The Gordon Riots, 1780

This map shows traces of a dramatic and violent event that occurred in London over 220 years ago.

In June 1780, London was shaken by violent anti Catholic riots. These became known as the Gordon riots. The government had proposed a bill to reduce restrictions against Catholics. Objecting to this, the mob raged against the Catholics, attacking chapels, houses, public buildings, and even Catholic people in the streets. 12,000 troops were deployed to quell the uprising, and 700 people were killed. This map was used by the Quarter Master General who was responsible for sending troops to the affected areas - these areas are marked in red.

On the map is also marked Kenwood House, the home of the Lord Chief Justice, the Earl of Mansfield. The mob, aware of Mansfield's Catholic sympathies and his belief in religious tolerance, marched towards Kenwood intending to burn it down. They stopped at the nearby Spaniard’s Inn, where the publican and the Earl’s steward plied them with huge amounts of alcohol. Thanks to this, the rioters quickly collapsed in a drunken heap, giving time for the troops to arrive and arrest them.

Taken from: Plans of encampments and disposition of the army in Great Britain from 1778 to 1782
Date: 1778-1782
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: Add. MS 15533, f.39