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Rural crime and protest in Wiltshire 1830-1875

Billinge, E (1984) Rural crime and protest in Wiltshire 1830-1875. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86228) (KAR id:86228)


Throughout the period 1830-1875, the position of the agricultural population of many southern and eastern counties of England, including Wiltshire, was one of great uncertainty and often dire poverty resulting from chronic seasonal and structural unemployment. This thesis traces the development of unrest which sprang from the grievances of the rural poor in Wiltshire, from the Swing Riots in the winter of 1830-31, to the emergence of agricultural trade unionism on a national scale, the 'Revolt of the Field', in the early 1870s. For much of this period the poor bargaining position of the agricultural labouring population meant that protest was often expressed anonymously and in criminal forms, notably arson, livestock maiming and threatening letters. Side by side with this underground tradition however, a more organised and open tradition kept up a feeble existence, before establishing itself more strongly in the 1860s and 1870s when the worst rural poverty began to ease. The extent and nature of protest was determined by a complex array of local conditions. This thesis considers first the nature of rural society in Wiltshire, and then criminal activity as an indicator of rural poverty or as a manifestation of protest. Each of the subsequent chapters deals with one of the major areas of protest; Swing rioting, arson, Anti-Corn Law League agitation, strikes and agricultural trade unionism. Each is considered in relation to a number of parishes in an attempt to illustrate how factors such as the nature of settlement and agricultural activity, occupational structure and the availability of alternative employment, and the response of local landowners and farmers, as well as wider economic and political trends, determined the pattern of rural unrest.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86228
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Uncontrolled keywords: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:36 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2022 11:19 UTC
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