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Wyvill, Christopher

Wyvill, Christopher (1740–1822). A Yorkshire squire and clergyman, Wyvill was the main instigator of the county movement for parliamentary reform. Disillusioned by the loss of America and the policies of Lord North, the gentry of Yorkshire in 1779 formed the Yorkshire Association to press for curbs on government expenditure and patronage (‘economical reform’), an increase in the number of independent (i.e. county) MPs, and annual parliaments. Wyvill was secretary and then chairman of the association. Through mass meetings, petitions to Parliament, and letters to the press, he organized an impressive campaign which spread to other counties. Unlike the Wilkite and later radical reform movements, supported by merchants, tradesmen, and labouring people, the county associations drew in men of landed property. The Yorkshire Association disintegrated after the ending of the American war; and Wyvill's efforts at reform were eclipsed by more radical movements inspired by the French Revolution.

John F. C. Harrison

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