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Detail from the Last Supper stained glass window in All Saints Parish Church Croydon, in memory of Sophia Mirabella Sandilands, wife of the rector 1859 Wimpole Past Logo
Speculum Gregis 1843
'An Account of all the Inhabitants of the Parish of Croydon
in the County of Cambridgeshire commencing from 1 January 1843'
by Reverend Francis Fulford 1803-1868 (Rector at Croydon 1841-1845).
Additional notes by Reverend R S B Sandilands (Rector 1845-1864).
The Croydon Riot
3 September 1832
The account following is not from Fulford's "Speculum Gregis". It is an accompanying piece based on the "Cambridge Chronicle" issues of the 5 and 19 April and 31 May 1833 researched by David Ellison and included in his booklet "The Rector and his Flock" published in 1980. However, many of the defendants and their families were still living in Croydon-cum-Clopton during Fulford's time and the riot and subsequent trial were significant events in Croydon's history. [See also: 'The Lost Convict']
Background: The Swing Riots were a widespread uprising by agricultural workers which began with the destruction of threshing machines in East Kent in the summer of 1830, and which spread throughout the whole of southern England and East Anglia.
The anger of the rioters was directed at the rich tenant farmers who had been progressively lowering wages while introducing horse-powered threshing machines, which could do the work of many men. The new agricultural machines spread swiftly among the farming community, threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of farmworkers.
At the Cambridge Assizes held in October 1832, sixteen villagers from Croydon were brought before the Court and charged with the crime of   destroying a threshing machine on the premises of Mr Thomas Faircloth of Croydon, farmer, on the 3 September 1832.
The Sixteen Accused:        
John Kidman (aged 20)*
Samuel Bartle (24)
John Presslin (29)
William Greaves (21)
Thomas Pain (50)
Isaac Thompson (25)
John Hopkins (33)
Anderson Storey(29)
  William Ilott (17)
John Green (36) ***
James Peters (28)
Richard Newman (29)
Samuel Darnell (19)
John Nash (21)
Simeon Titmarsh (18)
James Kidman (absent)**
This is the evidence as given in the "Cambridge Chronicle":
Mr Thomas Faircloth stated that on the morning in question, about 5 o'clock, about 150 persons, men, women and children, came to his gate and threatened to destroy the machine if it were not sent away immediately; which he refused to do, saying, "If you will, you must, but before you do it, consider the consequences, and when you have considered them, do it and welcome!"
He then put down the names of all who had instruments with them and went away, giving the paper to Mr King's man, William Warren. About eight of the clock, he went to the place where the machine stood, and saw 14 persons (including the man named James Kidman) having a saw, hammers and matlocks, breaking the machine; one of the prisoners, Richard Newman, was standing near, and John Green was coming away. He then put down the names of all the prisoners and sent word to Lord de la Warr's at Bourn.
In his cross-examination, he said there were no men out of work and none 'on the parish' during last winter; and denied saying to the men "Don't go away disappointed - don't be cowardly - there they go - I thought they dare not break it." He admitted refusing to let the machine go when sent for that morning, thinking it would appear he was frightened.
William Warren corroborated Mr Faircloth's evidence, and stated that he marked the names given by the prosecutor to see if they were correct. Cross examined, he said he had been sent by his master, Mr King of Tadlow, to fetch the machine if Mr Faircloth had done with it, but was told he could not let it go. He admitted Mr Faircloth had said, "Break it and welcome", but did not recollect his saying, "I'd rather you would".
John Spencer (p.51), servant to Mr Faircloth, detailed the facts as above; and stated that John Kidman snatched the list of names from Warren, and said, "Before he should have his name in his
pocket, he would have his head off." Cross examined, he wasasked whether he had not been promised a house of one of the prisoners in the event of his conviction? Which he hesitated sometime to answer; said it had nothing to do with the trial; and at last replied he had not.
John Perkins, a person in the employ of the proprietor of the machine, proved that the prisoner Green had told him to tell his master that if the machine was not fetched from Mr Faircloth's by six o'clock the following morning, it would be broken as they had been round the parish and agreed to break it.
James Chapman, proved that Anderson Storey forced him and a fellow-labourer to join the party to break the machine.
Mr John Lilley, farmer, deposed that Storey and Nash worked for him and while at supper one night, Storey said, "We are going to have a row, Mr Faircloth has got a machine, and all the parish have agreed not to let it be worked." To which he replied, "So sure as you break a cog of that machine, you will be transported."
Few of the other prisoners said anything; Kidman asserted that Spencer had sworn falsely.
James Wootton, labourer, swore that Mr Faircloth had said to the men "There, break it; I wish you to do it; don't be disappointed", but heard nothing of the consequences, though near enough. Two other witnesses corroborated this witness's statement; and one added that he said "There they go, cowardly". Neither heard him say anything about consequences.
The Reverend J D Hurst, Rector of Tadlow, said there was not a better labourer or a better man than Pain, and that the characters of Thompson and Bartle were very good.
Three respectable farmers deposed to the good characters of Pain, Titmarsh, Thompson, Bartle and Darnell. Greaves was of weak intellect.
All were found guilty and sentenced as follows:
Transported for 7 Years: John Kidman [1], Anderson Storey, James Kidman [2] and John Green [3].
Sentenced to One Year's Imprisonment: John Nash.
  Six Month's Imprisonment: Isaac Thompson, John Presslin, John Hopkins, Richard Newman and Simeon Titmarsh.
Three Month's Imprisonment: Samuel Darnell, Samuel Bartle, William Greaves, Thomas Pain, William Ilott and James Peters.
Additional research by Helen and Peter Waller.
[1] "....They were all found guilty and John Kidman, together with Anderson Storey and John Green, was sentenced to transportation for seven years, but Kidman alone sailed for New South Wales.....". Quote from "Rebels of the Field" by Jill Chambers, credited to the P.R.O. This would appear to indicate that Anderson Storey and John Green served their sentences in an English jail.
[2] James Kidman was not arrested until April 1833; he was committed to Cambridge Castle and sentenced at the assizes on 19 April to 7 year's transportation. The paper reported that he was removed to the York hulk at Gosport at the end of May to await the next convict ship to Botany Bay.
[3] One pleasing feature of the case was that John Green (page 58) returned to Croydon after serving his sentence where, according to the Rector's notes, he was a sound and steady man who sang in the choir. [See article "The Lost Convict" contributed by Helen Waller]
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This page was last updated on: 16 February 2021