The Home Office and Public Disturbance, c. 1800-1832
Bend, Nathan Ashley
This thesis examines the role of the Home Office in the machinery of order from c.1800-1832. It combines institutional enquiry with the study of popular protest by examining protest from the viewpoint of the Home Office. It looks at how the growth of the Home Office was stagnated due to efforts to economise, and how it transformed its systems to make them more efficient in response to peaks of administrative work caused by popular tumult. The different roles that each person performed in the Home Office is outlined, and by doing so the pivotal role of the permanent under-secretary of state, who remains underrepresented in histories of protest, is exposed. It also looks at what powers the home secretary had at his disposal, and how they were used to repress food riots, the Luddite disturbances, the movement for parliamentary reform, the Swing riots, political agitation leading to the Great Reform Act, and trade unions. It compares the different approaches of home secretaries and argues that although the use of powers was generally guided by established precedent, others such as domestic espionage were more divisive, and were influenced by the personality and experience of the home secretary. The thesis also examines the relationships between the Home Office hierarchy and government departments with authorities in the provinces. This thesis brings together all the available records which relate to the Home Office as an institution and those which relate to public disturbance. It demystifies the Home Office and its archives, presents a new analysis of Home Office powers and influence, and adds to our understanding of the way the machinery of order functioned, and the Home Office’s role within it. The thesis argues that the home secretary performed the role of overseer in the machinery of order; interjecting only when necessary when civil authorities failed to contain disturbances, or when the judiciary failed to provide a firm example. It contends that there were clear limits to state authority, contests claims of extraordinary state intervention, and argues that the state struggled to innovate to defeat the threats that the early nineteenth century presented.
MetadataShow full item record
The following license files are associated with this item: