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Seditious Meetings Act

Seditious Meetings Act, 1795. In the autumn of 1795 high bread prices reinforced a demand for parliamentary reform and the London corresponding society held a mass open-air meeting at Copenhagen House (Islington) on 26 October. Three days later, on his way to open Parliament, George III was hooted and the window of his coach shattered. Pitt's government responded with the Seditious Meetings Act (36 Geo. III c. 8), which forbade meetings of more than 50 people without prior permission from a magistrate, and the Treasonable Practices Act (36 Geo. III c. 7), which threatened with transportation for up to seven years anyone speaking or writing against king, government, or constitution. Both bills were vigorously contested by the Foxite opposition but carried by large majorities. Though Pitt has been accused of exaggerating the threat for party advantage, there seems little doubt that he was genuinely alarmed.

J. A. Cannon

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