Chapter 4 - The Winter of Discontent
The 1768 election had been declared in June 1767 and immediately the party agents started conducting canvasses of the registered freeholders. According to custom and practice these would have been classified as freemen who had lived in the town for some time. In a case after the election (1) Burgoyne put forward the point that the canvas
sollicited only Freemen and missed Houses of Non Freemen
By restricting the electorate it would, ultimately, have been to the detriment of the Whig party and in defiance to the 1661 ruling.
The first canvas took place initially without Sir Henry Hoghton and there seems to be no firm date for his entry into the fray. The Manchester Mercury mentions that he had declared himself a candidate in the edition dated 15th March 1768 but George Kenyon, in a letter dated the 12th March, fails to mention Hoghton so the suspicion is that it was between these two dates. As is the case with modern elections it is possible that the candidates themselves took part in the canvas in order to persuade voters to their side. In the 1790 election there is a note (2) from Sir Henry and Colonel Burgoyne to their “friends” asking for help with the canvas. From the results of the early canvasses, strategies for the campaign were decided upon since, to all concerned, it was obvious that this was going to be close election.
The only surviving canvas (or call-book as it was termed at the time) was taken a couple of weeks before the actual election as this contains the name of Sir Henry Hoghton (3) as one of the candidates.
The image to the left illustrates the streets names and the associated pages within the canvassing book.
Unfortunately, for future historians, although the names of the voters appear, there is no house name, number or position within the street. It may be that further research will possibly reveal that the voters were canvassed in house position up and down the street as this is the most obvious route. For instance a number of voters in houses close to Lord Strange’s in Church gate (now Church street) were canvassed as voting for Hoghton & Burgoyne.
Producing hard and fast statistics from this document present a number of difficulties. In places the writing has faded or smudged; there are crossings out and some voters who appear to have been rejected still have their canvas vote recorded.
A typical canvas page looks like:-
Quite a lot of information can be gleaned from the document. The left-hand column is a unique canvas number. No 50 in the above image, Roger Cliff, is discovered to have arrived in Preston last October, is a winder of yarn and works for Mr Cockburn.
No 52. James Kighley, at one stage has “Rd” (for rejected) next to his name but also has marks showing that he intends voting for Leicester & Standish. The scribbles to the right of the name refer to having to take the oaths of Allegiance, Supremacy and Abjuration (see later explanation.)
No 53. Roger Salter. A singleman. Servant fixed for a year. Came in January last. He fails to appear for the actual election.
No 54. Jon Bullen reveals that he has had the benefit of Goosnargh Hospital ie poor relief. It is probable that Bullen was a freeman of the town who had fallen on hard times or, in the words of the original Bushell bequest when creating the hospital is should be for
decayed gentlemen or gentlewomen of “better rank”
The faint marks of BO to the right of his name signify that when it came to the election he would need to take the bribery oath. In the actual vote, a couple of weeks later, he did take the bribery oath. No doubt that this was partly due, when questioned in cross-examination, he said that
Jas. Heald off[ere]d him a yearly sum to vote for the Barts.
“Barts” meaning the two Tory candidates - Standish & Leicester.
No 56. John Hodgkinson gives his occupation and relationship – in this case he is a shoemaker and the son of James. When there was more than one voter with the same name the occupation or relationship to another member of the family appears in the records.
A number of earlier canvases were referred to and any changes recorded as in the next entry:-
Thos Shepherd - was in the Workhouse at the time of the first canvas but now lives with his son – was maintained there - rejected.
In the election proper he was rejected as a pauper.
Glimpses of 18th Century life and attitudes appear:-
Thos Woods - Doubtfull, he is incapable of voting being insane.
Again this voter's intentions were recorded in spite of the above comment.
A most bizarre entry appears as:-
Evan Heath Junr - Objected to as an Hermaphrodite.
More details on this potential voter appear at the time of voting under cross-examination where the apothecaries were called in to determines the gender of Evan. The important criteria in this situation being that the voter should be male.
The cross-examinations in actual vote contain much of the same information so, for now, one last image.
As you can see, in the left-hand column, it is just possible to make out the word "rejected" next to the bottom entry. In the election itself this voter was also rejected from voting. Twenty years later he would be one of the richest men in England - Richard Arkwright.
What is amazing from the canvas rough results is the similarity between this and the initial returns after the election but with the figures for Burgoyne and Hoghton swapped around. These actual figures we will see later. Something like 618 voters were canvassed (with Richard Arkwright being the last,) with many rejected, producing the following approximate results.
Leicester - 308
Standish - 301
Burgoyne - 227
Hoghton - 256
Burgoyne and Hoghton, under the umbrella of the Whig party, after the results of this last canvas now had limited options: recruit more non-resident freemen to become resident, use the 1661 ruling on “all the inhabitants” or make life difficult for Leicester & Standish supporters to come and vote. As we will see later they adopted a violent and disruptive cocktail of all three.
For the Whigs it was too late for individuals within the town to become freemen and the Mayor had complete control over who to admit or refuse so this ploy was unlikely to work. According to Abram (4) there were more than 300 householding residents who hadn’t previously been made freemen. There were also about 230 non-resident freemen, or out-burgesses. In the run up to the election many of these non-resident freemen were persuaded to return to live in Preston in order to qualify to vote in the election. Of the Tory returnees the Mayor accepted 40 and refused 34; for the Whigs the figure was the 22 were admitted and 132 refused. This was an obvious disparity in favour of the Tories.
Even with manipulating the valid voters the Tories still wished for greater control and an alphabetical list of all “foreigners” was produced. (5) Part of this document is illustrated below.
In the above record Richard Arkwright appears again and there is a query regarding his status as a freeman.
Arkwright, Richd, Barber has been in Town pretty constantly since 5th January 1768 followed Clockwork. [Comment: Query if free]
Again he must have been trying to hide his real purpose by stating that he was following “clockwork”. The doubt as to Arkwright being a freeman is little strange since he makes an appearance as one of the Court Leet jury in February 1768 (6). Normally, being a freeman would have been a requirement for this role – unless, and this would seem to be unlikely, there was another Richard Arkwright in the area. The records also show that Richard's father, had been a Guild burgess in 1662 and normally the freeman status would have been passed on to his son.
There is a great deal of duplication in this document with other records and the exact number of foreigners is impossible to determine accurately since there are comments like “Conwell and Coopers all Papists”. Even with this proviso there are at least 84 names in the list. More “foreigners” arrived closer to polling day with, according to the canvas, a large proportion arriving in December 1767 and January 1768. Proctor gives a figure of 229 strangers “surging” into the town but this number must have been gleaned from other sources.
As a consequence of the closeness in the canvas and, probably because the Mayor and Council were showing such an obvious bias, tensions built up. Both parties accused the other of violence and rioting. The Whigs brought in farm and quarry workers (delph men) from the Hoghton and Derby Estates. Later depositions describe a number of the rioters being recruited in Darwen (or Moulden Water) from within the influence of the Hoghton or Livesey families. The Tories attracted colliers from Sir Frank Standish’s mines as well as labourers from other local Tory supporting landowners. Hardwick (7) expresses this as
Bands of drunken "roughs," designated "bludgeon-men," were hired by the contending parties ostensibly for "protection and defence." These lawless blackguards were incited to acts of violence by inflammatory placards and election squibs.
Unfortunately Hardwick gives no indication for his sources. Since he was writing less than 100 years after the election perhaps he had access to sources that now have been lost.
A number of the original documents, mainly found in the cross examinations, contain comments concerning the riots which are obviously propaganda or statements that would eventually be used in various court cases. Unbiased comments are difficult to find but, in the cross-examinations prior to voting (8) occasional comments appear which appear to be off the cuff and not obviously intended to gain favour or apportion blame. There is no direct mention in any of these comments of the side that the mob was supporting.
Thomas Wareing, an upholsterer who lived in the back weent reported that he had
"removed his goods from his house, the house being threatned to be pull'd down by the mob."
James Sharples employed James Crane and
"when the mob was here he made a Latch for a Door which they had broke."
Not exactly a major crime but it all adds to the effect of the mob.
Mr Myres mentions the agreement which will appear later in more detail.
"there is a mem[oran]dum of the Agreem[en]t sign'd, but I have sent it into the country among my other papers which I did for fear of the mob, as they threatened to plunder my House."
Thomas Dewhurst's wife was
"frighted away by the Mob, to her fa[th]ers from his House in Preston."
"was so inj[ure]d by the Mob that I lodge at Mr Grimshaws."
Oswald Lancaster commented
"I went to my House but three score of a mob follw'd me & sayd if I went there they wo[ul]d murder me."
John Sclater talking about Thomas Walker
"I saw him in P[reston] when the mobs were on ffoot & he say'd they were bad times & if they did not mend he wo[ul]d leave it. He wish'd he had never come."
All of the potential voters mentioned above would have voted for Leicester & Standish and so these comments could possibly be taken as veiled anti Burgoyne & Hoghton statements. The court cases resulting from the riots will be examined in greater detail later. The only recorded death is mentioned in Abrams' articles (9) about the election and concerns Samuel Crane. According to the article
"an attack was made by one of the Tory bands of warriors upon the Mitre Inn, in Fishergate, and Mr. Samuel Crane, a young man, son of Mr. Roger Crane, unfortunately was in the inn at the time, and got mixed up in the affray, He was so much hurt that he died soon after the occurrence. The date of his death was Jan. 9th, 1768."
This doesn't quite tally with the record of burial at St. Johns which was dated the January 8th. Whatever the date, the violence was extreme at the start of the year and was to reach a peak around the middle of February.
The Mayor of Preston, Mr Robert Moss, was also the subject of violence. The mob put him under the town pump and pumped water over him. Dobson (10) adds
“on a neighbour remonstrating with the fellows to their violence, they seized the intercessor, pumped upon him, and his death was the result of the cold he took from the compulsory ablution.”
Unfortunately the name of the neighbour, or the source of this information isn’t revealed. Dobson also quotes a Prestonian who was around at the time of the riots.
There was'nt a how [whole] winda in t' tawn when Sir Harry and Burgoyne polled wi' Sir Peter and Sir Frank.
Proctor (11) proffers several other causes for the bad blood between the different factions including,
"possible protesting against enclosures, the bounty on corn, a standing army and the national debt"
but, at least in the case of Preston, none of these factors seem important. The only reference I can find in the source documents which reinforces Proctor's view appears in a song “Honest Britons No Bounty”. This refers to the bounty on corn but this seems to have been acquired from elsewhere in the country and appears in the book of election squibs/stubbs for 1768. It may well have been a vagrant document. Nowhere in the records I have examined is the standing army or the National debt mentioned. Colonel Burgoyne is mentioned as being a fine soldier - but nothing more.
Lancaster had similar, election related battles and perhaps this implies that Lancashire had common, local issues. Details of this and a comparison will be dealt with later in this section.
Back in Preston, Colonel Burgoyne, being a serving member of the army would have had influence over the militia and, in stead of using them to bring about order, they seemed to have been used to ferment tensions. Lord Strange, as Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire would also have leverage over this group.
A number of questions should be asked “Why wasn’t the rioting controlled?” “Why wasn’t there any law and order?” The simple answer is force of numbers. Dobson, in his "Sketches" mentions that there were 2600 rioters but the figure of 2000 is also regularly mentioned by other sources. If only a fraction of this was the true number they would have been impossible to control using the Town’s resources. According to the Preston Court Leet records there were no constables appointed in 1768 although, in principle, one or two should have been appointed.
Rioting on the scale mentioned previously could only have been controlled by the Army or by the local militia. A later document found in the squibs even accuses the rioters of treason so these more drastic measures could have been used. The 1757 Militia Act also allowed for regiments to be embodied for short periods in order to deal with civil disturbances - but in this case it appears not to have been.
In the quarter sessions returns there is a document which describes the raising and billeting of the militia on Preston moor in May/June, 1767.
Knowsley, July 8th, 1767
This is to certify the His Majestys Regiment of Loyal Militia for the County of Lancaster was raised and exercised for the space of twenty eight days on Fulwood Moor in the Months of May & June this year: and that there appeared Ten Captains, one Cpt. Lieutent., Seven Lieutenants, three Ensigns, one adjutant, forty serjeants, forty corporals, twenty drummers, and seven hundred and fifty one Private men.
Amazingly this document is signed L. Strange (Lord Strange). So, Lord Strange, who was suspected as being, at least, partially behind the rioting could have called in the militia at any time to defuse the situation! Veritas (see later) and others also accuse members of the militia as being involved in the rioting and a number of militia men attempted to vote.
Various court cases appertaining to the riots took place after the election. These will be dealt with in a later section but, for the moment, a statement (13) given by John Gornall, a local publican, sets the scene.
On Wednesday 17th February 1768 about 3 o'clock in the afternoon a vast mob of country people to the number as is apprehended of 2000 collected from the Neighbouring Townships & arrived with clubs, bludgeons & other offensive & destructive weapons entered the Town of Preston in a very riotous manner to the disturbance of the publick peace calling out & frequently repeating as they walked along the streets "No Corporation but Burgoyne forever"
Gornall continues with
Before & after these miscreants (amongst whom were several private men belonging to the County Militia) entered the Town they were joined by several of the Serjts & Drummers in the sd Militia & also by several of the Inhabitants of Preston who were in the interests of the Deft. Burgoyne <
As mentioned earlier, perhaps the militia were the remnants of the forces gathered by Lord Strange on Preston Moor in July 1767.
That the Mob did imediately go to the plts House which they forcibly broke into & entered & destroyed all or most of the ffurniture in the parlour & kitchen & threw a great part thereof into the street.
It isn’t immediately obvious if the “house” mentioned was actually a pub but it seems likely since the catalogue of damage includes 4 barrels of ale, 4 barrels of beer, 10 gallons of brandy….
Continuing in the Gornall court case it is mentioned that
Several of the Inhabitants applied to the deft Burgoyne in order to get an end put to the outrages taking it for granted the mob was in his pay, that he had a power to disperse them if he chose. That deft Burgoyne upon such application declared he pd no regard to the expense which attended the keeping of the mob for that he had resources enough & would keep them in Preston until the day of the Election.
Money would seem to be no problem to the Whig side - even if you are financing more than 100 people for 6 weeks or more.
By the 20th February the rioters supporting Colonel Burgoyne had achieved dominance and, in order to protect their persons and property, the Tory party proposed a truce. Abram quotes a document whereby Burgoyne demanded £30000 so “that the peace should be kept by the other party”. This figure was dropped to £20000 and then £10000 which, again, was refused. However, with the upper hand, Burgoyne forced the Tories to sign a statement exonerating the Whigs from any blame and that legal proceedings should not be taken for any damages. The final document (14) that was signed contains several important figures on the Tory side but very few on the Whig side.
Amongst the Tories accused of “promoting the late riots and disorders” we find ex-Mayors, aldermen and local businessmen of the town (including Wm Hulton & John Myers and we will see later that they rescinded this document). The final signatures to this document start with J. Burgoyne (all in capitals) followed by important Tories of the town. The impression is that the document was produced at the instigation of Colonel Burgoyne and the others just had to agree. It contains the sentence
It is further agreed forthwith to dismiss all Persons, not Inhabitants, nor Freemen, one hundred Men excepted, who are to be detained in Town as long as it shall be thought necessary.
By keeping his “hundred men” in town this adds to the impression that Burgoyne is still adopting bully-boy tactics in the background.
It is probable that it this document that is referred to, in the election squibs, when Colonel Burgoyne writes a missive claiming innocence of all charges relating to mob violence. In it he writes
In regard to the meeting at Mr Shawes* and the articles drawn up at the Coffee house and my discourses at different times with the mob I shall only observe that tho many Witnesses swear positive no two of them state them alike.
*There were several “Shaws” in the town at the time – from the word "articles" this is probably the one described by Abram as an attorney.
Some time later the following repudiation appeared in the Manchester Mercury (15) giving background to the threats (see below)
“Whereas a scandalous Paper has lately been published by the friends of Col. Burgoyne, tending greatly to reflect upon our characters, we have authority to acquaint the Publick that the Ten Friends of the Baronets [Leicester and Standish] who signed the same were absolutely obliged to do so for the safety of their lives and properties, and that it was apprehended that the consequences of their not immediately complying with the Articles proposed by their lawless opponents would have been that Mr. Pedder's Warehouse (before which our antagonists' Mob of nearly two thousand were then assembled), and the houses and warehouses of other principal traders in the town, would have fallen a prey to the ruffians, and we do declare that the clause is the said Paper, charging us with being the authors and originators of any riots in the said town, is false and scandalous. ' WM. HULTON. JOHN MYERS."
The same newspaper article also appears as a poster - unfortunately the date of it's production is unknown.
More details are found in the depositions concerning the Gornall V Burgoyne case.
On Saturday 20th February another meeting was had between Deft. Burgoyne & his friends & several other gents on Preston and that at such meeting he insisted that a Recognizance should be entered into by the gent in the interests of Sir John Leicester & Sir Frank Standish & other Candidates for the sd borough for a number of persons in the same interest to keep the peace in the penalty of £400 & also that 100 of the rioters should be kept in Town. These forces were thought very extraordinary & arbitrary especially as the friends of Sir Peter Leicester & Sir Frank Standish were satisfied that nothing had been done or committed by any persons in the interests of the last named gent to warrant so monstrous a requisition.
So Leicester & Standish felt that they shouldn’t pay since they hadn’t been involved in the rioting.
yet the friends of Sir Peter Leicester & Sir Frank Standish reflecting again upon their own as well as the unhappy situations of others & that the shops of 2 or tradesmen were threatened to be immediately broke into & plundered & being desirous to get quit of such a banditti from whose they the most dreadful consequences were to be expected they were overawed & persuaded to acquiesce with the terms proposed, their fears & apprehensions of greater riots were such that they would at that time have agreed to anything however extravagant in its nature
The tradesmen of the Town would later explain how they had been forced into this agreement.
Agreeable to the extraordinary Treaty & agreement before stated 100 of the rioters were kept within the Borough of Preston from sd 20th February untill & during the whole time of the poll for the election of members to serve in parliament for same Borough which poll begun on 21st March 1768 & ended on 2nd April following, & the sd 100 rioters were almost daily assembled in Lord Stranges stable yard where they were disciplined by & marched in ranks thro the publick streets under the command & direction of Robert Ware Serjt Major in the Lancashire Militia who in defiance & contempt of all civil authority most audaciously declared he was come to regulate the Town & would regulate it.
They continued, stating that Robert Ware, the sergeant major of the militia
accordingly frequently ordered his disciplined mob to insult & assault several of the Inhabitants & so greatly alarmed were the tradesman of the Country people returning & joining the 100 rioters that several of them removed all or the greatest part of their shop goods into the Country & others into back rooms the doors of which they made up with brick or other materials.
The Militia, again, seem to be controlling the mob.
Various election stubbs show that Leicester and Standish did encourage their supporters even though there might be violence. The words following would seem to be small beer compared with the violence of the Burgoyne/Hoghton camp. Leicester and Standish were quoted as saying:-
“We would have you stand firm at the day of the election.”
1. Lancashire Archives - DDPR 135_5-12 – The court case of Burgoyne against Moss
2. Lancashire Archives - Invitation to Friends of Sir Henry Hoghton and General Burgoyne to canvass for Election – DDLA 9/3
3. Lancashire Archives - DDPr/131/7a – Canvassing Book 1768
4. W. A. Abram “Sketches in Local History” – Sketch 7
5. Lancashire Archives – DDPr 138/7- Register of “Foreign” voters to Preston
6. Preston Court Leet - http://c5110394.myzen.co.uk/mw/index.php?title=February_1768
Although the court for this date was convened there were no presentments.
7. Hardwick – History of the Borough of Preston
8. Lancashire Archives – DDPd 11/51 - Register of Preston voters, with examinations as to their validity
9. W. A. Abram. “Sketches in Local History” – Sketch 8.
10. W. Dobson. “History of the Parliamentary Representation of Preston”.
11. Proctor – “Electioneering in Lancashire before the secret ballot: The Preston Election of 1768” read before Preston Historical Society, 6th April 1959 and reprinted in the Journal of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, Volume 111, 1959.
12. Lancashire Archives - MS Book of Squibs - DDPR 131/7
13. Lancashire Archives – Gornall V Burgoyne - DDPR_135_13-37
14. Lancashire Archives - Articles of agreement – DDX 1568/1. A variation on this information can be found in the legal questions posed to J. Dunning DDX 123/13.
15. Manchester Mercury for March 18th, 1768