Consequences of the Fenian Amnesty Riots

Consequences of the Fenian Amnesty Riots

The following extract appeared in the Middlesbrough Daily Gazette of December 16 1872.

It reported on the proceedings at South Stockton Police Court following the ‘Amnesty for Fenian prisoners’ meeting held in Stockton on the previous Sunday which resulted in riotous behaviour and numerous arrests.


Monday – Before C.Trotter, G. N. Duck and W. Whitwell, Esqrs.

CONSEQUENCES OF THE AMNESTY RIOTS – John Johnson, builder, of Middlebrough, was brought up in custody, charged with being drunk whilst in charge of a horse in Bridge Street, South Stockton, on 15th December.  Mr Skidmore, who appeared for the defendant, said that his client would plead guilty.  Superintendent Simpson said that about four o’clock on Sunday afternoon, whilst a great disturbance was going on about the county bridge, he saw the prisoner come galloping over the bridge from Stockton.  On reaching the North Riding side he galloped against several people. knocking several down; his horse then turned a somersault clean over its head, and fell against his (the witnesses) horse, carrying away the spur of his boot, and crushing his leg.  Prisoner himself was thrown amongst the crowd, and it was miraculous that some one had not been killed. – On behalf of the defendant, Mr Skidmore said that his client was  a respectable builder at Middlesbrough.  On Sunday afternoon he was going to see some friends at Acklam, without any ultimate intention of taking part in the procession : but he met with some friends upon the road, who pinned ribbons to his coat, and he was induced to accompany them to Stockton.  When returning, he got amongst the crowd, and his horse became alarmed, with the result mentioned by the superintendent.  The circumstances of the row going on seemed to show that the defendant was more sinned against than sinning.  But if the bench did inflict a fine he hoped it would be the lowest, and he wished distinctly to repudiate any complicity with the proceedings of the crowd on that day.   Superintendent Simpson said that there was no doubt about character, and there was no doubt that  had he not been there himself on horseback the defendant would have lost his life.  Mr Trotter, in announcing the decision said, they were very sorry that they had to inflict the full penalty of 40 shillings  and 16 shillings costs of the court.  It was not in favour of good conduct to be in drink ; and to ride about the streets as he saw the defendant doing during the afternoon, was certainly endangering the limbs and lives of the people about the street.  The bench had no desire to connect him with the parties who caused this disgraceful riot on a Sunday, but they were bound to inflict the full penalty.

John Davis, John Hart, John Riley and Thomas Boigy, all living at South Stockton, were each brought up in custody. charged with being drunk and riotous in various streets in South Stockton on Sunday evening.  Each of the defendants were found throwing stones about the streets, amongst a crowd of several hundreds of fighting men.  Mr Trotter said that throwing stones and kicking people when they were down ought always to be punished with imprisonment.  In this case the defendants did not seem to have complicity with the originators of the disturbance, but simply took part along with many others.   Each must pay the full penalty of 40 shillings each, with 6 shillings costs, and in default of payment undergo one month’s imprisonment.

Reproduced with the kind permission of Cengage Learning from their 19th Century Newspapers online resource collection.