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Gordon Riots

1780. These broke out in London on 2 June, when Lord George Gordon led a mob to the House of Commons with a petition for the repeal of the Catholic Relief Act of 1778. Lord George, an eccentric Scot and fanatical anti-Papist, had become president of the Protestant Association in 1779. The demonstrators soon became violent. Roman Catholic chapels were destroyed. On 6 June Newgate and other prisons were burned down and the following day attacks made upon the Bank. While the magistrates were acting feebly, the crowd had been swollen by released criminals and resorted to wholesale looting. George III personally ordered in the troops to quell the riots, in which nearly three hundred people died. Dickens graphically described the events in Barnaby Rudge. Many of the rioters were convicted and twenty-five executed. Arrested on a charge of high treason, Gordon was nevertheless acquitted. Later he became a Jew, was convicted for libel, and died in Newgate Prison in 1793.