Labour History Review

Friends of the people: parliamentary supporters of popular radicalism, 1832-1849

Labour History Review (1997), 62, (2), 127–146.


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See, for example, G. Stedman Jones, Languages of Class, Cambridge, 1983; E. F. Biagini and A. J. Reid (eds.), Currents of Radicalism, Cambridge, 1991; and M. Finn, After Chartism, Cambridge, 1993, who collectively have charted the evolution of liberalism from eighteenth-century radicalism, through Chartism, popular liberalism and new liberalism to social democracy and Labourism. Languages of Class Google Scholar

Patrick Joyce's recent attack on the limitations of social history, ‘The end of social history?’, Social History, vol. 20, 1995, pp. 73-91. recent attack on the limitations of social history, ‘The end of social history?’ Social History 20 73 91 Google Scholar

For example, J. Saville, 1848, Cambridge, 1987; and D. Nicholls, ‘The New Liberalism - after Chartism?’, Social History, vol. 21, 1996, pp. 330-42. Google Scholar

The literature is now enormous, but for a recent appraisal see T. Lummis, The Labour Aristocracy 1851-1914, Aldershot, 1994. The Labour Aristocracy 1851-1914 Google Scholar

See, for example, P. Richards, ‘State formation and class struggle, 1832-48’, in P. Corrigan (ed.), Capitalism, State Formation and Marxist Theory, 1980, chapter 3. Google Scholar

For the vitality of Whiggism in the 1830s, see P. Mandler, Aristocratic Government in the Age of Reform, Oxford, 1990; and I. Newbould, Whiggery and Reform, 1830-41: The Politics of Government, 1990. Aristocratic Government in the Age of Reform Google Scholar

T. Rothstein, From Chartism to Labourism, 1929, pp. 37, 46. Google Scholar

N. Gash, Reaction and Reconstruction in English Politics 1832-1852, Oxford, 1965, pp. 127, 168; S. Maccoby, English Radicalism 1832-1852, 1935, pp. 140, 435-6; H. Perkin, The Origins of Modern English Society 1780-1880, 1969, pp. 365-6. Reaction and Reconstruction in English Politics 1832-1852 127 Google Scholar

This is my calculation based upon an analysis of sixty divisions covering the five parliaments from 1832 to 1852. Cf. Paul Adelman, Victorian Radicalism: The Middle-Class Experience 1830-1914, 1984, pp. 12-14, who estimates fifty for 1837, and Miles Taylor, The Decline of British Radicalism 1847-1860, Oxford, 1995, p. 9, who calculates sixty to seventy post-1846. Google Scholar

Quoted in Adelman, Victorian Radicalism, p. 13. Google Scholar

Quoted in J. Hamburger, Intellectuals in Politics: John Stuart Mill and the Philosophic Radicals, 1965, p. 118. Google Scholar

Quoted in J. Parry, The Rise and Fall of Liberal Government in Victorian Britain, 1993, p. 129. Google Scholar

Taylor, Decline of Radicalism, pp. 25-60. Google Scholar

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Taylor, Decline of Radicalism, ‘Introduction’ and chapter 1. Google Scholar

The publication of the division lists was officially sanctioned in 1836. They are now available from Chadwyck-Healey on microfiche (Division Lists, 1836-1909, editorial adviser, F. W. Torington). Hansard, however, printed a good selection of them prior to 1852 and I have taken my data from that source. Hansard sometimes included tellers in the total vote, more often not; totals do not always match the number of names printed; and names are occasionally mis-spelt. I have ironed out these discrepancies as far as possible in my tables. My totals include tellers and pairs and correspond to the number of names listed. Spellings have been checked against Dod's Parliamentary Companion, though this source too is not always reliable. W. O. Aydclottc used a computer to analyse division lists for 1841-47 in his ‘Voting patterns in the British House of Commons in the 1840s’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 5, 1963, pp. 134-63. His purpose, and that of others who have supported (Gash, Beales, Close) or contested (Newbould) his conclusions - namely, to show how party alignments were beginning to consolidate around a range of issues - is different to that attempted here. Closer to my approach is T. W. Heyck, The Dimensions of British Radicalism, 1974, which focuses on the twenty years after 1875. Cf. also V. Cromwell, ‘Mapping the political world of 1861: A multidimensional analysis of House of Commons’ division lists', Legislative Studies Quarterly, vol. 7, 1982, pp. 281-97, which examines all the division lists for one parliamentary session - that of 1861 - in order to distinguish groups by voting behaviour. Google Scholar

Quoted in J. T. Ward, The Factory Movement, 1962, p. 290. The Factory Movement 290 Google Scholar

Such complexity makes the factory movement a fascinating subject for historical dissection. In addition to ibid., see W. O. Aydclottc, ‘The House of Commons in the 1840s’, History, vol. 39, 1954, pp. 249-62; Richards, ‘State formation’; J. T. Ward, ‘The factory movement’, in J. T. Ward (ed.), Popular Movements c. 1830-1850, 1970, chapter 2; and R. Gray, The Factory Question and Industrial England 1830-1860, Cambridge, 1996. Google Scholar

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Most notably M. S. Stenton (ed.), Who's Who of British MPs. Vol. 1: 1832-1885, Brighton, 1976, which is based on Dod's Parliamentary Companion; J. O. Baylen and N. J. Gossman (eds.), Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals. Vol. 2: 1830-1870, Brighton, 1984; Dictionary of National Biography; two large and invaluable microfiche collections: D. L. Jones (ed.), British and Irish Biographies 1840-1940, 1984-86, and D. Bank and A. Esposito (eds.), British Biographical Index, 1990; and numerous newspaper obituaries and biographies. Who's Who of British MPs. Vol. 1: 1832-1885 Google Scholar

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Parry, Rise and Fall, p. 100; R. G. Cowherd, The Politics of English Dissent, 1959, p. 163. Google Scholar

See especially, D. Close, ‘The formation of a two-party alignment in the House of Commons between 1832 and 1841’, English Historical Review, vol. 84, 1969, pp. 257-77. ‘The formation of a two-party alignment in the House of Commons between 1832 and 1841’ English Historical Review 84 257 77 Google Scholar

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Entry on Walmsley by J. L. Sturgis in Baylen and Gossman, Biographical Dictionary, pp. 531-4. Google Scholar

Adelman, Victorian Radicalism, p. 15. local as well as national politics. Google Scholar

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In addition to Taylor's Decline of Radicalism discussed above, see T. A. Jenkins, Parliament, Party and Politics in Victorian Britain, Manchester, 1996, chapter 2, which provides the most recent summary, with references to the most pertinent literature. Parliament, Party and Politics in Victorian Britain Google Scholar

Cf. Mandler's claim in Aristocratic Government, p. 37, that it was the Whigs, and the Whigs only, who supported social reform in the 1840s. Google Scholar

Richards, ‘State formation’, p. 64. But cf. Gray, Factory Question, pp. 192-3, for the suggestion that even Fielden, in his support for reducing hours, was partly motivated by economic self-interest. Google Scholar

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Author details

Nicholls, David