Scope and Content

Petitions and letters by and concerning convicts, to Lord Sidmouth, Secretaryof State for the Home Department.

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Addington, Viscount Sidmouth 1757-1844

British Tory politician, prime minister 1801-04. Addington was the son of aphysician. He was Home Secretary 1812-1822. During this time he had theresponsibility of dealing with social unrest in Britain. This included makingmachine-breaking an offence punishable by death. On one day alone, fourteenLuddites were executed in York. Social unrest continued and in 1817, Sidmouthwas responsible for the passing of what became known as the Gagging Acts.These measures banned meetings of over fifty people and instructedmagistrates to arrest everyone suspected of spreading seditious libel.

This resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of radical journalists such asRichard Carlile (1790-1843).

Addington was created Viscount in 1805. He entered Parliament in 1784 and in1789, through the sponsorship of the statesman William Pitt (1759-1806), andbecame speaker of the House of Commons. He subscribed to Pitts policies inthe French wars, and when Pitt resigned because of George III's refusal toapprove Catholic Emancipation, Addington became (1801) prime minister. Thechief event of his administration was the Treaty of Amiens (1802) withNapoleon I. On the renewal of war, his ministry yielded (1804) to Pitt.


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