The poem ‘On the Death of Mrs Hardy’, printed by Richard ‘Citizen’ Lee in 1794, marks the death of Lydia Hardy, the wife of the radical Thomas Hardy. Lee was a founder member and the first treasurer and secretary of the London Corresponding Society, a group of radicals opposed to government policy in the 1790s.
Lydia Hardy’s death
The king’s messengers and some Bow Street runners (precursors of the police force) stormed Lydia Hardy’s bedroom in May 1794 to arrest her husband. He was interrogated and taken to the Tower of London, charged with high treason. Hardy was one of a number of radicals who had called for reform of the British parliamentary system. A few days later, crowds celebrating a naval victory over the French attacked Hardy’s house. Lydia escaped but died soon afterwards in childbirth. Her child was stillborn, the sixth infant death for the couple. On 5 November, Thomas Hardy and his co-defendants were acquitted.
- Article by:
- Ruth Mather
- Power and politics
Ruth Mather considers how Britain's intellectual, political and creative circles responded to the French Revolution.