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Scotland and the Scots, 1707-2007

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Christian Auer

VIII. Religion

52. Riot at the Anti-Popery Lecture, 1841

Texte intégral

1The following document relates an incident that took place in Roxburgh Street Chapel, Edinburgh on March 18 1841 when a man who was delivering a lecture against the Roman Catholic religion was noisily interrupted. The broadside reports that a fight broke out and that “considerable damage has been done to the fittings of the Church” (also see introduction to text 51).

2Most Shameful riot at the Anti-Popery Lecture, Roxburgh Street Church, 18 March 1841 (Broadsides, National Library of Scotland).

Seldom has our city been the scene of such a disgraceful riot as that which took place last night,

The following are a few particulars connected with it, as they have reached us; but the whole will of course soon undergo a judicial investigation. For some weeks past a Mr Leckie has been delivering a course of lectures against Popery, in Roxburgh Street Chapel, in which he zealously endeavoured to refute and expose the errors and fallacies promulgated by the doctrines of the Church of Rome. These lectures, we understand, have been pretty well attended throughout, and in general conducted with a good deal of decorum; though it was evident that his severe animadversions on the tenets of their faith were productive of any thing but the most amicable feelings in the bosoms of that section of his auditors who were adherents of the Roman Catholic persuasion. Symptoms of these feelings occasionally evinced themselves at some of the meetings; but on Wednesday evening their demonstration was somewhat more noisey than on previous occasions. The subject of that evening’s lecture being to be resumed last night, the house was early filled, and from the turbulence which prevailed before the hour of lecture, it became apparent that the opposition party had mustered their forces in great strength, and now bade defiance to all order. In this state of things, it was deemed adviseable to postpone the lecture till another meeting would be held in which order might be secured. But on Mr Leckie’s attempting to make this announcement to the meeting, it became the signal for commencing a general row; and, amidst the most deafening mixture of shouts, yells, groans, and hisses, the book-boards of several of the pews were torn down, and thrown promiscuously about the house. The noise and confusion of the scene soon extended itself to the outside of the house, where an immense crowd was soon collected. Meanwhile the proceedings of the assailants within went on briskly – the peaceable part of the auditory, in endeavouring to make out, were met by the uplifted sticks of the others, and were glad to shelter themselves behind the pillars and even under the seats. A body of police, however, at length arrived, and succeeded, though with some difficulty, in taking into custody some of the principal actors in the affray, whom they conveyed to the police-office; a dense crowd accompanying them the whole of the way. We understand that considerable damage has been done to the fittings of the Church. In expectation of the case being heard today, the Police Court was considerably thronged. It is said, however, to come on before the Sheriffon Tuesday.

Sanderson, Printer, Edinburgh.

© Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2013

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