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.
The Royal Bath & West Society, as it is now known, has its origin in a society founded in the City of Bath in 1777 'for the encouragement and improvement of agriculture, arts, manufactures and commerce'. The founder, Edmund Rack, was soon appointed Secretary and the 1inch pin of the group. He vigorously conducted a wide range of correspondence and guided a programme of field experiments and prizes and rewards for improvements in agriculture and related practices. In this essay, Owen Ward uncovers the story of one of the Society's more 'spirited' and ambitious plans.
Being a Poor Law Guardian was an elected position which was open to certain middle and upper class women from 1869 and to women in general after 1894. The work was unpaid and in that sense similar to much work undertaken in the voluntary sector. Moira Martin examines the entry of women into one sphere of local government, the administration of Poor Relief.