Hampshire Biographies

Henry Cook 1810 - 1830: Swing Riot protestor

Agricultural protestor who took part in the Swing Riots. Accused of riot, robbery and even attempted murder Cook is by no means a conventional hero but through his actions he fought, and in the end laid down his life for family, community and rural affairs against poverty and social injustice.

Henry Cook was born at Micheldever and baptised at Micheldever Parish Church on 17 June 1810 to parents John and Ruth Cook. Little is known of his tragically short life until November 1830 when his involvement in disturbances in the Dever Valley as part of the Swing riots secured his place in history.

The Swing riots were a widespread uprising by rural workers that took place in the Autumn of 1830. Across the south and east of England machinery was broken and workhouses, tithe barns and other hated buildings attacked. The rioters were mostly poor and landless agricultural labourers, seeking to stop wage cuts and the introduction of new horse-powered threshing machines, which could do the work of many men and therefore put their livelihoods at risk. It was during one of these riots that Cook was accused of attempted murder and was sentenced to death by hanging at the age of just 20.

Engraving of Rickburner