Prosecution, Precedence and Official Memory: Judicial Responses and Perceptions of Swing in Norfolk
This chapter offers a different perspective on the themes of the politics of memory and contested meanings of protest. It considers the perceptions and responses of the authorities to social unrest, and their role in shaping subsequent understandings of protest. Focused on the Swing disturbances of 1830, this analysis draws on Norfolk as a case study. The county’s experience of repeated unrest between 1816 and 1830 provides an opportunity to address the impact of the memory of popular protest: it informed both the resort to protest and the responses of the authorities. The prosecution of Swing is presented here as part of a process of simplifying or condensing ‘the messy historical realties’ of protest to establish an official narrative or memory of social upheaval.