Above is the first page of a letter from R. E. Day of Handen, in the hops-growing region of Kent, near London to his uncle S. Day, who had emigrated and was living in Utica, New York. Day reports on the poor economic conditions in England’s farming regions and the outbreak of riots and disturbances in the area, including the recent burning of Lord Winchilsea’s farm. These riots, known as the “Swing Riots” because they were frequently preceded by warning letters from a “Captain Swing” had begun the previous summer but continued throughout the decade and spread to many other regions of England. It resulted in several major pieces of legislation including the first revision of the Poor Laws since the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Lord Winchilsea (George William Finch-Hatton) was a politically prominent and somewhat notorious landowner. Winchilsea had challenged the Duke of Wellington to a duel, in 1829, when the latter was still prime minister of England. Both men deliberately aimed wide.
Westfall Collection #8.1.a.os.1.1