England has a long history of rioting. In 1714 an act of parliament was introduced to try and deal with this national passtime – “the act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies” with the more snappy popular title of “the riot act” . The riot act let local authorities declare to a group of twelve or more people that they were unlawfully assembled and ask them to disperse within the hour or be punished. The riot act would be read to the assembled people:
Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God Save the King!
It had to be read precisely. It was a hanging offense to not disperse within the hour. Some prosecutions were overturned in court because the proclamator forgot to read “God save the King!” The act included the death penalty, later transportation and was last used in 1919 on the Wirral. The act ceased to be law in 1975
The phrase ‘read the riot act’ is still used colloquially as a warning to cease serious misbehaviour…
I gave up trying to compile a decent list of riots in mainland England because it was getting way too long
This left me wondering how to distinguish revolution, rebellion and riot…