These articles are from the Sunderland Echo, a newspaper from the North-East of England. Presumably they obtained most of the story from thre Press Association reports and similar accounts will have appeared in other provincial newspapers. The text was posted to CORNISH-GEN-L by Sue Dent on 17–18 Dec 2001.

Wednesday May 20, 1896

The Cornish Fishermen

Further Serious Rioting

Gunboats & Military Dispatched to the Scene

The rioting amongst the fishermen in Newlyn were renewed yesterday, and assumed such serious proportions that the local magistrates deemed it necessary to telegraph to Devonport for assistance from the naval and military authorities. There was quite as much excitement among the fishermen as on the previous day, and though in the morning there was no indication of any desire to resort to personal violence there was an expressed determination on the part of the men that no fish should be landed from the East-country boats. A large body of police were on duty throughout the whole of Monday night, but no further disturbance occurred. As early as nine o'clock yesterday morning, however, there was a gathering of quite a thousand fishermen on the pier but as no boats had arrived during the night the men turned their attention in other directions and made an attack upon a waggon-load of empty fish boxes which had arrived from Penzance, under the impression that the boxes were intended for the packing of fish caught by the East-country boats. The police interfered to prevent the destruction of property, but they were completely outnumbered and very roughly treated, Insector Matthews being severely cut on the side of the head with a fish box that was thrown at him. He also had a finger broken, and other members of the force received minor injuries.

The police at once drew their states and prepared to act on the defensive, but no further violence was offered by the crowd, and some of the men them amused themselves for some time by addressing the crowd on the sinfulness of Sunday fishing. One speaker exclaimed “We are no white feather men. We are Cornishmen fighting for truth, honesty, and Christianity. We will have our Sundays honoured, and if the Lowestoft men are not allowed to bring in fish on Mondays we shall have better prices on Tuesday.” After this there was an hour or two of quiet. Then came a report that a Lowestoft boat was entering the bay, and immediately


prevailed. The large boats were manned by about 30 fishermen, the order was given for all on te parapet of the pier to go below so that the crew of the “foreigner” might not suspect anything, and the boats rowed out to the trawler. The Newlyn men boarded and took charge of the vessel, and threw overboard all the fish that was on board. The quantity was not large, the catch not exceeding above 2,000. By this time two other “yorkies” as the Lowestoft boats are called, had put in an appearance in the distance, and to prevent their escape two Newlyn luggers were manned by very large crews and set out to intercept them. Just then other Lowestoft boats appeared in the bay, but they were all handled so well that they escaped their pursuers and made off to sea again—it was believed for Plymouth.

After this


was exhibited, and it was in fear of a serious disturbance that the magistrate telegraphed to Devonport for assistance from the naval and military authorities. In response to this request the gunboat “Curlew”, the special service vessel “Traveller”, and the torpedo boat destroyer “Ferret” were immediately dispatched to Newlyn, and about the same time 300 men of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, under Major Massard, left by train for Penzance and proceeded thence by road to Newlyn. A Penzance correspondent says:—A contemplated attack by 200 Newlyn rioters on a Lowestoft boat in Penzance Harbour has been pluckily resisted and repulsed. The attacking party advanced by way of the promenade. As soon as they crossed the borough boundaries they were met by


and children who hooted and jeered at them. Their retort was, “We have come to take away your husbands”; but in a few minutes the leaders with blood-stained faces were hastening homeward. Superintendant Nicholas and only part of his little police force, about eight in all, were drawn up on the narrow part of the quay. At sight of the policemen the fishermen raised a shout and advanced at the double. Behind the policemen was a small body of volunteers, composed of sailors, quay labourers, and others, armed with ice spikes, staves and belaying pins. The foremost of the rioters had the police truncheons so well played upon their heads and faces that they fell back, and there was


for 200 or 300 yards to Sandy Bank. There the men obtained boards out of a boat, and, armed with these and stones, they made a stand, but were soon broken up into little groups and scattered. According to later telegrams from Penzance only a few of the rioters remained on the promenade. A large number of St Ives boats are sailing into Mount's Bay and making for Newlyn, and the retreating Newlyn men threatened that they would return with the St Ives’ men.

The Lowestoft boatowners met yesterday afternoon and considered the demand of the Cornishmen for an undertaking that Lowestoft boats should in the future remain in port from Saturday to Monday, and decided that the answer should be given from Messrs Price and Capps, chairman and secretary of the society in which they are insured, who arrived at Newlyn last evening. The feeling of the Lowestoft owners now is that as the mischief is done they will not give way, but leave members in the hands of the government. Mr H S Foster MP, last evening received the following telegram from Penzance:—“Cornishmen still throwing Lowestoft fish overboard, Newlyn harbour blocked. Our crews held prisoners by cornishmen. No gunboat here yet. One must come at once, also military. Sure life and property will be lost if not stopped at once. We are helpless!” Upon receiving this telegram Mr Foster at oncecommunicated with the Home Secretary and learnt that steps are being taken to restore order.

THE HOME SECRETARY HAS TELEGRAPHED to the local magistrates to meet the military, and provide for them food and Shelter, and to read the Riot Act if necessary. Mr Foster afterwards received the following telegraph from Penzance:—“No assistance arrived yet. Mob reinforced by St Ives men. Matters growing worse. Military coming; if not must arm ourselves for safety of property.” Telegraphing last evening, a Penzance correspondent says:—“Five boat loads of fish have been seized and thrown into the harbour at Newlyn. HMS Traveller is hourly expected and, with the aid of soldiers ad bluejackets, it is confidently expected that order will soon be restored. In the meantime Special Constables are being sworn in, as it is feared St Ives’ men may pay Penzance a visit.”

The Press Association's Newlyn correspondent states that a mass meeting of fishermen was held yesterday on Newlyn South Pier. The clerk to the county magistrates was present. Three speakers, Mr Tonkin, of Newlyn; Mr Thomas Strike of Porthleven; and Mr Mann, Mousehole, addressed the crowd. Mr Strike said they did not want violence, but they were determined to carry their principle through. There was no objection to their Lowestoft brethren coming there, but they were strongly averse to their fishing on Saturday nights and Sundays. A thousand fishermen cheered this speech. Some buyers and salesmen also spoke. They said they endorsed the views of the Newlyn fishermen, but had to consult their firms before they could pledge themselves not to sell any fish caught on Saturday night or Sunday.

Thursday May 21, 1896

The Cornish Fishermen


Newlyn Wednesday

The Press Association Newlyn correspondent states that the night passed off uneventfully and this morning a detachment of the 2nd Berkshire Regiment, who had been on duty, was relieved by another detachment of the same regiment. It transpires that one East Coast boat yesterday behaved very pluckily. On being warned at the mouth ofthe bay of the danger at Newlyn, the master made for Penzance and lay to. On the smack being noticed from Newlyn, two fishing boats hoisted their sails, and, accompanied by two gigs in which were 20 men, set out to board the Lowestoft craft. The skipper of the latter noticing what was being done prepared the [?al?] stones among his ballast as ammunition. he then stood away towards St Michaels Mount and,spreading full sail, ran right a strong breeze towards the Newlyn flotilla which contemplated boarding him. By this time the gigs which had been towed by the Newlyn craft had been cast off, to enable the crews to board the stranger, who warned his attackers that he would run them down, and as he swept by one of the gigs his crew shot a volley of stones at her, striking the oarsmen and endangering the boat. Then he luffed, rep[?] and gave another volley, and the Newlyn [?] sheered off. The Lowestoft boat next served the other gig in the same manner and then pulled away, jeering at the Newlyn men as he left.

Rioting recommenced at 11 o'clock that morning, when an attack was made on [?] Stricke harbour master because he put off in a steam launch on Monday to warn the East Country boats not to come to Newlyn, and the police had to protect him. The rioters however, attacked the police as well, but were eventually driven back with the aid of truncheons. The military who were close a hand, were not called into requisition.

The mob at Newlyn has threatened to [?] the harbour masters house. It is not known whether any of the police were injured by anyone during the baton charge today.


Lowestoft Wednesday

The Press Association Lowestoft correspondent states that on the East Coast the disturbance at Newlyn is regarded as being practically over, and the Lowestoft owners consider that in declining to yield to the demands of the Cornishmen that they won a complete victory. It is thought at Lowestoft that the authorities at Newlyn showed great weakness in not quelling the riot at the start. It is stated that the Penzance fishermen have sided with the Lowestoft men, and the Lowestoft men regard this as a hopeful omen for the future. A telegram from Penzance states that over 20 boats are safe in Penzance Floating Dock, and all are flying their [?]. Mr Capps, secretary of the Boatowners [?]tion Society, has taken a list of all losses sustained by mackerel being thrown overboard and otherwise. The boats will go to sea tomorrow, and probably return and sell their catches at Penzance.


Mr HS Foster MP for Lowestoft yesterday received the following telegram from Newlyn. “Boats released by military last night; [?] Penzance. Gunboats here. All quiet at present. Think riots ended. Thank you and Government for assisstance.Kindly ask Treasury to contact solicitor here to take legal proceedings against known offenders. Shall claim damages against authorities.—Arnall Capps secretary.”

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