Life

From the North With Love: Macclesfield

Most towns have moments in their history which cause outsiders to snort in disbelief.

Macclesfield has a Potato Riot.

Not only that, but, this year, there was a re-enactment of it.

The original riot was on the 13th April 1812. It began with threatening letters to the shopkeepers and ended with the Royal Cumberland Militia rounding up the ringleaders. In between times, a great deal of damage was done to Macclesfield, and five sacks of potatoes were seized by the rioters and used as missiles. The Chester Courant of 21st April 1812 reports that, at one point, the rioters numbered five thousand. It appears that the rioters had a problem with commerce or the prices.

No, sorry, I’m still a bit stuck on the thought of a potato riot.

The Courant makes it sound like a very violent sort of food-fight. It talks of the rioters destroying a cheese-shop, rolling the wheels of cheese  out, and breaking down doors and windows, and gutting the shops of a list of men.

The curious thing, I find, with this story, is that only three men were brought before the Spring Assizes: Wm. Stubbs, John Livesey, and John Jackson. Out of five thousand. Makes a change, though. Northern riots have a tendency to end in the Powers That Be laying waste to the North. Not so this time. Macclesfield still stands, despite the destruction wrought by the rioters.

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