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Spa Fields riot

Spa Fields riot, 1816. One of a number of popular incidents provoked by hunger and revolutionary feeling in the wake of the French wars. A great meeting in north London on 15 November addressed by Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt turned into a drunken quasi-insurrection when a part of the crowd marched threateningly into the city after arming itself with weapons stolen from a gunsmith's shop. Its leaders were later tried for high treason, but acquitted when the main witness against them, the spy Castles, was revealed as a bigamist, brothel-minder, and agent provocateur.

Bernard Porter

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