England (Counties as in 1851-1901) => Gloucestershire Lookup Requests => Gloucestershire => England => Gloucestershire Completed Lookup Requests => Topic started by: Nicky on Friday 26 August 05 11:38 BST (UK)

Title: Forest of Dean Riots - Warren James
Post by: Nicky on Friday 26 August 05 11:38 BST (UK)
I am looking for any information on the Dean Forest Riots c. 1830.

I believe Warren James was arrested and sent to Tasmania.

I dont really have any information on him except his birth year which was 1792, his parents were Warren James and Anne Kear.

Any information would really help.

Title: Re: Forest of Dean Riots - Warren James
Post by: DebbieDee on Friday 26 August 05 12:11 BST (UK)
Hi Nicky,

A number of years ago I studied the 1831 riots in Somerset for my degree.  There were riots all over England at the time.  The causes seem to be fairly localised but all the riots add up to general civil unrest and a rising working class movement - perhaps the origins of the trade union movement.  I think it's a fascinating era in social history. 

This extract explains what the 1831 Forest of Dean riots were about:

The new inclosures and the tighter administration brought to prominence again the question of commoning rights in the Forest. Increasingly during the 19th century the rights were exercised by inhabitants of the Forest hamlets rather than by those of the surrounding parishes. Forest commoners, mostly working or retired miners with small flocks of sheep, were putting in the greater number of animals by 1839, (Footnote 38) though in 1860 people from 15 parishes still put in animals, the largest numbers from Newland and Ruardean. The payment of herbage money to the lessee of St. Briavels lapsed c. 1835, probably because the majority of places had paid it out of the old parish poor rate. (Footnote 39) The commoners from the parishes were more open to schemes for extinguishing or regulating the rights, while the Foresters defended their claims with the traditional belligerence.
By the start of the 19th century regular drifts of the Forest in the prohibited seasons had been largely abandoned, the owners of animals paying fees to the keepers to leave them in. The commoners petitioned to end those fees in 1820 and 1823, but in 1823 the Commissioners of Woods ordered that clearance in the prohibited seasons be resumed. (Footnote 40) Reinclosure of much of the Forest had at first been accepted without trouble, but resentment grew later and became combined with the Foresters' grievances about the invasion of their mining rights by outsider capitalists. Over several days in June 1831, under the leadership of Warren James, a Bream miner, groups of commoners assembled and, after giving notice of their intention to the authorities, destroyed about half of the estimated 120 miles of the walls and banks around the inclosures. The riot Act was read several times but no person was attacked by the rioters and order was easily restored when troops were brought in. The rioters were treated fairly leniently: James was sentenced to death but his sentence commuted to transportation, a few others were imprisoned or bound over, and some escaped prosecution by agreeing to help repair the inclosures. (Footnote 41) The main result was to highlight local grievances, prompting a commission of inquiry into the Forest in 1832, which laid the groundwork for regularizing mining and the tenure of the encroachments. Commoning rights, however, remained a seemingly intractable problem. A meeting called to discuss plans for extinguishing the rights in 1836 broke up when intimidated by a mob of Foresters. (Footnote 42) Tension eased for a few years after that, however, when to aid the negotiations to settle the regulation of mining there was a tacit agreement to end the regular drifts. (Footnote 43)

From: 'Forest of Dean: Forest administration', A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 5: Bledisloe Hundred, St. Briavels Hundred, The Forest of Dean  (1996), pp. 354-77. URL:

Try googling 1831 and "Forest of Dean" and I'm sure there are more mentions of Warren James.

Debbie  ;)
Title: Re: Forest of Dean Riots - Warren James
Post by: Nicky on Friday 26 August 05 13:07 BST (UK)
Hi Debbie,
Many thanks for that, gives me some good info, off to Google now!!