Lacemakers' Memorial to the British Government
On 22 March 1848 the English Consul in Calais transmitted
to Lord Palmerston the following petition:
To the Members of the British Government.
In accordance with the sentiments unanimously expressed
at a meeting of the English workmen, convened for that
purpose in the English church, at St. Pierre les Calais,
on this day, March 21, 1848, the following memorial is
respectfully presented to your Lordships.
The object of your memorialists is to direct your attention
to the singular and painful circumstances in which they
are placed by the changes which have been effected in
the government of this country.
The present state of money affairs in this country, added
to the entire want of confidence in the public mind,
has reduced trade in every department to a perfect stand,
consequently left them without the means of obtaining
a livelihood for themselves and families. It is also
extreme regret they feel it their duty to inform your
Lordships that recent events have called forth feelings
of an hostile
character on the part of the French towards the English,
which we hoped had long ceased to exist, thus rendering
their position one of both insecurity and destitution.
We therefore implore you, as the rulers of the country
which gave us birth, to take our case into your serious
and immediate consideration.
Gloomy as are our prospects here, we feel convinced that
our return to England would present no brighter picture,
as the paralysed state of trade there holds out not the
slightest hope of our obtaining employment; if therefore,
we return to England, it will be with the certain prospect
of becoming a burden to our countrymen. and inmates of
the already too overcrowded workhouses.
Having therefore, put you in possession of the above
facts, we take the liberty of suggesting the following
which you can render us effectual assistance.
The plan we propose is emigration to one of the British
colonies, South Australia preferred, where workmen arc
scarce and labour wanted, our experience having shown
us the great advantage they possess who live under the
of the British Government.
We, your memorialists pledge themselves to be men of
good moral character and industrious habits, in the full
of health and strength, and men whose feelings revolt
at the idea of becoming a burden to their native land.
If, therefore, you can provide us with the means of free
emigration, we shall cheerfully and gratefully accept
them, but if unfortunately, it is out of your power to
our request on these conditions we are quite willing
to enter into an engagement to refund a part or the whole
expense incurred after our arrival in any way in which
you, in your discretion, may think fit.
Should the prayer of your memorialists be granted, you
will confer a benefit upon a body of men, who will, in
after life, look back with heartfelt gratitude to those
who now rule the destinies of their native land.
Signed on behalf of the meeting Edward Lander, Chairman
0. Lowe Joseph James John Clarke John Davies
Papers Relative to Emigration in House of Commons
Papers 1847/8 Vol 47 p97 [see also p100]