Today (and tomorrow morning) mark the 198th anniversary of the Pentrich Rising in 1817. Sometimes referred to as â€˜Englandâ€™s last revolutionâ€™, the rising took place on the evening of 9 June 1817 and the morning of 10 June. Around 50 radicals assembled at about 10pm on 9 June near the village of Pentrich, Derbyshire with a small number of weapons. Those involved had been assured that there was a large force rising elsewhere, and that the revolutionaries would converge on London.
They tried to take an iron works, but were held off by a few constables. Eventually the company was met by about 20 dragoons in Nottinghamshire and dispersed. Within three weeks a total of around 85 were arrested.
24 rebels were tried at a special court in Derby, with those convicted of involvement often sentenced to death. However, most of the sentences were subsequently commuted; 14 were transported, others were imprisoned. However there was no such reprieve for Jeremiah Brandreth, William Turner and Isaac Ludlam; labelled as the ring leaders, they became the last men in England to be sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered.
The Pentrich Rising was clearly doomed from its beginning, with no other force to support it, but the rebels may have well believed the promises of a wider revolutionary movement, as in the spring of 1817 many radicals believed open rebellion was on the cards, as did the government.
The government had good reason to fear general insurrection, Englandâ€™s economy was in a dire state; the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 had removed the demand of the war machine from the economy, the Corn Laws of 1815 had massively increased the price of bread.
These economic woes hit the poor of society the hardest, and had led to a clamour for something to change.