Saturday, 18 August 2012

18th August 1812: Food riots in Leeds headed by 'Lady Ludd' - similar scenes in Sheffield

Despite the reports of abundant harvests that had been reported in a recent edition of the Leeds Mercury, the price of Corn in the West Riding remained high. On Tuesday 18th August 1812 ordinary people could not bear it any longer, and food rioting broke out four months after it had been widespread in the North West of England.

On that day, one farmer from Seacroft was jostled by people in the market, but peace officers arrived and he hurriedly left. Another farmer from Swillington who had come to the market-place was singled out for attention, since his prices were the highest. His corn was seized en masse by the people in the market, with around two sacks of wheat being thrown around the streets. Other farmers and corn-dealers were later assaulted on their journey home, one suffering a head injury.

In the afternoon, a group of women and boys had gathered and began to move around the streets. They were led by a woman the Leeds Mercury described as being 'dignified with the title of LADY LUDD'. The Manchester Mercury described their activity:
"they hooted every passenger who had the appearance of a farmer or corn-dealer and shouted huzzaed opposite the bakers and meal-sellers' shops"
Later in the evening, the property of a miller at Holbeck called Shackleton was attacked - windows were broken and the damage was later estimated at between £30 and £40.

At Sheffield, similar  disturbances took place the same day, and also the following day: flour dealers were compelled to sell their stock for 3 shillings per stone, and oatmeal proportionally similar. The Leeds Mercury described the autoreduction as being 'principally led on by women'.

This is from the Leeds Mercury of 22nd August 1812 and the Manchester Mercury of 25th August 1812.

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