Scarcity Riots Of England During The Period Of Spring 1801 Essay

Better Essays
The collection of documents creates an image of scarcity riots happening across the South west of England during the period of spring 1801. At same time England was facing economic hardship because of constant high taxation as a result of the war with France. The country was in the midst of crop shortages caused by the poor harvest in the previous year of 1799. The current years were also being shaped by the ideas of Scottish moral philosopher Adam Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations’ which pushed ideas of free trade. These ideas were meant to cause market contention resulting in market prices naturally decreasing, but due to the current economic situation of low wages and shortages prices continued to be high. Which is why there was social unrest surrounding the market place, with the last scarcity riot only being 4 years prior. The south ranging from Plymouth in Devon through Somerset into Bristol was especially hard hit, due to its low prices at the start of the period. Following Adam Smith’s theory many farmers were willing to venture further to achieve higher prices in different markets. This meant the South was relying solely on its own supplies, meaning great demand and little supply. It is this South dominated documentation that helps paint a picture of the dynamics that developed between the market, mob and magistrate. It shows the crowds action verse the magistrates reaction, and whether these varied from town to town. These primary sources can also be used to challenge or
Get Access