‘Slandering the Poor’: Maud Davies and Life in an English Village

"The title of this article was the headline in the Warminster & Westbury Journal, January 1910, for a report of a recent meeting of Corsley Parish Council. Most places would be delighted if anew book was published about them, but when in 1909 a young scholar produced a study of this parish on the edge of the Longleat estate, between Warminster and Frome, the council tried to suppress it and have it withdrawn". Jane Howells provides an insight into the controversy, and why the council attempted to keep it quiet.

‘A Larger Loaf for Less Money’: the ‘Chartist Riot’ at Devizes on Easter Monday, 1839

"The People's Charter developed and published by the London Working Men's Association on 6 May 1838 represented an attempt to change the political system of Britain". Rob Cumming looks at the state of play in Wiltshire ahead of the 'Chartist Riot' in Devizes, taking into the Chartist goals in the region and how their goals were viewed across the country and in government.

‘Rich men had gotten all into their hands’: opposition to corn badgers at Midford, 1630

Market practices could be the cause of many disorders throughout the early modern period, so food riots were a common occurrence. Rural customs and traditional rights were based on the belief that the rural community were entitled to a fair price of grain, even in times of dearth. These core beliefs naturally came with strong rules about which market practices were acceptable, and which were not. In this article, we meet a particular type of market villain: the ‘badger’. Neil Howlett uncovers the story of a Midford food riot in 1630 following the arrival of corn badgers.

Criminals or Martyrs? Wiltshire Quakers and the Law in Seventeenth-Century England

The first recorded Quaker meeting in Wiltshire took place in 1653. From the very beginning, the Wiltshire Quakers were met with staunch opposition from the local authorities of law and order. It was widely believed among the ruling elite that the nonconformist nature of Quakerism would lead to widespread resistance to authority. In this article, Kay Taylor looks into the ways in which Quakerism in Wiltshire was criminalised, how the Quaker community sought to justify their practices, and the phenomenon of martyrdom.

Wood-taking and customary practice: William Hunt’s Justices Notebook, 1744-49

'The surviving notebooks of eighteenth century magistrates can be used by historians to investigate the extent to which customary culture was constrained and regulated by law. Wood-gathering may have been essential to the economy of the rural poor, but it remained theft in the eyes of the law. Carl Griffin opens the notebook of William Hunt of West Lavington in Wiltshire and finds that it was a crime that kept the magistrate peculiarly busy'.