POLITICAL HISTORY began to wear the look of a country where revolution was in the air. The terrified employers imagined that revolutionary agents were at work. There were stories of well dressed men traversing the country in post- chaises, scattering mysterious warnings and directions, which were fol- lowed by midnight outrages. Probably little incentive of the kind was needed. Sussex and Berkshire were astir more early than Surrey, but the neighbourhood of Egham was quickly alarmed by three incendiary fires in one night. The hose of an engine playing upon one of them was cut through. On Saturday, November 13, corn stacks were burnt near Guildford ; on November 14, at Trouts Farm, Capel. Scarcely a night passed without fires or worse outrages. At three o'clock on Sun- day morning, November 14, a miller at Albury was roused by knocking at his door ; he had been an overseer of the poor. Cautiously opening an upper window he inquired who was there, when a gun charged with small stones and nails was discharged against the lower window, which belonged to the room he usually occupied, smashing every pane. His address, in not speaking from the window of his own room, and the darkness saved his life. Immediately afterwards his outbuildings, con- taining a large stock of flour and corn, were in a blaze. The mob stood round idly while efforts were made to save the contents. When asked to assist in rescuing the food on which they lived some of them answered, ' Why should we ? We cannot be worse off than we are.' l Fires and riotous meetings continued throughout the next fortnight. On Monday, November 22, the magistrates met at Dorking to consider the state of the country, and apprehensive of a riot proceeded to swear in special constables at the Red Lion inn. The High Street was thronged by a crowd of labourers armed with bludgeons, who, hearing what was being done, attacked the house, smashed every window, and knocked one of the magistrates senseless with a stone. The forces of order how- ever triumphed ; the Yeomanry were under arms, the Riot Act was read, and eleven rioters were secured. They were subsequently removed under military escort to Horsemonger gaol. On November 25 a great crowd assembled at Woking, and apparently under the impression that the prisoners were still at Dorking declared that they would march to their rescue. Some constables and soldiers who were present were too few to interfere. A magistrate, Mr. Drummond, succeeded by personal influence in inducing some of them to disperse, but a body headed by a leader in a smock frock started shouting, ' To Dorking, to Dorking.' They never arrived, but half starved and miserable slunk away in the darkness. The Woking men said that the leaders were from Horsham where a mob shortly before had tried to burn the church and that they were afraid to disobey them. This was about the end of the more serious disturbances in Surrey, though on November 28 there were two incendiary fires near Epsom. On November 23 a royal proclamation had been issued against the rioters in the southern counties. Cavalry, 1 A native of Albury was hanged for the outrage in the following January, Annual Register. The evidence against him hardly sounds conclusive as it is there reported. 429
Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/509
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