Yorke, Henry Redhead (DNB00)

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YORKE, HENRY REDHEAD (1772–1813), publicist, born in 1772, seems to have been a native of the West Indies, but was brought up at Little Eaton, near Derby. In 1792, under his paternal name of Redhead, he published a pamphlet against negro emancipation, but speedily changed his views on that subject, and while on a visit to Paris at the end of the same year wrote, but did not publish, a refutation of his pamphlet. In Paris, ‘madly in love with ideal liberty,’ he witnessed the king's appearance before the convention, and was intimate with the brothers Sheares [see Sheares, John] and other members of the British club, but seceded from it when a persistent attempt was made to vote an address inviting the convention to liberate England from tyranny. After his departure a warrant for his arrest, as he believed, was issued against him in consequence of the denunciation of Robert Rayment. He had by this time assumed the name of Yorke. He visited Holland either on his way back to England or at a little later period. He joined a radical society at Derby, and in 1793 was sent by it to Sheffield to assist a sister society. On 7 April 1794 he addressed a large outdoor meeting at Sheffield which had been convened to petition for a pardon to Scottish political offenders and for negro emancipation. He was alleged to have exclaimed, ‘You behold before you, young as I am, about twenty-two years of age, a man who has been concerned in three revolutions already, who essentially contributed to serve the revolution in America, who contributed to that in Holland, who materially assisted in that of France, and who will continue to cause revolutions all over the world.’ He was arrested, and at the York spring assize of 1795 true bills were found against him for conspiracy, sedition, and libel. On 23 July 1795 he was tried at York before Sir Giles Rooke [q. v.] for conspiracy, but his co-defendants—Joseph Gale, printer of the ‘Sheffield Register,’ and Richard Davison, compositor—had absconded. Yorke, while advocating parliamentary reform, repudiated the boastful words imputed to him, and declared himself opposed to violence and anarchy. His speech in self-defence, however, was believed to have conduced to his conviction. On 27 Nov. 1795 he was sentenced by the king's bench to two years' imprisonment in Dorchester Castle, fined 100l., and required to give sureties of good behaviour for seven years. He does not appear to have been released till March 1798. Meanwhile his opinions had undergone a complete change. In a Letter to the Reformers (Dorchester, 1798), written in prison, he justified the war with France, and on 3 Aug. 1798, in a private letter to William Wickham [q. v.], he deplored the fate and condemned the views of the brothers Sheares (Castlereagh Memoirs, i. 258). He wrote letters for twelve months in the ‘Star’ under the signature of Alfred or Galgacus (these were reprinted in a small volume), was part proprietor of the ‘True Briton,’ revisited France in 1802, and in 1806 was near having a duel with Sir Francis Burdett [q. v.], both parties being bound over to keep the peace. In 1801, and again in 1811, he issued synopses of lectures in London on political and historical subjects. After a long illness, relinquishing politics, he was induced by Richard Valpy [q. v.] to undertake a new edition and continuation of John Campbell's ‘Lives of British Admirals;’ but before completing this work, and when about to practise as a barrister (he had been a student of the Inner Temple from 1801), he was again struck down by illness, and he died at Chelsea on 28 Jan. 1813. He married, in 1800, the daughter of Andrews, keeper of Dorchester Castle, and had four children.

In addition to the works above mentioned, he published a letter to John Frost (1750–1842) [q. v.] entitled ‘These are the Times that try Men's Souls,’ 1793; a report of his trial, 1795; ‘Thoughts on Civil Government,’ 1800; ‘Annals of Political Economy,’ 1803; ‘Letters from France,’ 1804; ‘The Political Review,’ 1805–11.

[Annual Register, xxxvii. 47, xl. 23, xli. 160, xlviii. 458; New Ann. Reg. 1795, p. 60; European Mag. December 1795 and December 1806; Gent. Mag. passim 1795–1813; Argus, Paris newspaper, 15 Nov. 1802; Moniteur, 26 Oct. 1802; Faulkner's Chelsea, i. 383; Howell's State Trials; Eng. Hist. Rev. Oct. 1898.]

J. G. A.