Friday, 20 April 2012

20th April 1812: Second day of serious rioting in Manchester

On Monday 20th April 1812, they was serious rioting in Manchester, only 2 days after a food riot in the Shudehill and New Cross area.

The Times reported that the areas around New Cross, Ancoats and Knott Mill were the site for much of the rioting, with the crowd carrying away meal, flour and potatoes.

The proceedings had actually begun as early as 9.00 a.m., where a woman was seen to be stopping potato carts and encouraging a crowd to take all the produce. The same woman then unscrewed the side so that the load tipped out over the road, and helped herself to as many as she could carry in her apron before running away. Many others then followed her example. Subsequently, many of the shops in the area were shut, particularly around Oldham Street.

The rioting continued throughout the day and into the late afternoon. As well as plain expropriation, auto-reduction was much in evidence. A crowd of 200 people persuaded a Mr Lomas to sell his stock of provisions at a loss. By 2.00 p.m., the same woman who had been foremost amongst the rioters earlier in the day was stopping butter carts and horses bringing milk into town, and demanding they auto-reduce their prices: they were offered 1 shilling per pound for butter and 2d per quart for milk and told that if they did not like these prices, the produce would simply be taken. Threatened with a constable, the women retorted she would have him hanged if he dared to intervene. At Miles Platting, a meal cart on it's way to Oldham was overturned, and the contents carried away.

At 5.30 p.m. on Deansgate a shopkeeper called John Holland saw a large crowd proceeding up the street. He ran into his shop and shut the door, locking and bolting it for good measure. He and his family stood with their backs against the door, whilst the crowd gathered outside and demanded that he open up. As the anger increased at Holland's refusal to obey them, a man from the crowd began to kick the door with greater and greater force. another man came up with a piece of wood and before long the door yielded to their collected blows, with the windows being smashed in concert. The crowd now descended on the shop, and threw all of the provisions outside, taking away and distributing 2 tubs of potatoes from the front. Holland then attempted to close the shutters on the outside of the shop, but was severely beaten by the crowd. The military and constables eventually arrived to disperse the crowd, but only after the shop had been emptied of it's contents. Holland later estimated the loss of stock to be between £7-8.

The Riot Act was eventually read, and military dispersed the crowds, eventually arresting 5 women and 3 men.

This has been compiled from: The Times of 23rd April 1812; the Lancaster Gazette of the 25th April and 13th and 20th June 1812; and Grimmett & Thomis (1982, p.44).

Holland's loss is the present-day RPI equivalent of £5360.

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