The now extensive historiography of the ‘Captain Swing’ disturbances of 1830–1 contains two notable lacunae. Firstly, no thorough investigation has been undertaken of their first major episode, the ‘Sevenoaks Fires’ of summer 1830. Secondly, the overwhelming historiographical focus on Swing's perpetrators has ignored its victims almost entirely. This article therefore examines why particular farmers were singled out for incendiary attack in the area, what tactics they and the authorities employed in response and what that meant for social relations subsequently. The evidence reveals a trend towards greater accountability on the part of the elite and a growing confidence sometimes shown by the lower orders in challenging them. It does so, moreover, within an overarching framework of risk and risk transfer, since this provides an entirely new historiographical perspective on both the Fires and Swing generally. Finally, this approach is extended to suggest how it may have underpinned competing conceptions of Poor Law provision among the town's elite, post-Swing.