Wednesday, 25 February 2015

25th February 1815: Near riot in Ipswich as threshing-machine breakers are sent to Gaol

The Great White Horse Hotel (formerly Inn) at Ipswich: where the magistrate Sir William Middleton took refuge amidst scenes of near riot. It is now home to a clothing & coffee shop (photo by David Hallam-Jones. cc licence)
On the morning of Saturday 25th February 1815, the 8 or 9 men arrested for breaking threshing machines at Gosbeck 4 days earlier were conveyed to Ipswich Gaol. Two of the men were given bail by the visiting magistrates, and would stand trial at the next Assizes. The rest were committed to Gaol, being unable to afford bail at that time (although by 28th February, they had found bail, and were released).

Accounts as to what occurred afterwards differed between the Bury & Norwich Post and the more local paper, the Ipswich Journal, which differed principally over whether or not objects were thrown (The Bury & Norwich Post having the last word and insisting an onion was thrown, hitting one of the Magistrates).

Both publications agreed that, as they left the Gaol, the officials were surrounded by the general public present & subject to a hostile reception, with Sir William Middleton (the former MP for Ipswich) in particular being a focus of hostility: whilst seven other magistrates slipped away, Middleton was forced to take refuge in the Great White Horse Inn.

The Bury & Norwich Post described a scene outside the Inn as a 'street filled with disorderly people, who stood debating on the Corn Bill till late in the evening'.

Middleton only emerged much later when the crowd had dispersed, at around 10.00 p.m., and then accompanied by an escort of constables, retiring to his residence at Shrubland Hall.

As reported in the Bury & Norwich Post of 1st & 8th March 1815, and the Ipswich Journal of 4th March 1815.

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