Monday, 18 September 2017

18th September 1817: A Leicester Hosier writes to the Home Office about strikes in the trade

Leicest. 18th Sept 1817

My Lord

I hope your Lordship will pardon the liberty I am taking in presuming to address you, but feeling as I do the importance of the system which is at present pursuing in this neighbourhood, and and being fully convinced that if it is allwd to grow to maturity it will require all the strength of the law to allay it, I cannot resists what I conceive to be my duty―making your Lordship acquainted with the proceedings without wasting more of your Lordship’s valuable time I would state to you that about 2 months ago there was an attempt made here to raise the price of labour, and meetings were calld for the formation of that object, and it was finally determin’d to raise the price of making Stockings very considerably, in some instances 50 [illegible] in addition to this there was a rule prescribed by which every article was to be regulated, and no workmen was to make any goods but what was specified in this Statement of course several of the principal Houses objected to this regulation, having to make goods for every climate in the known world, they were obligd to change & alter their good according to the customs & wants of the markets they were intended for, this rais’d a violent Opposition, and our Warehouses were besitt with Stockingmakers for 2 or 3 weeks, at length the magistrates issued a Hand Bill which had the effects of bringing the men a little to their senses, but meetings of Committees were held weekly for the purpose of enforcing the original object, a Central Committee was found and district committees in every Street of the town which communicated with the Central Committee, a regular register was obtaind of every Stocking frame, and who employed it, and if any kind of work was attempted to be made which the Stockingmakers thought improper, a meeting was instantly calld and handbills circulated to prevent such work being made, in this Stage of the Business we thought it right again to request the interference of the Magistrates, and we causd the Chairman & good part of the Central Committee to be brought before them when they were told their conduct was illegal and must be discontinued. They are now pursuing their object in a different way, and are extending all over the Country, a man of the name of Snow, has been sent to Nottingham, to promote the same object, and after a great deal of discussion between the masters & men, they have this week―Struck. The same man has been to Belper, Derby, Sheepshead, Hathern, Loughbro, Shilton & Hinckley for the same purpose, and even as far as Tewksbury in Gloucestershire, your Lordship will naturally enquire how the men are maintain’d without work; there is a subscription amongst the hands in work, and the men unemployed are allowd a certain sum weekly provided they will not [word obscured] agreeable to the prescribed rule, your Lordship will  immediately see the effect of these proceedings it will of necessity be the means of very much cramping the trade and allowing no scope for genius, for if no goods are to be made, but by a given rule, if those goods suit a warm climate, they must necessarily be very improper for a cold one, it is making the hands completely masters of their employers, and if every regulation is attempted to be made, they do not approve, by means of this system, the persons hands are all stoppd, I would be sorry taking any charge against our Magistracy for having fostered & encouraged this kind of conduct, but really such is their predilection for the Stockingers (and the men are all aware of this) that it is next to impossible to maintain any kind of subordination, I hope the late terrible examples has had the effect of subduing the spirit of Luddism, but indeed my Lord we shall have something full as bad―if this organized system is not effectually stopd, I have therefore thought it right the submit to your Lordship this plain statement of facts, in order that you may if you think it necessary direct some steps to be taken which may counteract the effect, I shall be happy to give your Lordship any information in my power, and hoping you will pardon this liberty

I am―My Lord

Your Lordship’s most hble Servant

Jno Rawson

[To Lord Sidmouth]

Thursday, 14 September 2017

14th September 1817: Henry Enfield informs the Home Office that up to 9,000 framework-knitters are on strike in Nottingham

Nottingham 14 Sep. 1817

Sir

I had great pleasure in laying before the magistrates yesterday Evening your Letter of the 12r. Instant, for the favour of which they beg to present to Lord Sidmouth their thankful acknowledgments.―

Yesterday, our chief market day, passed over in Tranquility―but the state of things remains precisely the same―no giving way on either side―& the issue is certainly matter of anxious Expectation―

I am desired by the Magistrates to inclose you, for the perusal of Lord Sidmouth, two Advertisements which appeared in the Nottm papers of Friday―The one of the 6r. Instant is deserving of his Lordship’s Attention―His Lordship will observe that there is an ingenious avoidance of the mention of any particular Overseers or parishes―& we are of opinion that the Advertisement is artfully framed by the Stockingmakers Committee to convery abroad the belief that they are actively espoused & upheld by the parishes.―Some of the parishes in the County have by their Conduct given full opportunity to the Frameworkknitters Committees thus to make use of them.―

In the present State of Insubordination, the magistrates beg to state to Lord Sidmouth that the Military force here consists of the 95th. & only one Troop of Cavalry (the 15th.)―The Yeomanry Corps, from the Horses being out at grass, & from the busy state of the Harvest, would not easily or speedily be assembled―If the present Contest break out into Violence, the points of Attack may be dispersed―& if so, the presence of Cavalry can alone be effective―The magistrates of Nottingham state this for the Consideration of Lord Sidmouth, & request that his Lordship will be pleased to give such Directions as he shall think the Circumstances call for.

The persons turned out may, in this neighbourhood, be from 8, to 9000―

I am Dear Sir

Yours very obedy―

H Enfield

[To] H. Hobhouse Esq―

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

13th September 1817: The Secretary for the Colonies authorises Blackburn & Burton's emigration to Canada

Downing Street 13th September 1817.

Mr Lord,

I have had the honor of receiving your Lordship’s letter recommending to my particular Consideration John Blackburn & William Burton who are desirous to become Settlers in His Majesty’s Provinces in North America, and I have in reply to acquaint your Lordship that I shall feel great pleasure in recommending them to the protection of the Governor General Sir John Sherbrooke in order that each of them may receive a Grant of one Hundred Acres of the Crown Reserves in Canada;―that being the most valuable portion of the Lands at the disposal of the Crown, & being therefore, in my opinion best calculated to mark the sense entertained of the merits which have procured for them your Lordship’s recommendation.

I shall further give directions for allowing them Rations during the first twelve months, until some part of the lands allotted to them shall be brought into Cultivation;―altho’ Government have not charged themselves with this expence in any of the recent Emigrations.

As the Season during which Settlers were forwarded to the Province by this Department has long since elapsed, I trust Your Lordship will take the necessary measures for providing messieurs Blackburn & Burton with a Conveyance.

I have [etc]

Bathurst

[To] Viscount Sidmouth
&c &c &c

Monday, 11 September 2017

[11th] September 1817: Henry Enfield writes to the Home Office about striking Frameworkknitters in Nottinghamshire

Nottingham 10r. September 1817.

My Lord

The Magistrates wish me to make a Communication to Your Lordship of the present State of this Town & its neighbourhood.

During the last three days there have been a general Strike, or Turn-out, of the Frameworkknitters for an Advance of Wages―& vast numbers of them have Come into Nottingham from the adjacent Villages & Townships―It is reported that they have in some instances in the County used violence, & in very many instances Threats, to bring out those Frameworkknitters who were reluctant to join them―and, that there are two Committees sitting in Nottingham who are the directors of the present measures & supply the men with money for their immediate support. At present no Violence or actual Branch of the public peace has been Committed―the men walk about in Considerable numbers, & make their frequent Applications to the Hosiers―but the magistrates cannot expect this tranquil demeanour to be of long duration if the object which in view that continue ungained―& they have therefore taken, & will be constantly prepared with means to the utmost of their power for putting down any Commotion―

With respect to the question between the Frameworkknitters & their masters, the magistrates have not any power to interpose―& as Individuals they do not conceive that they have any right to become parties―Their duty is, as they conceive, to watch the public Peace & to preserve it―being ready, nevertheless, at all times to receive Complaints, & to enforce the Laws relating to Combinations &c.―It may happen that each [succeeding] Day will make the men more & more discontented, & the Committees more personal & threatening―this may become so overt as to call for the Interference of the magistracy without a complaint―but should this not occur, the magistrates are of opinion that they should not officially take any active step―They will be happy to receive from Lordship’s Sentiments upon this Subject―

Mr. Aldr. Morley has received the enclosed Letter from Mr. Parker of this Town, a manufacturer of first respectability―The magistrates cannot so satisfactorily dispose of the Letters as by transmitting it in the Dispatch for the Consideration of Your Lordship―

I have [etc]

H Enfield

Town Clerk

P.S. Sep. 11.

I beg to enclose your Lordship a Handbill―This handbill was carried about by the collectors of the Subscriptions to the Frameworkknitters Cause, & a Copy left with the Subscriber―Their collections were (& I believe are) by House-row―

H.E.

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

Friday, 8 September 2017

8th September 1817: A Nottingham Hosier has fears about FWK Union activity

Nottingham Septem 8th 1817

Sir

The very unpleasant circumstance, under which I have lately placd in the conducting my manufactory being solely the result of the unfounded although public representation made by certain parties calling themselves committees of Frameworkknitters―which said publications have, and are intended to have the effect of rendering the workman dissatisfied in every transaction with his employer I feel myself entitled to request your attention to this subject as one which threatens a much more serious wit than that of incommoding the individual―

Presuming that you are well acquainted that the nature of our manufactory is that of considerable permanence in the engagement between master & workman―you will be able to judge how very painful the situation of the employer in being incessantly calld upon to refuse gratifications which the workman is most industriously informd is really his due―

The Magistrate I am well aware is entitled to answer me, that his concern is only with acts which constitute a breach of the Peace―but when I have [stated] the publications to which I request your attentions―I can scarcely permit myself to doubt that you will be satisfied they have a manifest tendency to provoke a renewal of those disorders which have disgraced the whole range of the manufactory & occasioned the destruction of private property and of Life

Doubtless the intentions of many of those parties who so loudly anticipate the enlargement of our commerce, are innocent but it is time that even they should in some way be apprised that every instance where they raise expectations they are morally bound to fulfil them and are not entitled to throw the burthen upon that other party in commercial transactions, whose sacred interests their precipitate exultation has occasioned them to overlook―This remark would be misplaced were it merely sentimental―but its foundation is in fact of notorious publicity―the expected advancement of the wages of Labor―without adverting to any distinctions, being the almost daily theme of many public prints―the avow’d object of the conduct of several public bodies & public men (see advert from Ilkeston in the Nottm Review of 15 Augt last)―Conduct which renders them in my mind parties to a conspiracy for advancing wages and whose alliance & prompting forbids the thought of prosecuting the prominent, but the excited & perhaps misled conspirator

The first publication is dated July 11 & purports to be an intimation that the demand for goods had so encreased at Leicester that, with the exception of two or three houses, an advance of prices had been agreed to―the information had been previously, or was at some time, aroused in the Leicester and Nottingham papers apparently as News by the editor―but more probably by the parties themselves―Now, Sir my information is, that the application of the workman for an advance was suggested to them―nay even urgd upon them by the conduct of the answers of the Parish or Parishes of Leicester―& the FWKrs undertook their committees―(which it was hopd had become dormant at least, if not extinct) that Prices should have a correspondent Rise in Nottingham throughout the County―a point in which upon their failing, the Leciester and Hinckley houses finding themselves imposd upon recalled their advance

The application made to Nottingham is dated July 21st―imprudently alledging the advance at Leicester to be occasiond by extraordinary demand―& asserting the same demand to exist in Notts

The next publication―(is annexed as a supplement &) is dated July 25 in which the Committee announce their failure in terms which evince the bitterness of their disappointment & a determination to communicate resentful feelings to the body of the FWKrs―

Another publication dated 13th August is in the form of a letter to the Hosiers who manufacture Silk Gloves, couched in terms to excite no slight resentment towards the masters who do not comply―asserting a demand for their article which my own concern in this branch enabled me to know did not exist―or but partially as some demand always will―

The advertisements in the Nottm Review of 15th Augt―standing alone might leave it doubtful whether the FWKrs excite the vestry―or the vestry excite the FWKrs

Again under date 21st Augt, and after the Leicester houses recalled their advance―the Cotton workmen of Notts are required to exert themselves to secure the objects of the Committee

All these efforts failing―a Bill of advanced Rates of the Committees own forming―was delivered on the 29 Augt―with the usual breadth of assertion as to the consent of the masters except a few, who are hereby stigmatisd as oppressive & unjust

An advertisement in the Nottm Papers of Septem 6―shows clearly that these men have been generally repulsd by their employers―against whom they hope the getting of the harvest―the countenance of the Nobility Gentry Clergy & Overseers throughout the County―will support them in a general strike for advance of Wages & enable them to enforce their Bill of Rates

These circumstances exhibit such compleat evidence that the organisation of these Committees, from which individuals & the country at large have sufferd such serious injury & alarm―& in which principles destructive of all harmony between master & workman are inculcated―exist in full activity―that I cannot but persuade myself you will concur with me in opinion that the powers of the magistracy would be well employd in destroying such mischievous combinations

Whether the trade do or do not adopt the Bill of Rates thus impudently tendered―& violently enforcd―the reluctance of the employers has been sufficiently evinced―& for the committees to succeed in this mode can only tend to encrease their personal audacity & their mischievous influence over an extended population―

Other offensive matters, which have not appeared in print, are through the vigilance of your police, perhaps, better known to you than to me―I shall therefore leave them to such weight as you may judge them worthy of―& I am Sire your most obedt Servt

John Parker

[To: L Morley Esqr]

Saturday, 2 September 2017

2nd September 1817: Nottingham Framework-knitters Handbill about low pay

TO THE
Philanthopic and Feeling
PUBLIC,
OF
NOTTINGHAM,
And its Vicinity,
The distressed Part of the Framework-Knitters,
UNDER THE DENOMINATION OF PANTALOONS, DRAWERS, CAPS,
GLOVES, SANDALS, SHIRTS, FLEECE-WORK, &c.

GENTLEMEN,―We have to regret after having repeatedly applied for Redress from our different Employers, there are Three of the Manufacturers in the above Branches, are in a peculiar manner obstinate in not coming forward to alleviate the Sufferings of their distressed Workmen.

One, of the name of Mr. J_______, of Castle-gate, when solicited and informed his Workmen could no longer Work at the present reduced Price, positively asserted he would not give the Advance. Mr. P_______, Stoney-street, asserted the same.

Gentlemen,―It is a Fact, the two above-mentioned Manufacturers are giving no more to their Hands, then other Master-Stocking-makers give to their Journeymen, and this is the chief Cause of their going to the Market and under-selling the respectable Houses: Mr. M____, Fletcher-gate, is the other Obstacle, but appears more favourable.

We have long strove to Support our Families, under the most trying and perilous Circumstances, independent of Parochial Relief; but, alas! in vain. But we now look forward with the pleasing ray of the hope, that the Day of Relief is at hand.

It is with gratitude we have to announce to the Public, that our other Employers have come forward with a Determination, that does them honor both as Men and Gentlemen, not only to take part of the Burthen which we have borne with Patience and Fortitude, but to restore us as near to our former State of Comfort and Independence as the Trade will admit.

We wish to impress our Cause on your Minds; it is such as will enable us, and our Children after us, to live by our Labour; but, if lost, we must remain a poor and helpless distressed People. An humble Independency, by honest Industry, is all we crave, and none but unreasonable Men will dispute our Right.

It is evident that the irregular Manner in which the Trade has been carried on with the depression of Wages, have been considered as the primary Source of the Evils complained of by the Public, in paying the enormous Poor-Rates, which has been caused by the Reduction of Wages.

Could the Price requested be obtained, it would then enable us to Support our Families without the Assistance of Parochial Relief.

It is humiliating and painful to us to call upon a generous Public for their aid, without which, we cannot be extricated from our forlorn and distressed Situation, only by their kind Assistance.

Most of the Manufacturers are giving the Prices which we now crave FROM OUR OWN EMPLOYERS. The Price we now ask is what we received in the Year 1815; and in the year 1811, we received Four Shillings in the Pound more than what we are now soliciting.

Signed, in behalf of the above Branches,

JAMES BROWN.
WILLIAM LEE.
THOMAS HUSKINSON.

Nottingham, September 2, 1817.

Printed by Sutton and Son, Bridlesmith Gate, Nottingham.