The town of Leicester was a particular hotbed of anti vaccine activity and the site of many anti-vaccine rallies. The local paper described the details of a rally: "An escort was formed, preceded by a banner, to escort a young mother and two men, all of whom had resolved to give themselves up to the police and undergo imprisonment in preference to having their children vaccinated...The three were attended by a numerous crowd...three hearty cheers were given for them, which were renewed with increased vigor as they entered the doors of the police cells." The Leicester Demonstration March of 1885 was one of the most notorious anti-vaccination demonstrations. There, 80,000-100,000 anti-vaccinators led an elaborate march, complete with banners, a child's coffin, and an effigy of Jenner.
Such demonstrations and general vaccine opposition lead to the development of a commission designed to study vaccination. In 1896 the commission ruled that vaccination protected against smallpox, but suggested removing penalties for failure to vaccinate. The Vaccination Act of 1898 removed penalties and included a "conscientious objector" clause, so that parents who did not believe in vaccination's safety or efficacy could obtain an exemption certificate.
--From historyofvaccines.org, a new educational website by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (the organization behind the Mutter Museum). The website is a well-designed educational resource that, in the words of its creators, "aims to increase public knowledge and understanding of the ways in which vaccines, toxoids, and passive immunization work, how they have been developed, and the role they have played in the improvement of human health."