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In March 1961, when I was living in Northumberland, a short newspaper article on the 200th anniversary of the Hexham Riot aroused my interest.

During the next five years I spent much of my spare time researching the operation of the Militia Acts in Northumberland and Durham during the Seven Years War. The results of these researches I placed with a local historical society.

This account of the Hexham riot is an abridgement of the original chapter from this material. After you have read it you may be surprised that so few persons ended up on trial when thousands took part in the Hexham riot and thousands more in the disturbances that led up to this riot. While on the one hand it was the policy of the authorities to single out the ringleaders of riots, in this case there were so many leaders of disparate bands that the choice of whom to bring to trial seems to have been quite arbitrary; and the one man who ended up on the scaffold took part in one of the lesser disturbances not the Hexham riot. This seems to suggest that the authorities had had the fright of their lives.

James A. Wilson

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