Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Tales of the Month

Monthly tales from the city archives.

Mar 30, 2012

In late March 1831 the Caledonian Mercury reported that the peace and tranquility of the New Town was disturbed by public unrest following the second reading of the Great Reform Bill in parliament. Those in favour of the proposed democratic reforms were encouraged to celebrate by illuminating their windows. The Edinburgh mob decided to punish those who declined!

’ on that occasion the Edinburgh mobocracy fully sustained its character as the most recklessly mischievous and wantonly wicked of all mobs in all countries or cities on the face of the earth. The illumination commenced between seven and eight o' clock in the evening, and, about an hour after, several small corps of young blackguards, who had previously filled their pockets with stones, paraded the principal streets, chiefly in the New Town, dealing destruction as they went, to all windows not lighted up, and to many which were lighted, but which did not display a number of candles sufficient to satisfy the mobocracy that their proprietors were heart in the cause.’

Earlier in the day, the same ‘mobocracy’ had carried a burning effigy of the local Member of Parliament down the High Street ‘amid the shouts and laughter of the multitude’.

EWH are grateful for permission to use this extract from “The Edinburgh Book of Days” by Michael T.R.B. Turnbull, published by The History Press.
http://bit.ly/nxNKIh (www.thehistorypress.co.uk)

More tales from Edinburgh’s archives will appear in April.

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