NOW IS OUR TIME
The immediate cause of the revolt in and around Kintbury was the committal to the Blind House, or Cage, late on Sunday afternoon, 21st November, of a beggar who, having been refused relief by the current Overseer, Mr. Hogan Smith, had used threatening language. (1) News of this petty act of injustice led many more to join the small group which had already assembled to discuss the exploits of their fellow workers of the neighbouring parish of Speen during the previous day, and who were debating the wisdom of following their example. According to the Berkshire Chronicle the crowd, led by one Jacob Gater, broke into the Cage and released the prisoner, who was promptly re-arrested and returned to the lock-up. This increased the crowd's anger, and, once again led by Gater, they released the vagrant a second time and then proceeded to destroy the Cage. (2) The Times report stated that the action was initiated by Francis Norris who "attempted to release the beggar but, being prevented by the constable, collected a few others and broke open the cage.".(3) While it is true that Norris later took a leading role in the rioting, being appointed "treasurer", other evidence suggests the Chronicle's account may have been more accurate than that of the Times. With nine others Gater was indicted for "conspiring to riot and for riotous assembly on the 21st November", but he, alone, was found guilty, presumably because, on that occasion, he was the leader. Having successfully acted to rectify one small injustice those assembled were encouraged to turn their attention to those objects which they considered to be the cause of much of their own distress and despair, the hated threshing machines.
By the Sunday evening the crowd had grown to about two hundred strong.(4) The first farm to be subject to their attentions was Wallingtons, owned by Mr. Cuthbert Johnson. According to the Rev. Fowle, Vicar of Kintbury, the crowd demanded and received £2 from Mr. Johnson.(5) As, according to other evidence, "it was one of the congregation's rules to have or to demand £2 for each machine destroyed as payment for the work involved," (6) it is reasonable to assume that Mr. Johnson's threshing machine was in fact destroyed. The next place to be visited was Mr. John Steven's farm, Anvilles, which was reached around midnight. Steven's servant, Nicholas Dobson, stated that one of those who broke his master's threshing machine was William Winterbourn (7), who had been chosen as "Captain".
Between the hours of twelve midnight and one a.m. a large number of persons assembled at the farm house of Richard Goddard, of Templeton. Francis Norris, who had been elected "treasurer of the congregation", demanded a light in order to be able to see to break some machines in the barn. Having obtained one from his carter's house Farmer Goddard handed it to Norris who, followed by a large section of the crowd, went into the barn and proceeded to break the threshing machine with a long piece of iron which he was carrying. As he was breaking the drum he said, "This is a hard job, Winterbourn", to which Winterbourn replied, "Never mind Frank, when you are tired I am ready to take your place.".(4) According to another report some members of the crowd also broke Mr. Goddard's flails and every plough on the farm, got into the house, took what provisions and beer they could find and demanded the customary two sovereigns. (8) Before leaving others demanded bread and cheese which Mr. Goddard gave them. (4) Apparently the leaders had not yet imposed the degree of discipline which other observers reported as being typical of the Kintbury "congregation's" progress.
From Templeton the crowd proceeded to Inglewood, the property of Captain Dunn. His servant, William Chapman, testified that very early on Monday, 22nd November, two to three hundred persons came to break his master's threshing machine ; William Winterbourn, William Oakley, George Holmes and William Westall were present in the "mob". (7) According to the Rev. Fowle the Kintbury congregation concluded its nocturnal marauding by a visit to Mr. Alderman's farm close to the village. Although there is no positive evidence that Mr. Alderman's threshing machine was destroyed, he was charged the customary £2.
The Kintbury men had little or no rest that night as they were known to be active before the break of day. As early as 4 a.m. they roused the Rev. Fowle who, having consulted with Thomas Harrison, the bailiff of Mr. Charles Dundas, M.P.,of Barton Court, Kintbury, arranged for Mr. Dundas's threshing machines to be brought to the centre of the village where they were destroyed. Mr. Thomas Owen, of Clapton Farm, was also permiitted to bring his machine to be demolished there.
The Vicar, who seems to have been kept well-informed of the labourers' movements, recorded that it was their intention to proceed to Hungerford Park, the property of Mr. John Willes, J.P., by way of Titcomb, with the further objective of reaching North Hidden, one of John Pearce's farms well to the north of the Bath Road. (5) In fact other evidence suggests that they did not proceed directly to Titcomb,but first made their way to the residence of Joseph and Elizabeth Randall on the road to Newbury. Here one or two of the usually well- disciplined Kintbury party appear to have got out of hand. When it arrived there at "a quarter before five" in the morning, several members of the crowd demanded victuals, drink or money, and, because Mr. Randall was not quick enough in responding to their demands, "Joseph Nicholas threw a stick and broke a window." He used such force that he not only broke the glass of the window, but thrust the frame, sash and shutters into the room.(7) William Winterbourn stopped Nicholas from breaking any more windows, and restrained Alfred Darling from breaking the door. When they were about to break the window he is reported as having said, "Stop ! Stop ! Give the man time." He twice told them to stop and to refrain from injuring the house, but advised Joseph Randall to give the money to prevent any further damage being done. Mr. Randall's evidence reveals the generally peaceful attitude of the leading rioters, and how they considered that they had right on their side, and believed that they were acting in a constitutional way. "Steel was there ; he was quiet. Carter said in a civil way, You had better not stand out as the others have given something. Westall was also there and said, We must hold a vestry on this.." (9) Randall's sister, Elizabeth, stated that she gave the men a sovereign through the window which had been broken. One of them threw it down saying that it was too little remuneration for the hard work involved in breaking the machines, but "another took it up, called for Captain Winterbourn, and delivered the sovereign into his hands. Winterbourn then said, We will take half-price here because he has stood like a man. We have done some damage and that must be paid for. " (7)
The Kintbury men then went to the farm of Thomas Litten, of Hamstead Holt. Mr. Litten stated that between 5 and 6 o'clock on the morning of Monday, 22nd November, the mob came, demanded the key to his barn, and broke his threshing machine. William Winterbourn and another man entered the house and demanded money. He "gave Winterbourn an order upon Mr. Heath of the Blue Ball public house for 20 shillings worth of liquor." The party outside had threatened to break the windows if he did not give them the money. (7)
Mr. Frederick Webb of Titcomb testified that at about 8.a.m. on Monday 22nd November the mob came to his house and demanded money. William Winterbourn, holding up a sledge-hammer, had threatened, "If you don't give me a sovereign, I will spill blood in your house." (It was no doubt this typical example of working-class bluster which persuaded the prosecution to include this among those charges on which a capital conviction was sought.) Alfred and Thomas Darling, William Carter, William Oakley, James Randall, William Sims and Edmund Steel were among those who stood behind Winterbourn when he uttered this threat, and it was Oakley and Steel who first broke the machines and the ploughs. William Alexander, also of Titcomb, supported Mr. Webb's testimony and added that "Mrs. Webb fetched a sovereign and gave it to Winterbourn." (7)
From Titcomb the Kintbury men made their way towards Denford, calling en route at Hungerford Park, the estate of Mr. John Willes, whose ploughs were destroyed. (4) Mr. George Cherry, J.P., of Denford House had his threshing machine broken and had to pay the usual two sovereigns for the pleasure. A short while later he was accosted by another party which demanded £1, which they were given. When the re-formed congregation passed Denford House again they offered to return the £1. Their explanation was that they had approached the house in small groups because they had heard that Mrs. Cherry was unwell. (1) According to another report Mrs. Cherry was lying-in with her seventh child. (10) The united Kintbury congregation reached Denford about ten o'clock and it was near there that they joined forces with the men of Hungerford.
Before uniting with the Kintbury party, the Hungerford group had been breaking threshing machines mainly at farms to the north of the Bath Road. Contemporary documents give much less detailed information about the Hungerford labourers than about their comrades from Kintbury ; especially lacking are references to times. It would appear, however, that the first farm to suffer at their hands was one south of the town ; that of Mr. William Barnes at Sanham Green. Charles Holdaway and his partner William Phillips were making their way from Hungerford Park to Sanham Green when, on passing Farmer Barnes's yard, they saw John Aldridge, an apprentice blacksmith, and George Whiting, a farm labourer, breaking a threshing machine. Aldridge, who had a sledge-hammer, was breaking the iron wheels, while Whiting was splitting the wooden frame with a hatchet. Holdaway alleged that he heard Aldridge say, "Damn him ! That's a good one. I've done him." Aldridge was also reported as having said, "I should like to down with all foundries." (7) (This declaration supports the view expressed earlier that the competition of foundries such as Gibbons of Hungerford had depressed the standard of living of artisans such as blacksmiths to a level not much, if anything, better than their labourer comrades.) The farmer's son, Henry, claimed that Aldridge had asked him for the key to his father's barn so that they could break the remaining part of the threshing machine. On his request being refused Aldridge was alleged to have said, "Be damned if I don't break in", but in fact he went away with the rest of the party without doing further damage, to continue the work of destruction at farms in the Newtown area to the north of the town.
Mr. Barnes, senior, was at Mr. Winkworth's farm at Hidden when the rioters arrived. He had ridden over to Newtown with several other persons to prevent mischief being done there, but the crowd was too numerous. He "saw George Whiting active in the mob and saw him beat and break the drum of the threshing machine,which was eventually broken in pieces. There were about 100 persons in the mob most of whom were armed with weapons.". (7)
Mr. Crompton's Three Acre Farm was the labourers' next objective. After they had had some bread and cheese there they moved off by the blowing of a horn, saying as they went that they would break all the machines. They proceeded next to Mr. Beasley's farm where they broke his threshing machine. Mr. Barnes said that he saw Aldridge, using a sledge-hammer, and Whiting, using a bludgeon, break one of the wheels. (7) According to Capt. Lidderdale, late adjutant of the Hungerford Troop of the 1st. Berks Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry, the Hungerford labourers also broke the machines of two other Newtown farmers, Mr. Little and Mr. Parsons. (8)
Having apparently concluded their business in this area the Hungerford men made their way to Denford where they met with their Kintbury comrades. W. Money states that the junction was made according to a pre-concerted arrangement, the agreed meeting-place being "by the yew-tree at Denford Bottom." From there the combined body [Estimates of the number vary from 500 to 1,000. The higher figure was given by Mr. John Pearce, of Chilton House, who was given to exaggeration] marched on to Mr. Hayter's at Denford Farm, from which, having smashed all the machinery they could find, they advanced on Hungerford." (11)
"About ¾ mile from Hungerford on the London Road" (7) they were met by about a dozen mounted gentlemen led by Mr. John Willes of Hungerford Park. The party included the previously mentioned Mr. Barnes, Mr. Pearce and Capt. Lidderdale. Also in the party were General Popham of Littlecote, Mr. George Cundell of Hungerford, and Mr. John Hill of Standen. Alongside Mr. Willes rode a Mr. Annings whose windows received the attention of the crowd later in the morning.
Mr. Willes attempted to negotiate with this very large body but, according to Capt. Lidderdale, the attempt to speak civilly to the crowd was met with violence, Mr. Willes being attacked with "bludgings". It may be true that two of the Kintbury men struck the valiant captain's horse which thereupon bolted and ran off with him, (8) but Mr. Willes's own testimony suggests that though some members of the mob were carrying what might be called offensive weapons, they had no intention of assaulting persons. He states that they treated him kindly, and that one of them led his horse by the bridle. Observing Edmund Steel, one of the leaders, with a hatchet in his hand, he said, "My friend, that is a deadly weapon you have. It could split a man's skull." To which Steel replied, "Depend upon it, sir, it shall never injure yours.". (12)
Neither Mr. Willes's friendly conversation, nor his invitation to them to appoint a deputation to attend a meeting with himself and other magistrates in Hungerford Town Hall later in the morning, reduced the labourers' hostility towards the hated threshing machines and all those concerned with the construction or use of them. On reaching the outskirts of the town some of them broke the windows of the house belonging to Mr. Annings, a tanner. (13) Thomas Major, surgeon, of Hungerford, testified that about 11 o'clock he was on his horse in Charnham Street when he saw David Garlick try to open the door of Mr. Anning's house, opposite the White Hart Inn. Having failed to open the door Garlick tried to open the yard gates with a bludgeon. This was the signal for others to break the windows. (4) [Professor E.L. Jones has suggested that the labourers' animosity towards Mr. Annings was because he made the endless belts used on threshing machines].
From Charnham Street the crowd made their way to the High Street. Most of them had passed Richard Gibbons' iron foundry in Bridge Street when "one man called the mob back." (4) A wine merchant, appropriately named Viner, "stood in the middle of the gateway of the foundry to prevent them entering," and turned back six or seven by saying that "there was no threshing machine ever made there."(7) [According to Mr. Frederick Page, of Speen, Richard Gibbon was also "a machine maker." (1)]. But one man halloed out, "Hark forward ! Go at it ! Break the iron to pieces.", and about three or four hundred (sic) of them broke through the gateway." (6) Charles Kent, an employee of Richard Gibbons, tried to prevent one of the mob from breaking a cast-iron pan, but the rioter said, " I'll break that pan and knock thy brains out." (7) By the time the crowd withdrew from the foundry they had demolished virtually everything in the yard. [Richard Gibbons' claim for compensation amounted to £261.8s.6d., and the list of goods broken included "threshing machine wheels." (6)]. Having completed their work of destruction they claimed the usual two sovereigns which Mr. Viner gave to them.
Gibbons' employees, Charles Kent and Thomas Clements, and the aforesaid Mr. Viner, between them identified nearly twenty of the rioters. The list included the names of six Kintbury men, five of whom were later to swear that "They were never on the premises in their lives". It is quite possible that they were telling the truth and that the attack on the foundry was a purely Hungerford affair, for those who swore to their presence in the foundry yard were Hungerford men.
Unlike a large number of other persons who successfully claimed compensation or reward under the proclamation issued by the new Home Secretary, Lord Melbourne, poor Mr. Gibbons' claim was rejected though it was larger than most. (see note *** page 40) Failure to extract money from the Treasury led him to try the local Quarter Sessions Court, but the Berkshire gentlemen who presided over the court on 3rd. April, 1831, proved no less hard-hearted and decided to make no order in his favour. (15)
A short while after the affray at Gibbons' iron foundry, Mr. Willes, the senior Hungerford magistrate, persuaded the two parties to select five men each to represent them and to place their views before the gentlemen assembled within the Town Hall. The deputations entered the hall together, but were treated with separately. The Hungerford deputation (consisting of George Rosier, Charles Smith, John Aldridge, Richard Aldridge and Thomas Liddiard) was faced by four magistrates, Willes, Pearce, Atherton and Kitson, who were supported by sixteen other gentlemen. The Hungerford men asked that until Lady Day the wage of a married man with three children should be 12s. per week, that all threshing machines should be destroyed, and that house rents should be reduced. Mr. Pearce, on behalf of his fellow farmers, agreed that wages would be raised, but as to house rents he could say nothing ; they should arrange with their landlords respecting that. Their first point having been conceded, and some vague promises made as to the second, the Hungerford delegation quietly withdrew from the hall. (16)
Mr. Willes then went across the room to where the Kintbury delegation were standing in unconcealed scorn, and privately asked them to put away their weapons. (17) According to Mr.J. Pearce, J.P., M.P., who was given to exaggerated statements, "Five more desperate characters than the Kintbury deputies (William Winterbourn, William Oakley, Daniel Bates, Edmund Steel and one other - probably Francis Norris, the "treasurer") could not be produced. They came forward and declared that the Hungerford deputies were fools, that the power was in their hands, that the concessions were made from fear, and announced, with horrid imprecations, that they would have their own terms and would not agree to those which had been proposed.".(18)
William Oakley (who appears to have been chosen as chief spokesman in spite of his later representation that he had been forced to go with the mob) is reported to have addressed the assembled magistrates in the kind of language they had never heard in their lives before, and were unlikely ever to hear again. "You have not such damned flats (i.e. persons easily duped) to deal with now as you had before ; we will have 2 shillings a day till Lady Day, and 2s.6d. afterwards for labourers, and 3s.6d. for tradesmen, and as we are here we will have £5 before we leave the place or we will be damned if we do not smash it, and down with the Town altogether.". A consciousness of a wider social justice and a fundamental hostility towards the ruling class, together with a sense of working class solidarity, was displayed by Oakley when he addressed Mr. Pearce in the following words, "You gentlemen have been living upon all the good things for the last ten years. We have suffered enough and now is our time and be damned if we will not have it. You and the rest of the gentlemen only speak to us now because you are afraid.". (19)
Daniel Bates and William Winterbourn then conversed with Mr. Willes. The latter said that if they were not given what they asked they would break everything in the town, and, turning to Bates, said, "Brother we have lived together and we will die together. If we don't have it directly here goes - we'll have blood and down with the bloody place.". Bates, striking his sledge- hammer on the floor with great violence, replied, "We will have it.". (19)
A Mr. Osmond then gently laid his hand on Winterbourn's shoulder meaning to speak to him, but Winterbourn reacted by saying that he would knock down the first man that laid hands on him. Bates then flourished his hammer over Mr. Willes's head. The magistrate said. "If you kill me, you only shorten the days of an old man." Another J.P., Mr. Joseph Atherton, fearing that all their lives were in danger, and having a brace of pistols in his pocket, put his hand on one of them and got it ready to use in case Bates actually struck Mr. Willes. (9)
The gentry then conferred among themselves but not for long for their conference was rudely interrupted by Oakley who shouted, "Damn it ! Look sharp ! We are not going to stay here all day. Out with the money. Don't think that you are going to lay your heads together to commit us to prison for the sake of £2 apiece, like Old Fowle (the Vicar of Kintbury) who kept Reading Gaol well supplied with prisoners while he could have £2 apiece for them. If it had not been for that he would have been in the workhouse long ago. We have been served in that way long enough, and now we are come to see ourselves righted." (7) The magistrates eventually acceded to the demands of the Kintbury deputies, and Mr. Willes gave each of them a sovereign, and also gave the Hungerford men £5 as it would have been unjust to treat them worse than their more unruly neighbours.
From what occurred later in the day it would appear that the mild nature of the Hungerford delegation was not matched by the temper of the Hungerford mob for, between 2 and 3 o'clock in the afternoon, some hundreds of them were making a great deal of noise outside Miss Harriet Allen's house. They demanded money and bread and cheese. Her brother dropped about thirty shillings worth of silver and some bread and cheese out of an upstairs window. Upon repeated clamorous demands money was thrown out on three more occasions. Miss Allen said that she saw Charles Smith, of Hungerford, taking an active part in the riot. (4) It was also reported that the Regulator and Star coaches from Bath to London were molested by a rabble of several hundreds. (20) They were stopped, the panels and glasses broken, and money extorted from the passengers.(1) Not all of the Kintbury men could have returned to the village with the main body for one of them, George Gaby, who, according to one prosecution witness, was "a very bad character" and had thrown " a hammer through a coach window and hit a gentleman." (7)
About three o'clock in the afternoon four men, including James Wilkins of Hungerford, demanded money from Richard Compton, Esq., of Eddington. One of the men is reported to have said that "they would bring 700 men if he did not give them money.", so Mr. Compton gave them one shilling each. (4) Some time after 4 p.m. the threshing machine of one of the J.P.s present at the Town Hall meeting received the attention of the Hungerford rioters. According to a Hungerford butcher, John Fisher, he was forced to go along with them for about two miles, the objective being "to knock Mr. Osmond's threshing machine to pieces." (4) During the evening of Monday three separate parties pestered the miller of Chilton , Mr. Child, who gave them 5s.0d., 2s.6d., and 1s.6d. respectively. The third group did not arrive until about 10.30 p.m. Armed with sticks and limbs of trees they demanded two sovereigns. and threatened that if he did not pay up they would break or burn down his house. Mr. Child gave them the one shilling and sixpence which, strangely, appeared to satisfy them. (4)
One small party of Hungerford men continued their operations into the small hours of Tuesday morning. About 1 a.m. Thomas Liddiard,farmer, of the parish of Lambourn, was in bed with his wife when he heard a great noise and, on looking out of the bed-room window, saw a mob of people, with David Hawkins of Hungerford in front of the crowd with a sledge-hammer in his hand. Hawkins demanded two sovereigns for breaking his, Liddiard's, threshing machine, saying, "We have two sovereigns for each threshing machine." The farmer gave Hawkins the £2. (4) An hour or so later. about 3 a.m., Charles Spanswick, also of the parish of Lambourn, was awakened by someone beating the front door of his house. He was asked if he had a threshing machine, and when he said that he had they demanded a light for "it was very dark". He gave them a light and they then broke his machine to pieces. When the work of destruction was finished David Hawkins demanded the customary two sovereigns. At first the farmer refused to pay, whereupon one of the crowd shouted, "Damn him ! Knock out his brains !" Even when Hawkins flourished his bludgeon Spanswick continued to temporise saying that he could not afford two, but would give them one sovereign. Hawkins then said, "We have had two all along for breaking the machines, and, damn ye, we will have two now." The farmer eventually handed over the two sovereigns to Hawkins, and provided the other members of the party with beer.(4)
The Kintbury men, who appear to have been not only more militant but more responsive to discipline than their Hungerford comrades, also seem to have had some semblance of organisation for "they made themselves into an organised body, appointing a leader (William Winterbourn), a treasurer (Francis Norris), etc." (21) In a letter to the Home Secretary a Deputy Lieutenant for Berkshire, Mr. Frederick Page, of Speen, recorded several incidents which suggest that the Kintbury leaders exercised firm discipline under extremely difficult circumstances. For example, when a few members of the "congregation" took it into their heads to rob a poor woman selling rabbits, they were ordered to restore the rabbits to their owner, and when one member of the Kintbury party stole an umbrella, from a farmer who had regaled them with bread and cheese, he was thrown into the canal as a punishment. (1)
Following the events in the Hungerford Town Hall most of the Kintbury men wended their way back to the village, but before they dispersed to their homes some of them had a long-standing score to settle with Mr. Charles Dundas's gamekeeper, William Clarkson. [The Quarter Session Rolls for Michaelmas, 1821, refer to W.Winterbourn and F. Norris being bound over to keep the peace, especially towards W. Clarkson.]. Between 3 and 4 o'clock on Monday afternoon 150 to 200 of them visited the gamekeeper's house. William Sims said they wanted money, and money they would have. When asked how much would satisfy them he replied, " £5 and no less." On Clarkson saying that he had very little money, Sims said that "It ought to be £10 or down goes your house." The gamekeeper then said that he would fetch what money he had in the house. He returned with £2 in silver, and handed it to a bystander, a substantial landowner named Hogsflesh. [Mr. Hogsflesh was a founder member of "The West Berks Association for the Protection of Property and the Prosecution of Felons." (1835)]. Mr. Hogsflesh called for the "foreman" and when Francis Norris came up the money was put into his hand. Several members of the crowd asked how much there was, and Clarkson announced, "£2, which is all the money I have." This caused much murmuring among the throng and after another verbal exchange with the gamekeeper William Sims said in conclusion, "Kintbury is in mourning for your blood. Mr. Dundas shall be no longer King of Kintbury ". In an attempt to pacify them Mr. Hogsflesh wrote out a note of hand addressed to Freebody, the landlord of the Red Lion (now the Dundas Arms) public house, to let the party have 20s. worth of beer and gave that also to Francis Norris.
Not long after the confrontation with Clarkson the Kintbury men were approached by Job Hanson, a respectable stone-mason of Newbury, who was also a Wesleyan Methodist district preacher. As he was well-known to and respected by many of the labourers present he was able to gain their confidence. He promised to be their spokesman with the magistrate, and thus induced them to parley with the Rev. F.C.Fowle, Vicar of Kintbury, who had hitherto been fearful of meeting them. (7) The conference took place and the Rev. Fowle told them that as far as was in his power he would endeavour to persuade the local farmers to accede to the terms agreed at the Hungerford Town Hall meeting. On hearing this the men gave three cheers and expressed themselves perfectly satisfied, though they insisted that their wages must be paid in money only and not partly in bread. The reverend gentleman, not wishing to bring back angry feelings by refusing, promised to recommend this also. In return the labourers agreed to return to work on the following day. (1 and 5) Had they kept their part of the agreement it is just possible that they might have avoided the drastic punishments which were later meted out to them.
Between 6 and 7 o'clock in the evening the following little scene was enacted in the Blue Ball Inn. William Annetts, constable, heard William Winterbourn, who "was in liquor and very hoarse" demand money of Thomas Harrison, Mr. Dundas's bailiff. Winterbourn said that Harrison had not paid as much as other people, and the bailiff was persuaded to hand over £3. According to the constable Winterbourn was not the only rioter in the inn at the time ; "there were more in another room." (6) In spite of his position Harrison must have been pressed into joining the "congregation" when it recommenced its activities on the following morning, because his name appears on the list of persons arrested, but whose involvement was only sufficient to warrant them being bound over to keep the peace. Annetts too must have changed his loyalties for, in the autumn of 1821, he had, in the company of William Winterbourn and Francis Norris, been fined and bound over to keep the peace, especially towards Harrison. (15)
Later that evening a deputation arrived from some neighbouring villages to try to induce the Kintbury men to re-assemble the next day, to join forces with their comrades in these villages and to accomplish there a similar work of destruction. (5) That they were so persuaded many of them were to rue for many a long day thereafter.
From the events of the following day we can deduce that the villages referred to in the previous paragraph were Inkpen and West Woodhay, the labourers of which had also congregated on the Sunday evening. Between 9 and 10 p.m. Thomas Goodfellow, of West Woodhay, accompanied by a large number of others, attacked and destroyed the threshing machine belonging to Mr. Hayward of (Sadler's Farm ?) Inkpen. ( 6 & 7 ) Whether they continued their attacks on other farms during the daylight hours of Monday is not known, but they were certainly active in the evening. About 7 p.m. Goodfellow, assisted by Robert Gibbs, with about fifty others looking on, destroyed a threshing machine owned by Thomas Ward of Great Farm, West Woodhay. According to Mr. Ward he was approached by Cornelius Bennett who said, " Well, Mr. Ward, we have done the work ; now for the money.", and demanded £2. At first Ward refused to hand over the money, and Bennett then said, " It is a hard case for you, but it is going all through England." When the farmer pointed out that Bennett's companion, Henry Honey, being a maltster, could have no interest in threshing machines one of the rioters shouted out, " We are all brothers ! " The mob hurrahed when Ward finally handed over the money, and went away. (6 & 7) Later that same evening. about 10 o'clock, 60 or 70 persons arrived at Matthew Batten's house (Inleaze, Kintbury, according to Register of Electors, 1832.) to break his machine, but he had taken it to the meadow. Between 20 and 30 persons, including Thomas Goodfellow, began breaking it. Having finished their work of destruction the crowd demanded a sovereign. Mr. Batten asked who the "Captain" was and, when Bennett said " I am. ", gave him the money. The crowd then made a great noise, blew horns, and moved off. ( 6 & 7 )
TUESDAY, 23rd NOVEMBER.
After their long spell of activity, which lasted well into the small hours of Tuesday morning, most of the Hungerford labourers seem to have run out of steam, and to have remained quiescent for the rest of the day. Towards the end of the afternoon, however, five of the more determined, or more enterprising, of them seem to have decided on a further foray to the north of the Bath Road.
Thomas Owen, of Clapton Farm, was returning home that afternoon when he was met by one of his servants who had come to look for him. On arriving at his home he saw five men about the premises. He asked them what they wanted, and they said, "One shilling each.". Alarmed at the fright which his wife had received, and by their statement that a company of 700 was nearby, he gave them half a crown. (4) Alexander Delamere, Mr. Owen's head servant, stated that among the five men were Charles Green, Joseph Smith and George Sturgess. Green was armed with an iron bar, the others with sticks. Sturgess and Green both demanded money, and the former, when the front door was opened, would have forced himself into the house, had not he (Delamere) restrained him. (6)
According to three servants of Mr. William Lovelock, of Orpenham Farm, the same five men came to their master's house between 4 and 5 p.m. Smith inquired if there was anyone at home. On being told that there was not he and Green said they would have something or they would break the house open. One of the servants brought them something to drink, but, on finding it was only small beer, they threw it away and demanded bread and cheese. When this demand was not acquiesced in Green threatened to blow a horn to call a mob of 800 who would come and unroof the house, take what there was, and set fire to the premises. He and Smith also threatened to break the windows of the house, whereupon they were given what they had asked for. (4)
Robert Brind, bailiff of Mr. Richard Harben, farmer, of Wickfield, described how this same small group approached him saying that they had broken his master's machine and were come for £2. When he refused to give them the money they threatened to call up their gang which was 500 strong. However, when he persisted in his refusal to hand over the money, they left without carrying out their threat. (6) Proceeding to another farm called Oakhanger they broke the threshing machine there. Brind, who had accompanied them, was again pressed to pay them £2. He asked them who employed them, and they answered that it was their congregation's rules to have £2 a machine, that the mob was coming, and that if the £2 was not paid they would break every window in the house. Brind eventually gave them 8s. which was all he had. (6)
Much later that same evening a group of men from the Lambourn valley went to John Hawkin's farm, at Welford, broke his threshing machine and demanded the usual payment of two sovereigns. (25) Though most of the rioters of the Lambourn area were tried at Abingdon, four of this party - Isaac Burton, a tailor of Shefford, Jason Greenway, William Waving and James Deacon - were tried with the Kintbury and Hungerford men at Reading. The first three were sentenced to seven years transportation but the last received the very light sentence of twelve months imprisonment. The only other Lambourn man to be transported was their leader, Thomas Mackrell.
The Kintbury men who, on the preceding evening, had been persuaded by a deputation from Inkpen and West Woodhay not to return to work on the Tuesday morning, began the new day by demanding money from William Squires, the owner of the local silk factory. Between 8 and 9 o'clock William Winterbourn, George Dobson and Alfred Darling demanded £5. Squires saved his machinery from destruction by consenting to pay 40s. in silver, and to give them two promissory notes for 10s. for beer at the Red Lion and Blue Ball public houses. (6)
That the labourers should include the silk factory in their itinerary is understandable for the conditions which prevailed there were no better than those which existed in some cotton mills before the passing of effective Factory Acts. In 1906 there were "still some few persons living who had worked in this factory when children." Their recollections of it were not pleasant. "They worked thirteen hours a day for six days a week and earned one shilling. Thrashings with a leather strap from a brutal overseer" were frequent. "Little girls from seven years of age were employed there." (22) Such experiences had made the women of Kintbury no less militant than their men-folk. On this, the third day of the rioting, "the females of Kintbury assembled and by threats induced some of the shop-keepers to give them some provisions, and a travelling tea-dealer to give them a quantity of tea." (1)
About an hour after the meeting with the factory owner a party of about 15 men, amongst whom were Alfred Darling and Henry Gater, went to the house of John Cousins, a farmer and Overseer of the Poor of the parish of Kintbury. Darling said they would have money and threatened to use the sledge-hammer which he carried if they were not given it. Mr. Cousins handed eight half-crowns to his wife who passed them on to one of the party.(6)
In order to fulfil the engagement which they had entered into with their comrades in adjoining villages the main party then moved off in the direction of Inkpen. On the way they pulled down a "foundry" which may well have been the one owned by Mary Harper, William Oakley's grandmother.
About ten o'clock the servants of the owner of West Woodhay House, the Rev. John Sloper, ran to inform him of the destruction of the foundry and that the Kintbury mob was advancing over his fields. To the Rev. Sloper the party appeared to be about 300 strong, and was headed by Francis Norris, who was carrying a flag, and Daniel Bates, both of Kintbury.
The following conversation then ensued between the reverend gentleman and Norris :- J.S. " What do you want ?"
- F.N. " £6 for the machines. " [From this we can presume that the Rev. Sloper owned three threshing machines, which is most probable as he owned the whole of the parish of West Woodhay.]
- J.S. " But I paid £6 to another party last night."
- F.N. " We will have the money because it was the wrong party."
- J.S. " I haven't as much as 6d. in my pocket."
- F.N. " We will have the money or you will have your premises pulled down about your ears."
- J.S. " But I really haven't any money. Will you take a note of hand ?"
Receiving an affirmative answer the Rev. Sloper went into the house to write out the note. When he returned with it a few minutes later he found that his stable- yard gates had been forced and that many members of the mob were actually in the yard.
As he opened the house door two of them rushed in declaring they would have beer, bread and cheese. According to his own account the reverend gentleman seized the two men by the throat, pushed them out of the house, made his servants lock the door, and said that there he would make his stand. [This is wholly credible. He was eventually defrocked "because he took to persuading his congregation to come to church with the aid of a shot-gun."(23)]. A short while later, however, the mob seeming to have calmed down, he ventured out and gave the note, which read,
" I promise to pay for Mr. Ward and myself the sum of six pounds to Francis Norris of Kintbury."
to Daniel Bates. The mob were mollified by this and, according to one source, went quietly away to Captain Butler's house, Holt Lodge. (4 & 7)
However, having left West Woodhay House, the congregation appears to have divided into two groups one of which deviated towards the Crown and Garter, Inkpen, in order to obtain some refreshment, for it was there that one party was seen, about mid-day, by the Rev. John Thomas, curate of Inkpen. He was riding across Inkpen Great Common when he came upon a large number of persons around the public house. A boy with an iron implement saw him and demanded money. The Rev.Thomas asked who their leader was. Francis Norris was called for and demanded £2, [Norris's indictment states " four pounds in various coins."] which was handed over without demur because, although he was not a cultivator of land and possessed no threshing or other agricultural machine, the curate was afraid that they might injure his unprotected property. (4 & 7) The Rev. Thomas did, however, complain to Norris of the violent manner in which the boy had stopped him. At which the latter replied, "We will murder him for that." The reverend gentleman took this working-class bluster literally and exclaimed, "For God's sake do not !" Other members of the crowd "very much blamed" the boy for his conduct and said that he would certainly be punished.(24)
Meanwhile the other, more committed, group had continued in the direction of Newbury which was the major objective. At 11 a.m. when Farmer Ruddock, of Kintbury Holt, was ploughing his fields, William Winterbourn and Alfred Darling came up to him carrying sledge-hammers which they used to break the ploughs ; in doing so they frightened the horses. When the ploughs had been broken Winterbourn demanded money. He refused the 5s. which the farmer first offered him,and when the offer was increased to 10s. he said that this was no use either. The farmer then sent a boy to the house to obtain another 10s. from his wife. While these transactions were taking place about six or seven other labourers were standing watching. (6)
Before noon Winterbourn, who was "with Barlow Page and several others", demanded £2 of Anthony Heath of Enborne [The Register of Electors,1832, states - Kintbury Holt, Hamstead Marshall.], who gave him £1. Between twelve and one o'clock the same two men, but this time "with a large mob", demanded money of Stephen Collier of Hamstead Marshall, who also gave Winterbourn £1. Continuing towards Newbury the congregation broke two more threshing machines. Robert Page gave William Carter instructions how to break that belonging to Farmer
James Franklin. The farmer paid the customary £2, but not before Page had threatened that if he didn't there would be more coming who would make him. Joseph Stanbrook, of Enborne Farm, was in Franklin's yard at the time (i.e. between 1 and 2 p.m.) and they demanded £2 of him. Mr. Stanbrook having no money with him was allowed to proceed homewards, the mob before him. On reaching his farm his threshing machine was broken by Page and Carter who had sledge-hammers with which to undertake their task of destruction. Having completed the task they repeated their demand for £2, and the farmer gave them the money. (6)
Between these last two incidents the crowd diverted itself with more refreshment, this time at the Craven Arms, for, about one o'clock, between "two and three hundred persons, who had just left the alehouse " were observed by George Gray, Clerk to the Justices, Newbury. (25) That it was the intention of the Kintbury men and their allies to proceed to Newbury in order to destroy machines at two different "engine makers" in the town appears to have been no secret. George Gray had been informed of this project earlier in the day, and "immediately took steps to call together as many horsemen as he could to be in readiness to act, and, after communicating his fears to the mayor of Newbury, went on horse-back to Enborne to ascertain the truth of the information he had received." (25) Having observed the mob, who were on their way to the house of the Rev. Johnson, Rector of Enborne, he returned to Newbury to inform the Mayor, having left Mr. Charles Slocock behind to keep check on the mob's movement. Meanwhile the Mayor had collected the Special Constables for the borough. (25)
However, having reached the vicinity of Enborne Church the congregation, instead of continuing along the road directly to Newbury, turned aside to enter the Earl of Craven's Hamstead Marshall estate. Had they not been so diverted the outcome of the revolt may have been quite different. "The apprehension of this caused considerable alarm in the town." The farm workers would certainly have found allies in the borough - "three shoemakers from Newbury had joined the mob at Hamstead Marshall" - and a junction with the depressed artisans and the large number of unemployed poor of Newbury * might have posed problems for the posse which was being organised to round them up. On the afternoon of Tuesday the posse would not have had the assistance of the grenadiers and lancers which, on the following day, helped to make the arrest of the dispersed and dis-spirited rioters relatively easy.
On entering Hamstead Park about 3 o'clock they were soon confronted by Lord Craven and a group of friends. John Ilott, Lord Craven's steward, stated that they "went a short distance up the avenue and met 5 or 6 men in advance of the main body" of about 150 persons. On reaching "the main body Lord Craven asked to see their leader, whereupon a person (Francis Norris) stepped forward carrying a sort of flag on a long stick." William Winterbourn was standing near Norris and appeared to be one of the leaders. William Oakley, Westall and Darling were also present. (6) "Lord Craven then asked them what they wanted and several voices called out, "We want relief ! We are starving !" (26) At first Lord Craven refused to give them anything. In fact, according to one report, he "was prepared to resist by force every illegal and violent demand, and had collected fire-arms and stationed watches for this purpose." (27) Lord Craven's own account declared that his resolution to defend his property was weakened "by the kindly intended interference of a particular friend, a clergyman." (28) This was a Mr. Johnson, the Vicar of Enborne, who had suggested "that if his Lordship would consent to give them £10 they ought to be thankful and go away quietly." When the noble lord eventually decided to give the money the mob "gave three cheers and went away."(26)
* Between "28th March,1829, and 25th March, 1830, the sum of £530.10s.5d. was paid as wages out of the poor-rate to able-bodied men by way of relief, a great part of which represented unproductive labour." [ W.Money, N.W.N., 6th January, 1898] "During the riots, many of the inhabitants (of Newbury and Reading) were under strong apprehensions of the rising of the very people amongst whom the poor-rates are so profusely distributed." [Rpt. the R.C. on the Poor Law.1834.]
An account of the Hamstead Park confrontation , passed on by oral tradition, was given to a Newbury Weekly News reporter, by a Mr. George Langford who recounted some "vivid stories of the happenings at Kintbury", which were told him by his father, William Langford, who was fifteen years old at the time of the riots.. According to this version Lord Craven was besieged in his own house which the rioters threatened to set fire to. Only when the Earl, having assembled his staff on the roof of the house, threatened to use fire-arms on them did they beat a retreat. (29)
Having been given the money the congregation progressed through the park to the farm of one of Lord Craven's tenants, William Webb of Marsh Benham. When they reached Webb's farm, about 4 o'clock, they discovered two of his employees actually using a threshing machine. (7) One of them, William Culley, stated that he saw Alfred Darling strike the machine with a sledge-hammer, being assisted by Daniel Bates, William Brazier (alias Pearson), Richard Nutley, John Carter and George Liddiard. Culley added that Charles Marshall (or Moppett), and Timothy May were also in the barn. (7) According to Farmer Webb's account of the incident, he was approached by Francis Norris who was still carrying a flag and who demanded the customary £2. Mr. Webb borrowed a sovereign from a bystander, a Hamstead Marshal builder named George Sims. Sims added that Robert Page was also present and assisted in breaking the machine. (6)
For some reason, possibly the lateness of the hour, the congregation, or its leaders, decided to postpone the advance on Newbury, and to return to Kintbury, which they reached just ahead of the posse of special constables and other mounted men which had been sent from Newbury to arrest them. When this posse reached Hamstead Marshall park Lord Craven's friends and servants "rushed forth on foot to support them notwithstanding official remonstrances against the propriety of this proceeding". (27) The objection to the speedy pursuit of the rioters came from "the senior magistrate and clergyman of the parish at which these misguided people principally reside." (i.e. the Rev F.C. Fowle). (27) Because of the vicar's remonstrance it was agreed "to proceed slowly to enable him to hasten forward, and to return with an account of the rioters." (27) Due to their slow pace it was dark before the posse reached Kintbury, and, the rioters having dispersed to their homes, they returned to Newbury and spent much of the night endeavouring to learn the names of the rioters. (25)
REFERENCES. CHAPTER 2:
(1) P.R.O. H.O. 52/6. F. Page to Lord Melbourne.
(2) Berkshire Chronicle, 8th January, 1831.
(3) The Times, 25th November, 1830.
(4) Berks. R.O. D/EPg.01/4.
(5) P.R.O. H.O. 52/6. Rev. Fowle to Charles Dundas.
(6) P.R.O. T.S. 11-849.
(7) P.R.O. T.S. 11-851.
(8) P.R.O. H.O. 52/6. Capt. Lidderdale to Charles Dundas.
(9) Reading Mercury, 3rd January,1831.
(10) Occasional Bulletin No.2, Nat. Reg. of Archives, Berks Cttee,October,1953.
(11) W. Money. N.W.N. January,1898.
(12) Reading Mercury, 28th December,1830.
(13) H & R. op.cit.
(14) Berks R.O. D/P. 71/8-5.
(15) Berks R.O. Quarter Sessions Order Books.
(16) P.R.O. H.O. 52/6. J.Pearce and Rev.Fowle to Home Secretary.
(17) N. Gash. op.cit.
(18) P.R.O. H.O. 52/6. J.Pearce to Home Secretary.
(19) Berks R.O. D/EPg. 01/4. and P.R.O. T.S. 11/849-851.
(20) P.R.O. H.O. 52/6. R.White to Sir. F. Freeling.
(21) P.R.O. H.O. 52/6. G. Barnes to Sir F. Freeling.
(22) V.C.H. Berks., Vol I.
(23) "Portrait of a House.", Mary McClintock.
(24) The Times, 29th December, 1830.
(25) P.R.O. T1-4193.
(26) P.R.O. T.S. 11/849.
(27) Letter to "The Times", 30th November,1830.- signed Charles Langdon.
(28) P.R.O. H.O. 52/6. Lord Craven to the Home Secretary.
(29) N.W.N. 29th October, 1931.
Part 1 - Berkshire:
Part 2: To "Botany Bay"