RIOT OF 1832
In December 1832 there was a serious riot in Linton followed
six months later by a major outbreak of violence in Hildersham.
There were no County Police forces at this time and each village
relied on appointing a handful of Special Constables to keep
The early 1830’s were a time of huge social and economic
discontent in England, especially in rural areas. Rick burning
was commonplace, unemployment was widespread and the poor were
close to the bread line. In Linton, over three quarters of the
householders were unable to pay the Poor Rate which funded the
local distribution of food and provided monetary support for
the poor and the unemployed.
The system of making up the wages of workers to a basic level,
led not only to very high rates but also to a truculent work
force which demanded hand outs as their right. The ruling classes
feared a French style revolution and were increasingly subjected
to verbal abuse by the younger males in the village. Young men
no longer dependent on local farmers for an income, lost their
respect for the ruling classes and were free to vent their anger
without fear of any financial penalties.
The Riot of 1832 took place by the entrance to the Crown Inn
behind the 1937 view of the telephone box by Holttum’s
An attempt to enforce Sunday drinking laws in Linton sparked
off the riot. The landlord of the Crown Inn (number 35, High
Street today ) was prosecuted by Constable Mason for serving
drinks to labourers during Divine Service. Please note that
the present day Crown Inn was not a pub at this time.
The Linton magistrates held their Petty Session Court at the
Crown Inn and the two magistrates on December 6th 1832, Lord
Godolphin of the Gogs Mansion House and Henry Adeane of Babraham
Hall found the landlord guilty as charged.
Meanwhile, a huge crowd had assembled outside the Inn and
were incensed when the guilty verdict was announced. They
tried to seize and manhandle Constable Mason as he emerged
from the Court, so the two magistrates hastily enlisted additional
Special Constables to escort him to safety. The scuffles grew
more violent and both magistrates were severely manhandled.
A badly shaken Lord Godolphin managed to retreat to the safety
of the Inn, and the solid gates of the courtyard arch were
The rioters used mud and gravel from the unsurfaced High Street
to throw missiles at the retreating forces of law and order.
The beleaguered Constables rushed towards the bridge and sought
safety in the courtyard of the Reverend Fisher’s house
(the present day residence of Dr. Bertram at Linton House).
The crowd smashed down the stout gates of the house and Mr.
Adeane was hit by some large stones whilst sheltering in the
yard. One cut his scalp and a second inflicted a deep wound
above his left ear. He was very fortunate in having the local
doctor, Mr.Holmes, in close attendance.
Fortunately the Vicar was a highly respected gentleman and
he managed to restrain and pacify the worst elements in the
crowd. The ringleaders retreated and a large reward of £100
was offered by the authorities for any information which led
to the conviction of individual rioters. Villagers responded
to this monetary bribe and a large force of Constables arrested
the eleven leaders at their homes the following day.
The ringleaders were all charged with public order offences
at the County Assizes held at Cambridge Castle in March, 1833.
Local names featured amongst the prisoners:
Elijah Pammenter 22 years of age, Samuel Pammenter 38, William
Brown 27, Richard Hill 25, George Whiffin 25, Thomas Turner
25, William Pammenter 29, Thomas Crane 25 ( the stone thrower
), Charles Brown 25, John Wright and William Whiffin, 43.
The last was accused of urging the mob to fetch guns. Ten
men were found guilty and sentenced to prison terms with hard
labour of between one and two years. There was no question
of sentence remission in those days. Surprisingly, Whiffin
was the only one acquitted due to lack of solid identification
The Hildersham affray involved a crowd of over one hundred
men who assembled outside Mr. Mabbutt’s beer house,
but the incident was nowhere near as serious as that in Linton.
Two workers from Bartlow had tried to secure reaping work
in Hildersham and this was naturally resented by local farm
workers during a time of high unemployment. No members of
the ruling classes were assaulted and so the magistrates dismissed
the case against the four young Hildersham men who had been
charged with assault.
Both incidents demonstrate the precarious nature of society
at this time. Inequalities of wealth were so great that periodic
breakdowns in law and order were inevitable. Even after the
Great Parliamentary Reform Act of 1832 there were only 56
qualified voters in Linton out of a population of over 1700
people. The Abingtons had a mere 11 voters, Hildersham 6,
Horseheath 19 and Balsham 27.
A County Police Force was finally established by 1850 and
this helped to bring greater order to rural communities. A
Police Station was built in Symonds Lane in 1855 to serve
Linton and the surrounding villages, and no further riots
took place in Linton after that time.