Wednesday, 18 May 2016

18th May 1816: Rioting at Feltwell, Norfolk

On Saturday 18th May 1816, a riot occurred at Feltwell in Norfolk. Once again, Peacock (1965, pp.86-87) assembled a narrative using more obscure sources:
On the following day, the 18th, trouble broke out in Feltwell, another place which had just been enclosed. (Act 1813, award 1815). A crowd began to assemble at six in the morning, led by Jeremiah Lawrence, Richard Browne and Thomas Pleasance, all labourers from the village, and John Cracknell, described as a "yeoman" of the same place. They went on a tour of the village, armed with pitchforks, demanding money from the local farmers. At the house of William Nurse, his wife was forced to agree to let them drink beer to be credited to her in each of the four local public houses. John Flowers, when approached, said “they should have no Pound Bill of him”, but when told by the crowd that “Mr. Siggar (?) had given them 10s. and Mrs. Clough £6”, replied “I do not wish to be singular, you may take 10s. worth of beer at The Cock”. Flowers seems to have been remarkably brave and polite, although not brave enough to persist in refusing the crowd's demands, as he said he originally intended.  
During the afternoon, the Feltwell labourers destroyed the dams that had been built across some nearby land drains, went “to Mr. Denton's land and there threw down, part of a fence”, and then went to confront Mr. Willett, a shopkeeper. Cracknell was spokesman. He took off his hat and said, "I hope, sir, you will please to give us something". Willett asked how much Thomas Fuller had given them and was told £1. Willett agreed to give this amount and Cracknell seemed disposed to accept, but his colleagues demanded, and got, an extra pound. They then forced George Linnard, a labourer and apparently a "black-leg", to go with them to The Bell where they relieved him of a shilling and sent him on his way. The rest of the evening was spent carousing, according to Mrs. Nurse who eventually got a bill for 30s. for beer consumed at The Bell, The Chequers and The Cock.

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