(1991). The Anti Corn Law League and the Wiltshire Labourer: aspects of the development of nineteenth century protest.
In: Holderness, B.A. and Turner, M eds.
Land, Labour and Agriculture 1700-1920.
London: Hambledon Press, pp. 91–107.
The subject of this essay is one such isolated incident of self-expression, from a pocket of Anti-Corn Law League supporters in a small group of Wiltshire parishes, between 1843 and 1846. It was an incident which represented more than just the articulation of the kind of grievances which might have prompted all protests in the period. In many ways it was an unusual form of protest for the time. It involved a degree of formal organisation, and, being part of a coherent national movement, was concerned with more than local bread and butter issues. It also linked the labourers' grievances with those of other groups in society; and it was strongly opposed to any form of violent or direct action as a means of remedying those grievances. Co-existing as it did with its more violent counterparts, this incident suggests that in some areas at least, there was considerable subtlety and variation in the forms of protest adopted by the rural poor.
This essay outlines the main features of this form of protest in Wiltshire, seeking to pinpoint those factors which allowed it to flourish and to ascertain the part it played in the general pattern of unrest in the county between the 1830s and the 1870s.
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