‘Rural war’: the life and times of Captain Swing
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‘Rural war’: the life and times of Captain Swing book
The influence of the roads on the geographical pattern of incidents was made effective also by the role of coachmen, travellers, carriers, drovers, and tramps in spreading news of incidents recently occurring in places they had come from or passed through. Captain Swing as an individual almost certainly never existed, though 'strangers', 'well-dressed individuals', and 'gentlemanly-looking men' were reported to have been seen at places where fires had broken out. In the earlier part of the period the shortage of work was intensified only by the rising population but also by the throwing on to the labour market of discharged soldiers and sailors and industrial workers displaced by the post-war depression. The number of enclosures, however, had fallen away after the collapse of the high prices at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and in any event were at any time very numerous in the southern counties most affected by the Swing outbreaks.