Sunday 1 July 2007

Dorset Swing Riots

Captain Swing in Dorset by Cyril Coffin

The first Swing riots in Dorset were on 23 November in Cranborne, Edmondsham and Handley. But already an unpopular magistrate at Bere Regis, James Frampton (who later arrested the Tolpuddle martyrs), had had to read the Riot Act at Winfrith, and had harangued sullen crowds at Bere Regis, where a man and 2 boys were arrested. Swing riots or disturbances took place in numerous Dorset villages Stoke Wake,Mappowder, Woolland, Buckland Newton , Pulham, Shaftesbury, Stour Provost,Castle Hill, Lulworth, Preston, Winfrith,Wool,Stalbridge,Lytchett Matravers As a result of the Swing Riots special courts were set up by Lord Gray and legal terror swept the countryside. Those suspected of being involved were arrested, other's who sympathised were forced from their home fearing their imminent arrest

At Dorchester court house on 10 January 1831, 57 prisoners awaited trial - including 6 accused of ‘robbery" demanding money, The 6 were duly sentenced to death, but this was later changed to transportation, and they were among the dozen Dorset men eventually transported to Australia on the prison ship York, which sailed 4th February 1831, 4 from Stoke Wake, 3 from Mappowder, 2 from Pulham, and one from Stour Provost.

      We labour hard from morn to night, until our bones do ache.
      Then every one we must obey, their mouldy beds to make.
      We often wish, when we lay down, we ne’er may rise no more
      To meet our savage Governors upon Van Diemen’s shore.


      William Cobbett in his Political Register, had estimated that the new mechanised threshing machine could do the days work of 10 Labourers

      Nationally, nine were hanged 450 transported to Australia for alleged involvement in the Swing Riots