A RIOTOUS PAST
The Somerset Guardian, 21st August 2019
This week, the story of my ancestor, John Rees-Mogg, was reported in The Times by Roland White.
Mr. White wrote that historian, Catherine Bateson, had recently uncovered an 1852 account from the Sherborne Mercury of rioting at a general election hustings whereby a savage attack was made on my great-great-grandfather’s elder brother, John Rees-Mogg. “J Rees Mogg, Esq. was beaten by the rioters and escaped into a nearby house” by a mob which had assembled in Clutton who had taken “the hats off the Conservatives and flung them in their faces.” Afterwards, “barrels of beer were served by the Radical Party” which, apparently, failed to “tranquillise the mob.”
My ancestor was, indeed, a colourful character. A captain of the North Somerset Yeomanry and county solicitor, John Rees-Mogg was married three times and frequented Wells to gamble, which at that time was known as a den of inequity but could not be further from the truth today. John Rees-Mogg often found himself in scrapes but it was his brother, William, my direct ancestor, who intervened on several occasions to prevent any unpleasant consequences.
It is always fascinating to hear stories of one’s forebears, especially when there is a local link. It is hard to imagine any residents of Clutton, whose wonderful flower show recently took place, behaving in such an uncivilised fashion. As I have mentioned in previous articles my family has an historic connection to the show so I am always delighted to be invited and, more importantly, I am pleased that I get a better reception than John Rees-Mogg did.