Wakefield Family History Sharing


Extracts from

Walkers History of Wakefield

2nd edition 1939 (privately printed)


Members of Parliament 1832-1935


The spring of 1811 saw the rise of the Luddites and disputes arose between masters and journeymen in the weaving of stockings and lace. Rumours of impending trouble arrived in Wakefield during January 1812. These rumours led to precautions being set by authorities, manufacturers set guards over their mills and a nightly watch was established.

A mill on Alverthorpe Road owned by a Mr Clarkson had had a threatening letter sent due to the fact he had recently erected some 'mules' for spinning. April 9th saw a body of some 300 men disguised and armed proceeded by a mounted escort headed towards Wakefield. A Mill at Horbury Bridge owned by Mr Foster was attacked and two of Mr Foster's sons were threatened at pistol point to open the mill doors. The mob entered the mill and smashed the machinery. They then marched towards Wakefield and at Westgate Common were met by a large contingent of Volunteers with loaded rifles. The site of the Volunteers barring the route led the mob to disperse.

Other attacks took place leading General Maitland and Earl Fitzwilliam, Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding to form various voluntary defence associations- all ready to preserve peace. A number of Special Constables were furnished with badges of office and batons.

After much politcal discontent on the part of working-classes having no votes for Parliament, many meeting were held. Failing crops and falling wages led to even more and in 1838 the Peoples Charter drawn up, which advocated manhood sufferage, equal electoral districts, votes by ballot, abolition of property qualifications for members of Parliament, and payment of these members.

Feelings were so strong that a Jospeh Crabtree threatened that if there terms were not met a fire would be set that would not easily be put out. He was finally arrested and imprisoned in Wakefield. Wakefield saw a turbulent meeting where men produced spikes and miners-picks (openly made at Sheffield). These men were soon overcome by the Volunteers.

By 1842 trade had again declined and famine once more stared the working class in the face. Lawless gangs who toured the area. They were called 'boiler-tappers' or 'plug-drawers' and they took the 'plugs' from boilers to render them useless. Special Constables were sworn in, from over 100 local businesmen, to quell the disturbances. These men along with the volunteers were so strong and the trouble makers had little success in the area. Mr John Wood Berry, solicitor aged 31, and Special Constable, met his death during this time. While on duty he had to climb a wall and in so doing stumbled. He injured one of his arms and lock-jaw followed and he died on August 29th 1842. His funeral at St John's Church was very largely attended.

Following the national discontent many petitions were signed, 'Bills' were put before Parliament, many being thrown out. But during all the upheavel 1832 saw the 'Great Reform Bill' and Wakefield became entitled to send a Member to Parliament. The first member of Parliament for Wakefield was:

Daniel Gaskell of Lupset Hall. Elected December 1832. Re-elected January 1835.

Other Members of Parliament have been :

Hon. William Sebright Lascelles of Harewood House. July 1837

Joseph Holdsworth of Belle Vue House. July 1841, unseated on petition 1842, he was at the time of the election returning officer of the Borough and his opponent was :

Hon. William Sebright Lascelles, was elected as Member

George Sanders of Alverthorpe Hall. July 1847, re-elected July 1852

John Charlesworth Dodgson Charlesworth of Chapelthorpe Hall. March 1857

William Henry Leatham of Hemsworth Hall. April 1859, unseated on petition, July 21 1859 and the writ was suspended.

Sir J C D Hay of Glenluce. Fegruary 1862

William Henry Leatham. July 1865

Somerset A Beaumont of Bretton Hal. November 1868

Edward Green of Heath Old Hall. February 1874, unseated on petition April 24 and a new writ issued

Thomas Kemp Sanderson of South Parade. May 1874

Robert Bownas Mackie of St John's House. April 1880

Edward Green. July 2 1880, re-elected November 1885 and July 1886

Colonel Albany Hawke Charlesworth of Chapelthorpe Hall. July 1892

Viscount Milton of Wentworth Woodhouse. July 1 1895, re-elected September 1900

Edward Allen Brotherton of Roundhay Grange. March 1902, re-elected January 1906 and January 1910

A H Marshall of Leeds. December 1910

Sir E A Brotherton. December 1918

Robert Geoffrey Ellis of Netherside Hall, Grassington. November 1922

George Henry Sherwood of Wakefield. December 1923

Robert Geoffrey Ellis. October 1924

George Henry Sherwood. May 1929

George Brown Hillman of Wakefield. October 1931

Arthur Greenwood of London. April 1832, re-elected 1935


Wakefield as the civil and political centre of the West Riding had seen over the years various many uproarious scenes following 1832. To read fully the events read 'Wakefield its History and People' by J W Walker OBE FSA






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