Riot Act (592 words)

Historical Context Note


The so-called “Riot Act” (1 Geo.1 St.2 c.5) was passed in 1714, the first year of the reign of King George I, and came into effect on 1 August 1715. Its full title was: “An act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the rioters”. It was an attempt by the new regime to shore up the power of civil authorities after the Hanoverian succession and the rise of the Whigs. It can also be placed in a larger history of increased criminalisation during the first quarter of the eighteenth century, culminating in the Black Act of 1723 (see E.P. Thompson, Whigs and Hunters: The Origins of the Black Act [London:…

Seager, Nicholas. "Riot Act". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 June 2009
[, accessed 24 October 2016.]