Thursday, 5 July 2012

5th July 1812: Captain Francis Raynes almost triggers a riot near Mottram in Cheshire

Captain Francis Raynes and his Special Forces detachment were busy suppressing the local population of the area surrounding Mottram, in Cheshire. In his memoirs, he gives an account of how on Sunday 5th July 1812 his unit enforced the licensing restrictions brought in across the North and Midlands because of the disturbances:
Part of our duty was, to enforce the shutting up of the public houses at nine o’clock, and to see that no person remained there after that time. Too often were these houses made the place of resort of the Luddites, for the purpose of conducting their illegal plans; consequently, our appearance was not very agreeable to the landlords, and we frequently received much abusive language from them, which obliged me to make formal complaint to the magistrates, who generally punished them by suspending their licenses.

On one occasion, I believe, but for the steadiness of my men, much mischief might have ensued. We were quartered in a house where upwards of three hundred persons were assembled (as they said) for charitable purposes. At this alarming crisis, danger was to be apprehended. I, therefore, endeavoured to prevail on the landlady, a widow, to dismiss them quietly, desiring her not to draw any liquor, and to plead to the company, the magistrates’ order for so doing: instead of which, she encouraged their continuance. The consequence was, we were obliged to use coercive measures, to get them out, and, at length, succeeded, but with some difficulty. They assembled on the outside of the house, forced the sentinels, and endeavoured to break open the street door. When I found matters were likely to become serious, I ordered the soldiers out, and threatened to fire upon them, if they did not disperse: for they began to be very tumultuous, and were closing in upon us. We primed and loaded, and absolutely presented, before they would disperse; and many, even then, did not move. We, however, secured several of them, which intimidated the rest: but it was not till past twelve o’clock, that all was quiet.--The parties taken up, were sent before the magistrates at Stockport, to answer for the offence of rioting and breaking the peace.

The mistress of the house did not escape the notice of the magistrates on this occasion. Having accurate information of a man of the name of Soloman Low, who had been conspicuously active in the riots at Ashton, immediately on the above commotion being settled, we went in pursuit of, and apprehended him.

This is from Raynes (1817, pp.41-43).

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