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Bristol riots

Bristol riots, 1831. The rejection of Grey's second Reform Bill by the House of Lords was greeted by widespread demonstrations and rioting. Bristol had a reputation for disorder and the riots there were as much against an oligarchical corporation as against the Lords' action. The flash-point was a visit on 29 October by the recorder, Sir Charles Wetherell, an outspoken opponent of the bill, to open the assizes. Troops had been drafted in but were badly handled and obliged to withdraw. The Mansion House, Customs House, Bishop's palace, and half of Queen Square were then attacked and looted. After two days, more troops cleared the streets, with twelve killed and 100 arrested. Thirty-one persons were condemned to death and five eventually executed. The commander of the dragoons was court-martialled, and shot himself. Though the disorders added greatly to political tension, it is not clear that they affected the final outcome.

J. A. Cannon

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