The Bullies of 1860’s Victorian England

It’s not often that I write a book in four weeks. Of course, it’s only the first draft and editing begins, i.e. rewrites, embellishments, additions, deletions, etc. After that comes the other kind of editing–grammar, sentence structure, syntax, spelling, punctuation, and further reviews with the help of ProWriting and Grammarly. Then off to Victory Editing to be poked at again.

Some of what you’ll read in Toil Under the Sun may shock you and lead you to believe that I have an evil imagination. The incidents you’ll read about are actual occurrences I discovered while researching and reading the proceedings of the Manchester Assize Courts in 1867. These acts make Boucher throwing a rock in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South appear like child’s play.

Here is a short, but shocking list, of terrorist-like activities, perpetrated by union members against those who defied their rules. You’ll read about those rules in the book, which were put in place to supposedly protect the trade. The newspapers and courts called them “outrages.”

  • “Bottling” – throwing bottles full of combustible substances into rooms where brickmakers, their wives, and children slept.
  • Use of pistols to intimate watchmen and shoot watchdogs during their nightly raids.
  • Hamstringing of horses or slitting their throats. Setting stables on fire and burning horses alive.
  • The stabbing of cattle and other livestock owned by brickmakers.
  • Brutal beatings of employees, including young boys who worked for brickmakers, often resulting in permanent physical damage.
  • Destroying bricks sometimes as many as 60,000 or more at a brickmaker’s business.
  • Destroying buildings under construction that used machine-made bricks or bricks not made by union men.
  • Blowing up brickmaking machines with gunpowder.
  • Other atrocities that earned them this comment in the newspapers that their acts were the “despotism of their own class.”

As you can see, brickyard bullies were the hooligans of the day who would do anything to protect their trade, including murder those who stood in their way. A policeman was killed at one of their outrages.

Keep checking back for updates!  While editing, I’m going to dive into book two, Slave to None, and continue to the next era of 1870’s and how the trade changed and businesses grew. These are the years of prosperity and growth, and the foundation for family riches.

 

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