Easter Dues - a notice to the householders of Hanley and Shelton, from the Enoch Wood Scrapbook

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Date:30th of April 1824

Description:Local taxes, or 'tithes,' were a controversial issue in 1824 - not least those collected every Easter by the local clergy.

The Peter Watson Case

When, in Durham, a shoemaker-turned-troublemaker named Peter Watson amazingly managed to breed public pressure for the abolition of the tax locally, he ruffled feathers right across the country.

Watson argued that the taxes could not be justified by the law or by the gospels. They were, he claimed, oppressive to the poor.

In the lyrics of a popular song, it seemed he had chosen "to hammer the Parsons instead of bend leather."

"I wish for nothing more than my lawful dues..."

In this notice, Potteries clergyman Jno. Tomlinson defends himself against similar charges, saying that he has always excused those unable to pay.

But he is plainly uneasy about a growing movement locally to follow Watson's actions.

Who could fail to notice the ominous goings-on at Ridgway's Manufactory?

And who could have failed to hear that the people of Cheadle had obtained a similar tax exemption?

Of course, no respectable Potteries householders could allow themselves to be swayed:

"Easter dues have been paid to me by the most respectable Householders in every District of the Parish, as an acknowledged right."

About this document

Pottery manufacturer Enoch Wood collected this document, which is now among the collections of Stoke-on-Trent Museums.


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