stationed at the Bishops’ Palace in Worcester just in case things did get out of hand, and a half-hearted attempt to force the doors and gain access to the prebends on College Green were easily thwarted.[30] Nevertheless, the city authorities were conscious that Carr felt sufficiently intimidated to stay away from his Worcester palace and were deeply uneasy about it. The mayor appealed to Home Secretary Melbourne. Dr Carr was effectively  

prevented from coming here in the exercise of his official duties by threats of the destruction of his property and of violence to his person, and is this, My Lord, to be endured in a country where our most gracious Sovereign is the head of that Church of which his Lordship is Prelate? The Bishop of Rochester, our worthy Dean, is also prevented from coming hither for the present, from the apprehension of mischief’[31]

But, however legitimate the fear of escalation from good humoured charivari to attacks on property, or to physical assaults on bishops and clergymen, the significant fact remains that such fears were not realised. There is some evidence for coincidence between effigy burning and riot at Worcester but the link between the timing of the two actions is not clear. Generally speaking, the crowds who burned buildings, destroyed property and liberated gaols at Derby, Bristol and Nottingham, or broke windows and fought the yeomanry at Blandford, Yeovil and Sherborne in response to the Lord’s rejection of the Bill may or may not have been composed of the same people who burned effigies of bishops, but each of these crowds was constrained by a shared sense of appropriate behaviour. There is no evidence that effigy burning led to attacks on property.[32]

As far as Exeter was concerned, if the mayor and Lord Rolle believed a relatively cautious approach was necessary, the city’s wealthier inhabitants were far from feeling reassured. According to Cobbett, they were “so affrighted…they removed their plate [silver] and valuables, provided themselves with firearms and fortified their houses in every possible way.[33] Clearly the practice of effigy burning was far from a benign event for the ‘victim’ (or those who perceived themselves as ‘victims’), especially if it occurred within view of their residences. The Exeter event was particularly grotesque, and one wonders if the Bishop was looking on, as his elaborate manikin was paraded into the grounds of the Cathedral and unveiled:

no move was made to burn the effigy of the Bishop…till eleven o’clock at night, when a large body of determined fellows made their appearance in the Cathedral-yard with the effigy of the poor Bishop, mitred and lawn-sleeved…also a large quantity of faggots; a temporary gallows was soon erected, and the pious scaramouch was soon hoisted upon the gibbet.  Its appearance was ridiculously emblematical of this notorious hater of liberty and reform. The head was composed of a hollow turnip, with a candle in the centre, in which were cut the nose and mouth, but no eyes – showing, that though the head possessed light, the bishop was blind to the past and present scenes around him. The faggots being adjusted, they were set fire to, and the light soon discovered the vitals, composed of the liver and lights of a sheep, and a heart one mass of corruption, which the flames soon devoured, with the hollow head, mitre, and lawn sleeves, of one of the twenty-four enemies of reform, and with-holders of the people’s just rights; all this was done in the Cathedral-yard, in full sight of the [Bishop’s] Palace. Had any attempt been made to prevent this innocent ebullition of public indignation, I have no doubt many lives would have been lost, and we would have had a second Bristol affair.

The eyewitness to this bizarre and frightening ritual described its end:

…the bonfire and effigy consumed, the assembled multitude, which was composed of many thousands, gave three groans for the bishops and Tories, and nine hearty cheers for the cause of reform.  The Bishop’s Palace was filled with armed soldiers, who kept guard all night.[34]

How these theatrical crowd events impacted upon the anti-reform clergy as a group is hard to assess, but the Bishop of Exeter’s bravado in referring to his own burning as mere ‘sport’ was certainly not reflected in the response of the Bishop of Durham, William Van Mildert, when he found himself targeted at Bishop Auckland. On 3 November he cautiously abandoned his sumptuous palace at Auckland Castle and bunkered down at Harrogate, penning a scribbled message to Lord Melbourne as he went: 

When not only persons ignorant or reckless of character, but Gentlemen and Magistrates address these multitudes in the most inflammatory language, and stir up their hatred towards me in terms that have a direct tendency to incite them to acts of spoliation and personal violence, it is impossible not to perceive that any efforts on my part to bring about a better feeling in the community must be unavailing. Already the populace in this town have burnt me in effigy at my castle gates and threatened to demolish my castle windows and it has been recently ascertained that for two or three days a party lay in wait at Darlington in the expectation that I was to pass through there and for the avowed purpose of inflicting upon me some personal outrage.[35]

Van Mildert’s fear of the “Darlington mob”, as the Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser described them, was again not unfounded. Crowds had gathered in Darlington several times in the aftermath of the defeat of the Reform Bill to carry out targeted attacks on carriages with anti-reforming Lords and their entourages that had stopped at coaching inns in the town on their northward journey. These incidents went well beyond ‘rough music’ and effigy burning. On 16 October a crowd rapidly assembled when rumours spread that the anti-reformer Lord Tankerville’s carriage was in town. The ‘mob’ set up a barricade of wagons, which forced the carriage down the main throughfare which was lined by a “hooting and hissing” crowd, hurling bottles and paving stones. In an overly histrionic manner, a journalist from the anti-reform Morning Post described the “Darlington mob” as worse than the “savages of Hungary” drawing reference to the recent bloody revolt of the peasantry of eastern Slovakia against the nobility. He also noted that the rioters would not be enfranchised by the Reform Bill, putting their behaviour down to the “bad passions of lower class persons”.[36] Two weeks later, the crowd assembled once again in Darlington when rumours that the infamous anti-reformer Lord Londonderry was passing through. However, the carriage in question was actually carrying the MP for Londonderry, Sir Robert Ferguson. This did not stop the crowd from badly damaging the carriage before Ferguson escaped.[37] These violent incidents led to the nobility having to travel via Catterick Bridge or Stockton-upon-Tees to avoid unruly Darlington.[38] It appears that Bishop of Durham’s information that a “party lay in wait for him” and his fears of the “Darlington mob” were quite justified. Behind the largely peaceful ritual effigy burnings lay some real threats to the person and property of the anti-reform nobility and clergy.  

These examples of reform-related effigy burnings, which have been recounted in detail, are only a sample of similar public episodes which occurred in at least 28 locations across England and Scotland.[39] Just under half (11) occurred in October in the immediate aftermath of the failure of the Second Reform Bill, though seventeen were associated with Guy Fawkes night in November. Popular targets included the Duke of Wellington and Lord Wharncliffe, and the Bishops of Carlisle, Gloucester, Durham, Winchester, Exeter and Canterbury. All of these Bishops were torched in effigy by large crowds in their local areas within ten days of the news of the defeat of the Bill. The potential danger of violent crowd action arising from both spontaneous and ritual effigy burnings clearly focused the minds of the clergy, authorities and the military, despite the fact that most of the representational immolations passed off peacefully.   

Remember, remember……

The prevalence of the mass public effigy burnings, particularly of Bishops, as a consequence of the defeat of the Reform Bill had also been spotted by the pro-reform press. The irony of a ‘world turned upside down’ where it was not heretics that were being burned but the clergy, was not lost on the reformers. The effigy-burnings became the focus of several humorous cartoons, poems and songs. For example, the Weekly Despatch in London reported:

Yesterday being the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, a knot of little urchins exhibited a “Poor Guy” at the West End of town in the lawn sleeves and regular canonicals of a Bishop, and actually conveyed this effigy of a Right Reverend Father in God to the Secretary of State’s Office, where the singular figure excited no little astonishment among the officials in attendance. A new chaunt was, we understand, provided for the occasion, commencing as follows:

“Pray, remember, from this November,

Episcopal treason and plot;

We know no reason why Reverend treason,

Should ever be forgot”[40]

The more radical Examiner developed the theme of ‘clerical treason’ in offering its own extended version of the chaunt:[41]

Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle also picked up on the theme and offered both a cartoon and a somewhat darker take on the Remember, Remember poem:[42]


1 Quoted in Edward Hughes, H. Brougham, James Losh, W. Dunelm, Ernest and Grey “The Bishops and Reform, 1831-3: Some Fresh Correspondence” The English Historical Review, Vol. 56, No. 223 (July 1941), p. 464.
2 Horn, Nancy and Charles Tilly. Contentious Gatherings in Britain,1758-1834. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research 8872 (Michigan: ICPSR, 2000) p. 25.
3 This author’s emphasis. Thompson, Edward Palmer. Customs in common: Studies in traditional popular culture (New York: New Press, 1993) p. 467, 469.
4 Ibid. pp. 525-526.
5 See the previous articles: Ball, R. The defeat of the Second Reform Bill in October 1831 – An overview of public responses Part 1 – The overall survey, Part 2 – In the metropolis and Part 3 – Black flags and dumb peals: the spread of news of the defeat. Riot 1831 https://riot1831.com/.
6 Monmouthshire Merlin 15 October 1831; Evening Mail 17 October 1831.
7  Leamington Spa Courier 26 November 1831.
8 For the indiscriminate burnings at Clerkenwell see The Sun, 8 November 1831.
9 Saunders, Robert ‘God and the Great Reform Act: Preaching Against Reform, 1831-1832’, Journal of British Studies, 53, 2 (2014), p.380, 392.
10 The Sun, 10 November 1831.
11 Lord Rolle was the largest landowner in Devon in the period and commander of the Royal 1st Devon Yeomanry. Like Phillpotts, Rolle had also voted against the Second Reform Bill in the House of Lords.
12 “The Bishop of Exeter to Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington 5th November 1831” in Despatches, Correspondence, and Memoranda of Field Marshall Arthur Duke of Wellington Vol. VIII [November, 1831 to December, 1832] (London: John Murray, 1880) pp. 35-36.
13 By John Prescott Knight
14 Cobbett’s Weekly Register 12 November 1831.
15 Our thanks go to Dr Todd Gray for pointing this out to us and suggesting that the practice became more common after 1831.
16 TNA, HO 52/12/1, Mayor of Exeter to Lord Melbourne, 4 November 1831, ff.67-8.
17 TNA, HO 52/12/1, Mayor of Exeter to Lord Melbourne, 7 November 1831, ff.72-3.
18 TNA, HO 52/12/1, Col. Rolle to Lord Melbourne, 7 November 1831, f.53.
19 Swift, Roger “Guy Fawkes Celebrations in Victorian Exeter” History Today Nov 1, 1981 p. 5.
20 Ibid.
21 Cheltenham Journal 29 November 1830.
22 TNA HO 52/15 f.442
23 Carlisle Patriot 15 October 1831.
24 Evening Mail 17 October 1831; The Scotsman 19 October 1831.
25 Navickas, Katrina. Protest and the Politics of Space and Place, 1789–1848 (Manchester University Press, 2015) p. 128.
26 Poor Man’s Guardian, 19 November 1831; Leeds Intelligencer, 10 November 1831.
27 The Globe 9 November 1831.
28 TNA, HO 52/15/2, Richard Steadman to Lord Melbourne, 3 November 1831, ff.373-4.
29 TNA, HO 52/15/3, Bathurst to Lord Melbourne, 1 November 1831, f.586; HO 52/15/1, John Williams to Lord Melbourne, 1 November 1831, f.48.
30 Worcester Journal, 10 November 1831; English Chronicle, 8 November 1831.
31 TNA, HO 52/15/1, Henry Clifton to Lord Melbourne, 9 November 1831, f.69.
32 For struggles over the control of Bonfire Night in mid nineteenth century Britain within the wider framework of attempts to constrain disorderly plebeian culture, see Robert D. Storch. ‘”Please to Remember the Fifth of November”: Conflict, Solidarity and Public Order in Southern England, 1815-1900’, in R. D Storch (ed.), Popular Culture and Custom in Nineteenth Century England (London, 1982), pp.71-99.
33 Cobbett’s Weekly Register 12 November 1831.
34 Cobbett’s Weekly Register 12 November 1831
35 TNA, HO 52/12/1, Bishop of Durham to Lord Melbourne, 1 November 1831, ff.303-5. Van Mildert had garnered a reputation as a High Church opponent of anything resembling ‘Jacobinical principles’ and he continued fighting the Reform Bill in the Lords until its final passage in 1832. Reform, he argued, was nothing less than “a desire to set the subject over the ruler and to trample the ruler under the subject”. Saunders, God and the Great Reform Act, p. 391. For the flight to Harrogate see Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser, 8 November 1831.
36  Morning Post 22 October 1831.
37 Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser 9 November 1831
38 Morning Post 29 October 1831.
39 The full list in chronological order is High Wycombe, Sheffield, St Giles (London), Carlisle, Leeds, Strathmiglo (Fife), Gloucester, Bishop Auckland, Farnham, Auchtergaven (Perth and Kinross), Sunderland, Ardwick Green (Manchester), Langport (Somerset), Huddersfield, Burgate (Canterbury), Brecon and Exeter.
40 Weekly Dispatch (London) 06 November 1831.
41 Examiner 06 November 1831.
42 Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle 06 November 1831