at the turn of the 1800's was considered a dirty word by the empowered establishment.
The French Revolution and then the American War of Independence had given
rise to concern that royalty and their supporters should beware. Real and
imagined dangers were evident and opinions were naturally polarised. England
had long been held firm under a quasi-benevolent royal structure maintained
by a swagger of barons, earls, bishops and their subalterns.
Following the publication of "The Rights of Man"1 people came to question the almost unthinkable, that kings and their retinue of power brokers did not have a divine right to control and rule. Naval mutinies and the concentration of workers into labour in factories hastened the organisation of labour.
A series of political movements appeared such as The United Irishmen, then the United Englishmen and eventually the United Britons. These organisations were watched closely by the lackeys of the powerful.
In such a situation, a Huddersfield magistrate, one Joseph Radcliffe [later knighted for his efforts] appeared. Another royalist was Edward Harling. After his first wife died as a result of childbirth he married the daughter of Squire Rushbrook of Mildenhall.
Harling who lived in Thorpe, Almondbury, eventually fell upon hard times as a result of a series of poor business ventures. A fellow church warden of Almondbury, Mark Haigh divulged news that a person called Lodge they knew was paying a subscription to a local Republican party. Harling in turn, divulged the information to magistrate Radcliffe. Radcliffe had also been made aware of a number of other persons involved in the Republican movement in the local area.Castle Hill Almondbury. It was stated that "David Midgley's wife came to Lodge and told him if he did not continue to subscribe it would be worse for him and she would not be in his place for 50 pounds" Radcliffe needed more evidence and sought the assistance of Joseph Smith, a farmer.
Martha Midgley, the wife of David Midgley Cordwainer of Almondbury was said by Lodge before Justice Radcliffe to have stated that "she would not be in his place for 20 guineas that he does not know where the meetings are kept, that he told Thomas Sykes [clothier of Almondbury] he was so uneasy he would have no more to do with him"
1.Paine, Thomas, Rights of Man.
2. Huddersfield & District FHS Journal VOL 14 No. 3.
3. West Yorks. Archaeological Society Rad.1578/4 [Magistrate's records]
© Tim Midgley 2008. Links Revised July 2023.