An Astonishing Memento From The Bristol Riots In 1831, The Closest Britain Has Come To Revolution…
An astonishing piece of British social history from an incident in 1831 that put Britain on the brink of a revolution. The Bristol Riots.
Read My Blog Post About My Research Findings - HERE
In the early 19th-century, issues within the British political system meant that only 5% of the British populace covered by constituencies were able to cast a vote at a general election.
In March 1831, an attempt was made to introduce a Reform Bill to address the matter. This was defeated in parliament and the prime minister, Earl Grey, resigned. Grey was returned to office in the subsequent general election and introduced a second Reform Bill. This passed in the House of Commons, but was defeated in the Lords on 8 October 1831.
The rejection of the bill and the second resignation of Grey resulted in a period of political upheaval and is the closest that Britain came to revolution. Inhabitants of cities and towns were angry at the failure to pass the bill and there were serious disturbances across the country.
The arrival of anti-reform judge Charles Wetherell in Bristol on 29 October led to a protest, which escalated into a full scale riot so severe that the Army were deployed to the city. Much of Bristol city centre was burnt, with up to £300,000 worth of damage caused and up to 250 casualties incurred.
The piece is engraved with the name “Peter Maze Junior, a date of November 1831 and makes direct reference to the Bristol Riots & Fire on 29th, 30th and 31st October”.
Based on the evidence I've gathered (see my blog post above), I believe Peter Maze Junior, with his status within the city and with his penchant for law and order, may have been a volunteer special constable or 'Bludgeon Boy' during the riots in Bristol on 29th, 30th and 31st of October 1831. Furthermore, based on the glaring similarities between my piece and the truncheon displayed at the 'M Shed, Bristol People Gallery', I believe that my piece may well be the head of the truncheon used by Peter Maze Junior in violently attempting to keep order in Bristol during these riots.
This is therefore a piece of important Bristol social history and one that is perhaps even more significant than I had first imagined.
Condition is good, commensurate with age and use. Structurally sound with clear engravings to the brass.
Measures 4" high x 1 5/8" wide at base.