Thursday, 16 March 2017

16th March 1817: Louis Allsopp accuses the frameworkknitter union leader, Gravenor Henson, of being the 'chief instigator' of the Hampden Clubs


16. March 1817.—

My Lord—

I  have had a Communication since my return with Mr Hooley, who is prepared to state his firm Belief & Conviction; that G. Henson is the chief Instigator of the Hampden Clubs here, tho’ not known to be a member of any one Club; that prior to the Establishment of Hampden Clubs Henson had the Charge of the Books & papers belonging to the Society of the associated Counties of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Leicestershire & Nottinghamshire, whose object was to overthrow the [Government] & effect a Revolution; & that these books & papers are in the possession of G Henson. at a Meeting of the Deputies from the different Counties in December at his house; that it was determined at this meeting that it was then too early to make any attempts, but that they [should] wait till the Spring, by which time the Country would be irritated by the Rejection of the Petitions in the mean time to be presented, & would be ripe for the purpose & a Revolution might be effected; that as soon as Parliament evinced a determination to support the measures brought forward by yr Lordship, Henson concealed, or destroyed these books & papers, & no Traces can be obtained of them, nor any Evidence of their contents procured; that Henson avoids appearing openly, & is too cautious to commit himself to any but a few he thinks he can confide in;—that tho he may appear to be quiet, yet that all his attention & Views are directed for his favorite objects of a Revolution; that in these Views he is assisted by a man of the name of [Matthew] Atkin, who is also a very shy & cautious man—Mr Hooley has obtained his Information from a person to whom Atkin has communicated these matters, & though he can take upon himself to swear to the his firm belief & Conviction in these Circumstances & that Henson & Atkin entertain at this time Views of a most dangerous & treasonable nature, yet as no conviction [could] take place without further Evidence, & as there is little or no probability of getting at any of the papers, Mr Hooley entertains an opinion that no good would be derived from an arrest of these men or either of them; they would be considered as Martyrs & only comfortable from their Confinement hereafter, possessed of more influence and Consequence than they now know, & that by waiting there is a Chance they may become bolden, & their papers may be got at—At the same time as yr Lordship possesses much more general Information of what is going on here & elsewhere, Mr Hooley & myself have thought it right to transmit these points to yr Lordships Consideration with this an observation, that we shall most readily adopt any measures your Lordship may advise—G.Henson is a most skilful man, he has quiet Caution & Command of himself—

every thing is going on with Spirit & Courage all will, I understand, be quiet—Your Lordship will of course have heard of the Conduct of the Prisoners at Leicester, I have no doubt the Magistrates there will do their duty—

Mr Hooley has made a sacred promise to the person who gave him the Information not to divulge  his name, but he has the greatest [illegible] in his Veracity.

I have [etc]

L. P. Allsopp

PS – I have this morning seen Blackburn & Burton who were brought over Yesterday from Leicester to give Evidence—The former says G.Henson has now nothing whatever to do with Luddism, only with politics—but there is a man of the name of Ward (whom I know) who is a very bad fellow in every respect, he was the person who suggested & instigated the men to the murder of the Judge—

This letter can be found at HO 42/162.

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