When was the last armed revolt in Britain?

Armed rebellions against authority have been common in Britain's history, but there hasn't been a large-scale revolt since the 19th century. When was the most recent? Historian Greg Jenner explains…

Illustration of Chartist riot

The famous Newport Rising, which occurred in Monmouthshire in 1839, was an ugly offshoot of the Chartist movement demanding the vote for working-class men.

Advertisement

Though action was long planned, the revolt quickly escalated when key Welsh Chartists were detained in a Newport hotel. Hearing this, an armed mob of perhaps 5,000 went to liberate them, and opened fire on the local yeomanry.

The soldiers retaliated, killing around 20, and the mob soon fled in panic. The ringleaders were sentenced to death, but this was later commuted to transportation.

Some contemporary conspiracy theorists feared that this uprising was just the beginning of a sinister Russian invasion plot, and that the whole nation would soon be under attack.

Answered by one of our Q&A experts, historian and author Greg Jenner.

Advertisement

This article was taken from BBC History Revealed magazine