Resource : Rebecca and her daughters

In the late 1830s and early 1840s, a series of riots took place in south and mid Wales. Male farmers and labourers – many of them dressed in women’s clothes – rioted in protest against unfair laws and taxes, low wages and toll roads. The rioters called themselves ‘Rebecca’s daughters’ and their actions became known as the Rebecca riots.

Resource : Thomas Clarkson’s campaign chest

Between the 1500s and early 1800s, millions of Africans were kidnapped, sold and transported to the Americas to work as slaves, in unimaginably cruel conditions, on hugely profitable plantations, producing sugar, tobacco and other commodities. These plantations were largely owned by Europeans and Euro-Americans. Britain grew rich on the profits from this transatlantic slave trade, which were reinvested into other economic sectors. Only in the late eighteenth century did public opinion slowly begin to turn against the trade in Africans, and campaigners for abolition used every way they could to bring the issue to people’s attention in Europe.

Resource : Figures by Chelsea Waterworks, London, observing the fires of the Gordon Riots, 7 June 1780

The Gordon Riots were a series of anti-Catholic protests which took place in London between 2 and 9 June, 1780. The protests began peacefully but descended into chaos. Crowds paralysed the city with an unparalleled level of violence, with rioters attacking and setting fire to official buildings and people’s homes. The riots are considered by some historians as being the closest Britain has ever come to a full-scale revolution, and shocked fellow European powers.

Resource : Luddite ticket

In the early 1700s, work in the textile industry was mainly hand-operated and undertaken by people skilled in crafts - such as weaving and knitting. But innovations in steam power and the design of machinery in the late 18th and early 19th century transformed manufacturing and the way people worked. Much of the new labour could be undertaken by unskilled workers in factories away from the household, quicker than ever before and for a fraction of the price. Skilled textile workers, who found their livelihoods threatened by new, labour-saving technology, responded witha series of violent protests. They became known as the Luddites.

Resource : Crompton’s spinning mule

The spinning mule was invented by Samuel Crompton in 1779. It revolutionised textile production by vastly increasing the amount of cotton that could be spun at any one time. But this also meant textile manufacturers no longer needed to pay individual spinners to create spindles (wooden rods) wound with cotton thread, as just one operator could now use the machine to spin hundreds of spindles at once.

Resource : Five objects from I object: Ian Hislop’s search for dissent

September 7, 2018 - Richard Moss

Ian Hislop has been on a mission to find stories of dissent, subversion and satire hidden within the vast collections of the British Museum for a new exhibition I object: Ian Hislop’s search for dissent. Showcasing over 100 objects that challenge the official version of events and defy established narratives, the items span three millennia […]

Resource : Early Peterloo medal acquired by People’s History Museum

August 11, 2018 - Richard Moss

A number of commemorative medals were produced following the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, but this one, recently acquired by the People’s History Museum in Manchester, is believed to be one of the earliest. Its closeness to the terrible events of the notorious massacre of August 16 of 1819 when 18 people in a crowd of […]

Resource : Description of a Slave Ship

This print was made to highlight the inhumane conditions under which enslaved Africans were transported across the Atlantic Ocean, forced to make the long voyage from West Africa to the Americas, tightly packed into the hold of ships and held in chains.

Resource : Banner from the “Peterloo Massacre”

This protest banner was one of many carried to a Reform meeting convened by the Manchester Radical Union at St Peter’s Field in Manchester on 16 August 1819. By mid-afternoon as many as fifteen people, including four women and a child, were either dead or fatally injured. A further 400-700 suffered serious wounds, including Thomas Redford, who carried this banner.