The Crieff Riot of 1780
The decade between 1771 and 1781 saw considerable civil disruption throughout the towns and villages of Perthshire and Fife The reason was primarily a succession of crop failures and an acute shortage of meal – the staff of life – for the vast majority of the populous . Traditionally grain was exported abroad ( mainly to
Europe ) from the and a one particular incident seemed to act as a catalyst to civic
unrest . A sloop was loading at the harbour with vast quantities of this
precious cargo . In a short time the whispers began to circulate around the loom shops
of the starving weavers . Fair City
On the night of
The next day, New Year’s day, there were still angry groups of men discussing the imprisonment of their friends. As evening came they massed in the High Street and started to advance towards the Old Tolbooth at the bottom of the street. This time the council and magistrates were ready. A detachment of infantry were stationed in front of the Tollbooth with a couple of cannon in their midst. For all this display of power the mob advanced pelting the soldiers and the Provost with stones. It was at this stage that the Provost read the Riot Act.
The soldiers loaded their muskets with ball cartridges and the cannon with grape- shot but no command to fire was given. Either through fear or common humanity, the Provost at the last moment decided to agree to the rioter’s demands; the two prisoners were released from the jail and delivered to their friends. There were shouts of triumph from the rioters and the crowds started to disperse. For a short time things quietened down but else where there arose strong rumblings of discontent . In
“That this ( the quelling of mobs ) may be done in an orderly and effectual manner , a signal shall be made at Perth – in case the mob proceeds from thence – by firing a cannon once every five minutes for an hour at least ; and in case it proceeds from any other place , by ringing of the Parish bell , as well as by sending notice from one place to another . That as soon as such signals are heard or notice given , the same shall be further communicated by ringing the Parish bells of the other Parishes who perceive the same , and the Minister and precentor of such Parish shall take care the bells be so wrung upon such signals and notices , and all noblemen , gentlemen , and other heritors , with their tenants , servants and dependants , shall thereupon assemble at the respective Parish churches , mounted on horseback , so far as they have horses , and armed ( at least with clubs or stout sticks ) ; after which they are to repair to the place where such mobs are , or if they have information thereof , they are to repair to the North Inch of
“ The meeting recommended the resolutions to be read to the different congregations on the two subsequent Sundays . These things show in what a dangerous state society existed , and the use that can be made of a Minister and precentor “
Crieff is but seventeen miles from
Things settled adown and the mob dispersed . A few days later the authorities arrested Maxtone , both Fishers , Campbell and Ross . On the 12th of February they appeared at the High Court in
And they same things get wild on Games Night !