The Age of George III

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Reform Clubs

In 1789 the centenary of the Glorious Revolution was being celebrated in Britain by two types of clubs: the Revolution Societies and the Reform Clubs. Both of these organisations attempted to assist the French with what was seen as France's "glorious revolution" but what actually became the French Revolution. The events in France had different effects in Britain.

Reform Clubs were established by and for artisans and craftsmen whose work was disappearing with the advent of machinery and the ending of cottage craftsmanship because of alternative forms of manufacture. The first factory had opened in 1769 and factories were becoming more common by 1789. The members of the Reform Clubs had no political power and often did not live in a town which had an MP either. For example, Manchester and Sheffield were two towns that were growing rapidly but had no parliamentary representation.

Demands for political reform had been growing among the lower orders since the 1760s

The lower orders had developed an interest in politics since 1760 and had seen the political limitations of the constitution when the country gentlemen had asked for change with the County Associations of 1779. Even this early, the beginnings of Chartism and Socialism had been planted and the lower classes were inspired by the French Revolution to organise clubs to demand radical reform of the British Constitution.

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Last modified 12 January, 2016

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