Illustration: The Mayor of Bristol Escaping from the Mansion House
The Political Background
The year 1831 will ever be memorable in the history of Great Britain, for the struggles by which its progress was characterised, in favour of the great measure of Reform. There was, in reality, no problem ever more clearly or more satisfactorily demonstrated, than the iniquities of parliamentary elections and representation. The necessity for reform was almost universally admitted; for the errors and evils of the existing system had ceased to be seriously denied, and were made the subject of discussion by way of defence only, by persons whose ingenuity and sophistry enabled them to raise arguments in their favour. Half a century had elapsed since reform was on the point of being achieved by a national movement, when it was arrested by the "No Popery" riots of Lord George Gordon. Subsequent events of a nature too powerfully exciting to admit of so large a measure of power to be immediately accorded to the people, required its temporary abandonment; but never entirely laid aside, and always appreciated for its importance and certain utility, it was reserved to be brought forward at a period when tranquillity and favouring circumstances should secure for it a triumphant reception. Such an opportunity presented itself at the commencement of the reign of a liberal and puissant monarch. In William the Fourth, a king was found in every respect worthy the admiration and respect of his subjects, and his reign, short though it was, forms an eventful period of modern history.
The retirement from office of those ministers who had so long swayed the destinies of the nation, afforded to the party who had cherished the anticipation of their procuring the adoption of a measure, which should have for its effect the removal of the existing abuses, an opportunity of attempting to carry out the object which they had in view, and which was so anxiously looked for by the people. The formation of a ministry from among the leaders of this party was an event highly calculated to excite the most favourable expectations, and the speedy declaration of the wishes of his majesty being in entire accordance with those of his people, produced a degree of general satisfaction, which had not been equalled during a long series of years. Savile, Wyvile, William Pitt, Charles Grey, Burdett, Cartwright, Brande, Lambton, and Lord John Russell, were among the names of those by whom the important topic of reform had been already brought before Parliament, and the period had now arrived when the exertions of these men were to have their effect and their reward.
The ministry of Earl Grey was formed in November 1830. Public opinion imperatively marshalled the way, and there was no intention exhibited by the new advisers of his majesty to diverge into any by-path. Those members of the government who had not always been favourable to reform, were now converted, or acquiesced in the necessity of the introduction of such a measure, and it was fully understood that the conditions on which the ministers proposed to conduct the government committed to them, was peace abroad, and reform and retrenchment at home. These were pledges which they most honestly redeemed, in a spirit of wisdom, and temperance, and of firmness, and patriotism.
The Reform Bill was first introduced to the House of Commons on the 1st of March 1831, and so great had been the excitement during the election of the preceding year, that the second reading was carried by a majority of one, in a parliament chosen under the auspices of the Wellington administration: but on the 20th, General Gascoigne carried an amendment, in opposition to a clause proposed by ministers, by a majority of eight. Two days afterwards parliament was dissolved, in a speech in which the king stated that the appeal about to be made to the people had been resolved upon, expressly with a view of ascertaining their sense as to the proposed alteration in the representation. The general election took place in May, and the new parliament met on the 14th of June. On the 24th of the same month the second Reform Bill was introduced, and on the 4th of July, after a debate of three nights, the second reading was carried by a majority of one hundred and thirty-six; the motion having been supported by three hundred and sixty-seven members, and opposed by two hundred and thirty-one. The bill passed the House of Commons, but at half past six o'clock on the morning of the 8th of October, after a debate of five nights, it was thrown out, on the second reading, in the House of Lords, by a majority of one hundred and ninety-nine to one hundred and fifty-eight. On the 20th, parliament was prorogued, and was not called together again until the 6th of December. The year, which had already been so busy and eventful, did not close till the great measure, in the discussion of which so much time had been spent, was again before the legislature. The third Reform Bill was introduced into the Commons on the 12th of December, and was read a second time on the 17th, by a majority of two to one. Having, however, been detained nearly two months in committee, it did not leave the Commons until the 19th of March 1832, when the third reading was carried by a majority of three hundred and fifty-five to two hundred thirty-nine. At seven o'clock on the morning of the 1 4th of April, it was read a second time in the House of Lords, by a majority of nine, the numbers being one hundred and eighty-four in its favour, and one hundred and seventy-five against it: four nights having been occupied in its discussion. On the 7th of May, the day on which parliament re-assembled after the Easter recess, the motion proposed by Lord Lyndhurst, to postpone the consideration of the disfranchising clauses until the enfranchising clauses had been discussed, was carried against ministers by a majority of one hundred and fifty-one to one hundred and sixteen; and as this was looked upon as the first of a series of obstructions, dextrously intended by the noble and learned lord to delay and mutilate, if not to destroy, the national scheme, the ministers adopted, on the instant, a firm and resolute course. On the 9th of the same month Earl Grey announced in the Lords, and Viscount Althorp in the Commons, that ministers had resigned. A week of terrific agitation ensued, but the sequel proved the efficiency and the excellence of the step which had been adopted.
Lord Lyndhurst, the Duke of Wellington, and Sir Robert Peel, were the new advisers selected by his majesty; but they were made acquainted with his majesty's determination that an extensive reform should be effected. Lord Lyndhurst and the noble Duke were not unwilling to lend themselves to the existing emergency; but the right honourable baronet was more untractable, and the consequence was, the abandonment of the design of the new administration, and the recurrence of the king to his old advisers. On the 18th of May, Earl Grey intimated that he and his colleagues had re-assumed their offices, and that they had done so with an assurance from the king, that his majesty's co-operative aid to carry the Reform Bill should not be wanting. Reports had been long in circulation of the possibility of the creation of a sufficient number of new peers to overwhelm the Tory majority of the House of Lords; but the king and his ministers had hitherto manifested a laudable reluctance to resort to such a measure. Now, however, it was felt that this was the only course left to be pursued; and that measure, which was looked upon rightly as one to which recourse should be had only when all other means had failed, was determined to be resorted to. But the king's resolve having become known, its execution was rendered unnecessary. The Tory peers, rather than such a step should be taken, consented to forego their opposition; and, on the 4th of June 1832, the Reform Bill was read a third time, and passed by a majority of one hundred and six to twenty-two. On the 7th of June it received the royal assent. The Scotch and Irish Reform Bills, and the Boundaries Bill, were, in like manner, soon after enacted into laws. On the I6th of August parliament was prorogued, and, on the 3rd of December, a dissolution took place. The remainder of that month was occupied in the first general election under the new system of representation.
Having thus succinctly detailed the eventful proceedings of parliament during this short period, we shall now proceed to describe the consequences produced by the frequent and repeated refusals of the legislature to accede to the wishes of the people -- consequences, the causes of which, without such an introduction, would scarcely be intelligible.
Riots in London
It was in allusion to the rejection of the Reform Bill in the month of October 1831 by the House of Lords, that the popular feeling was most strongly exhibited. Many of the newspapers, which announced the result of the division in the House of Lords, were put into mourning, and a feeling of the deepest and most melancholy foreboding soon spread itself throughout the country. The fate of the Reform Bill became speedily known, and on the Monday following marks of unequivocal sorrow and disgust exhibited themselves. In the metropolis circulars were distributed in every parish, calling meetings; all business appeared suspended; and the shops in all directions were either partially or totally closed. Mourning flags were exhibited from the houses, accompanied by placards, in which the bishops, who had formed a considerable portion of the majority against the bill, presented a source of prolific censure. In King-street, Seven-dials, the effigy of the Duke of Wellington was burned; and, in Tottenham-court-road, a placard was exhibited at a shop, announcing that arms might be had, to be paid for by instalments. On the part of the government, every precaution was taken for the preservation of the public peace. Troops were marched into London, and stationed so as to be ready to be called into immediate activity in case of necessity; ball-cartridges were distributed, and everything was done which prudence could suggest for the maintenance of order. Numerous meetings were held in the course of the week, at which the most enthusiastic determination was exhibited; and every means was adopted by the people to throw disgrace and discredit upon those by whom their wishes had been opposed. The Duke of Wellington, and other noble peers who had distinguished themselves by their opposition to the bill, were roughly greeted, and were pelted on their way to the House of Lords. The Duke of Cumberland was also nearly receiving much ill-usage from a mob assembled in the Park. On Wednesday the 13th of October, the king held a levee at St. James's Palace, at which an immense number of addresses was presented. The trades' unions assembled in vast mobs in the neighbourhood of the palace, accompanied by their flags and other insignia, and some violence was done by the mob. The residence of the Marquis of Bristol, in St. James's-square, was made the object of an attack by them. Many of the windows were dashed in, and a considerable quantity of valuable effects destroyed; but fortunately there were many well-disposed persons in the vicinity, by whom the police were assisted, and the rioters dispersed. The mob, however, had been no sooner driven from here, than they proceeded at once to the residence of the Duke of Wellington, Apsley House, Piccadilly. This was, in turn, made the object of an assault even more severe and determined than that of the Marquis of Bristol. At about half-past two o'clock in the day, several parties were seen to approach the residence of his grace, and the foremost of the gang threw a few stones at the windows, and sent forth the most horrible yells. Some of the servants belonging to the establishment came forward and presented pistols at the mob assembled; but this only served to increase their anger. A volley of stones was instantly hurled at their supposed assailants; and a cry being raised of "They are going to fire on us -- now let us go to work," an instant attack was commenced on the mansion. Stones flew in showers on the house, and not a dozen panes of glass were left undemolished, while many valuable pictures inside were utterly ruined, and the furniture was destroyed. The police at first were in small numbers upon the spot, but a reinforcement having arrived from the Vigo-street Station-house, a vigorous attack on the mob was commenced. The employment of their staves, and the determination which was exhibited by the constables, served, in a very material degree, to drive away the assembled crowd; and, of those who were taken into custody, all were of the lowest class -- showing that their object was rather mischief or depredation, than the assertion of a principle, or the maintenance of a right. At about seven o'clock in the evening, a new attempt to get up a riot was made by a mob of two or three hundred persons, who were met on their way through Piccadilly towards St. James's Palace; but a speedy stop was put to their proceedings by the police, who had assembled in large bodies to repel any such new effort as might be made.
But while in the metropolis no acts of serious mischief were done, the effects produced by this event in the country were of a nature much to be regretted. At Derby and Nottingham, more especially, serious riots took place. At the former place it is exceedingly probable that the event would have been passed over without any disturbance, but for the indecent and insulting ebullition of joy manifested by a party of those who were opposed to the Reform Bill. The bells of the churches had been tolling during the whole of Saturday evening, the news having reached the town by express at an early hour on that day, and a number of persons, amounting to a considerable crowd, having assembled at the coach-offices, awaiting the arrival of the London coaches, in order that their fears might be set at rest, they were assailed with laughter and other uncalled-for insults by their political opponents. The consequence was a retaliation on their part, which terminated in an attack upon the houses of those who had made themselves unpopular by their conduct. The windows of many of these houses were demolished, and the persons of some of their owners subjected to violence; but at length a considerable number of the rioters were taken into custody. This served only to increase their anger, and an attack being made upon the jail, the whole of the prisoners were liberated. The mob in turn were assailed by the keeper of the prison and his assistants, with fire-arms, and the result was that three of their number were killed. The soldiery were then called out, and tranquillity was at length with some difficulty restored.
Riots in Nottingham
At Nottingham the riots bore even a more serious aspect. The consternation which was produced by the arrival of the news of the defeat of the reformers was of a fearful description. During the night of Saturday anything but tranquillity prevailed; and, on the following morning, all were on the tiptoe of anxiety for the arrival of the London newspapers. These brought food to increase the exasperation of the populace. At dark on the Sunday night thousands of persons assembled in the streets of the town, and perambulated the principal thoroughfares. The result was, an attack upon the houses of all those who were opposed to the measure of reform. Windows were broken in all directions; and, as the night advanced, a body of the 13th Hussars, stationed in the neighbourhood, was marched into the town. The people were entreated to disperse, and they indeed quitted the spot on which they were found assembled, but only to make a fresh circuit of the town to complete the work of annoyance to their opponents which they had commenced.
On the next day a meeting of the inhabitants of the town and county of Nottingham was held in the market-place, in pursuance of a requisition which had been numerously signed. A stage was erected in the centre, which was speedily occupied by the mayor, Lord Rancliffe, and many other of the influential inhabitants of the vicinity. Resolutions were adopted, and an address to his Majesty, in unison with their tenor, was enthusiastically cheered. All the speakers urged the people to be guilty of no excesses; but the mob showed little disposition to listen to advice so wholesome, and loud and deep murmurs were heard to escape their lips, expressive of their dislike for their opponents, and of their anxiety for an opportunity to take revenge upon them for their unpopular acts. Shortly before the meeting separated, fourteen bodies organised themselves, and marched in different directions, apparently intent on mischief. Many of them joined at the outskirts of the town, and proceeding to the racecourse they destroyed a mill there; after which they shaped their way to the residence of Mr. John Masters, Colwick Hall. Here they committed havoc of the most serious character. Attacking the house, they soon forced an entrance, and they carried off or destroyed every article of property which it contained. The damage done was immense, and the destruction of some valuable pictures is much to be deplored. An attempt was also made to burn the premises, which, however, was unsuccessful, and the mob, armed with the iron palisades by which the house had been surrounded, returned to Nottingham. The castle of Nottingham, belonging to the Duke of Newcastle, a determined anti-reformer, was an object which was soon exposed to their fury. It had been built about one hundred and fifty years before, by an Ancestor of the present Duke of Newcastle, at a cost of 25,000l., and it presented to them at once the means of gratifying their revenge and their spirit of mischief. They entered the castle gates, and proceeding through the court-yard they soon reached the lofty pile. All was anxiety, but suspense was not long delayed; flames were seen in a few minutes issuing in abundance from the windows, and by the next morning the edifice was destroyed. The amazement created in the neighbourhood was intense; and for a considerable time prevented the inhabitants from taking any steps to prevent or to stop the proceedings of the rioters. The fifteenth Hussars were active in the discharge of their duties, and exhibited both judgment and humanity. On the morning of Tuesday the 11th of October, the castle was found to be still burning, but the destructive element had extended its mischievous effects only to the interior of the building. The external walls remained standing, while the whole of the interior woodwork, together with a large quantity of valuable tapestry, which formed its only furniture, had been destroyed.
During the whole of this day the troops patrolled the town, but the spirit of incendiarism was abroad, and a party of the mob of the preceding night assembled at Beeston, near Nottingham, where they ransacked and fired a silk mill belonging to Mr. Lowe. The whole of the machinery and the premises were destroyed, and no fewer than three hundred persons were thrown out of employment in consequence of this dreadful act. The mob were attacked and routed, and two or three persons were killed, besides about twenty being taken prisoners; and it was only the exhibition of the determination of the military and constabulary forces to enforce the law which at length thoroughly and completely dispersed them.
On the following Thursday, tranquillity had been completely restored.
At Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, York, Sheffield, Northampton, Worcester, and other places, the expression of the popular opinion was no less distinct, although it was not attended with any of those mischievous results which characterised it in the districts to which reference has been already made.
During the ensuing week, at Nottingham, active measures were taken to secure the persons of those who had been engaged in the riots in that town. The Duke of Newcastle having arrived at his seat, Clumber House, issued a proclamation, as lord-lieutenant of the county, and Clumber House, and Wollerton Hall, the seat of Lord Middleton, were both fortified and garrisoned, lest any new outbreak should take place. No event occurred, however, which showed this step to have been necessary, and in the course of a few days an additional number of twenty prisoners was made, charged with being concerned in the late riots.
The serious nature of these occurrences attracted universal attention, and it was deemed fit that the crimes of the offenders should be made the subject of investigation before a special commission.
The commission was opened at Nottingham, on Wednesday the 4th of January 1832, and the proceedings of the court terminated on Saturday the 14th of January. Many prisoners had been convicted of minor offences in the course of ten days, during which the judges had sat, and had been sentenced to imprisonment, or fine; but on the 14th of January, those who had been capitally convicted were brought up to receive sentence. Their names were, George Beck, George Hearson, Thomas Armstrong, Thomas Shelton, and Thomas Berkins. These were placed in front, and behind them stood William Kitchen, David Timman, Valentine Marshall, and Thomas Whitaker. The prisoners were addressed by Mr. Justice Littledale, in a feeling manner: and the learned judge having stated the leading circumstances attending the riots, said that the four last-named prisoners would be recommended as fit objects for the exercise of the royal clemency -- the others, however, whose share in the riots had been greater, must prepare to quit this world.
The learned judge concluded by passing the sentence of death upon the five prisoners to whom he had severally addressed himself.
During the period which subsequently elapsed before the time fixed for the execution of these culprits, great and meritorious exertions were made by the inhabitants of Nottingham to procure a remission of their sentence, which were not entirely unsuccessful. On Tuesday 31st January, letters were received by the proper authorities from the Home-office, announcing a determination that the full sentence of death should be carried out upon Beck, Hearson, and Armstrong, but that the other two prisoners, Berkins and Shelton, should be respited. Some disappointment was exhibited that this measure of clemency did not extend to the whole of the prisoners under sentence; and the arrival of the mail on the next morning, when the other convicts were to be executed, was looked for with much anxiety, in the anticipation that further letters might be received. In obedience to the wish of the townspeople, the execution was postponed from eight o'clock on the Wednesday morning until eleven; but at a quarter-past ten the mail arrived with no further respite.
The prisoners were then immediately led from their cells to be pinioned, preparatory to their execution. They had passed their time since their conviction in the exercise of such religious observances as were deemed by Dr. Wood, the minister of the jail, best suited to their position, and declared themselves perfectly ready to die. During the period occupied by their being pinioned, they were all three perfectly calm and collected.
On Dr. Wood's concluding the affecting prayer which is always read to criminals just before their execution, and on his consigning them to God's gracious protection and mercy, the procession was formed to ascend the scaffold. Beck ascended it first with great seriousness, but with a firm and unfaltering footstep. Hearson, who had joined with much fervour in all the devotional exercises of the morning, surprised all who had seen his previous conduct by the manner in which he behaved after mounting the scaffold. He took his cap off his head, waved it in a sort of triumph, and began to dance like a maniac in his chains. He recognised some individual who was seated on a housetop opposite the scaffold, and shouted out, "Well done, Will, lad." A person in the crowd said to him, "Good bye, Curley," addressing him by the name by which he was commonly known. This address set him to dancing again; and his extraordinary conduct at this crisis of his fate is attributed, not to any spirit of bravado, but to sudden delirium. He turned round to the hangman, and complained that he had not an inch of rope, saying, "Give me rope enough that I may be sooner out of misery." Armstrong, who was brought last upon the scaffold, was much distressed on seeing the frantic gestures of Hearson. About eight minutes were consumed in these preparations. Exactly at twenty minutes before twelve, the hangman drew their caps over their faces; and that ceremony seemed to be the signal for a thousand voices to utter the fearful cries of "Murder!" and of "Blood!" These sounds must have been ringing in the ears of the unfortunate men at the very moment when the withdrawal of the fatal bolt carried them from the tribunals of man to appear at the bar of heavenly justice. They were clasping each other's hands at the moment they fell, but the suddenness of their fall severed the association, and the agonies of death prevented their renewing it. They struggled, but not violently, for five minutes. At the expiration of that time, their frames had ceased to heave, and life was evidently extinct. After the cry of murder had subsided, the multitude, which must have consisted of eight or ten thousand people, behaved with great propriety and decorum. It did not, however, disperse until the hangman made his second appearance on the scaffold to cut down these unfortunate delinquents. This was done at twenty minutes before one o'clock. The bodies were then placed in their respective coffins, and were delivered to their friends in the course of the next day.
At the ensuing assizes for the county of Nottingham, some further convictions for robberies during the riots took place; and several prisoners were sentenced to transportation, to which punishment, also, the sentences of those who had been capitally convicted before the special commission, but respited, were commuted.
At the Derby assizes, on Saturday the 17th of March, several prisoners were put upon their trial for the alleged participation in the riots which had taken place in that town. The prosecution was sought to be supported by the evidence of an approver, who, however, was disbelieved by the jury, and a verdict of acquittal returned.
Other prisoners were not so fortunate, and paid the forfeit of their offences, by suffering imprisonment for various short periods.
In London, too, a similar measure of justice was dealt out to the offenders who had been secured, but the prisoners were almost all of the very lowest classes of the people, and their respective cases presented no features of general interest.
Riots in Bristol
These disgraceful proceedings were consequential upon the rejection of the Reform Bill, to which allusion is made in the last article. Sir Charles Wetherall, who was recorder of Bristol, had, throughout the debates which took place upon this most important subject, in his seat in parliament, delivered himself of sentiments strongly opposed to the great measure, which was justly looked upon as so important to the interests of the people; and his conduct had procured for him on this account a notoriety as unenviable as in the sequel it proved dangerous. The wishes and the desires of the people were treated by him with levity, and even with contempt; and in Bristol, more especially, a strong feeling of hostility was excited against him, from the near connexion by which he was bound to that city.
It was pretty generally known that Sir Charles would enter Bristol on the 29th of October, 1831, for the purpose of opening the commission for the trial of offenders; and very natural apprehensions were entertained that his appearance would produce some popular commotion. The mayor and civic authorities were apprised of the impending danger; and with a degree of discretion not usually found to be exercised on such occasions, they procured the aid of the military, and swore in a great number of special constables, in order to be ready to meet and quell any disturbance or riot which might arise. The office of special constable was looked upon by the more respectable portion of the inhabitants as one which, under existing circumstances, it would be irksome to hold; and many persons were sworn in, whose conduct in the end unfortunately showed how ill the confidence placed in them had been bestowed. The consequences were of the most fatally appalling nature; and the following statement of the occurrences of the 29th, 30th, and 31st of October will be read with pain, not unmixed with disgust at the excesses which were committed.
On Wednesday, the 26th of October 1831, Sir Charles Wetherall arrived at Bath; and, contrary to his usual custom, which was to take up his residence at the house of his sister-in-law, the lady of Colonel Jones, he repaired to the York-house Hotel. During his stay there, although there existed against him a good deal of angry feeling, no particular notice was taken of him. Bills, announcing the place of his sojourn, were distributed through the town; but even this failed in so far exciting the minds of the people as to induce them to offer any injury, or even insult, to the learned gentleman. The ill-feeling which prevailed against him was, however, known, and its consequences apprehended; and so desirous were his friends to avoid any popular outbreak against him, that the period of his departure from Bath was determined to be concealed, Friday night was therefore openly named as the time at which he should quit Bath, but, in reality, he did not retire from the city until Saturday morning at ten o'clock. His carriage at that hour was drawn up in the backyard of the hotel, ready for his accommodation; and, drawn by four horses, the learned gentleman was quickly driven off.
Although he thus stealthily quitted Bath, Sir Charles had repeatedly expressed his determination not to enter Bristol in a covert manner. He declared his belief in a "reaction," which would produce a strong feeling in his favour; and although he was warmly and strongly recommended not to adopt the course upon which it was understood he had fixed, he persisted in pursuing the line of conduct pointed out.
At about half-past eleven o'clock, Sir Charles was perceived to approach Bristol at a rapid rate, in a chariot drawn by four greys; and, on stopping at Totterdown for the purpose of being handed into the sheriff's carriage, he was instantly assailed by the most deafening yells, groans, and hisses. The constables were then, in considerable numbers, placed around the carriage; a gentleman on horseback riding close by the side of each door, and three or four hundred preceding and following. In this manner the cavalcade, which comprised also the usual number of mayor's and sheriff's officers, mounted, with favours, proceeded slowly towards the city. Just as Sir Charles was passing over Hill's-bridge, his carriage was assailed with four or five stones; but no movement took place with a view to apprehend the offenders, the whole force being anxious only for the protection of the recorder's person. As the procession moved onward, the expressions of disapprobation from the multitude became more and more deafening. In Temple-street, the windows of the houses were crowded with spectators, and the lower orders of females were particularly vociferous in the expression of their feelings, frequently charging the men with cowardice and want of spirit. In passing from the bridge to High-street, one of the constables, a respectable tradesman, received a dangerous contusion in the head; and, in the latter street, also, some few stones were thrown.
On arriving at the Guildhall, in Broad-street, it was with the greatest difficulty that Sir Charles could alight, from the pressure of the immense multitude; but, after the lapse of a few minutes, he was handed out in safety, and proceeded to take his station on the bench. The doors of the hall were then thrown open to the populace, and in a few minutes the area was completely choked up.
The usual forms for opening the commission then commenced; but the noise and confusion occasioned considerable interruption. Amidst a scene of indescribable uproar, they were with difficulty gone through; and, at their conclusion, an adjournment of the court to the following Monday morning took place. The recorder then withdrew from the bench, and the populace, after some further marks of their displeasure towards the learned judge, gave three cheers for the king and retired into the street. Some considerable time then elapsed before the recorder was taken up for the purpose of being conveyed to the Mansion-house. During the interval, Broadstreet, and, indeed, the whole line of the route, was occupied by a dense mass of the population. Beyond the mere vocal expression of their feelings, however, there was nothing in their conduct, at this period, calculated to excite alarm. On Sir Charles's reappearance, he was greeted with a repetition of the same favours which had before been so liberally bestowed upon him, which continued through the remainder of his progress, with the exception that, at the Commercial-rooms, in front of which a body of his admirers had placed themselves, he was greeted with three cheers. But there was no violence until the arrival of the carriage at the Mansion-house, in Queen-square. There a few stones were thrown, and a lamp or a window of the carriage was broken; but the recorder himself received no injury.
We have now arrived at what we conceive to be the most important part of our narrative, inasmuch as it was the universal opinion, that the proceedings which directly followed the arrival of the recorder and corporation at the Mansion-house were the more immediate cause of all the disgraceful events which subsequently occurred. A few minutes after their alighting, a rush was made on the populace by a posse of special constables, for the purpose of securing the persons by whom the missiles had just been thrown, and an individual was taken hold of, and dragged into the Mansion-house, Again another rush took place, and another capture was made; and this was repeated several times; the conviction being pretty general, that persons were selected at random. The least show of opposition on the part of the populace, who, during these proceedings, were really guiltless of any new outrage, subjected them to the most brutal attacks of some of the persons who assumed to be special constables, many of whom, by imprudently brandishing their staves, did much to excite the feelings of the people.
At this moment the number of persons collected in the square could not have been less than ten thousand; and a cry having been raised of "To the back," where piles of faggots and firewood were usually kept, a large body proceeded thither, and having armed themselves with sticks, returned in a few minutes to the scene of action. It was then that, for the first time, any serious collision was apprehended; but the constables rushing out in a body, in a moment infused terror into the people, and the sticks were soon to be seen strewed in every direction upon the ground. These were gathered up in bundles and carried off. This was about half-past twelve o'clock. From that period till about four o'clock, the time was passed in occasional skirmishes between the constables and the populace, which generally ended in some one being taken into custody. During these proceedings it was visible that the people were becoming more and more exasperated. Now and then a pane of glass was smashed in, or a club hurled at the heads of the constables; and these attacks generally led to measures which heightened, rather than allayed, the popular feeling.
At about four o'clock, when the shades of night were rapidly approaching, a considerable portion of the constabulary force was most unadvisedly permitted to retire to their homes, for the purpose of refreshing themselves, with an understanding that they should return to relieve the remainder at six o'clock. From that moment the mob became more daring in their attacks on the Mansion-house, until at length the mayor came forward to beg of them to desist, and to retire to their homes. The sentiments delivered by his worship on this occasion were such as did honour to his heart, though it is to be regretted that he did not come forward at an earlier stage of the proceedings, before the minds of the people had been so highly wrought up. His worship, during his address, was assaulted with stones, and a very large one very narrowly missed striking him on the head. The Riot Act was then read, but without producing the least effect upon the mob, who, perceiving the weakness of the force opposed to them, rushed upon the constables, disarmed them, and beat them severely. In this affray many persons sustained serious injuries. One constable, as a condition of release from their vengeance, was compelled to throw his own staff at the mayor's windows; others were obliged to seek refuge in flight; and one was actually chased into the float (dock), whence he was taken up by a boat-hook.
Nothing now remaining to curb the mob, the work of violence immediately commenced by a general and simultaneous attack on every part of the Mansion-house. In an instant the windows and sashes were smashed to atoms; the shutters were beaten to pieces; the doors forced; and every article of furniture on the ground-floor broken up. Tables, chairs, sideboards, mirrors, chimney-glasses, were demolished. The iron palisades, together with the curb-stones in which they were set, were thrown down as if they had been mere reeds stuck in a mud-bank, and furnished many a desperate villain with a formidable iron bar; young trees were torn up by the roots, and converted into weapons of destruction; walls were thrown down to provide bricks with which to assail the upper windows; and straw and combustibles were procured with which to fire the whole premises. At this critical moment it was that Sir Charles effected his retreat, in disguise, through the adjoining premises; but it was not made known until twelve o'clock on the following day that he had left the city. For the present, however, the Mansion-house was saved from conflagration by the arrival of the troops.
It was supposed, judging from the conduct of the mob in the morning, that the appearance of two troops of horse would have been the signal for a general rout. They had now, however, acquired a considerable accession of force, and it was obvious that they had been joined by some of the most determined and desperate characters of the place. Instead of retreating, the thousands who were present, clustering like bees on the adjoining walls and elevations, cheered the troops with the greatest enthusiasm.
Under the protection of the military, the constables and specials again collected in considerable numbers, and several of the most daring of the mob were made prisoners. Still it was found impossible to clear the square or the streets adjacent. The soldiers trotted their horses backward and forward amidst the cheers of the mob, but not the slightest disposition was shown to disperse. The colonel of the district (Colonel Brereton), exerted himself in the most humane and laudable manner. He harangued the multitude, begged and entreated them to repair to their homes, and cautioned them of the dreadful consequences which their conduct otherwise would infallibly draw upon them. He was everywhere received with the greatest cordiality, and with loud cheers.
In the manner already described, things proceeded in the square until twelve o'clock at night. About this time a party of the rioters, disappointed by the restraint which the troops imposed upon them, proceeded to the Council-house, where they commenced operations by smashing the windows. Meanwhile orders were given to the cavalry to make a charge, and here the scene became one of the greatest confusion. The people who ran in all directions, were pursued through the streets for a considerable distance by the soldiers, and several of them received severe cuts from their sabres. Many of the people took refuge in the various passages in Wine-street, from whence they assailed the troops with stones, particularly at the top of the Pithay, where one of the soldiers having been struck, he immediately turned round and shot a man dead upon the spot. This was at half-past twelve; and the soldiers continuing to gallop about the street, prevented the re-assembling of the mob during the night.
On Sunday morning the people again began to collect at an early hour in Queen-square, but everything remaining quiet, and it being hoped that danger had subsided, the troops were withdrawn for some refreshment. They had scarcely disappeared when the mob again commenced their outrages. Ascending now to the upper rooms of the Mansion-house, they proceeded to throw out the valuable furniture into the square. The drawers and other depositories were ransacked, and wearing apparel, bed and table linen, china, &c. were plundered, or wantonly destroyed.
But another, and a most dangerous, exciting cause began to develop itself. During the sacking of the Mansion-house the wine-cellars were forced, and it is supposed that at least one-third of a stock of three-hundred dozen of choice wines was carried off, and wasted and drunk by the mob. It is needless to say that the result was fraught with the worst possible effects; they became madly infuriate, and regardless alike of what mischief they committed, or what risk they incurred. The scene at this moment was of the most depraved description; all ages, of both sexes, were to be seen greedily swallowing the intoxicating liquors; while upon the ground the bodies of scores were to be found, dead with drunkenness. The streets remote from the scene of action, from this time became noisy from the turbulence of wretches who were to be seen staggering about in all directions. The troops were then speedily replaced, but the infuriate mob began to act on the offensive, and sought to wreak their vengeance on them for the wounds they had inflicted on the preceding evening, and particularly to be revenged for the killing of the man on the top of the Pithay. They attacked them with a shower of stones and brickbats, which the men were prevented from resisting, no magistrate being in attendance to take the responsibility of orders to that effect. In this state of things the commanding-officer judged it prudent to withdraw the troops (the 14th Light Dragoons) and replace them with a body of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, commanded by Captain Warrington. On the retirement of the former, they were followed by a large portion of the mob, who continued their assaults upon them along the quay and over the drawbridge. On arriving at St. Augustine's Back, being provoked beyond further forbearance, they turned round and fired several shots on their assailants. The mob, however, nothing daunted, still continued to follow them; and in College Green some further firing occurred. In this place a considerable number of persons had assembled, expecting that Sir Charles as usual would attend Divine Service in the Mayor's Chapel. Still the mob continued their assaults, hanging upon the soldiers' heels, until they arrived at their quarters in the Boar's-Head-yard, where they were again fired upon. The discharges, as the result must show, were however but partial; the number of killed being only one, and wounded seven or eight. One poor fellow, who had taken no part in the disturbances, was shot through the arm as he was standing upon the Quay, on the opposite side.
Immediately after these occurrences, Colonel Brereton rode down to the Square, followed by a considerable number of men and boys, who cheered him on his way thither. He assured them that there should be no more firing, that the 14th should be immediately sent out of the city, and again exhorted them to return to their homes. This was about eleven o'clock; and it was truly awful to reflect on the scenes which were passing at the time when service was commencing in the churches in the neighbourhood. In the square, with the exception of the scenes of drunkenness which were still going on, nothing particular transpired until the evening, with the exception that an individual mounted the statue of King William, and fixing a tri-coloured cap on a long pole, pronounced aloud, "The Cap of Liberty." The soldiers were drawn up in front of the Mansion-house, and the mob seemed nowise disposed to molest them.
After a while, however, they manifested a restlessness for action, and a party, by no means numerous, proceeded to the Bridewell, for the purpose of rescuing the prisoners. On their arrival, they lost no time in procuring sledge-hammers from the nearest smith's shop, and immediately proceeded to beat in the doors. The keeper, Mr. Evans, had just sat down to dinner when he received the visit of the unwelcome intruders. Having succeeded in opening the doors, they became apprehensive that the large folding-gates, which at night shut up the thoroughfare, would be closed upon them, and they directly set about removing them. This they accomplished with the most astonishing facility, and disposed of them by throwing them over the bridge into the float; they then proceeded to liberate the prisoners, and having accomplished their end, they forthwith set the building on fire. During their operations not the slightest molestation was offered to them. This happened about two o'clock.
About the same time a stronger party of rioters, comprising, indeed, almost the whole body, proceeded to the New Jail, a strong-built modern edifice, having been erected about ten years before, at a cost of nearly 100,000l. The scene which there presented itself almost baffles description. Along the New Cut, in front of the jail, a dense mass of the rioters had assembled; and on the opposite bank of the river, and, indeed, wherever the eye could range, the people were posted in thousands. The mob had already succeeded in forcing an entrance into the yard and the governor's house, and were busily employed in throwing every moveable article into the New River; and, as the tide was fast ebbing, all was carried off by the stream. The caravan used for conveying the prisoners to the Guildhall, was launched into the water entire, and thither also were consigned the governor's books, and the apparatus for constructing the drop. The rioters procured hammers from the adjoining ship-yard, and with them the massive locks on the iron doors of the different wings were smashed to atoms. The prisoners were now released, and the scenes which followed were dreadful. Many of them, both male and female, stripped off their prison clothes, and proceeded on their way almost in a state of nudity. As they passed along, the mob cheered them and followed them with exultations. Many of them met their friends on the outside; and it is not easy to depict the extravagant joy with which they mutually embraced each other.
After the prisoners had been liberated, amounting altogether (exclusive of debtors) to more than one hundred, the next step taken was that of setting the prison on fire; and a black handkerchief having been tied to the weathercock on the top of the porter's lodge over the gateway, it seemed to be the signal for commencing operations, for immediately after dense clouds of smoke were seen to issue from every part of the building. The flames were first seen to break out from the tread-mill, which burnt with fury until it was quite consumed. In about an hour the governor's house, over which was the chapel, was completely enveloped in flames, and the reflection on the heavens was grand and terrific. The wings, however, being almost exclusively of stone and iron, with iron roofs, were but little injured by fire; though the rioters left behind them every possible mark of wanton outrage. During the proceedings, and while the prisoners were in the course of liberation, a party of the third guards, about twenty in number, arrived; but the mob appeared nothing intimidated; but cheered the troops, who acknowledged the compliment by taking off their caps, and almost immediately after turned round and departed.
As soon as the work of destruction was here completed, the rioters divided themselves into parties, the one proceeding to the toll-houses, at Prince's-street-bridge, another to that at the Wells, and another to that at St. Philip's. These, in the present state of things, were considered minor affairs, and were speedily in flames. The tenants had liberty given them to remove their effects. While these were being destroyed, the fire at the prison raged with the greatest fury.
The rioters then set off, about seven o'clock, to the Gloucester county prison, Lawford's-gate, which in a short time was broken into, the prisoners all released, and the building also fired. Here the flames were as appalling as at the new jail. At the same time, also, a party proceeded to Bridewell, which had been only partially destroyed, and kindled up the wing occupied by the keeper; so that the three prisons were in flames at the same instant.
There was now not even the appearance of a check to the licentiousness of the mob, nor indeed had there been since the firing of the soldiers in the morning; and they seemed to revel in a consciousness of their security. Accordingly, a mere handful of the miscreants proceeded to the Bishop's palace, Canons' Marsh, and, having effected an entrance, immediately commenced the work of destruction. A few individuals, however, were hastily collected, and for a while succeeded in staying their diabolical designs. Orders were sent for the military, who had been guarding the Mansion-house, to repair for the protection of the bishop's residence. They had no sooner left for that purpose, than the mob, who had all day meditated the total destruction of the Mansion-house, commenced operations, and in a very short period set it on fire, beginning in the kitchen under the banqueting-room. On the arrival of the troops at the Bishop's palace, they found things there tolerably secure; but the flames which even then arose from the Mansion-house, too plainly indicated that they had gone to the protection of the one place at the expense of the destruction of the other. They turned back again, but by the time of their re-appearance in the square, the reflection on the opposite side of the Froom made it apparent that, by their endeavours to protect both places, each had been sacrificed to the fury of the incendiaries. When they arrived in the square, they found the whole of the back premises of the Mansion-house burning fiercely, and the rooms in the front occupied by wretches facilitating the destruction of the building, by firing the apartments simultaneously. The infatuated creatures, no less intoxicated with their successful career than with liquor, pressed forward to the windows and waved their handkerchiefs, cheering at the same time, in exultation of the final accomplishment of their designs on the ill-fated building. Many of them paid the forfeit of their lives for their criminal temerity. From the rapidity of the progress of the flames, it is supposed that some were cut off from a retreat, and that they thus met with an untimely end. The fire spread with most surprising quickness, and in about twenty minutes the roof fell in, and, together with the whole front, came down into the street, with a tremendous crash.
By this time, the fire at the Bishop's-palace raged throughout the whole pile of building, which in a short period was reduced to ashes. The Right Rev. the Bishop, who happened to have been in town during the last ten or twelve days, removed out of the city about the middle of the day; and the most valuable of his effects had also been removed, as a measure of precaution.
But to return to the square.-- After the destruction of the Mansion-house, it was hoped that the fury of the mob would have been appeased. The military, having no orders to act otherwise than as mere spectators, were, immediately after their arrival, withdrawn, and joined the remainder of their comrades, altogether few in number, in protecting the Council-house, which it was expected would be the next public building attacked. It was at least hoped that the house adjoining the Mansion-house, if not protected from the flames, would be the last that would be permitted to be destroyed; but we blush while we record the fiend-like conduct which followed. The rioters conceived the plan of firing the adjoining houses, and, by twelve at night, the whole mass, from the Mansion-house to the middle avenue, including the Custom-house, and all the Back Building, in Little King-street, was one immense mass of fire. The Custom-house, as may readily be supposed, was a large building, and the expertness of the wretches in lighting it up, it is certain, proved the destruction of many who were ranging the upper apartments. Many of them were seen as they approached the windows to drop into the flames, and others, among whom was a female, threw themselves in desperation from the windows. The latter was carried to the infirmary, where she subsequently died.
Again the hope was raised that the dreadful work would now cease; but it was in vain, A small band, chiefly boys, who seemed to go about their work as if they had been regularly trained to the hellish employment, proceeded to extend the ravages of the devouring element, preceding their operation by giving half an hour's notice to the inmates to retire. The windows were afterwards smashed in, the furniture thrown out and carried off, and the premises ignited with a rapidity truly astonishing. In this manner they swept away one whole side of the square, and then proceeded to another, commencing with the Excise Office, at the corner. To follow up the account from this time, three o'clock in the morning, would only be a repetition of the details which we have already given.
Morning dawned on such a scene as had never before been witnessed in this place. The flames, it is true, were subsiding, but the appearance of Queen-square was appalling in the extreme. Numerous buildings were reduced to a heap of smoking ruins, and others were momentarily falling in; while around, in various parts, lay the rioters, in the last stage of senseless intoxication, and with countenances more resembling fiends than men. Meantime the soldiers, who had been ordered out of town, were remanded; and the magistrates, having again assembled, came at length to a decision, called out the posse comitatus, and made an application to Mr. Herapath, through the medium of Mr. Under-Sheriff Hare, for the assistance of the Bristol general union. Mr. Herapath, their vice-president, called the members together by public notice -- a course which we understand he had already determined on; and in a short time a large body of them had collected together; previous to which Mr. Herapath was invested, by the magistracy, with an authority equal to that of the Under-Sheriff. We are sorry to have to record another piece of folly. The military were ordered to clear the streets -- an order which was fulfilled to the letter by a party of the troops which had experienced some rough treatment, and had, in consequence, fired upon the people on the previous day. The sight of this useless piece of duty was peculiarly distressing; nothing was to be seen on every side but unoffending women and children, running and screaming in every direction, while several men, apparently on their way to work, were deliberately cut at, several seriously injured, and some killed. Yet worse effects might have followed this ill-advised measure, if the soldiers had not been shortly after withdrawn from their bloody work, and the streets principally manned with the inhabitants, armed with good strong staves. Several troops, however, of soldiers, together with the eleventh regiment of foot, continued to reach Bristol during the day, and, in the course of the afternoon, intelligence having arrived that there was some disturbance in the neighbourhood of Lawrence-hill, a party galloped off, and secured four countrymen in the very act of robbing a house. With these exceptions, no further collision with the military took place.
Towards the evening, the flames in several houses of the square broke out afresh, and part of the pavement in King-street was forced up by the heat arising from some brandy which was burning in the vaults beneath; but the engines being in readiness, no further injury occurred. An attack on the shipping having been anticipated, the ships' bells were rung, signal-guns were fired, and every thing was prepared for resistance. The Earl of Liverpool was moored in the centre of the river, and mounted with guns, an attack on her in particular having been expected; but happily these anticipations were not realised. It being thought possible that if the rioters renewed their attempts, they would, in all probability, endeavour to reduce the streets to total darkness, by cutting off the gas-pipes, the magistrates issued a notice, recommending the inhabitants to illuminate their houses -- a recommendation which was pretty generally complied with. The churches also were lit up, and the posse comitatus of the several parishes were stationed in them, a constant guard being kept up, and relieved at stated intervals. The members of the union paraded the streets during the whole of the night.
These measures at length effectually put an end to the frightful scenes which had been enacted during the last two days. In the course of the ensuing week, the magistrates and other authorities of the place were occupied in adopting such measures as would prevent the repetition of the attack, in disposing of the cases of the various persons in custody, who had been concerned in the riots, and in making other general arrangements to secure the tranquillity of the town. Nearly two hundred persons were found to have been secured, but of the whole number, there were very few who were really inhabitants of Bristol, or who were in any way connected with the political party interested in the opposition offered to Sir Charles Wetherall. Many of the facts which were disclosed in evidence before the authorities, as to the occurrences of the days of the riots, were of the most astounding description. Prisoners were proved to have been made, whose pockets and houses were crammed with stolen property, consisting of furniture, gold and silver plate, specie, bank-notes, and other matters of great value. Many inquests were held upon the bodies of persons who had been killed during the riots, in the course of which the most frightful disclosures were made. No new riot, however, arose, and the system of watch and ward, which was adopted, effectually prevented the repetition of such outrages as had been committed. The conduct of the magistrates became the subject of discussion, and many were found who did not hesitate to assert, that they had exhibited great pusillanimity in the course which they had taken. The magistrates were not backward in entering into a defence of their proceedings. They in turn imputed blame to the military, whilst Colonel Brereton declared that he had been actuated by a feeling of humanity only, and by a positive conviction of the uselessness and the danger of infuriating the mob, to the destruction of life, as well as property, by adopting steps more decisive than those which he had taken.
The result of this event, however, was a conviction throughout the public mind, of the necessity of some improvement in the police system of the country. Already had the institution of a metropolitan police force produced a firm reliance in the powers of such a body to suppress outrages of a similar description, and the adoption of some new measure, more extensively carrying out the general plan, was strongly recommended to the attention of Parliament by his Majesty, on his opening the session, on the 6th of December following. The recommendation was not unattended with good results, and the adoption of a measure sanctioning the establishment of a police force in Bristol, similar in character to that which existed in London, afforded considerable satisfaction to the inhabitants of that city.
A special commission for the trial of the persons who were in custody, and who were charged with having been concerned in the riots, commenced at Bristol on Monday, the 2nd of January 1832.
On Tuesday, William Clarke, Patrick Kearney, James Williams, Daniel Higgs, James Courtney, and John Mackay, were placed at the bar. They stood indicted for that they, in that part of the parish of Bedminster within the city and county of Bristol, with others riotously and tumultuously assembled, and pulled down and destroyed a house, the property of his majesty. Other counts in the indictment laid it as the property of the corporation of Bristol, of the citizens, of the commissioners for building the jail, and of the governor.
Having pleaded severally "Not guilty," they were again arraigned upon the indictment for having burned down the same jail; to which also they in a firm tone put in their plea of "Not guilty."
The attorney-general, in opening the case, said, that the charge now against the prisoners was framed on the words of the Act of the 7th Geo. IV., which contained almost in precise words the terms of the Riot Act, passed in the 1st Geo. I., "that if any persons shall riotously and tumultuously assemble together, and begin to pull down any house, &c., every such offender shall be a felon without benefit of clergy." Under this Act of Parliament, persons tumultuously assembling together for the purpose of destroying any house were guilty of felony. With regard to the individuals now before them, it would be proved that they were riotously and tumultuously assembled together, to the disturbance of the public peace; that they were parading the town about noon on Sunday, the 10th of October, in the most riotous and disorderly manner; that after destroying the Bridewell by fire, they proceeded to the public jail, and whether for the purpose of liberating the persons there confined, or with a view to the general destruction of property, they broke into the jail, and set fire to several parts of it. Clarke was seen with a crowbar on his shoulder, actively engaged in the acts of violence and outrage at the head of the party that attacked the jail, which was a strong building, and the gates of which required considerable force to break them down. They did resist for some time all the combined efforts of the mob. At length, however, an entrance was effected by making a small hole through one of the gates, through which some of the rioters made their way, and who succeeded in wrenching them from their hinges. Arrived at the interior of the jail, the mob proceeded, amongst other acts of outrage, to the destruction of the governor's house, which was in a short time reduced to a heap of ruins. These acts would be satisfactorily proved; and it would be also proved, that the prisoners criminally participated in those acts of outrage. To establish still more clearly the guilt of the prisoner Clarke, it would be proved that he was afterwards seen with the keys of the prison in his hand, going about in one of the public-houses in the town, boasting of what he had done -- talking of the keys of the "Hen and Chickens," or some expression to that effect, and indulging in the most violent and inflammatory language. He believed that this prisoner was rather of a superior caste, and one from whom such conduct was not to have been expected. He stated himself to have been a Dorsetshire man, and it appeared that he had for some time been himself the proprietor of a public-house. It was to be the more lamented that an individual thus raised above the common crowd should have demeaned himself in so disgraceful and criminal a manner. With regard to all the other prisoners, he did not believe that they would be affected by evidence of the same strong description; but he believed there was not one of them who would not be clearly proved to have taken a large share in the late disgraceful riots.
Several witnesses were then called, who proved most distinctly the active part which Clarke had taken in the disturbances. The trial was continued by adjournment from Tuesday to Wednesday, when the jury found Clarke, Kearney, Higgs, Courtney, and Mackay, "Guilty;" but acquitted Williams.
Clarke, the principal prisoner, appeared throughout the investigation in a most deplorable state, and his weak nerves, contrasted with his muscular figure, rendered him an object both of surprise and compassion. He fainted two or three times, and seemed in a state bordering on insensibility during the three hours which it occupied the lord chief-justice in summing up. He was a strong athletic man, rather above the common size, with nothing in his countenance indicative of the determined outrages laid to his charge. The prisoners Williams, Kearney, Higgs, and Mackay, were young men of about twenty years of age, and Courtney about the middle age; they all appeared to be of an inferior station in life, and presented nothing remarkable in their appearance.
Thomas Evans Bendall, aged nineteen, and James Sims, aged eighteen, were then placed at the bar, charged with having riotously assembled, together with other persons, to the disturbance of the public peace, and with having demolished and destroyed, or begun to demolish and destroy, a certain dwelling-house, the property of the Lord Bishop of Bristol. The attorney-general, in stating the case, said, that though by the act of parliament, the mere beginning to pull down and demolish any building was sufficient to constitute the offence with which the prisoners were charged, yet in this case he should be enabled to prove that the prisoners had been most active on this particular occasion. An attempt was made to prove that Sims was silly, but both were found guilty.
On Wednesday, Christopher Davis, a man of most respectable appearance, about fifty years of age, was placed at the bar, charged with having, on Sunday, the 30th of October, with divers other persons, riotously assembled, demolished and pulled down a certain house belonging to his majesty, called the New Jail. The attorney-general, in opening the case, described the prisoner as having acted as a leader of the mob. He would be proved to have been first at the Mansion-house, encouraging the mob by gestures and by language; to have been one of those who entered that building; to have been up during the whole night; and to have been present at all the disturbances of Sunday. He was near the Bridewell when it was broken into; he was afterwards in Queen-square and at the New Jail, where he was seen at the time that building was in flames. He would be proved to have been seen waving his hat, saying that it was a most glorious sight, and what he had long wished to see; that the churches should be pulled down to mend the highways, and that the bishops should be put down. When the Bishop's Palace was in flames, it would be stated to them by a witness, that he appeared quite overwhelmed by joy. He expressed his readiness to head any mob for purposes such as these. He waved his hat on his umbrella, as if it were a cap of liberty. He was a man of most respectable situation in society, retired from business, and living with his family on a comfortable independence thereby acquired. From such a man a very opposite course was to have been expected -- one would have thought he would have rather dissuaded the mob from their disgraceful outrages, than have given his open approval to them.
Several witnesses were then called, who sustained the opening of the attorney-general to the letter, and on the following day the prisoner was found "Guilty."
Many other prisoners were also convicted in the course of the week, and on Thursday a most heart-rending scene was presented. The capital convicts were then brought up to receive sentence of death. Their names were Christopher Davis, William Clarke, Thomas Gregory, Richard Vines, and Joseph Keys, and each prayed with earnest cries for mercy.
The Lord Chief Justice, in a most impressive, though tremulous, manner, addressed the prisoners:--
"Prisoners at the bar:-- You have been convicted, five of you in number, upon evidence, in each particular case, which can leave no doubt of your guilt, upon any reasonable mind, of crimes so deeply affecting the interests, and even the very existence, of human society, that your lives have become justly forfeited to the laws of your country. Assembled together with multitudes of other evil-doers like yourselves, you have, by threats and acts of violence, thrown the peaceable and industrious inhabitants of this city into a state of panic and alarm -- you have deprived many of their only means of livelihood -- you have carried fire to public buildings and to private dwellings, and have exposed the property of all to pillage, and the lives of many to destruction. Human society cannot be held together, if crimes like these are not put down by the strong hand of the law. Unless others are deterred from the commission of similar enormities by the just severity of your punishment, all that makes life valuable to man -- the free enjoyment of the fruits of his honest industry, and protection from personal violence, must be altogether given up. The innocent and weak will become a prey to the wicked and strong; and mere brutal force will take the place of order and of law. What motive could lead you to the commission of these crimes it is impossible, from the evidence brought before us, to judge with any reasonable certainty. It was not the pressure of want or misery -- it was no grievance, imaginary or real, under which you laboured. I fear no other purpose can be assigned that will apply to the greater number of those who shared in these wicked transactions, than that of giving up this city to flames, that it might become the object of universal pillage. You stand, each of you, a striking and awful example to others, of the wickedness which men commit, and the misery which inevitably follows it, when they throw off the restraint of the laws of God and man, and give themselves up to their own unbridled passions. I can only pray that your unhappy example may be the means of preventing all others from treading in your steps."
Having then separately referred to the circumstances of the cases of the various prisoners, he said in conclusion --
"Let me most earnestly exhort you all to prepare yourselves, by every means in your power, for that great and awful change which doth most assuredly await you within a very short time; apply yourselves earnestly and fervently to the Throne of Grace, that you may endeavour to obtain from him, who knows how to reconcile mercy with justice, that forgiveness which the laws of man cannot extend to you. And now, nothing more remains than the duty, to me a most painful one, of pronouncing the last sentence of the law -- That you, and every of you, be taken to the place from whence you came, and from thence to the place of execution, where you will be severally hanged by the neck until you are dead; and may the Lord, in his infinite goodness, have mercy on your guilty souls."
This awful ceremony having been gone through, the prisoners were removed in a most pitiable condition.
The following prisoners were then brought up: --
Patrick Kearney, Daniel Higgs, James Courtney, John Mackay, T. E. Bendall, James Sims, John Powel, Matthew Warry, Cornelius Hickey, James Snook, William Reynolds, George Andrews, Patrick Barney, Benjamin Broad, Stephen Gaisford, Michael Sullivan, Timothy Collins, Henry Green, and Charles Williams.
The Lord Chief Justice addressed them in the following terms:--
"Prisoners at the bar,-- After patient trials, before impartial and intelligent juries, each of you has been found guilty of an offence against which the laws of your country have, for the security of all, denounced the sentence of Death. You have, with many others, who for the present have escaped the hands of justice, devoted to plunder and destruction the city in which you live, and the place which had afforded to all of you subsistence and protection. You have reduced parts of it to a state of ruin and desolation, more complete than any foreign enemy, unless the most merciless, would have inflicted upon it. You have deprived many industrious families of their only means of support and subsistence; and the blood which it was necessary to shed in order to repress your acts of wanton outrage may be justly considered to lie at your door. But the hope we entertain that the fate of those upon whom the sentence of the law hath been passed, will operate as a sufficient warning to all others, induces us to join in an humble recommendation to his majesty that your lives may be spared, I would not, however, have you expect, that by escaping the bitterness of death, you have avoided all punishment for your offence. You will pass the remainder of your lives in a foreign and a distant land, separated for ever from parents, relations, and friends, and in a state of severe labour and privation."
Patrick Kearney, who, evidently, when first brought up, expected the extreme sentence would be passed upon him, and was then crying and begging for mercy, when he had heard the sentence, brightened up, and said, waving his hat at the time, "Never mind, my life is saved and Ireland is free."
The day's proceedings thus concluded; and on the following day the business of the commission terminated.
On Friday, the 27th of January, the sentence of death which had been pronounced, was carried out upon the four convicts -- Clarke, Davis, Gregory, and Keys, Vines having been respited on the previous day. The miserable convicts, after their trials, conducted themselves with much propriety. They were attended by the reverend chaplain of the jail, and by the Rev. Mr. Roberts, a dissenting minister, whose exhortations were received by them with much apparent satisfaction. The place where they were doomed to receive their death was the very spot which had witnessed the commission of the crimes of which they had been found guilty -- the New Jail. The outside walls now only remained -- a sad memento of their desperate purposes.
Every precaution was taken to preserve order. The sheriffs arrived about eleven o'clock, and immediately proceeded to the cells of the wretched men, who were deeply engaged in devotion. It was not till past twelve that they were brought from their cells. The short time of anxiety which had elapsed since their trials had made a deep impression upon all. Still they were all comparatively firm, without the slightest tendency to bravado or improper boldness. The mournful procession slowly paced the prison-yard, the chaplain repeating the Burial Service --"I am the resurrection and the life." Having gone round the ruins of the governor's house, they approached the lodge, and then went up the winding staircase to the press-room.
The customary ceremonies were here gone through, of pinioning the convicts; and the procession once more, and for the last time, resumed its march, going up the winding staircase to the top of the lodge on which the scaffold was erected. Here all knelt down, and the Rev. Mr. Roberts offered up a prayer for heavenly mercy. The executioner now made his appearance. Davis was then conducted up the stairs to the frail scaffold, followed by Gregory. The latter bowed to the populace, Davis took no notice of those beneath, but once cast his eyes up to the fatal beam, Clarke next ascended, and was followed by Keys, The reverend divines having prayed with them a short time, and again taken leave of them, the caps were pulled down over their faces, and the fatal bolt was drawn. Keys apparently suffered much -- the others died almost instantly. The crowd did not utter any expressions of approbation during the time of execution -- all were quiet, and apparently were not much affected by this dreadful exhibition.
During the time occupied by the proceedings of the special commission, other inquiries were carried on scarcely less interesting to the inhabitants of Bristol. The first of these was an investigation by court-martial of the conduct of Lieutenant-Colonel Brereton in the affair. The charges made against him were, for negligence and want of due energy in assisting the civil force to suppress the tumultuous outrages of the mob during the riots in the city of Bristol on the 29th, 30th, and 31st October. The case against the defendant was opened on Monday 9th January, at the Merchant's Hall, in the presence of a very crowded audience, including many ladies. Captain Thomson, of the 81st foot, acted as Deputy Judge Advocate. Mr. Erie was counsel for Colonel Brereton; and General D'Albiac, at the command of his Majesty, conducted the prosecution. Colonel Brereton, on the charges being read over, pleaded Not Guilty.
General D'Albiac opened the case, calling upon the Court to form their judgment strictly upon the evidence, and to relieve their minds from all extraneous observations which might have arisen elsewhere.
The first witness called was Mr. Serjeant Ludlow, town-clerk of Bristol. He was at the Mansion-house on Saturday the 29th of October, from twelve at noon till twelve at night. There was a riotous and tumultuous assemblage in front of the house; the troops were called out under the command of Colonel Brereton; orders were given to Colonel Brereton to clear the streets, disperse the mob, and get the city quiet; this was not peremptorily and effectively done; the riots continued at intervals till twelve o'clock at night. The following statement was then made by the learned serjeant:-- When Lieutenant-Colonel Brereton and the troops came to the Mansion-house door, the people on the outside were engaged in battering the front door; they had battered in one of the windows on the ground-floor, and some of them had entered into the dining-room. The immediate effect of the arrival of the troops was to remove them from the front of the Mansion-house, but they did not withdraw far. I repeatedly noticed, that the people having withdrawn from the streets while the soldiers were passing, immediately afterwards returned again to the front of the very door of the Mansion-house; occasionally stones were thrown at the windows, and indications of tumult and violence did not appear to me to have decreased materially. Colonel Brereton occasionally went down stairs and returned, and said that the people appeared to be very good-humoured, and he had no doubt he could drive them, away by merely walking the horses. Just before one of these occasions, two of the soldiers of the 14th were brought in wounded -- one of them very seriously. I asked Colonel Brereton if he thought that a symptom of good-humour on the part of the people out of doors? I said also they appeared to me to be increasing in number rather than lessening; and it certainly was intimated to him that it would be desirable to get the city quiet. The effect of his answers was such as to induce me to ask him if he had any recent instructions from the War Office to prevent him from attending to the directions of the magistrates? He said, "My directions are to attend to the orders of the magistrates." I then said, the mayor and one or two of the aldermen being near, "Your directions are immediately to clear the streets, and to get the city quiet as soon as you can," or to that effect. Some sort of cavalry movement was made in the interior of the square, where the people had collected; they were driven from the green part of the square, and entered the courts in front of the houses, and occasionally returned to the front of the Mansion-house, and continued the same kind of conduct which had prevailed the early part of the evening; in short, they were not effectually dispersed. Late in the evening, probably eleven o'clock, an officer of dragoons came into the room where we were. Colonel Brereton was in the room at the time. The officer stated, that his troops were receiving considerable annoyance in one of the streets near the Mansion-house, the situation of which he described. He said, that the lights (lamps) had been put out -- that it was quite dark -- and that the people, when followed by the soldiers, retreated into some boats or barges lying in the river, from which they annoyed the troops, and where of course the troops could not follow them; he said he wished to fire a few ball-cartridges in that direction. One of the magistrates, I believe Mr. Alderman Daniel, said, that in the situation in which the boats were described to be, there were probably a good many people going from market in the market-boats, and it would be desirable to avoid injuring those persons if possible. One of the gentlemen present, I believe a special constable, said, "Let me have twenty-five men, and be supported by the troops, and I will undertake to go down and dislodge the people in the boats." That operation certainly would have been undertaken if it had not been for what Colonel Brereton said. He said, "If you'll take my advice, you'll let them alone; it 's getting very late, and I dare say they will go quietly home to bed." Some observation was made as to the necessity of getting the city in a state of peace and quietness; upon which Colonel Brereton answered, his men should patrole the streets during the night, and that he would be answerable for the peace of the city, or words to that effect. The officer of the 14th went away, and Colonel Brereton retired shortly afterwards.
Several other witnesses were called, whose testimony went to show considerable want of energy on the part of the colonel, as well as mistaken lenity, that led to the perpetration of outrages, which, had a more decided and vigorous policy been adopted, might have been prevented.
The inquiry had proceeded to a very considerable length, and on Friday was approaching a termination, when an event occurred which effectually put a stop to all further investigation, while it cast an additional gloom upon this most lamentable affair. It appears, that the gallant colonel seemed to feel the full force of the evidence against him as it went on, and was obviously much depressed. On quitting the court on Thursday afternoon, he went, as usual, to Reeve's Hotel, where he remained during the evening. At twelve o'clock his gardener brought his horse and gig, and he drove home to his house, called Bedfield Lodge, about a mile and a half from the city. He retired to his room without exciting any particular remark on the part of his servants; but about three in the morning his housekeeper heard the report of a pistol: she immediately called the guard and footman, who entered his room, and found the unhappy man weltering in his blood on the bed. Life was extinct; and on examination it turned out that he had shot himself through the heart. Surgical assistance was instantly summoned, but it was without avail. The news of the melancholy event reached Bristol at an early hour on Friday morning, and produced a most painful sensation in all ranks.
The effect of this tragical circumstance was the termination of this court-martial, which, however, was followed by another upon Captain Warrington, the inferior officer of Colonel Brereton at Bristol, at the time of the riots. The insertion of the following paragraph, however, which appeared in most of the public prints of the day, will be deemed only just to the memory of Colonel Brereton, before we proceed to the conclusion of this dreadful business:-- "The proceedings of the court-martial evidently preyed on his susceptible and humane mind. He is acknowledged by all parties to have been a man of the most kindly and benevolent disposition, and during the eight years he has held the command of the district, was universally respected. He has been a widower for above two years, and has left two daughters, the one five, and the other three years old. He had served abroad, and distinguished himself as a brave and excellent officer. He was fifty years of age, thirty-three of which he had been a soldier; and as a testimony of the regard in which he was held, had received a sword, value two hundred guineas, from his brother officers. There is no doubt his mistaken lenity was influenced by his desire to avoid shedding human blood, and a conviction that he should have been able to pacify the mob without proceeding to those extremities which his duty under the circumstances clearly demanded. It would be ungenerous now, however, to dwell on the errors of one whose fate every feeling heart must deplore."
It was on Wednesday the 25th of January that the court-martial upon Captain Warrington commenced its proceedings. The charges preferred were three in number. The first imputed that, on the night of the 30th of October 1831, being in personal command of a troop of the 3d Dragoons in the city of Bristol, at the time when the most outrageous and alarming riots prevailed, although required by Mr. Thomas Kington, a merchant of the city, who required his aid, and that of the military under his command, to prevent the firing of the Custom-House, he not only refused to act, but neglected to inform Colonel Brereton, his superior officer, of the information he had received.
The second charge imputed, that the following letter from Mr. Charles Pinney, the mayor, to Colonel Brereton, was delivered to Captain Warrington, which he read, but neither acted upon it nor forwarded it to his commanding officer.
"Bristol, Three o'clock Monday Morning, 31st October 1831. "Sir -- I direct you, as commanding officer of his Majesty's troops, to take the most vigorous, effective, and decisive measures in your power to quell the existing riot, and prevent further destruction of property.
"I am, &c.
An hour elapsed with the troops inactive after the letter was delivered, and in consequence great mischief was done. Several houses were sacked, and property to a large amount destroyed.
The third charge accused the Captain of neglecting to command his troops in person, and leaving them to the guidance of a young cornet, only sixteen months in the service, while he was absent from his quarters or retired to bed.
The evidence adduced was merely a repetition of those details which had already become perfectly notorious.
Captain Warrington commenced his defence on Monday the 30th of January, and, in a clear and manly speech, touched upon all the charges which had been preferred against him, and in a short narrative endeavoured to prove that when there was any apparent want of energy, or exertion, on his part, it arose, not from want of inclination in him, but from the omission of orders from his superior officer, or the absence of those magistrates who would have justified his proceeding even without the commands of Colonel Brereton. With regard to his temporary absence from his troop, he accounted for it by stating, that he had gone to General Pearson to ask his advice, and, on his return, was labouring under a fit of the ague, brought on from being repeatedly exposed to the rain, for the two preceding days; he retired to change his dress, and when his personal presence was officially and regularly required, he lost no time in heading his troop, and assisting in dispersing the rioters. He adverted to his past services under similar circumstances, and appealed to these, as well as to his conduct throughout his military career, as the best refutation of his having intentionally neglected the important duties imposed upon him. The address seemed to make a deep impression, and apparently went to remove all serious imputation from him as an officer and a gentleman. The witnesses called for the defence went to give the most satisfactory explanation of the course which the gallant officer had pursued throughout.-- The following curious evidence was given by Major Beckwith, of the 14th Dragoons, on Tuesday:-- "I must relate in what manner I saw the civil and military authorities co-operating, in order to show to the court the difficulties under which I saw Captain Warrington acting. On reaching Bristol, on Monday morning the 31st of October, I immediately went to the Council-house, where I found the mayor and several magistrates, who appeared to me bewildered and stupefied with terror. On hearing the state of affairs in the city of Bristol from those gentlemen, I urged that one or more magistrates should accompany me on horseback, for the purpose of restoring order. They all refused to accompany me, saying, it would make them unpopular, and cause all their property to be destroyed; they also added, that none of them could ride on horseback; and the one I requested to accompany me said he had not been on horseback for eighteen years. Seeing, therefore, that any assistance from the magistrates would be out of the question, I demanded to receive from them a written authority to take what measures I deemed expedient. From what I have related, and from what I saw in another quarter, to which I cannot refer, the impression of my mind was, that Captain Warrington and the 3rd Dragoon Guards were in a great measure paralysed by the imbecility and misconduct of those who ought to have directed them. I have further to state, that during the time I had a personal opportunity of observing Captain Warrington, he appeared to me alert, zealous, and desirous of doing his duty."
On the following Thursday, General D'Albiac replied to the defence of Captain Warrington; and this closed the case.
The decision of the court was not, however, promulgated, in obedience to the usual course, until it had first been submitted to his Majesty; but on the 21st of February, it was intimated to Captain Warrington that he had been found guilty, and was sentenced to be cashiered; but that he was recommended to mercy, and that his Majesty, having listened to the recommendation, had been pleased to authorise his disposing of his commission.
There were yet other persons in authority whose conduct upon this occasion it was deemed fit should be the subject of a judicial investigation. Reports unfavourable to the character and demeanour of the magistracy of Bristol had been circulated; and the necessity of allaying the irritation of the public mind, as well as of determining the real extent of blame to be attached to the mayor and aldermen, was felt too strongly to admit of this final inquisition being omitted. It was not, however, until Thursday the 25th of October 1832, that the case came on for trial. It was then brought before the Court of King's Bench, upon an information preferred against Mr. Charles Pinney, the mayor, and was decided by a special jury selected from the County of Berks.
The Attorney-General proceeded to state the facts to the jury, and said, he had no doubt he should be able to adduce evidence to prove that the defendant had neglected his duty as chief magistrate, and that he was guilty of the misdemeanour charged in the information.
Mr. John W. Newcombe was the first witness examined. After detailing the scenes already described, and the inertness of the police, in his cross-examination he said that he did say, on being applied to, to act as special constable to protect Sir Charles Wetherell, he would not do so, but said he would not injure him; and he had repeatedly said since, that it would have been better had Sir Charles been thrown over the bridge than that so many lives and so much property should have been destroyed. A similar feeling seemed to exist with many others, who had been applied to in a similar manner, and it was evident that the magistrates found great difficulty to get a sufficient number of persons to act on that occasion. Several other witnesses were examined, making out a strong case against the defendant. A good deal of amusement was excited in court by the description given by one of the witnesses of the escape of the mayor from the Mansion-house, during the heat of the attack. The witness said, in his examination, "I saw the mayor in the larder, on the ground -floor. I believe it is called the larder: it is the men's water-closet as well, but they hang up meat there (a laugh). There were three or four female servants with his worship (renewed laughter). They were making great efforts to get up on the leads -- the female servants and his worship (a laugh). His worship, seeing me, said, 'For God's sake, young man, assist me up.' I stooped down and helped his worship up, the female servants assisting him behind. (Here the laughter became so loud that Lord Tenterden found it necessary to censure it in strong terms as foolish and indecent.) We got the mayor up on the leads, myself and the female servants, and he got away over the wall."
The inquiry continued until the following Thursday, and then terminated by a verdict of acquittal.
This, we believe was the last of the proceedings which arose out of these dreadful riots, if we except those which were carried on by those persons whose property had suffered damage through the violence of the mob. The extent of the mischief done could never be properly or specifically calculated; but its amount could be scarcely computed at less than 300,000l. The injuries done to property, however, were not those only which were to be regretted. The destruction of the buildings of the town, splendid and costly as they were, was small in importance compared with the loss of human life, and the personal violence sustained by many of those who were engaged in these proceedings. Of those whose misguided or wicked desires led them into this terrible fray, who died of the wounds which they sustained, a number scarcely less than twenty was discovered; and it is reasonable to suppose, that others also shared a like unhappy fate, whose death accident, or the design of their friends, concealed from public notice. Many were taken to the hospitals of the city, gorged with drink, who died from the combined effects of intoxication and exposure, while others were brought in at the last gasp, suffering from the effects of the wounds inflicted by the weapons of the soldiery, or produced by the falling of buildings, which they had themselves fired or overthrown. Some even yet retained in their possession the fruits of their rapine, and were found to have their pockets crammed with money, or other valuables. Of the number who fell victims to their own temerity, in their anxiety to complete the hellish work of destruction which they had commenced, and who were smothered in the falling ruins of burning houses, it is impossible to form an accurate calculation. They were principally of the very lowest and most abandoned classes of the people; and their loss was scarcely discovered, even by their oldest companions and most intimate associates. The number of wounded was of course much larger, and equally difficult to be properly estimated. Many, it is true, received surgical relief on the spot; but still there were great numbers who abstained from an open admission of their condition, in order to avoid the probability of those future proceedings, the result of which might have been more inconvenient than the injuries which they had received. Hundreds in this way concealed the effects of their own violence; but their crippled or maimed appearance eventually told too plainly the tale of their guilt.
With regard to the conduct of the magistracy and the military upon this occasion, it does not become us to offer any observations. The demeanour of both was the subject of legal investigation; and the determination arrived at must be deemed to have been both correct and conclusive. The want of energy which, it must be admitted, was exhibited, must nevertheless be the subject of universal and most sincere and painful regret.
Whose Body was Stolen from the Gibbet
At the Durham assizes, on Wednesday the 1st of August 1832, William Jobling was tried on an indictment charging him with the wilful murder of Mr. Fairies, a magistrate, on the previous 11th of June. Mr. Fairies, it appeared, had given offence to the colliers, from his spirited exertions to suppress their riotous proceedings. On the day in question he was returning from the Jarrow Colliery on his pony, when he was overtaken by the prisoner and a man named Armstrong, who, having first asked him for money, dragged him from his horse and beat him unmercifully with a bludgeon, and also pelted him with stones as he lay on the ground. Mr. Fairies was found in a state of insensibility, and, on his recovery, swore distinctly to the prisoner and Armstrong, as the persons by whom he had been attacked. He subsequently died of his wounds. The prisoner was secured at Shields; Armstrong escaped; the prisoner was found "Guilty," and received sentence to die on Friday -- his body to be hung in chains.
This sentence was carried out to its full extent, the body of the criminal being suspended to a gibbet in the neighbourhood of the scene of the murder.
This exhibition, however, gave great offence to the colliers; and after the remains of the unhappy wretch had been exposed for several weeks, they were, on Saturday the 8th of September, suddenly missed, having been removed during the previous night. The deceased had been a collier; and little doubt was entertained that his late companions and fellow-workmen had done this service to his memory: all subsequent efforts to discover the place of concealment of his body proved unavailing. But although undoubtedly its unauthorised removal was a serious breach of the law, there were few to be found who looked upon it as matter for regret, or who did not view the circumstance as a convincing proof of the impolicy of reviving a practice so barbarous as the exposure of the bodies of executed criminals.
The law by which this exposure was authorised was enacted by the statute 2 and 3 W.4, c.75, s.16. That act provides, "Whereas an act was passed in the 9th year of the reign of his late majesty (9 Geo.4, c.31), for consolidating and amending the statutes in England relating to offences against the person, by which latter act it is enacted, that the body of every person convicted of murder shall, after execution, either be dissected or hung in chains, as the court who tried the offender shall seem meet, and that the sentence to be pronounced by the court shall express that the body of the offender shall be dissected or hung in chains, whichsoever of the two the court shall order; Be it enacted, that so much of the said last recited act as authorises the court, if it shall see fit, to direct that the body of a person convicted shall, after execution, be dissected, be and the same is hereby repealed; and that, in every case of the conviction of any person for murder, the court before which such prisoner shall have been tried shall direct such prisoner either to be hung in chains or to be buried within the precincts of the prison in which such prisoner shall have been confined after conviction, as to such court shall seem meet; and that the sentence to be pronounced by the court shall express, that the body of such prisoner shall be hung in chains, or buried within the precincts of the prison, whichsoever of the two the court shall order."
The legislature appears to have duly estimated the extent of the disgust created by the two exhibitions which have been referred to of the remains of Cook and Joblings; and, by the 4 and 5 W.4, c.26, s.1, the provisions of the statute last mentioned are repealed, so far as they relate to the hanging of criminals in chains. That act enacts (after reciting the provisions of the statutes of 9 Geo.4, and 2 and 3 W.4), "That so much of the said recited act, made and passed in the ninth year of the reign of Geo. 4, as authorised the court to direct that the body of a prisoner convicted of murder should, after execution, be hung in chains, and also so much of the said recited act, made and passed in the second and third year of the reign of W. 4 as provided, that in every case of the conviction of any prisoner for murder, the court should direct such prisoner to be hung in chains, should be and the same is hereby repealed."