A project by Jessica Dirkson
The complexity of the Gordon Riots (June 2, 1780 - June 8, 1780), its participants, and their places of chosen destruction consequentially make a single, authoritative narrative impossible. Beginning with targeted demolition of Catholic homes and churches, the riots devolved into a frenzied destruction of numerous state run buildings and businesses of well regard – Catholic and Protestant alike. As the riots and damage exponentially increased, the number of military personnel dispatched into London grew. Understanding the devolvement of the rioters and the rapid pace at which it took place is critical to understanding the Gordon riots and the turbulence that Londoners underwent in early June 1780.
Due to the intricacies of the Gordon riots, it makes most sense to present the material in a spatial narrative rather than any other way. Simply outlining the riots and troop movements in a chart or in paragraph form would result in losing the spatial importance of the disorderly conduct. The most ideal way to emphasize the breadth of the riots throughout London is through an interactive map. The map provided is an aerial view of London in the late eighteenth century. By adding each riot and troop placement as interactive components to the map, viewers can see the complexity and magnitude of the turmoil that London was subjected to in June of 1780.
Ian Haywood and John Seed, The Gordon Riots. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012, 1.
“It is all unaccountable, and I can send you no consistent narrative. Much appears to have been sudden fury, and in many places the act of few. In other lights it looks like a plan and deep premeditation … When I know so little of what has passed before my own eyes, I shall not guess how posterity will form their opinions.”
Horace Walpole, 14 June 1780
Horace Walpole to Horace Mann, 14 June 1780, in The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, ed. P. Cunningham, 9 vols. (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1861-6), Vol. VII, p. 401.