Available from Cambridge University Press
Right of Election:
in the freemen
Estimated number qualified to vote:
Number of voters:
2,763 in 18262
21,242 (1821); 27,278 (1831)
|8 Mar. 1820||EDWARD ELLICE||1474|
|Henry Jackson Close||135|
|10 June 1826||RICHARD EDENSOR HEATHCOTE||1535|
|THOMAS BIDCLIFFE FYLER||1522|
|30 July 1830||THOMAS BIDCLIFFE FYLER||451|
|29 Apr. 1831||EDWARD ELLICE||1658|
|WILLIAM HENRY LYTTON EARLE BULWER||1560|
|Thomas Bilcliffe Fyler||11503|
Coventry, an important manufacturing town where out-working prevailed, was situated locally in the county of the city of Coventry, a separate jurisdiction within Warwickshire. Its economy and politics were influenced by its three main industries or trades - silk (including the weaving of ribbon and election cockades), watchmaking and cordwaining - of which silk was overwhelmingly the most important, and by its proximity to the large unrepresented town of Birmingham, 18 miles to the north-east. Borough management was vested in a select and self-appointed corporation of a mayor, a further ten aldermen and a nominated common council of 20, who together formed the ‘grand council’. They elected the mayor and two sheriffs (the returning officers) annually, although successive terms were common, and appointed the recorder (a peer for whom the steward deputized) and all civic officers. The aldermen were the justices of the peace within the city and its county and presided over the ten wards, or electoral districts. These served as administrative units for poor relief by the directors of the poor of the incorporated parishes of St. Michael’s and Holy Trinity, and also for the distribution of subscription and hardship funds and charity doles, which included over £2,200 made available annually by the corporation.4 The municipal commissioners criticized it in their 1835 report as
a permanent and self-constituted body, powerful from their position and the possession of magisterial authority, influential from the considerable revenues over which they exercise an irresponsible control, and from the distribution of extensive charities, which they assume a right to dispense as a matter of personal or individual patronage. Presiding over a commercial city, subject to the influence of no individual patron, it became the leading object of the corporation to secure to themselves the nomination of the Members for the city.
They added, as ‘a remarkable fact’, that it was ‘composed pretty equally of Whigs and Tories’ and surmised from their collective support for candidates of either party that ‘the prevailing distinction has been ... between the corporation and anti-corporation party’.5
The franchise was restricted to freemen having ‘served seven years’ apprenticeship to one and the same trade in the ... city or the suburbs’. No residence qualification applied and it was estimated that 600-1,000 out-voters, mainly from London, Birmingham and ‘the country’, were available for polling.6 Admissions between January 1820 and December 1831 totalled 1,681 (1820, 197; 1821, 44; 1822, 86; 1823, 64; 1824, 97; 1825, 176; 1826, 388; 1827, 126; 1828, 116; 1829, 117; 1830, 211; 1831, 59). Traditionally, these peaked in anticipation of a poll, when candidates could be expected to pay the £1 3s. 6d. charge (a 3s. fee and £1 6d. stamp duty). Between 1824 and 1830, when the corporation, responding to the threat of free trade in silk, contrived to determine the representation, admissions were consistently high, and a sharp increase in disputed and rejected applications was recorded. From 1830 the Coventry Political Union, following their own agenda, vetted parliamentary candidates and organized the electors.7 Canvassing, or ‘rallying the town’ as it was known, involved parading the streets with bands, effigies, placards, flags and music, and was mainly undertaken by a candidate’s committee on the authorization of his agent, who monitored expenses and kept the lists. Voters for the successful candidates received 5s. Sweeps were employed to display banners or symbols from the chimneytops during polling and rituals from the annual Lady Godiva procession were incorporated in the chairing. Skulduggery and violence at elections was usual, employment came virtually to a standstill, and tallies were unknown. Polls were rarely impeded by interruptions or objections, but the ‘party who have the mob, which is sometimes aided by the civil power, have the greatest advantages’.8
Party loyalties were fostered at the Fox Club, the Whig Craven Arms, the Tory King’s Head and in the local press: the ‘church and king’ Coventry Mercury and the Coventry Herald, published by the ribbon warehouseman Nathaniel Merridew, representing Whig and Dissenting interests. Criticizing both, the editor of the ephemeral Lewis’s Coventry Recorder, William Greatheed Lewis, who was indicted for sedition in 1820, complained before the general election that year that the ‘Mercury is afraid of offending the treasury’ and the ‘Herald is equally anxious to serve the corporation’.9 The Coventry Observer, a pro-reform, pro-Catholic paper established in 1827, after the Herald defected to the ‘Tories’, was amalgamated with it when the breach was healed in 1830.10 Politically, the main focus was on national issues and their impact on Coventry. Local bills enacted in 1820-32 concerned the Coventry Gas Light Company (1821), the Hinchley-Nuneaton road (1825), the Foleshill poor (1830), the Coventry-Stoney Straton turnpike (1831), and the Coventry-Over Whitacre road (1831).
The Dark Blues or ‘Liberals’ had first returned Peter Moore, a former nabob adroit at handling local legislation, in 1803. Edward ‘Bear’ Ellice, his colleague on the same interest since 1818, was a City merchant of Scottish ancestry, trading principally with Canada. Both had acted as spokesmen for the silk industry, urged inquiry into manufacturing distress, repeal of the combination laws, reform and Catholic relief, and denounced the repressive legislation enacted after Peterloo. Moore had recently received a gold cup in recognition of his services and as a hint that he should retire, while Ellice had antagonized the corporation by supporting free trade and the radical weavers by refusing to attend their protest meeting after Peterloo.11 The return from America of William Cobbett†, who had first been broached as a candidate in 1818, was celebrated at the Crown and Anchor in December 1819. After securing support from another putative 1818 candidate, the editor of the radical Black Dwarf, Thomas Jonathan Wooler, and the London freemen, he confirmed his candidature at a meeting in Coventry, where he ridiculed the Members’ credentials as reformers, 14 Feb. 1820.12 Ellice, the ‘man with the money’, refused to desert Moore, whose retirement was erroneously announced.13 They issued a joint notice, 21 Feb., and arrived in Coventry, 4 Mar., escorted by what Cobbett termed a yeomanry of ‘rich ruffians’.14 He had returned from canvassing the out-voters, 29 Feb., solicited a mass subscription (later caricatured as ‘the ovation or lesser triumph’) and maintained that the ‘corporation silkmen’ who belatedly applied to the treasury for candidates were ‘anxious to see him in Parliament ... [but] wished, not less anxiously that ... [he] should get a seat somewhere else!’15 The Whig Warwick Advertiser commented that ‘those favourable to Cobbett are by no means contemptible in number’, but ‘a great body of the freemen and inhabitants are averse to radical principles’ and disgusted by his return bearing Thomas Paine’s bones. Henry Jackson Close, an army captain unconnected with Coventry, arrived from London and was proposed after polling commenced, 8 Mar. Sponsors’ names and speeches were not reported. The poll stood at Cobbett 81, Ellice 75, Moore 68, Close 28 on the first day, and Ellice 198, Moore 180, Cobbett 149, Close 98, on the second, after the Dark Blues, primed with ‘gin hot, gin cold and buttered beer’, took control of the route to the hustings and pushed the Cobbettites downhill from them.16 Moore’s agent, the attorney Mark Pearman, negotiated Close’s withdrawal that evening ‘with expenses paid’, and Cobbett’s committee were besieged in their chairman the druggist James Grant’s house. Their candidate’s illness was commemorated in doggerel:
Cobbett’s afflicted with Paine in the Bones.
And a very bad cold: it has stopped his chattering!17
With the poll at Ellice 727, Moore 692, Cobbett 352, Close 114, troops were summoned to quell rioting during the weekend break, and Cobbett, claiming that his life was in danger, demanded protection.18 He ceased to attend after his protest to the sheriff was overruled, 13 Mar., but sent up a voter an hour to keep the poll open, until an ‘accident or manoeuvre by the Blues’ prevented his man polling, 15 Mar. To the government’s relief, the ‘election was de facto closed and the bells pealed’, with the tally at Ellice 1,474, Moore 1,422, Cobbett 517, Close 135. Cobbett, whose henchman John Reid challenged Ellice to a duel, took ‘flight’ that afternoon for Birmingham, taking 16 sworn statements testifying to the threat to his life and the violence and intimidation against his supporters, and announced a petition.19 Ellice and Moore were chaired on the 17th and, assisted by the liberal ribbon manufacturer Charles Lilly, they dined their partisans at the Craven Arms and the Fox Club. Their voters received the customary 5s.20 Ellice, who picked up the £6,000 bill, informed his brother-in-law Lord Grey that the ‘Tories and magistrates had not given ... Cobbett countenance and told their dependents it was quite immaterial whether they voted for Close or Cobbett’, for whom 70, over half Close’s total, split their votes.21 According to The Times, 17 Mar., 2,016 polled. Ellice and Moore had clear majorities from Coventry (Ellice 1,117, Moore 1,067, Cobbett 330). The London out-voters gave Ellice 141, Moore 141 and Cobbett 109 votes, and Ellice secured 216, Moore 214, and Cobbett 78 votes from the country freemen. Analysis of the pollbook is hampered by what its printer William Rotherham termed ‘little errors of the clerks’, but the preponderance of plumpers for Cobbett (332 or 64 per cent of his total) and splitting for the Dark Blues (99 per cent of Ellice’s and Moore’s totals) is confirmed. Rotherham’s statistics show that Ellice and Moore carried all ten Coventry wards. No London and only ten country freemen voted for Close. The 274 London voters included 150 Ellice-Moore splitters, a single plumper for Ellice and 123 for Cobbett, almost a quarter of his total.22 Cobbett’s petition alleging intimidation by the masters ‘who put up notices warning those who would vote for Cobbett of consequences’ and complaining of the threat to his life and the ‘means by which his (300) voters were driven away on the second day’ was presented by the former Member Joseph Butterworth, 11 May, but discharged for want of recognizances, 26 May 1820.23
Before the Warwickshire by-election in October 1820 Lilly convened a meeting of the Coventry city and county freeholders, who, encouraged by the mayor William Perkins and town clerk and clerk of the peace for the county of Coventry, John Carter, resolved to test their votes. They declared for the radical Birmingham banker Richard Spooner* at the Craven Arms, 27 Oct.24 Only those with alternative Warwickshire freeholds were polled. The remainder (2,544 according to Spooner’s lists; 673 rising to 893 according to Lawley’s; 1,556 according to The Times) could have swayed the election in Spooner’s favour, and had their names and preference registered. Seventeen, including the attorney and banker Thomas Ball Troughton, the weavers’ leader Peter Gregory, the ribbon manufacturer Adam Herbert and the silkman Thomas Morris, petitioned the Commons, 8 May 1821, who ruled that ‘no person in virtue of any freehold situate in the county of the city of Coventry has any right to vote at any election of Members for the county of Warwick’, 11 May.25 Between 1821 and 1826 tensions between the city, its county and Warwickshire persisted over increasing poor relief costs during slumps in the silk trade, proposals for a new gaol, rate apportionments and the Coventry freeholders’ demands for the publication of the corporation’s accounts. Adam, as counsel for the freeholders, recommended pressing for a new charter or commission of the peace, which the barrister William Reader, as steward for the corporation, resisted and the home secretary Peel was disinclined to grant.26
A petition received by the Lords, 12 June 1820, from certain inhabitants selling ‘Breakfast Powder’ - a tax-free coffee substitute derived from roasted grain and manufactured by the radical Henry Hunt* - sought clarification of the product’s legal status and government action to alleviate their distress.27 The weavers’ leaders Jonathan Clarke, Jonathan Chambers and Peter Gregory were the main speakers at a meeting chaired by Joseph Dixon at the Anchor tavern in September 1820 to address Queen Caroline, who later received gifts of monogrammed ribbon and a gold watch manufactured by Mayo and Clark.28 Her partisans celebrated the abandonment of the bill of pains and penalties in November with illuminations and ox and sheep roasting.29 The corporation, however, resolved to address the king, 5 Dec., and adopted a ‘dutiful and loyal address’, which the recorder Earl Craven was asked to present, 11 Dec. 1820.30 The wine merchants and traders petitioned the Lords seeking changes in bankruptcy legislation, 19 June 1821, and the Commons received petitions organized by the radicals for remission of Hunt’s gaol sentence, 2 Apr., and by the maltsters against the beer retail bill, 18 July 1822, and excise duties, 27 Feb. 1824.31 The churchwardens and directors of the poor petitioned against the 1821 and 1822 poor bills;32 and the vicar and churchwardens against Catholic relief (which the Members supported), 17 Apr. 1823, 18 Apr. 1825.33 The inhabitants and Dissenters sent up petitions for inquiry into the indictment in Demerara of the Methodist missionary John Smith, 27 May 1824, and against colonial slavery, 12 May 1823, 17 Feb. 1826, when 1,500 signed one to both Houses for final and general abolition.34 Similar petitions were sent up during the 1828 and 1830-1 anti-slavery campaigns.35
Moore’s proposals for repeal of the combination laws, 1822-24, were popular with the weavers, who petitioned for Hume’s bill enacting it, 1 Apr. 1824, but the masters and the corporation lobbied for their re-enactment in 1825.36 The crucial issue, however, was silk, and the threats perceived to the trade by the 1822 warehousing bill and the repeal in 1824 of the ‘Spitalfield Acts’. Ellice drew anomalies in the former to the Commons’ attention, 21 June 1822, and secured concessions on stock in hand, and the ribbon manufacturers, tradesmen and the weavers’ committee lobbied and petitioned both Houses for repeal of the 1823 Silk Manufacture Act.37 Ellice, who accompanied their delegations to Downing Street, overestimated the manufacturers’ acquiescence in free trade and also their obligation to him for securing a 30 per cent ad valorem duty on French imports and a 30-month period of grace before the law came into effect, which enabled the Coventry trade to install jacquard looms to make themselves more competitive.38 With an estimated 3,000 unemployed, the mayor, the corn merchant James Weare (popularly known as ‘Seedy’), convened a meeting at the county hall, 11 Feb., and the Members and Butterworth joined in the lobbying and brought up numerous distress petitions from the weavers, ribbon manufacturers, individual wards and county parishes. Ellice’s motion for inquiry into the renewed depression in the trade was rejected by 222-40, 23 Feb. 1826.39 On 14 Apr. a hard-hitting editorial in the Coventry Herald, which hitherto had backed Ellice and professed neutrality at the general election in June, complained: ‘Huskisson cannot attend to any representation but that which is made through the medium of a deputation, and if Mr. Ellice possesses any knowledge upon the subject, he does not appear disposed to make it known’. Handbills and editorials praised Hume, and the weavers paraded the streets clamouring for higher wages. A meeting chaired by Weare, 15 May 1826, when Lilly, the surgeon Alderman Samuel Whitwell, Pearman, Alderman William Vale, John Carter and Gregory were the main speakers, set up a subscription fund.40
Certain corporators found it convenient to attribute the Members’ failure to influence government policy to their opposition allegiance, and when a dissolution was contemplated in 1825 Pearman, who claimed the credit for returning Moore since 1803, advertised for suitable ‘church and state’ candidates in John Bull, 25 Sept. A requisition for the return of a member of Peel’s family was circulated and the London freemen rallied at the George and Dragon and the Sun in Slaughter Street. Applications for the freedom increased.41 Replying to an enquiry from the elder William Chaytor of Croft, Yorkshire and Witton Castle, County Durham, Pearman estimated a gross expenditure ‘for two candidates from £8-9,000 - that is £4,000 or £4,500 each ... calculating upon a 10-days poll’.42 Overtures to Butterworth failed and no new candidates were announced before the dissolution in May 1826.43 Ellice and Moore issued separate notices seeking re-election and defending their conduct, 29 May, and addressed 300 London freemen at the Waterman’s Arms, Shoreditch, 31 May, when Ellice was reminded of his role in the second Greek loan fiasco (a botched attempt to fund a navy for the Greek patriots), and the impoverished Moore of his vulnerability as a promoter of bubble companies and director of the troubled Equitable Loan Company and the Welch Iron and Coal Company.44 Reporting the corporation’s quest for candidates, The Times put the electorate at 5,000.45 Two unnamed corporation candidates were proclaimed, 3 June, and adopted next day at the Half Moon tavern, whence partisans paraded the town chanting, ‘No Ellice’. The Dark Blues mustered on the 6th for Moore and Ellice, who issued a notice on 2 June denying ‘scurrilous allegations’ that they served only the masters. They promised to ‘poll to the last’. A mass meeting addressed by the Tory banker Charles Woodcock at Grey Friars Green, 7 June, declared against the sitting Members, and the cries of ‘No Popery!’ and ‘No Stock Jobbing!’ were raised. The treasury found few takers for Coventry, but Thomas Bilcliffe Fyler, a personal friend of the assessor, the Birmingham lawyer Josiah Corrie, arrived from London, 8 June, and declared next day as a ‘No Popery’ candidate, devoted to ensuring that the ‘labouring part of the community should be fairly estimated and liberally rewarded’. The Staffordshire squire and industrialist Richard Edensor Heathcote came late on the 9th and canvassed on the same interest.46 Ellice and Moore, whose supporters had rallied on the 6th and were mocked with them in the Chronicles of the Indigoes, were installed quietly at the Craven Arms, 9 June. The candidates were nominated the next day, a Saturday, and polling commenced. Ellice and Moore, ‘the Faggot and the Pope’, were denied a hearing on the hustings. At Moore’s insistence the sheriffs, Captain Robert Healey Bunney and the land surveyor Edward Phillips, appointed eight commissioners to administer the ‘long oaths’. With the Light Blues (and Yellows) commanding access to the booths, after the first day the poll stood at Fyler 173, Heathcote 173, Ellice 7, Moore 4. The Times, which reported proceedings daily and favoured Ellice, mocked the corporation as ‘High Tories and Dissenters of no politics at all’ and noted their desire to ‘pair Fyler off with Moore’, which Ellice refused. The weavers’ attempt to separate Moore (whom they preferred) from Ellice also failed. On the 12th The Times correspondent reported:
In the law for regulating the Coventry elections, it is provided that none but freemen who have not polled shall be within the booth, or within a certain distance of it, excepting the candidates and their legal advisers, and other persons in official capacities. It is therefore the practice to poll those men last who are the greatest blackguards, and the most powerful in muscular strength, and who are instructed to keep close to the booth to keep off and abuse their opponents, and to protect their friends. These men are well supplied with all the necessary stimulants, and regularly relieved at stated periods, as the duty is in some cases extremely severe. The Tory leaders of the rabble electors being unaccustomed to success, are quite wild with victory, and they may well exult in it, for it is sure to be their last. A great number of the freemen, when they have voted for the Tory candidates, shake hands with Ellice, and promise to support him if he comes at the next election. The angry feeling is very fast subsiding, but it is feared the men are too deeply committed to the Tories to desert them on the present occasion. Mr. Ellice expresses his determination to keep the poll open to the very last.47
The poll stood overnight on the 14th at Fyler 1,162, Heathcote 1,161, Ellice 377, Moore 369, but two days of rioting had given the Dark Blues access to the booths. Their sudden abandonment of the poll at midday on the eighth day, the 19th, at Heathcote 1,535, Fyler 1,522, Ellice 1,242, Moore 1,182, with 2,763 (approximately 80 per cent of the electorate) polled, was attributed to reports of an intended ‘massacre’.48 Expressing revulsion, an editorial in The Times observed:
We do sincerely trust Mr. Ellice is armed with full evidence of the transactions which have been detailed; because, if so, a petition to Parliament becomes on his part a step of imperious duty, and of infallible success; it being impossible that an election can stand, when actual demonstration can be adduced that force, not free will, has determined it ... If the accounts be true - the returning officer is to blame.49
Fyler, assisted by his brother James Chamness Fyler of Woodlands, Surrey and Major Saunderson of the Grenadier Guards, and Heathcote, whose progress was monitored by the Staffordshire Member Edward Littleton, addressed the populace from the King’s Head and Whitwell, the presiding alderman at their dinner, called for unity. At the Craven Arms, where Lilly, the hosier John Cope and the former Members hosted the dinner, the Dark Blues attributed their defeat to hired mobs, the sheriffs’ partiality and false reporting, and resolved to petition. Ellice proposed a toast to his legal team of Troughton, Lee and Marriott.50 The pollbook (which acknowledges many errors and omissions) confirms that voting was almost entirely partisan, with about 55 per cent of the voters splitting Heathcote-Fyler and 43 Ellice-Moore. Ellice received about 35 plumpers, Fyler three, Moore one and Heathcote none. There were at least 30 Heathcote-Ellice splitters and one Fyler-Moore. Of 301 London freemen, 175 split between Heathcote and Fyler and 99 between Ellice and Moore; but of the 436 country freemen, 231 split between Ellice and Moore and 194 between Heathcote and Fyler.51
Anticipating a by-election, 227 applications for the freedom were registered in July 1826 and admissions remained high (July 103, August 36, September 25, October 20).52 Doubts about Heathcote’s credentials as a ‘No Popery’ candidate, which proved to be correct, had surfaced during the poll, and handbills denouncing him were in circulation before he took his seat.53 The petition of Charles Eyre, William Ryley and others alleging intimidation, partiality and bribery was presented, 22 Nov. Its aim was to void the return of the sitting Members and disqualify them from standing at the ensuing by-election.54 A ‘Freeman’, writing in the Coventry Herald, complained that ‘this farce of a petition’ only fostered ill feeling. ‘Every man conversant with elections at Coventry is well aware that the strongest party of freemen invariably take an early possession of the poll booth’.55 Gold cups were ordered for Moore and Ellice, who had vainly gone to Coventry in November to try to ‘sink the corporation petition’.56 The admission, court leet and pollbooks were taken to London prior to the petition’s referral, 20 Feb. 1827, amid intensive lobbying and close scrutiny by Ellice (Moore, a casualty of his recent investments, was virtually bankrupt), the Members and their lawyers.57 The committee, who were judged according to their attitudes to Catholic relief and Canning’s likely succession as premier, heard 81 witnesses, 21 Feb.-6 Mar.58 They found for the sitting Members in what Ellice termed a ‘near division’ and were unanimous in declaring the mayor and magistrates ‘culpably negligent in their duty in taking no effectual measures to preserve the peace of the city during the ... election’.59 Taking the 1820-1 Nottingham case as their precedent (and in contravention of the charter), they proposed a bill giving Warwickshire magistrates concurrent jurisdiction in the county of the city of Coventry during elections.60 The announcement was celebrated locally with party parades, ward dinners and rioting, and the Freemen’s Register was issued fortnightly to sustain the Dark Blues, who presented Moore and Ellice with silver cups.61 Reviewing their situation, Heathcote wrote to Fyler, 12 Mar.:
I would rather pursue that sort of moderate and respectful course, which might not provoke hostility, where it could possibly be avoided. The unanimity of a committee such as election committees unfortunately are can have no weight with you or me; but I fear it is an argument with the House, which must be encountered warily and discreetly. The corporation I think may express their surprise at the recommendation of a concurrent jurisdiction, which in their judgement could in no way tend to strengthen the civil power of the city, while on the contrary, by a possible collision of feeling and interest, it might considerably tend to weaken it. [It could be argued] that none can have a greater interest in preserving the peace of the city, particularly at the moment of an election, than the corporation authorities, as it is notorious that that portion of the freemen which from their habits and station in life would be most likely to occasion riots and tumults, has been almost uniformly opposed to their wishes.62
The committee chairman, the Staffordshire Member Sir John Wrottesley, introduced the Coventry magistracy bill, 22 May 1827. As directed by the corporation, who had already spent £4,000 on the election and in opposing the petition, Carter went to London to monitor the bill’s progress. The Members opposed the measure to the last ‘as nothing less than partial disfranchisement of an ancient and loyal city’; but it had the Canning ministry’s support and they failed to kill it, 8 June, or to prevent its passage, 18 June. Hostile petitions were received by both Houses from the mayor, bailiffs and commonalty, 30 May, the bankers and merchants, 31 May, the Foleshill guardians of the poor, and the weavers, 7 June; favourable ones from the directors of the poor of St. Michael’s and Holy Trinity (who had opposed the corporation’s election expenditure), 31 May, and the freemen, manufacturers and inhabitants, 1 June, 25 June.63 Hudson Gurney ‘amused the committee by reading a chronological account’ of past Coventry riots and petitions, but twice failed to carry an amendment extending the franchise to the freeholders, 8, 18 June.64 Ellice organized a favourable lobby in the Lords but, as he had anticipated and feared, they called for the evidence, which there was insufficient time to consider, and the bill was discharged, 25 June 1827, and not revived in 1828.65 Its loss was deemed a success for the Tory Lord Hertford, the recorder elect since September 1825 (he refused to be installed), who, according to Lord Lowther*, had conspired in 1826 to defeat the Dark Blues.66 The corporation, with Carter’s kinsman, the grazier William Carter as mayor, congratulated the duke of Wellington on his appointment as premier in January 1828, and Fyler opposed the 1828 corporate funds bill at their direction but he failed to prevent its passage (by 21-3, 1 July, and 30-11, 8 July 1828).67
Petitions for repeal of the Test Acts were adopted by the Dissenters and presented to the Commons, 15 June 1827, and to both Houses, 21 Feb. 1828;68 and the Lords received ones from the city corporate and its congregations, condemning Hindu immolation, 11 July 1828, 1 June 1829 (and again, 1 Mar. 1831).69 The weavers petitioned for, 21 Apr., and the landowners and occupiers against corn law revision, 1 May 1828.70 At least 70 Coventry clubs and societies (and the directors of the poor, 25 Apr.) submitted petitions against the 1828 friendly societies bill, but plans to petition similarly in 1829 were abandoned on Fyler’s advice.71 An anti-Catholic meeting chaired by the Rev. Curtis of Solihull, 26 June 1827, and the clergy of the archdeaconry petitioned against relief, 21, 25 Apr., and the Roman Catholics petitioned for it, 1 May 1828.72 Nothing came of proposals to establish a Coventry Brunswick Club in November 1828, but an unruly mass meeting, 23 Feb. 1829, declared against concessions and rejected a counter-petition proposed by Troughton and the Congregationalist minister John Sibree. In the ensuing battle of wills, the number of signatories to each was announced daily, and the anti-Catholics, whose petition was signed by the entire corporation, claimed victory by 3,915-905, when the petitions were presented, 2, 3, 6, 9 Mar. The Lords also received hostile ones from the diocesan clergy and the parish of Exall, 6, 16 Mar., and from the Coventry labourer Joseph Lang, 10 Apr. 1829, whose petition called additionally for the dismissal of ministers, church reform and commutation of tithes. Heathcote divided for emancipation in 1829 and Fyler opposed it to the last.73
Local attention had switched to the threat posed by the 1827 Holyhead road bill, which proposed a route across the lamas lands, so infringing the corporation and the freemen’s rights, and to the 1827 Election Expenses Act, which forbade the use of ribbons at elections. The lammas lands were safeguarded in 1828 by a rider (drafted by the town clerk) to the Holyhead bill; but despite strong lobbying by the ribbon masters and petitioning at civic meetings, 12 June 1827, 2 Mar. 1828, concessions on the ‘Ribbon Act’ were refused. Fyler, who handled the abortive repeal bill, was subsequently mocked as a supporter of Lord Lonsdale.74 The manufacturers, who after the 1826 election had established a non-partisan Blue Club at the Craven Arms to monitor the Members’ conduct and promote ‘commercial representation’, petitioned in protest at the belated renewal of the silk trades bill and for additional protection, 8 July 1828, and memorials and petitions from all branches of the silk trade were sent up in June after Huskisson and his followers resigned from the government. The journeyman ribbon weavers, meeting at the Half Moon, also petitioned the Lords in favour of wage regulation, 23 June 1828, renewed their campaign for protection and price fixing and appointed a committee to lobby the board of trade and monitor progress. (The committee included the future Political Unionists Isaac Johnson, Benjamin Poole, William Ayscough, William Fletcher and Thomas Goode.)75 A petition from the directors of the poor confirmed the distress caused by the reduction in tariffs on foreign silk, 27 Feb., as did others from the manufacturers, 6 Apr., and 5,000 ribbon weavers, 13 Apr. 1829; but Fyler’s motion for inquiry into the trade since 1824 was defeated by 141-31, 14 Apr. Four-thousand-two-hundred-and-fifty-three silk workers remained unemployed when the corporation and inhabitants petitioned for protection, 28 Apr. 1829.76 On 20 Oct., amid further turnouts and unrest, the corporation waived their 1827 resolution requiring an annual change of mayor and reappointed the experienced Whitwell.77 With 1,395 families on outdoor relief and the directors of the poor more than £4,500 overdrawn, soup kitchens funded by subscription were opened in January 1830. The corporation memorialized Wellington, and giving this as his reason, Whitwell rejected a 200-signature requisition for a distress meeting, 12 Feb.78 Following the example set by Attwood in Birmingham (25 Jan.) the requisitionists held their own meeting chaired by Thomas Goode at the Golden Horse, 22 Feb., appointed a committee of ten led by Goode and James Grant to establish a Political Union, and petitioned for reform, including universal suffrage and annual parliaments, as a means of remedying distress. Agreeing to present it, Sir Francis Burdett expressed regret that Ellice no longer represented Coventry.79 The licensed victuallers established a committee at the Half Moon to oppose the beer bill, 11 Mar., and it remained the venue of the silk weavers committee, who, backed by Carter and the corporation, petitioned both Houses, 13 May, and sponsored a bill to abolish the new half-pay apprenticeships that threatened the trade’s status and freeman eligibility, but Fyler failed to carry it.80 Before the dissolution following George IV’s death, the directors of the poor petitioned in favour of the liability of landlords bill, 24 May, and against the Irish and Scottish poor bill, 18 June, and the inhabitants for the abolition of capital punishment for crimes against property, 3 June 1830.81
Heathcote had on 4 Apr. rejected a 1,600-signature requisition from Harvey Minster, secretary of the Coventry Blue Club, calling for his immediate resignation and criticizing ‘his poor attendance or rather non-attendance at a time of distress’.82 His candidature was also ruled out by the political unionists and others at the Golden Horse, 5 July, who questioned both Members closely before declaring Fyler ‘eligible’.83 Heathcote retired at the dissolution and nothing came of Strutt’s canvass in May or speculation that Attwood (whom 170 had requisitioned), Charles Mills of Barford, the London Alderman William Venables*, Colonel Chatterton or the reformer Arthur Francis Gregory of nearby Stivichall might stand. From 26 June, his previous sponsors Lilly and the broker Adie Cramp issued notices and canvassed for Ellice. Rallying to Fyler, the Coventry Mercury cautioned against Ellice, who was depicted in handbills as ‘Neddy’ the donkey or the ‘great Bear’ and mocked as a free trader. His support for reform and retrenchment were ignored.84 Ellice had sounded Hertford without success, but he remained convinced that the Dark Blues could, if ‘driven to it ... carry both seats at an expense, certainly not exceeding £6,000’, and he privately mocked the pretended ‘great kindness and forbearance’ of the corporation, who, lacking a second candidate, had assured his friends they would not spend.85 A contemporary cartoon depicted Ellice riding out of Coventry on a donkey with Fyler on his shoulders, bearing their bills.86 Preparing for a poll, 190 claimants were registered, 6 July, and 107 freemen admitted that month.87 Skirmishes between bands of Ellice’s and Fyler’s supporters were matched in the paper war between Hickling’s Chronicles of the Procession of the Yellow Fly and the radical Chronicles of the Indigoes.88 On 30 July, Fyler was nominated by Bunney’s son and the ribbon manufacturer and churchwarden of Holy Trinity John Southam Evans, Ellice by the ribbon manufacturer Abraham Herbert and Cramp, and Spooner, newly arrived from Birmingham, by the draper William Browett and ribbon manufacturer William Sawbridge. ‘Yellow’ Fyler immediately dissociated himself from Spooner, whose Midlands sobriquet was ‘Yellow Dick’, and he, refusing to spend, made way for Ellice. Spooner’s notices testified to his ‘disappointment’ on finding so little support. The 451-422 lead that Fyler established over Ellice in the two-hour poll was attributed to the introduction of the tally system. The chairing was dispensed with, but the customary 5s. paid.89 Informing Grey, Ellice observed: ‘Your friend Mr. Spooner, after all, had no money and put me to a most unnecessary additional expense of £1,000, but still I am very well off ... I supposedly could have returned another man, on easy terms’.90 The Political Union massed at the Warwickshire election, 6 Aug., and in September 1830 sought assurances of support for the revolution in France from the Coventry Members.91
Both voted to bring down the Wellington ministry on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. As patronage secretary and chief whip in Grey’s administration, Ellice was a staunch advocate of their reform bill. The secretary of the Political Union, the bookseller William Hickling, initiated a correspondence with him on the subject in December 1830 and discouraged petitions for the ballot and universal suffrage, which he knew Ellice would be unable to present. However, Hunt’s passing visit in January 1831, on his way south from his victory at Preston, ensured the adoption of a reform petition calling for the ballot, universal suffrage and short parliaments, which was forwarded to him, 15 Jan., discussed in the Commons, 15 Mar., but not presented. The remodelled ‘Liberal’ Coventry Herald condemned it.92 Published letters to the mayor Thomas Morris from ‘A Ratepayer’ and ‘A Freeholder’ tried to revive the controversy over the county and the freeholders’ status and pressed for the enfranchisement of the latter in the city (as in Norwich), but the ensuing petitions were confined to supporting the ministerial reform bill, which left the constituency unchanged, and pleading the case of current apprentices for enfranchisement. This their Commons presenter Ellice endorsed, 15 Mar.93 Fyler’s letter of 10 Mar. to Carter, seeking guidance, and his vote with Ellice for the bill’s second reading, 22 Mar., failed to satisfy his critics in the press and the Political Union, which he had ignored, and he was duly castigated in an editorial in the Coventry Herald, 8 Apr.:
He wraps himself in mysterious silence, an object of doubt and speculation. ... The freemen of Coventry should, if possible, learn the intentions of their Member. They should allow no double-dealing, or nothing equivocal. Their Member (for representative we cannot call Mr. Fyler) ought to speak out and declare himself boldly ... a declared enemy is more respected than a moderate ... A suspected opponent or a questionable friend.94
Contrary to local predictions, Fyler voted against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment by which the bill was lost, 19 Apr., and he declared and issued notices as a ‘moderate’ and ‘very honest reformer’ directly Parliament was dissolved, 22 Apr. He contacted Carter, the mayor Richard Marriott and his former supporters Bunney, Woodcock, Rotherham and Weare, and sent his brother James down to canvass.95 The Coventry Herald welcomed his vote and declared that ‘under these circumstances there can be no pretence for opposition’ to him, but the Coventry Mercury was loath to trust him and the new reform paper, the Midland Representative and Birmingham Herald, decidedly hostile.96 Ellice, meanwhile, had encouraged Henry Lytton Bulwer (a friend of the home secretary Lord Melbourne), who had forfeited his Wilton seat by declaring for the bill, to offer as a zealous reformer and friend of Charles Mills. He wrote to the corporation, 25 Apr., and issued notices, 27 Apr.97 Writing to his partner-in-law Carter that day, Richard Dewes explained:
I enclose you ... Fyler’s address, which has just made its appearance, but I think from what I hear it does not go far enough to satisfy Ellice’s friends ... Bunney has been with me to know whether we are retained by ... Fyler. I said certainly not. He thinks from what is stated in ... Fyler’s letter this morning that the latter gentleman considers we are. I wish you had written him on Sunday night an explicit letter, for if he labours under that impression and should come down on Friday morning and finds no preparation for him we may be charged with great neglect although unjustly so. Does Corrie know that we are not retained? ... Bunney and ... Weare both wish us to be in a state of preparation, and the latter intimated that we had to be alone ... If we do not take an active part I cannot consent that our clerk should; on the other hand the mayor [Marriott], who has seen the enclosed bill, says ... Fyler has not gone far enough in it, in not pledging himself to support the reform bill as brought into Parliament, and intimates he will be strongly opposed. The mayor and Alderman Vale have seen ... Bulwer’s letter and they both think that even if we do not support ... Fyler we ought not to countenance an opposition to him and in this opinion I most decidedly coincide. Fyler did all that man could do to support the corporation in 1826 and I think the least the corporation can do is to remain neuter. I understand from ... Bunney that Fyler will come down prepared to fight and it has occurred to me that the election books of last year would afford him great assistance, and I really think under the circumstances we should make an offer of them and we can soon add the freemen admitted since July last. As an old friend, I cannot bring my mind to think he deserves to be abandoned and deserted in the way it is likely he will be. Do consider this subject and reflect upon it. Your presence would be no doubt a great gratification to him. He does not come to Coventry till Friday morning. Let me hear from you by parcel made up tonight. I shall write again this afternoon if anything fresh transpires.98
A meeting at the Craven Arms, 26 Apr., chaired by Lilly, declared unanimously for Ellice. The Birmingham political unionist Joshua Scholefield†, who was requisitioned, agreed to stand should Fyler or Bulwer’s reform declarations be ‘inadequate’, but the Coventry Political Union examined and endorsed Bulwer, 28 Apr., and he paraded the town with Ellice on the 29th.99 Ellice was nominated as previously, 30 Apr., Fyler, now sporting crimson and light blue, was sponsored by Evans, with the basket maker Henry Atkins seconding, and Bulwer’s proposers were the ribbon manufacturers George Eyre and Richard Hands. On the hustings James Fyler, acting as his brother’s agent (his former supporters on the corporation held aloof), produced the division lists and forced Bulwer to admit that Fyler was a reformer. He blamed the mayor for undermining his brother and repeated rumours that Bulwer supported human dissection. The poll stood at Ellice 473, Bulwer 457, Fyler 164, on the first day and Ellice 1,333, Bulwer 1,274, Fyler 831 on the second. Fyler refused to retire and hoped for assistance from London, where he and Bulwer had asked John Cam Hobhouse* to intervene, and from the London freemen at the White Lion, St. Luke’s, 18 Apr., whose petition for reform and against their own disfranchisement remained unpresented. No London voters arrived and on 4 May 1831, after a five-day poll, Fyler conceded defeat. From the City Arms, he paid tribute to his 1,151 voters, ‘almost all resident in the city’, and others who, ‘left undisturbed’, would have plumped for him. Josiah [alias James] Beck, the proprietor of Coventry’s only steam loom factory, chaired Bulwer and Ellice’s dinner.100 No pollbook survives; but 42 per cent of the 2,721 polled clearly cast a vote for the Ultra. Fyler kept up his criticism of Marriott and Ellice in the press and, advocating protection, he rallied ‘the 1,151’ for the next election.101 Ellice, for whom his brother Russell deputized during the canvass and for much of the poll, spent ‘upwards of £2,500’.102
A meeting on 1 July 1831, chaired by the cabinet maker John Ashton, petitioned for an extension of the £10 householder vote to tenants paying rent oftener than six-monthly, and petitions for a scot and lot franchise, for preserving the servitude qualification, and against delaying the bill were also now forthcoming.103 Most were forwarded to Bulwer to avoid embarrassing or overburdening Ellice on account of his ministerial duties. Throughout 1831-2, the Members corresponded regularly with the Coventry Political Union on a wide range of issues, including the parliamentary conduct of Hunt, whom they mistrusted.104 Their petition urging the Lords to ‘conciliate the affections of a grateful people’ by carrying the reform bill was presented, with that of the inhabitants, 4 Oct. 1831.105 Union delegates attended the Newhall Hill meeting, 3 Oct., ‘to prove to the Lords that the Midlands backed the bill’, and the Members gave it unequivocal support. Morris, as mayor, chaired a reform meeting on 12 Oct. to address the king following its Lords’ defeat, and they carried resolutions thanking Lord Hood and Lord Craven for voting for it. The unionists Percy Fitzpatrick, Edward Goode and David Smith were the main speakers and Arthur Gregory, who apologized for his absence, made it clear that he had only heard of the meeting by chance.106 Reductions in piece rates trigged Coventry’s ‘reform riot’, which culminated in an arson attack on Beck’s silk mill, 7 Nov. 1831. The military and constables soon restored order and the mayor and magistrates were praised for their prompt action.107 ‘Reaction’ and criticism of the reform bill was widespread during a slump in the silk trade that winter, but the Political Union remained loyal to Grey’s administration and the Members.108 They publicly and privately excused Bulwer’s poor parliamentary attendance between January and March 1832 and carried a resolution excusing him from voting for the reform bill’s third reading (so that he could concentrate on silk), but, nevertheless, he divided for it, 22 Mar.109 When, following a further Lords’ defeat, a ministry headed by Wellington was contemplated, the Union considered petitioning for peerage creations to secure the revised bill’s enactment and decided to collect signatures requesting this ‘by wards’.110 However, instead, and in the wake of the Birmingham meeting, a mass meeting described by Hickling as ‘the largest ever seen at Coventry’ was convened on 15 May, with Arthur Gregory and Bywater as the main speakers. They adopted petitions for withholding supplies until reform was enacted, and received letters from the Members approving their conduct. The Political Union enrolled 570 new members that month and plans were made to return the Members ‘free of expense’ in the event of a precipitate dissolution.111 The Grey ministry’s reinstatement and the bill’s passage in June 1832 was celebrated at a specially postponed Godiva Fair, dominated by the Political Union and Bulwer, whose retirement had recently been wrongly advertised. Fyler canvassed in the background, but his attempt to win over the poor voters by criticizing the ‘scythe of reform’ failed and served to discredit him.112
The directors of the poor petitioned against the settlement bill, 11 Aug. 1831.113 Unlike Birmingham, where Attwood’s preference for the panacea of currency reform prevailed, the Coventry branch of the Political Union joined the Northern Unions in campaigning for corn law repeal as advocated by Hunt. The Members’ letters on the issue were printed and circulated and Ellice, who presented the petition, 12 Sept. 1831, endorsed it as ‘second in importance to reform’.114 The Union also lobbied and encouraged petitioning in 1831-2 against the newspaper tax and Irish tithes and the flogging of private Alexander Somerville of the Scots Greys for denouncing the use of military force to put down peaceful demonstrations. They also praised Somerville for publishing a graphic account of his punishment.115 The crisis in the silk trade persisted and the Commons received petitions from the corporation requesting import restrictions on French ribbons, 23 Feb., and others from all branches of the trade for additional protection, 1, 2, 5, 7 Mar. 1832. Ellice made no secret of his own and the government’s preference for free trade, believing that prohibition would prevent ‘friendly commercial intercourse with France’, and that protecting Coventry would ‘injure the manufactures of other places’, so the weavers’ committee turned for assistance to the anti-reformers William Bankes and Peel.116 Bulwer, who presented the protectionist petitions, thus became a hostage to his constituents on silk.117 He had no difficulty testifying to the weavers’ extreme distress and, like Ellice and Fyler previously, he urged inquiry into the trade since 1824. Pleading illness, he delayed his motion pending the revised reform bill’s passage, but, under pressure, he seconded a similar one proposed by Lord Grosvenor, 1 Mar. 1832. Partly at Ellice’s behest, the board of trade announced concessions in the duties on thrown silks that day and conceded a select committee, 5 Mar.118 Commenting to Hickling on the recent manoeuvring, Ellice observed, 12 Mar.:
I scarcely know what to say about the representation of Coventry. I will not sue for it again, nor will I permit the enemy to lay hold of it, but if a good reformer will offer himself with money to defeat the conspiracy which has lately been hatching I will make my bow in his favour, and give him all the assistance in my power to step into my shoes. But my fear is that without great caution ... Bankes or some other person of his politics under the cry of free trade, and on the pretence of having greater commiseration for the sufferings and hardships of the weavers, and with the assistance of money from the corporation, may defeat a ... Spooner or some other reformer, who supposes that an election at Coventry has been or will be an affair of principle. True, that a reformer with money may beat a candidate with or without that essential ‘interest’. But, you may know what chance a reformer without money will have against an anti-reformer with a long purse. Nor would the fault lay with the reformers of Coventry.119
The silk committee’s failure to propose remedies was fudged by clever editing by Bulwer and Troughton of the evidence appended to their report, which was printed (as amended) in the local newspapers, in a bid to prevent the Liberals being trounced on the issue by Fyler at the 1832 general election.120
The boundary commissioners considered but decided against taking the detached (agricultural) part of the parish of St. Michael’s out of the constituency, and the 1832 Act left the boundaries unchanged. Previous enactments conferring the right of election had omitted to specify the qualifying suburbs and these were defined as ‘all those parts of the parishes of St. Michael’s and Holy Trinity which do not extend beyond the limits of the county of the city of Coventry, with the exception of the hamlet of Kerseley’.121 Initially, reform made little difference to the size of the registered electorate, which totalled 3,285 in December 1832, comprising 2,756 freemen and 529 £10 voters. The county of the city of Coventry (population 10,760 in 1831) was within the new Warwickshire North constituency, for which Coventry was a polling town, but it remained unrepresented until it was added to Warwickshire by the 1842 Boundary Act. This was perceived as an act of revenge by Carter, whose regime was strongly criticized in the municipal commissioners’ 1835 report.122 Canvassing commenced in earnest in July 1832, and violence and treating occurred at the general election in December, when the Liberals Ellice and Bulwer defeated Fyler and his fellow Conservative Morgan Thomas in what Ellice described to Grey as an ‘expensive fight’.123 As in 1827, subsequent inquiry found rioting and corruption endemic and that the sheriffs and magistrates had been lax, but the Members were not unseated.124 Coventry was contested a further 17 times before 1885, when it lost a seat under the Redistribution Act. With the exception of 1847, Liberals were returned for both seats until Ellice’s death in 1863, when the Conservatives capitalized on the collapse of the silk trade to take a seat, and they held both, 1865-74.125
Author: Margaret Escott
- 1. PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 515, 516; xl. 85.
- 2. Ibid. (1831-2), xxxvi. 515, 516.
- 3. VCH Warws. viii. 253 gives 1,151 for Fyler. His supporters were commemorated as ‘the 1,151’.
- 4. Parl. Gazetteer of England and Wales (1844), i. 511-15; PP (1835), xxv. 385-432; P. Searby, ‘Relief of Poor in Coventry, 1830-63’, HJ, xx (1977), 345-61; VCH Warws. viii. 269, 270.
- 5. PP (1835), xxv. 424, 425.
- 6. Ibid. (1831-2), xxxvi. 515; xl. 143.
- 7. Ibid. (1831-2), xxxvi. 516; Coventry Archives BA/H/3/17/14-16. For differing interpretations of Coventry politics in this period see T.W. Whitley, Parl. Rep. Coventry, 253-98; P. Searby, ‘Paternalism, Disturbance and Parliamentary Reform’, International Rev. of Social Hist. xxii (1977), 198-225; N. LoPatin, ‘Popular Politics in Midlands’, Midland Hist. xx (1995), 103-18.
- 8. Bodl. Mss Top. Warws. C 4; PP (1826-7), iv. 28-33, 1117-19 and passim.
- 9. VCH Warws. viii. 223; Lewis’s Coventry Recorder, 16 Oct. 1819; W.H. Wickwar, Struggle for Freedom of the Press, 1819-32, p. 66.
- 10. VCH Warws. viii. 223.
- 11. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 401-4; Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 4 Oct.; Lewis’s Coventry Recorder, 16 Oct., 19 Nov.; The Times, 19 Nov., 7 Dec. 1819.
- 12. The Times, 16 June 1818, 19 Nov., 7 Dec. 1819; Lewis’s Coventry Recorder, 3, 10 Dec. 1819; Warwick Advertiser, 19 Feb. 1820; M.D. George, Cat. of Personal and Pol. Satires, x. 13708; Oxford DNB sub William Cobbett and Thomas Jonathan Wooler.
- 13. Pol. Reg. 25 Mar. 1820.
- 14. Coventry Herald, 3, 10 Mar.; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 4 Mar., Ellice to same [4 Mar.]; Warwick Advertiser, 4 Mar. 1820.
- 15. Pol. Reg. 25 Mar. 1820; George, x. 14041.
- 16. Coventry Herald, 10 Mar.; Warwick Advertiser, 11 Mar.; Pol. Reg. 25 Mar. 1820; Whitley, 260.
- 17. Warwick Advertiser, 11 Mar. 1820; Whitley, 260, 261.
- 18. Grey mss, Ellice to Grey [Mar. 1820].
- 19. The Times, 16 Mar.; Warwick Advertiser, 18 Mar.; Pol. Reg. 25 Mar. 1820; Add. 38568, f. 78; Hants RO, Malmesbury mss 9M73/G2459; George, x. 14042.
- 20. Coventry Herald, 24 Mar. 1820.
- 21. Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 16 Mar. 1820.
- 22. Coventry Pollbook (1820), 64 and passim.
- 23. CJ, lxxv. 192, 239; Coventry Herald, 26 May 1820.
- 24. Coventry Local Studies Lib. QJN08, 9; Coventry Herald, 27 Oct., 3 Nov. 1820.
- 25. Coventry Archives PA14/10/6, 10, 107, 108; Warwick Advertiser, 11 Nov.; The Times, 16, 17 Nov. 1820; CJ, lxxvi. 315, 334; Coventry Local Stud. Lib. AB324; U. Corbett, Inquiry into the Elective Franchise of the Freeholders of and the Right of Election for Corporate Counties (1826), 136-62, 397-440.
- 26. Add. 40369, ff. 89, 91, 298, 300; 40371, f. 4; Coventry Archives PA14/8/36; 10/4.
- 27. LJ, liii. 126.
- 28. The Times, 11, 29 Sept. 1820, 13, 15 June 1821; Coventry Herald, 29 Sept., 13 Oct. 1820.
- 29. Whitley, 264.
- 30. Coventry Archives BA/H/3/17/14; Warwick Advertiser, 16 Dec. 1820.
- 31. CJ, lxxvii. 167, 437; lxxix. 102.
- 32. Ibid. lxxvi. 415; lxxvii. 254.
- 33. Ibid. lxxviii. 221; lxxx. 315.
- 34. Ibid. lxxviii. 304; lxxix. 422; lxxxi. 75; LJ, lviii. 44; Warwick Advertiser, 18 Feb.; Coventry Herald, 24 Feb. 1826.
- 35. CJ, lxxxiii. 412; lxxxvi. 147; LJ, lx. 476; lxiii. 70, 122.
- 36. CJ, lxxix. 245; Coventry Herald, 6 Jan. 1826.
- 37. The Times, 22 June, 30 Nov. 1822; CJ, lxxxix. 144, 148, 161; LJ, lviii. 44.
- 38. Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 27 Feb., 1, 11 Mar. 1824.
- 39. Coventry Herald, 6, 13 Jan., 3, 10, 17, 24 Feb., 3 Mar.; Coventry Mercury, 13 Feb. 1826; CJ, lxxxi. 37, 41, 96.
- 40. Coventry Herald, 14 Apr., 12, 19 May, 2 June; The Times, 13, 17 May; Coventry Mercury, 22 May 1826.
- 41. Add. 40383, f. 294; Coventry Archives BA/H/3/17/14; PP (1826-7), iv. 71-73.
- 42. M.Y. Ashcroft, Sir William Chaytor, 95, 96.
- 43. Coventry Mercury, 22, 29 May; Coventry Herald, 26 May; The Times, 2 June 1826.
- 44. Coventry Mercury, 5 June 1826; R. Harris, ‘Political economy, interest groups and repeal of Bubble Act in 1825’, EcHR, l (1997), 675-96; George, x. 15146.
- 45. Coventry Herald, 2 June; The Times, 2 June; Coventry Mercury, 5 June 1826.
- 46. Macleod of Macleod mss 1051/5; Coventry Archives PA14/10/54; Coventry Herald, 9 June; Coventry Mercury, 12 June; The Times, 12 June 1826. The following account also draws on Whitley, 268-75.
- 47. Whitley, app. p. xii; Coventry Mercury, 12 June; The Times, 14 June 1826.
- 48. The Times, 15-17, 19 June; Coventry Herald, 23 June; Coventry Mercury, 26 June 1826.
- 49. The Times, 21 June; Coventry Herald, 23 June 1826.
- 50. The Times, 28 June; Coventry Herald, 30 June 1826.
- 51. Coventry Pollbook (1826).
- 52. Coventry Archives BA/H/3/17/14; Coventry Mercury, 23, 30 July 1826.
- 53. Coventry Local Stud. Lib. Coventry Pamphlets, v; Coventry Herald, 13 Oct.; Coventry Mercury, 15 Oct. 1826; G.I.T. Machin, Catholic Question in English Politics, 48, 49, 73.
- 54. CJ, lxxxii. 20, 21; Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 14 Nov.; Coventry Herald, 24 Nov., 1 Dec.; Coventry Mercury, 26 Nov. 1826.
- 55. Coventry Mercury, 10 Dec. 1826.
- 56. Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 14 Nov. 1826; Coventry Herald, 29 Dec. 1826.
- 57. Add. 36463, f. 254; Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 9, 19 Feb. 1827; Coventry Archives PA14/10/5, 61-63, 65-70, 83.
- 58. Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 27, 28 Feb.; Coventry Herald, 23 Feb.; Coventry Mercury, 4, 11 Mar.; The Times, 9 Mar. 1827; PP (1826-7), iv. 3-339.
- 59. CJ, lxxxii. 297; PP (1826-7), iv. 1-2; Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 8 Mar. 1827.
- 60. CJ, lxxxii. 298; Corbett, 146.
- 61. Coventry Mercury, 11, 18 Mar.; Coventry Herald, 16 Mar. 1827; Whitley, 277.
- 62. Coventry Archives PA/14/10/64.
- 63. Ibid. BA/H/3/17/15; PA14/10/20; CJ, lxxxii. 509-11, 517, 529; LJ, lix. 444, 445; VCH Warws. viii. 269; F. Smith, Coventry: 600 Years of Municipal Life, 119.
- 64. The Times, 9 June 1827; CJ, lxxxii. 536, 576.
- 65. Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 11 June; Coventry Mercury, 10, 17, 24 June 1827; LJ, lix, 423, 438, 441, 444, 445; CJ, lxxxii. 604.
- 66. Warwick Advertiser, 1 Oct. 1825; Coventry Archives BA/H/3/17/14, 15; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 26 July 1827.
- 67. Coventry Archives BA/H/3/17/15; PA14/10/52; Wellington mss WP1/977/17; CJ, lxxxiii. 493, 514.
- 68. Coventry Mercury, 10, 17 June 1827; CJ, lxxxii. 578, lxxxiii. 91; LJ, lx. 55.
- 69. LJ, lx. 620; lxi. 530; lxiii. 275.
- 70. CJ, lxxxiii. 264; LJ, lx. 294.
- 71. Coventry Herald, 25 Apr. 1828; CJ, lxxxiii. 254, 264, 271.
- 72. Coventry Mercury, 10, 17 June 1827; CJ, lxxxiii. 268, 294; LJ, lx. 208.
- 73. Coventry Herald, 7, 28 Nov. 1828; Coventry Mercury, 4 Jan., 1, 8, 15 Mar.; The Times, 2 Mar. 1829; CJ, lxxxiv. 98, 114; LJ, lxi. 132, 200, 383.
- 74. Coventry Mercury, 17, 24 June, 1 July 1827, 16, 23 Mar.; Coventry Herald, 22, 29 Feb., 7 Mar. 1828; Coventry Archives PA14/10/52; CJ, lxxxiii. 186.
- 75. PP (1826-7), iv. 68; Coventry Herald, 25 Apr., 9, 30 May; Coventry Mercury, 1, 15 June, 27 July, 21 Dec. 1828; CJ, lxxxiii. 512; lxxxiv. 224, 243; LJ, lx. 571.
- 76. CJ, lxxxiv. 89, 201, 224, 243.
- 77. The Times, 18 Sept., 2, 3, 17 Oct.; Coventry Observer, 15 Oct. 1829; Coventry Archives BA/H/3/17/15.
- 78. Coventry Archives BA/H/3/17/15; Wellington mss WP1/1103/10; Coventry Mercury, 3, 17, 31 Jan., 7, 14, 21 Feb. 1830; Searby, xx. 348.
- 79. Coventry Mercury, 28 Feb., 7 Mar.; The Times, 1 Mar. 1830; CJ, lxxxv. 165.
- 80. Coventry Mercury, 14 Mar., 23 May, 6 June; Coventry Archives PA14/10/55-57; CJ, lxxxv. 415, 437, 477, 544; LJ, lxii. 390.
- 81. CJ, lxxxv. 466, 567; LJ, lxii. 581.
- 82. Coventry Mercury, 11 Apr. 1830.
- 83. Coventry Herald, 9 July; Coventry Mercury, 11 July 1830.
- 84. Coventry Mercury, 30 May, 27 June, 4, 11, 25 July; Coventry Herald, 2, 9 July 1830.
- 85. Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 14, 18 July 1830.
- 86. Whitley, 280.
- 87. Coventry Archives BA/H/3/17/16.
- 88. Coventry Mercury, 25 July 1830; Whitley, app. p. xii.
- 89. Coventry Herald, 30 July, 6 Aug.; Coventry Mercury, 1 Aug.; Whitley, 281-5.
- 90. Grey mss [n.d.].
- 91. Coventry Herald, 3, 10, 17 Sept. 1830.
- 92. Coventry Archives PA323/17, 30; Coventry Herald, 7, 28 Jan., 11 Feb. 1831.
- 93. Coventry Herald, 21 Jan., 18, 25 Feb., 4, 11, 18 Mar. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 381.
- 94. Coventry Archives PA14/10/5; Coventry Herald, 18, 25 Mar., 1, 8 Apr. 1831.
- 95. Coventry Herald, 15, 22 Apr.; Coventry Mercury, 17, Apr. 1831; Coventry Archives PA14/10/54.
- 96. Coventry Herald, 22 Apr.; Midland Representative and Birmingham Herald, 23 Apr.; Coventry Mercury, 24 Apr. 1831.
- 97. Coventry Archives PA14/10/21; Coventry Herald, 29 Apr. 1831.
- 98. Coventry Archives PA14/10/23.
- 99. Coventry Herald, 29-30 Apr. (late edn.); Coventry Mercury, 1 May 1831.
- 100. Add. 36466, f. 410; Coventry Mercury, 24 Apr., 8 May; Coventry Herald, 6 May 1831.
- 101. Coventry Mercury, 15 May 1831.
- 102. Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 7 Nov. .
- 103. Coventry Herald, 8 July 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 651, 660, 709.
- 104. Norf. RO, Bulwer mss 5/57; Coventry Archives PA323/1; LoPatin, 105-18.
- 105. LJ, lxiii. 1048, 1049.
- 106. Midland Representative and Birmingham Herald, 8 Oct.; Coventry Herald, 14, 21 Oct. 1831.
- 107. The Times, 9, 10 Nov.; Coventry Herald, 11, 18 Nov. 1831.
- 108. Coventry Herald, 9 Dec. 1831, 27 Jan.; Coventry Mercury, 1 Jan. 1832.
- 109. Coventry Herald, 27 Jan., 30 Mar.; Coventry Mercury, 4, 11 Mar. 1832; Coventry Archives PA323/3, 32.
- 110. Coventry Archives PA323/25.
- 111. Coventry Herald, 11, 18 May; Warwick Advertiser, 12 May; Coventry Mercury, 13, 20 May 1832; Bulwer mss 5/39, 60, 61.
- 112. Bulwer mss 5/41-43, 62; Coventry Herald, 29 June; Coventry Mercury, 1, 8 July 1832.
- 113. CJ, lxxxvi. 746.
- 114. Coventry Herald, 16, 30 Sept. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 835.
- 115. Bulwer mss 5/58, 80; Coventry Archives PA323/2, 3, 11, 21; CJ, lxxxvi. 403, 567.
- 116. Add. 76373, Althorp to Grey, 8 Dec.; Coventry Herald, 18 Nov., 9, 16 Dec. 1831, 20 Jan. 1832; CJ, lxxxvii. 140, 156, 171; Coventry Archives PA323/20, 21.
- 117. Life of Campbell, i. 515.
- 118. Coventry Archives PA323/32; Coventry Mercury, 11 Mar.; Coventry Herald, 23, 30 Mar. 1832.
- 119. Coventry Archives PA323/21.
- 120. PP (1831-2), xix, passim; Bulwer mss 5/44, 80, 92.
- 121. PP (1831-2), xl. 143.
- 122. Census Enumeration Abstract (1831), ii. 687; J. Prest, Industrial Revolution in Coventry, 19-29; VCH Warws. viii. 273.
- 123. Coventry Archives PA17/76/8-10, 36; Coventry Herald, 29 June; Coventry Mercury, 8 July, 16 Dec.; The Times, 26 Oct., 12 Dec.; Grey mss, Ellice to Grey [Dec.] 1832.
- 124. CJ, lxxxviii. 265-6; The Times, 9 Aug. 1833; N. Gash, Politics in Age of Peel, 148, 149.
- 125. VCH Warws. viii. 253, 254.