a Mr Anning, a tanner of this
place, had all the windows in the front of his house broke by the mob - above 170 panes of glass - a Mr Gibbons Iron founder all his workshops. Moulds, furnice and all cast iron materials found on his premises quite
destroid - the Gentlemen and Tanners promises to give the labourers 2/- pr day for their work - there have been a few fires near us one at Lamborne several at a greater distance, I hope we shall be quieter tomorrow
- I think if we had a few horse soldiers they would have easy dispersed the mob - the greater part appearing to me to be young men and women but very desparate towards the middle of the day - 1am.
. . .Sir, your
Most obt. Servt- J. Westall, Hungerford".
In a letter dated 5 December 1830, Mr John Pearse, (of Chilton Lodge) MP for Devizes, wrote to the Home Secretary:
"Chilton Lodge, 5.12.1830. My Lord, I have great satisfaction in informing your Lordship that this country is become
perfectly quiet, the poor people having returned to their work with great good humour. I lament that they should have obtained an increase of Wages by such violent means but such is the total want of feeling of the
Farmers towards the common labourers that I fear they never would have got it without. Their crying wants would never have reached the unfeeling hearts of these people otherwise. In most of the villages purely
agricultural they paid the labourer only 7/- a week and in Hungerford 8/- a week whereas by common consent they ought to receive 10/-. I am speaking of course of able bodied labourers - lesser wages will be paid to
others according to their power of earning their pay. I never saw so much happiness as has been produced by this change. It is a great step from 7 or 8 to 10/-, more than they ever expected to receive but nor more
than meets their want. I am strongly of the opinion that when this new pay begins to produce its effects there will be a corresponding reduction in the amount of the poor's rate equal to the advance of wages and
the poor man's pride will be relieved from the opprobrious epithet of pauper. The destruction of the Threshing machines will give employment to a great number of labourers and as it is an operation generally
carried on between Michaelmas and Ladyday it will be important with respect to the time of year and I am of the opinion will give employment to all the labourers usually out of work at this season.
Incendiary still continues involved in mystery, but in my opinion carried on by the purses and influence of radical scoundrels who think they can produce revolution by the anarchy and confusion of the common means
I am My Lord .. Your Lordship's Obedient Servant John Pearse".
Very great detail of the events is available in Norman Fox's excellent book - "Berkshire to Botany Bay". The following is extracted from his book:
"The Hungerford men made their way to Denford where they met with their Kintbury comrades. From there the combined body (possibly around 500 men) marched on Mr Hayter's at Denford Farm,
from which, having smashed all the machinery they could find, they advanced on Hungerford.
"About ¾ mile from Hungerford on the London Road" they were met by about a dozen mounted gentlemen led by Mr John Willes of Hungerford Park. The party included 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 crowds was met with violence.
On reaching the outskirts of the town some of them broke the windows of the house belonging to Mr Annings, a tanner. 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 Annings' 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.
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". A wine
merchant, appropriately called 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".
But one man halloed out "Hark forward! Go at it! Break the iron to pieces!" and about 3-400 of them broke through the gateway. 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." 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'. Poor Richard Gibbons claim was rejected, and he failed to
gain any recompense for the damage done.
The men were tried at a Special Assize at Reading - it opened on Monday 27 December 1830. 130 men were tried, 70 coming from the Hungerford and Kintbury area. Of the 24 Hungerford men
, 11 were sentenced to death. However, Mr Justice Park
told all eleven of them that they had been convicted of offences that had forfeited their lives to the offended laws of their country. However, he added that he recommended them to mercy as far as sparing their lives was concerned, although with respect to some it was only after "deep and painful consideration" that the court had come to this decision. In the end, five were deported (one
Joseph Smith dying in the Portsmouth hulks on 19 January 1837, never having left Portsmouth), 14 were imprisoned, and five were acquitted.
The Hungerford men included:
- John Aldridge, destroying machinery belonging to Richard Gibbons, transported to
New South Wales (Sydney) for 7 years,
(aged 36 years, married with six children,
illiterate, blacksmith). At the time of his Certificate of Freedom on 18th December 1839,
he was residing in
Liverpool on the Great Southern Road to Campbelltown.
- William Chitter, destroying machinery belonging to Richard Gibbons, 6 months hard labour,
- John Cope, destroying machinery belonging to
Richard Gibbons, 12 months hard labour,
- Jeremiah Dobson, destroying machinery belonging to Richard Gibbons, 12 months hard
- John Field, destroying machinery
belonging to Richard Gibbons, 12 months hard labour,
- Charles Green, indicted for destroying threshing machines, and forcibly demanding food,
was found guilty of and was
transported to New South Wales (Sydney) for 7 years, (aged
27 years, married with one child, able to read, a labourer (able to plough, reap and sow).
Green settled in Campbelltown, and was successful in having his family move out
to join him. Unfortunately, his wife died, however, but he remarried in May 1851, going
to have a further seven children.
- David Hawkins, indicted for Robbery, destroying threshing machines, destroying fixed
machinery and riotous
assembly. He was found guilty of destroying machinery belonging
to Richard Gibbons, transported to Van Dieman's Land [now Tasmania] for 7 years, (aged
years, married with five children, illiterate, farm labourer),
- Israel Pullen, destroying machinery belonging to Richard Gibbons, 18 months hard labour,
- Charles Rosier, destroying machinery
belonging to Richard Gibbons, 18 months hard
- George Rosier, destroying machinery belonging to Richard Gibbons, 18 months hard labour - Joseph Tuck,
destroying machinery belonging to Richard Gibbons, transported to New
South Wales (Sydney) for 7 years, (aged 29 years, widower, able to read and write,
and porter). Less than a year after he had received his certificate of Freedom, he
died in Sydney in May 1838.
- Thomas Willoughby, destroying machinery belonging to Richard
Gibbons, 18 months hard
- David Garlick (or Yarlick), destroying machinery belonging to Richard Gibbons, 12 months
The Hungerford men acquitted were Edward Everett, Charles Smith, William Haynes, George Sturgess and James Wilkins.
- Berkshire to Botany Bay - the 1830 Labourer's Revolt in Berkshire, Norman Fox
- "What did the rioters achieve?" - NWN Norman Fox, 1981 (pdf)
- "What did the rioters achieve?" - NWN Norman Fox, 1981 (jpg)
- Caring for the Poor
- Iron Foundries
Back to Top