Abel Heywood

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Abel Heywood (25 February 1810 – 19 August 1893) was an English publisher, radical and mayor of Manchester.

The term "Radical" during the late 18th-century and early 19th-century identified proponents of democratic reform, in what subsequently became the parliamentary Radical Movement.

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 545,500 as of 2017. It lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous built-up area, with a population of 2.7 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.


Early life

Heywood was born into a poor family in Prestwich, who moved to Manchester after Heywood's father died in 1812. Abel obtained a basic education at the Anglican Bennett Street School, and at the age of nine started work in a warehouse for 1s and 6d a week. He supplemented his energetic autodidactism by attending the Mechanics' Institute, and following a summary dismissal by his manufacturing employer set up a penny reading room in Manchester at some point in 1831. He gained the Manchester agency for The Poor Man's Guardian , and made a point of refusing to pay the stamp duty intended to suppress mass publishing, being imprisoned in 1832 for four months for refusing to pay a £48 fine. Even though subject to heavy fines repeatedly throughout the next two years (which he paid), he continued his commitment to inexpensive newspapers. [1] His bookselling business in Oldham Street was successful and continued for many years.

Prestwich town in Greater Manchester, England

Prestwich is a surburban town in the Metropolitan Borough of Bury, Greater Manchester, England, 3.3 miles (5.3 km) north of Manchester city centre, 3.1 miles (5 km) north of Salford and 4.7 miles (7.6 km) south of Bury.

The Poor Man's Guardian was a penny weekly newspaper published in London, England by Henry Hetherington from July 1831 to December 1835.

Stamp duty is a tax that is levied on documents. Historically, this included the majority of legal documents such as cheques, receipts, military commissions, marriage licences and land transactions. A physical stamp had to be attached to or impressed upon the document to denote that stamp duty had been paid before the document was legally effective. More modern versions of the tax no longer require an actual stamp.

Radicalism and Chartism

During the next two decades Heywood had an ambiguous relationship with Manchester's frenetic Radicalism and agitation. In 1828 he was involved in the protests to reform the management of the Mechanics' Institute. Run on the model of the Edinburgh School of Art, total power was given to honorary members, who paid £10 a year. The managers of the institution were then chosen by these honorary members, effectively ensuring constant middle class directorship. Anger over this and other matters such as the high annual subscription fee of £1 for ordinary members and the strict prohibition of political lectures or literature, including newspapers, eventually boiled over. A number of subscribers, including Heywood, signed a document demanding the right to be allowed to elect nine directors from their own ranks, and once this was met with an unsatisfactory compromise these protestors broke away and formed the New Mechanics' Institute, electing Rowland Detrosier president. Although it is not known for certain if Abel remained in the old Institute or joined the new one, his brother and business partner John was an important member of the new Institute's governing provisional committee. By 1834 the rebels were drawn back to the old Institute, after the flight of over one hundred members had forced them into the democratic reforms sought by the subscribers. [2]

Rowland Detrosier, also Rowley Barnes, was an English autodidact, radical politician, preacher and educator, particularly associated with Manchester.

Despite these radical leanings, Abel's business prospered and he was able to be active in public life, becoming one of the Commissioners of Police, essentially a 180 strong town council, in 1836, having responsibility for paving and sanitation. In April 1840 he was again prosecuted for his publishing, this time for a blasphemy charge. Heywood presented an affidavit in extenuation, in which he declared that as soon as he had learned that the papers were blasphemous he withdrew them from sale. Having previously received fines and imprisonment on other charges, he was permitted to change his plea from not guilty to guilty in return for a suspended sentence. [3] Pressed by the Government, the court decided to discharge him rather than press for judgment. Correspondence between Sir Charles Shaw, the Chief Commissioner of Police for Manchester, and the Home Office, have since revealed that Heywood had informed Shaw of a planned Chartist rising in Bolton on the night of 22/23 January 1840. In return, Shaw instructed the Government to pressure the court to let him off. [4]

Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a deity, or sacred objects, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable.

Brigadier-General Sir Charles Shaw was a Scottish soldier and liberal, who served in the British Army and in British volunteer forces on the constitutional side in civil wars in Portugal and Spain. He was later a pioneering police commissioner.

Chartism British democratic movement (1838-1857)

Chartism was a working-class movement for political reform in Britain that existed from 1838 to 1857. It took its name from the People's Charter of 1838 and was a national protest movement, with particular strongholds of support in Northern England, the East Midlands, the Staffordshire Potteries, the Black Country, and the South Wales Valleys. Support for the movement was at its highest in 1839, 1842, and 1848, when petitions signed by millions of working people were presented to the House of Commons. The strategy employed was to use the scale of support which these petitions and the accompanying mass meetings demonstrated to put pressure on politicians to concede manhood suffrage. Chartism thus relied on constitutional methods to secure its aims, though there were some who became involved in insurrectionary activities, notably in south Wales and in Yorkshire.

Despite this, Heywood remained an active Chartist, and his business published much of the reading material of the town's movement, including the Northern Star . He often used his wealth to bail out Chartists such as Feargus O'Connor, and in 1841 was elected treasurer of the National Charter Association, as well as sitting on the executive committee. At the same time he campaigned actively for the incorporation of the city and, once this was achieved, was elected to the council in 1843.

Feargus OConnor Irish politician

Feargus Edward O'Connor was an Irish Chartist leader and advocate of the Land Plan, which sought to provide smallholdings for the labouring classes. A highly charismatic figure, O'Connor was admired for his energy and oratory, but was criticised for alleged egotism.

Later publishing and political career as a Liberal

Heywood served as alderman in 1853 and in 1859 stood unsuccessfully as a Radical Liberal candidate for Manchester. [1] His first term as mayor was in 1862–1863, during the cotton famine, and in 1865 he stood again as a Liberal for Manchester, again unsuccessfully. He would not repeat the attempt, instead becoming mayor again in 1876–1877. A major achievement was his role in guiding Manchester Town Hall to its completion. [1]

An alderman is a member of a municipal assembly or council in many jurisdictions founded upon English law. The term may be titular, denoting a high-ranking member of a borough or county council, a council member chosen by the elected members themselves rather than by popular vote, or a council member elected by voters.

Liberal Party (UK) political party of the United Kingdom, 1859–1988

The Liberal Party was one of the two major parties in the United Kingdom with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party arose from an alliance of Whigs and free trade Peelites and Radicals favourable to the ideals of the American and French Revolutions in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone. Despite being divided over the issue of Irish Home Rule, the party returned to government in 1905 and then won a landslide victory in the following year's general election.

Manchester Town Hall municipal building in Manchester, England

Manchester Town Hall is a Victorian, Neo-gothic municipal building in Manchester, England. It is the ceremonial headquarters of Manchester City Council and houses a number of local government departments. The building faces Albert Square to the north and St Peter's Square to the south, with Manchester Cenotaph facing its southern entrance.

In 1866, Heywood noticed that working-class people were just beginning to use trains to travel for pleasure. Seeing no affordable travel guides, he began to publish a series of Penny Guides, short travel guides that covered such places as Buxton, Southport, Bath and the Isle of Wight. The first edition of A Guide to Bakewell and Haddon Hall was issued in 1893. By 1912, Heywood had about one hundred different guide pamphlets in publication. [5]

The clock bell of the Town Hall, Great Abel, is named after Heywood and weighs 8 tons 2.5 cwt. It is inscribed with the initials AH and the Tennyson line Ring out the false, ring in the true. [6] [7]

Family relationships

His wife was the widow of his predecessor Thomas Goadsby. [8] John Heywood's business was continued by his son John and was still in existence in the 1970s. Abel Heywood also had a son Abel who continued his business. His eldest daughter, Jane, married Robert Trimble in 1856. The Trimble family emigrated to Taranaki in New Zealand in 1875. [9]

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Goadsby
Mayor of Manchester
(1st term)

Succeeded by
John Marsland Bennett
Preceded by
Matthew Curtis
Mayor of Manchester
(2nd term)

Succeeded by
Charles Sydney Grundy

See also

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<i>Heywood Guides</i>

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  1. 1 2 3 Beetham (2004)
  2. Kirby, R. G. 'An Early Experiment in Workers' Self-Education: the Manchester New Mechanics' Institution, 1829–35' in D. S. L. Cardwell, Artisan to Graduate: Essays to Commemorate the Foundation in 1824 of the Manchester Mechanics' Institute (Manchester, 1974), pp. 86–98).
  3. Levy, Leonard Williams (1995). Blasphemy: Verbal Offense Against the Sacred, from Moses to Salman Rushdie. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press ISBN   0-8078-4515-9, ISBN   978-0-8078-4515-8; p. 443
  4. Frow, Edmund & Ruth, 'Heywood, Abel' in Joyce Bellamy and John Saville (eds.) Dictionary of Labour Biography, vol. VII pp. 141–144.
  5. Trutt, David. Introduction to A Guide to Bakewell and Haddon Hall . Haddon Hall Books, 2010, accessed 29 November 2010
  6. Dove, R. H. (1982) A Bellringer's Guide to the Church Bells of Britain and Ringing Peals of the World, 6th ed. Guildford: Viggers; p. 71
  7. Hayes (1996); p. 11
  8. Hayes, Cliff (1999) Manchester Faces & Places a Hundred Years Ago. Manchester: Memories; pp. 8–11 (reissue of a work first published under a different title in 1996)
  9. "Death of Colonel Trimble". Hawera & Normanby Star. XXXVII (5019). 5 September 1899. p. 2. Retrieved 30 November 2013.