Wolverhampton Town Council, 1848

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Lord Hatherton's Journal, June 13th, 1848

The new Wolverhampton Council has commenced well. The first use they make of their charter after the election of very respectable councillors of all parties is to elect Thorneycroft mayor, a man whose moderation is as notorious as his liberality and philanthropy.

Then they sent a very loyal and conservative address to the Queen reprobating the principles of democracy and propagandism put forth by the French republicans and the Chartists at home. All their proceedings have been conducted in an equally creditable manner.

And yet many of the men elected onto the town council were considered 15 years ago as rebels by their Tory fellow townsmen (who in Wolverhampton have always been the more violent party of the two).


Lord Hatherton's Journal, November 5th, 1848

Lord Hatherton had been asked to propose the toast of "the Corporation" at a dinner to the Mayor. One hundred people, including all the aldermen and the Mayor were present. Alderman Barker, an immensely rich ironmaster was in the chair. The toasts included "Bishops and Clergy", "France and Frenchmen to the Devil" and glorifications of Queen Victoria and the British Constitution.

"The aldermen and town council had just elected Thorneycroft a second time and for the first time walked in procession from the Assembly Room, with the old mace of St. Mawes church (Cornwall), just purchased, before them, preceded by a beadle in a cocked hat, a cloak covered with gold lace as fine as gingerbread at Camberwell Fair, the populace cheering.

All truly wonderful to me, who never had contemplated a union of parties in Wolverhampton. The fact is the borough is very full of very rich people. The town, which in 1801 had only 11,000 inhabitants is supposed now to have 45,000 and on the whole is very prosperous. I believe it is richer than Birmingham, which is not yet rich with five times the population.

Barker and others like him are beginning to have visions of future greatness for themselves and their families. Besides, an immediate effect of this charter is to make municipal distinction an object of ambition. All wish to be aldermen and mayor. The Radical is trying to conciliate the Tory, and the Tory the Radical. Thus the Tory is seen more liberal and the Radical more moderate. The burgesses too are all wishing to belong to the town council. The whole thing works together admirably.

They have now something to amuse themselves with at home instead of meddling with the larger affairs of state."