"‘Those who have not been within six miles of Bridgwater within the last fortnight have missed one of the most remarkable sights ever witnessed in this country’, remarked the Western Gazette in November 1875. ‘Floods are no new thing in Somersetshire... but never,since the moors were artificially drained, never since railways were introduced, have the floods attained such a height, covered so enormous an area and caused so much loss and misery, as during the last few days". Steve Poole looks at the history of flooding in the West Country and how it has been presented, whilst taking into consideration how it has shaped the physical development of the region.
Magistracy and the Crisis of Paternalism in the 1790s: The case of George Donisthorpe of Somerton
George Donisthorpe was the resident magistrate of the town of Somerton in Somerset. In 1796 he was tried for 'wilful neglect of his duty as a magistrate' in refusing to assist in quelling a riot and 'with having rather encouraged it.' The public prosecution of a Justice of the Peace was a rare occurrence. Traditionally, the local magistrate was represented as a paternal figure 'guiding the conduct' and ensuring the wellbeing of the deferential poor. Their wealth and status placed them beyond reproach. In this article, Rose Wallis illustrates the increasingly precarious position of magistrates in the period, as their discretionary powers and paternal authority were eroded by the centralisation of government control.