In April, the tanners of Bermondsey organised a street riot, their main complaint being the behaviour of one merchant, Mr Timbrel
In May there were riots in Bridport, Brandon and Norwich over the price of bread-the bakers were blamed; the local magistrates fixed the price of bread temporarily to maintain order. When windows were broken, the local paper announced that the money to repair them would be taken from the poor relief; and therefore only the poor would suffer.

In the same month the people of Bideford forcibly stopped potatoes being exported; potatoes were what the poor were exhorted to eat instead of bread, and the locals probably saw the irony.

On the 20 May, people in Bury, Lancashire broke Spinning Jenny machines. In the same month there were major riots in Ely and Littleport over high rents and the price of bread. Newcastle miners organised a street fracas when owners tried to reduce wages. In Halstead there were “freedom riots” to release from prison four men who had been breaking machines

In June, threshing machines were destroyed in disorder in Great Halstead. On 2nd August, weavers in Calton, Glasgow rioted for two days when they were forced to rely on food banks. Workers in Preston rioted when wage reductions were demanded by factory owners

On 26 August there was major unrest at Newgate prison. In October there was Luddite style machine breaking in Nottingham and unrest in Merthyr Tydfil in October over wage reductions and the rising prices of basic foodstuffs.

In Glasgow, iron workers rioted when their pay was withheld. There were riots over pay in Walsall and Birmingham and Spitalfields over unemployment and on 7 Dec there was violence in Dundee over the price of bread, with the plundering of 100 local food shops.

The Spa Field Riots of December 1816 were the major example of disorder, and there are two separate blogs on these.


One thought on “Why people rioted, 1816

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