Victorian Election Violence and Newspaper Bias

In addition to other sources such as the Home Office Disturbance Book, one of our main sources for detecting election violence is newspaper reports.  These can be of immense value, but must always be taken with a pinch of salt…

One of our main aims is to discover the identity and intensity of partisan allegiances in Victorian electoral violence.  How much of the violence was down to groups or individuals who clashed because of opposing party loyalties?  What’s more, of these partisan-caused incidents, was any party or parties particularly likely to be the perpetrators or victims?  How did these trends vary geographically, and over time?

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Shaftesbury Goons Thwarted By Telegraph

During the 1874 election in Shaftesbury, an attempt to employ hired ‘roughs’ (goons employed to disrupt elections by violent means) was made. However, the plans, made by some significant political actors, came to naught before they even had a chance to begin.  In this particular incident, it’s clear that roughs were not only hired, but brought in specially from London by train:

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