The Great Sudbury Riot
We were most amused to read about the great Sudbury Riot, which happened in November 1771. It gets mentioned in the Local History books, but it was rather satisfying to read the original account, and the aftermath. The riot was not a food riot at all, but an electoral dispute which got out of hand. The Sudbury Corporation refused to admit three men to the freedom of the Borough, and this high-handedness turned out to be the last straw for the inhabitants, who besieged the Corporation members in the Moot Hall until they agreed to admit the three men. Unfortunately, under cover of the demonstration, there were several acts of theft and vandalism which led to legal action being taken.
November 2nd 1771
We are informed that a very great riot happened on Tuesday last at Sudbury in Suffolk when the corporation were assembled in the town hall and that after the corporate body had dissolved their assembly about noon they were forcibly detained in the town hall till after nine at night totally denied off the access of their friends and deprived of sustenance and when night came their lights were put out by the populace and that their lives were not only repeatedly threatened for a long time together but by stones and other mischievous implements they were put into danger till the end, the corporation were forced into compliance with such terms as the populace thought proper to impose on them in order to preserve their lives and recover their liberty.
November 9th 1771
We hear in consequence of the riot at Sudbury (mentioned in our last paper) a party of dragoons marched into the borough on Sunday last to be ready to assist the civil magistrates to preserve order.
February 1st 1772
We hear that from Sudbury that on Tuesday last the Corporation there held a court at which they filled up three vacancies and then entered a protest of the magistrates against such illegal acts as they were for the preservation of their lives compelled by rioters to assent to at the court held October last.
April 18th 1772
17 of the Sudbury rioters, some charged with housebreaking and robbery have been committed to Bury gaol.
August 7th 1773
At Bury Assizes on Monday last, came before the Lord Chief Justice De Grey, a trial by an issue from the court of the King's Bench upon information from the name of the Attorney General, several persons concerned in a riot upon the Moot Hall in Sudbury on the 29th of October 1771 when Walden Hammer was acquitted but six others were convicted of the same offence and are to receive sentence in the Court of the King's Bench next Michaelmas.
February 12th 1774
Last Saturday, six persons were found guilty of the late riot in Sudbury, Suffolk, were brought to the Kings Bench bar to receive sentence and were ordered by the court to suffer six months in prison and whipped, and an inhabitant of the town was ordered to pay £100.