#AceBritishHistoryNews – The Priestley Riots (also known as the Birmingham Riots of 1791) took place from 14 July to 17 July 1791 in Birmingham, England; the rioters’ main targets were religious Dissenters, most notably the politically and theologically controversial Joseph Priestley.
Both local and national issues stirred the passions of the rioters, from disagreements over public library book purchases, to controversies over Dissenters’ attempts to gain full civil rights and their support of the French Revolution.
The riots started with an attack on Birmingham’s Royal Hotel – the site of a banquet organized in sympathy with the French Revolution.
Then, beginning with Priestley’s church and home, the rioters attacked or burned four Dissenting chapels, twenty-seven houses, and several businesses.
Many of them became intoxicated by liquor that they found while looting, or with which they were bribed to stop burning homes.
The rioters burned not only the homes and chapels of Dissenters, but also the homes of people they associated with Dissenters, such as members of the scientific Lunar Society.