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Yorkshire Association

Yorkshire Association. Formed in December 1779 to lobby for economical reform—a reduction of places and pensions—at a time of high taxation during the American War. Though conservatives denounced associations as potentially seditious, a number of other counties formed committees and joined with Yorkshire in petitioning Parliament. Their greatest success came in April 1780 when Dunning's motion, deploring the influence of the crown, was carried against Lord North, and in 1782 the short-lived Rockingham administration undertook some useful reforms. But Christopher Wyvill, founder of the association, had difficulty in holding his supporters in line. They soon moved on to advocate parliamentary reform and a split developed between the radicals of the Westminster Committee, pushing for manhood suffrage, and moderate reformers, content to augment the representation of the counties. The end of the war took much wind out of the association's sails, though Pitt moved for parliamentary reform in 1783 and again in 1785. The association was a remarkable attempt to mobilize public opinion and bring it to bear on Parliament, looking back to the Wilkites and forward to the chartists.

J. A. Cannon

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