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Sep 27

Riots in Owslebury?

Owslebury wasn’t always a peaceful place! 

In 1830 the Owslebury riots occurred when a mob of rioters broke the thresing machines and other farm machinery.

The Owslebury  vestry minutes begin in 1825  and are  largely formal  and uninformative  until 1830, when widespread poverty and discontent, giving rise to the Swing Riots,  forced the  local farmers  to take  action.   They passed a series of  resolutions effectively laying down  minimum wages for various age brackets,  supplemented by doles of  bread for families above a certain size.  They concluded that  ‘having (as they conceive) removed  all reasonable cause of  discontent,  they will not yield to threat or intimidation on the part of any of the men, but will prosecute  to the utmost extent of the  law such base conduct’.  They also urged the provision of cottagers’ gardens  to   supplement their food supply and ‘for the encouragement of industry’.

The rioters had an ally in the form of a local farmer named John Boyes who petitioned for higher wages for the farm labourers and he was convicted and transport to Australia for his part in the riots. 245 men were arrested and sent to Winchester for trial and two of the prisoners were executed at the gallows.

“Hampshire convict to Australia.

John Boyes sailed on the “Proteus” in 1831 he was a native of Owslebury.”
Malcolm Boyes who runs the One Name Study about him said
John Boyes was an interesting character, He was a farmer and went round to
other farmers suggesting if the landlord would lower their rents they could
pay their farm workers more. Lord Northesk’s steward accused John Boyes of
felony on a trumped up charge. He was tried and the jury found him not
guilty. They tried him again on the same charge with a different jury and he
was convicted and received seven years. After 3 years he was pardoned and
returned to Owslebury where he reclaimed his farm and continued farming
there for many years. Folk songs were written about him.”