History Inc Newsletter
Editor Martin R. Jervis
As History Inc, History-Plus and ZTP continue to expand, as we are aiming to fill a gap in adult education history in Manchester and beyond.
Welcome to our monthly History Inc Newsletter, which will bring you the latest news about courses, day schools and Saturday sessions. This newsletter will not only to act as a 'notice board', but also provide short historical articles, together with a brief reading list, to enhance your learning experience. If you wish to make comment or observation, we will be only too happy to publish such in this newsletter. We welcome your active participation, as part of our goal of maintaining high professional standards in our teaching.
This autumn, History Inc and History-Plus will focus on the early Georgian period. The coronation of George I three hundred and seven years ago, on First October 1714 was opposed by many, who remained loyal to the exiled Stuarts. Coronation Day exploded into widespread rioting, looting, destruction of property, assault and, in at least one case, murder. These events became known as the "Coronation Riots", which divided a nation and demonstrated growing support for the Old pretender and for Jacobitism.
THE 1714 CORONATION RIOTS
Martin R. Jervis
Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch, died on 1st August 1714, to be replaced by the German Protestant, George Louis, Elector of Hanover. This was in strict accordance with the 1701 Act of Settlement, which prevented Anne's Catholic half-brother, James Francis Edward Stuart (the Old Pretender), from accending the throne. This was not a universally popular decision, and by October 1714, there was widespread unrest throughout south and west England. This became as known as the Coronation Riots.
George's coronation on 20th October, from which many of the Tory aristocracy and gentry absented themselves. Hanoverian celebrations, comprising balls, bonfires and unrestrained public drinking, were violently interrupted. Riots broke out in twenty towns of south and western England. The rioters attacked the celebrators and destroyed their property. Henry Sacheverell, arch-Tory and Jacobite demagogue, went on a 'progress' of the West Country, whipping up trouble wherever he spoke.
In Bristol the mob shouted, "Sacheverell ... and damn all foreigners!". In Taunton they cried "Church and Dr. Sacheverell!", whilst in Birmingham, rioters screamed "Kill the old Rogue [King George], Kill them all, Sacheverell for ever". At Tewkesbury, they chanted "Sacheverell for ever, Down with the Roundheads [Whigs]”. Similar events were reported at Shrewsbury, Dorchester and Nuneaton. The violence also extended to Dissenters, who publicly supported George because he was Protestant. In Bristol, a Dissenter meeting place was looted. A Quaker, who attempted to peacefully intervene was murdered. Another Dissenter meeting-house in Dorchester was attacked, as also happened in Canterbury, Norwich and Reading.
Growing support for the Jacobite cause became evident when it was reported that one rioter in Taunton stated on 19 October that "on the morrow he must take up Arms against the King". A Birmingham rioter encouraged the mob to "pull down this King and Sett up a King of our own". Rioters in Dorchester, attempted to prevent the burning of an effigy of James Stuart, shouting "Who dares disowne the Pretender?" In Bedford, the local maypole (Jacobite symbol) was put into permanent mourning. In Frome (Somerset) the rioters "dressed up an Idiot, called George, in a Fool's Coat, saying, Here's our [King] George”. At Newton Abbey, the Anglican minister removed the bell-clappers, to prevent the bells from being rung in celebration of the coronation.
The government did not trust the local magistrates to prosecute the rioters and so attempted to bring the offenders to London. However, when five rioters were brought to London from Taunton they were released on bail. Seven Bristol rioters were to be tried by a Special Commission but this merely increased the rioting and led to a physical assault upon the Duke of Richmond. The rioters continued their rampage throughout the south and west, drumming up support for the Jacobite cause.
Gradually, the violence ebbed away, enabling the Crown to quietly reimpose order throughout the south and the west. Ringleaders escaped indictment, whilst other rioters were whipped, fined or imprisoned for three months. There were no executions, and the Jacobite cause continued ...
The best available historical overviews of the Georgian era are:
O'Gorman, F. The Long Eighteenth Century: British Politcal and Social History 1688-1832 (London, 1997)(There is a second edition O'Gorman's work, published in 2016, but is expensive - the first edition (1997) is cheaper)
Porter, R. English Society in the Eighteenth Century Rev. Ed. (London, 1990)
Monod, P. Jacobitism and the English People. 1688-1788 (Cambridge UP, 1993).
Rogers, N. "Riot and Popular Jacobitism in Early Hanoverian England", in Cruickshanks, E (ed.), Ideology and Conspiracy: Aspects of Jacobitism, 1689-1759 (Edinburgh, 1982)