Friday, 6 April 2012

6th April 1812: Manchester Executive Committee cancel plans for factory attacks on 9th April

On Monday 6th April 1812, the 'Manchester Executive Committee' met at the Prince Regent's Arms on Ancoats Lane in Manchester to discuss various matters. We know about this meeting from 2 sources - the weaver, Humphrey Yarwood, and Colonel Ralph Fletcher's spy, 'B', both of whom either wrote or gave statements about what occurred subsequently.

B reported that some delegates had returned from a trip to London to report on the situation there: It was said that London was relatively unprepared compared to the North; that the city had been divided into 10 districts and subdivided into 120 other divisions, and that only 7400 had been twisted-in. It was also apparently suggested to B that he should be a delegate for Yorkshire.

Both B and Yarwood also explained that the committee was aware of the preparations for a Loyalist meeting in Manchester that would take place on that coming Wednesday 8th April. On the same night that the Executive Committee was meeting, there was another meeting of 'Gentlemen' taking place at the Bridgewater Arms to oppose the Loyalists, and Yarwood explained that John Buckley Booth of the Manchester Secret Committee was sent to weigh up the likely strength of opposition. B said that another of the executive committee was also deputed to attend, but does not mention any names. Apparently, Buckley Booth eventually returned telling the Executive Committee that he had been asked to sign a petition by the 'Gentlemen'.

At some point in the evening, the plans of the General Delegate meeting that had taken place the previous night in Salford was discussed. That meeting had held that the Manchester Districts would decide if the plan to attack factories should go ahead. In his report for Colonel Fletcher, B explained the plan was to involve seizing all military officers and put them to death along with all the magistrates.

The District rejected these plans, and ordered that delegates must be sent out to the various towns to countermand any planned operations. But there was concern about how this would be financed. Yarwood noted that not enough money had been collected to even pay for that night's ale and that this, allied with discovering the plans of the Kings Arms meeting, meant that 'nothing but dischord reigned amongst them that night'.

After the meeting broke up, the two other members of the Manchester Secret Committee that had been deputed to cancel operations in Bolton and Stockport, Royles and Howarth, told Yarwood they simply didn't have the money to travel out to those towns. Yarwood had an idea who might help...

The account of this meeting has been compiled from B's report to Colonel Fletcher and 2 statements given by Humphrey Yarwood, all of which can be found at HO 40/1/1.

The Prince Regents Arms no longer exists. We will cover the fate of this pub in a subsequent post in June 2012.

There have been several public houses in Manchester called the Bridgewater Arms. Given that the meeting was largely composed of 'gentlemen', it is likely that this was the Bridgewater Arms that stood on the centre of town in Market Street, which was part of the Royal Hotel. A drawing by John Harwood from 'Lancashire Illustrated' of 1832 shows how it looked 20 years later:

The Royal Hotel can be seen over 70 years later in a tinted photograph displayed at

The photograph is most likely taken between June 1901, when electric trams started running in Manchester,  and 1908 when the Royal Hotel was demolished to make way for an extension to Lewis's.

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