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1 Jun 2022

Conflict - Week 22: 52 Ancestors

John Rose of Southampton

My ancestor John Rose - my 3x great grandfather from Southampton invited conflict.  A proud working-class man, he believed that all working men should be enfranchised ie be able to vote. He also believed in education for all and access to newspapers, something the government of the day thought was dangerous as it might lead to revolution as it did in France in 1879.

Mind you, literacy and enfranchisement of women was not a concept that men of any class considered at the time.

John Rose appeared to have no respect for the conservative press.  He once made a great point of saying he “objected to the authority adduced, as he (Rose) did not now patronise the Hampshire Advertiser” (reported in 1836 in notes of a public temperance meeting aimed at removing the inducement for the poor frequenting the public-house or beer-shop)[i].  He mocked the newspapers read by the gentry and the establishment, and it would appear that he had quite a following.  The same 1836 article about ale making reported John Rose as stating:

 “They could not hinder the rich from enjoying themselves in luxury and drunkenness, and why then try to shut up beer shops, where plenty of information was to be got, &c. &c. &c.”

It is probable that William Rose, the beer seller of East Street in 1836 was John Rose’s brother or another relative.[ii]

Beer shops and public-houses were places where working men and others gathered, especially since there would have been no room to entertain at home, and street corners would have been too cold and uncomfortable for socialising.  The public houses were centres for discussion and exchange of information.  As a politicised working man with strong opinions, John Rose would most likely have understood the hidden agendas of the men of standing in Southampton.

No wonder he often found himself at odds with the establishment.

In fact, John Rose was fined time and time again and was imprisoned at least twice – in 1834 and in 1841.  The first time was in a passing reference in an article about his wife Isabella Rose, giving his reaction to her being fined for selling unstamped newspapers[iii]:

“This decision was immediately conveyed to her husband, who in turn broke the windows of his prison-house.”

John Rose seemed to have been hot-headed indeed – was he manic?  He was fined on a number of occasions for assault or was involved in altercations, and even a knifing, which ended up before the Southampton Magistrates.  Other matters included libel (1839) and, like his wife Isabella, selling unstamped newspapers.

[i] Hampshire Advertiser, Saturday 7th May 1836:  Temperance Meeting at Southampton.

[ii] Kelly’s Directory, 1836

[iii] Hampshire Advertiser, Saturday 14th June 1834: Before the Mayor and Magistrates.

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