At the end of the Napolenic wars the government brought in the
Corn Laws which prohibited the import of cheap corn in an effort to
maintain prices for farmers. In 1817 the Anglesey grain harvest had
failed following a very wet summer. The result was widespread
poverty and hunger for the people of Anglesey.
Despite the local problems, grain was still available to those in England who could afford to pay for it. Anglesey corn was still being exported via Amlwch port.
It was the transfer of wagonloads of such corn to a ship called “ The wellington” in Amlwch port which caused the local people to stir. In the dead of night a number of men removed the rudder from the ship and hid it at Llanwenllwyfo church 3 miles away.
Meanwhile in the “Ty mawr” a public meeting was held to try and resolve the famine problem. It was decided to try and raised £2000 to buy food for the needy. The mine owners were approached but their offer of £300 towards the fund only angered the local people into further rioting.
Over the next 6 days the mode of the people worsened and two magistrates were dispatched to the town. Their first act was to enrol the help of 30 Special Constables who arrested some of the ring leaders of the disturbances. However it was decided that only one of the men arrested should be taken to the Court House at Beaumaris.
The following day the hiding place of the rudder was discovered but when some of the special constables attempted to take it back to the ship they were pelted with stones and smelter slag. The magistrates wrote to Sir Robert Peel requesting military assistance. Peel decided to ask the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to send a detachment of troops.
The mine captains organised another meeting on 18/2/1818. It was discovered that 103 people in a population of 5000 were unemployed. A subscription to allow public works to be carried out at the harbour was raised. This would provide some employment in the area. Indeed a small white light house was built at the harbour later that year.
The same day that the meeting was held 164 men of the Regiment of Holyhead set sail from Dublin. They arrived in Amlwch on 20th February. Within a few hours the rudder was restored to the Wellington and over the next few days and weeks normality returned to Amlwch. The soldiers eventually left on 29th march.