Monday, 23 November 2015

23rd November 1815: 3 threshing machines destroyed by 100 labourers in Suffolk villages

On Thursday 23rd November 1815, mass machine-breaking broke out in Suffolk. The Bury & Norwich Post of 29th November carried a brief article about the events:
On Thursday last nearly 100 labourers in the parishes of Kenton, Ashfield, and Monk Soham, assembled in a tumultuous manner, with the avowed design of destroying the threshing machines in the neighbourhood, and threatening violence to all who refused to join with them. Three of these machines were destroyed in a short time: but it is hoped that the interference of the magistrates will put a stop to their unlawful proceedings
Three days prior to this, a barn belonging to a Henry Luffe, which contained 100 coombs of barley, had been torched at Benhall, 14 miles from the later machine breaking outbreak.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

22nd November 1815: Chepstow Magistrates write to the Home Secretary about the recent destruction of Threshing Machines

Chepstow 22nd November

My Lord

We the undersigned Magistrates acting for the County of Monmouth conceived it to be our duty to inform your Lordship of the following circumstances & most respectfully Solicit your advice and Assistance

On the night of the 7th of October 1815 two Barns belonging to William Curre Esqr were set on Fire as detailed in the account we have the Honor of enclosing and the Jury who sat on view of the Body of the Man who perished in the Flames having returned a Verdict of Wilful Murder against some person or persons unknown, a meeting was held by the principal Inhabitants of Chepstow and its Neighbourhood to consider of means for discovering the Incendiary, the minutes of which meeting we have the Honor of enclosing also to your Lordship,

The reason of our delay of making this Application was our wishing to obtain some information which might lead to a Suspicion of the probable perpetrators of this outrage and laying such circumstances before your Lordship respectfully to request your advice as to what other steps ought to be taken and your assistance in obtaining (should your Lordship think such a measure adviseable) His Majesty's Pardon for an accomplice making a discovery and a reward from Government to any person giving such information as may lead to the Conviction of the offenders.

We have the Honor to be My Lord
Your Lordships
most obedient Servants

[N. Wells]
[J: Robson]

To the Rt. Honourable
Lord Sidmouth Secretary
of State &c. &c. &c. . .

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

10th November 1815: The death of the prisoner William Walker

'A view near Woolwich in Kent, shewing the employment of the convicts from the hulks', a hand-coloured engraving printed for Bowles and Carver, no. 69 St. Pauls Church Yard, c.1790-1800
On Friday 10th November 1815, William Walker, a Collier from Gee Cross in Cheshire, found guilty of riotous assembly and grand larceny on 21st April 1812, died on board the Retribution prison hulk at Woolwich.

Walker had been sentenced to 7 years transportation at Chester Special Commission, and seemed to have been singled out for punishment principally because he dubbed himself 'General Ludd' during the events of 21 April 1812. However, despite the sentence, he had evidently never left England.

The prison hulk register is the only source of information about Walker's fate, and the cause of death is not recorded there. He would have been aged around 62-63 at the time. Given his age, Walker had done well to survive for over 3 years - the prison hulks were notorious for their poor conditions.

It is not known where Walker's remains are buried.

Monday, 9 November 2015

9th November 1815: Simon Orgill case is brought before the Court of King's Bench

On Thursday 9th November 1815, the appeal of the Hundred of Westgoscote against the awarding of damages to Simon Orgill, whose lace frames had been destroyed in a Luddite attack in 1814, was heard at the Court of King's Bench in London. The Nottingham Review of Friday 17th November 1815 carried a report about the hearing:

Court of King's Bench, November 9. 
Mr. Clarke moved for a rule to shew cause why the verdict for the Plaintiff in this case should not be set aside, and a non-suit entered. It was an action brought on the statute of the 52d of the King, chap 130, and was tried before Mr. Baron Graham, at Leicester. The action was brought against the Hundred, and the declaration stated, "that certain persons had riotously and in a disorderly manner assembled, and unlawfully demolished and destroyed twelve frames, the property of the Plaintiff, and some frames being ENGINES employed in carrying on his manufactory of framework lace." The objection which he (Mr. Clarke) made at the time, was, that these frames did not come within the meaning of the statute under which the action was brought. The Learned Judge however, directed the Jury otherwise, but gave him leave to move the Court upon the subject. In consequence of which permission, he now addressed their Lordships. It was proved that a number of persons had entered the shop of the Plaintiff, and had destroyed the frames in question. 
Sir S. Le Blanc—"There was no doubt as to the manner in which these frames were destroyed!" 
Mr. Clarke—"None, my Lord; the only doubt is, whether the frames come within the meaning of the Statute." 
The Learned Counsel then proceeded to read the Statute in question, which, after reciting various Acts, which had been previously passed, enacted, that any person destroying or demolishing engines, &c. should be guilty of felony, and upon conviction thereof, the person whose engines, &c. had been destroyed, would be entitled to a remuneration for his loss, from the hundred or county in which he resided. He now had to contend, that the frames, which formed the subject of the present action, were mere movable machines, six or seven of which might stand in one shop, and be removed from room to room at pleasure, and therefore not such engines as contemplated by the Act, which he considered ought to be fixtures. 
Lord Ellenborough—Is there nothing to steady them? 
Mr. Clarke—They are heavy enough to steady themselves. They are not fixed to the floor. 
Lord Ellenborough—With reference to the subject of this Act of Parliament, you consend that an engine must be fixed. Now I think ex vi termini, an engine not be fixed. The engine one is best acquainted with, namely a fire-engine, is movable very rapidly. It is said this particular frame is fixed by its own weight. I remember an incident of an ingenious engineer who proposed to erect a bridge at Hexham without piles. He succeeded in his plan, but the very first flood that occurred, carried his bridge away. This, to be sure, proves the necessity of fixing some engines. 
Mr. J. Dampier—Mangles are seldom fixed. 
Lord Ellenborough—I think the point deserves some consideration, but if you can agree upon the facts, with the assistance of the Learned Judge's notes, it had better be turned into a case. 
Mr. Clarke acquiesced in this suggestion, but for the present took a Rule to shew cause why the verdict should not be set aside and a Non-suit entered.
It would be another 18 months before this case would return to the Court.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

7th November 1815: Charles Sutton appeals to the Court of King's Bench

Almost four months after his trial for political libel and guilty verdict at Nottingham Assizes, Charles Sutton and his legal team had applied to have the verdict set aside. The hearing was held on Tuesday 7th November 1815 at the Court of King's Bench in London.

The Nottingham Review of 10th November 1815 carried a lengthy account of the hearing, which is below:
Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Mr. Denman moved to set aside the verdict given against the Defendant, who was tried in Nottingham for a Libel, the last Lammas Assizes. The grounds on which he made this motion were first, that improper evidence had been received; second, that the learned Judge had misdirected the Jury in point of law. It had been found necessary, on the part of the prosecution, to introduce into the information a variety of averments of facts regarding the riots that took place in Nottingham and in its neighbourhood, headed, or supposed to be headed, by a person of the name of Ludd. One of the averments was, that divers of the persons engaged in the perpetration of these offences, &c. were reputed to act under the direction and orders of some supposed and unknown person, called General Ludd, and that the rioters were generally called and known by that name of Luddites. In order to make intelligible the innuendos charged in the libel, it was necessary these allegations should be proved, and for that purpose, after evidence of the publication, the Counsel for the prosecution put in the Proclamation of the Prince Regent, of December 18, 1811, which stated "that it had been represented to his Royal Highness, that such acts of outrage had been committed." The Counsel for the defendant objected to this piece of evidence, contending, that even supposing it had distinctly and positively asserted the fact, the Proclamation could then only be considered as a certificate, which, in the case in Wills, 556, had been rejected as inadmissible. Mr. Baron Graham, however, over-ruled the objection at the trial. 
Mr. Justice LeBlanc.—From your statement of the averment, it seems that certain persons called Luddites were reputed to act under the control of a supposed person called General Ludd. Does that appear in the Proclamation? 
Mr. Denman.—I am not certain of that, 
Lord Ellenborough.—If it had, that might have been evidence of the supposed person, because the Prince Regent recites such a supposition. 
Mr. Denman could state most distinctly, that the Proclamation was adduced as evidence, not of the supposition, but the acts of outrage stated in the information. He conceived also, that the next head of evidence had been improperly admitted by the learned Judge. It consisted of the preambles of two Acts of Parliament, 52 Geo. III. c.16 and 17, the first of which, without mentioning the name of Ludd, recited, merely, that the provisions of former acts had been found insufficient to prevent the outrages, and that they had been carried to an alarming extent: and the second, that a number of disorderly persons had assembled together, and had had recourse to measures of force and violence, whereby the property of his Majesty's subjects, &c. was injured. The defendant’s Counsel at the trial had also resisted the admission of this evidence, on the ground that the recital of a fact in the preamble of a statute was not evidence to go to jury, and that even supposing the act had contained an assertion, that the house of an individual named had been feloniously destroyed, so as to enable the owner to bring an action against the Hundred, yet that the preamble of the statute could not be sufficient evidence to support such action. All the facts that were to influence the Jury in their verdict, ought to be proved by witnesses upon oath. 
The Court observed, that these were public Acts of Parliament. 
 Mr. Denman admitted, that upon all great state questions of peace or war, the recital of the legislature was to be taken as the best evidence, but there was, he conceived, a material distinction between those and the present. In order to put this in a clearer point of view, he had extracted the preambles of two acts, the first of which was the 7th Anne, c.12 reciting that most that "whereas several turbulent and disorderly persons have, in a most outrageous manner, insulted the person of the Ambassador of the Emperor of Russia, &c., by arresting him, and taking him by violence out of his coach, in the public street," &c. He submitted, that if it were necessary, in any proceeding, to prove that arrest, it would not be enough merely to produce the statue. The second was the 9th Anne, c.16. reciting that, "whereas Anthony de Gulscard, &c. was charged with holding a traitorous correspondence with France, &c. and being under examination before the Privy Council for the same, perceiving his said treason to have been fully detected, being fully conscious of his guilt, and dreading the pain and infamy of his approaching punishment, &c. did with a pen-knife in a barbarous and felonious manner, stab the Right Honorable Robert Harley, Esq. &c. and endeavoured to wound others of her Majesty's Privy Council, &c." If the Marquis de Gulscard, had survived the momentary indignation excited by that attempt, and had been incited for murder, Mr. D. apprehended that the Act could not be employed as proof of the murder. For the same reasons in the present case, the preambles of the 58d Geo. III. c.16 and 17, could not be admissible evidence of the averments in the information. The distinction, he submitted, was this, that Acts of Parliament were evidence of all great acts of State, such as the making of peace, declaring war, treaties, &c. of which all persons are bound to take notice. 
Mr Justice Baillie.—As you state it, the Acts of Parliament would not establish all the allegations, and the residue was made out by the proclamation. 
Mr. Denman continued, that some parole evidence had been adduced in addition, but so defective, that he had contended that the prosecutors had made out no case to go to the jury. The learned Judge, however, was of a different opinion and it was then argued by the counsel for the defendant that the averments were not sufficiently established. The second ground on which Mr. D. now supported his motion to set aside the verdict was, the misdirection of Mr. Baron Graham in point of law, who, in his charge to the jury, had supported the assertion of the counsel for the prosecution, that to supply any defects in evidence the jury might retort resort to their own personal knowledge. 
Lord Ellenborough—I apprehended that the rule now is, that if any one of the Jury is to supply a defect by his own knowledge, he must be regularly sworn, and examined as a witness. 
Mr. Denman, in support of his Lordship’s opinion, read the following passage from Blackst. Com. III. 375, "But this doctrine was gradually exploded when attaints began to be disused, and new trials introduced in their stead. And therefore the practice seems to have been first introduced, which now universally obtains, that of a Juror knows any thing of the matter in issue, he may be sworn as a witness, and give his evidence publicly to Court." 
Lord Ellenborough wished to hear the precise terms of the Learned Judge’s direction; and Mr. Denman read them from his own note taken at the time, stating that the Jury was at liberty to resort to their own personal knowledge, if they had ever seen any acts of outrage committed. 
The rule to shew cause was granted, and the Attorney-General consented, that the defendant (whose presence on such applications is required in Court) should continue at large under his former recognizance.
Sutton's case would not be heard until the new year.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

8th October 1815: 2 Threshing Machines destroyed at Chepstow

The Gloucester Journal of Monday 16th October 1815 reported an incident that took place on the night of Saturday 7th October 1815, in which 2 threshing machines were destroyed in an arson attack:
Alarming Fires.—On the night of Saturday se'nnight, a most destructive fire broke out on part of the premises at Howick Farm, belonging to Wm. Carre, Esq. of Itton, near Chepstow. About midnight one of the buildings, in which was erected, at great expence, a powerful threshing machine, and the straw-house adjoining thereto, were discovered to be in flames; and a poor man who slept in the latter building unhappily perished! The blaze of light on the dwelling-house disturbed the servants, who seeing that any efforts of theirs to extinguish the sire would be unavailing, hastened to their master's residence, about half a mile from the farm, where, to their great astonishment, they found that a building that contained another threshing machine was also on fire! The family at Itton being summoned to assist in extinguishing the flames, they used such judicious methods of cutting off the communication of the fire with the numerous ricks of corn, hay, &c. (the air being most providentially very still) that no further damage was sustained than the loss of the building in which the fire first appeared, and the machine. Mr. Curre's introduction of a variety of machinery for the improvement of agriculture, is supposed to have instigated the villainous act. The perpetrators have not yet been discovered, but every possible means are using to bring them to justice.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

26th September 1815: Nottingham Council pays tribute to the late George Coldham

The memorial to George Coldham, in St Mary's Church, Nottingham (image by Andrew R Abbott, cc licence)
The Leeds Mercury of 14th October 1815 reported on a meeting of the Common Council of the City of Nottingham, which had taken place on Tuesday 26th September 1815, and which paid tribute to the late George Coldham, who had died in an accident in Brighton 8 days before:
Mr. Henry Enfield, (son of the Rev. Dr. Enfield, late of Norwich), has been unanimously elected town clerk of Nottingham, in the room of his late partner, Mr. George Coldham. As an honourable tribute to the memory of the deceased, the Mayor and Common Council assembled on the 26th ult. and unanimously resolved, "publicly" to express their high sense of the probity, ability, and signal advantage to that corporation, with which for the last twenty-four years he had executed the several functions of his office, and their warmest commendation of his meritorious exertions in the preservation of the peace of that populous town during the late threatening period: "likewise," "that his portrait be placed in the Council Chamber, and a tablet to his memory erected in the church of St. Mary in that town:" and "that every member of the hall be requested to appear at the ensuing sessions, and all the Common Hall days for the next three months, in mourning, as a tribute of respect for Mr. Coldham's memory."

Friday, 18 September 2015

18th September 1815: George Coldham dies in an accident in Brighton

George Coldham by William Artaud (c.1810)
On Monday 18th September 1815, George Coldham, the Town Clerk of Nottingham and the Luddites principal enemy in the Midlands, was killed in an accident in Brighton. The Stamford Mercury of 22nd December carried the report of his death, which is below: 

DEATH of Mr. COLDHAM, Town Clerk of Nottingham
A fatal accident, very similar to that which has deprived the county of Lincoln of a most estimable character, occurred on Monday last, at Brighton, to Mr. George Coldham, an eminent solicitor and Town Clerk of Nottingham. A coroner's inquest sat on the body, at the Castle Tavern in Brighton on Tuesday. It appeared that the deceased left that Tavern on Monday morning, in a gig, for Worthing, accompanied by Thos. Buckley, Esq. of Park-street, Grosvenor-square, and followed in another gig by a Mr. Lumley and his daughter. The parties visited the Devil's Dyke together, and dined at Worthing. In returning to Brighton, the horse which was driven by Mr. Coldham became restive, and dashed off with the chaise, on the summit of the Church-hill, owing, it was apprehended by Mr. Buckley, to the pressure of the chaise upon the animal in the descent, from the want of a breeching to the harness. The horse became totally unmanageable, and brought the vehicle in contact with a post on one side of the road, the shock of which precipitated both gentlemen to the ground. Mr Coldham never spoke afterwards, but was taken from the church in a chair, in a senseless state, to the Castle Tavern, where he soon after expired, in consequence of a rupture of a blood-vessel on the brain. Mr. Buckley was also borne from the place of the accident to the Castle; but his principal injuries were about the knees and ancles. The Jury were exceedingly minute in their enquiries, but could not find that any particular blame attached to the stable-keeper, or his servants, the ommission of the breeching to the harness being allowed to be common, and Mr. Coldham was aware of its absence when he hired the gig, which he had often used before, with the same horse, to the latter of which, from his former quiet behaviour, he was smuch attached.—The Jury gave a verdict of accidental death, with a deodand against the carriage and horse of twenty shillings only. The deceased was unmarried and about 50 years of age.

Friday, 28 August 2015

28th August 1815: Thomas Holden's parents write to him from Bolton

Bolton y/e 28th 1815

Dear Thomas we jointly take this oppertunity of send\ing/ you a few lines to inform you that we are all well at this time hope you are the same -- Likewise yours of the 14 of sept 1814 Came safe to hand makeing the Fifth from you and this will make the same number that we have sent you to N.S.Wales If you have had the Fortune to receive them we hope that it will give you some Consolation for you appear to say or Think in your letters that we have all forgotten you, Dear Thomas as it is not posible that we Ever shall while god [sp]ares Our life and we do assure you that it allways gives us pleasure to hear from you at all times and under all Circumstances, that may happen to you, was it in our power to bring you back your stay from us would be Very short in your Present time of life but we fear that you will have to stay the period of time you was sent for, thoug we have made all the intrest in your favour in our power, hope if you have to stay as above that you will make yourself as Content as your situation will admit of looking forward to the time if god spare that you will have to return to us all again ----------- we have heard that all Transports have had one year taken off

Dear Thomas we have to inform you that Thos [illeg] is Return'd home again and at the same time we wish to acquaint you that we are inform'd that the parson you have with hath it in his power to do some thing towards getting you a passage and your liberty now if Mr Alen Esq would condecend in this Ou[   ]quest it would Leave a lasting Testimoney our love and Esteem that nevere Cou'd be Ereased from our minds and we wish you to Speak to your master on this subject, Dear Thos your
wife hath pettioned Three times Over to Come to you but the secretary of state gave for answer that your [Term] wass so short that nothing Could be done for her, we [    ] you will Excuse this our short hand and believ[ ] [   ] to be untill death

your Father Mother and Wife
John Elen and Mary Holden

PS we have to say that we are all together the sam[  ] [   ] when you life and intend [ ] ] Remain so untill your Return your daughter ann is a Very fine Child and often speakes about her dad Brother Will Remember his love to you as doth Mary sister and Father and Mother together with uncles and aunts & Please to Write on all Oppertunitys and not fail and we will do the same

your grandmother and your uncle R[   ] dead [R    ] intered the first [ ]unday this year

[To] Thomas Holden
at Commissary Allens Esq
sidney Cove
New South Wales
or else where

[In different handwriting]
From Jhon Houlding
to be Left hat the
Sine of the Goudin Lian
Curch Gare Boulton
Lee mours

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

26th August 1815: The Leeds Mercury publishes a final editorial on the Charles Sutton affair

In the last Intelligencer a boast is put forth by the new Editor that he contributed to bring down upon a rival publication at Nottingham, the vengeance of law! After this we should not be surprised to hear those loyal vagabonds, the common informers, who go about the country seeking whom they may devour, boasts of their patriotic services in inflicting upon the inadvertent offenders against the revenue laws the terrors of the Exchequer. There is, indeed, this difference between the two characters—the one is actuated by a spirit of revenge, the other by a spirit of avarice; but, as to their loyalty, they are exactly upon a par. This literary informer finding himself incapable of contending with his adversary in the fair field of political combat, was, according to his own confession, obliged to summons to his aid the assistance of the Attorney-General, against whose ex officio logic all other arguments are unavailing. But when he boasts of having scorched his rival, he ought, in justice, to have added, that he destroyed himself. The Nottingham Review, which he opposed, was prosecuted; but the Nottingham Gazette, which he conducted, was annihilated. If this egotist only succeeds as well as at Leeds as he did at Nottingham, his master will have no great reason to exult in his powers, and his absence will be as little regretted here as it is there. For ourselves we have only to say, that a tolerable share of vigilance has, we believe, been exercised for the last dozen years over the productions of this press, but hitherto without any very distinguished success. For the future we rely more on our own discretion than upon any forbearance in the quarter in question. In fact, we asked no forbearance—we shall acknowledge no favour; and we despise alike the threats and the clemency of all the servile slaves of power.

Friday, 21 August 2015

21st August 1815: Francis Raynes receives a letter from the Home Secretary

Three days after his meeting with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Francis Raynes received a disappointing letter from the Home Secretary:

Whitehall, 21st Aug. 1815.


I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 10th August, with several enclosures, which I herewith return to you, according to your request, together with the letter of 8th March last, addressed to you by the magistrates acting for the division of Stockport. These documents contain strong proof of your meritorious services at a very important period. They had, however, been previously rendered unquestionable, by the opinion expressed of them by Sir Thomas Maitland. The mode of remuneration which you have suggested, by granting you the allowance of a Major or a Captain on retirement, would, as I understand, be irregular and impracticable. It has been, and continues to be my earnest wish, that Sir Thomas Maitland’s recommendation of you to the favor of Government, should be rendered effectual, and I sincerely regret that no suitable means have yet been found for the accomplishment of this object.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient humble Servant,


[To] Francis, Raynes, Esq.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

19th August 1815: The Leeds Mercury responds to the Leeds Intelligencer's editorial about the Charles Sutton trial

We [illegible] a moment from more agreeable and more [illegible] pursuits, to notice a [most] violent [and impudent] attack made upon the paper by the [Editor] of the Leeds Intelligencer, who has, we [hear], [just] [arrived] from the parties of St. Giles’s, and whose language seems to be well suited to that [illegible] region. It is perhaps not known to the public, that the Editor of the Intelligencer, having written himself down, has been driven to the necessity of calling in the aid of an auxiliary, and by a very discrete choice, has, it is said, selected as his coadjutor the quondam conductor of a defunct journal, which, owing to the violence of its principal and the poverty of its talents, lately expired at Nottingham. These two negatives, which it is hoped may make an affirmative, are now uniting their wits, and it is to this promising coalition of mental energies that their small remaining stock of readers are to be indebted for the judicious, temperate, and profound observations which will in future flow from the "Intelligencer Office," and of which the last paper presents a happy specimen. Having found, from experience, that these ephemeral scribes "will die of themselves if you let them alone," we shall not be very anxious to notice their future ravings, nor would they have claimed our attention on the present occasion, had we not been inclined to put the public in possession of a secret that these combined editors, in excess of their modesty, appeared dispensed to withhold—probably from an indisposition to admit that additional aid was found requisite to prop a declining interest. As the alliance formed by these luminaries between the Leeds Mercury and the Nottingham Review, we have no objection to it whatever—they are quite at liberty to unite us with any part of the press they think proper, except with the slavish sycophants of power, the panders of ambition, and the servile tools of an existing administration. The watchfulness they have announced over the public papers, that dare to be honest in the worst of times, may recommend them to the French Minister of Police, who is just at this moment in need of a legion of censors of the press, to guard against the free discussion of political subjects; but, thanks to the glorious and successful struggles of our ancestors—thanks to the happy institutions of our country—and thanks the patriotic feeling of the present race of Englishmen, who know how to defend their best inheritance—censors of the press in this country are held in deserved detestation, and in proclaiming themselves as the fit instruments of such an office, the con-joint Editors hold themselves up to public execration. We have only further to observe, that so little are we influenced by the arrogant pretensions that have called forth these observations, that, under all circumstances, we shall keep on the even tenour of our way, and that though all the sycophants in the kingdom should be congregated to watch over us, we shall fearlessly endeavour to make the potent instrument placed in our hands administer to the liberty, the happiness, and the prosperity of our country.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

18th August 1815: Francis Raynes is called to meet the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Charles Arbuthnot

Francis Raynes' persistence in the pursuit of a reward seemed, at last, to have paid off. His memoir relates the events that led to an important meeting that took place on Friday 18th August 1815:
“Who waits the reward of services, must ever deprecate the danger of delay,” and perceiving my cause had suffered too much from this already, I resolved to make one more effort, and again addressed myself to Lord Sidmouth. Some little time after, I received the following note from the Secretary of the Treasury:-- 
Mr. Arbuthnot presents his compliments to Captain Raynes, and would be glad to see him, if he would call upon him at the Treasury, on Friday, about One o’clock.
Treasury, 16th August, 1815. 
On calling, I was informed by Mr. Arbuthnot, he sent for me by desire of Lords Liverpool and Sidmouth, to assure me their Lordships were fully sensible of the services I had rendered, and that they regretted an opportunity had not occurred of rewarding them. Finding I was still destined to receive nothing but compliment, and that I had been sent for only to hear repeated, what I had so often before been assured of, and that I still had to wait an indefinite time for what I had, on the outset of the business, been led to expect would be immediate, I could not help shewing my astonishment and vexation. Perceiving which, Mr. Arbuthnot observed I did not seem satisfied; but assured me, as all appointments went through his hands, I might rely on an opportunity not escaping his notice, and being made known to the head of the Government: but, added Mr. Arbuthnot, “you are not, perhaps, aware, Captain Raynes, that a rule exists which prevents any person obtaining an appointment under the Government, after the age of forty-five.” My reply was, “I am not thirty-nine;” and feeling myself mortified and irritated at the remark, after the length of time I had been waiting, I said I could not help calling to mind the words of Sir Thomas Maitland, that if I did not get something at first, I never might. I have been thus minute in relating the particulars of this interview, as, some time afterwards, on mentioning that Mr. Arbuthnot told me appointments were not to be given to any body more than forty-five years old, I was told by the Duke of Montrose, he did not say so; and it has, likewise, been made the grounds of much displeasure against me, in another quarter, from the unfortunate repetition of the words of Sir Thomas Maitland...

Friday, 14 August 2015

14th August 1815: The Leeds Intelligencer publishes another outspoken editorial about Charles Sutton

We have promised to pay a little occasional attention to the Nottingham Review, and to shame, if anything can shame, the other paper published in that town, into the discharge of this duty, a duty, which, in such a place as Nottingham do [illegible] [illegible] print professing loyalty to the King, and attachment to the establishments of the country. But, while we spare a few "words of rebuke" to the convicted libeller of the British army, the detected instigator to outrage, murder, and insubordination of the British manufacturer, we must not entirely neglect the raving vagaries of its fraternal politician, the other weekly herald of discontent and [disapprobation], the public spirited and patriotic MERCURY of LEEDS! As these illustrious compatriots, however, even when united, are scarcely worth one's powder and [shot], we must be as sparing of our time and our ammunition as possible, and by placing them, as often as we conveniently can, together, to make to take aim at the [illegible], that we may kill both fools with one stone. The task we undertake, though loathsome, is necessary; and we shall lose no proper opportunity of [chastising] these mercenaries of a foreign tyrant, these malevolent and croaking scribblers, according to the magnitude of their respective [slur], and of arresting and beating back upon themselves, the putrid stream of moral and political quackery and delusion, with which they incessantly endeavour to annoy the Government of their country, and to poison and defile the already corrupt and feeble intellects of their infatuated disciples and admirers.

Of the Nottingham patriot, we have at present little to say. His feelings are so much engrossed by the issue of his trial for libel, and his ingenuity is so exercised with endeavours to persuade the public of his innocence, that he has neither time nor inclination to attend the general oppressions of the Government, nor to soothe the grievances and the miseries of his enslaved countrymen and country.—He plumes himself not a little on one part of the defence at up to him by his counsel, "that it is impossible he could be an instigator to Luddism, as he had, in strong and eloquent terms, reprobated a late outrage at Basford, in which two men lost their lives!"—But unfortunately for this last effort to establish the purity of his intentions, we are in possession of a fact which appears to have been unknown both to the Counsel for the Crown and for the Defendant. The article re-probating the conduct of the assassins in the outrage alluded to, was sent for insertion in the Review, from a certain gentleman, in Nottingham, distinguished for the moderation and liberality of his views, and holding a high office in the town, whom Mr. Sutton dared not disoblige by refusing a place to that very article, to which he now eagerly clings like a drowning man to a straw. Like the straw, it is, alas, insufficient to sustain his head above the water, and down he must go, into that abyss of ignominy and of guilt he has opened for himself; oppressed and weighed under the flood by the consciousness of the mischief he has created.—loaded with the indignation of the just, and with the reproaches of the criminals he has led astray. As a proof of the accuracy of our statement respecting the article to which we have alluded, it appeared, on the very same day, in all the three Nottingham papers; and so far was the Review from expressing any indignation at the atrocities perpetrated in its immediate neighbourhood, that it did not add a single word, not one representation, from itself, to the paragraph which it reluctantly admitted, in small and obscure print, into its columns!

As for the poor Mercury, we are almost as much disposed to pity us to quarrel with it, in the present depressed state of its idol. The swimming of Buonaparte, in the Bellerophon and Northumberland, appears to have given the jaundiced Editor a swimming in his head. He last week dwelt, with complacency, on the proofs afforded of Buonaparte's "splendid talents," by the mob assembled to gaze upon his prison-ship, paying him "the slight mark of respect of being uncovered" forgetting that he himself, (this same writer for the Mercury) only a few days ago, had discovered that all the misfortunes of the Tyrant were owing to his "want of common prudence!" In the eagerness of his zeal for "soothing the wounded honour of France"—"binding up the wounds of that unhappy country,"—and "preserving the integrity of its territory," he prophecies, that, if a "good round paring" be taken from its present frontier, Europe will be exposed to a second irruption of Barbarians from the North! The only irruption of Barbarians from the North, that has taken place in the present times, is the irruption of the honest, though rude and uncultivated COSSACKS! And Europe owes too much to these unshaved and [illegible] soldiers, who have treated their vanquished enemies with a magnanimity, unknown to "the wounded humour" of their French aggressors, not to wish that the BARBARIANS OF THE SOUTH may again be driven back by them, should an almighty Providence ever permit another irruption from southern devastators into those remote and frozen legion regions of the North, where their unburied and bleaching bones bear testimony to the extent of their ravages, and to the power of an avenging God.

Friday, 7 August 2015

7th August 1815: The Leeds Intelligencer gloats over the verdict of the Charles Sutton trial

On Monday 7th August, the Tory Leeds Intelligencer published an editorial about the recent trial of the proprietor of the Nottingham Review, Charles Sutton. It was the first of several that would appear over the coming weeks:

At Nottingham Assizes, Mr. Sutton, proprietor and editor of the Nottingham Review (the Luddite and Buonapartean Mercury of that town), has been found guilty of a libel, the intention and tendency of which were to insult his Majesty's Government, to traduce and vilify our gallant army which beat the Americans into peace: to depreciate the services of them and their late lamented leader, General Ross, whom it characterised as the younger Ned Ludd; and to vindicate and encourage that Luddite spirit of outrage and insubordination which still exists in Nottingham, and the effects of which we have had so much reason to deploy in this county. As the trial will be published at length by order of Government, we shall not occupy space with extracts from the garbled report of it sent forth by Mr. Sutton and some of his jacobin fellow-feeling contemporaries. We think his conviction the most powerful blow that Luddism could have received. There can be no doubt but that dangerous and disgraceful spirit was the offspring of one or two wicked and delusive publications, and that it was fostered, and trained to every deed of outrage and assassination, by the most artful palliations and incentives. If the conviction of Mr. Sutton, therefore, should render him and his coadjutors more guarded in their language, it will do more towards preventing outrage than could be hoped for from the operation of the most severe penal laws upon the offenders. Though found guilty of a libel of so foul a character, Mr. Sutton affects to be surprised that the article for which he has been tried should have called for a prosecution, and with all the hypocritical cant and puritanical affectation of innocence and simplicity for which the Party are remarkable, represents his own trial as one of the most oppressive, unnecessary, and extraordinary upon record. But we remember, and we beg to remind Mr. Sutton and the public of the fact, that he publicly acknowledged, in the number of his paper succeeding that which contained the libel—that he then publicly acknowledged this very article had given DISGUST to his own friends!!! and if it was so flagrantly wicked and inflammatory as to disgust them, he cannot be surprised that it excited the resentment of good men, and demanded just chastisement from those laws upon which he had so long trampled with impunity, and at length arrested the attention of that Government, which had hitherto treated with contempt his incessant but futile attempts to insult and [amuse] it. We shall resume this subject at a future opportunity.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

4th August 1815: 8 men charged with machine breaking over the attack at Holbrook

On Friday 4th August, 8 men were committed to the County Gaol in Ipswich for the attack at Holbrook the previous day. They were all charged with riotous assembly and machine breaking. The men were Daniel Grimwood, Joseph Cook, Samuel Page, Martin Gosling, Thomas Seager, Jerry Lucas, John Driver and Robert Payne. They would all stand trial at the next Quarter Sessions.

All the men were bailed - save for Lucas, Driver and Pool who could not afford it.

4th August 1815: Nottingham Review editorial on the Charles Sutton trial

On Friday 4th August 1815, the Nottingham Review carried an extensive editorial on the subject of the trial of its proprietor Charles Sutton, which had taken place on the 22nd July,  & the verdict delivered:

We last week promised some remarks on our recent Trial; and we now redeem our pledge.—When the NOTTINGHAM REVIEW (which has been established by its own intrinsic merits,) was first sent to seek its fortune in the wide range of human society, the world was divided into two great political parties; the one founding their creed on the indivisibility and inprescriptibility of the rights of man—principles co-eternal in duration with nature itself; and the other on the odious and insulting assumption of the divine right of kings, in contradistinction to the rights of citizenship, which was ludicrously and irrationally generated in the witchcraft regions of Scotish subserviency, a short time before England was doomed to be tyrannised over by the Stuart race. On the side of the latter were marshalled state-craft, priest-craft, corruption, insidiousness, venality, and ignorance—on the side of the former, honesty, integrity, patriotism, and unbought talent were seen arrayed. In this trusty band the PROPRIETOR of the REVIEW sentimentally enlisted himself—he pursued, undeviantingly, his onward course; and thereby gained numerous friends, and not a few enemies—the former strewing flowers, and the latter thorns in his way; but the thorns were harmless, because they were lost in the flowers. Thus things went on, till and in an evil hour the spirit of discord raised its head in this town and neighbourhood, which will be long remembered how long deplored—war was the CAUSE, and distress was the CONSEQUENCE; the latter being always the close follower of the former, though led on by different means. The REVIEW pursued it steady course—it continued to make proselytes to reason, and reason to add friends to the REVIEW. But, in this new and alarming state of things, the PROPRIETOR had a new duty to perform—he had to give a faithful record of the numerous outrages committed—the public looked up to him for a statement of facts, as far as facts could be obtained; and he spared no pains to fulfil public expectation—he did more; he gave the whole weight and intent of his paper towards supporting the empire of the laws, against violence and outrage: but, in doing this, he could not surrender the noblest quality in his nature—heaven’s chartered gift, which is sealed with the sign manual of the Deity—he could not give up the sympathies of his heart; therefore, while he supported the empire of the laws, he pitied the misguidedly-criminal objects that were goaded on by their sufferings to a commission of the daring violations. To pity, say the disciples of Draco, is half to approve—we must have no distinctions in crime—no reasoning as to the relative motives for its commission—the wretch that wilfully breaks a bobbin is equally criminal with him that breaks his neighbour’s neck; and an equal punishment ought to be inflicted. The Legislature, after a little experience, reasoned otherwise, and so did the PROPRIETOR of the REVIEW—he weighed causes and effects—by cause and effect he judged a relative guilt—he recommended a prevention of crime as, at least, a partial correction of vice—he still dared to pity and advise, while he reproved and condemned. Hence a faction of enemies arose, that were dangerous only because some of them wore the garb of sentimental attachment—they whetted the assassin’s dagger of revenge on the spotless surface of unsuspecting friendship—they wore the Judas mask till conscious shame plucked it from their brows. They watched the REVIEW with equal assiduity with which an enamoured youth watches the lovely object of his tenderest affections, when passing the precipice of danger, but with very different motives—he watches to prevent an unfortunate slip—they watched for an opportunity to plunge the REVIEW and its PROPRIETOR into the gulph of perdition.—At length an opportunity offered itself for the partial gratification of their wishes—the publication of the article, which formed the subject of the prosecution, at any other time would have excited only laughter and ridicule; but the ever to be lamented catastrophe at Basford the same evening, furnished the hunters after revenge with the means of perverting its most obvious intention. The Attorney-General was applied to; the piece was analysed, and he was pressed not to lose the favorable opportunity; nay, such was the anxiety of a certain gentleman who was deputed to wait on the Attorney-General when the Term was nearly expired, for fear that Officer would have forgotten his duty, that he repeated his request, and we have every reason to believe, had it not been for this last named application, the prosecution would have slept for ever.

Without paying much attention to the candour of these gentlemen, whom we shall designate as instigators, we will take the friendly liberty of asking them a few questions. Then, gentleman, are you Englishmen by identity of attachment to the principles of liberty, as well as by birth? or has freedom never seen a sufficient share of common honesty in your conduct to induce her to adopt you amongst her children? Then, if you are Englishmen, in the liberal sense of the word—if you are the advocates of freedom (and otherwise you cannot be real Englishmen)—if the Great Charter, exacted from a bloody tyrant at Runnimead by the [dauntless] hand of patriotism, in your estimation be of any more value than the dust on a hosier’s or a cotton-dealer’s counter, or scraps of waste paper in a lawyer's office—if you think the Bill of Rights anything better than an almanack of the same date—if you think these things, how has it happened, in instigating the persecution, or prosecution, if you please, against the proprietor of the REVIEW, that you have stabbed the liberty of Englishmenmen through his side, by depriving him of one branch of an English jury? and why did you deprive him of a jury of townsmen altogether, by removing the cause to the county? Were you afraid that fifteen or twenty of the first gentleman of the town, and twelve peaceably disposed, creditable, and rational housekeepers would have been too honest for your purpose? The town of Nottingham has been famous, during a long succession of years, for the intelligence and uprightness of its juries, as well Grand as Petit—Judges have frequently applauded, and counsel have blazoned their fame: then why were you afraid of them? were you alarmed at their sterling integrity, or at the comprehensive powers of their minds? You applied to the Attorney-General for an information ex-officio, rather than to a Grand Jury with a bill of indictment, because you were aware that one stranger’s mind was more likely to be influenced by your insidiousness, than were fifteen or twenty gentleman who would have been guided in their decision by plain facts, by the connection and bearing of circumstances, and by the honest dictates of common sense. But Mr. Clarke, when he knew he could not be contradicted, endeavoured to prove the removal of the Grand Jury a very good things Mr. Sutton, because, said he, they would have found a bill of indictment against him, which would have prejudiced the court against his interest. If this position be founded on fact why not do away with Grand Juries altogether? Grand Juries must be either a public good or a public evil. If a public good, that good can only be produced by their as a shield to innocence; and, if this shield to innocence be an evil, why not remove it by legislative enactment? But this, ye instigators, you dare not apply for, for fear of public indignation being too unruly for your pigmy consequence! and, as you feared to trust the exercise of your vengeance against Mr. SUTTON to the care of this shield to innocence, you got it removed by an appeal to an odious custom which infringes on the constitutional rights of Englishmen! thus making yourselves instrumental in the infringement of those rights! and thus proving yourselves enemies to your country’s liberty.—The instigators, having waded thus deep in dirty water, scrupled not to proceed—they had to remove a Nottingham Jury altogether, or their work was but half done. And why these anxieties, watchings, struggles, and [cares]? What were they afraid of? Did they dread the honesty, integrity, understanding, and judgment of a Nottingham Jury? If they did, what sort of compliment were they paying to the merits of the prosecution, as well as to the men of the county who are competent to act as Jurors? And if they did not dread these things, why was the cause removed at all? for Mr. SUTTON had no wish to remove it—he did not dread the opinion of his townsmen, either in the capacity of Grand, Special, or Petit Jurors—he knew them too well to doubt their honesty, integrity, understanding, or judgment, as, he doubts not, they know him too well to suspect the purity of his intentions.

But we were told from the bench, during this trial, that the Attorney-General's power of filling bills of indictment, without the intervention of a Grand Jury, is necessary to preserve the constitution. What! Is the power of the constitution, in its administration of justice, so defective as to want the aid of innovation for its protection against a loose paragraph in a provincial print? This is a strange declaration indeed! This is declaring that the constitution is inherently defective, and that it is not calculated to suit the genius, the wants, and the interests of the people: a [petition] which we most distinctly deny. We admit, [nay] more, we contend that time and a course of corrupt circumstances have so vitiated the constitution as to render emendation absolutely necessary to its existence; but we by no means admit it to be originally weak or inherently vicious, or that bad practices are necessary to preserve the few remains of its purity. Were it to be maintained, that an act of gross immorality was necessary to preserve a good man from the contaminating principles of vice, would not the person making such declaration be pitied as a maniac, or subject himself to very unpleasant suspicion? And where is the difference between such a declaration, and the stating, that it is necessary to defend the constitution by violating its most valuable precepts?

That part of this trial which aimed the most deadly blow at the liberty of the subject we have yet to name; and which may not be unfairly charged upon the heads of the instigators, for having dared to urge a suit, in the support of which it was necessary to advance such extraordinary doctrine. Mr. Denman, considering the evidence produced in court (as connected with a Juryman’s oath) not sufficiently conclusive to connect the alleged libel with the indictment, with reference to the name of “Ludd,” and the word “neighbourhood,” no violence having been proved in court to have been committed by the Luddites, any nearer than Sutton in Ashfield (not even their very clearly) which is fourteen miles distant: he therefore submitted with confidence that he had a right to demand a decision in favour of Mr. SUTTON, without the matter being left to the Jury. And if we are to consider the words “neighbourhood”" in its natural meaning, and in a manner in which all common understandings will consider it, the learned counsel was right. For instance, Arnold is in the neighbourhood of Nottingham, Papplewick is in the neighbourhood of Arnold, Blidworth is in the neighbourhood of Papplewick; and Sutton in the neighbourhood of Mansfield; but you might as well say that Castle Donington, in Leicestershire, is in the neighbourhood of Nottingham, as that Sutton-in-Ashfield is! When we talk of neighbouring nations we say, France is a neighbouring nation to England; but when speaking of Austria our words always imply a distant or foreign nation, though there is only one dividing between it and ourselves; while there are four divisions betwixt Nottingham and Sutton. Notwithstanding this clear definition in favor of Mr. Denman's position, he was overruled by the Judge under the plea, that the question should be left to the judgment of the jury; which judgment is now duly appreciated. But Mr. Clarke contended, probably for fear Mr. Denman's arguments might warp the judgment of the jury from his view of the question, that the jury had a right to take into consideration their previous knowledge of the circumstances of the case. Against this frightful innovation on the liberties of Englishmen we shall exhibit that solemn oath which every juryman takes on entering the box, in the presence of a listening multitude, and in the face and in the name of the Almighty Disposer of Events, whose vengeance he invokes if he violates such oath: – "You shall well and truly try, and true deliverance make between our Sovereign Lord the King and the Defendant in this case, and the true verdict give according to the evidence—so help you God." To attempt to heighten this contrast—this sacred and constitutional line marked out by an oath, opposed to law and chicanery, and mere barristical declamation, to say the least of it, would be imprudent; because it is unnecessary; and because an addition of words would be a subtraction of strength.

Now, ye instigators, what will you say, or rather what will the world say of you, if this sacrilegious and monstrous doctrine be pushed into practice? how much you will then have benefited your country, by instigating a suit, and pushing it into court, which even yourselves blush to be considered the authors of; and which you could not support without!! — – but we will leave you to fill up the portentous blank. Let us suppose we hereafter see a man whom three of four knaves have determined, if possible, to ruin—that a murder should chance to be committed—that this man has been out at the time, and near the place where the horrid deed was committed—that these designing knaves lay a plan in the darkness of guilt to accuse him of the murder—that he is arrested and brought to trial for the crime, with all the prejudice upon his head which a supposed murderer carries with him—that one of these knaves, by the depth of design has contrived to be one of the Jury—then nothing but circumstantial evidence is brought against the prisoner—that the Jury retire to determine upon their verdict—that eleven of them say, "we have no direct proof against this man, therefore we must acquit him—and that the twelth man should say, who was in the plot, "but, gentlemen, I have the most convincing proof in my own breast that this man is guilty: proof which I was in possession of before I came into Court." Here he might name his proof, and shape it as he pleased—his fellow Jurymen would say, "well, Sir, but with this we have nothing to do—remember our oath!” “but, (answers this guilty wretch,) remember what was advanced on the trial of Mr. SUTTON—I am borne out by precedent, and will not submit." The eleven might yield the point; the innocent man might get hanged—the oath of a Juryman, in time, might become of as little value as a Custom-house oath; and the life and liberty of Englishmen be rendered less secure!

Monday, 3 August 2015

3rd August 1815: Threshing Machine destroyed at Holbrook, Suffolk

Some time during Thursday 3rd August 1815, and in a portent of what was to come the following year, a Threshing Machine was destroyed at Holbrook in Suffolk.

The machine was the property of a John Roper of Wilby, over 30 miles north of the village. A crowd had assembled prior to the task of destruction, and several people were arrested in the hours afterwards.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

29th July 1815: Simon Orgill's compensation case comes before Leciester Assizes

On Saturday 29th July 1815, Leicester Assizes heard the case of Simon Orgill, a manufacturer from Castle Donington, whose Mill had been attacked by Luddites the previous year. He had brought a compensation claim against the relevant local authority. The Nottingham Review of 4th August 1815 carried a report of the case:


Orgill v. Smith and Draper.

At these Assizes came on the trial of an action brought to recover a compensation in damages, to the amount of £512, by the Plaintiff, Mr Simon Orgill, resident at Castle Donington, in the County of Leicester, from the Defendants, Smith and Draper, as two of the inhabitants of the hundred of Westgoscote, in that county, for the injury done to the lace machines of the Plaintiff, by a number of persons called Luddites, on the night of Easter Sunday, 1814.

Mr. J Balguy opened the pleadings.

Mr. Serjeant Vaughan, leading Counsel for the Plaintiff, in an energetic and energetic speech to the Jury, went through the whole of the facts, and in very strong terms reprobated the frame-breaking system which had so long disgraced the town and neighbourhood of Nottingham. The learned Counsel then called evidence to prove, as in the first instance, the observance of the formal requisites of the statues, then the particulars of the demolition of the Plaintiff’s property, and afterwards the amount of the damages; these were established to the satisfaction of the Learned Judge, leaving some very respectable witnesses un-examined, and the case, on the part of the Plaintiff, closed.

Mr. Clarke, in addressing the Jury on the part of the Defendants, wished to impress upon their minds that the machinery in question did not come within the meaning of the Act; and he also called evidence in mitigation of damages. The first witness called on part of the defence was Thomas Wagstaff, whose evidence was confined to the value of the frames; the next was Benjamin Clarke, a resident of Nottingham, but who had formerly been in the employ of Mr. Orgill for eleven years; when cross-examined by Mr. Serjeant Copley, he was obliged to disclose the cause of his leaving the Plaintiff’s service, his having been apprehended on suspicion of breaking the machines, &c. and he evinced great reluctance to answer such questions as were put to him, but the Court directed them to be answered, as being relative to the cause in question. The next evidence called on the part of the Defendants, was William Tunnicliff, a resident of Castle Donington, and also formerly in the employ of Mr. Orgill. This witness was called to state his opinion of the amount of the damage done to the machines. He underwent a severe cross-examination by the Plaintiff’s Counsel, as to the cause of his leaving Mr. Orgill’s service, his signing a paper addressed to Mr. Orgill, demanding an advance of wages, &c. and his further cross-examination was prevented by his suddenly fainting away. This closed the case on the part of the Defendants.

Serjeant Vaughan then, in a speech fraught with his usual eloquence, addressed the Jury on the part of the Plaintiff, and animadverted most keenly on the nature of the evidence produced on the part of the Defendants. He took occasion to observe, that had his Learned friend, Mr. Clarke, chosen to have posted up a notice on the nearest toll bar to the town of Nottingham, he might have been supplied with shoals of evidence equal to such as had been called in on the part of the Defendants.

His Lordship, in summing up the evidence, expressed the Jury, in very strong terms, his decided opinion that the case on the part of the Plaintiff had been fully established in point of law, and that the Plaintiff had a clear right to recover from the hundred the amount of his damages.

The Jury retired a few minutes, and returned a verdict for the Plaintiff—Damages 400l.

However, the case did not conclude here: the judgment was appealed by the local authority, and would re-appear at the Court of Kings Bench later in the year.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

22nd July 1815: The trial of Charles Sutton, proprietor of the Nottingham Review, for political libel

On Saturday 22nd July 1815, the proprietor of the Nottingham Review, Charles Sutton, stood trial at Nottingham Summer Assizes for political libel. This account of the trial is from Sutton's newspaper of the following Friday, 28th July 1815.


On Saturday morning, the Crown Court, in the County Hall, was crowded to excess, as soon as permission could be obtained, by persons of all ranks and ages, eager to hear this long pending and extraordinary trial, which had been removed from the Town to the County by the prosecutors, or instigators, of this indictment, probably with a view of administering justice more securely to Mr.. Sutton, as it might have been difficult to have found twelve such good, honest, unbiassed, and straightforward gentleman in the Town as were selected in the County, the names of whom we shall give at the close.

At nine o'clock, Baron Graham took his seat; and, after the Jury were sworn,

Mr. John Balguy opened his pleadings, by stating that this indictment was instituted by the Attorney-General against the defendant for an article which appeared in the Nottingham Review, dated the 14th of October, 1814, signed "General Ludd," and which contained libellous reflections on the conduct of his Majesty's army engaged in taking the City of Washington, in America, and also indictments to the re-commencement of those riotous proceedings which disgraced this neighbourhood a short time previous to such publication; which libel had a manifest tendency to injure the King, and this peaceable, well disposed, and loving subjects. The indictment was then read over, and contained the substance of the information filed by the Attorney-General, of which we give a copy.


"Town and County of the}
Town of Nottingham.}         TO WIT.

Be it remembered that Sir William Garrow, Knight, Attorney-General of our Sovereign Lord the King, who prosecutes for our said Lord the King, in this behalf cometh here into the Court of our said Lord the King, before the King himself, at Westminster, on Monday next after the morrow of all souls in this same term, and four are said Lord the King giveth the Court here to understand and be informed, that at divers and very many times before the publication of the scandalous, malicious, and seditious libel hereinafter mentioned, to wit, in the years of our Lord 1811 and 1812, divers and very many acts of outrage had been committed by divers disorderly and ill-disposed persons, in and in the neighbourhood of Nottingham, against the property of divers of his Majesty’s liege and peaceable subjects, to and particularly against the Framework-knitted Stocking and Framework Lace Manufactory, whereby the property of many of his Majesty’s subjects had in several instances been wholly destroyed: And whereas divers of the persons engaged, and suspected to be engaged, in the perpetration of such outrages, had been reputed to act under the direction of some supposed and unknown person called General Ludd, and had been generally been called Luddites, (to wit,) at the parish of Saint Peter, in the town and county of the town of Nottingham; and that before and at the time of the publication of the scandalous, malicious, and seditious libels hereinafter-mentioned, an open and public war was prosecuted and carried on between our said Lord the King and his subjects, and the United States of America and the citizens of same States, enemies of our said Lord the King and his subjects, (to wit,) at the parish aforesaid, in the town and county of the town of Nottingham aforesaid; nevertheless—

"CHARLES SUTTON, late of the parish aforesaid, in town and county of the town aforesaid, Printer, well knowing the premises, but being a malicious and ill-disposed person, and unlawfully and maliciously devising and intending to excite discontent and disaffection in the minds of the liege subjects of our said Lord the King, against our said Lord the King and his Government, and to bring the Government of our said Lord the King into public hatred and contempt, and to excite divers persons to break and disturb the peace of our said Lord the King, and to commit acts of violence and outrage heretofore, (to wit,) of the 14th day of October, in the 54th year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the 3rd, by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King, at the parish aforesaid, in town and county of the town aforesaid, unlawfully, maliciously, and seditiously did print and publish, and did cause and procure to be printed and published, a certain scandalous, malicious, and seditious libel, of and concerning the acts of outrage aforesaid, and the persons concerned in the perpetration thereof, and of and concerning his said Majesty’s Government, and the employment of his troops, to the tenor and effect following, (that is to say)—

(Meaning the said supposed and unknown person called General Ludd.)


"SIR—I take the liberty of dropping you a few lines to inform you of the good fortune of one of my sons, (meaning of one of the said person called Luddites) who is come to very high honor. You must know that some time ago, owing to a little imprudent conduct, my eldest son, NED, decamped, and enlisted into his Majesty’s service, (meaning the military service of our said Lord the King,) and as he was notorious for heroism and honorable enterprize, he was entrusted with a commission to exercise his prowess against the Americans, and I am happy to say he has acquitted himself in a way which will establish his fame to generations yet unborn.

"I assure you, Mr. Editor, I scarcely know how to keep my feelings within bounds, for while all our former and united efforts in breaking frames, &c. (meaning such acts of outrage as aforesaid) were commented upon with some severity, and in a way which cast an odium upon my character and that of my family, I now find the scales are turned, and our enemies are converted into friends; they sing a new tune to an old song, and the mighty deeds of my son are trumpeted forth in every loyal paper in the kingdom. My son is not now confined to the breaking of a few frames, having the sanction of government, (meaning the government of our said Lord the King) he can now not only wield his great hammer to break printing presses and types, but he has a licence to set fire to places and property which he deems obnoxious, and now and then even a little private pillage is winked at. Even the GAZETTE EDITOR at Mr. Tupman's who was formerly one of my greatest enemies, and threatened to pursue both me and my family to the uttermost, is now in my favor, and is to become a patron, and an admirer of my son, on account of his achievements in Washington. There is one thing though in the conduct of this Gentleman which has created me some little uneasiness; a few weeks ago he strongly recommended to the magistrates to offer a very large reward, to any person who would disclose our secret system of operation in this neighbourhood: he went so far as to say 5000l. (meaning five thousand pounds) ought to be offered; enough he said to enable the informer to live independent in another country, intimating such a character would not be considered as a proper person for the society of this country, and therefore he would emigrate to seek other associates. I hope it is not true that this notorious Editor has any secrets to disclose about me and my family, and that he is waiting for this large reward to be offered, that he may avail himself of such an opportunity of making his fortune, and fleeing his country. Now, I really think, as my son is become truly loyal, and is working for his country's good, and all under the sanction of the Crown, and as his achievements have been of the first rate, ‘old grievances ought not to be repeated;’ though, bye the bye, I am of opinion that all which I and my son have done in Nottingham and neighbourhood, (meaning the said acts of outrage) is not half so bad as what my son has done in America; but then you know he has supreme orders, from indisputable authority, (meaning the authority of our said Lord the King,) for his operations in America, and that makes all the difference.

"I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

"Ludd Hall, October 5, 1814.

"In contempt of our said Lord the King and his laws, to the evil example of all others, and against the peace of our said Lord the King his crown and dignity.

The second count of the Information, charges the said CHARLES SUTTON, that "he did print and publish and cause to be printed and published a certain other scandalous malicious libel, &c.of and concerning his said Majesty’s government, and the employment of his troops.

The third count.— "That the said CHARLES SUTTON did print and publish, and cause and procure to be printed and published, a certain other scandalous malicious and seditious libel, concerning his said Majesty’s government, and the employment of his troops.

The fourth count— "That the said CHARLES SUTTON did print and publish, and cause and procure to be printed and published, a certain other scandalous, malicious and inflammatory libel containing therein, (among other things,) divers scandalous, malicious, and inflammatory matters, of and concerning acts of outrage aforesaid, and the persons concerned in the perpetration thereof.

The fifth count.—"That the said CHARLES SUTTON did print and publish, and cause to procure to be printed and published, a certain other scandalous, malicious, and inflammatory libel, containing therein, (among other things,) divers scandalous, malicious, and inflammatory matters, of and concerning the acts of outrage aforesaid, and the persons concerned the perpetration thereof.

The sixth count.—"And the said Attorney-General of our said Lord the King, for our said Lord the King giveth the Court here further to understand and be informed, that on divers and very many times before the publication of the scandalous, malicious, and seditious libel hereinafter next mentioned, (to wit,) in the said years of our Lord 1811 and 1812, divers and very many acts of outrage had been committed by divers disorderly and ill-disposed persons, in and in the neighbourhood of Nottingham, against the property of divers of his Majesty’s liege and peaceable subjects and particularly against the framework-knitted stocking and framework lace manufactories, whereby the property of his Majesty’s subjects had in several instances been wholly destroyed, (to wit,) at the parish aforesaid, in the town and county of the town of Nottingham aforesaid, and that before and at the time of the publication of the scandalous, malicious, and seditious libel hereinafter next mentioned, an open and public war was prosecuted and carried on between our said Lord the King in his subjects, and the United States of America and the citizens of the same states, enemies of our said Lord the King and his subjects, (to wit,) at the parish aforesaid, in the town and county and the town of Nottingham aforesaid; nevertheless, the said CHARLES SUTTON, well knowing the premises last aforesaid, but being such malicious and ill-disposed person, and unlawfully and maliciously devising and intending to excite disaffection and discontent in the minds of the liege subjects of our said Lord the King, against our said Lord the King in his Government, and to bring the Government of our said Lord the King into public hatred and contempt afterwards, (to wit,) of the said 14th day of October, in the 54th year of the reign aforesaid, and the parish aforesaid, in the town and county of the town of Nottingham aforesaid, unlawfully, maliciously, and seditiously did print and publish, and cause to be printed and published, a certain other scandalous, malicious, and seditious libel, containing therein, among other things, divers scandalous, malicious, and seditious matters, of and concerning the last mentioned acts of outrage and the persons concerned in the perpetration thereof, and of and concerning his said Majesty’s Government, and the employment of his troops.

The seventh count—"That the said CHARLES SUTTON, on 14th of October, in the said 54th year, at the parish aforesaid, in the town and county of the town of Nottingham aforesaid, did print and publish, and did cause and procure to be printed and published, certain other scandalous, malicious, and inflammatory libel, containing in therein among other things, divers scandalous, malicious, and inflammatory matters, of and concerning the last mentioned acts of outrage, and the persons concerned in the perpetration thereof.

"Whereupon the said Attorney-General of our said Lord the King, who for our said Lord the King in this behalf, prosecuteth for our said Lord the King, prayeth the consideration of the court here in the premises, and that due process of law may be awarded against him the said CHARLES SUTTON, in this behalf, to make him answer to our said Lord the King, touching and concerning the premises aforesaid."

Mr. Clarke then addressed the court and the jury in the following effect:—Gentleman, the libel to which my learned friend has just called your attention, is one of a most mischievous tendency, and very properly calculated to slander the brave army which was so honorably engaged against aggressive and a bitter foe; and also to produce the other consequences alluded to by my learned friend. But it is necessary to state to you, gentlemen of the jury, a few circumstances which happened previous to the publication of this libel, though such circumstances cannot but be well known to you already, from their notoriety and the locality of your situation, and the necessary and honorable duty which devolved upon many of you on those occasions. Then, gentlemen, it was notorious that great disturbances took place in this and the neighbouring counties during the years 1811 and 1812—that lawless associations were formed for the purpose of destroying frames, and doing other mischief to the property of many of his Majesty’s peaceably disposed subjects—that such associations became too formidable that the civil power to resist—that the depraved and wicked members of these associations under the name of Luddites, assailed dwelling-houses in the night—did the mischief which they intended to do, and then retired in attitudes of hostile defiance—and that, on some occasions, assassination had been the consequence.

Mr. Clarke then stated, that, at the time of the publication of this libel, a person was in prison on suspicion of frame-breaking—that a plan was agreed upon for murdering the evidence against the prisoner—that the attack was made, and an innocent man was murdered—that the publication of the libel gave general disgust—and that its tendency was to raise resistance to the laws, and to dishonor the army by comparing British soldiers with persons who had committed such outrages. I shall hope to hear, if possible, from my Learned Friend, who appears for the defendant, what other end it could possibly answer. It is, said he, a gross libel on the government. When friends were broken, the cry of the depredators was "Ned, do your duty"—was not this a proof that the supposed Ned Ludd was a framebreaker? and that the author of this libel, in signing himself "General Ludd" intended to excite frame-breaking? Mr. Clarke now read the article, charged as a libel, by piecemeal, and commented upon it as he proceeded, commencing with that part which relates to the devastation committed in America. News arrived, said he, of the capture of Washington, and out comes this libel to disgrace the army. The Editor of the Nottingham Review states that brave army to be commanded by "General Ludd," who is made to say, that though his men had previously been guilty of a little imprudent conduct in the breaking of frames, they had now the sanction of government, and can not only wield their greatest hammers to break printing-presses and types, but they have a licence to set fire to places and property; and now and then even a little private pillage is winked at—And so, continued the Counsel, frame-breaking is to be designated as a "little imprudent conduct," which is heightened into "honorable enterprise" when Ned is supposed to have the "the sanction of government" to commit outrages in America! Is it to be endured that the army, fighting honorably against an enemy that unprovokedly went to war with us in hopes of aiding a tyrant of France to blot us out from the rank of nations? an enemy that had no cause of complaint, except her own trumpeted up and imaginary grievances—is it to be endured, that our brave army, fighting against such an enemy, shall thus be libelled by comparison with the Luddites? Nay, this is a libel upon our ministers too, for it says that the acts committed in America, which are represented as so much more extensively mischievous than those committed here by the Luddites, were sanctioned by government, and that a little private pillage was winked at—nay more, this is a libel upon the King; for he is supposed to have given the orders! This is not to be borne, gentlemen, this is not to be borne! Is our good King to be libelled too by comparison with the Luddites? this is not to be borne!

The Editor of Mr. Tupman's Gazette is not spared by this libel—that gentleman is lampooned for holding out that a great award should be offered to any one that should inform of the Luddites.—The reader should here be informed that Mr. Tupman has held out, that as much money should be offered to an informer as would enable him to leave, and live out of the country; but Mr. Clarke endeavoured to cast the odium upon Mr. Sutton; for said he , is not this attempt to shew the necessity of an informer’s leaving the country, an encouragement to Luddites, by disapproving of information against them? Mr. Clarke concluded his address by cautioning the jury against having their judgments led astray by the eloquence of the defendant's Counsel.

The article charged as a libel, was then read. (The reader will find a copy of it in the information, already inserted, but he is to take notice, that that part which is in italics, was not in the original, but is an interpolation, made by the Attorney General.)

Mr. Hobhouse, attorney to the King, was now called to prove the entry of the Review at the General Stamp-Office, which having done he read, by order of the Judge, a royal proclamation, against frame-breaking and other outrages, issued in December, 1811; the London Gazette of Saturday, October 17, 1812, containing a proclamation of reprisals against the United States of America, and the preambles to the Watch and Ward, and Frame-breaking Acts, passed in 1812, the former the 20th of March, and the latter the 13th of October. The reading of these articles was legally and ably opposed by Mr. Denman, leading counsel for the defendant; but his arguments; though powerful were overruled by the Judge. This was not the case with the convictions against Pooly, Green, and Marshall, who had at a former assize been found guilty of frame-breaking, which were attempted to be read as evidence against the defendant; for, in this case, even the Judge thought the prosecuting counsel were doing too much; and they were therefore overruled.

After this dispute was ended, Serjeant Vaughan, on the part of the prosecution, put the following questions to Mr. Hobhouse:—

Q. Sir, have you read the libel?—A. Yes.
Q. What do you understand by General Ludd?—A. I understand General Ludd to mean the supposed person who led the mobs of frame-breakers in the neighbourhood.
Q. What you understand by General Ludd’s son?—A. I understand it to mean a Luddite.
Q. What do you conceive the libel to mean when it speaks of his Majesty's service?—A. The army.
Q. What you understand by frame-breaking?—A. By that I understand the consequences of the riots in this neighbourhood in 1811 and the early part of 1812.
Q. What you understand the libel to mean when it speaks of government?—A. The King’s government.
Q. What you understand the figure 5, three noughts and the letter mean?—A. Five thousand pounds.
Q. I observe the words "all that I and my son have done," how did you understand that?—A. All the acts which the Luddites have committed in the neighbourhood of Nottingham.
Q. What you understand the libel to mean when it speaks of indisputable authority?—A. The Kings government.

Cross-examined by Mr. Denman.

Q. Why do you understand it as meaning the Kings government?—A. Because it says supreme government.
Q. You speak of General Ludd as being a leader, &c.; did you imagine that there was a real person, who, as General Ludd, was a real reader, &c.—A. I never supposed there was such person as General Ludd, but that he was an imaginary person.
Q. Did you understand that his Son was a Commander in the Army?—A. No.

Mr. Reader then called Mr. Woodcock.

Q. Were you a solicitor in Mansfield, in the years 1811 and 1812?—A. I was.
Q. During those years were there any riots and disturbances committed?—A. I believe there were. Question from the Judge—Was you a witness to any of them?—A. I was, at Sutton-in-Ashfield.
Q. Did you see any frames that had been broken?—A. Many.
Question by Counsel—Did they appear to you to have been recently broken?—A. Yes.
Q. Were they broken in places and houses where many persons were assembled?—A. They were broken in a place where I saw many persons running away
Question from the Judge—And some of whom you afterwards took?—A. They were taken afterwards, in houses, where frames were broken.
Question by Counsel—Was it notorious that acts of outrage, &c. had been committed?
This question was quashed.
Q. What did these persons call themselves?—A. Luddites.
Q. Was there any person under whom they pretended to act?—A. I have heard of General Ludd; and I have heard of some that were afterwards committed for frame-breaking—they were called Luddites.
Q. Then, have you never heard the frame-breakers call themselves Luddites?—A. I have heard Ludd songs sung, and seen the name of Ned Ludd written on the walls of Nottingham in chalk.

Cross-examined by Mr. Phillips.

Q. You said you had seen frames broken in Sutton-in-Ashfield.—A. I did not see any outrage committed in Sutton-in-Ashfield—I did not see any riot—saw some persons running away—did not see any great mob.
Q. Did the persons who were taken by you or your party, call themselves Luddites at the time?—A. I do not know that they did.
Question by Mr. Reader—Were there any military?—A. A part of the Mansfield Yeomanry.
Q. Did the person run away upon these military coming up?—Yes, and one of the persons was convicted, who were taken in a house in Sutton-in-Ashfield.

James Stevens examined.

Q. I believe you are a wine-merchant, of Mansfield.—A. Yes.
Q. Do you know of any outrages committed in this county?—A. Yes, in November 1811—saw a great quantity of people, and a great number of broken frames—saw them in two houses—in the inside of one house, and the outside of another—saw a number of persons late in the evening, before the house of a man named Naylor—saw them in different parts of the town afterwards—but in one place, in the front of Maylor’s house, from 50 to 100 people—Naylor’s was one of the houses where the friends were broken.

William Benson examined.

Q. Where do you live?—A. In Nottingham, with my father, a framework-knitter—he had frames in his house on 12th of January, 1812, which were broken at six o'clock at night, by about twenty persons, armed with pistols, and disguised with handkerchiefs tied round about their faces—they forced us into the back place, and told us they would take away our lives if we did not go immediately—they broke one frame and then said, "Ned, do your work well"—they afterwards went up stairs and broken seven more.

Q. What you understand by Ned?—A. They said, Ned, go up stairs and do your work well—did not understand what they meant by "Ned."

Here the case closed on the part of the prosecution, when  Mr. Denman submits his Lordship, that no evidence had been adduced substantially to connect the fictitious name of Ludd, assumed by the writer of the article alleged to be a libel, with the crime of frame-breaking; not had it been proved at all, that the Luddites had broken frames in the neighbourhood of Nottingham, as stated in the Indictment, for the evidence of Benson did not substantiate the fact, since the name of Ludd was not mentioned by those who broke his father's frames; and, as to Sutton-in-Ashfield, it was fifteen miles off, and of course could not be called the neighbourhood of Nottingham; therefore, in his opinion, he was entitled to a verdict, in point of law, as well as of fact, without the case being left to the decision of the jury. But these positions were over-ruled by the Judge, when the learned Counsel addressed the jury in a most able speech, which occupied an hour, to which, we can only say, we will do the most justice in our power; being conscious we shall not support it without dignity with which it fell from the orator’s lips.

Gentlemen, said Mr. Denman, it has now fallen to my lot to address you, as the great inquest of this county, in behalf of my client; and while I feel a consciousness of my own inability to expel from your fancy that fine flow of eloquence which my Learned Friend, as leading Counsel in this case, has just impressed upon you; while I have to combat the powerful phalanx of learning and talent which we see marshalled against us on this occasion, I feel strong in the justice of my cause, coupled with the sterling integrity of a British jury, composed, as is the one I have now the honor of addressing, whose characters in life will be a sufficient guarantee against being guided by any undue influence—against being governed in their decision by prejudice or party bias. On these grounds, gentlemen, I shall expect, with full confidence, a verdict in favor of my client at your hands. My Learned Friend has proved the existence of certain outrages in this county, outrages which I, in common with every honorable man, most ardently deplore, and which no one ever deplored more than my client has done, and none more than himself hath endeavoured to suppress, in the situation of life in which he is placed; therefore we will adopt the strong phrases of my Learned Friend, with reference to these outrages, and their fullest sense. But, it is right, at the same time, to see how they apply to the case in question. I wish my Learned Friend had stated when the outrages, which principally existed in 1811-12 had ceased—if he had done so he would have proved most distinctly the contrary of what he intended to have proved—he would have proved that they could have no reference to the article which is charged in this indictment as a libel, because they had ceased long previous to the time of its publication; and all the twisting, contriving, and inventing, in the drawing up of this record might have been spared—all the attempts to connect guilt with innocence; and to make innocence accountable for guilt, would then have been unavailing, as I hope and trust they will be still. As to the attempt made by my Learned Friend to connect the outrage committed Basford, the night of the publication of this article, with the article itself,—in that he has completely failed; for the intention and plan of that outrage were well known to the magistrates of Nottingham many days before the publication of the article in question, and who had provided for the reception of the depredators; therefore to charge the commission of the outrage upon the publication, the views, or intentions of my client; or that such publications could be any wise incitive to its commission, would itself be an unpardonable outrage upon common sense, and which you, Gentlemen of the Jury cannot listen to for a moment. Had that outrage, which was streaked with the blood of innocence—which was ensanguined by the blood of guilt—which was darkened by the crime of murder—had that happened just before the publication of this article; why then my Learned Friend might have imputed some base design to my client. But here the reverse is the case; and from the subsequent conduct of my client—from the proud attitude of his universal character, for peace, humanity, and justice—from the respectable rank he holds in society—from his great liability to be made one of the first victims to infuriated violence, if, (which God forbid,) violence were to supersede law—from his close attention to the duties of domestic and social life—from these things, I take the liberty of proudly submitting, that the reverse of evil intention on his part is the case; and that the reverse of such intention must be the conclusion of every honest, every honorable mind. Let us see, said Mr. Denman, what was said of this horrid outrage in the Nottingham Review, when the defendant could not be influenced by any motive except what arose out of the nature of the case itself—when the idea of prosecuting him for a libel had scarcely been generated, even by those secret enemies who made justly be supposed to have given an impetus to the present action. His language on that, as on every occasion when it was found necessary to reprobate violations of the law, was strong, nervous, and energetic; but let his paper, in the publication immediately following the outrage at Basford speak for itself—it says, "A most painful task devolves upon us this week, in the having to record and publish to our country, acts of sanguinary violence and assassination, committed in the vicinity of Nottingham, which are disgraceful to the character of Englishmen, and to humanity. We allude to the foul and horrid attempt to murder Mr. Thomas Garton, and the actual murder of Mr. William Kilby, committed last Friday evening at New Basford; the circumstances of which have excited universal indignation and sympathy in this town and neighbourhood, &c. The surviving perpetrators of these atrocious crimes have escaped, but, however at present they may be unknown, we hope and trust they will not long elude detection, and that the just vengeance of the offended laws of God and their country, will finally overtake them." Produce me, said the learned Gentleman, a Newspaper in the whole kingdom which more properly reprobated, and painted in stronger and more feeling language this horrid deed! Indeed, continued he, with much emphasis, if we want language reprobative of violence—condemnatory of a violation of our country’s laws—illustrative of the danger of suffering the human passions to supersede the rules of reason and recommendatory of good order in the intercourse between man and man, we shall find that language pervading the columns of the Nottingham Review. If we want language to extol the merit of our brave countrymen in arms, when their deeds have called for honest praise, and when the patriot’s soul follows their martial progress, we shall find such language in the Nottingham Review; and it really shocks me to see the pains my Learned Friend has taken to connect improper motives to the conduct of my client on this occasion; when he knows so well, from his long career and almost constant practice at the bar, that the most strong and clear circumstances are necessary to prove a tendency in the conduct of the most ordinary individual in the excitement to discord; while in the case before us—to say nothing of his duty, of which we have every manifestation of a strict attention to—the undoubted interest, the universality of bias to propriety, and an unimpeached purity of intention, give a direct negative to such an intention; and, as far as presumptive evidence can go, establish the contrary fact. In the light and satirical manner in which the article in question is written, my client is charged with having committed a political sin—he is charged in the second allegation with having compared the conduct of our army and the sacking of Washington, with that of the Luddites in the pursuit of their lawless system of spoilation. And, Gentlemen of the Jury, let me bring this question home to yourselves as Englishmen—is it not a right, inherent in our constitution, for Englishmen to discuss public questions? Nay is it not a duty incumbent upon the conductors of public journals to shew us the foul as well as the fair side of the national measures? If the right of discussion be denied to men whose writings ought to be directed to the promotion of public liberty, and whose political illustrations have such an effect in directing national opinion—if the right of discussion be denied to these men, in what does the liberty of the press consists? Does this right consisting composing petty paragraphs to conceal guilt, to give a bright colouring to measures of iniquity?—in keeping from public view, by a species of hypocritical cant, the debaucheries and other immoralities too frequent in high life—and in writing panegyrics on princes? Or rather does not this right, this proud distinction of Britons, consist in a bold and manly display of independence in bringing great delinquents to the bar of public opinion; that, if screened by wealth and influence against the just retribution of the law, they may be arrested in their progress by the counteracting hand of public disapprobation? Once destroy the right of free discussion to the editors of newspapers, and a band of unprincipled men, that might have cunning enough to impose upon the good nature of the prince (and princes, we know, are subject to human infirmities like other men,) might push measures on to the utter ruin of our country—the conduct of ministers ought to be canvassed—if they be acting right, they have nothing to fear—if they be acting wrong, public discussion may save the country, by driving them from their seats. Laws have been restored for the good of society, which despotic monarchs had laid aside, and others have been made, which form alike the ground work and the outlines of the constitution; and that constitution is safeguard of discussion, as discussion is the safeguard of the constitution. I THEREFORE, said Mr. Denman, CLAIM THE RIGHT OF FREELY DISCUSSING PUBLIC QUESTIONS AS THE BIRTH-RIGHT, AS THE INHERITANCE OF EVERY ENGLISHMAN—I CLAIM THIS RIGHT FOR MR. SUTTON—I CLAIM IT FOR ALL HIS MAJESTY'S SUBJECTS—AND I CLAIM IT FOR THE WHOLE PEOPLE OF ENGLAND. That men should differ in opinion on political subjects is as natural as it is for us to breathe; but that any man should be bold enough to maintain, that the sort of warfare carried on against America was equally honorable with our achievments in Spain and Portugal, he thought morally impossible. Was it not proper said he, to discuss the merits of the expeditions sent to America, where war was made on palaces of peace, and on printing-offices? and what was more natural than to the editor of an independent newspaper, who was himself an admirer of liberality, to express his indignation against his countrymen making war on printing types; a species of warfare which directed its vengeance against literature and the general progress of information? Was the pillaging at Alexandria honorable warfare? Were our renowned deeds in arms in Europe to be disgraced by a comparison with our conquest over the inhabitants of Washington? The former were calculated to rouse the latent energies of the soul—to call forth the patriot to action—to nerve the arm of the sage—to make the sick man forget his pain, and the spendthrift his vices; while the latter was only calculated to provoke resistance and retaliation, and give activity to the angry passions of the human heart. And I maintain, said Mr. Denman, that, in writing on the subject of the capture of Washington, my client, as an Englishman, had a right to use the expressions which we find in the article alledged to be a libel. For, in using these expressions he was only honestly expressing his indignation, and what he conceived, had brought disgrace on his country; while, by comparing those proceedings with the conduct of the Luddites, he was manifestly shewing his marked disapprobation of such conduct—if you say he has disgraced the soldiers, he has, in a corresponding degree, branded the conduct of Luddites—and if you say he had a design to exalt the conduct of the Luddites, and urge them on to fresh mischief by comparison, he has not disgraced, or did not intend to disgrace the soldiers. And, as intention is necessary to constitute the libel, it is impossible that the two allegations in the indictment can stand—the one destroys the other. As to the charge made by my Learned Friend, of this being a libel against the King, the subject is almost too trifling to merit a reply; for my Learned Friend well knows that the King can do no wrong, that the ministers are the legal advisers of the crown, and that they are responsible for the advice they give; therefore the King is nowise included in this matter. I would just asked my Learned Friend, if the same observations had been made in Parliament, as those here stated to be libellous, whether he thinks the Attorney-General would have visited their author with his vengeance?—Certainly not! But, Gentlemen, there is a point in which this question should be viewed, which has entirely escaped my Learned Friend. How it has happened that the circumstances has escaped my Learned Friend—how it has happened that he has missed this point, so contrary to his usual practice, is not for me to say; for, that his towering genius—his commanding eloquence—his redundancy of thought—his keenness of expression—his insinuation of address are still in the noontide of perfection, and bid defiance to time and the silvery honors on his brow, he has this day given us the fullest proof. Still, however, by some unaccountable circumstance he has omitted to notice this one point, on which too rests the whole jet of the question. Perhaps my Learned Friend thought there was danger in alluding to it; and that will account for the omission; which omission, with its legal interest, must be placed to the credit of Mr. Sutton.—You all know, Gentlemen, that a short time ago there was a newspaper in this town called the "Nottingham Gazette;" and most of you are very well acquainted with the captious manner in which that paper frequently took up local and political questions, and that it sometimes formed an object of ridicule to the Nottingham Review. Now, Gentlemen, read the article which is the subject of this information, and you will clearly see, that it is the mere squabbling between these two papers which gave occasion to this article being written. The Gazette had proposed a sum sufficiently large being offered to any Luddite that would inform of his companions, to enable such informer to leave the country, that his life need not be in danger from his enraged associates—this was commented on in the article in question, and ludicrously perverted into an opinion, that the Editor of the Nottingham Gazette had got into the secrets of the Luddites; and that such Editor recommended this very large reward that he might take advantage of it, to enable him to leave his country and troubles altogether. And yet this silly dispute—these, attacks, replies, and rejoinders of two Editors have at length formed a subject, which has been considered by some persons (and their feelings are not to be envied) sufficiently serious to call for a visitation from the Attorney-General. Will not this action be considered in the light of political animosity, in pouring a vial of wrath upon the head of Mr. Sutton, in consequence of the defeat of his wrangling opponent? If this should, unfortunately, be a conclusion drawn, it will reduce this species of prosecution, in public estimation, very much indeed, and it is a question well worthy the mature deliberation of you Gentlemen of the Jury, before you can think for a moment of giving a verdict against Mr. Sutton.—Gentlemen, I feel almost ashamed at occupying your attention so long, and that too on a subject which, taking the full and candid view of it, which I doubt not you will, seems so easy of determination in favor of my client. But, there is one other thing which I cannot avoid calling your attention to—why has the Attorney-General been induced to take up this question by an information ex-officio, and thus pervert the law from its natural channel, by depriving the defendant of the benefit of Grand Jury? The Grand Inquest of a county [is] always supposed to act from motives the most pure—there are no acts of counsel—no influence from the bench can operate—there every case appears in its native shape, and receives a direction according to its own intrinsic merits—Then why, I ask again, has the defendant been deprived of this shield of innocence—of this grand bulwark of the law? Gentlemen, under an impression that my feeble efforts may have been useful to you, in enabling you to perform a right judgement of the case; and that you will lay your hands on your hearts, and as Englishmen give a verdict consistent with your consciences and the liberty of the subject, I cheerfully and consistently commit the case of my client into your hands; being fully convinced that your verdict will be according to the evidence given in court; and not formed from the extraneous opinions, or information received before your coming here, a position, which I have no doubt his Lordship will inform you is correct.

In reporting Mr. Clarke’s reply, we shall confine ourselves to what appeared as fresh matter; for it would be no gratification to the reader to have his first speech a second time related, with the mere variation of shape.—The substance of his speech is as follows:—Gentlemen of the Jury, it now becomes my duty, as leading Counsel for the crown on this occasion, to address you again on the part of the prosecution, and to give answers to the reasons set forth by the Learned Gentleman, who has just addressed you at such length, so eloquently, and with such ingenuity on the part of the defendant. And I am really at a loss to conceive what observations of mine could have justified him in imputing to me the views he has done respecting the riots, as bearing upon his client; for I only meant to show, that the events were alive about that time, and that the spirit of disturbance existed as strong as it ever did at any other time in this town and neighbourhood. Gentleman, a great deal has been said on political matters; but I cannot suppose that which my Learned Friend supposes on this subject—it is contended by him, that ALL public matters have a right to be brought under the pen of discussion; and that the business of our American expeditions formed one of these matters. The public writers have a right to discuss public matters I readily admit, but not in the way which this libeller has done on the subject in question! For, it is to be endured, that our brave army shall be traduced by comparison with the Luddites, merely because their conduct is punishing a most perfidious enemy did not comport with his political views and desires? The Americans had made war upon as at a moment when they flattered themselves that their aid would kick the beam against us, when the tyrant of the continent was pouring out the vials of his wrath against our very existence as a great nation. But there is no analogy between the two cases—we were at war with America; but can it be said that we were at war the Luddites? It is true, and I am sorry to say too true, that these miscreants made war upon the peaceable inhabitants of this town and neighbourhood, and that the law, as far as it's salutary effects could reach them, made war upon them in return; but it is to be endured, I ask again, that the conduct of our army in America is to be traduced, dishonored, and abused by comparison with the lawless proceedings of these wretches? Besides, we have no evidence in court, that our army committed these violences at Washington which are imputed to their conduct, nor are they to be believed; therefore, supposing for a moment that such charges were true, they cannot be admitted in extenuation, much more in exculpation of the guilt which I charge upon the defendant. But, Gentlemen, let me ask, is there any analogy in the two cases? the Luddites violated every law, human and divine—they took the peaceable inhabitants by surprise, and committed every sort of outrage which you can conceive; while at Washington there were no pillage—no private robberies—no assassinations: all was honorable warfare!!!—My Learned Friend stated to you Gentlemen of the Jury, that you were wholly to confine yourselves to the matter of fact contained in the evidence adduced in court, relative to the formation of your verdict. Here I shall take the liberty of differing with my Learned Friend; and distinctly [obscured] that the Gentleman of the Jury have a right to take into their consideration, their previous knowledge of the circumstances of the case. And, as to the intention of the libeller—that is clear—perfectly clear—the publication proves the tendency, and the tendency proves the intention. And, Gentlemen, I hope, that by your verdict you will put a step stop to such publications. My learned friend cast out some remarks on the Attorney General's interference in this business, and said, that thereby the defendant had been deprived of the benefit of a Grand Jury. In reply to which I will observe, that it is the duty of the Kings Attorney-General to guard the country against the consequences of such publications as the libel in question: and that, if the manner matter had been brought before the Grand Inquest of the county, the defendant would have stood in a far worse situation than he does at present; for he would then have had the opinion of a Grand Jury against him—to have prepossessed the court against his interest; whereas in the present case he has nothing but the honest opinions of you Gentlemen to dread; and I hope and trust, that such will be your verdict, as to convince him and the country at large, of the evil tendency of his conduct.

The Learned Judge now addressed the Jury; and in attempting to give a brief statement of what fell from his Lordship on this occasion, we are free to acknowledge, that our difficulty, in the reporting this trial, most materially increases; for, in the first place, were we to give the address as actually delivered, we should very much doubt that any man, who was not in Court at the time, would give credit to our relation; and, in the second place, the warmth and rapidity with which his Lordship spoke, rendered it impossible to follow him with that correctness, which alone would have enabled us to give his speech with precision.

His Lordship began by recapitulating the nature of the indictment, which he divided into two allegations, namely, the one relating to the riots, and the other as connected with the assault upon Washington. On the former his Lordship contended, in reply to the objections submitted by Mr. Denman of a want of evidence to connect the name of Ludd with frame-breaking as stated in the indictment, "that the libeller himself had supplied the deficiency, by attaching the name of General Ludd to his infamous publication;" and emphatically asked, whether any Englishman could lay his hand on his heart and say, that such publication was not a libel? His Lordship, the course of his address, said, God forbid, that the day should arrive when public writers should not be allowed to discuss the conduct of public men—even, I wish not myself to be spared, if my conduct should be thought worthy of animadversion: but, continued his Lordship, it is not to be borne for disaffected libellers to disseminate their poison by traducing the army by comparison with the conduct of a set of wretches that outrage all order, and resist obedience to the law. And continued his Lordship, what could be the motive of this libeller in writing the article in question? he knew that the embers of discord were laid at rest, for which it should seem he was sorry; and he writes this very libel to call them into action again, and to give fresh fury to their violence. As to the proper exercise of the Attorney-General's power being called in question on this occasion, his Lordship saw no reason for that at all; as that power was the proper bulwark of the constitution to guard it against libellers and other disaffected people; nor did any man call that power in question, except a few wild theorists, who talked about what they did not understand. His Lordship took occasion to justify the doctrine advanced by Mr. Clarke (and we believe this is the first time it was advanced in a court of justice) that a juryman has a right to bring into the box opinions on the question before him already formed, and which may enable him to give a right verdict in the case.

When the Judge had closed, the court was all anxiety, which was shortly relieved; for after a consultation by the Jury which lasted something less than a minute, Samuel Wright, Esq. the foreman, exclaimed aloud, "We pronounce the prisoner GUILTY." This however Mr. Wright was instructed to amend, and delivered with an audible voice, "We pronounce the defendant GUILTY."


We understand that six or seven of the above Gentlemen are Members of the Nottingham Pitt Club.


Solicitors—Messers. ALLSOPP and WELLS.

Solicitor—Mr. HURST.

Sutton was not sentenced at these Assizes: he subsequently appealed, and later articles will cover this.