Industrial changes – Captain Swing

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Industrial changes – Captain Swing

This notice was issued by Berkshire magistrates in November 1830.

To the

Labouring Classes

THE Gentlemen, Yeomanry, Farmers, and others, having made known to you their intention of increasing your Wages to a satisfactory extent; and it having been resolved that Threshing Machines shall not be again used; it is referred to your good sense that it will be most beneficial to your own permanent Interests to return to your usual honest occupations, and to withdraw yourselves from practices which tend to destroy the property from whence the very means of your additional Wages are to be supplied.

Hungerford, 22nd November 1830

  1. What were the farmers, yeomanry and gentlemen going to do about:
    (a) wages and (b) threshing machines?
    What do they expect the farm labourers to do in return?
    Why do you think the farmers agreed to having this notice put up?
    How do you think the farm labourers would have reacted to the notice?

This is a typical ‘Swing’ letter. The original is in the Public Record Office.


This is to acquaint you that if your threshing machines are not destroyed by you directly, we shall commence our labours.

Signed on behalf of the whole


  1. Write your own ‘Swing’ letter. Remember first to target the farmer and be clear about what it is you are going to destroy. How do you think the farmer will react?

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