ABSTRACT

Politics and religion by no means exhaust the range of issues on which popular disturbances occurred in eighteenth-century England. Indeed, the frequency of riots and disorders on a wide variety of other occasions has done much to produce the impression of a period in which this was the most characteristic response to change of any kind. In fact, as the following sections show, popular disturbances were usually directed against some innovatory or unusual practice. It would be wrong to assume that every enclosure, every press gang, or every turnpike excited violent opposition. Disturbances were the exception rather than the rule and the reasons why they occurred in one place rather than another and on some occasions rather than others have to be considered.