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The clerical magistrate

conference contribution
posted on 2023-07-26, 12:55 authored by John Gardner
The opportunity to gain access to representation through peaceful protest ended with Peterloo. In the months that followed the option of revolution also seemed to be barred with eight men, who were convicted of High Treason for plotting rebellion, being executed in front of massive crowds in London, Glasgow and Stirling. With these killings, the last for High Treason for almost 100 years, the British government advertised to the public that radical organisations were weak, disorganised, and that any rebellion would be ruthlessly crushed. With the failure of the final radical rallying point that was the Queen Caroline affair, ‘a curious period of relative stasis followed’ as Marilyn Butler asserts. Radical ideas now had to be disseminated through new routes, one of the most effective of which was to attack the established church and its more notorious members. The Reverend Charles Ethelston was a central figure at Peterloo. He was the clerical magistrate who was said to have read the Riot Act, sent in the troops, and signed the warrant for the arrests. After the event he was the subject of attacks by a range of writers, poets, and artists, including: Samuel Bamford, William Benbow, George Cruikshank, William Hone, Percy Shelley, and a number of anonymous squib writers. This paper will explore these reactions to the clerical magistrate and how these attacks widened to include the established church and figures such as William Hay and the Archbishop of Clogher, Percy Jocelyn.


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128th Annual Convention of the Modern Language Association of America


Boston, MA

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ARCHIVED Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences (until September 2018)

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