Sunday, November 4, 2012

Stokesley News and Cleveland Reporter

Asa Briggs - "There was no gloomier year in the nineteenth century than 1842" "Yet in November of that year George Markham Tweddell burst into print with his monthly newspaper The Stokesley News and Cleveland Reporter priced 2d." Writes Stokesley local historian Daphne Franks in her brilliant pamphlet Printing and Publishing in Stokesley - published 1984.

Here are some mast heads and pieces from George Markham Tweddell's radical Stokesley based newspaper about 1842 as supplied by Paul Tweddell from his Tweddell archives..the Stokesley News and Cleveland Reporter. The story of his newspaper and the rival newspaper can be found here .

Basically - George Markham Tweddell was apprenticed to Stokesley printer William Braithwaite at 30, The High Street (now a paper shop). Braithwaite had the reputation of supporting promising young employees and George met and became friends with John Walker Ord author of The History and Antiquities of Cleveland (1838) which was printed by William Briathwaite.

"In 1841 when 18 George sought approval from his master to set up a newspaper and his master agreed, in spite of the obviously radical tone George proposed ('to give the ordinary people of Cleveland a newspaper that would reflect their more liberal opinions rather than those of the landowning classes'). The first copy of the Cleveland News and Stokesley Reporter appeared on the 1st of November 1842 being printed on Braithwaite's presses. The newspaper supported causes such as the Anti-Cornlaw league, the abolition of slavery etc.

Unfortunately, by the time a third edition of his newspaper was being planned, representatives of the local propertied class visited Braithwaite to persuade him to stop broadcasting George's criticism of the Tory government, of which they were firm supporters. They demanded Braithwaite withdrew the use of his printing press and the licence to publish from the premises. As a result the printer dismissed George (probably on the legal grounds of "bringing his master into disrepute"). Within a month, remarkably, George had managed to acquire a new license and access to a new press (although from whom is not known) to produce the third edition on time. For George, the contents for the editorial for this edition were obvious and he castigated his former employer, claiming Braithwaite was trying to 'crush our little periodical', and that 'our printer is a good easy man, afraid that our generous principles of peace on earth and goodwill toward men should be mistaken for his own'. " Paul Tweddell

And from A Poet's View of George Markham Tweddell by Paul Tweddell and Trev Teasdel

"Between 1842 and 1845 GMT produced his radical newspaper, The Stokesley News and Cleveland Reporter, GMT reacted to the conservative backlash of his time (see the next section for details) by writing an editorial in language that echoes Shelley’s invective in the Masks of Anarchy and predates Marx’s introduction to the Communist Manifesto, 'A Spectre is Haunting Europe', by 6 years: "

The editorial ran - To Out Subscribers and the Public
Notwithstanding the base attempt to crush our little periodical, by the vilest and most ungenerous means, yet we again pay our monthly visit to our subscribers, to amuse and instruct…”

“When The Stokesley News, and Cleveland Reporter first made its appearance in the political and literary world, it was with a firm determination to lash every species of vice, with an unsparing hand; and to be the unflinching advocate of civil and religious liberty. Fearlessly to tear the mask from the sinister deeds of unprincipled legislators and trafficking politicians, of every party……

Copies of Tweddell's Stokesley News and Cleveland Reporter can be found in Teesside Archives 
This is a list of the Tweddell Archives that can be found in Teesside Archives

As a consequence the Tories set up a rival conservative paper set up in response - The Cleveland Repertory and Stokesley Advertiser

In contrast to GMT's editorial, the editorial of the rival paper Cleveland Repertory and Stokesley Advertiser of May 1843 read - 

" We are Conservatives. we would preserve the constitution of England and every part of it inviolate. We would protect it against the subtle and insidious attacks of disguised foes, shield it against open assaults of avowed and decided enemies. this who would upset, injure, deface or weaken it either by severance  deduction or by the importation of principles foreign to its nature, whatever name this might adapt - or whatever shape assume - whether they profess friendship or confess enmity - we shall treat equally as traitors."

There are pdf's of Cleveland Repertory and Stokesley Advertiser on line here in pdf form Here 
and Here2

Earlier Paper Wars in Stokesley
This war between the Conservatives and Tweddell's radical paper in 1942 / 3 mirrors an earlier conflict in Stokesely in the 1820's, originally researched and published by Labour historian Professor Malcolm Chase of Leeds University and published in The Bulletin of the Cleveland and Teesside Local History Society 1984 - No 47 pp 29-36.

Before Paul Tweddell passed away, he alerted me to an article by Alice Barrigan on the Jakesbarn site which he found quite interesting. Jakesbarn site has closed down but I understand now, from Paul's wife Sandra, that Alice is intending to reload the article to her new site here

Alice Barrigan tells us in her article Radicalism in Stokesley in the 1820's that on Monday 2 June 1822 employer Thomas Mease gave a speech at a Wesleyan Methodist Missionary meeting attacking Robert Armstrong - a radical bookseller. This began the first Stokesley Paper War (the second occurring in the 1840's when the Conservatives tried to shut down Tweddell's radical newspaper).

Under pressure Mease published his speech and commented "I was exceedingly amused, Sir, by the way in which the birth-day of Paine was lately kept in this Town,"

The principal objects embraced by their vain, but anxious wishes, it is probable, were, the subversion of Christianity and Monarchy, and the substitution of a Republican government, together with what they strangely reckon a scientific morality.  Now, to think of such a Tea-sipping assembly of pompous literati, so tenacious of the dignity of human nature, and meditating purposes so vast, is almost enough to produce a smile of contempt in pouting melancholy herself before she is aware. 

'The Missionary; or Stokesley & Cleveland Illuminator' - Armstrong
'The Extinguisher'.
The war of words between Mease and Armstrong in Stokesley was a small part of the great conflict then raging between the forces of conservatism in religion and politics and an increasingly vocal radical movement calling for political reform and open religious debate.  At this time, more than thirty years before Darwin, those who believed in the literal truth of the words of the Bible were already finding their view of the world increasingly challenged by the work of German scholars of the scriptures, developments in medicine and discoveries in geology.

Ill-feeling between the factions of freethought and religious orthodoxy may have been brewing for some time in Stokesley. 

Read more on Alice Barrigan's site 

The Stokesley News and Cleveland Reporter

Writes Daphne Franks in Printing and Publishing in Stokesley
"The first two issues were printed by that promoter of talent, GM Tweddell's employer, William Braithwaite.   Issue 1 carried a bold leading article on the Corn Laws, noting that tenants were afraid to vote for repeal because their landlords would instantly evict them. Various items from Guisborough, Hinderwell, Staithes, Linthorpe and Middlesbrough ensured a wide circulation. Activities of the Oddfellows Friendly Society throughout the area were reported by 'Brother George' who was very active in the Stokesley Lodge. Details of forthcoming cricket matches, reports of local court proceedings and the 'Muses Bower' of poetry by local authors. The Life of Donald Stuart, a Yorkshire Apothecary, (possibly Dr. Crummey of Stokesley) provided a regular series and Water and its Virtues by John Troy, author of Drunkeness appears in several installments.

(I'm not sure until I check the paper but this may be the poem by John Troy - Drunkeness)

Issue No 2 - "1842 begins with a violent attack on Government's action in the Chinese war. The writer calls it "an outrage on Humanity, our youth trained in Human Butchery, then sent abroad to try their skills on defenceless people because they have provoked the ire of  HM Government by refusing to buy and swallow a narcotic poison" (Opium), He continues, "the blood of thousands, mingled with the dust and the mangled limbs and lifeless bodies of an ignorant and deluded multitude, strew the battlefield." A footnote says that since going to press he has 'received the welcome intelligence that a cessation of hostilities has taken place". A heart-rending tale called The Recruit by Miss Elizabeth Georgina Ayre, author of Wild Flowers poems, the product of an uncultivated genius", tells of a soldier's return after many years to find parents and sweetheart dead; he too dies, of remorse."

Meanwhile George is sacked from Braithwaite's who refused to print his newspaper unless politics were excluded. George writes in the next issue (January 1843) "Our printer is a good and easy man, afraid that our generous principles of peace on earth, should be mistaken for his own".

The list of printing press Licences at North Yorkshire Records Office shows that George Tweddell was granted such a licence on January 9th 1843, enabling the January issue of Stokesley news to come from his own printing press. Bearing the message, as do all subsequent issues, "Let it be impressed upon your minds, let it be instilled into your children, that liberty of the press is the palladium of all the civil, political and religious rights of an Englishman - Junious, the 'Stokesley News embarked on a campaign to better the lot of the British Working Man!"

The progress of the Anti-Corn Law league is reported and discussed throughout the collection of  Stokesley News for 1843 / 44. These contemporary accounts of the action which eventually led to Repeal by Sir Robert Peel in 1846, although it brought his Government down, reflect the turbulent feelings of the times with their undercurrents of revolution. Another topic featured was 'Ireland and its Rulers', with Daniel O'Connor advocating Ireland for the Irish. Politics were, however, overshadowed when the potato crop failed in 1845, to be followed by the disastrous famine. The New poor Law and its workhouse system was discussed at length: The People's Charter, What are the People to do? Is it a bloody revolution, or will bold writings  true speaking and open acting prove the way?

Army floggings, which Punch had exposed earlier, were reported in Tweddell's paper. Horrific details were given of blood and flesh flying into faces of those forced to witness the punishment, causing several soldiers to faint. The account ends "Englishmen, Christians, I charge ye in the name of Him ye follow to do your utmost to destroy this most damnable law - in the cause of reform". Charles Dickens reporting the death of a soldier by brutal flogging, in his Daily News two years later helping bring about reform. A relevant poem follows by the author:

Men of England don't enlist
then the tyrants wars will cease
And freedom round the world will shine
With Mercy, peace and Love.

Van Amburgh - the Lion Tamer

On the brighter side, reports of entertainment on a grand scale, seen in Stokesley on Saturday June 17th 1843, when Van Amburgh, the distinguished American Lion Tamer, visited town with his lions, tigers and leopards. "He arrived from Northallerton at eleven O'Clock, driving a team of eight beautiful cream horses, accompanied by his own band and followed by vehicles containing the animals. A splendid marquee was erected in Mrs Wilstrop's paddock, now the site of the Stokesley Health Centre and performances given to densley crowded audiences". It was noted that the animals were very well kept. Stokesley people were not the only admirers of Van Amburgh; it seems that "the young Queen Victoria particularly enjoyed circuses and was delighted to discover that the Drury Lane pantomime of 1838 included Van Amburgh's lions. Despite an awful squint of the eye Van Amburgh grappled with the animals, threw them to the ground while they angrily roared and then lay upon them." "It's quite beautiful to see and makes me wish I could do the same." was the wistful and mind boggling comment. She returned repeatedly, seven times in six weeks to see the lions" 
(Queen Victoria story from Arthur Marshall's "I'll let you know"
Read more about Van Amburgh here
"Isaac A. Van Amburgh (1811–1865) was an American animal trainer who developed the first trained wild animal act in modern times. By introducing jungle acts into the circus, Van Amburgh paved the way for combining menageries with circuses. After that, menageries began using equestrian and clown performances in circus rings. Gradually the distinction between circus and menagerie faded. He was the first act to put his head in a lion's mouth"

Following the above mention of Queen Victoria, Daphne Franks tells us that the Stokesley news of January 1st 1844 contained a lengthy Ode to Queen Victoria by Peter Flint who Daphne Franks thought was another pen name of GM Tweddell, but Paul Tweddell wasn't convinced this was a Tweddell poem or pen name and din't include it in the Collected poems of GMT.

the poem describes Her majesty's subject's plight -

Unsheltered from the winter's gloom,
with shoeless feet our streets do tread
singing hymns for crusts of bread.....

Another poem of fifty verses, Poet to his Ladylove by Clevelandus (it can be found in volume 1 and 2 pdf file of Tweddell's poems on this site) (Clevelandus was one of Tweddell's pen names) and precedes the announcement of his marriage to Miss Elizabeth Cole at the parish church of Stokesley on December 31st 1843. George was twenty and Elizabeth 19. Elizabeth, daughter of  Thomas Cole (who strangely has two gravestones - one in each of the two Stokesley church yards!), the parish clerk, shared George's deep love of the countryside around Stokesley. Under her pen name of Florence Cleveland, she later produced her own book of dialect poems Rhymes and Sketches to illustrate the Yorkshire dialect.

An advertisement about his forthcoming new journal The Yorkshire Miscellany in July 1844 appears alongside others for Jenkins life pills, Stephen's Golden Fluid Making Ink and The Chartist's Penny Almanac.

Encouraged by the success of his newspaper  George launched his new quarterly journal - Tweddell's Yorkshire Miscellany Englishman's magazine which came from his own press in 1844."

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