sparked riots on streets of Chester
Feline call-to-arms turned into a sorry tale!
We are all aware of the county's connection with our feline friends
through the 'Cheshire Cat', but many years before the 'Alice' stories
were given life, cats gave rise to more than a little trouble in
the famous streets of Chester.
In the year Napoleon Bonaparte was firmly banished to St. Helena,
a large number of what was known as 'Genteel Families' plus a contingent
of the British Army were to accompany him.
King George III's minister, somewhat distressed by the infestation
of rats on the isle, undertook the decision to eradicate the menace
and to this purpose it was agreed to purchase as many cats and kittens
as could be delivered in the time allotted before sailing.
Handbills were circulated throughout the land and on the streets
of Chester by a well dressed gentleman. These are the rates advertised
for the aquisition of the said felines:
16/- for an athletic fully grown Tom.
l0/- for an adult female puss.
2/6 for every kitten able milk.
Three days later at the appointed time and place, there converged
on the city street designated women, boys and girls, all carrying
sacks containing squirming, shrieking felines, nearly 3,000 in all.
Soon the multitude was so numerous it was difficult to move, tempers
flashed, rights broke out, sacks were dropped, disgorging the hissing,
scratching contents on to the streets of Chester.
The citizens watching from their windows, who were at first bemused
by this event now suddenly found themselves under siege by a plague
of cats followed by, in most cases, the canine population of the
city, through the windows, along the balconies, across the drawing
rooms, shattering in a million pieces china and glass, leaving a
wake of total destruction.
Retribution was swift, no cat was safe - where ever puss was seen,
reprisals were taken
The engagement lasted for hours until finally the moggies took rout.
A few managed to escape, but for most a watery grave was to be their
The next day more than 500 were counted floating in the River Dee.
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