May 4, 2023 10.00 am This story is over 10 months old

Scenes of riots at Lincolnshire elections in 19th century

A look back in time while people vote in Lincolnshire

It’s election day and while there are reporting restrictions around political matters, we have an extraordinary tale to share with you from the 1800s.

Residents will have their chance to elect their local councillors when the polls open in Lincolnshire on Thursday, May 4.

Before results are announced overnight and through the following day we’d like to take you back to a local election in the nineteenth century.

Over in Grimsby there were ‘several riotous elections’, with the worst said to have come in 1862, according to ‘The A-Z of Curious Lincolnshire’ by Stephen Wade.

In 1862, just 11 years after the Yarborough Hotel in Grimsby had been built, things looked to be improving for the town.

A new railway was constructed and a new hotel was built by the great Lord Yarborough, who was chairman of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company. A riot started there which resulted in much of the interior of the hotel being wrecked.

The book describes how outsiders were brought in to help organise a campaign, which in this case was said to be towards the Liberal candidate Heneage, who later lost the election.

Two men from Liverpool are said to have been brought in to do this, and the hatred seemed to have been “directed towards the two voters inside”. Arrests were later made and four men were given prison sentences.

The book says: “Even their own sisters were in the crowd, shouting that they would ‘tear their eyes out’ if they supported Heneage. According to a contemporary account, the women were ‘violent blackguards’, determined to cause a fight.

“Thanks to their provocations, matters escalated and the mob attacked, turning the Yarborough Hotel into the site of a hellish brawl.

“Many thought that the fifty policemen from Hull acted so extremely that they aggravated the situation, but whatever the cause, the result was chaos and destruction.”

The book also makes a brief mention of Lincoln in the 1820s where there was “a murder associated with a candidate”.


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