Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hampton L. Carson with Edwin Sydney Stuart and Floyd Williams Tomkins. Photograph, c.1907

Hampton L. Carson was born in Philadelphia on February 21, 1852. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1871, and from its Law School in 1874. He was the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 1903 to 1907, president of the state bar association, vice president of the American Bar Association, editor of the Legal Gazette, a legal scholar, historian, author, public speaker, and collector. One of Mr. Carson’s principal collections was materials dealing with the legal structure of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in colonial and early statehood days.

The Hampton L. Carson Collection Illustrative of the Growth of the Common Law

His other substantial collection, The Hampton L. Carson Collection Illustrative of the Growth of the Common Law compiled by Mr. Carson over a fifty-year period, covers the evolution of Common Law from its thirteenth century origins to the end of the nineteenth century. It is the largest collection of materials on the subject ever assembled by a single individual, and numbers over 19,000 items. It contains books, manuscripts, autograph letters, and portraits. In addition to copies of Magna Carta from the thirteenth through the nineteenth centuries, copies of the Domesday Book and first editions of the legal treatises of Granville, Bracton, Fortescue, Littleton, Coke, Hale, and Blackstone, it contains pamphlets, portraits of famous legal personages and places( including members of the U.S. Supreme Court, Lord Chancellors of England; Kings and Queens of England) famous prisons, and court houses of England. When Mr. Carson died on July 18, 1929, the collection of Pennsylvania materials was left to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the collection on Common Law was presented to The Free Library of Philadelphia “to be cared for, preserved and maintained for the use of legal and historical students…in perpetuity.”

Catalogue of the Exhibits of the Hampton L. Carson Collection. Philadelphia: The Free Library of Philadelphia, 1930.

The Hampton L. Carson Collection in its original home at the Free Library on the second floor in – what is now - The Business, Science and Industry Department. Note the portrait of Mr. Carson on the east wall of the Department. Currently, it is displayed behind you in this entry area to The Rare Book Department.

Items from The Hampton L. Carson Collection on display. Photograph from the original exhibition, August 5, 1930.

Magna Carta Regis Johannis…A.D.MCCXV. London, John Whitaker, 1816 Gothic type, printed in gold on vellum with borders illuminated in gouache with oil. A fine historiated initial “J” at the beginning of the text and a facsimile of King John’s seal at the end. Fifteen vellum pages interspersed with blank paper pages bound together. The present copy was probably painted by Thomas Willement (1786-1876), a heraldic writer and artist.

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King John signing Magna Carta. Etching. From the original painting by Chappel. New York: Johnson Fry & Co., 1870

Magna Carta is Latin for “Great Charter.” It is the written agreement between the English barons or nobles and their king, John. When John became king in 1199, he disregarded the long standing feudal arrangements and demanded more than custom dictated. Nobles and church leaders grumbled about the king, but did little until 1213 when a group gathered in St. Albans and drew-up a list of demands based on the coronation charter of Henry I who ruled from 1100 to 1135.
After King John lost an important military battle, the barons pressed their demand. Eventually, King John agreed and on the fifteenth of June 1215 a royal charter was written in legal form and copies were sent all over the kingdom. The main purpose of Magna Carta was to force John to uphold feudal customs, but some of the articles became the basis for modern justice throughout the English speaking world, i.e. the king could not create new taxes without the consent of the barons, the church should operate without royal interference, the king may not sell justice, no freeman may be imprisoned, deprived of property, or exiled except by the lawful judgment of his peers or the established law of the land, etc.
King John died in 1216. His son, Henry III, agreed to abide by Magna Carta, as did subsequent kings. Over time, it became both a sacred trust and a contract between king and people. In the 17th century, Parliament appealed to Magna Carta against the Stuarts, and in different circumstances, Charles I, a Stuart, appealed to it against Parliament.


Charles I. Etching by A.H. Payne after the painting by Van Dyk. London: J.Haggen, [n.d.]

This most unfortunate monarch was the second son of James I of England (James VI of Scotland), and grandson of the beheaded Mary, Queen of Scots. In 1603, when his father rode off with the rest of his family to claim the English throne, Charles was left behind in Scotland. He had a pronounced stammer and was physically weak, short of stature, quiet, self-contained and serious-minded. His elder brother, Henry, was all that Charles was not: handsome, popular, athletic, outgoing, and quick-witted. When Charles was twelve, Henry died of a fever. Charles, always concerned with duty, began a self-imposed regimen to overcome his disabilities. He took up running to strengthen his legs, marksmanship for co-ordination, and speech-training to overcome his stammer.

When he became Prince of Wales at sixteen, he was required to spend more time at court. Temperate in his habits, he abhorred all debauchery, and found his father’s court stridently boorish where frequent drunkenness, food fights, rough, lewd joking, and vulgarity were the norm. Where his older brother, Henry, had balanced deflection with light participation, Charles was exhausted and angered in this atmosphere.

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K. James I. Engraving by Vertue. [n.p. & n.d.]

At twenty, his father determined that it was time for Charles to marry. His sister, Elizabeth, had married a Protestant to cement England’s ties to Protestant Europe. It was Charles’s duty to marry a Catholic to strengthen the kingdom’s Catholic connections. Anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish sentiments were strong in the country, but James persisted. When negotiations broke down with Spain, James turned to France.

France followed a similar foreign policy in central Europe, and France’s king, Henri de Navarre, was a former Protestant with an available daughter, Henrietta Maria. The English Parliament was not pleased. When James I died, Charles’s decision to carry out his father’s wishes was a lost opportunity to appease Parliament and the Protestants. Instead Charles, ever dutiful, brought his father’s negotiations to fruition and married her. The public called her “The Popish Brat” – she was just fifteen. However, Charles was enchanted upon his first sight of her. Never a taint of scandal touched their relationship. Their marriage was one of complete devotion to each other and to their seven surviving children.

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Charles I. Engraving by W. Hall after a painting by Van Dyk. London: William MacKenzie, [n.d.]

Charles was in a weak position from the moment he ascended the throne. Unfavored by his father, self-prepared for kingship, loyal to friends who misused him, and in dire need of money for wars he inherited, he needed to make concessions. Stubborn and inflexible about things he held dear, like his duties to God and to the Nation, Duty was his undoing. He believed that God had made him king, therefore, strong criticism approached blasphemy. As head of the Church, he believed that the Church’s structure was divinely given. Parliament’s wish to abolish the office of Bishop, for example, was against Christ’s historical example. His father, James, had gone so far as to reinstitute the office of Bishop in Presbyterian Scotland. Charles went further. In 1637, he introduced the Book of Common Prayer into the Scottish Church. The Scots’ answer to Charles was to raise an army, throw-out the bishops, and occupy northern England. Charles, who had disbanded the English Parliament because it would not agree with him, now had to reconvene it to ask for money to fight the Scots. Eventually, Parliament raised an army against him, as well. Charles’s negotiations were designed to divide these two opponents. The King went north to join the Scottish Army (which had been raised against him!), and rode with them to Newcastle where he debated theology with the Presbyterians. Charles’s plan in so doing was to confuse Parliament. It worked by awakening the basic distrust between the English and the Scots of this period. What should have been a captive’s shameful return at times took on the appearance of a royal progress where roads were lined with ordinary folk cheering. Correspondence, which should have been censored, was freely received and sent. Realizing that the situation was out of control, the English kidnapped the King from their “allies” (the Scottish Army). Shortly afterwards, he escaped, but was retaken.

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The Tryal of the King. Engraver unknown. [n.p. & n.d.]

The Commons decreed that the House of Lords no longer had any power. All power of government resided in the Commons, now called “The Parliament.” This new body decreed that the king should stand trial. Acting on its own behalf, it created “The High Court of Justice” to try the king, and appointed 135 commissioners to this court. Only 54 of these attended the first meeting and 16 of them refused to sign anything discussed. At the second meeting only 46 attended, but elected a President of the High Court of Justice, John Bradshaw. He was in Cheshire at the time and was not a member of Parliament. At the next meeting, at which only 34 were present, Bradshaw begged to be excused from serving. His plea was denied. A very small number of participants were able to dismiss the upper house, restrict membership in the House of Commons, set-up its own court and sentence the head of state to death.

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Eikon Basilike: The Portaiture of His Sacred Majesty in His Solitudes and Sufferings. [London?], 1648

The anglicized Greek title translates as “The Royal Portrait” and is allegedly written by King Charles I. William Levett, Esq., longtime groom of the bedchamber to King Charles I, swore that he witnessed Charles writing it during his imprisonment on the Isle of Wright. Scholars continue to disagree about its authorship. After the Restoration, John Gauden claimed to have written it from Charles’s papers. It is confessional in nature and speaks of the religious principles and political reasons for Charles’s actions. The representation of Charles I as a Christian Martyr in both the text and the image seen here incorporates Continental Counter-Reformation depictions with standard English representations of the Monarch. The work was so successful at showing the King’s inner, spiritual life that on May 19, 1660 the Convocation of Canterbury and York canonized King Charles and added a commemoration to the calendar for the date of his decollation, January 30th.

Eikon Basilike was wildly popular (36 editions in 1649 alone!) although officially condemned during the Commonwealth and Protectorate. To evade detection, it was probably printed in small batches. Also, the lack of a printer’s name and place of publication, as well as the erroneous date, attests to the underground nature of its publication.

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William Penn drawn on stone by Thomas Fairland. [n.d.]

William Penn was born on October 14, 1644 in London to Admiral Sir William Penn and his wife Margaret Jasper, formerly of Rotterdam. He attended Chigwell Latin School. To solidify his family’s ascent into the nobility, William’s recently knighted father chose Christ Church, Oxford for William’s further education. His father had great hopes for him. He sent him abroad to the Protestant College at Saumur, France, where he met Moses Amyraut, a lawyer turned teacher, who taught that anyone could learn God’s laws by studying his own heart. While at Oxford, William insisted on visiting the nonconformist, John Owen, in lieu of mandatory chapel when he might have changed his schedule and done both. His behavior embarrassed his father. Although Penn describes his leaving Oxford as an expulsion, he is not listed in the school records as being “sent down” or asked to leave. It appears he refused to continue to stay at Oxford on his own. His father was so outraged that he beat him and threw him out of the house. After a time, they were reconciled. Penn’s father arranged for William to meet the King and the Duke of York (later James II). Although he did not rebel at this, he continued to acquaint himself with Quaker teachings (Truth’s Friends). At 23, he declared himself a full-fledged member of this sect. It appeared to his parents that Penn was deliberately throwing away the fine future for which his father, the knighted admiral, had worked so hard. In 1668, at 24, he began preaching and writing pamphlets for the Society of Friends. One of his most famous, Sandy Foundation Shaken, appears in these cases.


Quaker Meeting. Rowlandson & Pugin, Artists: Acquatint by Stadler. London: [n.p.], 1804

In August 1670, the Quaker meeting place in Gracechurch Street London was closed by the authorities. A group of Quakers convened in the street. William Penn and William Meade preached to this group, but it was quickly surrounded by non-believers who heckled and disrupted the assembly. The crowd grew more unruly and the authorities were called to break-up the disturbance. The two preachers were arrested, hauled before the Lord Mayor and committed to Newgate Prison for “preaching to an unlawful, seditious, and riotous assembly.” They were tried under the Conventicle Act, which banned all religious gatherings in which the established church liturgy was not used.


K. James the 2nd. Drawn & Engraved by Geo. Vertue from a painting by Sir Godfrey Kneller. [n.p]: 1688

In the few remaining days he had, Sir William secured a promise from the king’s brother, James, that he would facilitate the king’s favor on his son, William, for the services rendered to the king by the father. Sir William died on September 16, 1670, eleven days after the trial ended. James kept his promise. The debt was paid with a grant of land and a Proprietary Charter given to William Penn. A proprietary colony, although subject to English Law, was ruled by the proprietor. This generous arrangement gave Penn the opportunity to establish religious freedoms in his colony that existed nowhere else on English territory.

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Algernon Sidney. Benoist, Artist. [n.p. &n.d.]

Although William Penn, as a Quaker could not sit in Parliament (Quakers would not take oaths, and members of Parliament were required to swear allegiance to King and Country), he saw the importance of electing men who believed that the rights of Englishmen to life, liberty and property, are controlled by Law. Laws are made by elected officials. Therefore, it is imperative to elect those who will not restrict individual rights. To accomplish this, Penn campaigned for Algernon Sidney in the elections of 1679.

Algernon Sidney was a republican and political theorist, who at first supported Oliver Cromwell and the new Parliament, but quickly became disillusioned with this new tyranny. He left the country. Upon his return to England in 1677, he immediately became involved in Whig politics. Penn’s support for him revolved around Sidney’s liberal beliefs in individual conscience, for the two men disagreed on many issues. Penn believed the monarchy should be balanced by the powers of the people, for example. Sidney believed that it should not exist at all. Sidney believed in waging war. Penn was a pacifist. Sometime later (1683) Algernon Sidney was put to death for his alleged involvement in the Rye House Plot. At his trial, only one witness could be produced. Sidney pled the law and demanded the second witness. The Government produced his writings as the second witness. However, in the elections of 1679, Sidney looked like a liberal who could be counted as a friend of Friends.

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Charles Stuard [sic] II. Engraving by DeLarmessin. Paris: P. Bertrand, [n.d.]

After the intercession of the king’s brother (later James II) on behalf of Sir William Penn, King Charles II granted William Penn a colony of his own in America and named it “Pennsylvania.”

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Oliver Cromwell. Engraved from a miniature by Cooper. With a facsimile of his signature and writing. London: Chapman & Hall, 1845

Oliver Cromwell’s grandfather, Richard Williams, took his successful uncle’s surname and became Richard Cromwell. Richard prospered during the dissolution of the monasteries and was given extensive church lands by Henry VIII. Robert, Richard’s son and Oliver’s father married a wealthy widow, Elizabeth Lyon. Oliver, born on April 29, 1599, was the only boy in a family of seven children, and was named for his very wealthy uncle, Oliver. The Cromwells owned a large part of the county of Huntington and served the Tudors well as Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace and members of Parliament. Oliver attended the strongly Puritan college, Sidney Sussex at Cambridge. He left without a degree when his father died and he was called home to manage the family estates. At twenty-one he married a wealthy merchant’s daughter and older than himself, Elizabeth Bourchier. Together they had four sons and a daughter who survived.

Although raised as a Puritan, he did not undergo “conversion” until his mid-thirties. At the time he was given to a chronically inflamed throat, restlessness, melancholy; irritability. Through prayer and withdrawal from society, Cromwell came to believe that he himself was one of God’s Elect – a direct tool of God to be used to establish His Kingdom on earth. From that point, all of Cromwell’s actions exhibited an ever-burning zeal, an unswerving fixity of purpose, and a self-confident dedication that forced men to see in this red-faced man with conspicuous warts, a man of destiny. The quarrel Parliament and Puritans had with King Charles became everyman’s quarrel.


Historiated Initial O depicting Oliver Cromwell as the Sovereign.

Although there is no reliable record of Oliver Cromwell wearing the robes of a king when conducting state business, official documents sometimes did portray him as the monarch. Perhaps, this was simply following the established form of his predecessors, or perhaps, it was acknowledging him as the de facto ruler of the realm.

On a Grant of Nobility for Edmund Dunch of East Wittenham.

Longmate, artist.[n.p. & n.d]

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Daniel O’ Connell, the Champion of Liberty. Lithograph by Hoffy. Philadelphia: W. Cunningham, 1847

Daniel was born in 1775 into a prosperous Catholic family. It was at a time when anti-Papist Penal Laws had stripped the people of their land, their practice of religion, their ability to enter a profession, and their right to vote or to take part in any aspect of public life. The O’Connells were able to retain some of their standing as Gaelic gentry through a combination of factors including: distance from the centers of Protestant power; their “French Connection” which allowed them to supply local, wealthy Protestant landowners with luxurious contraband like silk, lace, tea, and brandy “duty free”; and their natural ability to close a deal with a well-placed wink or nod which stood them in good stead and left no records behind. Additionally, something of the old clan system still survived that enabled them to retain a protective power over their dependents as well as remain helpful to the authorities. A sense of local solidarity that crossed religious and class lines held this environment together.
Daniel was adopted by his wealthy, widowed and childless uncle, Maurice of Derrynane, who sent him to the English-speaking (Catholic) College in Douai France. Here he witnessed the excesses of the French revolution, which gave him a firm belief in the rule of law. On returning to London he studied law at Lincoln’s Inn.


Arthur Wolfe, Viscount Killwarden. Chief Justice of the King’s Bench Ireland. Engraving by J. Heath. London: G. Robinson, 1811

In May of 1796, just shy of his twenty-first birthday, Daniel moved to Dublin. The city was controlled by wealthy, but generally benign Protestants. Through several Catholic Relief Acts (1782, 1792 & 1793), restrictions had been eased. Catholics of a certain social standing were given the right to occupy property as freeholders, and to vote. The oath to uphold the Protestant Faith still kept them out of official positions. However, among Catholics there was hope for more change. The odd-men-out were the Presbyterians of Belfast and the northern counties. They tended towards republicanism, approved of both the French (including the Reign of Terror) and the American Revolutions, were not part of the Ascendancy, and were in favor of giving ‘respectable’ male adults a vote. This marginalized group often produced rural terrorists who burned barns, shot landlords, and stole from people perceived as oppressors. Occasionally, urban riots erupted.
One such insurrection, led by Robert Emmet, occurred in Dublin in July 1803. It resulted in several deaths: most prominently, the Chief Justice of the King’s Bench for Ireland, Viscount Killwarden.

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Danl. O’Connell, Esqr. Published under the patronage of the Society of Ireland in Philadelphia…Mathew Carey,Chairman. Philadelphia: Mathew Carey, 1831

In 1823, O’Connell founded The Catholic Association. It was organized at the parish level with modest dues so everyone could join. The dues were called “Catholic Rent” to stress that the Law kept Catholics from owning land outright. O’Connell delicately negotiated the Church’s role in The Association. It was no small feat: Church hierarchy did not want to politicize religion. Priests would collect the ‘rents’ and organize public meetings, but not chair them. They would be local helpers, but leadership was restricted to laymen. The Association was harassed and finally banned by the government. O’Connell swiftly founded The New Catholic Association for ‘public or private charity.’ Public meetings multiplied and grew in size. O’Connell addressed as many of these gatherings as he could, suited his accent to the audience, stirred-up the crowds to sign his petitions, and organized a run on the banks. He kept the government in apprehension of a rebellion. Protestant land owners, fearing destruction of property, issued a declaration calling for immediate Catholic emancipation. In England, a Catholic Emancipation Bill which removed the Protestant loyalty oath requirement from holding most offices was passed on April 10, 1829.


Daniel O’Connell with a facsimile of his handwriting. Portrait by T. Garrick, and Engraving by O’Neill. Published by T. Farrell & Son [n.d.]

O’Connell’s next major undertaking was agitation to repeal the Act of Union. This Act dissolved the Irish Parliament and provided Irish representation in the British Parliament. To O’Connell, the restoration was not radical or revolutionary: it made sense to have two legislatures under one king. Irish Protestants saw their world sliding away. O’Connell harnessed the machine he had built in the now-disbanded Catholic Association. He called for a run on the banks, and was promptly arrested on thirty-one charges of conspiracy to evade the Act of Suppression of Dangerous Associations. O’Connell used procedural tactics to drag-out the pre-trial arrangements. In the meanwhile Westminster (he was a member of Parliament) realized that they needed O’Connell’s support in Parliament on a pending Bill. By special arrangement, his trial was postponed until the statutes under which he was prosecuted expired.

In April 1840, O’Connell founded “The National Association for Full and Prompt Justice or Repeal.” The name was quickly changed to, “The Loyal National Repeal Association.” O’Connell lobbied the Dublin Corporation (i.e. City Council) to vote for local repeal. On March 4, 1843, the Municipal Reform Act enfranchised Catholic householders of some means, and launched O’Connell on a national speaking tour. Many of its forty stops were chosen for their connection to Irish history. Huge crowds of 100,000 or more met O’Connell at some of these rallies. These ‘monster’ crowds, as the newspapers dubbed them, worried the authorities.

The government’s response to this activism was to remove O’Connell from the Magistrates Bench. The pretext used was that his Repeal meetings, while legal, still held the possibility of disorderly conduct. Several other magistrates resigned in protest. On October 7, 1843 at 3:30 p.m., the day before his last meeting was scheduled, the government declared it an unlawful assembly. O’Connell backed down, and called off the gathering. On October 14, he and eight others were arrested for conspiring to change the government through intimidation.

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The Trial of Daniel O’ Connell, M.P. Feby 1844. Drawn by H. Warren; Engraved by J. Rogers. London: J. & T. Tallis. [n.d.]

The trial was set for January 15, 1844. During jury selection every Catholic was dismissed as a potential Repealer. The result was a jury made up entirely of Protestants. O’Connell was found guilty, but released on bail pending sentencing. Since he was still a member of the House of Commons, he went to England to take his seat, and rally support. The English feted him at every turn. There were dinners in Liverpool, Birmingham, and Wolverhampton, as well as in London. On returning to Dublin, he was sentenced to one year in prison and given two substantial fines (two thousand and five thousand pounds). While he sat in Richmond Prison, an appeal based on the deficiencies of the jury list and selection of jurors, was launched in the House of Lords. The votes looked as if they would fall along party lines until Lord Chief Justice Denman threw his support for dismissal. Regarded as non-partisan, Thomas Denman believed that Law must be fair and equal for all subjects in every case. On September 4, 1844, Denman used his vote to break a tie and reverse the judgment against O’ Connell. Daniel O’Connell died in Genoa on May 15, 1847.


A Memento of the Great Public Question of Reform. Engraving, 1832

This patriotic engraving was sent gratis to subscribers of The Bell’s New Weekly Messenger. Daniel O’Connell’s importance to the Reform Movement is denoted by his position in the upper left of the picture. He shares the highest rank with three other reformers. On the upper right, wearing a full-bottomed judge’s wig, is Henry Brougham, whom we shall see again in the next corridor.


His Most Gracious Majesty, George-Augustus-Frederick, the Fourth.

At age 26 Princess Caroline became engaged to a man she had never met. She was plump, poorly educated and loved a good joke. She was an extrovert who bordered on exhibitionist. Her unreserved, unpredictable style lacked discretion, tact, and delicacy. To pair her with the fastidious future George IV of England was a disaster waiting to happen. At first sight of her, her future husband collapsed into a chair and called for a brandy.
George had chosen his future wife, Caroline, in a hurry; he needed a legal wife to ensure a substantial increase in his financial allotment from the State. He had been secretly married on December 15, 1785 to a Catholic widow, Mrs. Fitzherbert, but that union had been declared illegal and any children illegitimate. Caroline was Protestant and German (Britain was lining-up allies in the German States against France) and a first cousin. They were married in the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace on April 8, 1795. George appeared intoxicated at the ceremony.
Caroline delivered a baby girl, Charlotte Augusta, nine months later. Three days after the birth, George wrote a new will in which he left one shilling to his wife and all else to Maria Fitzherbert, “the wife of my heart and soul.” On April 30th, George wrote Caroline a letter clearing both parties of responsibility: “Our inclinations are not in our power, nor should either of us be held answerable to the other.” By May, the royal rift was in the newspapers. George, who was unpopular before the rift, was disliked even more for his heartless treatment of his wife. Caroline’s popularity soared. Finally, in 1797 Caroline moved to an address of her own. They were never to live together again.

Engraving by E. Scriven from the original plate by W. Finden after the painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence.
London: Fisher, Son & Co., 1831

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Lord Brougham. Lithograph No. 90 by the Ligony Brothers. Paris: Rosselin, [n.d.]

Caroline needed a strong ally and Henry Brougham (pronounced “Broom”) saw in Caroline an ideal weapon to use for his own political causes. Brougham was an intelligent, knowledgeable leader in Whig politics, and a strong debater. He supported anti-establishment causes such as John and Leigh Hunt, who were found guilty of libel. The Hunts had called George, “The Prince of Whales” (referring to his girth) among other less humorous epitaphs. Brougham, ever sensitive to public opinion and ways to sway it, made certain that almost every newspaper carried his defense speeches. He used the same tool in Caroline’s case.

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Box of Useful Knowledge (Caricature of Henry Brougham). London: S. Tregear, 1832

On January 14, 1813, Brougham sent a letter to the Prince Regent which Caroline signed as her own, protesting her situation. When George did not reply, he leaked it to the newspaper. It was reprinted and commented on in other papers. Broadsides and prints supporting Caroline flooded the market. George retaliated by leaking the most damaging depositions taken during the “Delicate Investigation” of 1806. Brougham leaked the depositions in favor of Caroline. Various public groups were encouraged to write letters in favor of Caroline. Caroline’s responses, written by Brougham, always expressed her faith in the good sense of the British public, and its strong sense of justice – just what the public wished to hear! As rewarding as this turn of events was for Caroline, it fatigued her. She announced that she wanted to move abroad permanently. Brougham couldn’t stop her. The Government hoped that once set free on the continent, Caroline’s conduct would provide solid grounds for divorce.

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Peer-les Examination of the R-l Works in Italy. Marks. London: H. Fores, [n.d.]

Caroline met Bartolomeo Pergami in Milan. He was sixteen years her junior, six feet three inches tall, with a full head of curly black hair and a luxurious moustache. He dressed in the uniform of the Italian Hussars. Caroline quickly hired him for her household. Some months later she hired his sister as a Lady-in-Waiting. The sister spoke no English or French and was unsophisticated. She had no skills to match the job and was given no duties. Caroline bought an estate for Pergami and the title of “Baron” as well. She promoted him to chamberlain of her household. Caroline’s English servants gave notice.
Rumors swirled and unfavorable eye-witness accounts began to arrive with regularity in England. George pressed for an investigation. Brougham, her old ally and personal Attorney-General, sent his brother, James, for a visit. He reported back: “They are to all appearances man and wife; never was anything more obvious…”

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Thomas Denman.Engraving by Wm. Walker after a Painting by E.U. Eddis. London: Walker, 1849

King George III died on January 29, 1820. Disregarding all that had transpired between herself and her husband, now George IV, Caroline expected to be made the Queen Consort. She left Italy in a fury, but halted in France to give full dramatic effect to her intention to return to England. There was much unrest in England in the early months of 1820. Although the reasons for these uprisings and riots were unrelated to the Caroline and George affair, radicals and Whig politicians rallied around her. Their “tool” was about to return! Brougham was sent to France to offer Caroline 50,000 pounds a year and all the honor due a member of the royal family, but not the title of Queen, if she agreed to remain abroad. This offer was very close to what Caroline had asked before going abroad. Egged on by the politicians, she refused. Her arrival at Dover on June 5, 1820 was greeted by crowds of well-wishers. The crowds grew rowdier as she entered London.
While all this was transpiring, the Government sent the “Green Bags,” containing all of the eye witness accounts gathered against Caroline while abroad, to each house of Parliament. The material was handed over to a committee sworn to silence. Henry Brougham and Thomas Denman gave moving speeches in favor of public display of the material. It remained secret and a “Bill of Pains and Penalties” was instituted against Caroline. In effect, such a Bill was a trial without granting the usual rights to the accused (i.e. knowledge of those who would give testimony against the accused beforehand, etc.). Caroline and her advisers seized the dramatic moment. She moved to an ordinary house, rode in an ordinary coach, walked among her supporters, spoke humbly about Justice, etc. The newspapers ran with this new pose, and she improved upon it daily. Behind this ploy to bring people to her side, she was growing impatient. She sacked Brougham who had been writing her responses, and hired the more radical William Cobbett.

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A Faithful Representation of the Trial of Her Most Gracious Majesty Caroline Queen of England in the House of Lords…London: G. Thompson, 1821

The trial opened on August 17, 1820. The streets, rooftops, and windows along Caroline’s route to the House of Lords were packed with people. Once inside, Henry Brougham, who had fallen out with Caroline but was still her lawyer, began by attacking the use of a “Bill of Pains and Penalties” instead of an outright impeachment. He brought up the possibility of recriminations against George in defense of Caroline. His oratory was well-received and repeated in the morning papers. On the eighteenth, it was Thomas Denman’s turn to build his speech on the groundwork laid by Brougham. It, too, was well-received. Over the next days the evidence was unrolled against Caroline…changing her clothes in front of Pergami, sleeping together, going about in matching costumes, buying titles for him, having a tent erected and a bed placed in it for the two of them., etc. The persons giving testimony were naturally the Italian servants who worked in her household. The radical supporters of Caroline tried to discredit these witnesses as “foreign,” “Papists,” “from the untrustworthy lower orders,” in short, un-British. It was unpatriotic to allow non-Englishmen to testify against a British Queen! Brougham himself used the argument that Italians from the time of Henry VIII were known for giving false witness. Brougham lined up a parade of English witnesses, but not all of these proved to be helpful to Caroline. Because they were British, their testimony was all the more harmful. Brougham shifted his focus to the prosecution’s methods of obtaining witnesses. Nothing conclusive could be drawn from this line of attack. Brougham tried to prove that a conspiracy existed. This line went nowhere, as well.
Meanwhile in the streets, radical politicians organized processions and public readings from groups and guilds in favor of the Queen. This made the Queen’s side appear to include everyone from every walk of life.

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Steward’s Court of the Manor of Torre Devon. [London]: G. Humphrey, 1820

On November sixth the vote in the House of Lords against the Queen was slim, and would only be weaker in the House of Commons. The Lords considered removing the divorce clause. Removal would increase the likelihood of passage. Brougham, and Denman pushed to retain it and insure the Bill’s defeat. The Government saw that it had failed and withdrew the entire Bill. The crowds in the streets saw this as a victory. There were illuminations all over the city and a solemn service of Thanksgiving in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Then, on March 3, 1821, the Queen accepted the original offer, made before the riots, parades and demonstrations, of 50,000 pounds a year for life. Immediately, Caroline lost her standing as a symbol of the oppressed, and Brougham, Denman and the Whigs dropped her.

On Coronation Day, July 19, 1821, Caroline led her own little demonstration. She was barred from Westminster Abbey, but went from door to door trying to get inside. Amid all of the pomp, she looked undignified – silly, even. Brougham and Denman were seated inside with their wives and the other dignitaries. The government spent 243,000 pounds to dignify the Crown through this ceremony and the people were enjoying the spectacle. When she gave up and drove away, there were no cheers, only a few shouts: “Go away!”

LC28 2

Legislatorial Trial of Her Majesty Caroline Amelia Elizabeth, Queen of England, Consort of George the Fourth…London: H. Rowe, 1820

LC9 329

[n.a.]. Last Moments and Death of Her Majesty Queen Caroline…4th Edition.

Caroline died on the night of August 7, 1821 after self-administered doses of magnesia and laudanum. The diagnosis was an obstruction to the bowels. The Tory administration which was in power before, during and after the trial was still in office, but those most resistant to political reform had been replaced with men no longer hostile to the public. Public Opinion, including a popular press and demonstrations by tradesmen and other groups, was established as a positive force in British politics. The political organizing of Henry Brougham, Thomas Denman and others, eventually led to the Reform Act of 1832 which extended the franchise to middle class men.

LC9 336.2

Legal Reform and No Mistake. London: C. Hodgson, [n.d.]

Henry Peter Brougham (1779-1868) was a Scotsman by birth, a lawyer by profession, a Member of Parliament, but chiefly remembered as a liberal leader, reformer, and powerful orator. In 1820, Queen Caroline, the estranged wife of George IV, found herself the subject of a Pains and Penalty Bill aimed at dissolving her marriage and stripping her of her Royal title. She hired Henry Brougham as her Attorney-General. He led a legal team, which included Thomas Denman, that eloquently defended Caroline and made Brougham one of the most famous men in the country. In 1830, he became Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain and was raised to the peerage as Baron Brougham and Vaux. During his tenure, the 1832 Reform Act and the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 were passed. Also, he became an extremely popular subject for caricature.

LC28 1.1

The Last of HIs Race. Lithograph by C. Motle. [London]: McLean, 1831

LC27 2

Jumping over the Broomstick – measter be Yorkshire too. Engraving by Wm. Heath.[London]: McLean, 1830

LC27 2