This Day in History – Eastleach Martin and Eastleach Turville

Henry Adams, aged 23;

John Hunt, aged 20;

Edward Scotford, aged 29;

William Witchell, aged 40;

Were all committed to prison in Gloucester on 30 November for assembling with the intention of destroying the machines of John Tuskwell of Eastleach Turville.

Thomas Smith, aged 28;

Richard Beuwell aged 21;

Robert Ebsworth, aged 26;

Thomas Wells, aged 46;

Henry Eldridge, aged 33;

John Adams, aged 30;

Thomas Cox, aged 17

All committed to the gaol (prison) at Gloucester on 30 November 1830 for assembling in large numbers in the parishes of Eastleach Martin and Eastleach Turville, and for breaking machines, property of James Proctor and others, during a period known as The Swing Riots.

 

The background to the Swing Riots:

Following years of war, high taxes and low wages, farm labourers, especially in the south and east of England, finally snapped in 1830. These farm labourers had faced progressive impoverishment and unemployment over the previous fifty years due to the widespread introduction of the threshing machine and the policy of enclosing fields. No longer were thousands of men needed to tend the crops, a few would suffice. The anger of the rioters was directed at three targets that were seen as the prime source of their misery: the Tithe system, the Poor Law guardians, and the rich tenant farmers who had been progressively lowering wages while introducing agricultural machinery.

With fewer jobs, lower wages and no prospects of things improving for these workers the threshing machine was the final straw, the object that was to place them on the brink of starvation. The Swing Rioters smashed the threshing machines and threatened farmers who had them.

The start of the riots:

The first threshing machine was destroyed on Saturday night, 28 August 1830. By the third week of October, over one hundred threshing machines had been destroyed in East Kent.

Mystery surrounds the nominal leader of the riots, Captain Swing, whose name is appended to several of the threatening letters sent to farmers, magistrates, parsons and others. The “Swing letters” were first mentioned by The Times on the 21 October 1830. Captain Swing has never been identified, and many people believe that he never existed, having been created by the workers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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