The Hernhill Rising of 1838 was the last battle fought on English soil, the last revolt against the New Poor Law, and England’s last millenarian rising. The bloody ‘Battle of Bosenden Wood’, fought in a corner of rural Kent, was the culmination of a revolt led by the self-styled ‘Sir William Courtenay’. It was also, despite the greater fame of the 1830 Swing Riots, the last rising of the agricultural labourers.
Barry Reay provides us with the first comprehensive and scholarly analysis of the abortive rising, its background, and its social context, based on intensive research, particularly in local archives. He presents a unique case-study of popular mobilization in nineteenth-century England, giving us a vivid portrait of the day-to-day existence of the farm labourer and the life of the hamlet. Dr. Reay explores the wider context of agrarian relations, rural reform, protest and control through the fascinating story of The Last Rising of the Agricultural Labourers.
Barry Reay holds the Keith Sinclair Chair in History at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He has published extensively in early modern and modern social and cultural history and is the author or editor of eleven books, including Microhistories: Demography, Society, and Culture in Rural England, 1800-1930 (1996), Popular Cultures in England, 1550-1750 (1998), and Rural Englands: Labouring Lives in the Nineteenth Century (2004).