Chapter 4: Combination Acts Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Chapter 4: Combination Acts Deck (19):

What was illegal in eighteenth century Britain?

Combination in restraint of trade, or strike action. But it was a device used from time to time by tradesmen to persuade their masters to give them higher wages.


What were the forerunners of trade unions?

Tradesmen, referred to as skilled artisans or journeymen, had started to organise themselves into trade societies or clubs within their particular occupation.


How did the trade societies (forerunners of trade unions) work?

Members paid a subscription; they were part of a network that kept them in touch with the job market and they received help in sickness and unemployment. They considered themselves superior to labourers and unskilled workers, who lacked any organisation. They represented the interests of skilled artisans, dealing with employers to ensure a fair wage and aso able to protect them from unskilled workers taking their jobs.


What were friendly societies?

Similar to trade societies. They were made up of groups of workmen to provide insurance for themselves and their families against sickness, old age and death. Group of people with common interest e.g in the same trade, contributed to a mutual fund that enabled them to receive benefit in times of need.


What was the Friendly Societies Act?

1793, it gave members legal rights to hold meetings and have their funds protected. There was a narrow difference between friendly societies and combinations that friendly societies were sometimes used as a cover for organising strike action.


What was the difference between Friendly Societies and Trade Societies?

Trade Societies represented interests of the skilled artisans, dealing with employers to ensure they were paid a fair wage, whereas in Friendly Societies groups of similar workmen contributed to a mutual fund that enabled them to receive benefits in times of need.


What was one effect of Industrialisation that meant for the first time, large numbers of workers were employed in the same location, instead of in small scattered local industries?

The movement of people from small market towns, villages and farms to the expanding industrial towns of Northern England, seeking employment in factories, potteries and iron works.


What did the large groups of workers employed in the same location, instead of in scattered local industries allow?

Allowed working men a greater opportunity to exchange ideas, air and share grievances. New capitalist employers were less ikely to know the workforce personally and were more interested in making a profit than listening to grievances.


How was the trade societies power increased?

They started to adapt to the different working conditions and as a result they improved their efficiency and organisation and became less localised, bigger and more powerful.


What other society was set up alongside Trade and Friendly Societies?

Corresponding Societies. Sprung up in London and most large Industrial towns in the wake of the French Revolution in 1789.


What were Corresponding Societies meetings alive with?

Alive with talks of events in France and exciting ideas of freedom and democracy.


Who joined Corresponding Societies?

Artisans and journeymen were typical of the men who joined them.


Why did the Government make Corresponding Societies illegal?

The Government grew nervous of possible republican plots and made them illegal on the basis that they were 'unlawful combinations'.


What petition, regarding Corresponding Societies, was presented to the House of Commins in 1799?

By the master millwrights of London, complaining about strike threats by their journeymen. Legislation prohibiting workers acting 'in restraint of trade' was brought together and passed through parliament.


What was the Combination Act?

Prohibitiing workers actioning 'in restraint of trade' was bpassed through parliament, making all associations of working men illegal: Corresponding, Friendly, and Trade Societies.


What was the effects of the Combination Act of 1799?

Directed at the trade societies and outlawed the normal practice of workers gathering together to bargain for better wages and conditions. Anyone caught on suspicion of breaking the law could be dealt with by magistrates without recourse to a trial by jury.


What act was passed in parallel to the Combination Acts?

To prevent combinations of masters acting against their workforces, but there were no prosecutions so it appears the legislation was passed to give a semblance of parity (equal status) between employer and emplyee.


Were there many prosecutions of working men due to the Combinations Acts?

No. Local magistrates turned a blind eye to meetings, as long as there was no violence. Also evidenc that new trade societies were formed in spite of the law. The message, however, was clear that the establishment supported capitalist interests, rather than adopting an even handed approach.


What was pariaments reaction to the Combination Acts?

No opposition. Fox's higs who supported basic liberties also feared the new radicalism which had developed.