‘A long career of brutality to the poor’: Popular resistance to the Vaccination Acts in the nineteenth century South West

satirical scene poor patients receive the cowpox vaccine and develop bovine features
James Gillray 'The Cow-Pock or the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation 1802 (c) Trustees of the British Museum

At Stroud in 1897, protesting crowds congregated outside the market hall for three days in an attempt to prevent a public auction of household effects, seized by the authorities in a ‘distraint sale’. These were the belongings of a local family who had refused to let their children be vaccinated against Smallpox as the law required. Distraint sales like this had increasingly become an arena for protest and carnivalesque displays of public outrage and the Stroud riot was no exception. The crowd set fire to heather bushes, acted out pantomimic scenes in fancy dress, and pelted eggs at police constables and auctioneers. They overwhelmed the local police force, as well as the police who had been sent in from neighbouring towns and cities. But why would anybody riot against a vaccination programme set up to combat Smallpox? In this article, Holly John investigates a nineteenth century medical controversy and discovers that despite being the home of Dr Edward Jenner, the ‘Father of immunisation’, the south-west of England was also once home to a fervent anti-vaccination movement.

Elmington Manor Farm: 1584-1911

"Elmington Manor Farm is the best-documented farm in the Lower Severn Vale Levels, which is why James Powell chose as his topic 'The Estate Management of Elmington Manor Farm and environs 1066-1950'". From sources in "public archives, planning departments, libraries and museums" Powell looks at the earliest records of the farm, and how it survived to be surveyed by the "Second World War Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries".

Tales of the Vale: The ‘A Forgotten Landscape’ History Research Project – Introduction

"A Forgotten Landscape is an exciting project designed to reconnect local people with their heritage in the Lower Severn Vale Levels. One strand of this Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Partnership Project is a community history project called Tales of the Vale". Bainbridge introduces the project, and how it interprets the landscape of the South West.

Active Opposition to Hunting in the South West – a History yet to be Written

"The South West of England was prominent in the campaign to ban blood sports in the second half of the twentieth century. Both the Hunt Saboteurs Association and Save Our Stags, an organisation established to oppose deer hunting in Devon and Somerset, were both born in the region". Tichelar looks at the people behind the movement, and how it has shaped the areas approaches to wildlife and conservation.

Charles Houlden Walker, 1776-1844, Attorney and Publicist

"John Lyes considers the career of an overlooked Bristol lawyer and finds him to have been a feisty and prolific criminal justice campaigner... Walker was also a regular writer of letters to the local press". Walker protested injustices wherever he could, whether they happened to him or others he saw it as his duty to try and make changes to the system.

The Shirehampton Powder House: exploding some myths

"The Powder House, sometimes referred to as The (Gun-)Powder Magazine, is a well-known landmark on the bank of the Avon in Shirehampton. A number of misunderstandings about its nature and history are in common circulation. In this article, using evidence which is in the public domain but not widely known,Richard Coates attempts to set the record straight".

The Wild West? Crime and the commons in Yate c.1800-1830

"In the summer of 1826, the local and national press was thrilled by the story of the Wickwar Gang... Only days before, ‘in consequence of some suspicious circumstances’, an ‘old man by the name of Mills, his wife, and their 4 sons’ were taken into custody and ‘immediately after their apprehension... disclosed the history of the lawless community with which they had been connected'". Rose Wallis provides in an insight into crime and disorder in Gloucestershire in the early 19th Century.

Smuggling through customs at Bristol in 1681

"The trade which made Bristol prosperous was also valuable to the English government. About half the Parliamentary revenue of the Crown came from Customs duties and Bristol contributed around £50-60,000 of it, perhaps up to ten percent of the whole". Jonathan Harlow looks at smuggling through Bristol's port, and various attempts made to lessen the amount of criminal activity".

Aftermaths of war: Bristol in three civil defence plans, 1939-1967

"Three civil defence exercises covering Bristol – in 1939, the 1950s and 1960s – not only have an eerie fascination for their word-pictures of a city plunged into imaginary wars; the written scenarios also throw light on what concerned the scenario writers. As the likely damage in war became more than the authorities could handle, so the planners’ responses took a sinisterly authoritarian turn"

Tobacco Pipes as Barter Goods on Bristol Slavers

"With the ending of the London monopoly of trade with Africa in 1698, there began a period when Bristol slowly asserted itself as the chief slave trade port of Britain. From a position of only two or three voyages a year, the trade grew to ten voyages annually by 1707, twenty-seven voyages in 1717 and forty-eight voyages in 1725. There are six hundred known slave voyages which departed from Bristol in those three decades up to 1730". Peter Taylor looks at how small shipments of tobacco pipes were taken on around half of voyages as bartering material, and what impact this had on trading from Bristol.