Friday, 7 September 2012

7th September 1812: 'Madam Ludd' joins 'Lady Ludd' in food riots in Nottingham

On Monday 7th September, the food riots that had affected Sheffield and Leeds in Yorkshire spread to Nottinghamshire, and the town of Nottingham itself. The Nottingham Journal of 12th September gave the background to the disturbances:
It having been ascertained that a considerable reduction took place in the price of wheat in our market on Saturday last, (but which, it appears, did not exceed from 10 to 15 shillings per quarter on corn that was in a fit state to grind), the people naturally conceived that as the bakers and dealers in flour had profited by the rise in every instance, on their stock in hand they ought, on a principle of fair dealing, to concede the advantage of a fall in the prices of corn in the market to the public. They were therefore, persuaded, that flour would be sold on the Monday following at a proportionable reduced rate; but the dealers had bought in their stock at the highest possible price, they could not, without sustaining very material loss, lower it to the price so confidently expected, and so anxiously desired, and in consequence, a strong ferment was created in the public mind, which led to the commission of much mischief.

The Morning Chronicle of 11th September took up the story of what happened next:
On Monday morning, a baker in Nottingham had the temerity to advance his flour two-pence a stone, in the face of a falling market, which so enraged the women, that several got a fishing-rod, and fixed a halfpenny loaf upon it, which they coloured over with reddle, in imitation of its being dipt in blood, and likewise adorned it with a piece of crape. With this they then began to parade the streets, and soon collected a very large mob, among which were two women with hand-bills, who were dignified with the titles of Madam and Lady Ludd. The first object of their vengeance was the Baker who had advanced the price of his flour; they broke his windows, and compelled him to drop his flour sixpence a stone. The mob then divided into several parties, and treated nearly every baker and flour-seller in the same manner; not sparing their windows till they had promised to drop flour sixpence per stone.

The Journal reported an occurrence that must have been worrying for the authorities:
What added to the tumult was, the bread served out to the soldiers was found to be short of weight; and many of them were, on Monday, seen active in the mob. 
Other parts of the military were called out, and the Riot Act was read, and the crowd eventually dispersed.

No comments:

Post a Comment