Lord George Gordon, a retired navy lieutenant, was strongly opposed to proposals for Catholic Emancipation. On 2nd July, 1780, Gordon led a crowd of 50,000 people to the House of Commons to present a petition for the repeal of the 1778 Roman Catholic Relief Act, that had removed certain disabilities. This demonstration turned into a riot and for the next five days many Catholic chapels and private houses were destroyed. Other buildings attacked and damaged included the Bank of England, King's Bench Prison, Newgate Prison and Fleet Prison.
On the 7th July, the army was called out and it was later reported that 285 of the rioters were killed, 173 wounded and 139 arrested. Lord George Gordon was tried for high treason but was found not guilty. However, 25 of the rioters were hanged and twelve imprisoned. It is estimated that over £180,000 worth of property was destroyed during the Gordon Riots.