Tuesday, 17 May 2016

17th May 1816: Riot at Hockwold-cum-Wilton, Norfolk

On Friday 17th may 1816, there was a disturbance at Hockwold-cum-Wilton in Norfolk. Peacock (1965, p.86) has a good account, using more obscure sources:
Real, violence, however, appeared in the little village of Hockwold-cum-Wilton, just over the border in Norfolk, on the 17th May. Prosecution briefs, were prepared for the Treasury Solicitors to proceed against a number of labourers for incidents there and at Feltwell, a few miles away, and it is mainly from these that the following description is built up.  
A crowd of almost 100 assembled in Hockwold, which, incidentally, was in the process of being enclosed (Act passed 1814, award announced 1818), on Friday, the: 17th May, "and did make Noise, Riot, Rout, Tumult and Disturbance" for over six hours. They gathered early outside the house of the Reverend William Newcombe, where, apparently, they were resisted by James Stark, a carpenter from Stoke Ferry. Stark was confronted by John Howers, one of the labourers who "did beat, bruise, wound and ill-treat him so that his life was greatly despaired of", and then forced him to go with the crowd into the Vicar's house. It is not clear whether Newcombe was robbed but later the crowd, led by Howers, Thomas Newton and another labourer named Wilton, went along and demanded beer from a Mrs. Grace Rolfe, who was forced to part with two quarts. 

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