GENUKI Home page
Warwickshire Name Lists Warwickshire
Name Lists
    Contents & Site Map Contents &
Site Map

Birmingham Riot, 1791

Transcription by Various © 2000
The following items relating to the Birmingham Riots have been circulated by Robert Deloyde and others on WARWICK-L, the RootsWeb Mailing List. Other contributors are Michael J McCormick, Lorna F Webb, Andrew Spencer, and Carolyn Paisley.
"On the 14th of July, 1791, a party having met at an hotel, to celebrate the anniversary of the French Revolution, a mob collected in front of the house, and broke the windows; they thence proceeded to the Unitarian meeting-house, which, with another, they burnt down. Doctor Priestley's dwelling-house, about a mile from the town, was the next object of attack, which, with his library, philosophical apparatus, and manuscripts, shared the same fate. For several days they continued their devastations, setting fire to several other meeting-houses and private mansions, but on the arrival of the military from Oxford and Hounslow, order was restored. At the ensuing assizes four of the ring-leaders were convicted, two of whom suffered the penalty of the law. Shortly after this occurrence barracks were erected on the Vauxhall-road, near the town, consisting of a range of handsome buildings, enclosing a spacious area for the exercise of cavalry, and a smaller for parades, a riding-school, a magazine, and an hospital." [Extract from The Saturday Magazine Vol 4, January-June, 1834: Some Account of the Manufacturing Town of Birmingham - Google Books]

This is a list of the years there were riots (in Birmingham never)

1793The Little Riot
1810In The Market Riot
1813Religious Riot
1816Moor St Riot
1837Royal Hotel Riot
1839Bullring Riot,
1847Snow Hill Flour Mill Riot
1867Murphy Riot

It has to be said that it was not just Birmingham - other big town/cities were the same.

"On the 16th and 17th of July 1867 occurred the last of that long series of riots which have rendered the town of Birminham somewhat infamous in that respect. It originated in the weekness of the chief magistrate of the town in refusing to grant the use of the town hall for the purpose of a series of anti-papal lectures by the late Mr William Murphy and thus tacitly giving the rough element in the town to understand that Mr Murphy was not to be protected from any attacks which might be made upon him by such of the said roughs as might feel aggrieved by the certainly intemperate language of the lecturer."
On the 16/june/1867, Park street was the worst to be hit by the rioters, but by night-fall peace had returned.
Source: Old and new Birmingham 1880, Robert K Dent.

[Lorna F Webb] Here is a copy of an article I was sent by Jo Keen while researching the riots of 1791.

To commemorate the revolution in France, a number of gentlemen dined at the hotel, in Temple-Row, on Thursday, the 14th of July. A tumult being suspected, two magistrates and the constables, though not of the company, attended in the hotel, and every other precaution was taken to preserve the peace. A vast concourse of people assembled round the hotel by two o'clock in the afternoon. About five, the mob began to shew signs of turbulence, and before six, it was recommended to the gentlemen to retire for the sake of peace; and, though they instantly complied, not a single person of the company remaining, yet the multitude still increased and threatened destruction.

The mob carried their designs with a degree of system which it is almost incredible to suppose. Had they even received regular orders for their conduct, they could not have been more systematic in their proceedings. Not a house but what belonged to dissenters was pulled down.

During the whole of those transactions, the populace. continually shouted "God save the King" - "Long live the king, and the constitution in church and state. - Down with the dissenters - down with all the abettors of French rebellion." - "Church and King." - "Down with the rumps" - "No Olivers" - "No false rights of man".

On Sunday night the military arrived, consisting of the Oxford Blues and party of light horse from Hounslow. By eleven o'clock the whole town was completely illuminated, in order to give effect to the troops, which was continued till day light. During the night more troops came in from every quarter; and they lay on their arms till ten next forenoon, when a regular guard was established.

The terror and distress which pervaded the whole town, while these dreadful scenes were acting, will be better conceived than described. The magistrates had tried every means of persuasion, to no effect; large bills were stuck up, requesting all persons to retire to their respective homes, to no purpose; nothing certain was known respecting the approach of the military; and numbers of the rioters, joined by thieves and drunken prostitutes from every quarter, were with blue cockades in their hats, in all parts of the town, and in small bodies, levying contributions on the inhabitants. There was scarcely an housekeeper that dared refuse them meat, drink, money or whatever they demanded. The shops were mostly shut up, business nearly at a stand, and everybody employed removing and secreting their valuables .

The rapid march of the troops to the relief of the town exhilarated the spirits of every peaceable individual, and soon contributed to the entire dispersion of the banditti. As an acknowledgement of the expedition and behaviour of these troops, the dissenters, on the re~establishment of order, presented them with one hundred pounds; and, at a town's meeting, the like sum was voted to the privates; also, a handsome sword to each officer - and a piece of plate, value one hundred guineas, to each of the magistrates.

At the Warwick Assizes which followed, four men were capitally convicted of being concerned in these riots, two of them, Francis Field and John Green, suffered the sentence of the law in the 8th of September, the other two received his majesty's pardon.

[Andrew Spencer] I don't know the article you're referring to, but there was an ad in "Aris's Birmingham Gazette" on 11th July 1791 which read:

"Hotel Birmingham,
July 7, 1791.
A number of Gentlemen intend to dine together on the 14th instant..."

Note the nuance in formulation.

[Carolyn Paisley] According to the Birningham historian, William Hutton, writing in 1781, 5/8 of the town's households lived in houses too poor to be assessed for poor rates. He suggests that this represents 30,000 of the town's 50,000 inhabitants. Added to this were another 5,000 receiving weekly parish relief, plus yet others employed on parish works or in the workhouse. At the other end of the scale, was a small elite who combined manufacturing with merchanting and, sometimes, finance. This elite included:

John Taylor: toy trade
Matthew Boulton: Soho Works
the Galtons: combined Quakerism with arms manufacture
Lloyds: descendents of Samuel Lloyd, co-founder with John Taylor of Lloyd's Bank
the Rylands
Dissenters, usually Quaker or Unitarian prominent in this elite
George Humphreys, John Taylor and William Russell were said to have employed 10,000 people between them
William Russell: prominent merchant and Unitarian layman
Joseph Priestley: Unitarian minister of the New Meeting
George Croft: lecturer at St Martin's
John Hobson: minister of Kingswood Unitarian chapel
Captain James Keir: Anglican manufacturer of chemical goods from West Bromwich
Thomas Woobridge: Keeper of the prison
John Ryland, Baskerville House, Easy Hill: victim of riot
William Hutton: house and shop in High St: victim
John Taylor: home and offices at Bordesley Hall: victim
Lee family, Mrs Hobson, the Russells, 4 Cox children: Unitarians seeking refuge at Warstck Farm (owned by Coxes)
Joseph Jukes and John Coates at Ladywood: victims
John Hobson, Bordesley Heath: victim
John Harwood: blind Baptist preacher: victim
Thomas Hawkes: Moseley Wake Green: victim
William Russell, Showell Green, victim
William Hutton, Bennett's Hill, Washwood Heath, attender at Carr's
Lane Congregationalist Chapel (which had Unitarian leanings): victim
William Humphreys, Sparkbrook: victim
Lady Carhampton, Moseley Hall: victim
George Russell, Samuel Blyth (joint minister of New Meeting), Thoams
Lee (steward of Birmingham Manor) and Mr Westley: victims
Samuel Galton, Duddeston: victim
Mr Taverner, tenant at Cox's farm at Warstck: victim
Dr William Withering, Edgbaston Hall: managed to garrison his home with "some famous fighters from Birmingham", repulsed rioters
Russell and Taylor: JP's
Taylor: High Sherriff of County
William Hutton: historian and stationer, says he was abducted by the rioters, taking to a tavern and forced to shake hands with 100 rioters and buy them 329 gallons of beer!
Mr Hunt, Ladywood: Jukes received a letter from his son stating that Dr Withering's house and Mr Hunt's house were to "come down".
John Stoakes, alias Paine: said to be a mob leader, a smokejack maker of Walmore Lane
Catherine Hutton: daughter of William Hutton
John Green; meeting supposedly held in his house just before riot to determine how to "punish these damned Presbyterians"
Dr Benjamin Spencer, died 1823, vicar of Aston, magistrate
Edward Carver: president of Birmingham Church and King Club in 1792, master manufacturer
Joseph Carles,1740-96, local landowner of Brown's Green, Staffs and Warwicks, JP
John Brookes, attorney, under sherriff of Warwicks, county coroner
Spencer, Carles, Brookes and Carver said to be riot leaders
Matthew Jones: clerk to Brooke
T W Hill: member of Priestley's congregation, made citizen's arrest of one rioter
Abraham Lee, steel-toy maker: rioter
John Paine: smokejack maker, bridle, bit and stirrup maker, Dudley St: rioter
Joseph Carless, birdcatcher and gardener: rioter
Daniel Rose, aged 16, general servent and errand boy: rioter
James Watkins: dealer in bones: rioter
William Shuker: town crier: rioter
These names were extracted from an outstanding article on the 1791 Riot - The Priestley Riots of 1791, by R. B. Rose.

Top of Page Return to top of page

[Posted originally to a RootsWeb Mailing List by Various, and last modified 21 Jul 2003.
Prepared for GENUKI by Peter Abbott]

GENUKI Home  |  Conditions of Use  |  Contents  |  FAQ  |  GENUKI on WT  |  Help  |  Report Errors  |  Search

© Copyright GENUKI and contributors, 2000-2009, &c.
GENUKI is a registered trade mark of the charitable trust GENUKI, see About GENUKI as an Organisation

Are you lost in the Genuki hierarchy or arrived here from a Search Engine?
If so, use the up-arrow(s) at the top of the page to go up the hierarchy.

URL of this page:

Valid XHTML 1.0! [Created by Peter Abbott. Last updated 20 Mar 2009 - 13:36 by Rosemary Lockie]