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In defense of privilege: the city of London and the challenge of municipal reform, 1875-1890.

In March 1986, Prime Minister Thatcher eliminated the Greater London Council, successor to the London County Council, successor to the Metropolitan Board of Works.(1) Unlike the City Fathers, the rulers of the Greater London Council, as well as the rulers of the London County Council and their predecessors of the Metropolitan Board of Works, had failed to cloak their governing body with the mystical aura of costume, ritual, symbolism, and ceremony. As The Times observed in 1881, "the City [Corporation of London] is sacred although nothing else is. The vestries may disappear without finding any one to say a word for them. The Metropolitan Board of Works ... has no prescriptive rights."(2) Hence few people protested when each board and the vestries were abolished. Without a |protective robe' with which to guard itself from future reformers, neither the London County Council nor the Greater London Council was rendered immune to the test of time, as was the City. To this day, one can witness the Lord Mayor's coach roll through the streets of London on Lord Mayor's Day.

This article will chart the evolution of one particular public ceremony, the annual Lord Mayor's Show of London, throughout the course of the nineteenth century, with emphasis on the period 1875-1890. I argue that a close study of this annual event, as well as other public relations-oriented activities staged at that time by the City Corporation of London, is fundamental to any understanding of the remarkable survival of an anachronistic body in an age of popular democracy. During the period 1875-90, the City's traditional civic elites, threatened by the emergence of electoral democracy on the national level and the rising tide of municipal socialism and democratic reformers at the local level, consciously and continually employed ceremony and ritual (as well as new, or |invented' traditions) for defensive political purposes. As a City Corporation Handbook of Ceremonials observed, public ceremonies "are not idle forms or shows put on merely for entertainment. They embody and make visible rights and privileges."(3) The authors might have added that ceremonies make such "rights and privileges" more acceptable, too. Whereas the English monarchy had opted to trade power for pomp, so to speak, the City of London chose to employ pomp in the defense of power. We shall see that this was instrumental in ensuring the survival of the City's independence to this day.

The 1875 Lord Mayor's Show was the first to witness any significant "novelties," as The Times put it, in twenty years. Moreover, the Show that year was the first professionally staged(4) and blatantly political Show to appear in almost a century, as members of the City paraded through the streets displaying banners extolling the good deeds of the City - theretofore an unnecessary thing.(5) 1875 was also a year of considerable agitation for municipal reform, with Kay-Shuttleworth and Lord Elcho's attempt to pass a bill which would have merged the City into a new central London government. Was this merely a coincidence? The next year J.F.B. Firth, future leader of the London Municipal Reform League and most outspoken of the burgeoning numbers of municipal reformers, wrote his Municipal London; or, London Government as it is and London under a Municipal Council(6) and stepped up his attack on the City. Furthermore, what was the significance of the decision not to terminate the customary introduction of the Lord Mayor to the Judges of the Court of Exchequer at Westminster when the passing of the Judicature Act earlier that year had rendered that traditional rite meaningless?(7) Why had the two concerned parties concluded "after due consideration ... that the ancient custom should be in no way interfered with"?(8) Why, despite the fact that the Act had "altered the entire state of things," had the Lord Mayor "desire[d] to retain the ancient connection of the City with Her Majesty's Judges?"(9) Throughout this essay, it will be argued that such conscious decisions to introduce novel or |invented' traditions to traditional City ceremonies or to retain obsolete, meaningless rites and rituals signify a calculated attempt to use the past to justify the present in order not to face the future.

City Government

London, the City Press proudly proclaimed in 1860, is "the greatest, grandest, and wealthiest city in the world, only equalled by Rome, when she was in her glory, [and] governed by those worthy citizens who, in themselves, constitute the Corporation of the City of London."(10) This fierce pride was not without foundation. In 1215, King John granted to the Barons of London, by charter, the right to annually |elect' a mayor, and one hundred more royal charters were granted to the City during the next seven centuries. Here was no figure-head: during the nineteenth century the Lord Mayor was one of the most visible, powerful and privileged men in England, with jurisdictional rights and economic privileges surpassed only by the monarch. Head of his own little police force and law court,(11) he controlled the prices in the important City markets (including all those markets falling within a seven mile radius from the City center), and exacted metage(12) dues on grain and coal within a twenty mile radius, allowing him to extend City influence to the majority of the greater London population.

Before they could enjoy the "whole twelvemonth of more than royal gorgeousness before [them],"(13) Lord Mayors-elect had to be approved by the Sovereign, and it was the Lord Mayor's journey to Westminster for this annual formality that evolved into the Lord Mayor's Show by the mid-fourteenth century.(14) Between 1425 and 1856 the procession travelled on the Thames to Westminster but when the City lost its control of the Thames the Show in its entirety passed through the streets of London.(15) From the late-eighteenth century to 1870, "the Lord Mayor's Show was a mere shadow of the old elaborate shows of the 16th and 17th centuries."(16)

During the nineteenth century, government of the City of London was shared between an upper court of twenty-six Aldermen - one for each ward - elected for life, and a lower Court of Common Council, elected annually by rated householders.(17) Each September two candidates for the Lord Mayorship (almost invariably Aldermen) were nominated by the Common Council and chosen by the Aldermen, with the most senior Alderman usually elected, by rote. The number of people indirectly involved in the various procedures to elect the Lord Mayor never surpassed 12,000, yet the City extended its influence over the entire metropolis. Although the City did give representation to the freemen(18) of the City, and after 1867 to all ten pound ratepayers, it was desperately in need of reform going into the 1870s.(19) Between 1866 and 1881 only 59 of the 416 Common Council elections (14%) in the wards were contested.(20)

Legally secured from challenge from without the City boundaries, the Corporation, David Owen has written, seemed oblivious to public duty, content to stage expensive dinners, administer property, and exploit Londoners who lived outside the City through the regulation of markets, coal dues and grain metages. "The world had not changed basically for the City, and it was therefore content to perpetuate a scheme of things that had become largely outmoded." The City expected its special status "to remain undisturbed forever."(21) An outgoing Lord Mayor, Alderman Besley, expressed at the swearing in ceremony in 1870, with a hint of humor, what was to be expected of his successor: "a man who could most emphatically say |No,' and who could occasionally append a certain adjective to it."(22)

The city that gave birth to Parliament, J. F. B. Firth liked to point out, had been left out of the great local government reforms of 1835, as reformers chose to postpone the day when the problem of how to govern such a huge, diverse metropolis would be solved.(23) The multiplicity of local authorities hindered municipal reform. As The Economist observed in 1884, "the capital defect of the present system is its chaotic confusion of overlapping areas, conflicting jurisdictions, and co-ordinate authorities."(24) Attempts at reform had always broken down in the face of vested interests. The inner square mile, or the City of London, which was becoming less and less representative of a burgeoning population and a sprawling city, had continually and jealously guarded its centuries-old form of government by lord mayor and corporation. Indeed, the City was the greatest single obstacle to a unified, democratic London government.(25) To such reformers as A. S. Aryton, James Beal, J. S. Mill, and J. F. B. Firth, the City seemed "like some prehistoric monster which had mysteriously survived into the modern world.(26)

In 1851, the population of the City was 130,000. By 1889, the figure had decreased to approximately 27,000, as offices displaced housing. Nevertheless, an area with a population of 27,000 was affecting a population of over 4.5 million during the 1880s through its control of markets, coal taxes, and metage dues.(27) In 1880 the City collected no less than 487,968 [pounds] in coal and wine duties and 23,325 [pounds] in grain duties.(28) The City's total revenues in 1880 were [1.6] [pounds] million - every penny of it free from independent audit. As for the City's notoriously extravagant dinners, in 1882 27,576 [pounds] was spent for a banquet for a Royal Prince from the Continent.(29) In 1876 the Prince of Wales had been worthy of a lesser sum: 26,802 [pounds]. In fact, the Livery Companies spent the princely sum of 100,000 [pounds] per year of an 800,000 [pounds] budget on "entertainments," mostly in the form of extravagant feasts.(30) These abuses, coupled with the City's market monopolies and coal duties were what so offended the ascetism and religion of free-trade of middle-class reformers, sometimes blinding them to the real good that the City did from time to time.(31) Control of City markets and the coal taxes hurt suburbanites, who paid more dearly for food and coal as a result yet saw no improvements in their neck of the woods, but above all they hurt the poor. Although the City was forced to channel the proceeds from coal dues into public improvements starting in 1862, they were channelled into City improvements.

Administrative changes were effected from above, not below, and from 1855 to 1888 most inter-parish or inter-borough affairs were administered by the Metropolitan Board of Works, established in 1855 by the Metropolis Local Management Act. The Board was not a democratic instrument, but rather an organization elected indirectly by vestry or district boards.(32) The most advanced city in the world was thus denied, even after the |reforms' of 1855, the common organization and public participation of the average English borough.(33) London, and especially the City, defied the Victorian notion of "the march of improvement": "institutionally and spiritually," the City was at variance with the times.(34)

By the early 1870s, then, the City government had come to resemble "an enclave of traditional and chaotic institutions," a "whole host of highly-paying sinecures" and customary practices that bore little relevance to the political and social realities of the late Victorian period.(35)

"The path to reform led through the thickets of popular discontent," Asa Briggs has written.(36) During the mid-1870s and early 1880s, there emerged numerous powerful reformist groups - the London Municipal Reform League, the London Social Democratic Federation, the Municipal Reform Association, and the Fabian Society being the most famous. Cries for reform issued forth from Conservatives, Liberals, Fabians, and Socialists alike (and even the odd City functionary). Dissatisfaction with the City government was perhaps best articulated at the 1886 Guildhall Banquet, by Lord Coleridge:

My lord [mayor], we in the suburbs look on you in the City with eyes sometimes, perhaps, of envy.... We hear in the far distance of cities of oriental magnificence, of splendid feasts, of noble and illustrious guests.... We hear of a large revenue, of a coal tax imposed by James I, and Charles II, and now levied on a huge area with a diameter of 40 miles, and some feel that it would be desirable that all these things, properly accorded to the City when the City was London, should be to some extent shared by that larger and greater London. That sooner or later the City will be fused and merged in the greater London, no one who reads the signs of the times ... can for a moment doubt ... I will venture to make a suggestion to you, that in this matter the City should itself take the initiative.(37)

The City continued in its intransigence. Fearful of being subsumed under the proposed single, democratically elected metropolitan government, and unwilling to assume the lead of such a government, as many reformers suggested so as not to alarm the City Fathers,(38) the City simply would not accept the need for change. Instead, it would choose to challenge the reformers on their own turf by appealing to the public, albeit not through the ballot.

Economic and social unrest led to further political demands, and stirred fear in the City throughout the 1880s. The events of |Bloody Monday,' February 8, 1886, led to a 2600% increase in the Lord Mayor's Relief Fund.(39) Perhaps it is not a coincidence, therefore, that the same years witnessed the reemergence of the Lord Mayor's Show, a dazzling civic procession steeped in ritual and pageantry, as an event of |legitimation' - an event whose purpose it was to legitimize the status quo by attempting to identify the public's interests with those of the City of London. By using the past to justify and establish historical continuity with the present, the City hoped to fend off calls for reform and to ensure the survival of an anachronistic institution. If, during the crucial years 1875-90, the City could not convince reformers, and, as the 1880s drew to a close, many Liberal and even some Tory M.P.'s, of the necessity of leaving the City intact, it would launch a popularity campaign aimed at the mass of the |flag-waving, monarch-worshipping' London populace.

At the annual Guildhall Banquet in 1870 the Lord Chief Baron, in addressing the new Lord Mayor, warned that "the day of change had arrived; and he earnestly hoped the change would be for the good."(40) The governing elite of the City possessed few such men as the Lord Chief Baron. On the whole, those who really held the reins of power - the Lord Mayors and Aldermen - stubbornly clung to their privileges and refused to acknowledge the need for reform. Throughout history, the incidence of elites having voluntarily renounced their privileges and powers is indeed negligible, and the civic elites of the City of London were no exceptions. The following speech, this time enunciated by a different Lord Chief Baron five years later, urged the City to permit an investigation of its actions:

I believe the latest scheme which has been announced to you and which deserves your consideration, is an amalgamation with the many millions by whom you are surrounded, and who constitute the inhabitants of the entire metropolis. To you, my Lord, and to your Corporation, be assured that amalgamation means spoilation, dissolution, or, perhaps, extinction. It is in vain that you point to your magnificent and bountiful charities ... to the vast and splendid improvements you have effected in our streets and buildings.... To you, my Lord, it is fit I should say that you are to be arraigned at the bar of public opinion before the Legislature and put upon trial whenever the Parliament shall reassemble and your accusers can be heard. But your defense is clear and plain, truthful and conclusive.(41)

The Lord Chief Baron was wrong on three counts. Firstly, the City was ever suspicious of public inquiries into its affairs, and would never agree, unless forced, to participate in a public hearing regarding municipal reform. The finances of the City were still the sole affair of the Guildhall, and the City had no intention of changing this. Second, and most importantly, the City's "defense" was neither "clear and plain" nor "truthful and conclusive." This is precisely why it would not submit to such a proposal. Third, and of most interest to us, is the Lord Chief Baron's telling remark concerning the City's attempts to trumpet its benevolence, magnificence and public achievements earlier that day in the procession. Yet, here again, he was wrong, for it was those very tactics which ultimately ensured the survival of the City once reform came in 1889, with the establishment of the London County Council.

The Shows

The decline of the Lord Mayor's Show was obvious by the late eighteenth century. In 1790, the The Times observed: "This festival has, for many years, been gradually losing its former splendour."(42) A French nobleman visiting London in 1785 judged the Show to be "infinitely below those exhibited by several of the second class cities in Europe ... as not to bear even a comparison."(43) To his "chagrin, and disappointment," the Lord Mayor marched through the streets "not attended by the troops of the nation, nor even by the militia of which he has the command; but surrounded by a mob of the very dross and scum of the creation."(44) A contemporary, Cornelius Webbe, ridiculed the Show in his memoirs in 1845, noting that it was by no means a popular event and usually provided drunken men an excuse to raise hell. "It passes away like the mockery and not majesty of greatness."(45) Firmly entrenched in power, confident City magnates felt no need to outflank critics, for prior to the 1870s, critics were relatively few.(46) Indeed, so great was the "world-wide power" and sway of the City of London in the mid-Victorian period, that it "was as discreetly veiled from public view as the legs of mid-Victorian pianos."(47)

The 1850 Lord Mayor's Show was the singular exception to this rule, marking as it did "an auspicious dawn of the great Exhibition of 1851."(48) Early in 1850 the Lord Mayor received a public letter from a man named Geoffrey Godwin entitled "Suggestions for the Improvement of the Lord Mayor's Show." Godwin advised the Lord Mayor that "some little invention and taste might be exercised upon it, in lieu of repeating year after year the same dull and effete routine."(49) The advice was well taken, and the Show incorporated the Great Exhibition of 1851 theme. It contained many novel features, as animals symbolic of every quarter of the world to have been touched by the British Empire and by the City itself were paraded through the streets of London. A pageant "bearing attributes of industry, the beehive, and agricultural implements," and a car conducted by two pages with laurel branches, "bearing attributes of commerce - a ship in full sail over a globe," were the most favorably received attractions.(50) Significantly, the glory and power of the British Navy and Empire were married to the greatness and uniqueness of the City of London, as the City's Civic Shield, Sword of Justice and Mace were displayed alongside a Royal Standard and a Union Jack. But there were no banners extolling the good deeds of the City, as there would be twenty-five years later, for the City was not under attack from reformers eager to amalgamate the City into a centrally administered and democratically elected metropolitan government. Twenty-five years later, moreover, the advice of an outsider was not needed; the City would launch a public relations campaign on its own accord.

The 1850s and 1860s were years of assured confidence in the City. On the national level, the mid-century spirit of buoyant confidence, best exemplified by the Great Exhibition, called for elaborate displays of pageantry and ceremony. The extravagant Lord Mayor's Show of 1850, however, was far different in nature from those staged from the mid-1870s onward. Pomp and pageantry reflected exuberant times, not a sense of impending doom.(51) The City was merely sharing in the glory of the nation as a whole. It is not surprising, therefore, that the 1851 Lord Mayor's Show scarcely resembled that of the previous year, for there was no sense of continual threat felt in the ancient City, as there would be twenty years later. In 1851, it was business as usual on the ninth of November.

Only three years after the magnificent 1850 Show, the Weekly Times concluded that the

Lord Mayor's Day may safely be left to itself and to the growing sense of the people of London [that] the whole thing will die a natural death, or be consigned to a desuetude, the natural result of indifference.(52)

In 1867 a contemporary nostalgic for the elaborate Shows of the Elizabethan era he had read about waxed eloquent: "Dismiss'd into the limbo of past glory, The Lord Mayor's show will live now but in story."(53) That same year the Illustrated London News mourned the "absence of the men in armour," the "watermen hearing the banners of the various City guilds," and the "disappearance of the Lord Mayor's state coach from the civic pageant of the ninth of November, and the curtailment of the procession from the Guildhall to Westminster of its customary proportions."(54) Prior to its revival in the 1870s, the Illustrated London News usually did not pay much attention to the annual Show, but on this occasion the editors felt compelled to speak out. The City Fathers, however, did not feel compelled to listen. There was no urgent reason to do so.

The first notable manifestation of the new anxiety can be traced to the 1875 Lord Mayor's Show, which marked the beginning of a new era in terms of civic ritual and ceremony in London. Henceforth, the Show (and most other City public ceremonies and functions) would be increasingly used for defensive political purposes.

"One of the most conspicuous and attractive features" in the Show was "the revival of the men in armour, who for nearly 20 years had been conspicuous in their absence on such occasions."(55) Six knights in full armor were "resuscitated for the occasion" in order to please the spectators and to identify the City with a glorious, mystical past upon which most, save the dogmatic socialist, could agree.

Preparations for the 1876 Lord Mayor's Show, The Times noted a couple days before the event, "are proceeding on a grand scale."(56) The banquet at Guildhall, too, was to be an unprecedented display of City grandeur. Invitations were sent to all the Cabinet Ministers, including Disraeli, and he, as well as most of his colleagues, accepted. The "ancient hall [was] being specially decorated" for the affair,(57) designed as it was to impress upon the powers that be of Westminster, or those who would ultimately vote on nation-wide local government reform, the uniqueness and magnificence of the City.

That year, those who witnessed the Show were treated to yet another novelty, which was well received by the public: the introduction of the |circus element,' in the form of thirteen elephants.(58) The elephant, of course, represented the cornerstone of the British Empire, India, and the camel from Egypt was introduced a few years later. Thus the glory of the British Empire could be associated with that of the City, as camels and elephants paraded side by side with pageants representing the great history of the City and evidence of the City's good deeds - donations to charities and hospitals, open spaces such as Epping Forest set aside for bourgeois recreation - inscribed on huge silk banners.(59)

In 1877, the City decided to extend the length of the procession so as to expose its great works to more Londoners.(60) The most "picturesque, novel, and certainly the most popular part" of the 1878 Show was the cohort of two hundred boys of the training ship Exmouth. The "gallant little fellows, in their sailors dress," carried a huge banner with the motto "England's Glory and Chief Support," eliciting the greatest popular enthusiasm.(61) Triumphal arches were erected at each end of London Bridge and the bells of ten churches along the route of the procession were set ringing.(62) In the eighteenth century Lord Mayors had done everything within their power to avoid popular participation in the annual procession; now two hundred little sailor boys joined in.

In 1881, "perhaps the largest crowds ever" lined the streets of London to witness the increasingly extravagant and popular civic ceremony.(63) This trend continued throughout the 1880s, and, to a lesser extent, right up to the First World War,(64) as more and more novelties were introduced and the "popular element" became ever more present, and, in turn, ever more popular.(65) So popular, indeed, that people from all parts of England flocked to see the Show during the 1880s. In 1882 the The Times referred to the Lord Mayor's Show as "the far most imposing pageant which is ever seen in England" each year.(66) In 1884 the City, monitoring the public's reception of the Show, declared that it "gains in popularity year by year."(67)

Of course it was no coincidence that the Show was becoming more and more popular - it was the result of calculated City planning. The City Fathers were also determined that the country's dignitaries and MPs would be impressed with the fruits of their hard work. In 1881 the guest list to the Guildhall Banquet was increased by one-third. Depending upon the political climate and the degree to which the City seemed threatened by reform, the City had "deemed right from time to time to increase the number of distinguished guests" to the Guildhall Banquet."(68) In 1884, when the City felt most threatened with reform, the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs' Committee decided that all the guests to the annual Guildhall Banquet which followed the procession would be forbidden to bring their servants, as the servants took up space which could be better filled by dignitaries and MPs. More tables and seats were added "so as to seat the greatest possible number of persons."(69)

1884: The Crucial Year

1884 was, of course, the year Sir William Harcourt introduced his London Government Bill, and it was no coincidence that the City determined that the Lord Mayor's Show would he the single most magnificent and politically-charged Show to be staged to that date. The Lord Mayor, G. S. Nottage, admitted as much: "The purpose of this year's Show," he wrote in a pamphlet in 1884,

is to bring before the minds of the public some of the glorious traditions of our ancient city - to show how, from time almost immemorial, the Corporation has been both loyal to the Crown and true to the People.(70)

The City was aware that it had entered "a critical period in the history of the Corporation,"(71) and it was not alone in fearing that the Lord Mayor-elect in 1884, Lord Mayor Fowler, might be the last. The Daily News shared this concern, as did many other journals. The City Press wavered between apocalyptic warnings and buoyant predictions:

We have been frequently admonished ... that ... the glorious "pomp and circumstance" of the Ninth is doomed to be improved away by sweeping measures of "Reform." But threatened men live long, and the Last Lord Mayor's Show will not be yet. Indeed, the spectacle of next Monday promises to exceed in magnitude and splendour any similar exhibition of recent years.(72)

And the City was determined that this would be so. It was now monitoring how newspapers, journals, and the public at large received the Show.(73) Indeed, the minutes of the committee responsible for organizing the annual Show, the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs' Committee, reveal that in the period prior to 1876, the City was less anxious about the upcoming Shows, paid less meticulous attention to detail, and was less concerned with how the Show would be received by the public. It was only in the mid-1870s that the committee began to meet a few days after the Show to evaluate its success,(74) and in the mid-1880s the City began monitoring press coverage of the Show. The 1886 Lord Mayor's Show cost 4,101, [pounds] the cost of the Show from 1875 to 1890 averaged between 2000 [pounds] and 4000 [pounds]. In the 1860s the City spent between 400 [pounds] and 800 [pounds] per Show and in 1923 only 812 [pounds] was spent.(75) Many satirical papers, such as Punch and Moonshine, suggested that the few thousand pounds the City spent staging the annual festivities would be better spent on the poor,(76) but to the City it was a wise investment in the future.

The City had every reason to be anxious during the 1880s. Beginning in 1880, the City became considerably more concerned with the possibility of reform, as Gladstone and the Liberals triumphed at the polls. This was reflected in a shift in political allegiance during the general election. Anticipating the election results, City voters elected three of a possible four Conservative MPs. By 1884, the Municipal Reform League had over 1,000 members in its General Council, 19 local committees, and over 120 members in the Commons and 11 in the Lords. Firth himself was an MP. His goal, he said to the Commons upon the second reading of the 1884 London Government Bill, was simple: "to give to the four million inhabitants of the Metropolitan area a proper control over their own Municipal administration and expenditure."(77) His single-municipality plan, adopted with a few modifications by Harcourt, would have eliminated many City jobs forever, including the Aldermen and most of the Common Councillors, and would have deprived the City of control over its numerous estates. Harcourt would have abolished the Metropolitan Board of Works and the Vestries and retained a democratized Lord Mayor's office. His bill would have extended its influence and prestige to the entire metropolis. The City and all other areas of London would have been represented in a 240-member Common Council.

The City, of course, had not always chosen to employ pomp and ceremony in defense of its powers. Many shady deals were cut. The City Remembrancer's operating principle, he boasted, was to "oppose every bill which would interfere with the rights and privileges enjoyed by the Corporation."(78) As soon as the government pledged itself to reform in 1882 the Common Council set up a Special Committee to counter its plans. The City was not about to take Harcourt's threat lying down, and countered by trying to gamer enough signatures for a petition against the Bill. Some 20,000 signatures were collected, but it is impossible to distinguish between genuine ones and those that had been bought, as many had been. The committee circulated some fifty polemical pamphlets in London and spent at least 19,500 [pounds] between 1882 and 1885 opposing Harcourt's bill.(79) Firth accused the City of "importing" people from the south of London and paying them to create opposition at public meetings in support of the Bill, and his charges were confirmed by a Select Committee investigation in 1887. Apparently the City had had a secret slush fund for such expenses for some time.(80)

The City, in fact, had had a highly paid staff that made a career out of opposing reform proposals, dating from the earliest attempts at reform, in 1835.(81) The City had successfully opposed Lord John Russell's bill in 1837, a Police Bill in 1839 which would have created a uniform London Police force, Lord Grey's City Reform Bill in 1856, as well as various bills in 1858, 1859, 1863, 1867, 1868, 1869, 1870, and 1875 which would have affected the City's privileges in one way or another.(82) But the 1884 bill was the most serious threat thus far to the City. Not surprisingly, the Common Council rejected it overwhelmingly,(83) calling it a threat to the great traditions of local self-government that had distinguished England from the Continent. The City seems to have believed that the various, diverse reformers were united by two ambitions: greed, and a quest for "self-aggrandizement."(84) The City was not above launching personal attacks against Firth and Harcourt. Harcourt's "deluded dupes," the City wrote, were merely interested in getting their hands on the City's enormous wealth.(85)

In the end, Harcourt's bill ran out of time in the 1884 Parliament, and was not reintroduced by the new Conservative government the next year. The Select Committee on London Corporation determined in 1887 that the City had paid opposition groups to stall the bill, mislead Parliament, and establish an "Anti-One-Municipality League."(86) But, then, both sides had packed each others' meetings, the difference being that the City was capable of bankrolling many more agitators than the Municipal Reform League, and was more experienced at doing so.

As for the extravagant Lord Mayor's Show of 1884, the most original and significant innovation was the introduction of what The Times called the "historical element." Two knights carried a banner bearing the inscription, "The Charter, A.D. 1067 the first charter granted to the Barons of London]." A car drawn by four horses displayed a facsimile of the original charter in a gold box, guarded by "citizens," their swords drawn. There followed a banner reminding all those present that the City had sent forty ships to defeat the Spanish Armada.(87) The most prominent banner read: "London would not be London without the Lord Mayor's Show."(88) The implication, of course, was that London would not be London without the City - and an unreformed City, at that, heir to the glorious civic and national past that was being paraded through the streets of London for perhaps two million people to see.

The City Fathers must have learned an important lesson from the 1884 Show, which, according to The Times, yielded "to none of its predecessors either in the effectiveness of its arrangements or in the evidences of the popular interest that they called forth,"(89) because the historical element would thereafter dominate the Lord Mayor's Show, particularly in the years up to 1889, and right up to the First World War. Indeed, the City fathers did plan to learn from future Shows, for the Lord Mayor-elect and the Sheriffs had met six weeks before the event and resolved that the Lord Mayor and Sheriff's Committee would preserve all documents and records of the preparations for all future Shows and Banquets.(90)

As for the popularity of the Show, here is how the press recorded the events: The Times observed that "no one can have watched the reception accorded to Monday's pageant without feeling that a large class of less superior persons are interested in its maintenance."(91) The Standard understood the City's tactics:

It was impossible to witness the procession and the undiminished enthusiasm with which it was everywhere greeted ... without feeling something more of a suspicion that the end of all this was a long way off yet, and that an amount of public feeling was enlisted on the side of the old civic constitution which would not be very readily overcome.(92)

The Daily Telegraph understood the City's tactics as well:

The new Chief Magistrate seemed determined to convince his fellow citizens that it was no moribund municipality which organized the Lord Mayor's procession of 1884.... Nothing could have been better conceived, better organized ... than yesterday's procession.(93)

And the St. James Gazette praised the City's performance, noting that the Show had rendered the City "secure in the affections of the populace."(94)

By 1885 the Municipal Reform League had all but collapsed. This was due to both the weakness of the League itself and its inability to gamer support for its cause. While impossible to quantify, the City's public relations campaign had rendered it, like the monarchy, immensely popular among working people, even if it was not in their interest to support the City. The campaign for and against the bill, John Davis concludes, "demonstrated how easily a pressure group with genuine but limited support could be defeated by an interest with ... practically unlimited resources." The disparity of resources "made it a battle that the [Municipal Reform] League was bound to lose."(95)

But the |City problem' was by no means over, and the City, aware of this, only stepped up its public relations campaign from 1885 to 1889. Symbolically, H.M. Hyndman's Social Democratic Federation had made plans to march behind the Lord Mayor's entourage during the 1886 Show, but abandoned its plans for this "procession of the unemployed" after the chief of the City's police force issued stern public warnings.(96) For Hyndman and many others in London, the City had come to symbolize all that was corrupt and anachronistic in English politics and society.

1889: The City Triumphant

According to the The Times, the Illustrated London News, the New York Herald, and the City Press, the 1889 Lord Mayor's Show, marking the seven hundredth anniversary of the City, was perhaps the most spectacular pageant ever witnessed in England to that time, save, of course, Victoria's 1887 Golden Jubilee. Never before had such professional planning gone into a Lord Mayor's Show. The Lord Mayor-elect had promised the City Press that "the show shall be of even greater splendour than that which has characterised the pageants that former kings of the City have provided for the benefit of the London public," and he delivered on his promise.(97) Lewis Wingfield, once a professional stage master, was hired to organize the event, and he recorded his experience in an article which appeared in the New Review.(98) Wingfield wrote of his instructions to "invent" a "new style of pageant," one of unprecedented splendor and public appeal:(99)

I might and must introduce new features, but must respect custom. The magnates must and would exhibit themselves as heretofore in furry dressing-gowns and tall hats to an admiring public. Evidently it would not do to lunge with irreverent blade at civic privilege, however stupid and absurd.(100)

The Illustrated London News drew marvelous illustrations of the 1889 Show, which convey the magnitude of the event. Seven cars, each representing a different epoch in the City's history, and impersonations of Lord Mayors past in their ancient costumes, one representing each of the seven centuries of the Mayoralty, were the most popular attraction.(101) Other novel features included a "Queen of Beauty," chosen by the public(102) and all sorts of "groups illustrating the sports and pastimes of old England."(103)

An American reporter observed in 1889 that "the Lord Mayor's Show has in a certain sense degenerated" into a political event. "It is now largely got up for the glorification of the Lord Mayor himself."(104) Regrettably, "the glory" of the Lord Mayor's Show had given way to "straining for artistic effect." This did not, however, put off the crowds of people who lined the streets, climbed atop lamp posts, rooftops, and even church spires, to see the Show. The New York Herald estimated that 2.5 million people witnessed the 1889 show.(105) A chief inspector of police was quoted as saying he "never saw anything like half the number of people at the annual procession before" - and he had been to 21 shows in the past. "So eager and so excited were the people ... there was scarcely room for the vehicles to pass." One man covered his house, which lay along the route of the procession, with bunting, and a sign which read:

God Save the Queen, and Bless the City King.(106)

An occasion of such grandeur and magnificence, the City Fathers reasoned, warranted an equally magnificent medal to commemorate it. On one side of the coin it read: "The Powers That Be Are Ordained By God."(107) Rays of sunshine emanating from the Royal Crown and shining forth on St. Paul's, Westminster, the Temple Bar, and the Lord Mayor's Mansion House married the greatness of England's most beloved institutions to the City. The implications were clear: to attack the City was to attack England itself.

Public Relations

The City's public relations campaign, of course, was not limited to public processions on Cheapside and Fleet Street. Not surprisingly, it is not difficult to detect efforts on the part of the City to guard its ancient rights and privileges from reform through media other than parades and public announcements. During the 1880s the City glorified the special role and ancient rights of the City through the issuance of "medals ... to commemorate important municipal events."(108) Between 1830 and 1893 twenty-five medals were struck. Between 1837 and 1862 a mere three medals were struck; seven were struck between 1863-1880. Eight medals, or one third the total, were struck during the 1880s alone.(109)

The 1880s, in fact, witnessed the transformation of not only the Lord Mayor's Show, but of his public function as well. The Lord Mayor's traditional role as charity-giver was increasingly stressed in City publications. The City's 1882 Handbook of Ceremonials, for instance, drew far more attention to the fact that the Lord Mayor was a dispenser of charity than the 1848 Handbook did. Of course neither Handbook made reference to the City's ruthless policy of pushing the poor out of its jurisdiction through the clearing of poorer areas to make way for new streets, many of which were of little functional importance. The primary goal was to reduce the City's poor rates.(110) This policy continued throughout the 1860s, and it was not until 1883 that the City established a housing committee. In 1885 the City appointed a commission to "enquire into the causes of permanent distress in London," and even this was provoked by the unprecedented social unrest and unemployment that characterized London in the 1880s. The fundamental issue at stake, the Lord Mayor-elect in 1880 said at the Guildhall, was that the various institutions of the City must be respected "by all classes of the community. "[111]

The Lord Mayor's office was becoming more and more like the British monarchy, as Lord Mayors opened parks, dedicated buildings, visited poorhouses, and received more foreign diplomats and dignitaries than had been customary. Every possible public occasion was used to promote the City's interests, as the City Fathers adapted to the new rules of the political game. In 1879, for example, the Lord Mayor-elect provided roast beef and plum pudding to the inmates of the City of London prison at his own expense, and by the mid-1880s, the City had established an annual "Lord Mayor's Day Banquet to the Poor."(112) "The realization that the housing question" in the early 1880s "could be used to promote municipal reform" threatening to the City's interests, John Davis writes, "led the Lord Mayor to convene a conference of housing philanthropists and Conservative philanthropists" in 1883.(113) The threat of reformers allying with the working classes on this issue impelled the city to act. Out of such cynical political considerations emerged the Mansion House Council on the Dwellings of the Poor.

Hardly a partial observer, the Daily News praised Lord Mayor Fowler (ruled 1884 and 1886) for the skill with which he led the City's public relations campaign: "He has shown something of the originality of genius in devising occasions and selecting guests for his banquets" and other civic occasions, the paper observed.(114) The City's political organ, the City Press, noted that under Fowler the Guildhall and Mansion House had been "the centre of almost unparalleled activity," as the City invited civic groups to hold their meetings in City buildings.(115) Fowler, an MP, also defended the City's interests in Parliament and even at non-City functions. A few days after Harcourt's Bill was introduced in Parliament, Fowler was asked to open the Port of London Sanitary Committee's new hospital at Gravesend. More than a few were shocked when he turned the occasion into a defense of the City.(116)

Given the increasing importance of public opinion, attention was paid not only to what was said or done in the City's interest, but to how it was said and done. Beginning in the mid-1870s, Lord Mayors seemed to have been adhering to Bagehot's maxim: "To be a symbol, and an effective symbol, you must be vividly and often seen."(117) Oligarchy, in short, was given a positive public face.

It was also given a positive face in private. Between 1870 and 1890 (the year after the Local Government Act went into effect), the City published a lavish, gilted, forty to sixty page-long program on the occasion of the Guildhall Banquet which contained a new and special section drawing attention to the historical uniqueness of the Guildhall.(118) The City reminded all the MPs and dignitaries at the Banquets that the trial and condemnation of Lady Jane Grey as well as the members of the Gunpowder Plot had taken place at the Guildhall. The task was to convince MPs that the City had larger purposes and benefits:

Although erected chiefly for the various purposes incident to the municipal system of government which London has always enjoyed, it has in the process of ages, been the scene of events of far wider interest and more general importance ... here have been considered and suggested remedies for great social evils, and here have been promoted the general interests of humanity and philanthropy.(119)

The City was of course more securely entrenched in power in 1890 than in 1870, and the pamplet was no doubt expensive to produce. A slim, 5-10 page program was now distributed to the guests at the Banquet, the City evidently no longer feeling the need to remind its guests of the Guildhall's connections to "humanity and philanthropy."

The invitation cards to the Guildhall Banquet of 1888 were chosen, a City memo reveals, to portray "events from the last seven centuries of civic life as being typical of national as welt as civic progress."(120) Depictions of the "civilizing arts" - the railway, telegraph, electric light - were present on the card, even if their connection with the City was by no means clear. The cards were also graced by the inevitable reminder that the City had sent thirty [sic] ships and 10,000 men to defeat the Spanish Armada. Finally, one section portrayed Victoria opening Epping Forest to the public, an act which, according to the City,"show[ed] that the Crown and Corporation are in this generation, as in others, in harmony with the movements of the age."(121)

In fact, I. G. Doolittle writes, the real motive behind the City's decision to battle for eleven years to reclaim and preserve Epping Forest (1871-1882) was that "the project had the added advantage of providing a thoroughly acceptable pretext for extending the life-time of the controversial metage dues."(121) "Here was a chance," writes David Owen, "to prolong the ancient dues on grain, which, surely, no reasonable man could object to if the proceeds were to be used for such an estimable object as saving Epping Forest."(123) An 1872 bill had commuted metage dues for thirty years to the preservation of the forest. While the total cost of acquiring the forest was 240,000, [pounds] the City reaped the benefits of the prolongation of the metage dues. Since City finances were (and are) so difficult to decipher, it is impossible to ascertain the exact sum that was actually collected, but surely it was greater than 240,000. [pounds] any case, the City was not committed enough to ever contemplate dipping into its capital to save the forest. As a contemporary noted, the City Fathers,

with a keen eye, to their advantage, perceived that great popularity might be achieved by fighting for the interest of the public in a case of such importance and magnitude, and were the more inclined to embark on it, at a time when the separate exclusive rights of the Corporation were threatened by the general demand for a single Municipal Government of London.(124)

When Epping Forest was opened to the public in 1882, the press sang the notes of praise. It was a public relations coup. At the time, few realized that it was not the City that had paid for the forest, but anyone and everyone who had ever bought imported grain.

It would be unfair, however, to harp on the cynical motives for the City's public improvements, for much good was done. On the occasion of the 1887 Lord Mayor's Show (and months before the passing of the Local Government Act) the City published a handsomely gilted pamphlet of propaganda containing a 35 page-long section entitled "Fifty Years of Progress in the City."(125) The book began: "Augustus found Rome built of brick and left it of marble. Certainly the metamorphosis of the City of London during the last half-century is not less remarkable."(126) The City lauded its improvements, especially its new sewers, the Holborn Valley improvements, and its schools and charitable works. In 1882 a new City of London School, which served some 400 boys, was opened at the cost of 26,000 [pounds] and in 1886 the City donated 5,060 [pounds] to charity. As for the expensive Holborn Viaduct project (1,500,000 [pounds] between 1863 and 1869), and contemporaries' charges that the City had been most concerned with clearing out the poor, the City admitted as much: "There were some small and objectionable thoroughfares close to Farringdon Street (among them being the notorious Field Lane, long the haunt of thieves) which it was very desirable to |improve away'"(127) The City claimed it had spent 10,000,000 [pounds] on improvements in the last fifty years. The truth was that this sum had been spent in the last one hundred and fifteen years. Nevertheless, the City did have an impressive record in some areas, particularly education. Some 500,000 [pounds] was spent on the City of London School and the Freeman's Orphan School between 1835 and 1882.(128) This was a record the City could be justly proud of, even if much of the revenues used to fund these schools had been extracted from the rest of the metropolis through City taxes and duties in the first place.

The City's main concern throughout the century, however, was not with preserving forests or with educating children, but rather with ensuring the survival of institutions which stood in stark opposition to the spirit of the times. John Reynolds, writing in the National Review in 1886, criticized restrictive, secretive "close corporations" - specifically, municipal corporations such as the City of London and the Inns of the Court - and would not be satisfied until the "full light of day [shone] upon their proceedings." Many agreed with Reynolds that the municipal corporations were "absolutely out of harmony with the spirit of the age."(129) So, as times changed, so too did the nature of the Show and other public relations activities. In 1881, The Times called attention to the changing nature of the annual procession:

If there is no incongruity between "the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor in his state carriage drawn by six horses, and attended by his chaplain, swordbearer, and macebearer," on the one hand, and four steam fire engines drawn by four horses on the other, between the representatives of ancient guilds and the crew of a modem training-ship, the explanation is to be found in the continuous history of a corporation which links the institutions of today with the very beginnings of our national civilization.(130)

This telling observation best explains the staying power of the City. By identifying the City with "the very beginnings of national civilization," City Fathers ensured its survival well into the age of popular electoral democracy. Not just the Lord Mayor and his entourage paraded through the streets each ninth of November beginning in the mid-1870s, but hundreds of common people - poor children, young sailors, Queens of Beauty, working men; thus creating the illusory sense of common interest among what were in reality very diverse and opposed social groups.

Yet, as the work of Eric Hobsbawm and David Cannadine demonstrates, the case of the City of London was by no means unique when seen in the general European context. Hobsbawm has drawn attention to a pan-European phenomenon traceable to the period 1870-1914 which he has called the |invention of tradition.'(131) Invented traditions can be defined as |new,' or consciously formulated rites and rituals which are offered up as |traditional' ones. They usually consist of responses to novel situations which take the form of reference to old situations. In an age of rapid change, the "preservation of anachronism" became both possible and necessary. A number of factors conduced to this end: "meticulous planning, popular enthusiasm, widespread reporting and unprecedented splendour were successfully allied." (131) And the City saw to it that the press would report the things it desired to see in print, often |feeding' the press announcements as to the details of the upcoming Show, or the location and time of its staged anti-reform meetings in 1884.


The City of London, armed with an illustrious and unparalleled past, constructed its own little civic religion, steeped its corporation in ritual and pageantry, and rediscovered fancy costumes and dress from times gone by with which to embellish its members. "Glory and greatness, wealth and power, could be symbolically shared by the poor through royalty and its rituals," Hobsbawm has written.(133) The Lord Mayor of London could (and did) perform the same role, if on a smaller scale. Indeed, as the The Times noted in 1886, "the streets were thronged with persons of all classes," to share in the pomp and ceremony of the immensely popular Lord Mayor's Show.(134)

The City was ultimately successful. But no amount of ceremony or |invented' tradition could forestall the inevitable - the advent of democratic municipal government in greater London. A democratically elected London County Council was set up in 1889. Finally, years after similar reforms had provided for the direct election of municipal authorities in the provinces, direct election of 118 councillors allowed for public participation in London affairs. Not surprisingly, however, the City Corporation, with most of its archaic civic trappings, survived intact. C. T. Ritchie's Local Government Bill of 1888 dealt "gingerly" with the City.(135) There was much indignation over the City's being "degraded" to the status of an ordinary borough, and the loss of the City's metage rights was a clear victory for the reformers, but the City was not destroyed; City institutions were largely left untouched, as Ritchie chose to build around them. The City of London, Firth and Edgar Simpson noted, "takes its place as an electoral division, and is not seriously affected by the Act."(136) The 1888 Act, Davis concludes, "saw the first step in the separation of the |Corporation problem from the |metropolitan problem,'" thereby reducing the City's vulnerability in the future.(137) The City could finally relax. The central theme of Lord Mayor's Shows in the 1890s was not the benevolence of the City, but the Imperial theme, as the local government problem had been solved, at least where the City was concerned.

The apogee of City power, confidence, and influence was perhaps reached by the early 1870s. Thereafter, it became more and more difficult for the City to justify its immense wealth, secretive finances and operations, and the indirect, if not closed, nature of its government. And it was precisely in this context that the City, jealous of its ancient privileges and determined to resist the push for municipal democracy to the bitter end, chose to forge a theretofore unnecessary emotional bond with the populace of London in the hope that in a new age of popular politics, a popular institution, no matter how anachronistic, might survive the movement for reform. Genuine efforts were made at public improvement, but there was an inverse relationship between the actual amount of improvements and, owing to the City's calculated publicity campaign, the publicity and praise they received.

In the end, what proved decisive was the fact that by the end of the 1880s, when the municipal reform issue came to a head, more Londoners (and MPs) felt a certain attachment to and nostalgia for the City, even if it was an anachronistic institution, than viewed it simply as a problem. And no amount of preaching about the need to abolish the "medieval" City, even if grounded in plain common would convince people (except, of course, the reformers themselves) of the need to rid London of the City Corporation. The London County Council and the Greater London Council have come and gone, while the City has survived.

"Pomp and pageantry," a writer in the late 1940s wrote rather nostalgically, "[acted] as a splendid robe to clothe a unique municipality."(138) In the period 1875-1890, "pomp and pageantry" were employed as a protective "robe" with which to guard the City from change, or that Victorian obsession so feared in the City - improvement. City Fathers shared with the Illustrated London News the hope that the City would not be "improved off the face of the earth," and acted accordingly.(139) Their efforts, the advice of the Lord Chief Baron in 1875 to the contrary, did not go unrewarded, and most certainly were not "in vain"(140)


Thanks to David Cannadine, Istvan Deak, Michael Hanagan, Rachel Hanson, and Peter Stearns for their help. The author accepts responsibility for any errors. [1.] See "Margaret Thatcher's Ten Years," The Economist, 29 Apr. 1989, pp. 19-22. For the Metropolitan Board of Works and the LCC, see John Davis's excellent study, Reforming London: The London Government Problem, 1855-1900 (Oxford, 1988). [2.] The Times, 31 Oct. 1881, p. 9. [3.] Corporation of London, Ceremonials of the Corporation of London, ed. Raymond Smith (London, 1962), p. vii. [4.] On the national level, we can first detect professionally staged and consciously monitored ceremonials in 1877, the year Victoria was made Empress of India. See David Cannadine, "The Context, Performance and Meaning of Ritual: The British Monarchy and the |lnvention of Tradition,'c. 1820-1977," in Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds. The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983), pp. 101-64. [5.] The Times, 10 Nov. 1875, p.9. [6.] Firth's book received warm praise, found on the rear cover, from many leading journals, including the Westminster Review, Fraser's Magazine, Pall Mall Gazette, Lloyd's Weekly News, The Standard, The Spectator, and the Daily News. [7.] The Times, 10 Nov. 1875, pp. 9-10. [8.] Ibid., p. 9. [9.] Corporation of London Records Office (hereafter CLRO), City Remembrancer, Lord Mayor's Day Books, 1881, Lord Chief Justice to the Lord Mayor, 21 Oct. 1881. See also CLRO LMD/Misc/6, "Lord Mayor's Day: Misc., Procession." [10.] T. C. Noble, The Lord mayor of London: A Sketch of the Origin, History and Antiquity of the Office, reprinted from the City Press (London, 1860), p. 9. [11.] T Girtin, The Lord Mayor of London (London, 1948), p. 8. [12.] The term "metage" means the "right to levy charges for the measurement of corn" (grains) and other foodstuffs imported from sea. See David Owen, et al., The Government of Victorian London, 1855-1889: The Metropolitan Board of Works, the Vestries, and the City Corporation (Cambridge, Mass., 1982), p. 228; and Gareth Stedman Jones, Outcast London: A Study in the Relationship between Social Classes in Victorian Society (Harmondsworth, 1984), p. 20, n. 5. [13.] The Times leader, 10 Nov. 1879. [14.] Noble, The Lord Mayor of London, p. 57. For earlier Lord Mayor's Shows see Frederick W. Fairholt, Lord Mayor's Pageants, 2 vols. (London, 1843 and 1844); Eden Fisher & Co., A Short History of the Lord Mayor's Pageants (London, 1896); Richard Withington, English Pageantry: An Historical Outline, v. 2 (Cambridge, Mass., 1920, and New York, 1963); A. J. Glasspool, The Corporation of London: Its Ceremonies and Importance (London, 1924); David M. Bergeron, English Civic Pageantry, 1558-1642 (London, 1971); L. J. Morrissey, "English Pageant Wagons," Eighteenth-Century Studies 9 (Spring 1976): 353-74; Gary Stuart de Krey, A Fractured Society: The Politics of London in the First Age of Party, 1688-1715 (Oxford, 1985), esp. pp. 58-59; and Benjamin Klein, "|Between the Bums and the Bellies of the Multitude': Civic Pageantry and the Problem of the Audience in Late Stuart London," The London Journal 17 (1992): 18-26. [15.] Corporation of London, The Corporation of London: Its Origin, Constitution, Powers and Duties (London, 1950), p. 17. [16.] CLRO, LMD/Misc/3,"The Lord Mayor's Procession and Banquet," Public Relations Office, n.d. (1950s?), p. 1. [17.] Davis, Reforming London, p. 51. [18.] The City's "freedom" was a privilege transmitted by inheritance, purchase, or through an apprenticeship. It was required for participation in City government, and was expensive to obtain. For a concise explanation of City ranks, see I.G. Doolittle, The City of London and its Livery Companies (London, 1982), Glossary, pp. 169-70. [19.] Owen, The Government of Victorian London, p. 227. [20.] Davis, Reforming London, p. 54. [21.] Owen, The Government of Victorian London, p. 226. [22.] The Times, 9 Nov. 1870, p. 5. [23.] See Asa Briggs, Victorian Cities (Harmondsworth, 1963), ch. 8. [24.] The Economist, 20 Sept. 1884, p. 1134. See also Cornhill Magazine (Jan. 1879) pp. 41-60. [25.] Owen, The Government of Victorian London, p. 226; Doolittle, The City of London and its Livery Companies, pp. 81, 87. [26.] Owen, The Government of Victorian London, p. 227. [27.] Ibid. [28.] J. F. B. Firth, London Government and How to Reform It (London, 1882), p. 21. [29.] Firth, London Government and How to Reform It, p.28. See also the Royal Commission on the City of London Livery Companies, 1884, p. 76. [30.] Davis, Reforming London, pp. 52-53. [31.] Ibid., p. 56. [32.] Owen, The Government of Victorian London, pp. 226-59. [33.] Briggs, Victorian Cities, pp. 322-23. [34.] Owen, The Government of Victorian London, p. 235. [35.] Ibid., p. 226. [36.] Briggs, Victorian Cities, p. 331. [37.] The Times, 10 Nov. 1886, p. 6. [38.] See, for example, London Municipal Reform League, A Practical Scheme of London Municipal Reform, pamphlet #1 (London, 1881), pp. 9-10, and the reformer James Beal's proposals, in Doolittle, The City of London and its Livery Companies, pp. 76-77, 81-82. [39.] Calculated from Briggs, Victorian Cities, p. 329. [40.] The Times, summary of Guildhall speeches, 10 Nov. 1870, p. 3. [41.] Ibid., 10 Nov. 1875, p. 9., emphasis added. [42.] Ibid., 10 Nov. 1790, p. 2. [43.] Universal Register (The Times), 11 Nov. 1785, p. 1. [44.] Ibid. It should be noted that the"mob" surrounding the Lord Mayor was not directly, or officially, participating in the events. [45.] Glances at City Life and Suburb (London, 1845), p. 229. [46.] The City was investigated in 1837 and in 1854 but nothing became of it. The best discussions of London life and politics in the period before 1875-1890, including some reference to the City and the Lord Mayor's Show, can be found in de Krey, A Fractured Society, John Stevenson, ed. London in the Age of Reform (Oxford, 1977), George Rude, Hanoverian London, 1714-1808 (London, 1971), Francis Sheppard, London, 1808-1870: The Infernal Wen (London, 1971), Owen, The Government of Victorian London, pp. 234-41, and Davis, Reforming London. [47.] David Thomson, England in the Nineteenth Century (Harmondsworth, 1950), p. 10. [48.] The Times, 11 Nov. 1850, p. 6. [49.] Geoffrey Godwin, Suggestions for the Improvement of the Lord Mayor's Show (London, 1850), p. 1. [50.] The Times, 11 Nov. 1850, p. 7; Illustrated London News, 9 Nov. 1850. [51.] Richard Withington, in his 1920 study, English Pageantry: An Historical Outline, provides brief descriptions of some nineteenth-century Shows (pp. 114-28), particularly the 1850 Show, but they are almost entirely devoid of political analysis, nor does he seem to have been aware of the connections between civic pageantry and municipal politics. [52.] Weekly Times, 13 Nov. 1853, p. 721. [53.] William Henry Harrison, Prologue and Epilogue to the Lord Mayor's Show of 1867 (London, 1867), epilogue. [54.] Illustrated London News, 16 Nov. 1867. The Times, too, noted the decline of the Show (10 Nov. 1868). [55.] CLRO LMD/Misc/5/558A, Lord Mayor and Sheriffs' Committee, Minutes, 9 Oct. 1879, 17 Oct. 1876. The Epping Forest banner was introduced in 1875. See also The Times, 10 Nov. 1875, p. 9. [56.] The Times, 7 Nov. 1876, p. 5. [57.] Ibid. See also CLRO LMD/Misc/5/558A, Lord Mayor and Sheriffs' Committee, Minutes, 17 Oct. 1876. [58.] The Times, 13 Nov. 1876, p. 6. [59.] Ibid., 10 Nov. 1876, p. 7. [60.] Ibid., 10 Nov. 1877, p. 9. [61.] Ibid., 11 Nov. 1878, p. 10. [62.] CLRO LMD/Misc/5/558A, Lord Mayor and Sheriffs' Committee, Minutes, 29 Oct. 1878. The Epping Forest banner was displayed for the fourth year in a row. [63.] The Times, 10 Nov. 1881, p. 6. [64.] The Imperial theme was a common one from the mid-1890s onwards. The 1902 Show, for instance, had as its theme the "rise of the British navy." CLRO LMD/Misc/6, "Themes of Pageants." [65.] The Times, 10 Nov. 1882, p. 8; City Press, 12 Nov. 1884, p. 2. [66.] The Times, leader, 9 Nov. 1882. [67.] City Press, 12 Nov. 1884, p. 2. [68.] CLRO, LMD/1/5, "Draft Report to the Rt. Hon. Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen," 1866," (also in LMD/Misc/1). [69.] CLRO 558 E-H, Lord Mayor and Sheriffs' Committee, 27 Oct. 1884, in City Remembrancer, Lord Mayor's Day Books, 1884. [70.] Quoted in Withington, English Pageantry. p.122. [71.] City Press, 5 Nov. 1884, p. 3. [72.] Ibid., 8 Nov. 1884, p. 3. [73.] Ibid., 8 Nov. 1884, pp. 3-5; 12 Nov. 1884, p. 4; and 15 Nov. 1884, p. 3. The City monitored a dozen newspapers and reported on their portrayal of the annual event and the City. In the 1880s a new section appeared in the City Press entitled "Opinions of the Press." [74.] CLRO LMD/Misc/5/558A, Lord Mayor and Sheriffs' Committee, Minutes. The minutes of the 1860s were compared with those of 1876-1890, when the meetings were longer, and began six weeks before the Show (as opposed to two or three weeks before). [75.] CLRO Misc. Mss. 311.7, Lord Mayor and Sheriffs' Committee, Minutes, 1886; LMD/Misc/6, "Cost of Processions and Pageants." Official costs of Shows were reported in the Common Council Minutes. [76.] As reported by the City Press, 8 Nov. 1884, p. 3. [77.] J. F. B. Firth, Justice to the people of London. Reform of London Government (Speech on 2nd reading of London Government Bill, 3 July 1884, to House of Commons). (London, 1885), p. 5. [78.] Firth, London Government and How to Reform It, p. 23; Owen, The Government of Victorian London, p. 236. [79.] See Owen, The Government of Victorian London, pp. 256-58. [80.] Firth, Justice to the People of London, pp. 25-26. [81.] London Municipal Reform League, A Practical Scheme of London Municipal Reform, p.6. [82.] Ibid., p. 6. The most detailed account of the City's obstructionist tactics is Firth, London Government and How to Reform It. [83.] Guildhall Library (London). Common Council Minutes, 18 Apt. 1884. [84.] See the City Press, 11 Feb. 1888. [85.] Ibid., 9 July 1884, p. 4. [86.] House of Commons, Report from the Select Committee on London Corporation (Charges of Malversation), (London, 1887). [87.] The Times, 21 Oct. 1884, p. 4. [88.] Ibid., 11 Nov. 1884, p. 5. This banner was displayed until 1889. [89.] Ibid., leader, 11 Nov. 1884. [90.] CLRO 558 E-H, City Remembrancer, Lord Mayor's Day Books, 1884, Remembrancer's Office memo, 29 Sept. 1884. [91.] Quoted in the City Press, 12 Nov. 1884, p. 4. [92.] Quoted in the City Press, 15 Nov. 1884, p. 3. [93.] Ibid. [94.] Ibid. [95.] Davis, Reforming London, p, 87, p. 85. [96.] The Times, 10 Nov. 1886, p. 6. [97.] City Press, quoted in The Times, 2 Oct. 1889, p. 5. [98.] Lewis Wingfield, "How I Directed A Lord Mayor's Show," New Review 7 (December 1889): 645-55. [99.] Ibid., p. 645, emphasis added. [100.] Ibid., pp. 645-46. [101.] 9 and 16 Nov. 1889; The Times, 11 Nov. 1889, p. 10. [102.] Illustrated London News, 16 Nov. 1889. [103.] The Times, 11 Nov. 1889, p. 10. [104.] "Lively Lord Mayor Shows," New York Herald (London edition), 3 Nov. 1889 (clipping found in CLRO 558 E-H, City Remembrancer, Lord Mayor's Day Books, 1889). [105.] Ibid., 10 Nov. 1889. [106.] Ibid, p. 1. [107.] Corporation of London, Numismata Londinensia: Medals Struck by the Corporation of London to Commemorate Important Municipal Events (London, 1894), plate XII. [108.] Taken from the subtitle of Numismata Londinensia. [109.] All calculations derived from Numismata Londinensia. [110.] Stedman Jones, Outcast London, pp. 159-78, esp. 168-70. [111.] The Times, 10 Nov. 1880, p. 6. [112.] Ibid., 8 Nov. 1879, p. 6 and 30 Oct. 1895, p. 6. [113.] Davis, Reforming London, p. 91. For a contrasting view of the Mansion House Council see Gertrude Himmelfarb, Poverty and Compassion: The Moral Imagination of the Late Victorians (New York, 1991), pp. 44-46. [114.] The Daily News, quoted in the City Press, 5 Nov. 1884, p. 3. [115.] Ibid., 5 Nov. 1884, p. 3. [116.] Ibid. [117.] Walter Bagehot, "The Monarchy and the People," The Economist, 22 July 1871. [118.] CLRO 558 E-H, City Remembrancer. Lord Mayor's Day Books, 1868-1890; 557 LMD/2, "Lord Mayor's Day, 1887-1917;" and 557 LMD/1/8. [119.] CLRO 558 E-H, City Remembrancer, Lord Mayor's Day Books, 1884, Guildhall Banquet Programme. [120.] CLRO 557/LMD/2/1, "Description of Ornamental Card, 1888." [121.] Ibid. In the text preceeding note no. 87, I wrote that the city sent forty ships. This discrepancy originates in the sources themselves, and is not a typographical error. [122.] Doolittle, The City of London and its Livery Companies, p. 86. [123.] Owen, The Government of Victorian London, p. 248. [124.] George Shaw-Lefevre, founder of the Commons Preservation Society, quoted in Owen, The Government of Victorian London, p. 247. [125.] This booklet, entitled Lord Mayor's Day, 9th Nov. 1887, can be found in the CLRO, in the 1887 Lord Mayor's Day Book, compiled by the City Remembrancer. [126.] Ibid., p. 9. [127.] Ibid., p. 34. [128.] Owen, The Government of Victorian London, p. 251. Owen, English Philanthropy, 1660-1960 (Cambridge, Mass., 1964), pp. 276-98. [129.] National Review 8 (Dec. 1886): 561-62. [130.] The Times, 9 Nov. 1881, p. 9., emphasis added. [131.] Eric Hobsbawm, "Introduction: Inventing Traditions," and "Mass-Producing Traditions: Europe, 1870-1914," in Hobsbawm and Ranger, eds. The Invention of Tradition, pp. 1-14 and 263-307. [132.] Cannadine, "The Context, Performance and Meaning of Ritual," p. 122, p. 134. [133.] Hobsbawm, "Mass-Producing Traditions," p. 283. [134.] The Times, Nov. 1886, p. 6. [135.] See Owen, The Government of Victorian London, p. 259. [136.] J. F. B. Firth and E. R. Simpson, London Government under the Local Government Act, 1888 (London, 1888), pp. 1-3. [137.] Davis, Reforming London, p. 108. [138.] Girtin, The Lord Mayor of London, p. 72. [139.] Illustrated London News, 16 Nov. 1867. [140.] See the text before note no. 41.
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Author:Smith, Timothy B.
Publication:Journal of Social History
Date:Sep 22, 1993
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