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Rebellious Wingham

 
Extracts from Wingham: A Kentish Village reproduced by permission of the Wingham Local History Society
 
Kent has a long tradition of being a rebellious county, a tradition of which I think it is proud. Ignoring the resistance mounted by Kentish people to the invasions of Julius Caesar  (55 & 54 BC), Claudius (AD43) and William, Duke of Normandy (1066), there is, in the Kentish race, a strong rebellious character manifest by various uprisings from 1381 to 1830.  

Six outbreaks of unrest may be distinguished:

The Peasants' Revolt 1381 Jack Cade,s Rebellion 1450
Buckingham's Rebellion 1483  Wyatt's Rebellion 1554 
The Kentish Revolt 1647-48 Agricultural Labourers, Unrest 1830  ("Swing Riots")
Buckingham's Rebellion of 1483 Rebellion of 1483 largely involved members of the Woodville family in the Maidstone area supporting the Duke of Buckingham against Richard_III.  
Wyatt's_Rebellion in January 1554 again arose in Maidstone (he lived at Allington Castle) in protest at the Catholic Mary Tudor's(1) religious policies and her betrothal to the equally Catholic Philip, King of Spain  
Neither of the above involved men of E. Kent and of the Wingham area, in particular. All the other rebellions/uprisings did so.  
Peasant's Revolt - 1381  
The most serious of the rebellions, from the Government of the day's point of view was the extraordinary Peasants' Revolt of 1381 - a rising by mainly Kentish and Essex people of largely humble origins, against an unpopular government and particularly against recent heavy government taxes and certain prominent government officials. The general details are well-known. Wat Tyler and John Ball in Kent raised a large peasant army (some say 100,000 in strength) and marched on London to meet the King Rchard II. The situation was extremely serious for the King and his government. Archbishop of Canterbury, Sudbury (the builder of the Westgate in Canterbury) was hauled out of the Tower of London together with other prominent Royal officials (Sudbury was also Chancellor of England ) and summarily executed. Richard II eventually appeased the rebels and promised them reforms and pardons and they melted back to the Kent and Essex countryside. There were subsequent severe Government reprisals and of course the reforms never took place.
Locally several prominent local citizens in Canterbury and the surrounding district were killed by the rebels. The jury presentments for the subsequent trials exist for Kent and for the Hundreds of Wingham and Eastry (given jointly) and the Jurors found that: 
"Laurence Smyth of Chylendenne and John Gunne, of Monkton, maliciously and against the peace, made insurrection at Chilendenn against our Lord the King and his people, and continued that insurrection till .... 15th June, and they say that Richard atte Denn (?Deane) violently and maliciously killed William Wottone, at Wotton. And they say that John de Feveresham and Sarah his wife made complaint against John Twytham and John Clerk of Preston concerning a certain trespass." 
The four Constables of Wingham were named as Thomas de Gwodnestone, William atte Ware, Robert Kylera and Henry Peny and the two Warders as  John Gustone and John Kedyntone.  

  Jack Cade's Rebellion - 1450  
In contrast, Jack Cade's Rebellion in May-June 1450 consisted of respectable upper middle class support for a rebellion aimed against oppressive local officials, particularly William Cromer, Sheriff of Kent. It largely involved people from W. Kent and the Weald but there were sizeable contingents from the Hundreds of Eastry, Wingham, Preston , Petham and the Isle of Thanet . Cade's forces camped at Blackheath, withdrew toward Sevenoaks and defeated a Royalist force there, killing Sir Humphrey Stafford. They then returned to London and were masters of the City for 3 days, the King (Henry VI) having fled. They executed Lord Saye whose seat was Knole and who was Constable of Dover Castle. Eventually Cade's forces were driven out of London by its citizens and the revolt melted away when free pardons were offered  
The pardons issued still survive and include for the whole of Kent, one knight, 18 esquires, 74 gentlemen and several hundred yeomen. Two gentlemen of Wingham were involved ‑ James Hope and John Oxenden and the two constables at the time were James Cluterynden and Richard Pury. More noteworthy is the mention of a citizen of Wingham in Shakespeare (Henry IV Part 11, Act IV, Scene 11);  

Goerge Holland and John Bevis are at Blackheath

HOLLAND:

I see them! There's Best's son, the Tanner of Wingharn

BEVIS:

He shall have the skins of our enemies to make dog's leather of 
The Kentish Revolt of 1647-48
The Kentish Revolt of 1647-48 occurred during the aftermath of the Civil War between Charles I and Parliament. It was really a revolt by local Kentish gentlemen against the misdeeds of the Committee and not, initially, a rebellion against central government. Also known as the Plum Pudding Riots, because they were sparked (at least in part) by Cromwell's attempts to ban Christmas. By May 1648 there were reported to be 10,000 under arms but these were eventually defeated piecemeal by General Fairfax with 7,000 trained soldiers of the New_Model_Army.  
The local gentry involved were under the leadership of Sir Thomas Peyton of Knowlton Court and Sir Richard Hardres of Upper Hardres. Associated with them were 20 closely related families including the Oxindens of Deane (just S. of Wingham) and Sir Thomas Palmer of Wingham, and of the lesser families, the Austens of Eastry, the Paramores of Paramore in Ash and the Houghams of Ash.  
Agricultural Labourers, Unrest 1830  ("Swing Riots")
The last of the Kentish risings was in 1830 when the so  called "Swing Riots" occurred. These came about largely as a result of the introduction of mechanical Threshing machines which put agricultural labourors out of work, in combination with a series of poor harvests in the later 1820's and 1830 itself, which had many agricultural labourors an their families fighting for survival from starvation.  
Although the riots eventually involved 20 or more counties in Southern and Eastern , Kent (inevitably!) was the first with the disturbances. Initially there had been sporadic acts of incendiarism in W. Kent around Orpington but on 28th August 1830 at Upper Hardres the first threshing machine was destroyed by a gang of men from Elham, later joined by men from Lyminge and Stelling. The destruction increased over the ensuing weeks and by late October over 100 machines, mainly in E. Kent had been destroyed. Further acts of incendiarism occurred in W. Kent and the burning spread to E. Kent , Michael Becker's property at Ash being gutted. Such was the fear of local farmers that some voluntarily destroyed their own machines and this occured in Wingham although the parish had not yet received any visits from the rioters. Over the next weeks and months the rioting spread west and north to affect most of S. and E. England . Much alarm was caused by these riots but they eventually died down during 1831. Sentencing of the prime offenders was severe - in the whole country 644 were jailed, 252 were sentenced to death of which 19 were executed, and 481 were transported to Australia and of these totals, 48 Kentish men were jailed, 5 were sentenced to death and four were executed (more than any other county) and 25 were transported.  
Local events are quite well recorded. The following incidents occurred:
5.10.30 Ash Arson
25-26.10.30 Ash-Wingham Destruction threshing machine
9.11.30 Preston Destruction threshing machine
9.11.30 Wingham   Destruction threshing machine
11.11.30 Eastry Destruction threshing machine
11.11.30 Wingham   Destruction threshing machine
29.11.30 Wingham   Destruction threshing machine
4.12.30 Wingham   Arson
  27.8.31 Wingham Destruction threshing machine
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(1) This is Queen Mary_I_of_England (1516 - 1558) who was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon) and married  Philip II of Spain. 1n 1554.  
This is not the same person as  Mary Tudor, Queen of France (1496 - 1533)