You are in [Events] [1830 Agricultural "Swing" Riots] [Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chap 4]



In a letter to the Home Secretary describing the events of Wednesday, 24th November, Mr. Charles Dundas, refers to a "good day's sport" (1), and one written by Mr. Frederick Page, of Speen, includes a description of "a chase thro' the country in pursuit of those who had participated in the riots. "(It) was headed by Charles Dundas and Lord Craven who were accompanied by near 300 horsemen." (2) They were supported by a detachment of Grenadier Guards, under the command of Capt. Anderson and Lieut. Reynoldson, which had reached Newbury about nine o'clock in coaches from Basingstoke, and a troop of Lancers (9th Light Dragoons) commanded by Lieut. Vezey which arrived from Reading at about 10 a.m.

At 11 o'clock an Order was issued by the High Sheriff, Mr John Walter (the proprietor of The Times newspaper) for every inhabitant of Newbury who could muster on horseback to repair to the Market Place at 12 noon, there to await further orders. (3) At the appointed time a numerous body of horsemen put in an appearance and were drawn up in line, the members of the disbanded Newbury and Donnington Troop of Yeomanry having the post of honour. The order to "form fours" having been given and promptly obeyed the cavalcade, headed by a number of magistrates, the Mayor of Newbury, Mr. Satchell, Lieutenant and Cornet Slocock and the ex N.C.O.s of the yeomanry, proceeded to Speenhamland to join another company of horsemen assembled at the George and Pelican Inn. Thus reinforced they advanced at a trot to Gravel Hill, Stockcross. (4)

Mr. Dundas, who had communicated with Lord Craven and his party and agreed to meet them on the Bath Road at the 59th milestone from London (i.e. at the Marsh Benham - Wickham cross-roads, near Furze Hill), had left instructions with the Deputy Lieutenant, Mr. Page, that the Guards should be sent forward in three coaches as soon as he sent word. Mr. Page received the order to despatch the Guards at about 1.30 p.m. (2)

The attitude of Charles Dundas and his associates is accurately caught by the reporter of a local journal in his use of military terms and metaphors. "The position of the enemy having been carefully reconnoitred, a Council of War was held and the plan of operations communicated to the different divisions of the force by Col. Dundas. The attack commenced by detachments of horse advancing to the south and west sides of Kintbury, to cut off the rioters main avenues of escape, while the main body of horsemen, special constables and Grenadier Guards took up a position in front (to the north) and on the east side of the village." (4)

When Lord Craven and the mounted constables reached Kintbury they were informed by the son of the vicar that everything was quiet. He expressed the opinion that there should not be any attempt to arrest the rioters. (5) His advice, which, if followed, would have restored peace without the large scale arrest of Kintbury men, was ignored,and the planned military operations continued with. "The astonished malcontents, finding themselves barred from escape, sought temporary refuge in the public houses, stables and any cottage or outhouse where they could conceal themselves,and some in fact succeeded in reaching the neighbouring villages and hamlets." (4)

There then followed a "flushing out" operation. Colonel Dundas, having heard that several of the rioters were at the Red Lion (now the Dundas Arms) advanced with a party of troopers and captured one of the ringleaders, William Westall, and three others, (3) who were immediately escorted to the prisoners' guard formed by the Grenadiers and the other disengaged portion of the force.(4) The Blue Ball Inn, which was "the chief depot" of the rioters was then surrounded, and many others were captured without resistance. Some of the "hunters" could not have been very thorough for one man, Josiah Truman, was later to boast that he had avoided capture by hiding in the copper of the Blue Ball (6). He showed his gratitude for his good fortune by later identifying two of his erstwhile comrades, Thomas Arnold and James Casbourn, as having been "in the mob". Such disloyalty was unusual ; so incensed were most of the inhabitants of Kintbury at the day's events, and so strong were the local and class sympathies for the rioters, that no Constable of the place was prepared to act in that capacity, and Colonel Dundas had to prevail upon the officer of the Guards to leave six of his men for the protection (!) of the village the following night.(5)

Having obtained a good haul at Kintbury the posse continued to Inkpen with good effect, and, though it was by then a moonlit night (1) to East Woodhay, where, in the Axe and Compass, they arrested one of the leaders named Martin, who was about six feet tall. (The convict records state that he was, in fact, 5"9½".) Another rendezvous was the Crown at Highclere ; here several more rioters were apprehended though not without "some scuffling". The men taken were placed in and on coaches and carts which had been pressed into service for that purpose, and taken to Newbury which was reached at about eight o'clock in the evening. (3)

According to Mr. Frederick Page "between 40 and 50" of the rioters from in and around Kintbury were brought to Newbury guarded by the Grenadiers (2), while the Clerk to the Newbury Justices, George Gray, stated that "54 riotous persons" were arrested by those horsemen who had continued to the Woodhays and Highclere, and also conveyed to Newbury (7). These numbers together support W. Money's statement that "about 100 persons were removed to Newbury and confined in the Mansion House for the night." (4) The first group of arrested men included three shoemakers from Newbury who had joined the Kintbury congregation at Hamstead Marshall, and who were taken by a patrol of special constables (2), but did not include two of the leading rioters, Francis Norris and Cornelius Bennett,who evaded arrest for some considerable time. Most of the second group were Hampshire men who were later transferred to and tried at Winchester.

Charles Dundas, in his report to the Home Secretary, expressed some concern at the possibility that Lord Melbourne might not approve of the action which he had taken outside the limits of his jurisdiction. (1) He need not have worried, for a reply from His Lordship's secretary expressed "in the strongest possible terms" his (Melbourne's) "approbation" of Dundas's conduct. The secretary added, "His Lordship highly commends, rather than disapproves, your having done so." (i.e. of having pursued the rioters into Hampshire and of arresting Hampshire men.) (8). The Home Secretary was also highly appreciative of the services of the gentlemen who had accompanied Mr. Dundas and Lord Craven. ((8) The gentlemen concerned, who had had a "good day's sport", must have been very pleased to receive the appreciation of such an august personage as the Home Secretary, but no doubt they were even more pleased to receive more concrete evidence of his appreciation in their shares of the £600 reward money.(7)

The final tally of prisoners dealt with by the magistrates at Newbury was 108. (7) Of course it was necessary to separate the foolish sheep from the subversive goats. In his report to the Home Secretary Charles Dundas stated that, in taking depositions, he had divided the prisoners into three classes :-

(i) those who had extorted money
(ii) those who had broken machines, and
(iii) those who were present in the mob but who were not proved to have committed a felony. (9)

As a result of the magistrates' inquiries 66 of the prisoners were bound over to keep the peace, the other 42 being transferred to Reading Gaol to be tried by the Special Commission. (7) In the event the number from the Kintbury-Woodhay area tried at Reading came to 46. In addition to the three who temporarily escaped arrest (Bennett, May and Norris) one other poor fellow from Kintbury, James Annetts, was arrested later and committed to Reading Gaol by the octogenarian Dundas, who, in spite of his age, appears not to have been too exhausted by his exploits during "the chase". (9)

The Hungerford rioters were arrested without the assistance of the military. According to a letter in the Home Office records "About 300 (!) of the principal inhabitants of the parish and neighbourhood were sworn in as Special Constables, and agreed to watch nights as watchmen. and patrol for five miles round, some on horseback and some on foot."(10) They succeeded in arresting five of the leaders on the night of 24th November, and at least sixteen more during the 25th. After some other arrests and some prisoners had been bound over to keep the peace, 24 were eventually remanded to the Special Assize at Reading.


Not all of the rioters were prepared to give themselves up without some attempt to avoid capture. Two or three of them gave the hunters a real run for their money. One of these was the "treasurer" of the Kintbury congregation, Francis Norris.

Four stalwart yeomen of the newly formed "Association", Thomas Hutchins, butcher, Stephen Major (the son of the local surgeon of that name), Thomas Smith, of Chilton, and James Little, farmer, of Newtown, started out on horseback on the morning of Thursday, 25th November, to search for Norris who, they had been informed, was the leader of the Kintbury "mob". All four went first to Shefford, a distance of five miles. In their search of this village they came to the Swan Public House, where they were informed that Norris had entered the inn about eight o'clock of the previous evening, had called for a pint of beer,but had left without drinking it.

Several other horsemen having joined the original quartet they then proceeded to East Garston where they learnt that their quarry had been seen to leave the village about 7 a.m. A search of the village of Eastbury proving fruitless they continued to Lambourn where, in one of the two public houses which they searched, they obtained information to the effect that the hare had been sighted near Inholmes that morning. A Beer House at Baydon produced the same information but, as they were leaving the village, they were told that Norris had gone to Aldbourne. On reaching Aldbourne the party carefully approached and surrounded a Beer House kept by Martin Palmer. Thomas Hutchins relates how he alighted from his horse, entered the house and, seeing Norris there, rather melodramatically said, "Norris! You are my prisoner." Norris, having said that he had no intention of resisting arrest, permitted himself to be taken into custody, brought back to Hungerford, and charged before Mr. Willes, the magistrate. (11)

In a letter which the Home Secretary wrote to Mr. Willes on 3rd December, Lord Melbourne expressed "His approbation of the meritorious exertions of Hutchins and his party in apprehending one of the most prominent and active ring leaders." (12) Hutchins claimed the £50 reward offered in Lord Melbourne's proclamation of 23rd November, but only received a quarter of the amount claimed, because the other members of the original quartet were given their due share. However, the butcher got his full pound of flesh for the arrest of another rioter, John Cope. (7)

Thomas Ward, whose threshing machine was broken by a party led by Cornelius Bennett, who also demanded and received the customary £2, was no doubt angered to learn that Bennett had slipped through the net spread by Colonel Dundas and his men. So, accompanied by Charles Batten, another West Woodhay farmer (probably the son of the Matthew Batten whose machine was broken by the same party on the same evening), he went in pursuit of Bennett, who had fled in the general direction of Reading. The chase continued for 19 miles when Bennett was sighted beyond Theale. There they contacted one of Batten's relations (James Batten, yeoman, of North Street, Englefield) and despatched him to apprehend the runaway, as they were certain to be recognised by him. The Englefield yeoman, assisted by Charles Webb, shop-keeper and Constable, succeeded in finding and arresting Bennett. Having done so they handed him over to the two West Woodhay men, who conveyed him to Newbury Gaol. (7) The £50 bounty was shared as follows:-

Thomas Ward and Charles Batten, £15 each and
James Batten and Charles Webb, £10 each.

It is doubtful if Ward considered his share to be sufficient compensation for the effort involved, and for the loss of his threshing machine and £2.

One Hungerford labourer, who avoided capture for 24 hours after the main round-up, was David Hawkins, one of the Hungerford men who continued machine breaking on the day following the Town Hall meeting. Information provided by Thomas Clements eventually led to his arrest. Following the receipt of Clements' information, Henry Cundell, another Hungerford butcher, and William Ranger, yeoman, set out on horseback on the morning of the 25th November. They crossed the common, continued through Mr. Willes' estate, Hungerford Park, and on to Mr. Richard Goddard's farm at Templeton. From there they proceeded to Cuthbert Johnson's Wallingtons estate, and, passing through Kintbury, continued to Inkpen. There they found Hawkins hiding in the cottage of a relative where they seized him and took him back to Hungerford with them. On more than one occasion in the years which followed Hawkins would have rued the decision to lie low in Inkpen rather than to make good his escape further afield. He was the only one of the Berkshire men transported to experience the full horrors of the system, being subjected to three floggings within the space of fifteen months.

In their claim for a reward Cundell and Ranger submitted that, in their efforts to arrest Hawkins, they had travelled "about twenty-five miles", an exaggeration which makes one doubt the truth of their other statement that since the machine breaking began they had had only "two hours sleep for six successive nights". As some compensation for their efforts they received £20 each, while the informer, Thomas Clements, received £10. (7) Clements received a few more pieces of silver (£25) for betraying Timothy May of Inkpen, who was involved in the destruction of Richard Gibbons' iron goods. Perhaps the likeness to the twelfth apostle is a little unfair, for Clements was Gibbons' employee and no doubt believed that his loyalty lay with his employer rather than his class. May remained at liberty for much longer than any except those who evaded arrest altogether for it was not until Saturday, 27th November, that William Stratton, also of Inkpen, obtained a warrant for his arrest from Mr. Fulwar Craven, J.P., of Chilton Foliat. As soon as he had obtained the warrant Stratton went in search of May, but had to go only two miles before he found him and "took him to Newbury on the same day." Stratton was well paid for his efforts which netted him a reward of £25. (7)

Thomas Willoughby, of Hungerford, took the opportunity provided by the disturbances to pay off some old scores. He seems to have had a deep personal grudge against Mr. Stevens of Anvilles Farm, and against Mr. Washbourne of Standen. About 4 o'clock on the afternoon of Monday, 22nd November, he went alone to the latter's house where he demanded a shilling and threatened to bring the mob if he did not get it. At first Mr. Washbourne refused to accede to the demand, but eventually gave Willoughby some bread, cheese and beer in addition to the shilling. (11) According to the farmer's testimony he heard Willoughby declare as he left the house that he would be damned if he did not kill John Stevens. Presumably the latter was warned for he asked George Cundell, a Hungerford butcher, to come and stay at Anvilles to protect him from Willoughby's threatened vengeance. When, about six o'clock that evening, Willoughby arrived at the front of Steven's house and demanded food, drink and money, Cundell decided that attack was the best method of defence. He hit Willoughby, knocked him down, and after a struggle eventually had him escorted off the premises by some of Steven's workers. As he was being led away Willoughby declared that he owed Stevens a grudge, that the mob was coming, and that he would "have blood for supper." (11)

When it was learnt that Willougby had fled the town George Cundell and Alfred Atherton searched several places for him. At length they heard that he was in the neighbourhood of Ramsbury. The two bounty hunters went to Ramsbury and after searching for some time eventually found Willoughby and took him back to Hungerford with them. Here he was taken before the magistrates. It would appear that, in spite of the violent nature of his threats, the magistrates considered Willoughby to be only a minor threat to the peace of the community ; only the lack of

£50 or of someone to stand surety for this amount, prevented him from returning home a free man. (11) As it was he was committed to Reading Gaol and tried at the Special Assizes where, on the information of Charles Kent, an employee of Richard Gibbons (7), he was convicted of "Riotously breaking machinery", a capital offence for which he had "Death" recorded against his name, though this sentence was respited to 18 months hard labour. (13)

Several of the members of the newly formed association for the protection of property in Hungerford were rewarded (amounts given in brackets) for their part in the arrest of David Garlick and George Rosier, of Hungerford. The former was arrested with some difficulty by John Cook (£12), the warrant for his arrest having been issued on the basis of information provided by Thomas Major (£5), and John Barton , John Canning , Edward Liddiard and Charles Lambourn, who each received £4. On the testimony of Thomas Viner and Charles Kent (£21) Garlick was found guilty of destroying machinery. It was information provided by Viner (£25) and Kent which led to the arrest of George Rosier by George Cundell (£7), Alfred Atherton (£7) and John Stevens (£7). (7) No doubt the financial reward would have sufficed to quieten the consciences of these brave yeomen if the sentence of death which was passed on both Garlick and Rosier had in fact been carried out.

Abraham Nobbs, a bookbinder, received £50 for the very little time and effort involved in the arrest of Joseph Tuck. He saw the latter in the centre of Hungerford on Thursday, 25th November, but when he went to arrest him Tuck ran away and hid himself in the yard of the White Lion (sic) public house. Nobbs followed and succeeded in arresting him and taking him before the magistrate.(7) Tuck, who , during the affray at Gibbons' iron foundry had purloined an iron bar which he tried to sell to a local blacksmith, had plenty of time during which to regret his failure to put a greater distance between himself and his pursuer, for he was one of the dozen or so unfortunates from the area who were transported, in his case for seven years.

John Cook and Daniel Allen unsuccessfully petitioned the Treasury for a reward for the arrest of Israel Pullen in spite of their plea that they had only "succeeded in apprehending him... after considerable labour and fatigue." The hard-hearted Treasury official may well have succumbed to this plea had it not been accompanied by a solicitor's letter which stated that "they were merely sent with a summons to Pullen, at his lodgings in Hungerford, to attend the magistrates in the town, which he did. In these circumstances I submit that these persons were not entitled to the reward." (7) Cook and Allen may have been aggrieved but no more so than Pullen, who was a shoemaker andclaimed that he had been forced to go with the mob, which had threatened to "pull his house about his ears" if he did not join them. (14)

Having rounded up the rioters those in authority were determined that they should be punished for their audacity in taking the law into their own hands. As early as the 26th of November the Clerk of the Peace for Newbury, W. Budd, had written to the Home Secretary giving notice that it was the intention of the Berkshire magistrates to hold "a General Sessions of the Peace at Reading on Tuesday, 7th December, for Trial of the persons who have been committed for breaking threshing machines and for rioting." On the following day, however, warrants were issued by the Home Office for Special Commissions to sit in Hants, Berks and Wilts for that purpose. Afraid that some of the rioters might escape punishment because of leniency on the part of the Attorney-General or his representative the Berkshire magistrates held a Special Meeting at Newbury at which they resolved "that in all cases in which the Government shall not prosecute offenders, it is the opinion of this meeting that the Clerks of the Petty Sessions should conduct the prosecutions, the indictments being prepared by counsel."(11) The government was not at all put out by the zeal shown by the Berkshire J.P.s and informed them that it was hoped to be able to provide them with the assistance of "a professional gentleman", a Mr. Tallents. However, Mr. Tallents was to be fully engaged in similar business at Salisbury, and his place at Reading was taken by Mr. Maule, Solicitor to the Treasury. (11 and 15)

If the local magistrates genuinely suspected the government of being likely to lack energy in prosecuting the rioters they could not have read, or placed little faith in, the report of the Lord Chancellor's speech on 2nd December. Lord Brougham pompously declared that "Within a few days from the time I am addressing your lordships, the sword of Justice shall be unsheathed to smite with a firm and vigorous hand the rebel against the law." (16) Little more than a fortnight later these supporters of tough measures against the rioters were to be appalled at the ferocity of some of the sentences handed down by the senior judge of the Special Commission at Reading.

(1) P.R.O. H.O. 52-6. Charles Dundas to Home Secretary, 24th November, 1830
(2) ibid Frederick Page to ditto
(3) Reading Mercury, 29th November, 1830.
(4) W. Money, "The History of Newbury".
(5) P.R.O. H.O. 52-6. Frederick Page to Home Secretary, 25th November,1830.
(6) M. Bowen, "A Short History of Kintbury."
(7) P.R.O. T. 1-4193.
(8) P.R.O. H.O. 41-8. Lord Melbourne to Charles Dundas.
(9) Reading Mercury, 20th December,1830.
(10) P.R.O. H.O. 52-6. F. Westall to Sir R. Freeling, 25th November,1830.
(11) Berks R.O. D/EPg.01/4.
(12) P.R.O. H.O. 41/8
(13) P.R.O. H.O. 27-41. and H.O. 8-27.
(14) Reading Mercury, 3rd January, 1831.
(15) Reading Mercury, 13th December, 1830.
(16) J.L. & B. Hammond, op.cit.

See also:

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Introduction

Part 1 - Berkshire:

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 1 "Distress and consequent repair"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 2 "Now is our time"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 3 "Severity is the only remedy"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 4 "A chase tho' the country"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 5 "No friend in Heaven"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 6 "Each in his separate hell"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 7 "Aftermath"

Part 2: To "Botany Bay"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 8 "The hulks and the convict ships"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 9 "Botany Bay"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 10 "Green pastures"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 11 "Beyond the Blue Mountains"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 12 "The valley of the hunter"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 13 "Van Diemen's land"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Postscript

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Tables & Sources