Saturday, December 22, 2012
Maddened by Brew House Beer
I am sorry to report a most wanton and mischievous outrage committed last night on your Lordship's property, and that of several other inhabitants – a fine cedar close to Middlebridge is 'shorter by the head' – about 5 or 6 feet having been snapped off, and upwards of 30 firs in the plantation at the end of Town Mean on the Salisbury Road, have been severed in the same way or worse... at present we are without any clue to lead to a detection of the offenders... a hand bill will be out in the morning – the mayor has been very active, but his jurisdiction is limited and we want a county magistrate very much in the immediate neighbourhood of this place. It is supposed the offenders live out of the town, and were madden'd by that abominable composition called brew house beer...Carl J. Griffin, "'Cut down by some cowardly miscreants': Plant Maiming, or the Malicious Cutting of Flora, as an Act of Protest in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Rural England," Rural History 19.1 (April 2008) 29-54 (at 29, with note on p. 48):
On the night of Saturday 6th May 1826 the small Hampshire market town of Romsey was subjected to a series of malicious attacks on both private and public property. The brick walls and paling alongside the River Test were pitched into the water, numerous gates were thrown off their hinges, several porches were demolished and thirty young trees plus a 'beautiful' cedar belonging to Lord Palmerston were 'wantonly cut and broken down'. Whilst the targeting of the property of Palmerston, the Secretary of State for War, aroused particular attention in the provincial press, in other respects there was nothing extraordinary about this systematic campaign of destruction.2Salisbury and Winchester Journal (May 8, 1826), from a report dated "Winchester, Saturday, May 6":
2. Salisbury and Winchester Journal, 8th May 1826.
Several daring outrages were on Saturday night last committed in Romsey. A remarkable fine cedar tree, the property of Lord Palmerston, growing near Middlebridge, together with upwards of 30 other young timber trees were wantonly cut or broken down; several gates, porches of doors, a quantity of palling and brick-work, were thrown down and carried away, the greater part of which was subsequently found in the River Test. In consequence of the above depredations, measures are in contemplation for establishing a permanent watch in the town.Griffin's date of May 6, 1826, is incorrect. The tree maiming must be dated a week earlier, on Saturday, April 29, 1826.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.