The Great Riot of 1830-1
An account of the Riot at Headley Workhouse (now Headley Grange) which started on Tuesday 23rd November 1830 following a similar event at Selborne the previous day, related to the Rev WH Laverty (Rector of Headley 1872 - 1929) and taken down by him verbatim. Told to him by a Mr John Lickfold who kept Headley Stores and was recalling it more than 40 years after the event.
Oh! it was a mob! Ah! there must have been 2000 of them, said Mr Lickfold (*), they came from Kingsley & all round, I'll be bound there was 2000. The old gentleman (meaning the Rector **) was living where Mrs Bennett lives at Hilland, this house (we were talking in the Rectory) was under repair & the old gentleman heard what was coming, & he popped down to old Mr Eustace, down there, you know, at Arford House but they dragged him out, & his wife too, Mrs Dickinson, & they brought them all up the green; & the women patted them on the back, Aha! you'll come down 300 I know & they made him sign a paper that he wouldn't take more than so much tithe.
Rates were 21/- in the pound, they used to give 1/6 a week to every one over 3 children; & the mob went round everywhere to all the houses & begged what they could, I had the shop up here where Rogers (***) is, & they came, & I gave them I think it was, seven loaves & some cheese, & ____ you recollect old ____ don't you Bluebell (Bluebell didn't) Oh! well he got in front of them & drove them back, don't you see says he, he's giving you bread what do you want more, you'll break the window, so he drove them back; - & they went off & pulled the workhouse down, got on the roof, & smashed it all to pieces, & you should have seen the women carrying off the bedding, but my eye didn't they bring it back when the soldiers came. The soldiers came two days after, (on horse-back? asked Mr Bluebell) Oh yes horse one by one, not two & two, I saw them coming, I says to the missis how many be there, I don't know says she, 40 I thought, but there was only 15 or 20;- I saw old ____ sneaking towards the workus & I says hello! where be you a going, & he says going to pull down ____ workhouse. Oh! I says no, you ain't; well old Mr - what's his name that lived at Fowly (Fowley), it belonged to him, oh! dear me, well I don't know, well he was a magistrate (****) & he got all the people together at the anchor, swore them in you know, special constables, & someone said here they come, so he got 'em all out in the road, & when the mob sees 'em off they ran, some got over the hedge & I sees old ____ soon after when the soldiers had come, & I says hello! how did you get on at ____; Oh! he says I'm deuced glad I had nothing to do with it - (what did the soldiers do asked Mr Bluebell); - Oh, you know Triggs out here, well his father was in it, they had some London workmen down here doing the Rectory, so old Triggs goes & drags out a workman & tells him to come & join, but he said he would rather die than join the foreman tried to persuade Triggs to go back to his work - just opposite my shop there I heard him say now "Triggs come back it'll be the worse for you in the end"; but Triggs wouldn't; then he says to the other workman "Now Tom you come back". "So being a Londoner", said I, "he hadn't so much interest I suppose in it". That's it said Mr Lickfold. Well when the foreman found he couldn't persuade Triggs he writes to London for soldiers - he knew lots of languages so he wrote in Dutch; they won't understand it even if they get hold of it he said; they was a long time coming two days, & the only person in this Parish they could punish was Triggs, he was the only man the London man could swear to, so he was transported, & never came back. (You brought the gun to them didn't you John, said Mr Bluebell) ah! that was the day after the (?) row; they went round begging all they could, & I sees them coming, so I says to the missis, fetch the gun, so I puts it on the counter, & they came to the gate, & I stood at the door (gun in your hand said I) Oh yes said Mr Lickfold (loaded said I) Ah, oh yes loaded, & I says Now what do you want, an ounce of baccy says one, so I says very well & I called out to the girl who was helping in the shop to make up an ounce, now I says carry it out to 'em and I says here's the baccy but you shan't have it without the money, I should have made a hole in the first one that came in, & he paid for the baccy & they all went off quiet as lambs (That's like in the great Chartist riot of 183? said Mr Bluebell when the Dook of Wellington was so unpopular, & they had Apsley House barricaded, & iron-shuttered, & they went down to Government House to pull him out & massacre him that's what they wanted to do; & when they got down there 2000 of them, there was a soldier there, what do you want said he, we want the Dook of Wellington; you don't get him except thro' my body said he, & he levelled his gun & they said Oh we'll all go to Hyde Park & made off; - the Dook made the soldier sub-warden of the Tower ) -- (Didn't some of the labourers get land in the row said I, Old Eli Case (*****) told me, just before he died, that he got his (sugar) land then, the men thought the farmers were not giving enough wages, & they had bits of land given them out of the common) That's like enough said Mr Lickfold; old ____ got that bit, you know by the chapel; you know the path that runs by the chapel to Arford, well on the left - & there was a bit at Hearn where old Gauntlett lives now & several bits.
My eye I recollect so well about the Workhouse; they had been to me in the morning & I had given them some food when old Shoesmith, the master of the Workus then, comes up & says do come down Mr Lickfold, so down I went & after we had been there a while we saw them coming up that road from Standford such a lot of them ah! some 2 or 3 hundred; & on they comes & one of them acts as leader, Halt says he, & he comes into the place in front & up to the door Turn out says he we're agoing to pull the place down, so Shoesmith goes out to him You'll give us time won't you to take out our traps All right says he we'll give you two hours, so off they went down the Road, By-&-by they comes back & O lor they did pull it to pieces they pulled all the flooring up, & destroyed everything & put their sticks through the roof till the dust looked like smoke, & then they sacked the place & carried off all the bedding. What was the grievance do you suppose Mr Lickfold, I'm sure I don't know, I can't remember what it was, I don't know if there was any. "Rates were very high" Yes awful!
* Lickfold written as Sheepfold after first occurrence in original text
** The Rector was Mr Dickinson
*** Rogers came in 1874
**** Mr Henry Budd JP