Extracts from ‘The Bristol Gazette’ on a riot in Bristol, 3 November 1831 Catalogue ref: HO 40/28.
According this newspaper, there were 8 inquests into why people died during the riot ‘of which two died by excessive drinking, four were burnt in the Square, and two were shot. A very great number must have lost their lives, of which we can obtain no account’.
SIR CHAS. [Charles] WETHERELL’s ENTRY INTO BRISTOL. Awful and Calamitous Riots [disastrous riots] DESTRUCTION BY FIRE OF THE NEW GAOL- BRIDEWELL-GLOUCESTER COUNTY PRISON, (Lawford’s Gate) –THE BISHOP’s PALACE–THE TOLL HOUSES AND GATES THE MANSION-HOUSE–THE CUSTOM-HOUSE–THE EXCISE-OFFICE–AND UPWARDS OF FORTY HOUSES IN QUEEN-SQUARE, PRINCE’S-STREET, &c.
For several weeks there had been a feeling very general amongst many classes in this city – and a feeling shared equally by some of the most respectable individuals in the town – that the continued and perverse [stubborn] opposition of Sir Charles Wetherell to the Reform Bill, and the very gross and intemperate language [offensive language] in which he suffered himself to indulge, designating even the very highest official characters in the country as a set of “blundering, ignorant, unprincipled, and factious demagogues [leaders who appeal to emotion and prejudice],” would lead to a very strong manifestation [display] of feeling towards him on his entry as Recorder [job as senior judge] into this city. Nothing like violence was, however, we are quite sure, ever contemplated – and nothing like violence, we are equally sure, was evinced [shown] throughout the whole of the late deplorable scenes; – by any person who cares a straw about political principles. The injury that has been done, and the ruin that is now written in burning characters on one of the fairest portions of our city, were caused by the lowest creatures, who finding that the course of events indulged them in undisturbed control, gave loose to their passions; and becoming stimulated by plunder, maddened by liquor and rendered secure [made safe] by non-interposition [lack of anyone intervening], resembled rather demons than human beings.« Return to What caused the 1832 Great Reform Act?
Read these extracts from ‘The Bristol Gazette’ newspaper.
- What happened during the riot at Bristol according to the headlines? (Extracts a, b)
- Who are the rioters and how are they described? (Extract a, b, c, e, f)
- What was the role of the ‘Special Constables’ during the disturbances? How were they viewed? (Extracts c, d)
- What is the attitude of this source towards Sir Charles Wetherell? (Extracts a, b, c)
- Do the extracts suggest that the riot could have been prevented in any way?
- Why do you think that the prisons, custom house and toll houses and toll gates were attacked or burnt?
- How do the authorities hope to prevent future disturbances? (Extract g)
- Does this source infer why the government passed the Great Reform Act in 1832?