Owslebury Lads, The
DESCRIPTION: 30 November 1830 a mob of Owslebury lads wreck machinery. Sent for trial to Winchester, "many was transported for life and some was case to die." Conditions in the jail are hard. "For all the poor in Hampshire for rising of their wages"
EARLIEST DATE: 1906 (Reeves-Circle)
KEYWORDS: poverty violence crime execution punishment sabotage transportation trial farming technology food ordeal
Nov 19-25, 1830 -- Riots in Winchester district (source: Times of London)
Dec 30, 1830-Jan 3, 1831 -- Special Commission at Winchester (source: Times of London)
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Reeves-Circle 103, "The Owslebury Lads" (1 text)
Palmer-Painful, #8, "The Owslebury Lads" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Jon Raven, _The Urban and Industrial Songs of the Black Country and Birmingham_, Broadside, 1977, pp. 37-39, "The Owslebury Lads" ("The thirtieth of November, Eighteen hundred and thirty") (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES [392 words]: Raven's text is based on the same manuscript as is printed in Reeves-Circle. I have cited it because it includes the tune and has a more detailed explanation of the situation than Reeves-Circle. Reeves-Circle's first line is "The thirtieth of November last eighteen hundred and thirteen," which, Reeves points out, should have noted the date as 1830, not 1813. When reading Raven note that the Winchester commission, convened December 18, 1830, covered many more "riots" than Owslebury. For background on this [p. 282] and similar occurrences, and the results of the subsequent Special Commission at Winchester, and Special Commissions for Wiltshire at Salisbury and other locations, see J.L. Hammond and Barbara Hammond, The Village Labourer 1760-1832 (Longmans, Green and Co, 1913 ("Digitized by Google")), pp. 240-334, Chapters 11 and 12, "The Last Labourers' Revolt." Details of the Special Commission at Winchester are reported in the Times of London, Dec 22, 1830-Jan 3, 1831. For a summary of the "riot" activity see The Times of London, Wednesday, Dec 22, 1830; pg. 5; Issue 14416; Start column: C. (Copyright 2002 The Gale Group); the later issues cover the details of the Special Commission at Winchester's activities and indictments.
The machines being broken were primarily threshing machines. Two convicted thrashers at Salisbury were enlightened by the judge at sentencing: "You are both thrashers and you might in the perversion of your understanding think that these machines are detrimental to you. Be assured that your labour cannot ultimately be hurt by the employment of these machines. If they are profitable to the farmer, they will also be profitable to the labourer, though they may for a time injure him. If they are not profitable to the farmer he will soon cease to employ them" (Hammond, p. 295).
For all of the three weeks of Special Commissions, "In the riots ... the only man who had been killed was a rioter.... On the other side, not a single person had been killed or seriously wounded. For these riots, apart from the cases of arson, for which six men or boys were hung, aristocratic justice exacted three lives, and the transportation of four hundred and fifty-seven men and boys [to Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales], in addition to the imprisonment of about four hundred at home" (Hammond, pp. 307-308).- BS
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