Here’s Patten for Ever, Huzza!

With all the arguing about Scottish independence we have just had, and all the political parties doing their best to stab each other in the back, I thought it would be the right time to look at something political from the Rylands collection.

Many of the Rylands family were involved in politics, and both Thomas Glazebrook Rylands and Peter Rylands spent a term as Mayor of Warrington. The family in general supported the Liberal Party, as many non-conformist, industrialist families in Warrington did, but the items I am going to look at today relate to a branch of the family who were Conservatives.

Thomas Kirkland Glazebrook, of Stockton Mount in Stockton Heath, was an ardent supporter of the Tory party in Warrington and the items I am going to show you today relate to his involvement in the 1835 General Election. At this election John Ireland Blackburne won the Warrington seat for the Tories from the Liberal Party.

Anyone who has been to one of my talks on local history will know that I have a fascination with ‘pamphleteering’ (distributing leaflets all over town telling people just what you think on any given subject). Pamphleteering was commonplace in Warrington throughout the Georgian and Victorian eras. Think of it as the Facebook of the day, a chance to make slanderous and insulting comments about friends and neighbours, to attack local councillors or clergymen, or just a means to tell people what they should be thinking. Now, I have nothing against social media and nothing pamphleteering, they mean that people’s views on all sorts of subjects are recorded for posterity, just remember that anything you do write may be in the archives one day.

The first item I want to show you is a poster or ‘hand-bill’ issued by T.K. Glazebrook on 2nd January 1835 and addressed to Mr. Holbrook Gaskell, a local industrialist and Unitarian who was supporting Hindley, the Liberal candidate in the election.

To H. Gaskell Esq.

I shall be obliged by your informing me whether I am the person alluded to in your “Reply to an anonymous Liar and Slanderer “? If so, I cast the gross epithets back in your face, I HAVE NOT written one line, nor have I had anything in the slightest degree, to do with a single placard,” immaculate morceau” or “refined song” that has made its appearance.
I was sincere in my hope that the contest for Warrington might be conducted with temper and courtesy, and I defy you or any of Mr. Hindley’s friends to produce a single instance where I have acted contrary to that hope so expressed.

T.K. Glazebrook

The gist of this poster is that somebody has been distributing song sheets around the town insulting the Liberal candidate, Mr. Hindley. The exact insults we do not know, as they are not repeated here. Following these insults, it appears that Mr. Gaskell has been telling people around town that T.K. Glazebrook had written the insulting placards and songs. This poster is Glazebrook publicly denying the claim. Gaskell has called Glazebrook a liar and a slanderer, Glazebrook has said “I’m not the liar, you are!”. All very adult discussion.

The next picture is a poster pasted up by Gaskell 3 days later, replying to the insults in Glazebrook’s poster.

The gist of this second poster is that Glazebrook did write the insulting poems, everyone knows he wrote them and he is just a great big liar for saying he didn’t, but if Glazebrook keeps insisting he didn’t write them, as Gaskell is a gentleman, something Glazebrook would know nothing about, he will have to accept Glazebrook’s claims even though he knows he is a liar really.

Interestingly in this poster, Gaskell mentions how his religion, as a Unitarian, has been used as an attack against him in this and the last election, to paint him as a danger to the establishment, something we know did happen in the early Warrington elections.

Later that day, Glazebrook distributes a further poster in response to Gaskell’s response to his response to Gaskell’s response to the original poem (if this seems complicated to you, try finding all these items in a big bundle and trying to make sense of them).

In this poster Glazebrook opens his comments by calling Gaskell: gross, ungentlemanly, slanderous, and pitiful. He effectively says that if Gaskell wasn’t such a very old man and he wasn’t so so strong he would have given him a thrashing. He then does insult Gaskell’s religion, calling him a Socinian (look this up for yourself, this blog entry is complicated enough as it is) But justifies his insult by saying that Gaskell has called the Church of England corrupt.

Incidentally, on the back of the flyer is some  hand-written text in pen and ink as follows:

 “Two & Three I approve – Send the first to night to Appleton Hall – Directed to Col. Blackburne with your compliment – T.K.G.”

This shows that Blackburne himself was in on this “smear campaign”, using Glazebrook and his son to produce the derogatory posters, which allowed him to stay publicly aloof from the dirty campaigning.

I know this blog is dragging out a bit and a good blog entry should be short, but there is one more item from this barrage of bickering that I want to share with you. After reading through all of this pamphleteering and sorting out in my head, who had accused whom of what, and what could be proved or not, I came across one final item which I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at and which made me want to share this blog entry with you.

Bound in a scrap book kept by John Paul Rylands, I found the following item:

A little poem set to music, written by T.K. Glazebrook in 1835, named “Here’s Patten Forever, Huzza!”

The second verse of this song is as follows:

Hark! The Myrmidon crew as they boldly advance,
Shout – Of Liberty – Theirs is the cause,
Tis the Language of Infidels – Borrowed from France,
The knell of our Monarch Religion and Laws,
The knell of our Monarch and Laws.

This song is part of the campaign to ensure the success of Patten, the Conservative candidate for North Lancashire in the General Election over his Liberal opponents. Those opponents are basically accused of being no better than the French Revolutionaries and it is suggested that if they get in they will execute the King, destroy the Church of England, and set up a lawless state.

So, perhaps the original cause of all that arguing, the fact that Gaskell had wrongly accused Glazebrook of writing an insulting song about the Liberal candidate, can now be seen in a slightly different light? Insulting songs seem to be Glazebrook’s forte.

I will end this blog entry with what is rapidly becoming my mantra for the Rylands collection, “people were no different back then than they are now”. Politicians swearing black is white and using smear campaigns to discredit their opponents, and people getting carried away insulting each other when it can be done through social media and not face to face, was common then and is common now.

Incidentally, John Ireland Blackburne did win for the Conservatives in Warrington and the town remained conservative held until 1868 when Peter Rylands won for the Liberals. John Wilson Patten won for the Conservatives in North Lancashire and held the seat for 42 years.

This article was originally posted on Thursday, October 16th, 2014.