Chapter 8 - Propaganda
To attract more voters or, at least, to deter opposition voters, both sides used a combination of fear, threats and bribery. In addition propaganda by means of newspapers, pamphlets and songs appearing in the streets and pubs would have been used to emphasise the differences between the two sides. All these techniques were attempted but, as we will see later, it was changing the electoral base which finally won through.
The documents described below probably do have seeds of truth but, without doubt, would have been written by supporters of the two sides; unbiased opinions being non-existent. Letters to newspapers became an easy way of giving the impression that your opponent was the cause of the riots; was performing dirty tricks or abusing the system. The Newcastle Chronicle for Saturday, 12th March 1768, contains a letter which gives the view of Burgoyne as the "hero".
"A letter from Lancashire informs us, that the towns of Lancaster and Preston are almost destroyed by the mobs. Gen. Burgoyne was reduced to the necessity of fighting his way out of Preston sword in hand. Many poor souls have lost their legs and arms, and not a few their lives."
In various court cases, prosecuted after the election, this incident was referred to with views that appear to be the mirror images of the one described above.
A variation on the above article was seen in the Oxford Journal for Saturday, 12th March 1768 contains the same start but then ends with a more flowery last sentence.
...Many poor souls have lost their legs and arms, and not a few their lives, in this display of the glorious Liberty of Old England.
Abram (1) quotes someone who goes under the pseudonym of "Veritas" which gives a comprehensive view of the rioting. This document was found in the papers of a Catholic family so the allegiance was, more than likely, points to being in favour of Leicester & Standish.
The complete document can be found at http://c5110394.myzen.co.uk/mw/index.php?title=Sketches_7 but the gist of it follows:-
"Accordingly on Wednesday, the 17th of February, under a most false pretense of insults offered to C___ B___, in his canvass, we were visited by a mob of 3,600 men, collected twenty miles round the country. These desperate ruffians, armed with clubs, pickaxes, and other destructive weapons, followed the sound of a horn, and were joined by several of the Militia of this county, with colours carried by one of the Sergeants. Immediately upon their arrival they commenced hostilities against such persons as they were taught to look upon as their enemies. The first attack was made upon an Inn where Sir F___k S___h and some of his friends were at dinner. Scarcely had these gentlemen time to escape with their lives, before the windows and doors were broken open, and almost all the furniture below stairs destroyed and carried off."
"Friday morning was ushered in by an assault upon the house and warehouse of a principal manufacturer in this town, in which they committed the greatest havoc and destruction. His goods and materials of manufacture were thrown out of the windows, and he himself at last reduced to the necessity of giving up his money, and begging his life on his knees.
In many of the houses which they broke into, they uttered the most horrid threats against the lives of the inhabitants, and even searched under the beds for those unhappy persons who were to have fallen a sacrifice to their infernal malice. On Friday evening, as if determined to complete the ruin of the town, they attacked the houses of several gentlemen of the place who had hitherto escaped, plundering and destroying the glasses pictures. And whatever else fell in their way; particularly the Mayor's House, the first and second floors of which they entirely gutted, and destroyed the very wainscott and doors."
"During the whole of the disturbance the rioters constantly looked upon C___l B___ne as their Commander; were harangued by him in the Market Place, and when intercession was made to him in behalf of any of the poor sufferers, he addressed himself to the mob in such terms as plainly showed the absolute authority he had over then. Since the signing of that dishonourable treaty, to which our distressed condition obliged us to submit, the body of ruffians still kept in pay by the C___l have offered repeated insults to one of the Candidates and his Party. They are now everyday disciplin'd by the Sergeant Major of the Militia who publicly and insolently declares that he is come armed with authority to govern and regulate the town. By these unconstitutional proceedings, the dignity and authority of the Civil Magistrate are most vilely trampled on, and his officers utterly unable to execute their duty when opposed by the united force of a riotous and lawless multitude. Veritas”
There is no doubt that C____l B____ne in the above paragraphs represents Colonel Burgoyne. The figure of 3600 rioters mentioned above is, in other sources, reduced to a slightly more believable, but the still frightening number of 2600 persons.
The “warehouse of the principal manufacturer”, from other sources, is most likely refer to Mr Pedder. There were a number of “Pedders” who were influential in the town - in this case is most likely one would have been Thomas, who later served the office of Mayor of Preston in 1779. The Pedders would remain an important fixture in Preston until their bank crashed on the death of Edward Pedder in 1861.
A letter to the Gentlemen's Magazine dated the 7th March, 1768 was unlikely to attract potential voters back into the town.
By a letter from Lancaster, the violences committed on account of the ensuing election at that town and at Preston exceed belief; murdering, maiming, pulling down the houses, destroying places of public worship, and breaking the furniture and burning the effects of each other, are among the acts of the inflamed mob.
A number of election squibbs (2) for the election still exist. With the exception of one or two printed items most of them are copies written out at a later date in the same hand. Amongst these are a number of songs and ditties - no doubt sung or proclaimed around the pubs and streets of Preston, before, during and after the election. As you will see in the examples below they are not much above doggerel.
To the tune of Hearts of Oak we have a pro Leicester & Standish song
To Sir Peter and Sir Frank let us sing to their praise
To the highest of mortals, there fame we will raise
Come and fill up your glasses, and Bumpers* all round
And drink to their healths all a round and a round
*Bumpers/Plumpers refers to voters.
Another comment is aimed at the Hoghton and Stanley families and goes to the root of the conflict.
Nor shall this Borough be annexed to any family
Another song, dated 1767, was clearly aimed at Reverend Randal Andrews whose appearance in the 46th tally caused much disruption. This song gives the impression that he was involved in the Whig campaign even at this early date.
Did you not hear of a certain Vicar
There’s no one could get a Benefice quicker
He paid for it down, six hundred guineas
No matter says he how my conscience within is
This continues for 15 verses with many of them mentioning the appetite of Andrews and it is a pity there are no sketches of this important figure. He is often made to appear as a figure of fun. It continues
This Levite has such a greedy belly
He’ll swallow whole Turkies and Geese some tell ye
Then who will not say the church is in danger
Gad, he’s worse than a horse at a back of a manger
If so enormous wide his gullet
That it can gorge men, geese and pullet
It is interesting that quite a number of the early songs refer to Burgoyne and Strange – perhaps Lord Strange was contemplating entering the fray himself.
The Burgoyne & Hoghton camp were just as vitriolic with their personal comments but often hidden behind descriptions that only the locals would be able to decipher. Some members of the Corporation were described as
a drunken Squire, a Superannuated Attorney, a broken Brewer, a Bankrupt with Debts yet unpaid, an ignorant Apothecary, a Fellow released some years ago out of the House of Correction, etc, etc.
It is a pity the above personalities are not named. The pro-Burgoyne songs tend to focus on his military career which, up until this point, had been comparatively successful. The major loss in the Battle of Saratoga (and with it the probable, subsequent, loss of the American Colonies) was yet to come.
The title of one songs is titled “Burgoyne’s Glory or the Downfall of Spain” and refers to Colonel Burgoyne’s successful battles in Spain.
His conduct in Field, Will make his Foes Yield
For the Honour of England’s Crown
The next song reasserts the influence of Lord Strange as well as getting in digs at Robert Parker who was the Guild Mayor in 1762.
Another song declaims Burgoyne's courage which later, after the Battle of Saratoga, would seem to be a little exaggerated.
When bloody wars fiercely rage
This earthly globe around
Burgoyne the foremost did engage
With glory now he’s crowned
In another song we have the phrases that try to attract the anti-catholic vote
Extoll a Stanley, not a Jacobite
Which Ashtons, Ashley Popish trash contains
Both of which focus on the fears of the Protestant/Hanoverian community. It can also be found here:-
Let all English Protestants closely unite
Against Popish Recusants and false Jacobites
Then may we expect happy Days for to see
So down with the Pretender and all Popery
Who were the winners after all of the propaganda had been spread? An obvious answer being the publicans. A song named “The Publicans Song in 1769” (after the result had been overturned) appears in the records and contains the line:-
Our Worthy Members pay our Bills with free and noble Grace
Implying that only that Burgoyne and Hoghton can be trusted to pay their bills.
One strange ditty compares the travails of Perkin Warbeck with the journey of Bonny Prince Charlie.
No Popish Pretender
No Perkin Defender
No Jacobite Member present.
Consider with Care
Beware of the Snare
When tis done tis too late to repent.
Perhaps this appears here since there is an analogy with Perkin Warbreck who was also a pretender, like Bonnie Prince Charlie, to the throne and wandered around Europe looking for supporters.
After the second poll, a leaflet was circulated around Preston, aimed at inflaming anti-papist feelings.
To the Free Protestant Freemen of the Borough of Preston
The Behaviour of the Papists of Yesterday’s poll was thoroughly consistent with their former Conduct & thoroughly demonstrates the Folly and Wickedness of intrusting them with any power in the State.
Possibly the same pen came up with a similar title “To the Worthy Protestant Freemen of Preston”. It contained comments like:-
the Papists swear whatever their Friend desire
Popary and Perjury will carry the Day and the poor Protestants may go and hang themselves for being Fools & Dupes
Next, the Mayor was, not unreasonably, attacked in that he
Absolutely refused a great number of Worthy Protestants in this Town & Neighbourhood, their freedom.
All of this when granting freedom to “worthy” Protestants would bring in extra income and “funds were very low”.
The following ditty implies that there was no option but to vote for Robert Moss (the Mayor) or Robert Parker (who had been Mayor in 1761 and therefore a Tory and a member of the corporation.)
Ye jury men stout
Put the Tankard about
Chuse the Mayor before it be Darker
Up the Half penny Toss
If heads chuse Bob Moss
If Tails your Old Friend Robin Parker
The majority of stubbs/squibbs still in existence are pro-Burgoyne. This could be an accident of history but, since the majority of the rioters seem to be Burgoyne supporters, it was probably safer singing Whig songs around Preston.
One particularly well thought out document contains the following point
Whether the Employing great Numbers of Officers, Serjeants and Militia Men, in the leading of such Mobs and Tumults, is answering the End & Design of his Majesty and the Parliament for which such Militia was raised, and are paid by the Public.
Several other points were made all directly or indirectly pointing the barbs at Colonel Burgoyne.
Whether if any Officer in the Army should countenance, direct or support such violence, it may not reasonably be believed, that if he had the Power to do it, he would govern us by a Military Force, And whether such an Officer would be a fit Representative or Guardian of the Liberties of the Subject.
This same writer, indirectly, accuses Burgoyne of fomenting Civil war and treason, even going as far as quoting 25 Edward III - the 1351 Treason Act (3).
The Corporation were accused of ignoring disloyal cries in the streets along the lines of “No King George” or “Prince Charles”. This may well have happened in the early stages of the election but, by the time the mob arrived, it will have abated. By repeating this in songs and pamphlets it also served as a focal point for anti-Jacobite feelings.
Sane, unbiased, comments occasionally appear.
one of the Strange Incon[si]stances...is that Electors sell their votes in open Face of Day, and yet impudently expect an Honest Representative.
1. W. A. Abram - “Sketches in Local History” – Sketch 7
2. Lancashire Archives – Ms Book of Squibs/Stubbs - DDPr 131/7
3. The Treason Act - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treason_Act_1351