E. P. Thompson – Whigs and Hunters

The Origin of the Black Act

Whigs and Hunters (cover)

276pp paperback 156x234mm ISBN 978-0-9570005-2-0

Buy this book for £16.00
(incl. p&p for UK/Europe)

Buy this book for £16.00
(plus £2.00 p&p for Rest of World)

Buy this book for 0.109146 BTC
(incl. p&p for UK/Europe)

Buy this book for 0.122789 BTC
(incl. p&p for Rest of World)

We use BitPay to handle Bitcoin payments.

The price shown is the live Bitcoin exchange rate as used by BitPay.

If you want to make a direct payment into the Breviary Stuff Bitcoin wallet instead, then please contact us, stating your name and address, and the book(s) you want to order. We will reply with a Bitcoin payment address.

With Whigs and Hunters, the author of The Making of the English Working Class, E. P. Thompson plunged into the murky waters of the early eighteenth century to chart the violently conflicting currents that boiled beneath the apparent calm of the time. The subject is the Black Act, a law of unprecedented savagery passed by Parliament in 1723 to deal with ‘wicked and evil-disposed men going armed in disguise’. These men were pillaging the royal forest of deer, conducting a running battle against the forest officers with blackmail, threats and violence.

These ‘Blacks’, however, were men of some substance; their protest (for such it was) took issue with the equally wholsesale plunder of the forest by Whig nominees to the forest offices. And Robert Walpole, still consolidating his power, took an active part in the prosecution of the ‘Blacks’. The episode is laden with political and social implications, affording us glimpses of considerable popular discontent, political chicanery, judicial inequity, corrupt ambition and crime.

‘Unrivalled among historians for his distinctive blend of biting irony, probing analytical intelligence, passionate moral commitment and sheer rhetorical skill.’ Keith Thomas

‘Powerful, fascinating and endlessly suggestive’ E. J. Hobsbawm



Part 1 • Windsor
Windsor Forest
The Windsor Blacks
Offenders and Antagonists
Part 2 • Hampshire
The Hampshire Forests
King John
Awful Examples
The Hunters

Part 3 • Whigs
Enfield and Richmond
The Politics of the Black Act
Consequences and Conclusions
i. People
ii. Forests
iii. The Exercise of Law
iv. The Rule of Law

Appendix 1: The Black Act
Appendix 2: Alexander Pope and the Blacks
Note on Sources