Wednesday, 22 March 2017

22nd March 1817: Derby Assizes Grand Jury call for the reinstatement of the death penalty for frame-breaking

Derby County Hall March 22nd 1817

The undersigned Gentleman, constituting the Grand Jury now assembled at the Assizes for the County of Derby, think it necessary to represent to Lord Sidmouth and the Government their unanimous and decided opinion, that it is highly expedient to make Frame-breaking a capital offence and to subject all persons, subscribing and collecting money to be paid for the Commission of it, or acting in any other manner as aiders or abettors, to the same punishment as the Principals—It must be well known by Lord Sidmouth that so long as the act of the 52nd of the present King was in force not one outrage of this nature was committed by the Luddite Conspiracy, but that immediately after the repeal of that Statute the practice of Frame-breaking revived and has ever since continued—These Facts fully warrant the Conclusion that the existing laws are insufficient for the suppression of the Luddite Conspiracy, and justify the application which the Grand Jury think it is their duty to make to Lord Sidmouth, for an act to be obtained for the more exemplary punishment of Persons guilty of Frame-breaking.

Henry FitzHerbert
A: B: Malley
Winfield Halton
Edward Miller Mundy
P. Gell
Fra. Hurt
W Denny Lowe
J: Radford
Charles Hurt
John Crompton
Joshua Jebb
Bache Heathcote
Robt Holden.
John Toplis
J. Beaumont
John Bell Crompton
[illegible] Draper
W Lord

Saturday, 18 March 2017

18th March 1817: The trial of Joseph Mellors, Nathan Diggle & Jonathan Austin, for attacking William Cook, at Nottingham Assizes

On the same day that the Luddite Daniel Diggle was tried and sentenced to death for his part in an abortive attack in Nottingham, his accomplices in a later attack on Lord Middleton's gamekeeper - William Cook - were put on trial at Nottingham Assizes:
JOSEPH MELLORS, NATHAN DIGGLE, and JONATHAN AUSTIN were put to the bar, charged with having in the night between the 2d and 3d of January last, in company with Daniel Diggle, the prisoner on whom sentence had just been passed, and four others, who have absconded, among whom were Henfrey, Woolley, and Shaw,) beset the house of Mr. William Cook, of Shortwood, near Trowell (gamekeeper to the Right Hon. Lord Middleton) and firing at him several times, through his chamber window, and also firing at Francis Woolley, his neighbour, who came to Cook’s assistance. 
In this prosecution Lord Middleton addressed the Learned Judge a very feeling and impressive manner, stating, that as a dreadful example to the country was about to be made in the execution of Daniel Diggle, who was the principal person concerned in the outrage upon the person, family, and dwelling of one of his gamekeepers, his Lordship did not wish any sanguinary or vindictive proceedings against the three others in custody, and the more especially, as he had reason to believe, they were the least guilty of any of the gang: for as to one of them, when Daniel Diggle proposed to break into Cook’s house and murder him, that one prevented Daniel Diggle from so doing: and therefore, with the learned Judge's permission, he (Lord Middleton) would withdraw all further proceedings against them—his Lordship declaring that all proper means should be taken to apprehend Henfrey, Woolley, Shaw, and others, who, it appeared, had been concerned in the attack upon the house of Kerry, but who were equally guilty with Daniel Diggle, in the outrage in the middle of the night at Cook’s. His Lordship declared that his motive was only public justice, and he thought, as to the four in custody, that end had been obtained. 
The Learned Judge very pointedly complimented Lord Middleton upon the propriety of his conduct on the occasion, and in the most solemn and impressive manner addressed the three prisoners at the bar, informing them, that they owed their lives to his Lordships interference in their favor; for it appeared from documents in the Learned Judge's possession that they were guilty, and might have been convicted if the prosecution had been proceeded in. The Learned Judge exhorted them to go home and break off from the gang of depredators with which they had been heretofore connected—to amend their lives—and, in future, to endeavour to live by honest industry; and to beware of ever being brought to the bar of a Court of Justice again.

18th March 1817: The trial of the Luddite Daniel Diggle, for shooting George Kerry, at Nottingham Assizes


Tuesday, March 18.

This morning, DANIEL DIGGLE, a fine stout-looking young man, only 20 years of age, was put to the bar, and arraigned on a charge of having on the night of Sunday, the 22d of December last, entered the dwelling-house of George Kerry, situate in the parish of Radford, armed and disguised, and then and there, wilfully, maliciously, and unlawfully shot at the said George Kerry, with intent to kill and murder him!

To this indictment the prisoner pleaded guilty, but Sir Richard Richards, having humanely pointed out to him the consequences of such a plea, and recommended him to consider the matter, and by pleading not guilty, take the chance of a trial, with some reluctance he consented, and pleaded not guilty.

Serjeant Vaughn shortly stated the case to the Jury. Four men were concerned in the perpetration of this atrocious act. One of them stood at the bar; another would be brought to give evidence, and the other two, Woolley and Henfrey had absconded.

Mr. Denman called William Burton the accomplice, but his Lordship wishing to have Kerry's evidence first, he was called, and Burton was ordered out of Court.

George Kerry (examined by Mr. Denman) was a framework-knitter, and lived at Radford. On the Sunday before Christmas Day, about eight o'clock in the evening, himself, his wife, his mother, Hannah Morley, and his niece (Ann Kerry) were at home. The door was closed and latched, but not locked. Two men lifted up the latch, opened the door, and came in; they had dark coloured long great coats on, with handkerchiefs over their faces, tied up to their eyes; one was a dark checked handkerchief, the other a light faded one; their hats were slouched down; one was a taller man, the other not so tall; at such a time one cannot tell to one, two, or three inches; they said "Advance into the parlour;" but the women were so frightened, instead of obeying the order, they all went into a corner; we were sitting in the house-place—the house-place is on one side of the door, and the parlour on the other. The men had pistols in their hands, which they presented at me and my family; I rose up from my chair, and seized the first man’s pistol by the barrel; he was the shorter man of the two; some struggling ensued; he appeared wishful to discharge the pistol into my body; I turned it aside, and when he pulled the trigger, the contents went into the fire, and knocked out some coals; the candle stood about a yard and a half off, and it was blown out by the firing of the pistol. I gave the pistol a twitch, but did not get it from him, I only drew out the ramrod.— (The ramrod was produced in Court.) I saw the other man with his pistol ready to discharge it at my head, he stood within nine inches of me, and perceiving he was going to fire, I stooped down, and when he fired, part of the contents catched my head, and the other part went into the wall in a triangular form; it was loaded with shot and slugs, and hit a tea tray fixed against the wall, and knocked it down. Two shot-corns entered my head, Mr. Attenburrow (surgeon), extracted one that might, and another the Saturday following. I have reason to believe there is another yet in my head, for it hurts me when I press on the place. I fell down, crying out, "I'm shot, I’m a dead man." They turned round and ran out of the house immediately. Hannah Morley, my wife's sister, locked the door. I got up soon after, and would have followed the men, but the women would not let me. The whole transaction, from the time of their coming into the house, to the time of their going out, might be a minute and a half; there was not above a few seconds between the firing of the two pistols. I saw Daniel Diggle afterwards in the gaol at Nottingham; it was on the 15th of Feb. Hannah Morley and John Kerry were with me. By order of Mr. Rollestone, one of the Magistrates, the turnkey’s lodge was cleared, and Diggle was brought up to me. When he came up, he shook me by the hand, sat down by my side, and asked me how I did; I replied not so bad as you meant me to be, and he made no answer, but his colour changed. I told him I was come to see him in a different form to what he came to see me, the Sunday night before last Christmas day; he made no answer. I asked him what induced him to do so. (Here the learned Judge made particularly enquiries whether any promise had been made to the prisoner, to induce him to confess. The witness maintained that no inducement was held out to Diggle either by himself, or any other person, in his hearing. Hannah Morley was present all the time, and some of the turnkeys occasionally came into the room.)—He made no answer. I asked the question several times, but still he was silent; at last he said, he'd be damn’d if he knew what made him come. I said to him, I reckon you left me for dead, when you left our house; he said he did. I asked him what he thought of me when I seized Woolley’s pistol; he replied, I’ll be damn’d if I know what to think of you. I said, you see I know, do you know who has told? Prisoner said no. I said, then I'll tell you, it is Burton: he replied, I know’d somebody had told, by what Mr. Rollestone said to me last Saturday.—He asked me where Burton was; I told him in Leicester gaol, he said he had never seen him since he was taken. I asked him if he knew what he said when he was coming down Pearson’s close, (Pearson’s close is about 120 yards from Kerry's) he said he did not know. I asked him if he did not say, damn his eyes, we’ll blow his brains out at the first go off; his answer was, I believe I did. I asked if Woolley did not come into the house first. He replied yes. I knew the persons both of the prisoner and Woolley very well, though I did not know them at the time. The prisoner’s father lived next door to me for several years, and is a very honest, industrious man.—(Here the witness’s feelings seemed almost to overcome him.)—Diggle said Shaw loaded the pistols in his room, as he and his wife were sitting at the fire. He said he expected at the time that Woolley, Shaw, Burton, and Henfrey were to come to my house, but when they had loaded the pistols, they put a pistol in his hand, and forced him to go; they were all in his room. I asked him where the hammer came from, that Burton had; he said from Bobber’s mill. The prisoner said Henfrey got the powder at Pogson’s. Hannah Morley asked him if he recollected what he said when he went out of the house; he replied he did not know, for he ran all the way home, quarrelling with Henfrey all the way for loading the pistols with any thing but powder. Hannah Morley repeated her question, adding did you not say, "damn his eyes, he’s is as dead as a nit;" the answer was, I believe I did. The prisoner said he had done that by me for which he should be hanged, and hoped I'd be as favourable as I could. He said Burton wanted them to come back again and break the frames, after they had left me for dead.

William Burton, the accomplice, (examined by Mr. Clarke) lived at Nottingham. On the Sunday before Christmas day, himself, Diggle, Henfrey, and Woolley, set off to break a frame at Kerry’s, it was about eight o'clock, they took three pistols and a hammer with them; witness carried the hammer; Henfrey fetched it from Constable’s house or garden, he did not know which, at Basford plat. Henfrey brought one of the pistols into the room loaded: the other two were loaded with powder from Pogson’s. at twenty minutes past eight, the prisoner and Woolley entered Kerry’s house, with pistols in their hands; witness staid at the door. When Diggle flung the door open, Kerry said, "halloo." The prisoner had a great coat on, with a light coloured handkerchief tied on his face, and an apron round his shoulders.—Diggle said to those in the house, "go in," meaning go into the parlour. The women screeted and a little girl (Ann Kerry) came to the door, but on seeing him with the hammer, she ran back again, and directly after the pistol was fired. Witness both heard and saw it; saw Kerry lay hold of Woolley’s pistol, and heard it go off. When the other pistol went off, Diggle and Woolley ran out of the house directly. He asked Diggle what he could think of firing? Diggle said because Kerry had seized hold of Woolley. Witness told him he had no occasion to fire, and he replied he was damn’d mad at himself for it. Witness then said, you're always such a damn’d fool when you’ve got a bit of powder; O says Diggle, damn him, he's as dead as a nit.—Witness and the prisoner went down some closes home; Henfrey and Woolley took another road.

Hannah Morley the sister-in-law to Kerry, was examined by Mr. Denman, but as her evidence was only confirmatory of that of Kerry’s it is not necessary to repeat it.

Ann Kerry, the niece, the girl who went to the door, and ran back when she saw Burton, was placed in the witness box, merely for the purpose of giving the prisoner an opportunity of asking her any questions he might think proper, but he declined doing so.

Thomas Pogson remembers that on Sunday before Christmas, about six o'clock, Henfrey came to borrow some powder of him. He lent in some in a horn.

The witness received an admonition from the Judge, and was desired to be more guarded in future.

The prisoner was called upon for his defence.—He said he did not know that the pistol was loaded with any thing but powder; he did not load it himself; and he only fired it to frighten them.

On being asked whether he had any witnesses to call, he mentioned several names, which were called in Court, but none of them appeared. After a considerable pause, the Learned Judge began his charge to the Jury; but before he had proceeded far, it was announced that one of the prisoner’s witnesses had made his appearance, and his Lordship, with that humanity, which we had frequent opportunities of admiring while he presided in the criminal court, and which we cannot sufficiently applaud, immediately paused, and ordered the witness to be sworn. It proved to be

Wm. Hemmett, who had known the prisoner twelve years, and gave him a good character.

It being stated that others were expected, his Lordship waited, and the next who appeared was

Robert Willis, a framework-knitter, of Arnold, who knew the prisoner, for he had worked for witness from July 1815, to July 1816, and always conducted himself well.

Elizabeth Hemmett had known him seven or eight years; he worked with her husband, and bore a good character as far as she knew.

After impartial and clear summing up of the evidence by the learner judge, the jury were desire to consider their verdict; which they returned obstinately, "guilty, my Lord."

His Lordship proceeded to pass sentence of death upon the prisoner, which he did in so impressive a manner, as to draw tears from most persons in the Court. It was nearly in the following words:—

"Daniel Diggle—You have been tried by a patient and attentive Jury, and been convicted on the clearest evidence, of an offence, which the law has made capital. In consequence thereof, your life has become forfeited, and you must lose it in the prime of your days, and in the full vigour of your mental and corporeal faculties. You went to the house of your neighbour and friend, a man who even now speaks of your father in terms of commendation; you went along with the other assassins, with deadly arms, forgetful of your duty to your God, forgetful of your duty to society, and forgetful of your duty to your father; you went, without provocation, in the calm and tranquillity of the evening, and you did all that you could, to murder your neighbour in cold blood. I thank God that you failed in your diabolical purpose. Your crime is of that magnitude, that you must not expect any mercy to be shewn you here; I should think myself accessary to the crime were I to suffer you to live, and depend upon it, I shall not disgrace myself, by soliciting mercy on your behalf. I therefore most earnestly intreat you to prepare yourself for that world, for an entrance into which I am afraid, you are quite unprepared. I have now only to pass the sentence of the law, which is, that you shall be taken to the place from whence you came, and from thence to the place of execution, there to be hung by the neck till you are dead, and may the Lord God of all mercies, have compassion on your soul."

These words were pronounced with so much solemnity, that they appeared to make a deep impression both on the prisoner and the Court: almost every eye was suffused with tears, and his Lordship himself was evidently much affected.

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—

16th March 1817: The Duke of Newcastle informs the Home Office he plans to attend the Nottingham Assizes

Mar. 16. 1817.

My Lord

I write a few lines to inform your Lordship that I am going to attend the Assizes tomorrow, for the purpose of giving support to the Judge & Sheriff and to be of what use I may be able—

The Sheriff was so good as to transmit to me your Lordship’s letter informing him that you had had  intimation of a body of people from Manchester being about to pass thro’ Nottingham, he mentions that he can gain no news of such persons being expected, and at a meeting held immediately to consider your Lordships information, it was decided that the preparation already made was so ample that nothing further was necessary—However to make every thing secure I have ordered two troops of Yeomanry escort to Nottingham to be under arms and ready to march at a moment’s notice—

I am sorry to observe that the cavalry has all been withdrawn from Nottm except 20 dragoons.—It is expected that all will go off very quietly, if otherwise, we shall be fully prepared to meet any opponents, and I feel sanguine in the hope that every one will do his duty—

I shall write to your Lordship if I have any information to give you.

I have [etc]


Visct. Sidmouth
&c &c &c

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

15th March 1817: Charles Mundy informs the Home Office that Blackburn & Burton have been moved to Nottingham under escort

Burton March 15th 1817
near Loughborough

My Lord

I have the Honour to inform your Lordship that I have made arrangements with the commanding Officer at Leicester & the High Sheriff for the County Nottingham for the removal of the two prisoners Blackburn & Burton from Leicester to Nottingham and under an escort of the 15th Light Dragoons this day. I anticipate that they will return on Tuesday or Wednesday.

I have [etc]

C. G. Mundy

[To: Lord Sidmouth]

15th March 1817: The arrest of John Clarke, aka 'Little Sam' is reported in the press

The Leicester Chronicle of Saturday 15th March 1817 reported the arrest of John Clarke, aka 'Little Sam', a man wanted for involvement in the 'Loughborough Job'. The arrangements for his arrest had been discussed recently by the prosecuting solicitor Jeffrey Lockett & the Home Office's John Beckett:
A man named Clarke, has been brought from a depot in Devonshire, where he had been marched previous for his embarkation for some foreign station, for desertion, charged with being concerned in the outrage upon Messrs. Heathcote and Boden's factory at Loughborough.

Friday, 10 March 2017

10th March 1817: The Luddite,Thomas Savage, writes to his wife from Leicester Gaol

Leicester County Gaol
March 10, 1817.

My dear Wife,

I write these few lines to you, hoping they will find you in good health, and my dear children. I am as well as can be expected in my situation; tell my dear father he must do every thing in his power for me; I have had no attorney to see me at present; what I have got to say will be to my attorney; so no more at present from your loving and affectionate husband,


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

8th March 1817: Charles Mundy is concerned for the safety of the Luddites-turned-infomers, Blackburn & Burton

Burton March 8th 1817
near Loughborough

My Lord.

I take the liberty of addressing your Lordship on account of the uneasiness I feel for the safety of the two prisoners John Blackburn and William Burton who are as your Lordship is perfectly aware the mainspring of the case against the Luddites now in the Gaol of this County. I find that both those persons will be necessary as Kings Evidence at Nottingham assizes the former in the prosecution for the attack on my Lord Middleton's gamekeeper the latter in the attack on one Kerry’s House & shooting at him & wounding him in the Head. As Nottingham assizes unfortunately take place previous to those at Leicester there is every possible inducement for such of the Gang as are at large & their very numerous friends to attempt the lives of those men, for if they were disposed of the whole case for the prosecution for the outrage at Loughborough falls to the ground with the exception of one prisoner (Thomas Savage) The removal of these persons from Leicester to Nottingham will be attended with danger as will also their appearance in Court at the latter place. I should hope the High Sheriff & the magistrates for that County will take ample precautions and that the police of the Town will likewise be called into service on the occasion. If I might venture to offer an opinion I should suggest that a very large number of Special Constables should be appointed, & selected from the most respectable classes & well arm’d. I will say to your Lordship (privately) that I fear they are hardly sufficiently alive to the danger and that a jealousy of acknowledging the justice of the bad character the population of the Town & neighbourhood have acquired induces them to under rate the probability of any attempt of the kind I allude to.—Respecting the mode of conveying these two men from Leicester to Nottingham I conceive that best mode will be to take them in chaises under an escort of dragoons two troops of the 15th Lt [Dragoons] are at Leicester but I believe none at Nottingham the distance from Leicester to Nottingham is twenty five miles. In my opinion the best method would be to bring send an escort from Leicester to Loughborough the day before the men set out which would be ready, with their Horses fresh, to take charge of them from the escort which brings them from Leicester & convey them to Nottingham and remain in the Barracks (which are out of the limits of the Town) to convey the men back again, the Escort which brought them to Loughborough remaining there to receive & convey them to Leicester. This arrangement will of course require all your Lordships interference respecting the escort. I should think sixteen men would be sufficient—probably infinitely less would be sufficient for real security but the terror of the two men especially Blackburn, is so great that I am sure you Lordship will see the necessity of inspiring them with confidence. I should hope either a Military Guard or a strong party of well armed Constables will be retaind in the County Gaol at Nottingham during the time these men are there. If this plan should be adopted by your Lordship I would order chaises from Nottingham to meet them at my House which is in the most direct road from Leicester to Nottingham; some distance would be sav’d & the Town of Loughborough avoided. The escort from Loughborough would take charge of them here with less tumult than at Loughborough.—An attempt at a correspondence between Savage & some friends at Nottingham has been discovered to the Gaoler through the means of a prisoner charged with sheepstealing. the Object of it is that a party from Nottingham are to be ready in the vicinity of the Gaol on a certain night the prisoners at Locking up time are to rush on the two Turnkeys & either murder them or force them into one of the Cells & lock them in while others secure the Gaoler & get possession of the keys. Let themselves out into the street where their friends are to be ready with tools to take off their irons & a change of Cloaths to facilitate escape. I have procured a Guard of the 15th [Light Dragoons] every night from Locking up time till after they are let out of the cells in the morning.

I suspect they have some plan in agitation from which they expect success otherwise I cannot account for their encreased spirits & appearance of confidence knowing, as I do, that their [illegible] gives them no hopes of acquittal. As the assizes for the County of Nottingham are very fast approaching I have thought it right to lose no time in stating the circumstances to your Lordship.—I have the Honour to remain

My lord, your Lordships most Obedient very Humble Servant

C. G. Mundy

I should add that the prisoners now in the Gaol of this County for trial at the next assizes amount to no less than fifty four.—

[To] The Rt Honble Lord Sidmouth &c &c &c

Friday, 3 March 2017

3rd March 1817: John Beckett advises Jeffrey Lockett on how to apprehend the Luddite 'Little Sam'

Whitehall 3 March 1817.

Dr Sir

The only safe mode of proceeding in this Case, and the least dilatory in this. Send an Officer from Leicester to London with a Warrant of Apprehension—let him apply at the War Office for Sam’s discharge from Porchester Castle—let him proceed with both to the County of Hants, and then get the Warrant backed—let him go to Porchester Castle—exhibit the War office Order for Sam’s discharge, & take him into Custody under the Justice’s Warrant, & go back with him to Leicester

Yrs faithfully

J. Beckett

[To: Jeffrey Lockett]

3rd March 1817: Jeffrey Lockett aks John Beckett how to apprehend the Luddite 'Little Sam'

Mr Lockett presents his [Compliments] to Mr Beckett and has the pleasure to inform him that Mr Hobhouse has received a second communication from Col. Mainwaring which leaves no doubt as to the identity of Little Sam and the deserter at Porchester Castle. Mr L. would have waited upon Mr Beckett to have taken his directions as to the removal of the prisoner to Leicester, but is just leaving town. Time will not admit of his being marched back again—If a less expensive method cannot be suggested Mr L. will send an officer from Derby with a warrant from Mr Mundy, which maybe backed by Hampshire magistrate, but he will wait to hear from Mr B. on the [illegible]

Grecian Coffee house
March: 3d 1817

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

1st March 1817: William Sherbrooke writes to the Home Office about the plan to re-site the Assizes in Newark

County Hall Nottm March 1st 1817

My Lord

It is with considerable regret that we hear that His Majesty's Government have determined to adjourn the Assize usually held at the County Hall at the Town of Nottingham to Newark.—We apprehend that this measure will have a very bad effect upon the public mind, that it will be regarded by the Discontented and Disaffected as an acknowledgemt of the weakness of the Civil Power and be looked upon as an act of pusillanimity, at a moment when firmness and energy are peculiarly required.—We beg your Lordship to recollect that every attempt to break the Peace in this County has been instantly repulsed; and that although many nocturnal and secret Outrages have been committed, that no rising of a Mob, or attempt to resist the Civil Power, has taken place since the year 1812. We must also bring your Lordship’s mind, that although some disturbance was observed in the Court at the last Assizes, the Magistrates had no suspicion of any riotous proceedings being likely to take place: nor had they any notion that a Trial of so much interest or that the [illegible] in the Court, would have been proceeded upon in the night.

The Magistrates are now fully prepared; and if His Majesty's Ministers, upon mature consideration, should be induced to alter their determination, there have no doubt, in conjunction with the High Sheriff, of being able to preserve the peace,—and even of preventing any alarm during the ensuing Assizes for this County.

I have the honour to be, My Lord,
Your Lordships most obedt Servt

W: Sherbrooke


[Home Office note on the reverse]

Lord Sidmouth

[Acquaint] Him that upon full [consideration] of the Representations [which] have been made to Lord [Sidmouth] from various [quarters]—it has been deemed Expedient that the approaching Assizes for the [County] of [Nottingham] [should] be held at the Town of [Nottingham] as heretofore:

1st March 1817: The High Sheriff of Nottingham writes to the Home Secretary about re-siting the Assizes to Newark

Flintham House
March 1st 1817.

My Lord

I had the Honor of receiving your Lordships letter of the 25th Feby, in obedience to which, I have with my underSheriff & Gaoler, been at Newark, and inspected the Gaol, Town Hall, &c and have this day been at Nottingham, for the purpose of laying before the County Magistrates, a Plan of such preparations, as appear to be requisite, for holding the Assizes at Newark—

Previous to the receipt of your Lordships letter I had attended a Special meeting of the County Magistrates for the purpose of making arrangements for preserving the peace at the ensuing Assizes, supposing them to be held, as usual, at Nottingham, and I entertained a confident hope, that the arrangements, then proposed by the Magistrates, added to an increase of my own attendants, beyond the number which my immediate predecessor had employed, would have been effectual for the maintenance of order Tranquillity—

Were I to venture to offer an opinion to your Lordship upon the impression produced by the removal of the Assizes, I should say, that the factions, & desperate, would represent it, as the effect of the intimidation produced by their former attempts, & regard it as a kind of triumph; which I understand they have openly manifested—

I beg leave to represent your Lordship, the necessity of a strong Guard for the removal of the numerous prisoners, now in the Gaol at Nottm, from that place to Newark—The number I understand at present to be 18 & that there is a probability of an increase. Amongst these are many desperate Characters, and 5 frame breakers—I conceive a Strong Escort of Soldiers to be absolutely requisite, & indeed the Gaoler informs me, that he cannot be answerable for their safe conduct, without such protection—The Gaol at Newark is very small, but I believe with a proper watch, it is perfectly secure the principal inconvenience would arise, from placing together a number of prisoners, whom it might be desirable to keep Separate—

I beg leave to conclude this letter by soliciting your Lordship's advice, & directions, on this occasion.

I have [etc]

Mr B Hildyard

High Sheriff of the
County of Nottingham

[To] The Right Honble
The Secretary of State
for the Home Department
&c &c &c

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

28th February 1817: Henry Enfield raises concerns about the move of the Nottinghamshire Assizes with the Home Secretary

Nottingham 28 Feby. 1817

My Lord

The designed measure of holding the ensuing Assizes for the County of Nottingham at Newark, has not, as may be supposed by your Lordship, been heard with indifference by the Magistrates of the Town of Nottingham; & they beg your Lordship to allow me to state to you what they have done upon the occasion.

In consequence of the official Communication upon this subject addressed to me by the Clerk of the Assizes, the Mayor of & Aldermen met yesterday morning—& it did certainly appear to them, that if the removal of the Assizes resulted from what occurred or was said to be in meditation at the last County Assizes, it would be likely to cast an Imputation upon the Civil Authorities, & might tend to prejudice them in the public mind—They therefore directed me to address, in their name, Mr. Sherbrooke & Doctor Wylde, by a letter, a Copy of which I take the liberty of inclosing to your Lordship

Mr Sherbrooke wrote to me in reply, that he had heard with great surprize the report which I had confirmed, that it was intended by Government to adjourn the Assize for the County to Newark—that the County magistrates had met the preceding day, & made an arrangement with the High Sheriff which he had not the smallest Doubt would preserve the peace at the Assizes—& that it was intended to apply to the Towns magistrates for some of their Police Officers also to attend the Court—Mr. Sherbrooke, in Conclusion, says, "If you have any Correspondence with his Majesty's Ministers upon this Subject, I beg you will say, that the magistrates of the County as well as those of the Town have the utmost Confidence in their Ability to preserve the peace, & whatever Civil force is raised in the County will at all times be actively employed for the peace of the Town."—

Your Lordship may rest assured that the most effective measures will be taken by the magistrates of Nottingham (by an adequate additional civil force) to secure perfectly good order at the approaching Assizes for the Town—

I have [etc]
H. Enfield Town Clerk

[To] Rt Hble Lord Sidmouth

28th February 1817: The Tory Leicester Journal calls the growing political reform movements 'political Luddism'

In the last page will be found the Report of the Committee of Secrecy to the House of Commons—we inserted the one to the House of Peers in our last.—The Reports confirm all that we have, from time to time, said upon the subject. There has been an extensive correspondence carried on between clubs and individuals in London, and the disaffected in the country. There is only this difference, that it appears that there have been two or three associations in London, who have not been nominally connected, and which have some shades of difference, but if not nominally connected, they have all been labouring in the same cause; and have poured and united flood of sedition over the populace of London and the manufacturing and commercial parts of the country. We have said, that the agents in all the principal places, where their plans have taken effect, were the old Jacobins, who had been formerly put down by Government, and who had been lying in wait for a favourable opportunity opportunity to exert themselves. The characters drawn in the Report of the most active agents and their measures have no doubt on this head. Their profane scoffings at religion; their attempts to destroy its influence and restraints, in order to fit those they had deluded into instruments desperate enough for their purposes, with the avowal of malignant designs against Kings and Aristocrats, brand the Jacobin character into their foreheads. We have said, that the plan was to make use of the distress of the poor in large towns and manufacturing districta, and this is made out. Clubs, of different names, but having substantially the same object, and corresponding with each other, and with the leading clubs in London, have been very extensively formed; the Reports say in some counties, in almost every village, and this we know to be the fact. These clubs are united, in most instances, by oaths; and, in all, the most rebellious purposes are, without scruple, avowed in the daily conversation of their members. Subscriptions have been raised for the purchase and circulation of inflammatory, seditious, and blasphemous writings; by which, and the active persuasions of idle and dissolute fellows, who are supported for the purpose of seducing the distressed poor  to join their combinations, the clubs have been extended; or the lower classes, in many places, inflamed against the Government, and disposed to acts of outrage.—We have compared these factions to the Luddites;—We need not advert to the fact well known and acknowledged where Luddism took its first rise, that the Jacobinized principles of the operative weavers of Nottingham and its vicinity, more early and more deeply corrupted than in any other part, originated this horrid plot to control, by outrage and assassination, those who employed them—The insolence of these men grew up with their Jacobinical malignity to all above them; and finally issued, where all Jacobinism will issue, in deeds of dark atrocity and blood. This is not, however, the proof of resemblance we mean; the correspondence of the ends and means of political Luddism, and of weaving Luddism, is the proof. Manufacturing Luddism is a plot to bring the master manufacturers under the direction of their journeymen, both as to the prices of labour and the machinery used. To effect this, secret societies are organized, and held together by oaths; the means are, the destruction of machinery, and the assassination of obnoxious masters; whilst vengeance is declared against all who are enemies to the association. In what does political Luddism differ? It is a plot to bring government under the control of a mob, dignified with the name of "the people," to make the very lowest of the population the arbiters of peace and war, the framers of new constitutions, and the frame breakers of the machinery of old ones. To accomplish this similar end, similar means are adopted: Secret societies are formed; they are bound together by horrid oaths; in some instances assassination has been attempted; in all, the members have been taught the right and duty of taking off the heads of their governors. Arms have been prepared, and used; organisation, with reference to insurrection, has taken place; and lists of proscribed victims have been made out. But there is a material difference between the manufacturing and the political Luddites. We have understood that the Luddites of Nottinghamshire have added plunder to their other atrocities. The genuine Luddites, we believe,—spurn the imputation with feelings of offended pride, as no part of that system. The reforming mobs, on the contrary, have, in some instances actually plundered, and in many, have given sufficient indication of their inclination to do so. The Luddites, though they have broken the frames, have never pretended to the right of possessing themselves of the property of their masters. They were still willing to work, though on their own terms, leaving the master to be master still, in full possession of his house, his trade, and his fortune. The reformers, however, carry their Luddism much further; their object is a division of the land, and the extinction of all great capitals, by sharing the general booty.

The Reports enter into the projects and proceedings of the Spafields assemblies, and the persons who promoted them; and show, what indeed no man can deny, that the meeting of December 2d was intended as a cover to an insurrection in London, which was to be the signal for tumultuous proceedings in the country had it succeeded; and which would unquestionably, have been attended with very mischievous consequences had it been deferred, as intended, till the evening. The whole was spoiled by the drunken precipitance of Watson the younger.

What measures ought to be adopted, in consequence of the existing state of things, we shall not presume to say: but that measures of a repressive kind ought to be adopted we have no doubt. The question is not, whether the right of petitioning shall be abridged; but whether plots against the country, and against every man in it who has security, liberty, and property to lose, shall be suffered to ripen. That the danger of an immediate subversion of government has been small, we are ready to allow; because society, at present, has too many bonds and cements to be shaken to pieces by the reformers. Too many of the people remain sound; and the whole of the respectable part of society, excepting some old democrats, and political fanatics, are from their interests, as well as principles, opposed to the reformers. The obvious unlikelihood of success has, indeed, been pleaded against the existence of a plot at all. But this is ridiculous. Men may argue from probability, but that does not annihilate facts; and the fact of an organized insurrection stands upon irresistible evidence. If the reformers themselves judged of things with as much coolness as the persons who thus argue, they would not have attempted insurrection on the 2d of December. But their heated fancy magnifies the importance of their cause; and their egregious concertedness the number of its abettors. The Jacobins of France were at first a small and contemptible party; but they had, like the returning faction, the address to appeal to the populace, and on their shoulders they wrote down all their rivals. The manufacturing Luddites were but few in number, yet their desperate character, joined to the false notion among the poor, that they were keeping up the price of labour, enabled them to keep, for a long time, whole districts in awe, and to prevent informations from being given. A system which spreads delusion among the ignorant, which turns the passions of men against government, except it be a republican one, which is essentially hostile to all those principles on which the constitution is founded, as understood by men of every party, except absolute democrats, cannot be suffered to run on to alienate the great body of the populace from the constitution, who, from their ignorance, are unable to detect the real intentions of their instigators. No government can suffer, or ought to suffer, this organization against itself. Let the right of petitioning remain untouched: but inflammatory public meetings, called by no authority, and affiliated societies, must be put down. It is the country which demands this from Government; it is demanded, not so much to protect Government, as the lives and property of the community.

Monday, 27 February 2017

27th February 1817: The Duke of Newcastle writes to the Home Secretary about the plan to move the Nottinghamshire Assizes to Newark

Feby 27, 1817—

My Lord

I have just had the honor of receiving your Lordship’s letter of the 25th informing me that the Assizes will be transferred from Nottingham to Newark.

I must [illegible] I rather reject that it should have been thought proper to adopt this measure, because it will appear that justice is not sufficiently strong, & that the disaffected have carried their point—

I think there could have been no doubt of our being able to afford protection to the execution of justice, if the Assizes has still been held at Nottingham—

I cannot learn that any tumult was apprehended at the period of the Assizes and measures were about to be taken similar to those adopted in 1812, in order to preserve the public peace—

If any disturbance is considered likely to occur your Lordship may rest assured that I will use all means in my power to counteract it—I shall be happy to receive and execute any intentions from your Lordship on this subject or any other connected with it—

I am happy to add that this county is perfectly quiet and that great consternation prevails amongst the Luddites, as they are called: at the apprehension of so many of their comrades—

I have the honor to remain
My Lord
Your Lordships
very obedt
humble Servt


[To] The
Visct. Sidmouth
&c &c &c

Sunday, 26 February 2017

26th February 1817: The Undersheriff of Nottingham expresses concern to the Home Secretary about the plan to move the Assizes to Newark

Sheriffs office
Thurland Hall
26th February 1817.

My Lord

I have the Honor to acknowledge the receipt at this office of your Lordship’s Letter to the High Sheriff of the 25th Instant.

In the Forenoon this day the High Sheriff and many of the County Magistrates met at the Shire Hall and made several arrangements for the preservation of the Peace by having a large number of Special Constables and alterations in the Court—

I shall immediately proceed, in obedience to your Lordship’s Letter, to Newark to provide Lodgings for the Judge and see what Court House can be provided—I presume one Judge only will attend as usual—

May I be allowed with great deference to submit your Lordship for his Royal Highness the Prince Regent's Consideration the formidable and dangerous business of removing so many Prisoners from the County Gaol to Newark, twenty miles, and the probability of our finding a small and insecure Prison when they each reach that small Borough Town. I would also venture with humility and due respect to remind your Lordship that the Mlitary have remained at the Nottingham Barracks during the Assizes and that these Barracks although out of the Liberties of the Town are very near and a constant communication is easily maintained—I believe there are no Military in the immediate neighbourhood of Newark—and this novel step might possibly put the Luddites and desperate people here upon mischief which otherwise might not be thought of—

Will your lordship allow me to bring to your Lordship’s attention that the Assize Process from the Judges grounded upon their Commission under the Great Seal direct the Juries to be summoned to Nottingham—It is very probable that the opening the Commissions at Nottingham and adjourning to Newark may be intended to meet this point and I presume that the Juries are to be summoned as usual to Nottingham with a Notice that the Assizes will be adjourned to Newark where they are to attend on Monday the 17th day of March.

I desire to apologize for troubling your Lordship with these very hasty suggestions which present themselves to my mind at the moment and in the agitation occasioned by so unexpected an occurrence and

I have [etc]

Robert Leeson

Undersheriff of the
County of Nottingham—

The Right Honble Lord Sidmouth
His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State
For the Home Department.

26th February 1817: Henry Enfield expresses concern about the proposal to move the Nottinghamshire Assizes to Newark

Nottingham 26th February 1817.


The Magistrates of Nottingham at a full Meeting held this morning, have received with great regret the Communication made to me officially by Mr. Lowndes, that the ensuing Assizes for the County of Nottingham are to be held at Newark.—

If this extraordinary step be taken, in consequence of an alarm excited by what passed, or by what was said to be in meditation at the last County Assizes, it will be likely to cast an Imputation upon the Civil Authorities, and may tend to prejudice them in the public mind.

The Mayor and Aldermen do not know whether the Magistrates of the County intend to make an application upon the subject His Majesty's Government.—but under the first Impulse and in the Confidence that they shall not be misconstrued, they desire me to proffer their personal Services, and the whole of their Civil Force, to secure, in co-operation with the County strength, the preservation of the peace throughout the Assizes—of the certain power of maintaining Tranquillity and good order, proper pre-arrangements having been adopted, no fair doubt can be entertained.—

The Care of the peace whilst the Assizes were holding in the County Hall has been exclusively with the County Police—Perhaps real advantage would accrue, if the County and the Town Magistrates were to unite their forces for this purpose, upon a concerted plan previously to each Assizes.—

I am,
your most obedt hble Servant.

[H Enfield Town Clerk]

[To] W. Sherbrooke Esq

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

21st February 1817: Charles Mundy tells the Home Secretary that Joshua Mitchell is ready to confess

Burton Febry 21st 1817

My Lord

I have the Honour to inform your Lordship that I saw Mr. Locket yesterday who informd me that he had stated in a letter he had addressed to Mr. Addington in which he had stated that the real name of the person describd by Blackburn as little Sam is Clarke & that he is gone escort of the Isle of Wight as a deserter from the artillery. Mr Locket states that he has specified the date of his apprehension as a deserter in the above named letter to Mr. Addington or in the deposition of Blackburn which I had the Honour to present to your Lordship.—I do not know what would be the best mode of having been brought to Leicester. A constable might be sent with a warrant unless your Lordship would order him to be sent by escort would probably be the least expensive method. Mitchell who has chosen to say a good deal to me though I have told him there is no chance of its being of any of any service to him has told me that Grosvenor Henson has been in correspondence with the disaffected in London & that the plan for a general & simultaneous tumult was in great measure laid by him. Mr. Locket desires me to inform you Lordship that it is quite clear the outrage at Col Haltons South Wingfield Derbyshire was the effect of private malice unconnected with Luddism or Politics. I shall be with Mr. Locket at the County Gaol at Leicester all day Monday next if your Lordship has any commands to favour me with respecting little Sam

A letter addressd to me there would be received while Mr. Locket is with me

I have [etc]
C. G. Mundy

[To: Lord Sidmouth]

Monday, 20 February 2017

20th February 1817: A leading Leicester framework-knitter writes to the Home Secretary

Leicester Feby 20th 1817

My Lord

We have inclosed for the serious consideration of your Lordships & the cabinet Ministers No.1 a copy of the resolutions of the Framework Knitters passed at their late meeting & No.2 subsequent resolutions of ye Hosiers. You will find in them a statement of matters of Fact, & things as they really are in this Town & Neighbourhood. The Framework Knitters in consequence of the reduction of their Wages are reduced to the lowest state of misery & wretchedness, & if the present system of giving low Wages is persisted in, the whole of the common people will soon become paupers. One cause of this state of things is the combination Act, which is unjust in its principles, & impolitic in its application. If this Act had never been enforced mechanics would in a great measure been enabled to resist their employers in reducing their wages & consequently the country would have been in comparatively flourishing circumstances; All ranks of People in this Town see & feel evil of ye present system of giving low Wages, and we can assure your Lordship from a personal interview we have had with the Mayor, that he, and the other Magistrates of this Town are anxious that our Wages should be advanced, the present system will eat the Vitals of the Country, & your Lordship will find that a nation of Paupers will ultimately produce an empty exchequer and a National Bankruptcy.—It is not the want of employment of which we complain but the lowness of our Wages, the hands out of Work being comparatively few. You have legislated to keep up the price of Corn, & it is but just that you should legislate to keep up the price of labour & your Lordship will ever find in time of Peace that the Price of one is dependent on the price of the other; If the Mechanics and artizans were well paid for their Labour they would not hoard up their Money, It would find its way into the shops of the Tradesmen the Pockets of the Farmer & into his Majesty’s exchequer, If a low price is given for Labour the price of the necessaries of Life must come down in proportion in defiance of all attempts that are made to keep them up & we would ask your Lordship how a low price of Corn, a low price of labour can exist with a heavy taxation? Your Lordship will see in the Resolutions of the Hosiers, that they tell us they are forced to reduce our Wages, to come into the market upon equal terms with Parishes that manufacture goods, and those Hosiers who receive the premium from Parishes for employing their Poor; We would call your Lordships attention particularly to this subject, Parishes manufacture goods, send them to Market & sell them under prime cost & the loss sustaind is made up from the poor rates, to meet this competition, the Hosiers are obliged to reduce the wages of their Workmen? Your Lordship from this Statement we trust will see the necessity of some alteration in the Poor Laws, We would humbly suggest to your Lordship that if the Poor Rates throughout the Country were collected & put into one public fund & the whole of the poor paid from that fund there would be no inducement for parishes to manufacture or give premiums to manufacturers for employing their Poor & forcing them to work for low Wages as is the case at present, We have to beg pardon for intruding ourselves upon your notice, but the importance of the subject & the high station which your Lordship holds in his Majesty's Government we hope will be deemed by your Lordship a sufficient apology

Signed on the behalf of the deputation appointed to wait upon the Hosiers

Willm Jackson Secy

To Lord Viscount Sidmouth
Secretary for Home Department