10th November, 1830

10/11/2018 all-day

The agricultural ‘Swing Riots’ reached Norfolk. In a time of economic hardship for agricultural workers, rioters in southern England took to breaking new machinery, such as threshing machines, that they felt had cost them their jobs.
“On this date began the machine-breaking riots and stack firing which gradually extended over the greater part of the county.
“The first fire occurred on the farm of Mr J Hill, of Briston, and a reward of £1,000 was offered by Sir Jacob Astley for the discovery of the offenders. On the 16th a mob destroyed the agricultural machinery belonging to Mr John Girling, of Paston.
“The outrages became so numerous that the principal agriculturalists got rid of their threshing-machines, and Col Wodehouse, the Lieutenant of the County, issued a circular to magistrates requesting them to swear in special constables.”
Unrest continued throughout the region that autumn. The mythical ‘Captain Swing’ was held to be the ringleader, but in fact the machine breaking seems to have been largely spontaneous.