Riot and its control in Liverpool, 1815-1860

Bryson, Christine Anne (1990). Riot and its control in Liverpool, 1815-1860. MPhil thesis The Open University.



Within the context of the town of Liverpool between the years 1815 and 1860, the entire range of collective violence is considered, from brawls outside public houses to political protest. The forces available for the suppression arid prevention of riot are also investigated. Particular attention is paid to the police, both to the miscellaneous organisations of variable efficiency available up to 1835, and to the new force established in 1836.

A simple method of categorizing riotous incidents according to their apparent motive is proposed. This is based on contemporary assumptions as revealed in Press reports; it is argued that these would be shared by those who determined the way collective violence was controlled. Using these categories, comparisons are made between the measures of prevention, dispersal, and punishment applied to incidents of different types. Where the nature of the available information permits translation into numeric terms, statistical tests are used. The findings for the years 1815 to 1835 are then compared with those for the years 1836 to 1860.

It is shown that before 1836 the severity of measures of control varied according to the category to which an incident belonged. After 1836, with the single exception of political protest, much more uniformity of handling is found. This finding can then be related to theories of the causes of riotous disorder implicit in local and contemporary records in a way which relates to the work of historians of crime of other types.

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