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Durham e-Theses
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Social discontent and Agrarian disturbances in Essex, 1795 - 1850

Amos, S. W. (1971) Social discontent and Agrarian disturbances in Essex, 1795 - 1850. Masters thesis, Durham University.



According to Martin Luther King, riots are "the language of the unheard". This dissertation describes the condition of the Essex agricultural labourers and how they reacted against, and sought to improve, their lot. There were six stages in the development of the workers' protest, i) The old-style food riot, ii) wage demands, which reached their climax in the 1830 riots, iii) machine-breaking between 1815 and 1830, iv) early agricultural unionism, v) rural Chartism, and vi) the increasing use of incendiarism to express discontent. The causes of unemployment after 1815 are examined in Chapter III and in the following section the labourers' standard of living is discussed. The Game Laws, the altered methods of employment, and the decline in 'living in 1 added to the tension within the villages. Various methods of alleviating distress were tried but the bulk of the unemployed were forced to apply for parish relief. Chapter VI includes discussion on the controversial question of the effects of the allowance system after 1795. The central part of the dissertation is concerned with a description, of the 1830 riots. Despite the large number of Essex labourers transported after the disturbances, serious trouble was restricted to a small area. Chapter IX examines the hostility of the labourers towards the Anglican clergy and the influence of Methodism in the riotous areas of 1830. The initial severities of the New Poor Law ended the comparative tranquillity of the period 1831-5. Chapter VIII describes the conditions within the workhouse and the reaction of the labourers to the measures of 1834. Despite the easing of the Boor Law regulations,, there was little sign, from the incendiarism after 1846, that agrarian discontent was on the wane at the end of the period.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1971
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 17:04

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