This page reports on a meeting of the Manchester trades in 1842 which saw Chartists triumph over the corn law repealers, and names 57 delegates to the meeting.
Manchester was the heartland of the campaign against the corn laws. Factory owners played a prominent part in the Anti Corn Law League, not least because they resented having to pay their workers a living wage when bread prices were kept artificially high to help landowners.
But the movement also drew some support from factory workers themselves, enticed by the idea of cheaper food.
The views of the Chartist movement on the issue were divided. Some, especially those keen on maintaining a united front with middle class reformers, felt that it was possible to argue and campaign for both objectives. Others, including Feargus O’Connor, saw corn law repeal as a diversion and the Anti Corn Law League as an employers’ trick to divert workers from demanding their political rights.
The tensions were obvious in the pages of the Northern Star. But they came to a head most notably in local meetings and delegate conferences, when representatives of the two campaigns found themselves sharing a platform.
One meeting of delegates from the trades (trade unions) of Manchester held at the Hop Pole Inn (now demolished, but once to be found on Hardman Street, off Dean Street) saw the Chartists out-argue and out-vote the corn law repealers to throw the weight of the city’s organised workers behind one of the great Chartist rallies of the day.
The Northern Star (19 March 1842) reported that the meeting had begun, as was normal, by examining the credentials of those present.
There was an immediate challenge by Thomas Rankin, representing the Salford Chartists, who wanted to know where the Universal Suffrage and Vote by Ballot Association met, “as he had not heard of the existence of such society before”. Mr Warren, the association’s delegate, replied that it met at a temperance coffee house and produced credentials which evidently satisfied the meeting as he was allowed to stay.
Delegates then lined up to say that they had been instructed to support the People’s Charter, nothing less and with no additions. Those taking this position, in effect a disavowal of the corn law repealers, included the representatives of the silk dyers, calico printers, fustian cutters, bricklayers and some of the Chartist localities.
The chairman of the meeting, Mr Hutchinson, who represented the smiths, “said that he had great experience with the trades, and he knew that there were thousands who were once strict Corn Law Repealers whose recent circumstances had made Chartists”.
One delegate then moved a resolution stating that any union of the bodies represented in the room “must and shall be based on principle, not expediency”, and calling for a pledge to agitate “for the Charter, the whole Charter, and nothing less than the Charter, unmixed with any other question”.
Before a vote could be taken, James Morris of the Anti Bread Tax Association moved an amendment that there should be a demonstration on Kersal Moor in favour of both the People’s Charter and repeal of the corn laws.
After a half hour discussion, only five hands were raised for the corn law repealers’ amendment, with 59 for the original motion.
William Tillman then proposed that rather than there being two demonstrations, the corn law repealers “midle class, or of the trades” could join the Chartist procession on Good Friday, at which Feargus O’Connor had been invited to lay the foundation stone for a monument to the late radical orator Henry Hunt.
The resolution was formally moved by Mr Rankin, seconded by Mr Stansfield (there were, apparently two James Stansfields present – it is not clear which this refers to), supported by one of the bricklayers’ delegates and by William Warren of the Universal Suffrage and Vote by Ballot Association, and carried unanimously.
After agreeing to issue an address on behalf of the delegate meeting in support of the People’s Charter, the meeting ended.
Mr Higginbottom, representing the engravers, “said that the object of the meeting, at first, was a demonstration on behalf of a Repeal of the Corn Laws; but it had ended for a demonstration for the Charter. So far as he was himself concerned, he was much rejoiced at it.”
The table below has the names of 57 of the 64 delegates present at the Hop Pole Inn. The reporter from the Northern Star admitted that he had missed the names of some, including those of the operative painters’ two delegates.
Delegates to the trades conference, Manchester, 1842
|John Henry||Dandy||Glass-cutter||Represented glass-cutters of Hulme|
|William||Walker||Not given||Represented Steward Street Chartists|
|Matthew||McFarlane||Calico printer||Represented calico printers of Pendleton|
|John||Williams||Not given||Represented Chartist of Chorlton and Hulme|
|William||Tillman||Not given||Represented Chartist of Chorlton and Hulme|
|James||Stansfield||Not given||Represented shoe-makers and tailors|
|Patrick||Cochrane||Weaver||Represented weavers of Booth Street Mill, Salford|
|James||Hardman||Overlooker of the weaving, spinning and cardroom||Colliers and Cheetham's Mill|
|James||Stansfield||Overlooker of the weaving, spinning and cardroom||Colliers and Cheetham's Mill|
|Jonathan||They||Fustian cutter||Booth Street Mill|
|John||Cannon||Fustian cutter||Booth Street Mill|
|Thomas||Taylor||Not given||Bridgewater Foundry|
|James||Buckley||Not given||Langworthy, Brothers & Co|
|John||Broadhurst||Not given||Langworthy, Brothers & Co|
|Thomas||Rankin||Not given||Representing Chartists of Salford|
|John||Millar||Not given||Representing Chartists of Salford|
|Edward||Allen||Not given||Representing Chartists of Hollingwood and Failsworth|
|Valentine||Humphreys||Shoe maker||Representing Duke of Cumberland boot and shoe-makers|
|John Powers||Richardson||Tailor||Representing journeymen tailors, Messrs Richardson|
|James||Morris||Not given||Represented Anti Bread Tax Association|
|James||Oswald||Not given||Represented Anti Bread Tax Association|
|James||Cartledge||Not given||Represented Brown Street Chartists|
|Gabriel||Hargreaves||Not given||Represented Brown Street Chartists|
|Jeremiah||Lane||Not given||Represented Redfern Street Chartists|
|John||Campbell||Not given||Represented Redfern Street Chartists|
|James||Newton||Not given||Represented Marsland's mule spinners|
|John||Bell||Not given||Represented Fairburn's mechanics|
|William||Wells||Not given||Represented Fairburn's mechanics|
|Henry||Coffin||Not given||Represented Patriscroft (?Patricroft, Eccles - ed) mechanics|
|D||Smith||Not given||Represented Patriscroft (?Patricroft, Eccles - ed) mechanics|
|William||Warren||Not given||Represented Patriscroft (?Patricroft, Eccles - ed) mechanics|
|Wm||Morris||Not given||Represented Patriscroft (?Patricroft, Eccles - ed) mechanics|
|David||Morrison||Not given||Represented Eccles Chartists|
|William||Norris||Not given||Represented Eccles Chartists|
|Mr||Warren||Not given||Represented Universal Suffrage and Vote by Ballot Association|