The Battle of Mapperley Hills
On Tuesday August 23rd, 1842, Mapperley
experienced an event known as the Battle of Mapperley Hills.
During the 1830/40s there was considerable unrest throughout
the country in support of the Chartist movement. This organisation’s aims were to bring about
election conditions we today take for granted. They were universal suffrage, no
property qualifications, vote by ballot, payment to members and equal electoral
districts and to this end; they submitted their Charter to Parliament.
It was however, rejected and as a result for four days
between 19th and the 23rd of August,
1842 there were Chartist disturbances across Nottingham.
On the morning of the 23rd
, a rally was called
and about 5,000 people from all over the district assembled on Mapperley Hills,
the peaceful meeting arranged to listen to speakers in support of their cause.
The authorities became extremely worried by reports of this assembly. The local
magistrate Col Sir Laurence Rolleston called in the police and a large number
of special constables. The 2nd Dragoons were also mobilised and the whole force
then sent to break up the meeting.
They arrived at 3pm just as the people had sat down to eat
dinner. The crowd refused to disperse when so ordered and the Riot Act was read
which in turn incensed the peaceful crowd. Col Rolleston then ordered the
Dragoons to break up the meeting and carry out arrests. They advanced on the
crowed and managed to carry out this action without loss of life or causing
injury. About 400 were arrested which incensed the crowd even further. The prisoners
were marched in lines four abreast down the Red Lane (now Redcliffe Road)
towards the city.
The people did not disperse however and more and more
followed the procession. As the line arrived near the junction of Red Lane and
Mansfield Road they attacked the police and Dragoons with stones. A second
attack occurred when the column reached the top of York Street. Orders were
given to the troops to prepare to fire. The Dragoons however managed to clear
the streets without bloodshed by galloping about brandishing their swords. By
4pm all the captives were in prison.
The magistrates immediately started examining those arrested
and by 6pm some 250 had been released without charge. The following day a
further 50 were released. About 50 of the remaining men were then committed for
trial. They appeared before Col Rolleston and were found guilty of unlawfully
and riotously assembling together and breaking the peace. Some were sentenced
to imprisonment with hard labour for six, four or two months and the rest
discharged upon entering into recognisance to keep the peace.
For some years
afterwards the event was commemorated annually in the city as a celebration of
All articles © Bob Massey
Col Sir Laurence Rolleston