Saturday 21 April 2012

21st April 1812: More rioting & machine-breaking in Lancashire & Cheshire

Following the large scale rioting that had taken place in the North West the previous day, further outbreaks occurred, mixed with some machine-breaking at the eastern limits of what was then Cheshire.

At Denton in Lancashire, large crowds collected in the forenoon and proceeded towards Hyde, in Cheshire. Once there, they attacked a mill belonging to John Ashton and first practised autoreduction before more straightforwardly taking the flour.

A short distance away, at the village of Gee Cross, mobs attacked provision shops - in particular one belonging to a Ralph Booth - and distributed meal and flour to crowds of mainly women, who carried it away in anything they could find. An elderly local man joined in, writing 'General Ludd' on a piece of paper and putting it around his hat.

Later, the crowds from Gee Cross joined those in Hyde to proceed to via Butterhouse Green to Bredbury, where they attacked Joseph Clay's Arden Mill on the banks of the Tame. The crowd distributed around £200-worth of flour before the Stockport solicitor, John Lloyd, arrived with 12 cavalry. The military fired shots to disperse the crowd, and Lloyd made 6 arrests.

At Tintwistle, which at that time lay in Cheshire, there was a mixture of food rioting and machine-breaking. Provision shops were entered, including one belonging to an Elice Berry, and autoreduction engaged in, with goods such as flour, meal, bacon and groceries distributed to the crowd.

Several Mills were attacked: the Vale House Mill, a cotton spinning and weaving concern belonging to Robert Thornley, had machinery and tools broken. Thornley's life was also apparently threatened.

At Millbrook, on the borders of Hollingworth and Tintwistle, a Mill belonging to the Sidebottom family was attacked, and machinery broken there.

Seven shearing frames belonging to a Thomas Rhodes were also destroyed in another mill, when a crowd of 400 people attacked it. This appears to be the only example of the destruction of shearing frames outside of the West Riding.

This has been compiled from Glen (1984, p.182); Chester Special Commission Court Calendar at HO 42/123; Quayle, T, The Cotton Industry in Glossop & Longdendale (Tempus, Stroud, 2006); Charles Prescot to HO, 21st April 1812 at HO 40/1/1.

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