28th June 1880. In the court at the town of Stafford, Edward Heatherley, William Richards, Patrick Lanner, George Wright, Thomas Cunningham, George Chadbund, and Thomas Coleridge were sentenced for the crime of riot. They were ordered to pay a fine of 20 shillings each to cover the costs of persecution and they were imprisoned until this was paid.
A riot is a disturbance of the peace, or a number of people assembled for this purpose. In British law it was covered by the Riot Act 1714 (which was repealed by the Criminal Law Act 1967), although in this particular case there were fewer than the twelve participants that the Act defines as a riot. The fine handed out to the men is equivalent to over £60 today, or roughly two days’ wages for a skilled tradesman of the time. This seems relatively lenient, which suggests that the disturbance was not serious, or perhaps should not have been described as a riot.
See my ‘ordinary people’ post here. Catch up with the previous post in the series here.