primary sources

Here are extracts from the full text of primary sources relating to northern social movements in the ‘age of reform’

1. Edwin Butterworth diaries, Oldham Local Studies and Archives

2. William Rowbottom diaries, Oldham Local Studies and Archives

3. Home Office correspondence, The National Archives, Kew

HO 42




4. Burlands Annals of Barnsley, Barnsley Archives

5. Journals of Matthew Tomlinson of Doghouse Farm, Lupset, Wakefield


Other transcribed archive sources:

Oldham Archives, William Rowbottom diaries –


Oldham Archives, Butterworth MS –



1. Edwin Butterworth diaries, Oldham Local Studies and Archives


Go to the Timemapper timeline of the diary entries:

butterworth diaries timeline link




March 8th 1830 – State of the poor weavers – it is really heart rending to see the picture of the awful misery displayed by the handloom weavers.

May 1st 1830 – On last Saturday (May 1st) several petitions from Oldham were very numerously signed, praying that government might restrict the hours of working in the day to 10 ½ hours and totally abolish running mills in the night.

A spirit of improvement still prevails in the busy and flourishing town of Oldham; several buildings at Mill End recently called the New Market are in the act of being taken down and rebuilt into large and elegant shops, to continue the line of High St to the termination of Church St.

May 10th 1830 – last week a requisition signed by about 250 householders of Oldham and its neighbourhood was addressed to the constables of that town, to convene a meeting to take into consideration the state of the country and petition the leg to repeal the Corn Laws and effect a Radical reform in the commons house of Parliament; as might be expected the authorities declined to call a meeting for such purposes; in consequence of this, the requisitionists have given notice in handbills calling a public meeting for the above purposes on Bent Green in the afternoon of the said day; that venerable advocate for a Radical Reform in the Commons house of Parliament Mr John Knight stands the foremost in the requisition list.

June 1st 1830 – On Sunday the 30th inst a very numerously attended camp meeting of Primitive Methodists was held on Oldham Edge, near Oldham… a white banner was raised in the cart upon which the preachers stood, to denote that the meeting had assembled; it was inscribed in black letters as follows – ‘Prepare to meet thy God’.

On Sunday last a camp meeting of the Primitive Methodists took place on Hartshead Pike near Mossley – a white banner was displayed on the cart and hill – it was very numerously attended.

June 24th 1830 – On Monday eve last, about ½ past 8 o’clock a meeting took place in the large room of the Grapes Inn, Yorkshire Street, Oldham, for the purpose of forming a branch union to the National one lately established in Manchester to associate into one body all trades to defend their wages against reductions.

James Mills of Sarah Moor near Oldham in the chair. Hives and Marshall, 2 delegates from Manchester and Bolton, spoke to the great necessity of a union in Oldham.

July 15th 1830 – Proclamation – Monday 12th July amidst a splendid procession from proceeded from the Towns Office in Lord St (various militia and civil officers) including Loyal Orangemen three abreast – walked thro’ Spring St, and down Henshaw St, into the Market place where the proclamation was read, a volley of musketry fired into the air…thro’ High St, Yorkshire St, Mumps, Lees Rod, Croft Bank, to Greenacres Moor where the same ceremonies were again passed through; and they return’d thro’ Oldham, down Manchester St, and to Hollinwood where the constables read the proclamation a third time – thro’ Hollins, Copsterhill, Broadway Lane, King St, and George St to the Market place…procession separated the pensioners to their clubhouse and the Orangemen to their lodge. Dinner at Angel Inn.

August 16th anniversary – in the Union Sunday School Room, West St Oldham 6pm – room full of patriotic reformers. The tricolored flag was hoisted on the summit of the room. Mr Fitton of Royton, Mr Knight of Oldham. Comments on the French Revolution. Fitton gave a sketch of the times of 1794. Speeches on Peterloo by Mr Haigh of Primrose Bank, John Buckley, mr Holliday. Mr James Mills the vice-chairman proposed to form a Radical Reform Association in Oldham.

8 Sep 1830 – pursuant to a notice, a meeting assembled on Oldham Edge on eve of Sat last, Sep 4th, but not at the hour of 4 stated in the bills but 6, on account of the unavoidable absence of some Manchester delegates…the business of the meeting was opened on the bleak hill abovementioned – the crowds around being seated on brows inclosing a small circular valley. Mr J Bentley of Waterhead Mill on the motion of Mr Knight was appointed chairman. Mr Doherty of Manchester in a long speech explained the benefits and objects of the National Association…attended by 3 or 400 persons…the meeting separated by giving 4 loud and hearty cheers, which sent the ‘keen air’ of elevated Oldham Edge.

Hatters turnout – hat mans of Denton, Hooley Hill proposing an abatement of prices – strike took place on Weds Sep 5th – hatters of that vicinity have come over to Oldham.



June-Sep 1830

Sun last [June] camp meeting of Primitive Methodists on Hartshead Pike near Mossley – a white banner was displayed on the hill, numerously attended.

Oldham June 24th – Mon last – number of the veteran pensioners formerly belonging to the 6th Regt dinner at the Plough Inn, Copy Nook, anniversary of Battle of Vittoria.

Trades Union – Mon eve last – ½ past 8 meeting in the large room of the Grapes Inn, Yorkshire Street, Oldham, forming a branch union to the national one, lately established in Manchester – to defend their wages against reduections. James Mills of Sarah Moor took the chair. Hines and Marshall – 2 delegates from Manchester.

Mon morning last – arrival of new church bells from London – drawn by 4 horses – on entering Oldham a band of music and a vast crowd of spectators met and preceded them to the Church Yard.

The authorities of the town and the multitude, having just heard of his Majesty’s death, conducted themselves with decorum and peaceable order tho’ the British flag was wafting on the church tower, yet it was a solemn and interesting scene.

Oldham July 15th 1830 – Oldham proclamation – police placarded thro’ Oldham proclamation of King William 4th issued on Monday July 12th amidst a splendid, procession which proceeded from the town’s office, in Lord Street, in the following order – Constables, Royal Irish Fusileers, Oldham veteran pensioners, British flag, clergy, gentry, head constables, lord of the manor on horseback. Loyal Orangemen 3 abreast, watchmen, fusileers, Lord St, Spring St, down Henshaw St, into the market place, High St, Yorkshire St, Mumps, Lees Road, Croft Bank, Greenacres Moor, Manchester St, to Hollinwood, Hollins, Copsterhill, Broadway Lane – King St, George St, marketplace. Pensioners to club house, Orangemen to their lodge, dinner at Angel Inn.

Middleton – July 19th 1830 proclamation – procession met in the marketplace 2 o’clock – Rochdale Road – Spring Gardens – Rochdale Road – as far as the Black Bull – Marketplace. Includes Orangemen.

August 5th 1830 – Sat eve last July 31st attempt made to assemble a meeting at the Union Room West St Oldham for purpose of considering supporting the Prestonians in the election of Mr Hunt.

On same evening, lodge of Free Gardeners met at Duke of York tavern, West St, Oldham.

Pursuant to notice, a meeting took place as on Mon last Aug 16th anniversary of the memorable affray which occurred on that day in 1819 at Manchester – in the Union Sunday School Room, West St, Oldham, 6pm – very large company, dinner.

The tricolored flag was hoisted on the summit of the room and the glorious French Revolution formed the subject on which they had met to dine. Mr Fitton of Royton rose to move that Mr Knight take the chair. [speech]

Aug 27th 1830 – gas works now erecting both at Shaw and Royton.

The authorities at Oldham have given notice that the old rural custom of drawing rushcarts thro’ the town be finally abolished tho’ the carts are permitted to perambulate the streets on Monday.

Sat 21 Aug present king’s birthday – procession of military. Volley of shots in Curzon St.

Oldham Sep 2nd 1830 – Sat last – annual wake – continued pretty generally till Weds Sep 1st. No carts or rushcarts being allowed to perambulate the town as customary on the Saturdays several paraded on Monday. Bullbaiting at Royton.

Pursuant to a notice, a meeting assembled on Oldham Edge, on eve Sat last Sep 4th – 6 = crowds seated on the brows inclosing a small circular valley. Mr J Bentley of Waterhead Mill on the motion of Mr Knight was appointed chairman. Mr Doherty of Manchester in a long speech explained the benefits and objects of the National Association or a general union of the working classes. 3-400 persons.

Hatters turnout – hat manufacturers of Denton, Hooley Hill etc – abatemen of prices – strike on Weds Sep 8th – journeymen hatters.


D-BUT F/3 – from Sept 1830

Colliers turnout – Tues last a number of the colliers assembled Delegates from Mossley and other places have arrived.

October – meetings on slavery – request of 27 respectable requisitionists meeting of inhabs of Oldham was called on Weds last by the constables – Free Grammar School ½ past 12.

Tues eve Oct 12th – meeting of the spinners and rovers of this town and neighbourhood met in the large room of the Grapes Inn, Yorks St – for forming more efficient and stronger union of those trades. John Knight in the chair.

Serious affray = disagreements between Messrs Gould and Cowper of Lower Moor near Oldham and their spinners – or the hands who were employed by those Gentlemen before their taking on those vulgarly stiled ‘Nobsticks’ – the old hands proceeded to Mr Cowper’s house, at a late hour on the eve of Weds week Oct 6th and after severely beating Mr Cowper.

Meeting at Lees – A numerous meeting of the working classes took place at 5 o’clock on Sat eve last in the village of Lees, near Oldham, to consider the propriety of forming a branch union of the National Association for the protection of Labour – 500 persons – was held in the Square of that populous place. A cart provided for speakers – Mr Ben harrop of Lees was unanimously elected chairman. Mr Jonathan Hodgins a delegate from Manchester then addressed the meeting. Mr John Doherty of Manchester dwelt at some length on the ruinous system of reducing wages and the necessity of forming a General Union throughout the kingdom. Resolutions – 2) the Association should publish a newspaper of its own. Petition against stamp tax on newspapers.

Colliers turnout Fri week – meeting of master coal miners took place and another of the operatives at Dryclough – Messrs Barker and Evans Coal Co agreed to give advance.

Downfall of the Duke of Wellington – On Mon eve last a large concourse of working people and others resident at Mill Bottom and its neighbourhood, assembled at that place and having prepared an effigy of the Hero of Waterloo, they adorned him with a brown coat and finally blew him up with gunpowder amidst a large bonfire while a band of music encircled the group. An effigy of the same distinguished individual, was also consumed at Lees the same evening, the mob paraded that populous village, preceded by 2 bands of music, shouting with exultation.

Oldham Nov 24th 1830 – Oldham politics – a considerable excitement has recently taken place in the minds of our village politicians, in consequence of the sudden resignation of the Wellington administration, some talked of a grand illumination.

Dec – On Sat eve last (Decr 11th) a numerous meeting of the Reformers of Oldham assembled in the Union Room, West St – for aiding Mr Hunt.

Mr Hunt’s visit to Oldham – Fri last Dec 31st – Henry Hunt MP for Preston …at one o’clock people assembled at Bent Green and formed into a procession, headed by a band of music – banner ‘Lees Flag’ proceeded on the road to Middleton and at Mills Hill met Mr Hunt – house of Mr Brierley in the Market Place – from an upper window addressed a concourse of at least 4000 persons.


Jan 1831

Reform meeting at Shaw – Mon last Jan 10th respectable and well attended meeting called by the constables of Crompton. School Room. ½ 1pm, 900 persons.

Reform meeting at Oldham – last week requisition signed by 64 respectable inhabs of Oldham was unsuccessfully addressed to the constables, praying they would call a meeting to consider Radical Reform. Mon last Jan 31 meeting held in the new school room of the Indep Meths, George St, 3pm, Mr halliday as chairman, 800 people.

Wall collapsed – no one injured – adjourned to a back place called Jackson’s Pit, a short distance from the School.

2 reform petitions – 1. Agreed upon at the George St Radical meeting desiring universal suffrage, etc. 2500 sigs. Second requesting a more extended mode of franchise.

Public meeting at Lees – Weds last very numerous and spirited meeting called by the constables of Lees and Knott Lanes division – Old School Room Lees. Petition parl for repeal of Corn Laws and EIC monopoly.


Feb 9th 1831 – Reform meeting took place on Weds last in the Free Grammar School – attendance restricted to proprietors of land or houses within the township. Wm Crompton Esq in chair.

Public meeting at Lees Weds last Old School Room.

March 7th 1831 – on Mon eve last a numerous meeting held in the Union Room, West St for discussing proposed ministerial plan of Reform.

Reform meeting – Mon eve last (Begin March 31) reform meeting Union Room, West St, John Knight in chair.

Mon March 14th – respectable meeting in free grammar school – reform bill.

Chadderton – Mon last spirited meeting called by the constables – School Room, Cowhill, petition for supporting Reform bill.

Shaw – Fri eve last, March 11th, school room.

Saddleworth – public dinner Fri last March 11th – at Dobcross – reform – James Lees of Delph Lodge, New Delph, in chair.


D-BUT F/4 – April 1831-Oct 1831

Ashton under Lyne – Fri last April 22nd public meeting held in Town Hall to consider sending deputation to London.,

Oldham spinners and colliers on strike.

Lees public meeting – respectable meeting of working classes and others held in the Square of the village of Lees near Oldham on Mon last May 30th 1831 for purpose of pursuing the plan recommended in the Voice of the people of sending a deputation up to London to obtain either household or universal suffrage.

Radicals vs Corn Laws – public meeting of the Oldham real radicals – 500 – assembled on Bent Green, the usual scene of the feats of the Oldham Liberals on Mon last (July 4th) to petition for a total repeal of the Corn Laws.

Ceremony of the Coronation at Lees, Saddleworth etc. Early on Thurs morn Sep 8th in honour of their Majesties Coronation a procession of the authorities, principal inhabitants on horse and foot…assembled at Lees cum Hey, near Oldham, and on their being joined by the Oldham Above Town procession, walked thro’ Hey, Austerlands, Waterhead Mill, Greenacres Moor and Dolstile, and back to Lees by the side of the Moor. Dinner at the New Inn.

Saddleworth – procession moved from the Bell Inn at New Delph, on Thursday…thro’ Delph, Dobcross, Weakey, Woolroad, and upper Mill to New Delph again.

Waterhead Mill – numerous meeting of inhabitants of this populous village Monday evening last in large room of George and Dragon Inn.

Newton and Failsworth – Monday last – schoolroom near Failsworth Pole.

Royton – Monday evening School Room – Mr Buckley constable in chair. Mr Fitton forcibly dwelt on the importance of aiding the ministers but praying for more extensive measures.

Leypayers’ meeting Wednesday last April 6th – vestry to elect overseers held in vestry of Methodist Sunday School St Domingo St.

Coronation festivities – at Greenacres Moor Thursday morning September 5th – Hat and Feather, thro’ Mount Pleasant St, side o’th’moor, Clarksfield, Roe Lane, Lees Brook to the lees procession with which they walked thro’ Hey, Austerlands, Waterhead Mills, Greenacres Moor.

Oldham – assembled on the waste ground belonging to Earl Curzon Howe, and fronting Lord St, Oldham, adorned with ribbons and medals. General town’s procession formed in Lord St – 12 o’clock thro’ High St, Mill End, Yorkshire St,Oldham Lane, Mumps and Greenacres moor, returning by Croft Bank, Mount Pleasant St, thro’ Market place, up Henshaw St, down Barker St, Royton St, St Domingo St, Manchester St, Fog Lane, to Primrose Bank and from thence to the market place, up George St on Bardsley Brow, the proceedings concluded in the market place.

Procession includes brethren of the Orange Lodge with flags, staff, sashes, a bible born on a cushion, authorities of the lodge in surplices and with white staves surmounted with doves.

An odious effigy – effigy of a hat manufacturer, who has made himself obnoxious to his hands and the trade by an attempt to reduce wages, preceded by a tricolored banner and a dense crowd of followers was exhibited thro’ the streets of Oldham on Tuesday; the figure was burnt opposite his warehouse.


Public meeting – Wednesday September 21stpublic meeting called by constables in compliance with wish of 80 requisitionists calling upon House of Lords to pass reform bill – Free Grammar School – John Lees Esq of Greenbank Mills in chair.

Lees – Weds – Wellington Inn Royton – meeting assembled at Croft Head, Thos Buckley, one of the constables, appointed chairman.

Public meeting – request of 50 inhabitants – constables have called a public meeting to be held in the open air on Thursday on the waste land called ‘Tommy Ground’ to address the King on reform bill.

Great Public Meeting – the greatest meeting ever held at Oldham took place on Thursday Oct 13th in the open air, on the waste ground at the back of the White Horse Inn, commonly called ‘Tommy Field’ called by the head constables at the request of 50 principal inhabs – to address HM. 4 o’clock. 2 waggons provided, a coach filled with spectators from Mill Bottom heightened the scene, which presented that of an immense assemblage of persons, thousands in number, all animated with the desire of reform, a greatly increased by the workpeople of many mills, which had ceased working on the occasion both at Oldham and Royton – 25,000 and before the conclusion the numbers were moderately estimated at 33,000. Mr Fitton of Royton address. Mr haigh, shopkeeper, Lords Gate near Oldham, seconded Mr Fitton’s motion. He was since no one could say he was inconsistent as he was an old Radical (cheers). Mr Knight of veteran radical notoriety rose to say now in the 1st place – this bill decides your ? then how can you expect unanimity we are all deeply interested; but to you the lower classes the power and support of the state is preached. [keeps mentioning 1819].


D-BUT F/5, Oct-Dec 1831

Oldham Political Union – meeting Monday eve last [Nov 14th] to form a Branch Union in the Grand National Union – effect a complete reform of the Commons House of Parliament by loyal constitutional means – large room of the Grapes Inn, Yorks St, 7 o’clock – 350 persons. Mr Knight read the resolutions and informed the meeting that a subscription of 1d per week would be required from each member.

Committee: Mr Stepney grocer Market Place

Halliday, millwright, Royton St

Knight, schoolmaster, Lord St,

Swire, Clogger, Greenacres moor

Knott, hatter, High St

Mills, hatter, Sarah moor


John Halliwell, Manches st

Fred Taylor, tailor, Yorks St

Alex Taylor, grocer, Mumps –chair

Mr Knight read the resolutions and informed the meeting that a subscription of 1d per week would be required from each member.


Political Union meetings at the union room, West St.

1832 – Mr Cobbett at Oldham.

Lees Thurs eve, Jan 19th – meeting on supporting Mr Sadler’s motion on subject of reducing labour and petition for household suffrage – Old School Room.

Public meeting Monday evening at Providence Independent Chapel, Oldham.


2. William Rowbottom diaries, Oldham Archives and Local Studies


pp. 30-1 – July 23rd 1794 – Sessions at Manchester.

Smith, Thorp, Berry and Seddon where convicted of assaulting Whitaker in Failsworth on 22nd of April last on the pretence of his being a Jacobin when two of them were sentanced to Lancaster for six months each one in said gaol or three mths one in New Bailey for two months and Knight of Saddleworth a noted Jacobin for wounding in his own defence one Joseph Taylor; at Royton on 21st April last sentanced to two years imprisonment at Lancaster and John Taylor of Royton for defending one of his neighbours from the ametys of the mob on the 21st of April one months imprisonment in the New Bailey.


28 November 1819 – died Charles Beswick keeper of the general Abercromby public house Pig Street Oldham aged 58 was interred at Middleton. John Rhodes of Threepits within Hopwood he was one that was wounded at Manchester on 16 August and is suposed to have died of his wounds a grate number attended him to his grave 1300 with drab hats and crape besides a number with cloaks it is supposed that ten thousand people assembled on the occasion and all parted in peace.



 4. Burlands Annals of Barnsley 1744-1858

Barnsley Archives and Local Studies


1770 – On Sunday the 5th August 3 horses were found killed and 4 wounded on Skelmanthorp Moor between Barnsley and Huddersfield; they were stabbed in several places with a sharp instruemtn and as they belonged to seven different persons the motive for their mutilation was very mysterious.


Great Radical meeting on may Day Green July Mon 12th 1819.

Thomas Pharimonde (usually called Ferryman) one of the most noted radical reformers of Barnsley, was called to the chair, who said ‘I have been a zealous reformer for 20 years and I hope a reformer to die’. Mr Brayshaw of Yeadon.


Great Radical meeting in the Church Field Nov Mon 8th 1819 – assembled on the Sheffield Road, a short distance from Barnsley, and walked in procession to the Church Field (Barnsley October fair field) bearing a variety of flags.

At the head of the procession a person carried a board on which was inscribed ‘Order’. Next came the female reformers dressed in white gowns with black shawls and gloves. A patriotic matron (this was the wife of Arthur Collins) carried a cap of liberty.

The procession arrived at the hustings at noon. Rev Robert Ellis (minister of the Calvinistic Chapel, Sheffield Road, Barnsley) chair.


Dec 1819 –  Considerable anxiety concerning the Barnsley meeting. 9th the training and drilling bill committed. 13th, simultaneously with the Radical meeting to be held at Barnsley similar demonstrations were to take place at Manchester, Bolton, Glasgow and other towns. Authorities’ preparations – but the day passed over in perfect tranquillity requisitionists postponed meetings.


March 1820 – The Insurrection – Sep Tues 11th – from 9 to 11 o’clock in the evening which was very dark, insurgents from Ardsley, Burton, Gawber, Old Town, Pogmoor, Dodsworth, Worsborough Common and Barnsley continued to muster under the command of Will Cornstive in the field adjoining Mount Vernon. Until 300 had assembled. Many were able to identify the field from the pump that stood in it.

Midnight – Beech field – into the Doncaster and Salter’s Brook turnpike road, entered Barebones, traversed Wilson’s Piece, turned the corner of the new Connexion Chapel and proceeded by way of the Croft Ends, Wellington St, Pitt St, York St, Tarn End and Coal Pit Hill. When they gained the summit of Coal Pit Hill, they roused Mr Locke, manager of Mr Porter’s Pit, and demanded firearms. Place of rendezvous by way of Jordans Hill, Gawber, Darton, Bretton and Flockton. About 4 o’clcok in the morning after a dreary march of several miles in the dark and rain – arrived at Grange moor. Solitary and dismal – no one there to meet them. Dispersed.


Insurgents tried for treason 9 Sep 1820 at York.

Memoranda of the insurgents – Will Cornstine, 5 ½ ft high, from Kirkham lancs, journeyman weaver, 137 Union Row Barnsley, served in the 29th regt of foot- at St John’s Newfoundland in the Peninsular War, and at Waterloo. Captaiin of the Barnsley rebels. Transported for life.

Richard Addy 5ft 4, weaver, master of a shop in Wilson’s Piece, 95th Rifles, in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo.

Charles Stansfield, weaver, from Lancs, no fixed abode.

Benj Hanson a weaver from Leeds

Joseph Chapel, shoemaker, lodged in taylors-Row, from the n of Flockton.

Jas Flowers weaver, Dodworth

Bill Flowers pugilist, his son

Benj Rogers, weaver, Taylors-Row

Will Rice, shoemaker, Dodsworth

Had previously lived in Barnsley, He was connected to the Blanketeers. – Van dieman’s land.

Received the king’s pardon in 1836 on the application of Mr Baines MP for Leeds on condition of his continuing to reside the Australian colonies.


Barnsley moot hall taken down in 1825.


1829 – riot at Heresforth Hill Thurs Aug 27th 1829


Meeting of weavers on May Day Green on reduction of their weavers. In the evening 27th August the weavers assembled on May Day Green to discuss their grievances – rained. The speakers harangued the multitude from the stage of Wild’s Theatre. Order to disperse. A cry was heard, ‘To the Barebones!’ When they got opposite to Mr Cordeux’s houses, situate on Crow Well Hill, the word of command was give to ‘halt front fire!’ – stones thrown through his windows.

  • Barebones
  • Various shouts to go places
  • Proceeded to heresforth Hill
  • Attacked house of mr Jackson.


On the 26th Barnsley presented the appearance of being in the throws of a revolution. Guns, swords, pistols – used for personal defence and every linen warehouse was converted into a garrison.


Sep – On the 21st, Eyming Wood Place, situate nearly opposite the acquduct, the property of the Jacksons, manufacturers and bleachers of linens, was disovered to be on fire. The conflagration was clearly the work of incendiaries and popular suspicion pointed to the turnouts. Hundreds from Barnsley rushed to the fire. The dragoons marched to the barn but the soldiers were shot at from various ambushes. Damaga £400. Reward £50 offered.


On the 30th Robert Sykes, who had not dared to pick a shuttle for the previous fortnight took out some pieces from the warehouse of Jackson and Hodgetts and had them conveyed to Dodsworth his place of residence in a cart. The turnouts followed him and prostested the work should not be done, but refrained from violence.


Rioters tried at York Tues 30 March 1830 – various accomplices admitted King’s evidence e.g. Patrick Flanaghan at the meeting on May Day Green on 27 Aug, I hard Ashton say, ‘Mr Jackson grows corn at Heresforth Hill but I do not desire you to go and take it’.


5. Journals of Matthew Tomlinson of Doghouse Farm, Lupset, Wakefield

Wakefield Local Studies

920: TOM W: Journals of Matthew Tomlinson of Doghouse Farm, Lupset.

Volume 5: 30 Nov 1806-25 Oct 1812

17 Dec 1806 – I wift this the shuttle that weaves my shroud; and yet, certain as is my exit, and uncertain the time when; I seem to dance on heedless.

…Bonnaparte hath by now the sword conquered all Europe (save Brittania) but was he in returning home to be shot, what would be more or less than one of his gallic slaves chained to the oar?

22 March 1807 – Tomorrow was again to have been my nuptial day; but yesterday rec’d a letter stating that she refused to be my bride; consequently am disappointed in my expectations.


Whit Monday 1807 – Have returned from the club feast, and never to my recollection dined amongst such a roar of confusion, had we been looked upon by a west-India planter, he wou’d have mistook us for four hundred savages.


24 May – All the country is clamour and confusion upon the business of a general election of representatives in the House of Commons; Mr Wilberforce, Lord Milton and Mr Lassels are candidates for the County of York: my Father set out this morning at an early hour to York to be polled, and considering his years, seemed wonderfully pleased with the novelty of the journey, as they are conveyed by water.


Last Sun evening again heard Mr Bradburn upon the nature of educating children; I very greatly approved of his ideas.

…have just returned from taking a ?sal or a solitary ramble round the vernal meadows and leafy groves; all nature sings, to nature’s God a hymn of boundless praise…set out to hear Mr B at Horberry Chapel but when I had got to the bottom of the second field, I sat me down upon the stile to rest myself…returned.


13 Dec 1807 – the present times wear a gloomy aspect, all the Ports upon the Continent (save one) being shut against us, our commerce is at low water, and very many hands out of employ; last evening the expenses were very heavy upon us and the numerous wants of the poor were no less urgent: some of them to be sure might do much better than they do, but many of them are severely suffering, what devastation and sorrow is consequent upon War: and war is frequently consequent upon a few individuals squabbling (comparatively) about a straw: I sometimes think that if I held the reins of omnipotence, I wou’d scatter them with a whirlwind and destroy them with hailstones and storm.


17 July 1808 – my anxiety for my hay harvest is over, having last Weds cleared my fields: but yet I am not free: for Man has always something before him to hope and to fear.


27 August 1809 – Am at present very busy in ploting [sic], and planning about my new thrashing machine, it perhaps takes up more of my thoughts than what is altogether necessary; it also will become familiar and forgotten in time: how anything that is new and fresh attracts the attention of bustling Man!

Yesterday had a very narrow escape of either being killed or maimed for life; as I was assisting the workmen in making some alterations respecting my machine; I was on the tiptoe of falling backwards way of the top of the machine.

Sept 3rd – Yesterday I got my machine finished, have employed a Carpenter T.G. to execute the work about it, is a great professor of Methodism. I cannot admire his manner nor anything about him.

April 1810 – am once more united to a female in the bond of matrimonial union; I feel myself at the present very comfortable and happy with my bride.

July – Was at Wak’d fair on weds and saw again the collection of Wild Beasts; the huge, Clumsy elephant.

15th July 1810 – was also forceably struck (as standing upon Leeds Bridge) with amazement in beholding a meagre looking Man, with a folorn Woman and a Pityable looking child, come up to ask conveyance upon the Waggon to Horbury: I at once knew the Man to be J. Hed-nth once of Hor’d – and a clothmaker, who used to ride over Leeds Bridge on a good horse – He like many others was imprudent and got into much debt, went to prison and cheated his creditors.

23rd Dec 1810 – Yesterday was the first day that I began collecting upon my townspeople [property tax]; every individual seems to groan under the general pressure.

24 Jan 1811 – have this week been reading some part of the life of Dr Franklin of Phyladelphia in America; by which I have been much gratified and instructed.

This week have spent some part of my time in appearing at the seat of justice (the New Court House) before the Taxmasters with the appealants of our Township who sought redress.


29 march 1812 –national calamities touch all orders of man and make the lower orders almost desperate, for want of employment, and Bread; they are assembling in different parts of Yorkshire and break the Machinery and commit other acts of violence and outrage; it is rumoured that the Thrashing Machine is also to become an object of their attention; poor deluded Men Breaking and Burning will never fill their bellies.

On Weds wk last a H’field ? met his fate betwixt here and Wakd by being thrown from his horse about 8 o’clock in the morning.


26 April  – The Country still remains unsettled and riotous, at Manchester the military has killed several of the mob: the Thrashing Machines are now all that are talked about, the rabble will have them all down, altho’ I believe that there is not a husbandman out of employ in this neighbourhood many of the Farmers have took down their machines, which I think is very impolitic; for if the labouring Man had no intention of destroying them, when they see their employers so panick-struck it inspires them with resolutions which otherwise they wou’d not have had. I do not intend to take my machine down but to continue thrashing out my corn, and selling it in my neighbourhood at a moderate price, than what corn is sold at the present: as there is most certainly a great scarcity of grain in the Land: I dare say that no man now living ever so the mind of the lower class of people more ripe for universal ?lueling? and outrage – last night thought it advisable to stand century before my stack yard, as Saturday evenings are rather loose than other evenings of the week. Of course I loaded my firelock and commenced century Mon, until near one in the morning: all appeared quiet; so I return’d and I went to rest: how changable and fluctuating are Men and Things. The 2 foolish Men who were shot at Cleckheaton a few weeks back in the riot there, what does it avail them, weather the Gig mills or the Shearmen shears the cloath. ‘Thou mad man, cease the Plank and let thy country sink.’

May 3rd – On Tues afternoon last, as a Mr Horsfall merchant was returning from Huddersfield Market to Marsden his home; as going over Crossland – more he was shot by four assassins who were concealed in a small wood by the roadside…

I suppose this Gentleman had shears at Work – which are wrought by steam, has been very active in apprehending some of those who were wounded at Cleckheaton…I have wrought my Thrashing-machines two Days this last week and it is not yet broken or otherwise injured; I have strong confidence nobody will harm it. I may be mistook.

10th – new acts of outrage still continue to be performed by the riotous, many of whom I doubt not are unprincipled revolting character who had rather feed themselves upon the industry of their neighbours than endeavour by their labour to maintain themselves and their families – I think the military which are crowded into ev’ry towns seen rather to overawe the spirit of the riotous – Many of the Farmers have took down their thrashing machines which is not wisely considered, unless they were more injurious to labour; I have often seen a very just emblem of their proceedings, when I have been in the streets of work or else when amongst the Common race if a strange day in the streets, only cock up his tail and go about his busyness, none others will take any notice of him; but if he slinks down his tail and runs away, the whole group will pursue him.


Vol 9 – 9 Dec 1832 to 2 Feb 1834


16 Dec 1832 – This has been a week of general bustle in this part of our neighbourhood; on Tuesday, the populous were chusing my worthy landlord to be the rep of the new, or Maiden borough of Wakefield in Commons house of parliament…at about 10 o’clock Mr Gaskell made his speech or address to the people at the Court House; afterwards he seated himself in the superb chair covered with yellow satin and placed upon a small platform covered with the same and drawn by 4 beautiful grey horses…It proceeded round the Town…

14 April 1833 – The times still look dark and all classes of Men are complaining: we (agricultural) take our corn to the market and bring it home again unsold; and if so fortunate as to meet a market, it is at a unremesurenating price: I believe the cause to be – the merchant cannot vend his goods; of course the manufacture cannot find a purchaser.

…Many of us looked forward to a reform in the Commons house of Parliament as a sovereign and speedy remedy: the Bill was at length passed and the less thoughtful part of the community expected that the effects wou’d be almost instantaneous and that we shou’d jump into order and plenty all at once: the new parliament have now sat upwards of 2 months, they have debated and redebated, but nothing has yet been done to lessen the burden that lays upon the people.

21 Jly 1833 – this day is Thornhill feast, gigs and horses with their riders and young men and maidens on foot, are going to Thornhill to get their dinners.


Vol 11 – 22 May 1836 to 23 June 1839 –

14th Aug 1836 – I do not like Irishmen as reapers; they have some good properties but many bad ones: – they are for the most part dirty in their Persons, and disorderly in their Dress; exactly corresponding with the general tenor of their labour – therefore, he who wishes to have regularity and order in his harvest work; must not expect to find it in the Irish labourer.


Nov 6th – On Thurs met on the way one of my old classmates about 50 years ago: J. Child – now 82 years old. My sentiments are different now to what they were then, and his, I knew, diametrically so.

…about 55 years gone, I first knew J. C. He preached to congregations…but he soon overran himself: became a reader, and an admirer of the French infidel writers, and for many years has espoused their cause: am no admirer of his principles, yet I feel a respect for the man.


13th – It seems not to be a feature in any of the countenances of the labouring poor to live one penny below their weekly income.

…the briskness of the trades has inspired the minds of the opulent and enterprising to lay plans for railways, almost all over England; hence they have to drive their way thro’ Mountains (in what is called Funnells) and to fill up the vallies to be level as a plain.


18 June 1837 – the Country is now suffering under stagnation of trade, almost of all descriptions.


23rd July – the political contention continueth to prevail, with much increase: the next week it will be decided, as it respects the Borough; yet not the County. The whole neighbourhood is at uproars.

30th – on Thurs the borough contest was decided in favour of Lassells the Tory candidate, to the astonishment of all men and to the regret of ev’ry honest Elector. Perhaps never did underhand bribery and corruption exist to the same extent as was made manifest by the Tory party – such as giving ten pounds for a kitten! Fifteen pounds for a basket of gingerbread.


Aug 6th – the WR election has closed…Once more, went in my little market cart to the poll booth and polled comfortably without pressure for the liberal party.

Last Monday the nomination day was a day long to be remembered by many – …as a few were killed and many maimed. [account of riot – copy again another time].


[aged 73]


22 April 1838 – On Mon last was the great Tory dinner at Leeds, it has been matter of conversation for many weeks in the publick prints – a superb tent was erected – for about 1000 individuals…as Tories are many of them rich – not an uncommon case with oppressors.


Thurs June 27th – Coronation Day – only a poor young inexperienced girl about 20 years old…must spend so many thousands of pounds of the publick-money in the formal nonsense of crowning her. George the 4th cost the publick 259,000 £’s on his Coronation day, yet I hope that the crowning of a young girl will not cost so much money as the crowning of a libidinous epicure.


12 May 1839 – The Ministers of the Crown have again resigned Office, the state of publick affairs looking unsettled and doubtful. On Weds last the Chartists, who have been long petitioning Parl for Universal Suffrage, were to take up arms: the Military and the Yeomanry Cavilrey have all been holding themselves in readiness in case of insurrection; yet hitherto all is peaceable and quiet.


19th – Whit Sunday – I have walked my little round – looked and said ‘here are the five fields which my Father farmed for more than 50 yards.’ [years?]


26th – the great Chartist meeting came off on Whit Tuesday on Hartshead Moor, attended upon computation by one hundred thousand people; all was peaceable and quiet; – the public speakers seemed bold and determined to have their rights! To wit a voice in choosing their representatives…it so far seems reasonable – to the riseing generation and to generations unborn, it is a matter of some moment: but to me it is only as the shouts of the battle to the soldier when he is bleeding out his life upon the plain where he has fought.


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