In this image, from Cassell’s Illustrated History of England, we see the arrest of Sir Francis Burdett, one of the most outspoken critics of the Pitt government’s Combination Acts, suspension of Habeas Corpus and exclusion of reporters from the Commons. This was the period of war with revolutionary and then Napoleonic France and many in the British establishment feared that behind radical calls for reform lay revolutionary intent.
Burdett was arrested for publicly denying the right of the House of Commons to imprison John Gale Jones. Gale Jones had placarded Parliament with bills calling Charles Yorke MP’s motion to enforce the removal of reporters from the Commons a public outrage. Burdett’s public criticism of the imprisonment of Gale Jones in the Political Register saw him committed to the Tower until the end of the parliamentary session. In a move reminiscent of Arthur Beardmore’s arrest, Burdett made sure he was arrested while at home listening to his son translate Magna Carta from Latin to English.