Tuesday, 24 May 2016

24th May 1816: Labourers from Outwell, Norfolk, march to Upwell for "Bread, beer & blood"

Peacock (1965, p.116) has a good description of events at Outwell & Upwell in Norfolk on Friday 24th May 1816:

Between nine and ten o'clock on Friday, 24th May, a crowd of about twenty labourers from the village of Outwell marched the few miles to Upwell.' Bread (beer), and blood were again their aims, and incidents very similar to those at Brandon, Downham Market and Littleport took place. According to Robert Atkins, a constable, the crowd assembled at Outwell and was led by William Lister who was armed and who was heard to say, "Damn all constables and farmers." John Massey, who had gone to the village from Upwell, said to the crowd, "Come along and I'll fill your Belly with Beer and your Pockets with Money." 
The crowd were met on the outskirts of Upwell by the Rector, the Reverend William Gale Townley. He remonstrated with them but was told by William Dawson that they were starving, and had no fears. "Here I am," Dawson told the Vicar, "between Earth and Sky—so help me God. I would sooner loose [sic] my life than go home as I am. Bread I want and Bread I will have." The crowd went on to the house of Daniel Dawson, a baker, who gave them bread "under Impressions of fear and to prevent Persons so tumultuously and riotously assembled from committing Depredations or Violence on his Premises". They then went to The Duke's Head, but the publican was in bed. John Lawrence, "Gentleman", argued with the crowd which, like that at Downham, showed little real spirit. Lawrence called Thomas Sheppard, a constable, to disarm Bowers of a bludgeon and three labourers were taken into custody and eventually lodged in Wisbech gaol. From a bill paid to an Ely constable for apprehending William Lister, which included expenses for a journey to Boston, it would appear that some got well away.

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