Sunday, 23 October 2016

23rd October 1816: Henry Enfield tells the Home Office that a target of the Luddite attack at Lambley has fled to London

Nottingham October 23d, 1816.


I am extremely sorry that my misconstruing your letter the 16th Instant should have occasioned you the trouble of writing a second letter. Enclosed you will receive, for the Information of Lord Sidmouth, the particulars of the Attack at Lambley on the Frames of Rogers & Shaw—the only further Circumstance with which I am acquainted relative to this Outrage I can only communicate most confidentially—it is, that I know Mr Shaw is peculiarly obnoxious to the Workmen, from having generally reduced wages & used Language to them of the most unconciliatory kind—This is stated to be Confidentially by one of our Secret Committee—& I therefore feel justified in imparting it in my present Letter—Shaw is under apprehensions so strong, that he is [going] to London to-morrow for the purpose of personal security—

I shall, in future, take the liberty of making communication to Lord Sidmouth immediately upon the happening of these dreadful outrages, should they recur—In these Circumstance they are generally very similar

I have [etc]

H Enfield

[To] The Rt Honble J H Addington

Saturday, 22 October 2016

22nd October 1816: William Playfair's 'Proposal Relative to the Prevention of Frame Breaking'

In October 1816, the Home Secretary was approached by a William Playfair, who claimed he had devised a plan to bring an end to framebreaking. Playfair was evasive about what his plan constituted, and sought guarantees that he would be remunerated. The Home Office papers contain copies of the letters he wrote, plus correspondence and a brief report by Sir Nathaniel Conant, the Bow Street magistrate who was tasked to correspond with Playfair.

Although I cannot yet verify it, it's possible that Playfair was the Scottish engineer and political economist, best known for inventing the bar chart. Playfair's ODNB entry notes that in 1816 he attempted extortion on at least two occasions, and this may well be another attempt that failed. But as his attempts to entice the government to pay him for his 'plan' foundered, we'll never know what the substance of it was.

The documents below appear in the order they appear in the Home Office files:

24th Oct. 1816


I wrote to Mr Playfair that in Consequence of his Letter to Lord Sidmouth I had his Lordships directions to see him—And I should be glad if he could do me the favour to call at my home before 11 in the morning the following day, or if more convenient on wednesday between 11 & 2 [o'clock.]

He sent me the enclosed note & the annexed paper yesterday.

N Conant
24th Oct. 1816

- - - - - -

London 22d October 1816

The Offer which W: Playfair has the honour now to make and which he before made to the Right Honourable Lord Viscount Sidmouth is as follows—

That he will deliver in writing to his Lordship a Plan by which at a very Small Expense without any Bloodshed or Severity of Punishment An End will be put intirely or very nearly to the Practice of Frame Breaking or the destroying of other machinery employed in Manufacturing but more Particularly Knitting Frames on the Condition that if the Plan succeeds he shall Receive such a Reward as to every two Gentlemen shall be thought proper proportioned to the service performed

The Principle on which the Plan aluded to proceeds is one that will not only prevent crimes in Respect to Breaking Machinery but will produce a Beneficial Effect by Increasing the Reputation & ameliorating the quantity of various British Manufacturers

William Playfair

[on the reverse]
Proposal Relative to
The Prevention of Frame Breaking
The Right Honorable
Lord Viscount Sidmouth
&c &c &c

- - - - - -

16 Union Court Holborn Hall
22d October 1816


I was last night favoured with your letter at the Request of Lord Sidmouth

I must have explained myself very badly to his Lordship otherwise he could not have taken that way of answering my letter

I however could not wish for any person more proper to Explain the Business to his Lordship than one Who’s Integrity, Intelligence and zeal for Public good stands so high as yours do

I beg therefore, that you will be so obliging since his Lordship has Employed you in this business, to Read the Inclosed Paper & deliver it to his Lordship—It only contains more Explicitly & Greater length the Offer I already had the Honour of making to his Lordship & to Mr Beckett before I knew that he was absent

Were I to have the Honour of waiting on you I should only have the same thing to communicate & it so happens that at the very times you mention tho’ you had the goodness to mention two I am obliged to be Elsewhere by Previous Engagement

You will have the goodness to say to his Lordship that the Plan I have is no Loose desultory one and that it is not because it is not Ready that I do not communicate it but for the Reason given in the Paper. I am now no longer young & I have a daughter who is Blind & unprovided for & I cannot think but that if I Prevent Expense & bloodshed I shall derive some Remuneration

Twenty years & Upwards & his Lordship knows its have I to the best of my abilities supporrted the measures of government without asking or receiving any Reward and as I know the Frank and Honourable nature of his Lordship I think it Right to say—"That if I had not heard from him I did not mean to press the matter but that the object being a very vital one I intended to get the same proposal made to Parliament when it meets"—So well am I convinced that I can accomplish what I have in view

I have the Honour to be
your most obedient
& most humble Servant

William Playfair

[To] Sir Nathaniel Conant Rt
&c &c &c

- - - - - -

16 Union Court Holborn
11th October 1816

My Lord

Not knowing that Mr Beckett was out of Town (which I find he I wrote to him to say that I had thought of a mode by which without Expence or any disagreeable proceedings a stop maybe put to Frame Breaking or the destruction of every sort of Machinery for manufacturing—I Requested Mr Beckett to inform your Lordship & it was only on Receiving no answer that I inquired & found he w not in Town—I mentioned to him that if on trial it succeeded I should Expect such Remuneration as your Lordship & he might think deserving and of course nothing without [illegible]

I have the Honour to Repeat the same offer to your Lordship I am

with great Respect
My Lord
Your Lordship’s most obedient
& most humble Servant

William Playfair

[To] The Right Honble
Lord Visct Sidmouth
&c &c &c

- - - - - -

11 Portland Place
24th Oct. 1816


I should have been glad to have seen you on the subject you proposed to the Secretary of State; but my directions being chiefly to say to you that if you thought proper to communicate the Remedy you name, and it should be found effectual to the Public; Lord Sidmouth would take care that you should receive an adequate recompence; but his Lordship must reserve to himself the entire right of judging what the recompence should be.

I am Sir
Your most obedient

N Conant

W. Playfair Esqr

Friday, 21 October 2016

21st October 1816: Henry Enfield writes to the Home Secretary about criticism of Nottingham magistrates in the press

Nottingham October 21st 1816

My Lord

I am directed by the Magistrates of this Town to give Notice to your Lordship (according to the Requisition of the Act of parliament) that at the Special General Session of the peace held at the Guildhall this morning (pursuant to Adjournment in the Nottingham newspaper of last week) it was adjudged expedient to put in Execution the Act of Parliament passed in the 52d Year of his present Majesty, & revived in the last Sessions, for enforcing the Duties of Watching & Warding.—

The magistrates were occupied to-day by an appearance of Riot in the lower parts of the Town relative to Bread & Flour—but prompt Exertions Suppressed the Disturbance—I am desired to enclose for your Lordship’s perusal a Copy of a Placard posted this morning upon that part of the Town where the Tumult took place

The Magistrates beg to avail themselves of this opportunity of addressing your Lordship, to state their Regret at the Slanders which are just now passing upon the magistracy of Nottingham thro’ the medium of the public press—They have endeavoured to ascertain the grounds upon which these unwarranted Charges have been made—but they cannot obtain any precise Information upon which to found legal proceedings found legal proceedings, should such proceedings be deemed worth instituing—A prejudice appears to exist, in the minds of some persons, against the magistrates, both of the Town & the County, because they do not apprehend susspected Framebreakers, enter houses to seize the Books of Committees, take up persons said to be collecting Contributions &c &c.

The magistrates are aware of persons reputed to be Framebreakers, & they have their Eye constantly upon those persons to detect them in such Acts—& they are also aware that parties meet at public houses under Suspicious Circumstances, & also of their being Collecting made by persons under Suspicious Circumstances—circumstances connected, in all probability, with the Framebreakers—but all this is [reputation] & Conjecture—It is represented that there are now in this Town, & in the County, various Subscriptions from the Frameworkknitters—some, perhaps, for the immediate support of Framebreakers, others for the Defence and Support of persons apprehended & on Trial for Framebreaking, &, again, others, for defraying the Expences of prosecutions (just now very numerous) against some of the Trade, for paying their Workmen's Wages otherwise than in money—

The magistrates of Nottingham have occasionally exercised extreme Authority in apprehending reputed Framebreakers, & they did upon one occasion venture to break into a Committee room, & to seize the Books & papers—But the exercise of this power requires the material Discretion—its Exercise upon every Application, or Suggestion, would, the magistrates apprehend, be highly dangerous—They have every wish to adopt the most Strenuous measures—& they would actively direct their power against the persons & objects alluded to, if they could feel warranted in Law & found Discretion in so doing.—

Should your Lordship be pleased to favor the magistrates with some sentiments upon these important points, they will receive them with the most respectable Attention, & will feel themselves highly obliged—

I have [etc]
H Enfield
Town Clerk

[To] The Rt Honble Lord Sidmouth
Secretary of State for the Home Department

21st October 1816: Sir Robert Peel replies to J H Addington's revelations about the Luddite, Thomas Pickup

[To: J H Addington]

I have the Honor of your letter of the 9th and have sent your letter to my relation who interested himself in the liberation of Pickup I was much obliged by your attention to my wishes and should be very sorry to find that I importuned in favour of an unworthy object my Friend thinks Pickup will be found to stand clear of the unfavourable report against him and will take the very first opportunity of informing himself of the fact

your obliged Servant

Robert Peel

Tamworth [21st Octr 1816]

By the inclosed letters [received] yesterday are on the same subject

[To] Right Honourable
JH Addington

A letter from Peel's nephew, also Robert Peel, follows:

Manchester Octr 20th 1816

Dear Uncle

In consequence of your letter enclosing one from Mr Addington I wrote to Mr Ainsworth and to Jas Wrigley who collect the rents of Bengall Square to enquire whether Thos Pickup had attended the meeting at Bolton or had been active in promoting it—

Wrigley says

"I received your letter respecting Pickups conduct and on enquiry I find that he was no way connected with the meeting alluded to—I have made all the enquiry I possibly could – I believe he was not present at the meeting.”

I enclose you the letter which I have received from Mr Ainsworth, and from what I heard of Pickup I feel confident that he will not meddle with any more meetings—His son is only 19 yrs of age and I can easily conceive that he would sign the requisition on being told that it would be of service to him.

I know the Magistrate who has given the information to Government and if you think it desirable I will apply to him to ascertain what proof he has of Pickups having interfered, but probably Mr Addington would not wish any notion to be taken of his letter—if necessary I could make the enquiry as having heard that Pickup had promoted the meeting

I remain yr affectionate nephew

Robt Peel

The letter from Thomas Ainsworth was also enclosed:

Bolton Octr 18th, 1816.—


I made private enquiry through well affected weavers whether Tom Pickup had attended the Bolton meeting, but could not learn that he either had, or had not

I thought it best to go to his house and see the state of his work and family—I found them all busy at work and apparently doing as well as things admit of—I asked him how he could think of signing Papers or attending meetings, after the pains his friends had taken to procure his release from the Hulks—He positively denied having ever signed a paper or attended a [meeting] since his return, that his answer to every application made to him, was, you have not had your feet in the Irons as long as I have or you would have had enough of meetings.

Jno Rothwell our old overlooker who lives opposite offered to make oath that from what he knew of T:P: he believes he never signed any paper or even attended a meeting for he knew of his having been repeatedly upraided for not doing so—while I was questioning him and family, his son Tom then at the Loom said "I signed a paper but ne’er read it" on enquiry I found it to be the Bolton Requisition—his father was not at home when it was signed and seemed perfectly ignorant of it—I really think this is the whole of the business—T P seemed very ill hurt and would very readily have gone over to Manchester, to satisfy you would take an oath but I sent him to Mr Jones who he weaves for to get his certificate which I annex—thinking that would be most satisfactory—I think he has behaved himself since his return pretty well, and his punishment, I hope, has done him good, and that his release will not reflect discredit on those who procured it.—

I remain,
Yours sincerely Thos Ainsworth

PS Being very much engaged I am obliged to get our Clerk to why my Letter as I am obliged to be in [Warrington] at 4 oClock

(1/2 past 12)

Robt. Peel Esqr

Since the return of T. Pickup who worked for us before his confinement and during which time his family continued to do so very industriously, we have perceived nothing singular [obscured] but on the contrary they all work hard, are sober, [obscured] Pickup himself at Church on Sunday. since he has procured cloths fit to appear in as he thinks

I am
[illegible signature]

Bolton 18 Octr 1816

21st October 1816: Handbill posted in Nottingham 'we will have Bread or Blood by God'

Brother Townsmen. A set of Justases as robed us for years by bating plain Hose from 1s.6d to 9 and Silk Gloves from 1.2. to 6d. They are now going to call out Watch and Ward to protect their vilony and oppresion but death to them that proposes it Brother sufferers I hope you will atend the Hall that we may not shoot wrong for we will have Bread or Blood by God.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

20th October 1816: The Duke of Rutland updates the Home Secretary about James Towle

By the 20th of October 1816, it had been reported in the press that were James Towle to succeed in his forthcoming appeal that the original indictment against him was incorrectly made, another correctly drafted one would be laid against him.



Cheveley Park 20th Oct. 1816

My Dear Lord

I felt much indebted to your Lordship, for the Information communicated to me by your letter of the 10th Inst, on the interesting subject of our late correspondence. Your Lordship, with some accustomed ability, and zeal for the public Service, has placed the matter in the best track, & whatever may be the final Result, of the Proceedings which have been adopted, I am confident that the Importance of the subject, will ensure my excuse, in having brought it before you. Mr Pochin has no doubt informed your Lordship of the Interview which he has had with Towle, since he quitted London, and of the manner in which the Culprit received an Intimation, of the Intention to prefer another Indictment against him, in the event that the Validity of the Objection waged against the former one. Notwithstanding the Paroxysm of Passion into which Towle fell, or that on that occasion, Mr Pochin has still hopes that when his disappointment has subsided, & he has again become calm, it may be possible to bring him to the desired point.—

Your Lordship has I understand, been made acquainted with the Establishment of a “Hampden Club” at Leicester, to the Motives, the Objects, and possible results of which, the Magistrates of that place look with considerable apprehension. Such an Institution, will I fear be a rallying point, for the idle and the disaffected, and it would be very satisfactory to know that there is in existence any Act of Parliament by which its formation can be prohibited, and checked in the bud—At this particular Moment such an Establishment must be regarded with more than ordinary Jealousy for your Lordship is, I am confident, aware of the uneasy state of the Country, arising from the universal distress which pervades all classes, and from the stagnation of Employment among the lower orders. The latter Cause has been less active since the commencement of the Harvest, and indeed the accompanying document, which will shew your Lordship the amended Situation of very considerable Manufacturing Town, is satisfactory as far as it goes, but it is feared that the Improvement will be but temporary, and the winter months are expected with Apprehension by many, and with Anxiety by all. The Landed Interest is exerting itself to the utmost in various parts of the Country, for the Support and Employment of the Poor who are out of Work, and it is self Evident, that the Relief which is afforded by Employment, is far preferable to that which is derived from increased Poor Rates. But the depressed state of the Landed Interest must cripple and weaken its efforts, especially while the Poor Laws, which press almost exclusively upon the Land, continue to be a burden of such serious and increasing Magnitude. I have been asked by several Gentlemen, whether the Government have it not in contemplation to adopt some measures for the Relief of the Agriculturalists, but this is a point of so much delicacy, and so crowded with difficulties, that it would ill become one to do more than to mention the Circumstance. On the whole I am strongly induced to hope that those parts of the State Machine, whose action is at present impeded and disordered, will gradually [illegible] their tone but this desirable object may not, & probably will not

[The rest of the letter is missing]

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

18th October 1816: Henry Hobhouse sends a furious response to Benjamin Walker's supporter

Oct. 18 1816

Dear Sir,

The inclosed Application on behalf of Benjm. Walker is not the first of the kind which has been addressed to the Secretary of State. He was one of the murderers of Mr. Horsfall, & deserved a Halter just as much as his Colleagues, who were executed at York in January 1813. But he had the good fortune to turn King’s Evidence, by which he saved his Neck. Thus the Promise held out to him by the Crown has been fulfilled. The pecuniary Reward was promised not by Government, but by an Anti-Luddite Committee, which then existed at Huddersfield: and if Walker were by the strict Letter of their Promise entitled to the Reward, it is to them, & not the Secretary of State, that he must look for payment; and certainly he has no merit, which calls for the Interference of Government on his behalf. But if I recollect rightly, Walker is not entitled to the Reward, because his Information was not given until after he & his fellow-murderers were apprehended upon other Evidence. I believe too I am correct in stating that Walker after the Trial was supplied with money through Mr. Lloyd of Stockport to enable him to find an Asylum in some distant part of the Kingdom, I believe in Wales.

I have [etc]
H. Hobhouse

18th October 1816: 'A.B.' writes to the Evening Mail with more information about Luddite Committees in Nottingham

Nottingham, October 14.

In my last I pointed out to you the existence of a committee, whose orders were promptly and regularly executed. I will now give you an instance with what decision the mandates of this committee are performed. On Saturday last night last, it ordered 100 men to enter the village of Lambley, about 6 miles this place, and destroy 36 frames belonging to two men in partnership, for having made use of expressions which this committee deemed improper. These men took military possession of the village, and in the course of a very short time completed the destruction they were sent on. Yet nothing is done to bring these daring rascals to justice. Placards are up in this town, inviting the inhabitants to prepare fire-arms, as they will shortly be called upon "to fight the tyrants who now oppress them."


Monday, 17 October 2016

17th October 1816: William Sherbrooke tells the Home Secretary that the Poor Law system in Nottinghamshire is in danger of collapse

My Lord

The Letter which I have had the honor to sign as Chairman of the Quarter Sessions at Nottingham & addressed to your Lordship was written in the hurry of business & though your Lordship will better understand the state to which the Parishes in this district are [illegible] to be reduced by a more detailed account.

The Overseers of the Poor give the weekly allowance to the Paupers every Monday & it is probable that upon the very next Monday or some early succeeding one that the Overseer in one or more Parishes may be obliged to say to the persons who came to relief I have no money to pay you,

The smallest number who require relief in any Parish may be stated at three hundred, upon the refusal these persons go to a Magistrates he summons the Overseer who will say & say truly, I have with great difficulty collected the rates for many weeks past I have expended on my own money & I cannot collect any more in the Parish

The Magistrate orders distress upon the Occupiers of Land &c but a process is necessary to be gone through before the corn & other articles can be sold & this will take up many days & the three hundred Paupers say we cannot return to our homes without money to purchase bread for the subsistence of our Families

The Law says that the Magistrates may tax other persons of other Parishes in aid but this requires a longer process & the three hundred Paupers are still at the Magistrates door. No legal recourse resource that I am acquainted with remains. This is no fanciful statement my Lord it would actually have taken place in Sutton some week since had it not been prevented by the active benevolence of the Duke of Portland & I expect that it will take place in the Parish of Arnold & several others. I cannot my Lord contemplate the distress & confusion that must ensue from such an occurrence without feelings that are not to be revisited & I confidently rely upon a remedy being found by your Lordship & his Majesty's Ministers for an evil of such magnitude, it must be immediate to be of any use.

I have the Honor to be
Your Lordships most Obt Sert
W: Sherbrooke

near Southwell
Oct: 17=1816

[To] The
Right Honble Lord Sidmouth

Sunday, 16 October 2016

16th October 1816: The Nottingham solicitor, Louis Allsop, updates the Home Secretary about the situation in Nottingham

16. October 1816.—

My Lord—

Having been from home a great deal lately, I had nothing to communicate your Lordship I did not therefore call, when I was in London, which, I left only on Sunday—On my arrival home Yesterday I found this Town & the County was under a considerable State of Alarm, in consequence of a great number of Frames having been destroyed, & of a general Impression that this System of Frame-breaking was to be continued, not only for the purpose of avenging private fancied Wrongs on the part of the Workmen, but to aggravate the distresses of the present times to such a degree, as would cause some open & public Commotion.—There can be no doubt of a considerable number of bad, but able men, in the lower Classes of Society, being engaged in these Scenes of Disorder—The County Sessions being on Monday, the Magistrates continued their Sitting till Yesterday afternoon, for the purpose of taking into their Consideration, the Situation in this part of the Country; I learn that an address is [illegible] to His R:H: the Prince Reg. (which your Lordship will have seen before You receive this) & that some further Steps are to be taken, which, of course, will be communicated by the Magistrates to yr Lordship—

There was a strong attempt made by Mr. Sherbrooke & some of the Magistrates to introduce a Requisition in the address to the Prince, to call the Parliament together without delay, to take into Consideration the Situation of the Country; this has been got over by the good Sense of [illegible name], Dr. Wylde & the majority of the Magistrates; It has occurred to me, that your Lordship might wish to know this, & I have mentioned it in Confidence, that yr Lordship may be upon your Guard—I find the Magistrates a good deal irritated by the attacks made upon them in the newspapers & many of them turn these Attacks on to the administration—All this is bad, it makes Gentlemen dissatisfied, cool & careless; & the Country suffers—It must be confessed that a Set of Country Gentleman meeting once a month, or once a Week, cannot do any permanent good—As in the present Case & while the effects of the present [Impressions] continue, they will do all in their power, but it will die away in a day or two, & We shall be quiet as We were; it cannot be expected that the Gentleman will voluntarily & gratuitously give up their time—

I find all descriptions of people finding fault, but no one proposing any thing, only confessing that something must be done—nothing specific has been recommended by the Magistrates—& I have said to some of them, why find fault with Ministers, unless You point out such Steps, as your local knowledge induce You to conceive, likely to be productive of some good—. they reply, it is useless, it would not be attended to—I press them to do it [now] to the immediate [illegible]—It has always occurred to me, that a permanent police should be established here, with regular police magistrates, a Gentleman well acquainted with the Laws of his Country, whose Education & habits are such as to enable him to associate with [illegible], & to have an Influence over the magistracy, & Gentry, & respectable Manufacturers of this County, that he [should] have Constables or people about, whose sole time & Attention, like his own, [should] be directed to the one great & leading [illegible], that the Jurisdiction of him & his Men should extend into the County as well as the Town, that he [should] not be embarrassed by any Ceremony as to particular Magistrates acting for particular districts that a full understanding [should] take place as to the Employment of the Military, & that, in case the present Laws are not sufficient, [that] the other magistrates will [should] be armed with sufficient Authority to enter Houses or other places to search for Books papers & Documents, of their own Authority, & that suspected men may be apprehended

I am aware that great difficulty & objections exist as to this latter proposal & I state it with much Diffidence, for your Lordships Consideration; it would be better if it [could] be effected; there can be no doubt that such a power in the Hands of an efficient Magistracy, would do more than any thing else, the men engaged in these Excesses, & what is of more Importance, the advisers behind the Scenes, would tremble, they would never feel safe, it [would] cause a panic—Your Lordship will consider this; I have no doubt it has & will be submitted to your Lordships Consideration by others—The Placards & Language made use of in the public Houses, shew an encreasing spirit of disaffection amongst the lower orders—They have unfortunately had nearly seven Years Experience; & common measures will not now do—My Friend Mr James Hooley, one of the principal manufacturers of this Town & a Gentleman of considerable property will be in London on Saturday on business—He is one of the Secret Committee, & well acquainted with what is going on amongst the men—It has occurred to me that he might give your Lordship some useful Information if your Lordship thought it worth while that You or Mr Beckett [should] see him—if so, I have settled with him to call upon at the Home Office, & he will do so, any day after three oClock; He will be at the Guildhall Coffee House, at which place a note will find him—& your Lordship can [illegible] your discussion, all I can say is that your Lordship may rely upon him—

I have [etc]

L Allsopp

PS –
Your Lordship, or Mr Beckett if he sees Mr. Hooley will obtain some useful information from him: He much tells his Story in his own Way—but he is very well disposed well meaning, with a good plain, strong, understanding.—


The address by the Magistrates will I, I understand touch upon the general distress of this part of the Country, the parishes, on the North Side of Town, on the forest, where the Land is very bad, & the population numerous, certainly being in a distressed State—When Men are distressed they are the more likely to be compelled, by the awful Scoundrels, with which this County abounds—

16th October 1816: The influence of Luddite Committees in Nottingham is 'exposed' by an anonymous writer to the Evening Mail


SIR.—We are truly, as you describe us, at the mercy of, not a rabble whom a few soldiers could disperse, but of a committee, acting with all the power of a revolutionary assembly. To form a clear idea of the state of this town, you should witness the receipt of a piece of lace by a manufacturer from his workman. The manufacturer stands as a culprit: should he, in the slightest degree, violate one of the laws laid down by this committee, he receives a letter the next day. This letter contains no ideal threat. Two or three nights have not elapsed before he is informed, that his property, to the amount of 200l. 300l., is destroyed: he is afraid to stir out after dark. Even at his own door has the manufacturer been shot. Should this unfortunate being reside at a short distance from the town, his trees are destroyed; he sees armed men on his premises during the night. But I hear you exclaim, "Where is the police? What are the magistrates doing? Is this committee known?" Yes, Sir, this committee is known—every member is known; it is well known to the magistrates where this committee meets every night. What will surprise you still more, this committee sent forth its agents last week to collect in the town for its support, and they absolutely preceded the collectors of the poor rates. The overseer immediately informed the magistrates of the circumstance, but no attention was paid to the information. I can assure you, the lower class speak openly of a revolution; they say they can, and will govern. These frame-breakers do nothing for their livelihood; they are supported by regular payment. Towle, who is under sentence of death at Leicester, has not made a dozen pair of stockings during the last three years. Thus a power resides in this country which bids defiance to all its laws, laughs at its police, assassinates, plunders, and destroys, without the least notice being taken of its daring outrages. Should I be known as the author of this letter, I would leave the town immediately, as my life would not be in safety 24 hours.



Saturday, 15 October 2016

15th October 1816: William Sherbrooke writes to the Home Secretary about distress in Nottinghamshire

Nottingham 15th October 1816.

My Lord—

The Magistrates assembled at the Quarter Sessions for the County of Nottingham are induced by the present distressed State of the Country, which is daily increasing to request that your Lordship will lay before His Royal Highness the Prince Regent the humble Address, and the documents which accompany this letter—The Magistrates feel it an imperious duty to state to your Lordship the great danger to be apprehended, in a more advanced state of the Season, from the failure of Parochial Supplies which in some instances has already taken place, and they beg leave to call your Lordship’s attention to the probability of the People, through the wants they are now suffering applying to them very soon in large Bodies, when the overseers can no longer collect money from the Persons paying rates for the sustenance of the Poor—

Under all these circumstances the Magistrates trust your Lordship will call the attention of His Majesty's Government to such alteration in the existing Laws for the maintenance of the Poor as may appear calculated to meet every emergency—They likewise beg leave to communicate to your Lordship that from the disorders which have recently taken place, and which are hourly assuming a more serious Character, they have considered it their duty to take steps for carrying into effect the Provisions of the Watch and Ward Act in those Districts of the County where the greatest disposition to Outrage has been shewn—

The Magistrates also learn from authentic information that the greater part of the Malcontents are possessed of Arms, they consider it therefore proper to state your Lordship that the Military force now quartered in this County would probably not be found sufficient to support the Civil Power in the event of any great degree of Commotion; and as it was found peculiarly useful in 1812, when great Outrages took place, to distribute small detachments of the Military in different parts of the disturbed Districts in aid of the Civil Power, they beg leave to suggest the expediency of resorting to a similar measure at the present moment.

And they fully rely on your Lordship’s support in obtaining a pecuniary relief which may alleviate the suffering already described.

Signed by direction of the Magistrates
W: Sherbrooke

[To] The Right Honorable Lord Sidmouth
Secretary of State &c &c

[Magistrates' address to the Prince Regent follows]

To His Royal Highness the Prince Regent &c.


The Magistrates assembled at the Michaelmas Quarter Sessions for the County of Nottingham, deeply impressed with the awful state of the Country, feel it an imperious duty humbly to represent to your Royal Highness, that several Parishes, comprising the whole of the extensive Manufacturing Districts of this County, are so overburdened with Paupers that it is with the greatest difficulty the rates have lately been collected to support the Poor, and as the Occupiers of Land have little to expect from the Harvest, a great part of the Corn being now perishing upon the Ground; there is the greatest reason to apprehend that Maintenance cannot long be found for the numerous applicants, under the existing regulations

The Magistrates find it extremely difficult, consistently with a sense of Justice, to tax other Parishes or Persons in aid of those now oppressed with the burden, and as the most alarming consequences are to be apprehended from the actual failure of the weekly revenue for the Poor, they dutifully submit to your Royal Highness the expediency of an early Parliamentary interference—The Magistrates are solely induced to make this unusual suggestion to your Royal Highness, by the alarming magnitude of the evil, which is more particularly forced upon their attention by daily practice, and upon the most mature consideration they are convinced that a remedy can alone be expected from the wisdom of all your Royal Highness and the other branches of the Legislature.

Signed by direction of the Magistrates—
W: Sherbrooke

15th October 1816: A man from London writes to the Home Secretary in support of the Luddite turned informer, Benjamin Walker

It was over 2 years since the former Luddite turned informer, Benjamin Walker, had himself written to the Prince Regent requesting payment of the reward who thought he was entitled to for turning King's Evidence against his former comrades in Huddersfield. Now, a man from London wrote in support of Walker's claim after having encountered him on the streets of London:

My Lord

I trust the subject upon which I now take the liberty of addressing your Lordship will plead my excuse for thus trespassing on your Lordship’s time

Some week since I will was accosted by miserable looking man who earnestly requested I would recommend him to an Attorney, and upon my desiring to know his motive he made the following statement to me

He say’d his name was Benjn Walker, that he served his apprenticeship to and afterwards worked at the shearing of woollen cloth near Huddersfield in yorkshire, previous and up to 1812. That he was one of the misguided men who suffered themselves about that period to be sworn in as a Luddite and mixed much in the dreadful occurrences that took place there at that time That during the disturbances a Gentlemen of the name of Horsfall was shot and great exertions were used to discover the murderers—That the Government and the magistrates and Gentlemen of Huddersfield and its neighbourhood joined in such exertions—the former by offering the Prince Regent’s pardon to any accomplice (except the actual murderer) who should be the means of convicting the others concerned &c., and the latter by forming themselves into a Society and individually subscribing certain sums (and particularly a part of the Family of Mr Horsfall the Gentleman who was shot subscribing £500) and constituted Mr Peace an Attorney of Huddersfield their Secretary and treasurer and annexed to the proclamation in the London Gazette of 1st May 1812 wherein the pardon before mentioned was inserted the following memorandum "And as a further encouragement a Reward of £2,000 will be paid to any person (except as excepted in the Gazette) who shall give such information as shall lead to the conviction of the murderers to be paid by Mr John Peace of Huddersfield" That he, Walker, together with a great many other persons were taken up on suspicion of being concerned in the many Outrages that time and were repeatedly examined by Mr. Ratcliff Mr. Lloyd and several other magistrates and Gentleman relative to such disturbances. That the reward of £2,000 as also the pardon were repeatedly mentioned and promised to him, Walker, and others if they would discover what they knew respecting the murder and other transactions it was suspected they were engaged in, but-that-no-discovery were then made and he, Walker, and many others were after such examinations liberated—That he was afterwards again taken up with a number of other persons and after repeated examinations as to his knowledge of the said murder and other crimes he was induced from the promised pardon and reward made to him, Walker, by the magistrates on such examinations to confess that he was one of the four persons present when Mr Horsfall was shot but was not the person who shot him. That immediately upon such confession and his naming his accomplices all other persons then in confinement on suspicion of the said murder was liberated and his three accomplices fully committed to York for trial and were afterwards upon his Walkers evidence corroborated by others whom he Walker produced tried convicted and executed—That from his having been the means of discovering and convicting his accomplices he has since then been unable to get any employment in his own trade or to remain with personal safety in that part of the Country—That he has made many applications to Mr Peace and those who promised him the reward to pay it him or to get him some employment but they refuse saying he was not the first informer—Altho they do not say who was nor have they yet pay’d the money, which he, Walker, understands is in the Treasurers hands as before mentioned, to any one—That he Walker can prove that he alone is entitled to their Reward and is only prevented from asserting his right to it by his present poverty.

The above therefore my Lord is the substance of Walkers statement and upon hearing which I caused an application to be made by a professional Gentleman to Mr peace of Huddersfield and the answer returned by that Gentleman was to the same effect as stated by Walker—Viz. that he Walker was not entitled not being the first informer this however my Lord from Walker’s evidence on the trial of his accomplices as also from the statement of several other persons referred to by Walker does not appear correct—and my Lord, from the enquiries I have made I am satisfied that his claim is just. Walker therefore requests that I will humbly implore of your Lordship that as he was induced through the faith of the promises of the before named Gentlemen backed by the proclamation and Reward offered in the London Gazette to give the required information whereby the discovery and conviction of his accomplices was affected, that, your Lordship will be pleased to refer him to some Gentleman who shall see that the Reward (if his due) shall be paid to him, or that some employment is provided for him to rescue him from the dreadful state of poverty and wretchedness he is now in arising from the before mentioned circumstances

I am my Lord
your Lordships most
humble Servant

T Broughton

No 3 Philip Lane
London Wall
15th Octr. 1816

my Lord
Walker also stated that Mr. Justice park—whom at the trial of his accomplices was leading Counsel for the Crown as also Mr Baron Thompson who tried them would if applied to say he Walker was entitled to the Reward

Friday, 14 October 2016

14th October 1816: A Hosier writes to the Home Office about the Luddite attack at Lambley

Nottingham Oct 14th: 1816

My Lord

It is with extreme [concern] I then take the liberty of addressing you, an humble individual, as I am, but when it is really essential you should be informed of the Diabolical proceedings of a set of dangerous fellows, who regularly sit and order a party who are immediately under their direction to go and formally demand money from the lower Classes of mechanics who cannot refuse them through fear, and at other times dispatch a Party in the adjoining villages to destroy machinery belonging to those manufacturers who may be offensive to them—I hope you will excuse me

This was actually the case last Saturday Evening when about 100 of these desperados entered different Houses of the peaceable Inhabitants of Lambley a small Village 6 miles North East of us, where they destroyed 30 Looms, and also committed many acts of theft, they at one House regaled themselves with Bread, Butter Cheese & Ale as much as they stood in need off, the remainder they wantonly destroyed

Two Looms which they destroyed belonged to myself and cost £72:0:0 & were then nearly worth the same money they first Cost—I have applied to The Revd Dr Wyld an active magistrate, who has given me a written Document to bring the whole of my property out of the County into the Town which will be done Tomorrow—

It is absolutely necessary something should be done and that immediately for our Security or inevitable ruin must be the consequence—

as a remedy nothing but sending us down a Police magistrate who knows no fear & some attendants to act both for Town & County or putting us under Martial Law or suspending the Habeas Corpus Act

Another evil I complain of is the 73 foot Regiment quartered in this Town being too much connected with the Inhabitants and ought to be removed should any general rise take place which we really apprehend they have not hesitate to say the Soldiers are nearly to a man on their side—

It is clearly ascertained & the House is well known where this Committee are sitting & that their only means of subsisting is by their sending Delegates to collect money publickly from House to House in both Town & County—

If it is in your power to do anything further at present I hope you will furnish the County with a few Regiments of Soldiers, as I am quietly confident the peaceable disposed Inhabitants must quit their dwellings unless a remedy is found—

With regard to the Character of the different People who had their Houses forcibly entered on Saturday I have known two principle sufferers for 20 years they have been uniformly steady & uniformly industrious so much so they have works accumulated considerable property—

hoping you will receive this communication as it is intended by one who revered the Constitution under which he lives, and any information at a future day I can render the state will be cheerfully done by

My Lord
Yr Lordships
most obed Serv
Robert Gill

Thursday, 13 October 2016

13th October 1816: Luddites destroy at least 30 Frames at Lambley, Nottinghamshire

At around midnight on Sunday 13th October, a large body of Luddites raided a number of houses in the Nottinghamshire village of Lambley.

The Leicester Chronicle of 19th October 1816 carried a brief article about the raid:
On Saturday last, about twelve o'clock, a party of men, computed at one hundred, or more, disguised and armed, appeared in Lambley, a village about seven miles from Nottingham, and destroyed no less than thirty frames. The first house they attacked was Joseph Lovatt’s, which they broke into, and destroyed his frames: while a part of them were engaging in this business, another part, called Thos. Needham out of his bed, and threatened his life he did not obey the call (the men frequently fired pistols in the streets, so that nearly the whole village was in a state of consternation and alarm). Under the influence of fear, he came down and opened the door, and as he was going up stairs again, they fired at him, exclaiming — "damn you, you remember Clumber-street." Fortunately the firing was without effect, and they set a guard over him, while they broke seven frames which were his shop. They also broke the frames which were in the houses of Arthur Kirk, and Joseph Godber, but we have not heard the number broken in each house. What renders this an unparalleled outrage is, that not content with breaking the frames, these depredators proceeded to rifle the houses, and actually took away a large quantity of property, shirts, stockings, and other articles. Various parts of the frames were also taken away. A very active constable was sent over to the place, but no clue has yet been found for the detection of the perpetrators of this outrage and robbery.
The Nottingham Review of 18th October also carried a brief article, with some interesting information about the supposed grievances which had meant certain Hosiers were targeted in particular:
Frame breaking.—Extract of a letter from Nottingham, dated Oct. 16, 1816.—“I am sorry to inform you, that during the night of Saturday last, the village of Lumley, about six miles from this place, was visited by a large number of persons, armed and disguised, under the command of the invincible General Ludd, who addressed his forces in a short speech, on the nature of the service they were then employed upon, and then dividing them into small parties, ordered them to their respective posts.—They immediately commenced the work of demolishing a number of lace and two needle frames, in different parts of the village, belonging to various hosiers in this place. In some of the houses, they broke and destroyed every article of furniture, taking away with them knives and forks, and provisions of every description.—These nightly depredators went to the house of a person named Needham, who was the prosecutor of Simpson, executed for highway robbery, last Lent Assizes, and they told him “they came to punish him for swearing against Simpson!” The number of frames broken is not exactly ascertained, but certainly they amount to more than thirty; and the reason assigned for this outrage is, that the lace frames were making what is called in the trade, two coats hole; a lace of the worst quality; alike injurious to the workmen, the honest manufacturer, and the public. This disgraceful article has brought the lace of this place into disrepute, and it is that which is generally sold by Hawkers. The two-needle frames are stated to have been making hose of 56 gauge for sixpence a pair, which ought to be 2s. 2d. which is now actually paid by some of the first hosiers in this place.
Finally, the legal deposition of one of the targets of the raid, Thomas Needham, is also interesting:
Thomas Needham of Lambley Fwk, who works to Messrs Rogers and Shaw, states that between 12 and 1, in the night of Saturday the 12th Instant he was awakened by a noise in the Village and a short time after he looked out at the Chamber Window and saw (being moonlight) a number of men disguised Some with Smock Frocks on—some had their Coats turned and one whom they called Ned Ludd, had, apparently a Straw Bonnet tied under the Chin and a petticoat on—they then went to the house of Lovet which is opposite to Needham’s and ordered him "to open the door or death"—he not opening the door they broke it open and destroyed the Frames in the house about 10 or 11 in number—Whilst the Ludds were doing this, Needham called up and armed each of his Apprentices (5 or 6) with a Pitchfork, being determined to defend the Frames in his house, but he then looking through the different Windows in his house and perceiving that every Window was guarded by a Ludd with Fire arms he thought it would be impossible to stand against them and in a short time after they came to his door and demanded "entrance or death"—he then went down Stairs and opened the house door, and as he was returning up Stairs, one of them fired at him but as neither Ball or Shot could be found it is supposed only to have been with Blank Cartridge—they then proceeded into the Workshop on the Ground Floor in which were 9 frames, 7 of which they broke, 5 belonging to Rogers and Shaw, one to Mr. Leaver and one to Rogers—The Ludds did not go up Stairs—after having broken the Frames they proceeded into the House place—and destroyed a quantity of Tea, Sugar &c—Spilt 2 or 3 Panchions full of milk and destroyed the Panchions—Eat a Pot of preserved Black Currants, and stole several articles of wearing Apparel—plated tea Spoons and Sugar Nippers—and on going away they called out "damn you remember Clumber Street" which Needham supposed alluded to his having prosecuted Jas Simpson alias Dann &c who went up Clumber Street to be hanged—The Ludds might be in Lambley about 2 hours.—
Of course, the press would have been unaware - and possibly Needham too - but the authorities knew that Simpson/Dann was a Luddite.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

9th October 1816: The Under Secretary of State for the Home Office tells Sir Robert Peel that a freed Luddite is involved in reform activities in Lancashire

The Bolton magistrate Colonel Ralph Fletcher had written to the Home Office in late September informing them, amongst other things, that his informers were telling him that a freed Luddite, Thomas Pickup, was involved in the reform movement in Lancashire. JH Addington wrote to Sir Robert Peel, who had lobbied for Pickup to be freed, informing him of this information, starting some interesting correspondence on the matter:

Whitehall 9th October 1816
Dear Sir,
As you interested yourself very strongly in favor of a Convict named "Thomas Pickup" who was tried and convicted at the Special Assizes held at Lancaster in May 1812, and sentenced to be transported, but who after three years confinement on board the Hulks, was liberated, principally on your intercession—I think it right that you should be informed that this man appears by a letter which has been received from an intelligent magistrate in Lancashire who is in Confidential communication with this office, to have been active in promoting a General Meeting, the tendency of which there is reason to suppose was of a mischievous nature.—From the interest you talk in obtaining “Pickups” release from the Hulks, I have felt it proper to apprize you of this Circumstance.—
I have [etc]
J. H. Addington.
[To] Sir Robert Peel [Esq]

Monday, 3 October 2016

3rd October 1816: Luddites destroy two frames on Woolpack Lane in Nottingham

At 9.00 p.m. on Thursday 3rd October, Luddites struck in Nottingham. The Leicester Chronicle of 5th October 1816 carried a report published in the Nottingham Review:
FRAME-BREAKING.—It is with feelings of regret, we inform our readers of another of those outrages which have agitated and disgraced this part of the country. On Thursday last about nine o'clock, several armed men entered the house of Mr. Winter, in Woolpack-lane, and two of them proceeding up stairs, into the shop, broke two of the frames, belonging to Mr. Seals, in the usual manner while several others in the shop were not injured. Mr. and Mrs. Winter being gone out, there were no persons in the house when they entered but some children, who created an alarm but the alarm was useless, as a number of armed centinels were posted in the street to prevent any interruption. When the work of destruction was accomplished, a pistol was fired, and they all dispersed. It is supposed there were at least fifteen men engaged in the perpetration of this outrage. We must again repeat what we have so often said, that these things ought not to be: being more and more convinced, that if they are persisted in, they will inevitably produce the effect, of driving the trade away from the town, and increasing the load of misery which is always so severely felt. (Nottingham Review.)

Monday, 26 September 2016

26th September 1816: The Duke of Rutland tells the Home Secretary that James Towle has confessed and implicated others

Cheveley Park 26th September 1816

Private & Confidential

My Dear Lord

I am sure that no apology will be required by your Lordship, when I mention that the Subject on which I [take] permission to address you, is one, actually of great Local, but possibly of considerable National Importance—Your Lordship is aware of the conviction of Towle, the Frame breaker, at the last Leicester Assizes, and of the objection taken to the Indictment, the validity of which remains to be decided by the opinion of the Twelve Judges—Since the Trial, Towle has, on several visits made to him by the Sheriff of the County, disclosed to the latter, some very important Confessions; having detailed the whole of the transaction of Loughbro’, and the mode by which the plot was prepared and brought to maturity; specifying seventeen persons who came from Nottingham & its neighbourhood, as Leaders in the affair; & making several other Statements concerning it, which correspond so exactly with the accounts which the Magistrates near Loughbro’ had previously collected, that there can be very little doubt of the possibility of making him a most effectual and important Evidence against the remainder of the Gang.—The Point which your Lordship will care to determine, is the policy of sparing this Man's life, provided it should appear that the Information which he can give, and may be disposed to give, is sufficiently interesting, to render it is a measure of greater public benefit, than merely inflicting the Vengeance of the Law, upon an Individual, who, though a distinguished Luddite, & conspicuous from having stood a former Trial for Framebreaking, is not, we have reason to think, held in very high Estimation among his Associates.—

I beg to apprize your Lordship, that Towle has not made the Confessions to which I have alluded, under the most remote Expectation of Pardon, nor has he I believe expressed as yet any willingness to give Evidence against his late Associates, but there is good reason to presume that he would be glad to do it, if there was a Prospect of his being enabled to live, out of the reach of the future vengeance of their Friends—It will also be evident to Your Lordship, that if you think is adviseable to act upon this Information, it cannot be too soon done; since Towle, who is now perhaps in the mood for confession, might materially alter in his disposition, if the Objection to the Indictment, should be held by the Judges, to be fatal, and his life should be safe from that cause—

Possessing a Knowledge of the Circumstances I should have thought myself, mainly deficient in my public Duty, if I had not hastened to communicate them to Your Lordship; who I am well convinced, will afford them, the consideration, to which their Importance justly entitled them. I am quite convinced, that a well organised league, and an extensive system of union, still exists among the Luddites & Frame Breakers, and it is the opinion of well Informed Magistrates in the County of Leicester (residing in the suspicious District) that further Mischief is intended, when the long nights of winter commence. It really appears to me, subject to the superior Judgement of Your Lordship, that the present occasion affords a chance, of giving a decided check, perhaps of putting a total end, to the disgraceful practice of Framebreaking, and to the dangerous Combination, under which that practice has been so long, and so successfully carried on—Should you think the subject deserving of further Investigation, I would suggest the Propriety of an Interview with Mr Pochin, the Sheriff for Leicestershire, to whom Towle has made the confessions, to which I have alluded, and I would in the event of your coincidence with this idea, request Mr Pochin to attend you, at your Office.—At all Events I am confident that Your Lordship will have the goodness to pardon the length of which I have been obliged to trouble you, and that you will allow me the honour of subscribing myself, with sincere Regard

My Dear lord
Your Most Faithful
& Obedient Servant


[To] Viscount Sidmouth
&c &c &c

Sunday, 25 September 2016

25th September 1816: Large demonstrations of unemployed men occur in Leeds

On Wednesday 25th and Friday 27th September 1816, large demonstrations took place in Leeds, involving hundreds of unemployed men. The protests were against their predicament, but also directed at the publisher of the Tory Leeds Intelligencer, who had recently published editorials scoffing at the distress of the unemployed.

Both Leeds Newspapers carried reports and editorials about the demonstrations.

The Leeds Mercury of Saturday 28th September 1816 carried a long editorial:
On Wednesday last an assemblage of several hundred men, chiefly work-people out of employment, took place in front of the Leeds Intelligencer Printing Office, but after remaining in that situation for some time they separated, without committing any act of riot or excess. The motive of this meeting we have heard differently stated, but we believe the real object of the unfortunate people of whom it was composed, was to shew the town, and more especially to prove to the Printer of the Intelligencer, that the distress which has been felt and complained of in this town and district is a reality, and not, as he has indiscreetly and insultingly represented it, in his paper of the 16th instant, a mere "farce" and an "excellent joke." After the meeting in Cross-Parish a number of the people adjourned to the Workhouse, where the Committee, consisting of the guardians of the poor, was then sitting, and the applications for the relief of distressed families were on that day unusually numerous. 
In speaking of the public distress in this town, we have uniformly guarded with extreme caution against those exaggerations into which we think opposite sides have fallen. We have stated repeatedly, that according to our views, the Mayor's Letter to the Ministers of Religion in the town, coloured those distresses too highly; but his error was on the side of humanity; and we are far from thinking that he could be guilty of the folly of wishing to impart éclat to the conclusion of his mayoralty by seeking to obtain contributions for distress which had little or no existence. Such an insinuation it remained for those who condemn others for speaking disparagingly of authorities, to level against the chief magistrate of the borough. The truth of the declaration made from the hustings in Westminster we have also denied, not in degree, but to the extent. We have said, and we now repeat, that the distress is neither unequalled nor indescribable. But while we have combated these exaggerations on one side, we have with equal earnestness, and certainly with more feeling, denied pointedly and positively that the distress on which so much has been said, has no existence. Existence it unfortunately has, and to an extent too that no well regulated mind can contemplate without feelings of deep commiseration. But it is not sufficient that the public should feel; it is necessary that they should act; and we hope the time is not far distant, when the town of Leeds, properly convened, will have an opportunity of shewing that they are alive to the destitute state of  their distressed neighbours. In the mean time, it is the wisdom of men of all parties to sooth the public feelings, and to guard against those exaggerations, as well on one side as on the other, which are calculated only to convert into a subject of discussion, those misfortunes which it ought to be the business of all, by united efforts, to alleviate, if they cannot remove. 
It has been suggested to us, that all discussions on these subjects are prejudicial; and if he be meant all intemperate discussions, we fully concur in the truth of the observation. But if it be meant to deprecate all mention of the subject as well that which exaggerates as that which tends to place the matter in a sober and proper point of view, we must beg to express our decided dissent from such a proposition. Truth, humanity and justice, never suffer by investigation. The gloomy silence of studied suppression, is, if possible, more mischievous than even the language of violent discussion. It closes the door of hope. It appears like abandoning the cause of the poor in despair; and that we will never do while we have a mind to exercise and a pen to wield in their behalf. 
WHILE we are upon this subject, we must be excused, if we expose the extreme want of candour, and the palpable, and we will add, wilful misrepresentation that has taken place regarding the statements in our last paper. We never adduced as a proof of the public distress the fact that only 1046 men were out of employment in the whole of the West-Riding of Yorkshire; what we said was, that's 1043 men were out of employment in one particular department of a single branch of the woollen manufacture. It is dealing fairly with the public, is it honest towards the labouring classes, to make these wilful and deliberate perversions of the truth? Let any man of integrity answer that question. We did not, as a proof of public distress, say that an accumulated surplus of £400 was at this moment in the hands of the parish officers. What we did say was, that an accumulated surplus of £1800, which was in the treasury of the parish in May last, had since that time been reduced to £400. Are not these repeated efforts to deceive, a proof that they are a part of a system? and what must be done the nature of that cause that requires such support? 
It is in pursuit of this system, that the Dissenters of Leeds are represented as answering the solicitations of the Mayor "to contribute to the relief of their suffering brethren, with dry eyes and immovable countenances, quietly keeping their hands in their pockets, and protesting that they could not discover any objects on whom they could properly bestow their charity." Do the Dissenters deserve this reproach? Let the numerous charities in Leeds answer this question. Do they deserve, in a time like this, to be held up, in a public newspaper, as fit objects for popular indignation? Is this a just representation of their conduct, or of the language of the paper that might be supposed to speak their sentiments on the occasion in question? In the first place, the letter of the Mayor was not, as is here insinuated, confined to the Dissenters. It was sent also to the Clergy of the Established Church, who acted, and very properly acted, in the same way as the Dissenting Ministers. But is it true that "the organ of the party" denied the propriety of raising funds for the relief of the distressed? Did we not, on the contrary, recommend that the inhabitants of the town should be called together, "to devise a mode of relief, that should be, in some degree, commensurate with the distress it is meant to abate?" And yet our accusers have the unblushing effrontery to come forward and state publicly, that the propriety of raising funds, for the release of the distressed, was denied. We have long treated the calumnies and misrepresentations, flowing from the contaminated source in which these imputations originate, with silent contempt, and impunity has made the slanderers audacious. There have evidently been making an experiment upon public credulity, and endeavouring to compress into a focus the greatest possible mass of misrepresentation, calumny, and falsehood.
The same edition also had a shorter article about the demonstration on Friday:
Yesterday another assemblage of unemployed workmen took place in Briggate and Cross-Parish, from whence they proceeded to the Court-House, where the Magistrates were sitting, and paraded for some time in front of Park-Row. Though we are by no means dispose to censure these meetings with undue severity, the first of which might be considered in some degree necessary in order to prove by an argument the force of which could not well be resisted, the reality of the public distress; yet we must say, that we do not perceive any good, and we fear much ill, may arise from their repetition. We hope and believe, that no violence or outrage is intended; but all large bodies of men, assembled under such circumstances, resemble a magazine of combustibles, and who shall say that some incendiary hand, either from a mistaken zeal, or from worse motives, may not cast in a spark, the consequences of which would probably be less fatal to those without than those within the garrison? It is, we allow, a great evil for men that are willing to work to be unemployed; but there are still greater and more lasting evils. In a country like this, no man will be suffered to perish for want. The masters in general, are as anxious to give employment to their workmen as the men are to be employed. They have a common interest. One cannot be pinched by penury, but the other must be threatened with ruin. They are embarked in the same ship, and the crew may depend upon it that the officers will not suffer her to sink, if any effort of theirs can keep her afloat. The mess at present may be slender, but popular commotions would not strengthen it. We hope trade will soon begin to improve; we hear, indeed, that some alteration for the better has already taken place. In the mean time, the more opulent inhabitants of the town, will, we do not doubt, do their duty. There never yet was a well founded appeal made to them in vain. It is some consolation to know, that in many branches of trade work-people are tolerably well employed, among those may be ranked joiners, bricklayers, and handicrafts men in general; there are, to be sure, many exceptions, but the principal distress is found among those usually employed in the different branches of the woollen manufacture.
The Leeds Intelligencer posted the following editorial about what had occurred, and in response to the Leeds Mercury's comments:
In our Market-place, on Wednesday and Friday last, there was an assemblage of between three and four hundred men, who stated themselves to be out of work. They paraded in different places, but, we are happy to say, did not commit any violent acts of outrage. The general belief is, that the sole object of this assemblage was to convince us, that there were so many persons as composed it out of employment. 
As this belief is avowed by our opponents, we would ask, Why then, do they insidiously seize such a moment, to enter into a long strain of falsehood and declamation, in order to render us as odious as possible in the eyes are lower orders? They know we cannot treat them, in a reply, as they deserve, without the hazard of adding to that irritation which has already been excited, and which we are anxious to allay, not on our account, but for the sake of public tranquillity, and of the misguided men themselves, whose safety might be compromised by their own unthinking rashness. 
We have never contended that no distress whatever existed—that not any persons were out of employment;—this has, all along, been self-evident. What we have argued, and that merely in refutation of the Westminster Patriots, is, that the distress the poor, in this place, did not warrant the assertions of the redoubted Major Cartwright, and the truth of this is fully admitted, even by those who have taken the occasion to malign and misrepresent us. That even a single individual should be destitute of work, we lament as much as anyone—but we will not, though the task would not be difficult, cast back or recriminate the foul aspersions put upon us by our angry and insidious adversaries. 
To the proposal of those adversaries we fully agree, and are willing to abide by the judgment of an impartial public, which of the two has advocated the cause of Liberty, and which the cause of Licentiousness—which has contended for the honour of Britain, and which has supported the cause of her most inveterate enemies. In the real, unexaggerated distress of the labouring classes, and in the present depression of trade (which is not confined to this country, but which extends all over Europe, and even to America) we ever did, and ever shall, feel the deepest interest: and whatever our enemies may insinuate or threaten, we shall never be found wanting, as far as our feeble means allow, in giving our support to the cause of humanity. Have not our columns, on every agitation of great questions in commerce, and on the recent Wool Question in particular, been zealously crowded with articles to promote that commerce and the consequent employment and prosperity of the labouring classes? For the vigilance with which we have watched over their real interest, we are not afraid of a comparison with any paper in the Kingdom. Have we, in public or in private, ever withheld our mite from any effort to relieve public distress? We may be represented as enemies of the poor: but the consciousness of an exactly opposite character, and the invariable exercise of that character in the discharge of our duty, shall with us, as we trust it will with the Public, suffice better to silence the voice of calumny, than the prolongation of a discussion which several reasons render it improper to continue. For the actual difficulties that exist, both with respect to workmen and their employers, we trust the returning title of prosperity will speedily bring an efficient remedy, if it be not interrupted and frighted back by the designing clamour of those whose business it is to sow dissatisfaction, and to excite despair.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

7th September 1816: A portrait of the weavers' distress in Bolton

The Leicester Chronicle of Saturday 7th September 1816 carried a report about the situation facing weavers in Bolton, Lancashire:
Out of 4635 looms at Great Bolton, in Lancashire, 1432 are standing still from want of employment. The same proportion of looms are standing in Little Bolton. Many more are on their last warps; and to increase the misery of the labouring manufacturers the masters are refusing to credit them any advance of wages.—The poor rates are doubled, but may be doubled again without affording the desired relief to the poor.