Thomas Hazard 54 Queen Street: Marylebone Union Reading Society

Cato Street was also very close to one of the conspirators regular meeting places.  This was at 54, Queen Street (now Harrowby Street) where school master Thomas Hazard hosted the Marylebone Union Reading Society.  Reading societies had sprung up across the country to counteract the impact of the repressive Six Acts introduced by Lord Liverpool’s government following the massacre at Peterloo.  The Manchester Guardian had led the protests to what had happened by galvanising opinion amongst the working classes.  The government had responded with a regressive tax on newspapers to take the news from the masses.  Hazard’s reading room allowed radicals from Marylebone to meet and read newspapers that would otherwise be beyond the reaches of their individual pockets.  Collectively they could read about the ongoing protests in response to Peterloo and plan their own responses.  Two members of the Marylebone Reading Society would be drawn into the web of the plotters.  Davidson, I have already mentioned.  However, he was not the only Jamaican to dip his toe into the hot waters of protest.

Robert Wedderburn a firebrand ex-slave and member of the radical London Corresponding Society who not only raged about the inequality of slavery in his native land, but also the oppression being dished out by Lord Liverpool’s unpopular government.  Marylebone was a centre for freed black men in London and this would have drawn both men to the area. Wedderburn, also had links to Soho, where he could be found ‘twice weekly preaching blasphemy and sedition’ in his run-down Methodist chapel in a loft on the corner of Hopkins Street and Brewer Street in Soho.

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