By Joseph Patrick Ward
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Extra info for Violence, Politics, and Gender in Early Modern England (Early Modern Cultural Studies)
For the volatility of the London populace seems beyond question. Roger Manning estimates that “there were at least 96 insurrections, riots, and unlawful assemblies in London between 1517 and 1640,” 20 Pa u l S . S e av e r and the mid-seventeenth-century revolution by no means put an end to metropolitan mob action. 14 Two points seem evident about these urban civil disturbances. First of all, the capacity of the Crown and City to prevent or control riots was limited and largely ineffectual, even under circumstances where rioting was anticipated.
An ostler, suspecting that a horse had been stolen, had asked the constable to prevent a gentleman from riding off on it; the gentleman after threatening to cut the ostler’s throat for his impertinence, then applied to the Lord Chamberlain for a warrant that led to the constable’s imprisonment. Although the Lord Mayor had been able to obtain an order for the constable’s release, the latter still remained in prison pending the payment of the substantial fees of £5 3s. ”48 What the gentleman saw as no more than officious impertinence and a failure to acknowledge his socially privileged position was evidently seen by the mayor’s court as a fully justified attempt to uphold the law, regardless of person.
A year later, the following were prosecuted for assisting the apprentices in pulling down Joan Leake’s house on Shrove Tuesday: Clement Watson, silk-throwster, servant (whether apprentice or journeyman is not clear, but elsewhere apprentices are identified as such) to Francis Rubye, silk-throwster; Ralph Betts, servant of William Campion, woodmonger; John Potter, clockmaker; John Prado, locksmith; John Gaunte, haberdasher; Richard Popkin, baker, servant to Richard Millard, baker; Thomas Baker, woodmonger; John Scoper and John Willyams, blacksmiths.