Riot

THE HEXHAM MILITIA RIOT, 1761

Tom Corfe


Synopsis

Hexham Market Place was the setting for a violent demonstration against the Militia Law that ended when troops fired on the crowd, and about fifty people died.

The Cobblestones appearing in the nineteenth-century photograph were awash with blood. Next day, the rain cleared it all away.

The memory of the riot and massacre faded quickly, except in Hexham. Even Hexham had no visible memorial to the disaster until 2004.

RIOT is based on contemporary sources, which give a vivid account of the tragic day. It explains why the riot broke out, why the ruling gentry were determined to suppress it, why it was easily forgotten. It sets the whole story in its national and regional context. The British government was embroiled in war overseas and feared subversion at home. Country gentlemen needed a citizen army to protect the country from invasion and to keep order. But when they proposed to recruit the militia by ballot, independent craftsmen, labourers and farmers protested. It was to stop the balloting that a crowd said to be 5,000 strong demonstrated in Hexham Market Place. The story of what followed is told here, with many illustrations.
 

ISBN 0-954-79760-4

Cover


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