The American Civil war and its devastating consequences were not confined to the United States. The conflict also had repercussions in the cotton districts of North West England, where there was a dependency on supplies of raw cotton from our southern states. When the supply was interrupted there was real hardship.

This situation led to the fear of civil disturbances in some towns, including Hyde in Cheshire, and authorities swore in special constables to help keep the peace.

The following document comes from a series containing more than 26,000 boxes and files from the British National Archives:

“I Joseph Little of Hyde in the County of Cheshire, Deputy chief constable, upon my oath, do say that I have reasonable grounds for apprehending and do apprehend that there will be this day a tumult and riot in Hyde aforesaid; and upon my oath aforesaid I further say that great numbers of people are tumultuously assembled in the public streets of Hyde and at other places and have done much damage to private property and have endeavoured to induce the rest of the inhabitants to join in the tumult by intimidation and violent means that I apprehend such offences will continue to be repeated and that the inhabitants of Hyde and neighbourhood labour under grat fear on that account; that the ordinary constables appointed for preserving the peace in Hyde aforesaid and in Godley, Newton, Werneth and Matley Townships wityhin the division of Hyde in the said County are not sufficient of efficient in number for the detection and discovery of the offender or offenders, for the preservation of the peace or for the protection of the inhabitantsand the security of the property in Hyde aforesaid.

Sworn before us four of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said County of Chester acting in and for the division of Hyde aforesaid this twenty third day of March 1863. Joseph Little

J Sidebottom Thos Ashton John Sidebotham Thomas Thornely”

The document (Ref HO 45/7523) can be found by clicking on National Archives, It lists the names of the special constables who were sworn in. Some of the names list occupations in the trades.


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