THE CHARTIST RIOTS
Thomas Cooper kept his promise to revisit the Potteries. He writes that he had
"small amounts owing in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Stafford and the Potteries"
and on Tuesday 9 August 1842 he set off from his house in Leicester to attend the Chartist Convention in Manchester, fixed for the 16th August. On the way he addressed meetings in Birmingham and Stafford and when he arrived in the Potteries, he found strikes already widespread.
"When I reached Hanley on 13 August 1842 I was not surprised at the degree of political excitement which I then found existing there" (English Chartist Circular No. 145)
and he writes #
"I came to Hanley in consequence of an engagement to lecture to the Chartists of that place, and slept at Mr. Yates's on the Saturday night."
(p.187) "All seemed perfectly quiet when I reached Hanley the principal town in the Potteries on Saturday, 13th August, 1842 I saw nothing of the colliers who were on strike; and companied with the teetotal Chartists whom I had known when I paid a few days' visit to Hanley in April preceding. On Sunday morning in company with these Chartist friends, I went and spoke in the open air at Fenton and in the afternoon at Longton. In the evening I addressed an immense crowd at Hanley, standing on a chair in front of the Crown Inn: such ground being called Crown Bank by the natives."
(p.190) "I was lodging at honest and devoted Jeremiah Yates', but often went across the road to the George and Dragon, an inn to which a large room was attached ## in which Chartist meetings were usually held. When I reached the inn that night, the Chartist Committee told me they had received instruction from the committee in Manchester to bring out the people from labour, to persuade them to work no more till the Charter became law." ###
This intention to continue the strikes until the Charter was accepted was to be put to a Chartist meeting on Monday. Cooper writes:
(p.191) "I constituted myself chairman of the meeting on the Crown Bank at Hanley on Monday morning, the 15th August 1842, a day to be remembered to my life's end."
"I suppose there would be eight or ten thousand present. I showed them that, if they carried out the resolution no government on earth could resist their demand. But I told them that "peace Law and Order" must be their motto and that, while they took peaceable means to secure a general turn-out (strike) and kept from violence, no law could touch
(p.192) "... all hands seemed held up for it. Three cheers were given for success and the meeting broke up."
Men from the meeting left Hanley for Longton to persuade others to strike but a riot and violence ensued. At a further meeting on the Crown Bank that evening Thomas Cooper "warned all who had participated in that act that they were not the friends but the enemies of freedom."
Nevertheless, rioting and violence had got out of hand. Police and military cordoned off the Potteries, arrested hundreds -including Jeremiah Yates and Thomas Cooper.
The Staffordshire Examiner 20 August 1842 reported
A meeting took place on the Crown Bank here on Monday. The colliers were called together by the the Chartists at eight o'clock for the purpose of adopting resolutions to the effect that they will all cease work until the Charter becomes the law of the land'
There followed several columns describing the riots on both Monday 15th and Tuesday 16th.
"On Wednesday and Thursday a general search of suspected houses was made. The parties were apprehended and sent to Newcastle where they were examined by the magistrates and committed to Stafford for trial. All is quiet at present "
N Staffordshire Mercury 27 August 1842
The late Riots in the Potteries
"The arrest of Chartist agitators in connexion with these outrages has caused no little dismay among their adherents ... Yates, the coffee-shopkeeper at Hanley, whose house had been a place of rendezvous for violent Chartists, and who had himself been one of the most active in turning out the people at the manufactory ... was apprehended on Saturday 20th while at work"
"On Tuesday, John Richards the Chartist Lecturer was apprehended at Yates's coffee house"
# 'The Life of Thomas Cooper' Hodder and Stoughton
## Mary Hall, landlady of the George and Dragon, in New Street, Hanley, lost her license for holding Chartist Meetings. The George and Dragon in 1968 still had its large meeting hall. It was only a hundred yards from Miles Bank and has now been demolished.
### In the first edition of his autobiography in 1871, Cooper said he was lodging at the George & Dragon. The 1873 editions were altered to 'lodging at honest and devoted Jeremiah Yates'