News of the passing of the Great Reform Bill reached Norwich and King’s Lynn. Whig Prime Minister Earl Grey’s bid to widen the parliamentary franchise to the middle classes had been fought tooth and nail in the Commons and the Lords. Finally, faced with the threat of national disorder and possible revolution, King William IV relented, and ordered the Lords to pass the Bill.
In Norwich “a procession of about 2,400 persons, decorated with blue and white favours, marched from the Castle Ditches to the Cricket Ground. A cavalcade of 95 horsemen was headed by Mr R H Gurney MP.
“Dinner was served for 2,000 in a marquee which extended the length of the field. The greatest order and regularity were observed throughout the day.”
Although the 1832 Bill gave the vote to more people, and averted the threat of revolution for now, the working classes and all women were still excluded. In the following decade the Chartists gave voice to those on the outside of the political process.