In October 1831, the defeat of the Second Reform Bill in the House of Lords led to a wave of pro-reform public protests and disturbances across Britain. Concurrently in Dorset, a microcosm of the national struggle over electoral reform was being fought out in a county by-election which posed Lord Ashley an anti-reformer against the pro-reform candidate William Ponsonby. In the aftermath of Ashley’s controversial victory, a series of riots began, first in Dorchester followed by Poole, Blandford, and Sherborne in Dorset and Yeovil in Somerset.

This talk examines behavioural patterns in case studies of the latter three events with particular emphasis on the targets of the rioters, who the rioters were and their interactions with the authorities. From this evidence an attempt will be made to understand the motivations of the rioters, the majority of whom were not going to be enfranchised by the Great Reform Act of the following year.

Prof. Steve Poole (UWE) and Dr Roger Ball (UWE) will be leading this talk.

To book your ticket, please visit Shire Hall Museum or click here