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Correspondence between Radicals John Fielden and William Fitton

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This letter, currently held privately, was exchanged between Radical reformers John Fielden and William Fitton in 1836.

John Fielden was a cotton industrialist and Radical MP for Oldham (1832-47) and was involved in Reform Bill agitation in Manchester in the 1830s and a supporter of Chartism. William Fitton, surgeon, was a Radical advocate of parliamentary reform who was indicted for seditious activity in 1819 (though not convicted).

The letter, available in full at the link below, gives an insight into Fielden and Fitton’s discussions about suitable parliamentary candidates for an upcoming general election.

View the full letter here.

A transcript of the letter is provided, courtesy of Anna Mayall:

Royton, Manchester, October 23, 1836

My Dear Sir
I now proceed to submit to your consideration this (seclifect) which I estimated to you in the concluding part of my last letter, I should (mind – deately) busy before you. Some weeks ago a new Electioneering Committee was appointed in this borough consisting principally of the members of the former committee. Three meetings of the new committee have been held at the last of which Sir William Ingleby and Mr Eagle were both mentioned as being likely (either of them) to be agreeable to you as a colleague; before any decided steps were taken (honcessee if near deamed) desirable to obtain all the information with (agreed) to (these) which could easily be had and I was specially (enpoined) to write to you with a view to discertain your opinion as to their fitness for parliamentary duties and how for such choice might be in accordance with your own feelings. Mr (Cocker) and Mr (Doubleday) have I believe been both wrote to and have both declined. He one (Mr Doubleday) on the (process) of this (bensenefs) requiring his (undivided) attention; the other on the ground of (access) of property.
The Committee have (adjourned) their meeting until Thursday 3rd November between at which time I shall regard it as a favour if you will let me have your answer. (…) I .. a proper (situation) to make it at all (present) to (stand) I certainly would do to and (their pechace) (ever) to the dilemma in which the Liberal Party are placed in their (borough)
I think as regards the above (m…) Sir Mr Ingleby and Mr Eagle, that Sir William is (first) perhaps the favourite. Let me have your opinion (freely) for reasons hardly necessary to be explained. I do not wish it to come through Oldham Post Office. Be so good as to send it to your office in Manchester and I will (cause) it to be (called) for one Saturday or Tuesday the 1st November.
When you write favours one with your thoughts on my letter of the other day are (m..) (H..) instructions neither you nor I can wish to be (weary) with respect to them and the free (interchange) of opinion can do no (harm) but may hopefully be of a little (device)
In haste
More (timely)
Mr Fitton
John Fielden Esq.
Mr (D)

On front of letter Postcode – Manchester October 25 1836
John Fielden Esq
M/ O

Further Research

On Fitton and Fielden:

Robert Poole, ‘French Revolution or Peasants’ Revolt? Petitioners and Rebels in England from the Blanketeers to the Chartists’, Labour History Review, Vol. 74, No. 1 (2009), pp. 6-26.

Michael Winstanley, ‘Oldham Radicalism and the Origins of Popular Liberalism, 1830-52’, The Historical Journal, Vol. 36, No. 3 (1993), pp. 619-43.

On Radicalism and Chartism:

Malcolm Chase, Chartism: A New History (Manchester, 2007).

Matthew Roberts, Political Movements in Urban England, 1832-1914 (Basingstoke, 2009).

View work on this subject by the Oldham Historical Research Group here.