Regency Crisis

Regency crisis 1765

April 24th King ill, asks Parl via H of Lords to consider who should be Regent.

The "country party" (Grosley) see it as a device of Lord Bute's to hold onto power via the king's mother, a likely choice of regent.

In Commons, Mr Beckford, leader of the Country Party, agues a) that a young king can be expected to live long and b) the laws already provide for his early death.

April 28th, Lord Hallifax presents to the Lords a plan, and a message from the king reserving the right to choose a regent.
April 29th The Lords ask the king to name the person he would choose.

The king was furious and dismissed Hallifax and Sandwich. Then he didn't appoint new ones.
Duke of Cumberland came to London and urged king to moderation, and to summon Pitt to join the administration.
Pitt, in retirement, was in bed with gout and refused.

A few days later, both houses passed a Regency bill that nominated the Princess Dowager of Wales, the king's mother.

King had to ask Hallifax and Sandwich to return to office pro temp. They demanded that the Duke of Northumberland be deprived of the post of Lord Lt of Ireland; Lord Bute's brother of the privy seal of Scotland; and Lord Holland of something. King/court had to agree.

At the same time, the silk weaver began an insurrection.
14th May, Grosley found Green Park covered with a multitude of both sexes. They were orderly, but were objecting to the import of cheap silk from France. Business had flourished during the war, when French silk imports were banned. He implies that the imports are stil contraband, but that merchants are carrying them anyway.
15th May, crowd on the road from London to Richmond which the king would travel to attend Parliament. They went with him, carrying a black banner. He was going to settle the matter of the Regency.

16th May, a large crowd around Parliament, perhaps because the passing of the Regency Bill indicated how much control the king and court had over Parl.
Lord Mayor came to talk to them. Coach windows broken and dirt thrown in.
Coach of the Duke of Bedford similarly abused and the traces cut.
The House of Lords sent for the JPs to read the Riot Act. They replied that the people were allowed to congregate to demand redress from Parliament.

17th May, Over 20,000 "artificers" divided into companies, with black standards and drums beating.
Some member of the HofL were deputed to assure them their complaints were being heard.
They retired, but some went into the City and plundered the houses and magazines of two merchants whose commodities consisted mainly of French silks.
They all then asembled in Bloomsbury Square and insulted Bedford House by breaking lamps and sculptures outside.

18th May, peaceful, HofL not meeting that day.

19th May, Mob attacked Bedford House. Guards and dragoons advanced. Mob didn't seem daunted.
("The house and gardens belonging to it are contiguous on the left side to a street, from which it appears to be separated only by wooden rails. The people considered the rails as the only inclosure of the house on that side, but it had a wall before it, and the ground surrounded by those rails served to shut up cattle for the duke's private use.")
The mob breached the wooden rails and saw the wall, but they still destroyed the wooden barrier.
The military were doing nothing, even though one, being unhorsed, was beaten so badly that he died.
Most of the mob dispersed.
The power of the king was required.

20th May, Lords petitioned the king to use them.
That day, king was supposed to come to prorogue Parliament. He didn't come and didn't go to St James's to hold court. However, he issued a proclamation enjoining the JPs of London, Westminster, Middlesex and Surrey to exert themselves to prevent unlawful and riotous assemblies.

21st May, distributed in the streets. Crowd thought they'd won, especially as Bute had traveled north.
Order was restored.

25th May, King to HofL and prorogued Parl, not mentioning the unrest.

4th Jun, king returned to received compliments on his birthday. Crowds gathered again, but their main purposes was to be sure none of the nobility and gentry wore French manufactures. Bute was there but ignored, but the invective continued in the papers, cartoons, and things posted around town.

June passed in negotiations between the king, Lord Temple, and Pitt about forming a stable ministry.

First half of July, their friends and supporters were called to office, and about 100 deprived. Neither Pitt nor Temple gained a post, which was seen as an example of high-mindedness.

Pitt returned to Hays, but was constantly urged to return to court to take part in deliberations mostly relating to the insurrections in America to do with the Stamp Act.

Pitt is the great man. By end of year, he has many honours. Grosley III pg 147