Transformation of London in the 1790sMany changes were occurring in London during the 1790s. New ideas were emerging within England and around the world. The onset of the French Revolution contributed greatly to the unrest and the turmoil of the times. As the English citizens responded to both internal and external affairs, religious movements, social and political reform parties, and governmental reactions gained momentum. In addition, many writers responded and contributed to the progressive environment by giving the people a voice and further pointing out injustices. These movements and literary contributions influenced later writers and the lifestyles of people in and outside of London.
In the 1790s, certain religions were being revived in London. Methodism and the Church of England were reaching out more to the citizens and affecting more lives. Methodism was thought to be an integral part in the social evolution of the country. It had a stabilizing effect for those involved with the church, as well as a model for the political development of the working-class people. The church believed in equal political, economic, and social rights for all people and it also had a strict, structural organization, which encouraged stability amongst its members. (1)
While the churches had a soothing effect on the citizens of London, social and political reform increased concern, awareness, and uncertainty. The organization of the government in London contributed to the discontent of its citizens. The official City of London, which was only about one square mile, had the main banking center of the metropolis and a history of independent government established through two separate governing councils, something most sections of London decidedly lacked. Their setup was similar to Parliament, in that one council represented the wealthy, and the other represented more “ordinary” people, and was therefore more prone to agitate at any given time. In 1795, that lower council became fed up with the conflict with France and the unfavorable effect it was having on the merchants they represented. They directly charged the king to end the war and restore their prosperity. The motion failing, the City’s council was more conservative afterwards. However, the notion that a part of London could challenge its sovereign must have given hope to many of its citizens. (2)
Westminster’s municipal government was far from inspiring, as judges rather than representatives ruled the borough. However, this area “enjoyed a very wide parliamentary franchise, open to all resident householders.