Political trials and the suppression of popular radicalism in England, 1799-1820
This chapter examines the decision-making process between the Home Office and the government’s law officers in prosecuting individuals for sedition and treason in the period 1799–1820. The term state trial suggests a more centralised and government-led repression of popular radicalism than the process was in practice. Provincial reformers also faced the complex layers of their local justice system, which was more loyalist, committed to stamping out political radicalism. The trial of the “Thirty Eight” Manchester radicals in June 1812 demonstrates the mutable definitions of treason, sedition and processes of justice in the theatre of the court.