Picture of Henry Vincent

Henry Vincent

places mentioned

May 6 to 11: Arrest, and Monmouth Gaol

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MONDAY, May 6. — Walked down to the Convention Room, Bolt Court, Fleet Street. Took part in a discussion on the necessity of issuing an address, warning the people against committing acts of violence, but at the same time to prepare, as directed by the constitution, to vindicate their common rights. The proceedings in the Convention this day, convinced me that its members are men of the right sort — men who are prepared to act with decision in the hour of peril. The petition committee (of which I am a member) was ordered to arrange with Mr. Attwood as to the time and place for receiving the National Petition. The Convention broke up at 5 o'clock. Myself and Jones, the delegate for North Wales, then took a cab and drove to the Rotten House of Commons. Mr. Attwood was not there. We then decided to drive to the Reform Club, but on our road we observed Attwood walking leisurely towards the Commons. We jumped out of the cab, and held half an hour's converse with him in the streets. He told us to bring the Petition to the house of Mr. Fielding, the next day at two o'clock, where he (Mr. Attwood) would receive it — dined at six o'clock, much fatigued. The city was much excited this night, in consequence of the Lord Mayor refusing to allow the citizens to meet in Smithfield. The meeting adjourned to Islington Green, and was numerously attended. At nine o'clock at night I walked to Golden Square, West End, and addressed a numerous meeting of the West London Ladies' Shoemakers. This society is formed of a fine body of men, who thoroughly appreciate the advantages to be derived from the possession of their political rights. Reached home at 12 o'clock, and went to bed.

TUESDAY, May 7. — Arrived at the Convention at 11 o'clock. Reported Mr. Attwood's answer to our application. Some little business was transacted, and we broke up at one o'clock to prepare to accompany the petition. Thousands of people were assembled in Fleet Street. At two o'clock the huge roll of petitions was carried out, and placed upon a large wagon, with a Union Jack at each corner. The multitude cheered vociferously. The members of the Convention (52 in number) formed in procession in the rear of the wagon, two a breast, headed by the chairman of the day, Baillie Craig, and William Lovett, the secretary. We marched up Fleet Street, the Strand, Charing Cross, Haymarket, to Mr. Fielding's house. We were loudly cheered during our progress by the congregated thousands. Mr. Attwood received the petition, and addressed the people from the window, as did also Feargus O'Connor. Myself, and Dr. Taylor were loudly called for, but we did not speak. Mr. Frost and myself took tea with our good radical friend, Arthur Dyson, Bookseller, Kingsland Road. At seven o'clock we walked to the Blackhorse Fields, and found about 7000 people assembled. Mr. Frost was called to the chair, and made one of his usually argumentative and patriotic speeches. A resolution, expressive of the people's confidence in the Convention was proposed and seconded, after which I addressed the meeting for an hour and a half, and was loudly and enthusiastically cheered. Thanks were voted to Mr. Frost with three times three cheers — three cheers were given for Vincent — the Convention — our wives, sweethearts, and ourselves, and the meeting was about to disperse, when a friend privately informed me of the resignation of the Whigs, I immediately announced it to the people, and the cheers of exultation and triumph exceeded anything I ever witnessed. I promised to address the people again on Friday night. Supped with Mr. Boggie, and walked home, in the company of Mr. Frost, at 12 o'clock. Shook hands with Mr. Frost in Lamb's Conduit Street, and bade him good night. On reaching home, I observed a stranger at the door. He prevented my entrance by shaking hands with me, saying "Ah, are you Mr. Henry Vincent". "I am" was my reply. "Late of Newport", said he. "No", I answered, "I have been in Newport". "Within ten days?" was his question. "Yes" was my answer. "Then", said he, "I Have a warrant for you". Here a slight altercation ensued between us, which ended in my saying "I will not move an inch until you produce your warrant". Keys, the Street officer, now arrived; we then proceeded to the Boot public house, the warrant was produced, and I immediately agreed to go to Bow Street Prison with them. My letters, &. were taken from me — I shook hands with my friends, kissed my little sister (poor girl, she seemed sadly terrified) sent the news to Frost, and then drove off to Bow Street as "merry as a grig". I was in a cursedly uncomfortable cell, without a bed. Mr. Keys was kind enough to lend me a pair of blankets. I spread them on a wooden bench — sung the "Democrat Bold" and the "Marselloise Hymn" by way of amusing myself — and then lay down, and slept soundly.

WEDNESDAY May 8. — Woke at ten o'clock. Spent the day in my cell. At seven o'clock left, HANDCUFFED to Mr. Homan, in a cab. Drove about four miles along the Bath road, and there halted, waiting for the Gloucester Mail, in which we were both booked. The Mail rode by us without pulling up; thus we were compelled to return again to London, and I was taken back again to my infernal Bow Street cell. My handcuffs taken off, and I again laid upon my hard board bed, fell asleep and dreamt about the destruction of the accursed Aristocratic principles of our government, and the certain triumph of our principles.

THURSDAY, May 9. — Spent the day in singing Radical songs. At seven in the evening were again handcuffed, and removed in a cab to the Crescent, Regent- street, where we got into the Mail, and off we started. My handcuffs were taken off about 50 miles from London.

FRIDAY, May 10. — Breakfasted in Gloucester, then passed on through Monmouth to Ragland. Left the Mail, and took a post-chaise for Newport. Arrived in Newport at three o'clock. The people loudly cheered me. I was taken up into the large room of the King's Head, where, to my surprise, I found friends Townsend, Dickenson, and Edwards, who had been arrested that morning. Several fights took place in the streets between the people and the specials, AND THE SPECIALS WOULD HAVE BEEN CUT UP LIKE MINCED MEAT IF THE CHARTIST LEADERS HAD NOT ORDERED THE PEOPLE TO KEEP THE PEACE. I listened to the depositions; suffice to say THEY ARE ALL FULL OF LIES, MISTATEMENTS, AND FLAWS! The fool Phillips (the fellow who is Mayor, or more properly speaking ass), said, we be bound over to appear at the assizes — myself in ONE THOUSAND POUNDS, and to be of good behaviour to our Liege Lady for twelve months . Of course I did not give bail, neither did my friends, and at eleven o'clock we arrived safe in Monmouth gaol. Thanks be to God, Frost returned to Newport. The Devils who sent us here would have rued that night , had he not appeased the outraged feelings of our brave Chartist friends. Retired to bed, and slept very soundly.

SATURDAY, May 11. — Spent the day very comfortably singing radical songs to each other. Applied to the magistrates for pens ink and paper; it being lawful for us to have them, of course they were speedily sent. Wrote to Newport for copies of the depositions taken against us. To my friends I would say, we shall be glad to receive newspapers, books, tea, coffee, sugar, or any thing else, addressed to Mr. Henry Vincent, "County Gaol, Monmouth, Monmouthshire". I wish to have papers every week from every town where this paper circulates, and I wish my friends to help me all they can, by extending the sale of the Vindicator . Long live the People.

Henry Vincent, 'Life and Rambles', in the Western Vindicator , no.13 (18th May 1839), p.1

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