Friday, 27 March 2015

27th March 1815: George Coldham writes to the Home Secretary about James Towle's trial

Private and confidential.

My Lord

I have now the honor to address your Lordship on the subject of the Trial of James Towle for Burglary and Framebreaking at the last Assizes at Nottingham.―I had the pleasure of communicating to your Lordship by desire of the Committee to which I am Solicitor his original Commitment, and these Gentlemen deem it important, that the result of the investigation of the circumstances of this Case (however contrary to the expectation which they conceive they might have reasonably formed on the subject) should be officially reported to your Lordship.—The Case had assumed a consequence which originally did not belong to it, with those who were engaged in the local conspiracy from an impression having been given to the popular mind here that it was a Case dependent upon the testimony of a solitary Witness speaking under circumstances calculated to inspire doubt as to the guilt of the Prisoner because it rested solely upon the recollection of one Witness of the Prisoners Voice, whilst we trust every impartial person, it must appear to be a case of strong, various corroborating and convincing circumstantial evidence.

Now that the Prisoner is acquitted it may be permitted us to remark, that with these sentiments, the fear for the criminal or themselves in the part of his accomplices must have been very strong when it could prompt them to attempt in this Land of Liberty and Justice to present the appearance of this Solitary Evidence in Court, by entering his House once again by violence for the purpose of murdering him.—Yet this was actually attempted as your Lordship knows on the 14th October by a party of armed men and would have succeeded had not previous to Information enabled a Guard to be placed in the House and affected the deliverance of Thomas Garton.—Pistols were fired in the house and the intention was avowed in the face of those stationed to defend it, and the leader of this horrid band of Conspirators was killed in the very act of denouncing and endeavouring to carry into effect his murderous purpose.

The Individual killed in the execution of this daring attempt by murder to deliver James Towle from the effect of Thomas Garton's testimony, is the son of the same man (Samuel Bamford) who upon his Trial is brought to effect the same purpose by shewing that James Towle was not at the house at the time sworn to by the Prosecution.—your Lordship is aware that this is a Prosecution altho’ nominally belonging to Thomas Garton conducted by me under the direction of the Secret Committee at Nottingham and that previous to the Trial I was directed to retain Mr. Sergt. Vaughan, Mr. Reader and Mr. John Balguy as Counsel hearin.—Under these circumstances I hope your Lordship can repose implicit confidence in the skill and Judgement of these Gentleman

I can assure your Lordship is that I have to the best of my power since the Case has been submitted to their Judgement about their directions and that previous thereto neither trouble or expence has been regarded either by the Committee or myself in procuring the best testimony in our power of those circumstances which the Counsel at the Consultation were of opinion ought to suffice to substantiate the Prisoners Guilt.—

I enclose for your Lordship a statement of what occurred at the Trial as accurately as I have been enabled to report it from my own recollection the minutes of persons taking Notes and particularly the Notes of all the Counsel employed in the Prosecution, of the observations of the Judge after the evidence had been gone thro’.—

With respect to myself I have been extremely hurt at the result of the Trial and have found it difficult to form an opinion of the reason which acted upon the learned Judge as an inducement to sum up as he did altho’ it is impossible to doubt that his charge to the Jury was the occasion of the Prisoner’s acquittal.—

The Court was crowded with the Partizans of Towle and the moment the Verdict was given there was a shout of Triumph in the Hall. The Jury hesitated for nearly three quarters of an hour and had evidently much controversy with themselves during this time, the Judge was extremely agitated and looked as pale and anxious as the prisoner―When the Verdict was found there was no word of greeting of joy or of honour for the Jury, when the judge went out of Court the joyful Mob surrounded his carriage gave him a cheering shout on his getting into it followed him to his Lodgings and gave him as I understood, a loud and cheering Huzza are on his entering the house.—

I am, My Lord,
your Lordships obliged & obdt. Servant—

Nottingham
27th March 1815

[To: Lord Sidmouth]

27th March 1815: George Coldham writes to John Beckett about the trial of James Towle

Private and Confidential.

Dear Sir

Independent of my letter to Lord Sidmouth and of my formal letter to you, I think it right to inform you confidentially and with a view also to Lord Sidmouth’s further information on this subject by desire of the Secret Committee in consequence of my former personal communication with you respecting this Trial, that previous to the Trial threats had been issued out against the Witnesses for the prosecution, and that they had gone so far as to threaten to shoot Thomas Garton in Court if the Prisoner was found guilty.―I could not bring my mind to believe it was probable that these threats will be executed, but I thought it not prudent utterly to disregard them, and in consequence I applied to the County Magistrates and our Witnesseses had a road made them in and out of Court in Security from the County Hall.—I dispersed Constables in every part of the Court to report the language and demeanour of the people, and I am now sure, if our Witnesses had gone into Court by the Common avenue one half of them would have been forced out of their places by the Crowd and prevented attending one Witness was served so, and I thought as he was not of importance it was more eligible to submit, to the loss of his testimony than to hazard his reporting the state of our Case to our opponents who wanted only to know all our facts to raise up persons to negative them. Grocock was an Accomplice ready to swear anything if his own safety had not been at Stake. This Acquittal is a most lamentable circumstance as it has raised up and given existence to a Conspiracy which I firmly believe the Conviction of the Prisoner would have put an end to for the present if not for ever.—In the mean time I am desired to request his Lordship’s attention to the Situation in which the Secret Committee now stands – the Nottingham Branch of that Committee have, independent of the expences incurred by their Coadjutors in London, incurred an expence of about £600.—The expences of the present Prosecution, I see upon making up my Account in it will amount to about £160 independent of about £40 already expended in supporting Thomas Garton since the attempt to murder him, independent of the further expences he may be to them and independent of a weekly expence of £2:2:0 constantly for a single Agent besides other contingencies on the same Account to a considerable extent.—Under the circumstances the Committee have in the first instance determined to apply to the Clerk of Assize for an allowance of their expence as a common Prosecution for Felony under which they will receive some part at least of their Expence, and I shall then be desired to apply for the remainder to Sir Nathaniel Conant in consequence of what was confidentially understood between us when I was in London in December last.—In the mean time Thomas Garton's life is not safe here, he is a man of very excellent Character, can read and write, is very capable of any Employment which requires no other Talents than those of Punctuality, Integrity Order and Attention and placed as they are with referrence to him the Secret Committee have desired me to state you, but they mean to apply to Lord Sidmouth unless you see any reasons to prevent it, to obtain for him a situation as one of the Messengers or Porters at some one of the Public Offices.—He has served his Majesty either 5 or 7 Campaigns in the Militia and is a most loyal as well as a courageous and tried man in whom the most complete confidence can be placed, at present he is necessarily wholly dependent upon the Committee his business having been ruined by the Prosecution.—I should however in the mean time wish to know what would be the value of such a situation as he is a married man with one or two Children, and if he could be placed where he could maintain himself, some small Shop might enable his wife to assist rather than the dilapidate the resources for the support of her family.

I will entreat an early and will hope for a favorable answer to this request.—

I am
Dear Sir
your’s sincerely & obediently and respectfully
Geo Coldham

Nottingham
27 March 1815

[To: John Beckett]

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

25th March 1815: Sunderland Magistrates update the Home Secretary about the recent riots

My Lord

The Magistrates of this Town & district apprised your Lordship on the 21st Instant of the Riot, which had taken place on the preceding Evening. The Revd Mr. Boundling and I were sent for on the following day, and have joined the other magistrates but the spirit of insubordination has not so far subsided as yet, as to admit with safety the setting about the reconstruction of the Staith Machinery and wooden bridge which crosses a deep ravine adjacent to the River, a most serious, and daily loss to Nesham & Co whose Colliery is thus cut off from the River, whilst the contingent [expenses] at the Engines, & pits continues. It seems proper that your Lordship should be informed that this Colliery has been brought down to near the mouth of the river by a rail way for which great way leaves are paid by the Co. and that Ships receive the whole or a considerable part of their cargoes from spouts, without the intervention of Keels or Casters (i.e.) Coal heavers.—There are several on the Tyne, which have existed some years: but this from its vicinity to [Sunderland] and the apprehension that other Coal-owners would adopt the same machinery has occasioned great jealousy on the part of the Keelmen & Casters; & unless they are subdued in this first instance, the Evil will proceed probably to the Tyne; & may be carried from the combustible nature of the Staiths, spouts &c to an alarming length.—Your Lordship should be informed that, besides the mischief to the Staiths &c on Monday, Mr. Robinson and this Son, and Mr Biss a brother in Law, & Partner, having attempted personally to interfere, were beaten, & wounded with bricks & other missiles, and that threatening letters have been sent, of which copies are enclosed; by which the Rioters have endeavoured to intimidate the [company] from restoring their works, & the magistrates from doing their duty.—Messrs Nehsam, & Robinson as Partners, & Dr. Gray, as Lessors of way leave are interested, & therefore, particularly marked by the Rioters.—We have hopes that the Keelmen may go to work to day: altho’ they still shelter their ringleaders, against some of whom we have issued warrants: but we find great difficulty in procuring informations, as the majority of those concerned in the Trade are afraid of rendering themselves conspicuous; and some of them, as rivals in the Trade, do not perhaps see the evil, which has befallen Nesham & Co in its proper light.—If your Lordship should think it proper to offer recommend it to Government to offer a reward on the subject of the threatening letters; or for discovery of the ringleaders it might add to the weight of the offer of Reward from the [company] and [Gentlemen] in this Town, who have offered each 100 [Guineas] for discovery of the ringleaders on conviction—

Your Lordship will perceive that we concur with the opinion contained in the letter of the 21st respecting the military force.—

Any Communication with which your Lordship may honour the Magistrates may be addressed to their Chairman here.

We have [etc]

R. Burdon
R: H: Brandling
Robt Gray
J Hampson
John Davison
G Stephenson
James Jackson

Sunderland 25th March
1815

[To] The
Lord Visct
Sidmouth
&c &c

P.S. Dr Gray requests that in any publication of the Threatening letter the names may not be published, the effect of which would be to connect them permanently with the object of Jealousy

R. Burdon

Burdon also enclosed copies of threatening letters received, as follows:

It is to be a expected the interested Part of the people in Sunderland Will have more Respect to there own personal safety [illegible] that of there property than [we] very violent measures to oppose The oppressed part of the People Which have been driven into Riot by Oppression But should you think fit to mark out A few individuals the rest will arise to there rescue your Own Safety [Cries] Alone

For Silence

[To] Mr Robinson

Sir

I think proper to inform you of the Ringleders intention that is if the Hors is cald on to thro them with a Chene Cable and take their Harnes from them and then Reve the Chene thro the Dors of and Winders of the Tones Hal and pul it down the Ringleders is Thos Boys Houlden Wardle Waywayman and Daron the pitman Jhon Davison

To tell my name will be death

Mr Robinson
Justis of Pece
Sunderland

Monday, 23 March 2015

23rd March 1815: Threatening letter from 'a Keelman' at Sunderland

1815

March 23

Revd Sir

We the Kellmen humbly Request that you will speak in our Behalf as we are all from one Common Parent and the poor you have always with you and to all apearnce if the waggonways come down our Famleys and the Town at large will be starved—

We therefore inform you that if the men are Liberated and a Stope are put to aney more ways comming down to Sunderland we will go peacebly to work if not the most resolute have sworn they will shute George Robinson and all those we are concerned in if and also that if Dr. Grey promises them to carrey the way a Cross the Gill the will do the same to to him likewise, we hope there for you will represent this to thos Gentlemen

yours a Keelman

NB. We trust you will keep your self from arme

Saturday, 21 March 2015

21st March 1815: George Coldham informs the Home Office of the result of James Towle's trial

Private & confidential

Nottingham 21st March 1815

Dear Sir,

I am still engaged in the hurry of the Business of the Assizes altho’ the Judge leaves Town this Morning & altho’ I have not time to enter into so full a Detail as I intend to submit to Lord Sidmouth of the Event of the Trial of James Towle I could not think right to let a Post escape without a short Notification to you for less & your Information of the unfortunate result.

The Counsel engaged for the Crown by the Direction of the Secret Committee were Mr Serjt Vaughan Mr Reader & Mr John Balguy & they Declare to me that that it has scarcely fallen within their Practice to see a more completely falsified Case of Circumstantial Evidence. You know the Evidence of Thomas Garton who spoke to the Voice of the Prisoner both previous to entering the House & to be after he had entered it calling for Lights when the House was forced & the Framebreakers on Sunday Night the 4th of September We proved that on Saturday Night the third he enquired of one of Garton's Men if he did not live with Garton & if there had not been abated & Declared over & over again that his Frames should be broken. We proved that upon the Sunday Night of the Frames being broken tho he Jas Towle borrowed an Iron Bar for the purpose & in the [Teeth] of a Statement from the Lender that he would be hanged & requesting to Desire saying "he would Damned if he did not reinforce." All this was met by an Attempt to raise up an Alibi without in any respect accomplishing it & that too by the evidence of Samuel Bamford the father of the Man who was killed in the act of attempting to murder Thomas Garton

In the face of this Evidence the Judge went at length in support of the Prisoner as some of the Counsel who know him but really imagine from the [Singular] of Fear there being a great Crowd in the Hall. Be that as it may he contrived to shift the responsibility of the Case upon the Jury in the most formidable manner & took advantage of every point that could have a Tendency to shake the Testimony for the Prosecution in such a manner that altho’ at the Core of the Prisoners Defence there was no one of the audience who Doubted the result there was no one at the End of the Judge’s Summing up who did not fear & almost expect his Acquittal. Upon the whole I have [nothing] to blame in myself & as to the Witnesses particularly Thos Garton it has scarcely even occurred to me to see a Man give his Testimony in a manner so honourable to himself or so calculated to inspire the most unbounded Confidence in his Accuracy. I will write more fully in a Post or two to Lord Sidmouth.

I am Dear Sir
Yours very truly
George Coldham

[To John Beckett]

21st March 1815: The trial of James Towle, for framebreaking, at Nottingham Lent Assizes

On Tuesday 21st March 1815, perhaps the most notorious Luddite in the Midlands - James Towle - took his trial at Nottingham Lent Assizes, charged with burglary and framebreaking. The offence had taken place the previous September, and Towle's arrest had led to a chain of events which included the attempt on the life of the prosecutor, Thomas Garton, and the actual death of a Luddite, Samuel Bamford, as well as a bystander, William Kilby, several weeks later.

The Judge in this trial, Sir John Bayley, had presided over the trials of the Nottinghamshire Luddites tried 3 years before at the Lent 1812 Assizes, where his sentencing had been considered lenient by many in the establishment.

The following account of the trial is from the Nottingham Review of 24th March 1815. Interesting details seem to have been omitted, but were included in an account from the Derby Mercury of 30th March, which follows:
James Towle of Basford, stood indicted for burglariously entering the dwelling house of Thomas Garton, of the said village on the 5th of September, and stealing thereout a quantity of metal (pewter,) three starbrasses, a number of needles, and three pair of stockings and an odd one. He stood further indicted for entering the said house, and feloniously breaking six stocking frames, the consent of the owners thereof not having been previously given.

Thomas Garton deposed, that he fastened his doors by ten o'clock, on the night named in the indictment, when himself and wife went to bed—that, between one and two o'clock he was disturbed by a number of persons knocking at the street door, when he got up and asked who was there, and was answered by James Towle, whom he had known seven years, "it is Ned,"—that the door then flew open, and a number of men rushed up stairs, and the same voice which had answered "Ned" called twice for lights, while the person so calling stood on the stairs, whom he was confident was Towle—that the greater part of them proceeded into the work shop, where they continued half an hour breaking frames, while a person stood on the stairs calling out, at intervals, "Ned do your duty, all’s well." Witness stated further, that he got while the men were in the premises—that three men who worked with him, lay in a room adjoining to his bed room—that as soon as the frame-breakers were gone he went to the house of Hemsley Dunn, constable of New Basford, who went with him to Towle’s house with a view to apprehend him, under a conviction on his part, that he, Towle, was one of the depredators; but, when they got there, Dunn refused to break into Towle’s house.—Witness then obtained the assistance of John Seymour, constable of Old Basford, who searched prisoner’s house, but did not find him there; they then, from information received, supposed Towle might be at Papplewick, about four miles off, whither they went, but did not find the object of their pursuit. They then went to the house of John Bamford of Old Basford, where they took prisoner into custody, about six o'clock in the morning. On his cross-examination, witness stated, that he did not know that Towle worked at Bamford’s, though he lived within an hundred yards of him—that he did not know the number of his children, nor that such children were ill at the time of the measles—and that he never said to Reuben Kilder, John Torr, or Andrew Pearson, that if he had any more frames broken within five years, he would make Towle suffer for it, or words to that effect. Of this he was quite sure, and would swear it.

John Seymour deposed to the above, as far as his name was connected with the circumstance; and further stated, that as he passed by Bamford's house on his way to New Basford, about three in the morning, he saw a light and a man therein. He further deposed, that when he had conducted Towle to Nottingham, who surrendered and came with him without opposition, he told witness he wished to speak with him in Private—that, when thus alone, prisoner asked him if he had found a sword and a chisel at his house, to which he answered "yes," though he knew he had not found such implements—that prisoner then said "don't say any thing about them"—that he afterwards searched Towle’s house, and found a chisel, but no sword; and that he went to Garton's house, and found the chisel to fit the indent in his door, which had been made in the act of forcing it open. He endeavoured to state, that he had found the same indent upon several other doors near to Garton’s, but the Judge and Counsel refused to hear him. On his cross-examination he admitted, that prisoner’s children were ill at the time.

Edward Hawke worked with Garton at the time his frames were broken—saw prisoner the previous evening at the Three Crowns, in Parliament-street, Nottingham, when prisoner said to him, "don't you work with Garton?"—A. Yes. "Then I suppose you receive tup mutton for your work!"—A, "I have no occasion to receive mutton, if I don't like it—I receive the same as other folks."—"Are you not abated in your price?"—A. "Yes, we are abated."—"Then your frame shall be broke." Witness stated this conversation to have taken place in an open kitchen, and before an indiscriminate company; and further, that prisoner asked him where his frame stood, and, after having described the place, prisoner said to him, "I know where it stands—it is a 35 gauge." Hawke said he communicated the substance of this conversation to Garton the next day. On his cross-examination he denied having received any subsistence money from Garton since he left him—stated he had worked at Mansfield; and that he had been in the house of correction for personal safety.

John Sutton said, he worked with Growcock, a smith, at Basford, at the time Gaton’s frames were broke—that he went to bed, in Growcock’s house, at nine o'clock that night, it being Sunday—that Towle came in half an hour, and asked his master to lend him an iron crow—that his master replied, "Towle, if you don't leave off frame-breaking you’ll be taken and hanged;" that Towle said, "I'll be damned if I don't reinforce,"—that Growcock said he would not lend the crow, for fear it should be left, and be noticed; but he would lend him a bar. Witness, in his cross-examination, admitted that he was in bed all the time and this conversation took place—that they were out of doors; that he did not see Towle on the occasion; and that he was not much acquainted with him, yet he would swear to his voice. The Judge remarked, on summing up this part of the evidence, that it was singular that Growcock had not been brought into Court, by one or both of the parties.

On the part of the prisoner following witnesses were called, to wit:—

John Bamford, a framework-knitter, of Old Basford, stated that Towle set his frame in his shop—that at the time named in the indictment, Towle had an order of broad shammies to make in a hurry, the completion of which would occupy all his time and attention—that his children were ill of the measles, which very much broke his rest, which, if not guarded against, might, very possibly, prevent his completion of the order, and disappoint his employer, which would have been an improvident circumstance, considering the critical state of the trade at that time. Witness went on to state, that a person of the name of Lowe, worked and lodged with him at the time, whose family resided in Nottingham, that in consequence thereof his bed was generally unoccupied on Saturday nights, Sunday nights, and Monday nights—that he understood Lowe had [persuaded] Towle to sleep in his bed, while his children were so ill, to which he, witness, gave his consent—the Towle came accordingly on the Sunday night, named in the indictment, and went to bed about half-past ten, saying he must rise early in the morning, on account of his order—that he locked the door, and himself and wife went to bed before eleven—that they slept in a small parlour, the door of which is near the house door, and also near the foot of the stairs—that having left the key in the door, contrary to his usual custom, his wife got up and fetched it into the parlour—that Towle rose at three in the morning to go to work—and that he, witness, struck, and gave him a light, which accounted for the light and man being seen in witness’s house by the Constable Seymore, as he was going to the assistance of Garton. From the description which witness gave of the interior and situation of the house, he endeavoured to make it manifest, that no one could get out, or come in, in the night, without his knowledge; and he believed on his oath, the Towle had not been out during the night.

Reuben Kilder worked and lodged with Garton at the time the frames were broken, and slept in a room near to Mr Garton’s—heard the frame-breakers doing the mischief—heard one of them say, "All’ well, Ned do your duty:" but did not hear Garton ask, "Who’s there;" nor did he hear any one answer, "Ned." Witness said, that Garton said to him, a short time before last Nottingham races, "If ever I have any more frames broke in my shop, I will make James Towle suffer for it!" This he said was spoken in the presence of John Torr and Mrs. Garton, the latter of whom swore positively to the contrary.

John Torr was next sworn, and he stated that Towle went with him some time ago to take a frame of Garton, on which account the latter said to him shortly after, "You are to blame for bringing Towle with you, for he is a frame-breaker." And in a conversation about Christmas, 1813, Garton said, "If I have any more frames broken within five years, I will have him taken up." Witness stated that Reuben Kilder was not present when any conversation of this nature took place with Garton.

Andrew Pearson had worked with Garton, who said to him one day as prisoner was passing by in their presence, "Do you know Towle? That's him: and, if I have any more frames broken, I will have him taken up."

On the flat contradiction given by Torr to part of Kinder’s testimony, the Judge remarked in his summing up, that though a person might remember the import of any particular conversation, it did not follow that he must always be correct as to the persons who were present; a circumstance which was frequently proved to most men of observation; and, if confidence could be placed in the testimony of the last three witnesses, it would most materially affect that of Garton's.

Mr Mason, warehouseman to Towle’s employer, was now called to prove that he had the particular order of broad shammies at the time previously named; but the Judge thought his testimony unnecessary.

Sarah Saxon, a neighbour to Towle, proved that his three children were ill of the measles at the time named in the indictment; and that there was but one bed for the whole family.

John Lowe, named in Bamford's evidence, proved Towle’s having applied to him for permission to sleep in his bed, on account of his work and his being disturbed so in the night.

Here the evidence closed; and it may be necessary, for the information of many of our readers, to state the following, as a few of the Judge's remarks in his summing up, in addition to what we have necessarily given in detailing the evidence. His Lordship said, that there was no evidence to fix the guilt upon the prisoner, but the testimonies of Garton and Sutton, and that was wholly upon swearing to his voice, a species of testimony always to be received with extreme caution and doubt; except the evidence of Hawke, which, if true, prove the prisoner to be one of the most indiscreet men on earth, if he was really serious in what he said; and the circumstance of the chisel, which Towle might have lent the frame-breakers, which, if true, did not affix the actual guilt upon him, because he was not charged as being accessary to the perpetration of the crime, but as a positive committer of it. Had this chisel been the bar named by Sutton, it would have been a strong circumstance in proof of his guilt. Upon the whole, said his Lordship, if the Jury are of opinion that Garton and Sutton's testimonies are to be depended upon, respecting their swearing to the prisoner's voice, in opposition to the opposing witnesses, they will then find the prisoner guilty; but, if a doubt remain their minds, they ought to give the benefit of that doubt the prisoner, and acquit him.

The Jury consulted about half an hour, and gave a verdict of Not Guilty.

Counsel for the Prosecution, Mr. Serjeant Vaughan and Mr. Reader—Attorneys, Messrs Coldham and Enfield, Nottingham. Counsel for the Prisoner, Mr. Serjeant Copley and Mr. Denman—Attorney, Mr. Henry Wilkinson, Nottingham.
In their more brief coverage of the trial, the Derby Mercury of 30th March mentioned that the trial lasted 4 hours, and the following passage provides details that the Nottingham Review seemed to have omitted:
[When the Jury gave the verdict] The words were scarcely uttered, when an instantaneous shout was set up by a crowd pressing round the outer doors of the Court, anxious to hear the result. The Judge, in conclusion, admonished the prisoner against the continuance of practices, which had that day placed his life in such imminent peril; and assured him, that however individuals, might, for a time, elude the just vengeance of the law, it would eventually be found strong enough to punish and crash all violaters and disturbers of the public peace.—On the Court breaking up, the crowd out of doors testified their satisfaction at the verdict by repeatedly cheering the Judge, Counsel, &c.

21st March 1815: Thomas Thompson of Sunderland writes to the Home Office about the riots

My dear Sir

We were last night thrown into the greatest states of alarm, the Keelmen casters & others working in the wear assembled in a large Body and about 4 o Clock in the Afternoon placed the Keels a little above the Bridge in such a situatn as to completely impede the navigation of the River, after this, they proceeded to pull down the Arch thrown across the Rector’s Gill by messrs Nesham [Goodchild] & Co: for bringing the Newcastle Coals to the Staiths for Shipment into the Vessels, and after they had finished this work of destruction they set fire to this Staith Depot, the Conflagration was dreadful and had it not been a mild night I dont know where the mischief might have ended the damage as it is well be about Six thousand pounds.—Robinson, & Biss, went while the mob was at work to remonstrate, but they were thrown down & much beaten.—We had no military here but are an express about six in the [evening] was sent to Newcastle and between one & two o Clock this [morning] a troop of Horse arrived, and every thing is again tranquil. The Respectable Inhabitants had been sworn in Constable and hand Bills are circulated for any Rewards for detection of the Ringleaders.

We had in my opinion a foolish [meeting] the other day to petition against the corn Bill which only [means] to inflame the minds of the lower orders of society, but and in some measure to this do I ascribe the late Unfortunate [business]; but the immediate object these poor deluded men who have done this mischief had in view was to destroy the works of the proprietors of the Newbottle Colliery, in order to prevent coals being [illegible] down by the waggon way which dispenses with their services as Keelmen.—A Letter has been written to my Lord Sidmouth by the magistrates soliciting military Aid to prevent a repetition of mischief a copy of which Letter I am requested by the magistrates and Inhabitants to send you and which I herewith enclose, and I am also desired to solicit your interference with his Lordship in arguing the necessity of some military constantly to be stationed here.—Our Barracks are very commodious & fit for the Reception of soldiers, and I am well persuaded unless we have military constantly here [always] again look for scenes similar to those we had the last night, may I therefore solicit you to forward the Views of the Gentleman of the Town by representing our [obscured] to Visct Sidmouth. I am my dear Sir

Your very obedt & faithfl St

Thos Thompson

Bishopwearmouth
21 March 1815

21st March 1815: Sunderland magistrates request troops to quell riots

Sunderland 21st March 1815.

My Lord

We the undersigned Magistrates acting for this Town and district feel it our duty to inform your Lordship, that a very serious Riot took place here last Night, conducted principally by the Keelmen and Casters on the River who directed their mischief against the Staith and other Works (part of which they destroyed by Fire) belonging to Jno Douthwaite Nesham Esqr &c Coal owners and effected the destruction of a Bridge over which Coals pass, which, we are assured, cannot be repaired but at several Thousands of Pounds Expence.

As there is no military of any description here, application was made to Sir Thomas Bradford at Newcastle who immediately sent a Troop of Horse, now here. As the Men still continue to assemble and express threats of serious and alarming Nature, the apprehension of the Inhabitants of the Town is considerably excited, and we the Magistrates feel no hesitation in stating that it is our deliberate and decided Opinion, that no effectual Security can be given to the Town and Neighbourhood, considering the great population, but by the immediate and permanent Residence of some military force in the Barracks.

We have [etc]

Robt Gray
John Davison
Jno D: Nesham
G Robinson
G Stephenson
James Jackson

Friday, 20 March 2015

20th March 1815: Keelman & Casters at Bishopwearmouth destroy new Colliery equipment

The Durham County Advertiser of 25th March 1815 carried news of a riot by Keelmen and Casters at Bishopwearmouth on Monday 21st March 1815, and describing events of the following days:

RIOT AT SUNDERLAND.—It is with feelings of the most poignant regret that we announce to our readers a riot of an alarming and disgraceful nature, which took place near Sunderland on Monday last. About 4 o'clock in the afternoon of that day, a party of keelmen, estimated a little short of one thousand, embarked in their keels and set sail of the River Wear, towards the inclined plane lately erected by the proprietors of Newbottle colliery, for the conveyance of their coals to the spouts at which vessels lay to receive them. Having arrived at this spot, the party landed, and, as they had previously agreed, immediately commenced the work of destruction. With the assistance of axes, saws, &c.they demolished in a few hours the work which had required months to bring it to perfection. The magistrates, who merit every praise for their alertness and decision, did every thing in their power to put a stop to the unlawful proceedings; but the keelmen, in defiance of the laws of their country, would not be interrupted. After destroying the inclined plane, they set fire to the machinery, and about 7 o'clock, having completed their diabolical purpose, they dispersed, shouting in the most disgraceful manner as they passed through the streets. A young man, called Bennett, a carpenter, about 18 years of age, who had undertaken to set fire to the building in which the machinery was contained, by attaching a burning tar barrel to the roof, fell whilst in the act, and was so severely bruised he died the next morning, very fortunately for himself; for had he survived, he must doubtless have suffered a disgraceful and ignominious death, as an atonement to the offended laws of his country. A troop of cavalry, which arrived from Newcastle about midnight on the day of the riot, and another troop on Thursday, have since succeeded in maintaining order. On Tuesday night, a keelmen, of the name of Davison, having assaulted the patrole, was taken into custody, and on Wednesday was committed to Durham gaol, (he is believed to be one of the ringleaders,) since which the rioters have moored their craft in such a manner, as to completely impede the navigation of the river, and their threatenings are dreadful; another man, named Clarke, has been apprehended; the police, with the soldiery are in quest of some more.—These riotous proceedings appear to have originated in a report that more waggon ways were about to be formed, similar to that which has been destroyed. These it was supposed must necessarily do away the use of keels, and therefore the mob took the law into their own hands, and committed the outrage we have repeated. We should recommend these deluded men to return to their duty, for they may rest assured, they will gain nothing by a perseverance in their ill-judged conduct, which will only subject them to the severest punishment, and the loss of friends.—Honest industry will always find employment, and if one branch fails, there are plenty others to resort to.

20th March 1815: Charles Sutton's prosecution at Nottingham Assizes is postponed

On the morning of Monday 20th March 1815 Charles Sutton, the owner of the Nottingham Review, faced a trial at Nottingham Lent Assizes for the publication of a political libel. An editorial in the 24th March edition of the paper recounted what happened that morning:

THE KING versus SUTTON.

It is impossible for the Proprietor of the Review to express his grateful feelings, excited by the anxiety which has been displayed among every class of his Fellow Townsmen and Neighbours, on the subject of the prosecution instituted against him, for having exercised a privilege long enjoyed, and still maintained, by Englishmen; that of commenting upon the measures of national policy, which give scope to a difference of sentiment, and which sometimes unavoidably excite a degree of severity from an independent mind. For though the alleged libel in question, was contained in a letter addressed to the Editor, the Proprietor is not less liable on that account.

The Cause was expected to have been tried on Monday Morning, and, with this expectation, Mr. SUTTON attended with his Counsel and Solicitor. On calling over the names of the twenty-four Gentlemen who had been summoned as Special Jurors, only three appeared! and the Counsel for the Crown refused to pray a Tales out of a most respectable Common Jury, although they had a Special Licence from the Attorney-General for that purpose: it therefore stands over, as a matter of course, to a future day.

As we have before pledged ourselves, so we renew that pledge, that should any thing further transpire on this business, which can be at all interesting to our readers, we shall not fail to give the earliest intelligence thereof. This we here beg leave to state, that we have sacrificed no dignity, no privilege which it is the boast of Englishmen to enjoy, no political sentiment; nor shall we ever do this for any earthly consideration whatever.

It may be necessary to add, that this extraordinary prosecution was provoked by the urgent application of a few individuals, chiefly of Nottingham; and while we cannot express the gratitude we feel towards our friends, we will not indulge any feelings of malevolence towards our enemies; we know most of them, and we shall leave them to the enjoyment of their own reflections. We call to mind the words of a great man (Lord Bacon), "By taking revenge, and man is even with his enemies; but in passing over it, he is superior."

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

17th March 1815: Charles Sutton receives notice of his trial for political libel

The Friday 17th March edition of the Nottingham Review contained the following editorial, ahead of the shortly forthcoming Lent Assizes:

We beg leave to inform our numerous and anxiously inquiring friends, that the Proprietor of the Review has received notice of Trial, which is expected will take place before a Special Jury early in the next week, but on what day we have no knowledge. We informed our readers a few weeks ago, an application had been made for a Rule to try the Cause in the County, and that Rule has been granted. We forbear making any reflections. We shall give a faithful Report of the Trial in the Review.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

12th March 1815: Anonymous threatening letter sent to Sir Joseph Radcliffe

Sir Joseph Ratclitf

March the 12

1815

Ludding is going to Start here again there has been A meetting of croppers at my house but I heard What the Were on and I would not have them in my House The Way the are for Doing is to asemble in Private Houses and to Start out at a Certain Hour Ludders this time Will Die to a man the Determined to have Blood for Blood the Swear that the Will Shoot thee first old Bellsybub the Call thee and then Shoot the Rest of the Devils after Tom Atkinson Joe Atkinson Bradly mill Cartwright Frank Vickerman Taylor Hill Joe Hirst Marsh and every other Devil that loves Machinerry the Swear the both Shoot and Burn

But to Prevent all Disturbances order the Cavaldry or horse Soldiers to Padrole the Streets and order all lights to Be put out Before tin a Clock other ways thee have no Peace Depend upon much Blood Shed If Proper Steps be not observed James Rourk or Jemy the Gabler is their Principle man He Calls Himself Genral Lud Sir Joseph Ratcliff If thee Do not Send this James Rourk out of this Country the Will be Destruction and Blood Shed He Swears he Will Shoot thee Sir Joseph this James Rourk has been a Delegate to Leeds and all over the Country he lives Marthas Walkers / ould upperhead Row near Joshua Lockets Samuel Brook Croper Deighton near Mr Whitakers those ar Principal men of the Ludders do but Send those off all the others Will be quite

Sunday, 8 March 2015

8th March 1815: Stockport Magistrates write a reference for Captain Francis Raynes

In his continuing efforts to obtain compensation from government, Francis Raynes had now enlisted the Stockport Magistrates to provide a reference which he planned to use in due course:

SIR,

Stockport, 8th March, 1815.

We the undersigned magistrates, acting for the division of Stockport, in the county of Chester, having been desired to express our opinion of your services towards the restoration of the public tranquillity, during the disturbances which prevailed in this and the adjoining districts, for a great part of the year 1812, feel great satisfaction in addressing to you this testimonial of the high sense we entertain of your individual services at that alarming crisis. Stationed in a part of the country there, more particularly exposed to danger, you evinced uncommon prudence and alacrity in the discharge of an arduous duty; and, not content with merely affording protection to the district confided to your care, you, with a zeal highly honorable to you, endeavoured to break into that illegal confederacy, unto which a great part of the lower class in that neighbourhood were then associated. Your exertions were successful; and you were the means of bringing to justice, many who would otherwise have escaped their merited punishment.—For these important services, and for your earnest co-operation with the civil authorities, in the suppression of those tumults, and the preservation of the public peace, we beg to convey to you our best thanks, with confident hope and recommendation, that they may speedily receive the consideration of His Majesty’s Government.

Your obedient humble Servants,

J. PHILLIPS.
THOS. WM. TATTON.
H. D. BROUGHTON.
ROBERT HARRISON.

[To] Francis Raynes, Esq. &c. &c.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

7th March 1815: Francis Raynes senses time is running out for his 'reward'

Almost three years after the height of the Luddite disturbances, Francis Raynes was still doggedly pursuing compensation from government for his efforts during that time. A long passage from his book about his recent efforts is followed by a letter from his former commanding officer to him:

Having seen every one who had been useful during the disturbances, receive an acknowledgment for their services, I determined, on being in London in 1814 and 1815, to endeavour to obtain something satisfactory or definitive on the subject of my own; being sensible past exertions are soon worn out of mind, when a continuation or a renewal of them is not required. I frequently saw General Acland, who expressed much surprise and regret, that I should have been so long passed over. I likewise waited upon the Duke of Montrose; but received little encouragement from him, to hope for the accomplishment of my purpose. I mentioned to his Grace I was desirous of an audience of Lord Sidmouth, which, I was told, might be obtained by writing a note requesting that favour. I did so, and, in the course of a few days, saw Lord Sidmouth. On making known the object of my visit, his Lordship asked me if I had thought of any thing. I mentioned the office of a Commissioner of the Lottery; but was shortly answered I could not have that. I did not presume to mention any thing else; but his Lordship said that if I had turned my views to the army, I might have been provided for long ago, as the rest were. Never supposing his Lordship could possibly think of offering me an Ensigncy, I replied I had left the army many years. Hurt and astonished at this observation, I was incapable of saying more; but his Lordship added, I had better direct my attention to Scotland, as things were more easily obtained there. On my departure, his Lordship told me, if I heard of any thing likely to suit me, I might apply direct to him.

The next day, I waited upon the Duke of Montrose, and acquainted him with what had passed with Lord Sidmouth.

The hint I had received of turning my views to Scotland, was repelled by the Duke, observing there were many applications, and but few appointments there; besides, his Grace added, “you are not a Scotch-man!” I was now asked by the Duke, who were the member for the county in which I resided, and if I knew them. Unfortunately I was compelled to say I had no interest there. I mention this, and other conversations, with diffidence, as I have since been taught my sense of hearing is not to be trusted; but to doubt the circumstance of the Red Book being produced, to find the members’ names, would be to call in question that of sight too.

Thinking Lord Sidmouth was not fully acquainted with the duty I was asking a remuneration for, by the advice of some of my friends, I drew up a memorial of services, which was forwarded by the Duke of Montrose, to the Secretary of State; and afterwards obtained the testimony of the magistrates acting for the division of Stockport, which, with my original instructions, and several letters, I sent to Lord Sidmouth.

Grosvenor-Square, March 7th, 1815.

SIR,

I have sent your memorial to Lord Sidmouth, and have seen his Lordship since, who expressed his anxious wish that something should be done: but there appears to me great difficulty.

With esteem, I remain, Sir,

Your’s, &c.

[To] Capt. Raynes

MONTROSE.

Friday, 6 March 2015

6th March 1815: The Corn Bill debate in the House of Commons takes place against a backdrop of riots in Westminster

Amidst scenes of riot at the Palace of Westminster, in opposition to the proposed Corn Bill, Members of Parliament interrupted a debate on Monday 6th March 1815 to recount the disorder taking place outside, as well as relate their experiences in being jostled and subject to violence, and to seek explanations for the Palace and other Police officials (two of whom are directly related to the history of Luddism):

Mr. Baring  was proceeding to animadvert on the observations of Mr. Western, when

Mr. Lambton rose, and stated, that on coming to the House in the discharge of his duty, he saw the avenues to it surrounded by the military force, which appeared to him so contrary to the principles of the constitution, that he should move that the House do immediately adjourn.

Lord Castlereagh said, that if the hon. gentleman had bestowed a little more consideration upon his motion, he would have been aware that it was not in a committee that it ought to be brought forward. The hon. gentleman should also have taken the pains of informing himself, whether this military force which he had seen was or was not under the command of a civil magistrate. [Hear, hear!] He might have also informed himself what was the cause of the civil magistrate having called in the aid of the military, and whether it was not in consequence of the House being surrounded by a numerous and tumultuous mob, who had been brought into the neighbourhood of the House of Commons for the purpose of menacing the members of that House. If this was the true state of the case, that magistrate had done his duty who had brought the military into the neighbourhood of the House. He hoped that the hon. gentleman would feel that it was highly proper to defend the civil power of the country; and what higher duty had that civil power to perform, than to defend the Parliament of the country from the menaces of a mob? If the members of that House were to be intimidated in the discharge of their public duties by the clamour and menaces of a mob, they would soon cease to be the representatives of the people, and would be degenerated and degraded to the condition of being themselves a part of that mob. He hoped, before the hon. member gave the countenance of his name to a complaint; against the employment of the military, that he would be satisfied they had been called out in an unconstitutional manner, and not for the due support of the civil power, and the protection of the independence of Parliament.

Mr. Lambton said, in reply to the noble lord, that in coming to perform his duty in the House, he found himself menaced by a military force, and considering this highly unconstitutional, he thought some explanation was due to Parliament.

Lord Castlereagh said, that the force was called out in aid of the civil magistrate, and not with a view to menace the members, of arliament.

Mr. W. Fitzgerald stated, that when he came down to attend his duty in the House, he saw no military force, but he saw a most tumultuous mob, by whom the members were collared and dragged about. They were challenged to tell their names, and which way they had voted on the former stages of the bill, and how they meant to vote this night. Seeing an hon. friend of his (Mr. Croker) very rudely treated, and with difficulty rescued from this mob, he deemed it his duty to inform the Speaker, as the first magistrate in that House. It was probably in consequence of this information, that a military force was brought into the neighbourhood of the House—not to overawe its proceedings, but to defend its members from violence. He was sorry that the hon. gentleman had not come down to the House a few hours sooner; as in that case, he would have been able to have formed a better judgment of the cause of the military being brought into that neighbourhood.

Mr. Whitbread was not at all surprised that his hon. friend, on discovering a military force in the neighbourhood of the House, should have taken the earliest opportunity of stating that fact in his place; and if he had done so with warmth, he considered that warmth as venial, inasmuch as he was ignorant of the manner in which they had come there. He concurred with the noble lord and the right hon. gentleman, that if a tumultuous mob had insulted the members of that House on their approach to it, and the civil power was incompetent to repel those insults, it was proper the aid of the military should be called in. Bat he thought it was due to the dignity of the House to be informed what had taken place, to induce the Speaker to issue the mandate to which allusion had been made. With this view of the case, he thought the best course to be pursued would be for the chairman to report progress, and ask leave to sit again. The Speaker would then have an opportunity of taking the chair, and explaining, no doubt to the satisfaction of the Mouse, how it was that the military had been called in. The hon. gentleman concluded by moving,—That the chairman report progress, and ask leave to sit again.

Lord Castlereagh concurred in the propriety of this suggestion, and said it would certainly be proper for the House to be informed of the facts which had occurred, from due authority.

The question was then put and carried, and the Speaker took the chair.

Mr. Lambton then rose and complained to the House, that, in his way to the House this evening, he had been nearly rode over by a squadron of horse, who had formed themselves in front of the door of the House, and that the avenues thereto were beset by a military force; and that he thought it his duty to make this complaint, as he conceived it to be a breach of the constitution, and of the privileges of the House, that the military power should be in a situation to overawe their deliberations.

Mr. Croker said, that in coming to the House his carriage was surrounded by a tumultuous mob, who demanded his name, and requested to know how he proposed to vote, or how he had voted upon the Corn Bill? But to these questions he declined to make any reply. However, on his arrival at the door of the House, both doors of the carriage were opened, and he was dragged out by the collar. He then received several blows, his assailants exclaiming that they would not let him, go, unless he declared his name and promised to vote against the Corn Bill. This promise, however, he refused to give, and endeavoured, with all the strength of which be was capable, to release himself; which he did not think he should have succeeded in effecting, if it were not for the violence and confusion that prevailed among the mob, who struck at one another. Thus he contrived to escape from them, and made his way into the House through the coffee-room of the House of Lords, there being no other avenue unimpeded by the mob. At the time he was so treated, he saw no soldier whatever about the House; and he was sorry to say, that he derived no projection from any constables, who did not indeed seem competent to afford any adequate protection. Upon coming into the House he thought it his duty to communicate to the Speaker what he had just stated, adding, that he understood several other members had also been ill treated by the mob, and he believed that the introduction of a military force to aid the civil power had been the consequence of such communication. Were not such means taken for the protection of the members, he agreed with his noble friend in thinking, that it would be quite absurd to talk of the independence of that House, or to calculate upon the maintenance of its dignity, or capacity for free deliberation.

Mr. Speaker then desired to state to the House, his knowledge of the several steps taken in the course of this day, which had terminated in calling in the aid of the military, for the protection of the House and its members:—That before the House assembled this day, seeing the possibility of some tumult or obstruction to the passage of the members to or from the House, he had directed the Serjeant at Arms and Deputy Serjeant, with their messengers, to keep the lobby clear of all strangers, before the House met, and so long as it should continue to sit: That he had sent the Deputy Serjeant at Arms to the High Bailiff of Westminster, to signify to him the necessity of his special attention, this day, to the execution of the orders delivered to him at the beginning of each session, for keeping free the approaches to the House during the time of its sitting: That he had also desired that a Middlesex magistrate, belonging to one of the public offices, might attend with a sufficient number of constables, to keep a free passage from the lobby to the entrances from Westminster-hall and old Palace-yard respectively; and that if the civil power should ultimately prove to be inadequate for the protection of the House and its members, he should then, and not till then, call in the military, to maintain the peace: That some time in the course of this evening, before the House resolved itself into the committee upon the corn laws, he received a complaint from a noble lord, a member of this House, that he had been grossly insulted by a mob in Palace-yard, who had demanded his name, and his promise to vote against the Corn Bill; neither of which demands the noble lord had complied with; and that he had, with the greatest difficulty, and at the imminent hazard of his life, made his way into the House; and that thereupon he (the Speaker) had sent out his directions to the civil officers to call in the military; and for these directions he accounted himself to be responsible to the House; who, he doubted not, would be satisfied that he had done no more than his duty.

Mr. Whitbread said, after this statement, the House must be satisfied that a military force had not been called in without sufficient cause. The hon. Secretary of the Admiralty, however, having stated, that the civil power had neglected to perform their duty, he thought it was essential that the House should examine into that circumstance. He should, therefore, propose that the High Bailiff of Westminster should be called to the bar, to render an account of the steps he had taken to provide for the protection of the members on their approach to the House.

The Speaker suggested the propriety of also calling Mr. Baker, the Marlborough-street magistrate, to the bar, as, besides the communication which he had made to the High Bailiff of Westminster, he had also applied to that gentleman.

Mr. Croker explained, that when he said he had not seen any peace-officers, he meant on the outside of the door; for when he came from the House into the lower lobby, he then found abundance of them.

Mr. Fitzgerald, on hearing of the danger to which his hon. friend had been exposed, had proceeded with ten or twelve peace officers to his rescue. With this force he had attempted to effect his passage as far as the carriage-way, but such were the numbers and the strength of the mob, that they could not be penetrated.

Mr. Whitbread said, it appeared the police officers were placed where they ought not to have been, instead of the place in which they could have been of service.

Mr. Ponsonby conceived that the first step to be taken was to ascertain what had been done by the civil power which had the charge of the avenues without the House, and what degree of civil force had been called in. On constitutional principles, the military force ought not to have been called in, if the civil power were sufficient for the protection of the House and its members.

The Attorney General said, it so happened, that he was perhaps the last member who had entered the House by its usual avenues. To avoid passing through the throng, he drove to the entrance-gate of Westminster-hall. When his carriage arrived there, the door was opened, and he was asked who he was, by numbers, who also insisted on knowing how he meant to vote on the Corn Bill. He was aware, that for years past he had been too well known in Westminster to be able to disguise himself. He was never ashamed of his name, nor could he conceal it; and many, probably, knew him well enough. He said to the people, 'I won't deceive you, nor will I state what my vote will be. I shall certainly act according to the dictates of my conscience, after hearing this measure fully discussed. Unless you pursue a different conduct, you, and all of you, may regret your present attempt to overawe members of parliament; and if my life were in danger, I would sacrifice it in such a case as this.' Some of the mob said, he had always been the friend of the people. He thought that among so many, all might not think of him so handsomely. Some, however, formed an escort for him through the hall to the steps ascending to the lobby. There again he found an immense number, not to be resisted by mere peace officers. There again, they called upon him for a pledge; they urged the sufferings of the poor during a long war, and desired not to be offered up to the interests of the Irish. He told them there, that he had no objection to state his sentiments; that parliament would certainly do its duty; but that if something were not done, they might have soon to depend for their existence on foreign bread. He asked them to let him return home. Some of them who were friendly to him, told him he could not do that, as several members had been very roughly handled. He succeeded in a kind of bargain with his friends on the outside, and they permitted him to get in. The assemblage altogether was of such a nature as to excite serious alarm. The House ought unquestionably to need no aid but that of the civil power; but the case became quite different when an additional force was absolutely required.

Mr. Finlay said, that coming down with a noble friend of his, they were surrounded by a tumultuous assemblage, just as they were getting out of the carriage. He himself was assailed with sticks, and his friend had his coat and waistcoat torn. The mob was such as could not be dispersed but by a military force.

Sir Robert Heron shewed the skirt of his coat, which hung nearly torn from the body, and said, that besides this he could shew other visible marks of the treatment he had received. Instead of finding the mob as patient and mild as the hon. and learned Attorney General, he had experienced nothing but the most brutal treatment, and after having been buffeted about like a shuttlecock between two battledores, he escaped, with great difficulty, to tell his tale. [A laugh.] He said, he had not intended to deliver any sentiment on the subject, though his opinion on it had been long decided. But now, when it was attempted to terrify the House into submission to a mob, he should think himself unworthy a seat in that House, did he decline expressing his unqualified approbation of the measure; to which he should give his warm support.

Sir Frederick Flood declared, that he had been carried above a hundred yards on the shoulders of the mob, just like mackarel from Billingsgate-market, and that he thought they meant to quarter him. [A laugh.]

The Speaker entreated the hon. member, in a matter of such deep importance, to abstain from all argument or narration, unless he had something material to say on the subject.

Mr. Wynn thought, that as the proper course of proceeding was now before them, it was best to postpone all observations for the present.
The question for calling in Arthur Morris, esq. the high bailiff of Westminster, was then put, and carried nem. con.
Mr. Morris was then called in; and in answer to the questions put to him by Mr. Speaker, stated, "That yesterday he received a note from Mr. Becket (the under Secretary of State in the Home department); and, as directed, took measures for calling out all the civil force in his jurisdiction. That he ordered the high constable to issue precepts to call out all the petty constables, appointing them to be in attendance this day in various parts of Westminster: that the whole number of constables under his authority is about 80; and as many came as could come: they came between two and three o'clock; and are here now; he placed them himself, and has been here ever since; some were stationed in Westminster-hall, some in the stone lobby, some within the entrance doors; and they remained in their places as far as he could see.

"That the civil force under him is a small part of the civil force of Westminster: and during every afternoon of the session, and till the House separates, some of his constables (as many as appear to be necessary) are in constant attendance.

"Of his 80 constables, about 50 attended to-day, or between 40 and 50; he found this force, joined with all the force of the police offices, quite insufficient to restrain the mob; he did not take any step to remedy this, because knowing the Bow-street magistrates were also here, he relied on them to do so. He had no power over any constables but his own: he did not inform any officer of the House, that the civil power was not strong enough; he relied on Mr. Baker and Mr. Birnie, whom he knew to be at hand; but he had no communication with them: he had seen a military force here, within a quarter of so hour or half an hour; and he did not hear of any before.

"A written return of the constables who attend, is made daily to Mr. Wilson, who acts under him: he does not know that any person has been taken into custody, for any breach of the peace within the avenues of the House." And then he was directed to withdraw.

Mr. Baker, a magistrate of the Marl-borough-street Police-office, was then Called in; and, in answer to the questions put to him by Mr. Speaker, stated, "That he is a police magistrate of the Marl-borough-street office; that inconsequence of the direction of the Speaker, as well as from lord Sidmouth, he attended at the House of Commons at two o'clock, with 50 constables; he understood the particular duty assigned to him by the Speaker to be, the care of the stone lobby, and the stone stair-case, and that the avenues between were kept clear.

"None of his constables were outside; but a party under Sir Nathaniel Conant; he was aware of the difficulty of restraining the mob outside, but found no difficulty inside; much difficulty for the last hour and half: was fully satisfied that the civil force was insufficient, and advised to call in a military force: having received a message from the Speaker to that effect, he went to the Horse-guards himself, and brought down with him two troops of horse for that purpose. That at different times the constables within assisted those without, when their services were wanted. ‘That he does not know that any person has been taken into custody for a breach of the peace, within the avenues of the House: that he had not seen any actual assault; but there was a great deal of hooting and hallooing in the street opposite to the Abbey.’ Being asked, how many constables were with sir Nathaniel Conant, and what degree of assistance they gave? He replied, That he did not know the exact number, 20 or 30 at least; and that there was a general concurrence amongst all the constables, in trying to give assistance where most needed: he does not know the total number of constables. Sir Nathaniel Conant was called to another part of the town two hours before the military force was called in; but Mr. Kinnaird came to relieve sir Nathaniel Conant with another party of constables: he himself went to look outside of the door once or twice; saw a great crowd at the entrance of the members' waiting-room; he saw members obstructed; the constables attempted to get them in safely, and were principally occupied in that: they did not take any rioters into custody; his own exertions were directed to providing for the personal safety of the members; he did not send a message to recall sir Nathaniel Conant; he was gone, and he did not know where to send for him." And then he was directed to withdraw.

Mr. Kinnaird, a magistrate of the Thames Police-office at Wapping, was then called in; and, in answer to the questions put to him by Mr. Speaker, stated, "That he is a magistrate of the Thames Police-office at Wapping, and received orders last night to bring up the establishment to-day, to preserve the peace at Westminster: it was ordered by lord Sidmouth, that one magistrate from each office should attend him at twelve o'clock this day; he had himself been here the greater part of the day; some of his constables waiting from two o'clock at the Temple-bar, and the rest of his party was stationed from Parliament-street to Charing-cross: the establishment of the Thames Police-office is about 50 constables or thereabouts; some of them were placed in Westminster-hall, some at the side entrance and other avenues near the House: he observed the disturbance and anxiety of the mob to get into the avenues to the House; he saw no obstruction to members, and was not called upon to give assistance to any other magistrate: he was at the bottom of the stone stairs within side, about 10 o'clock; when outside he saw no pushing, shoving, or hooting: he did not come in the place of sir Nathaniel Conant; his station was sometimes inside, sometimes outside; when occasionally outside, he was attended by some of his peace officers; he is uncertain whether he saw any members go in or come out; he saw no persons obstructed." And then he was directed to withdraw.

Mr. Birnie, a magistrate of the public office Bow-street, was then called in; and, in answer to the questions put to him by Mr. Speaker, staled, "That he is a police magistrate at the Bow-street office; he attended at three o'clock with 40 constables; most of them were placed in Palace-yard; some were at the side entrance, where he saw a great mob, and many members justled, hissed and hooted: he and his constables did not apprehend any person for breaking the peace; he saw no ringleaders; a mere mob without direction; and he was occupied, as the first object, in protecting members of parliament; one of his constables has been wounded with a stone; but the offender escaped through St. Margaret's churchyard: the civil force was insufficient; he brought 40 from Bow-street; each of the other police-offices sent 7 or 8; he believes 7; the Thames Police-office sent a larger number than the rest." And then he was directed to withdraw.

Lord Castlereagh rose again and said, that the evidence appeared quite sufficient to establish the necessity of the interposition of the military for the protection of the members of parliament. Whether the conduct of the magistracy had been as vigilant as possible, was a point that might become a question of inquiry. A future day might be appointed, with a view to inquire into that matter, and to provide more certainly for the security of members upon future occasions. He then moved that the minutes be printed.

Mr. Lambton expressed himself satisfied with the explanation which had been afforded with regard to the employment of the military on this occasion, but vindicated his motives in bringing the business under the consideration of the House.

Lord Castlereagh was convinced the hon. gentleman had no other motive for the course which he had pursued than that just jealousy which ought to be entertained of the employment of a military force, where the exertion of the civil power might be deemed insufficient.

Mr. Wynn thought the House under great obligations to the hon. gentleman. The discussion was necessary, that the House might show its just constitutional jealousy. Though satisfied on the chief point, yet he thought the conduct of the magistrates open to inquiry. They did not appear to have been sufficiently active, and he thought they should be admonished by the Speaker, and desired to pay a strict regard to their duty in future, since a similar inconvenience might recur even to-morrow.

Mr. Whitbread was convinced that the military were not called in till it was necessary, but perhaps the civil power had not done its duty. He thought they had better continue this business then, and proceed with the Corn Bill on another day.

Lord Castlereagh was adverse to any such proceeding this evening, as the attendance of these magistrates might he necessary at their several stations. He however observed, that no absolute blame appeared to him fairly imputable to the conduct of the magistrates.

Mr. Addington concurred in this opinion, observing, that the principal magistrate, sir N. Conant, had been called away by riots in another quarter of the town. The right hon. gentleman vindicated the measures taken by the Executive.

Mr. Whitbread thought that the Executive had done its duty, but was inclined to believe that the civil power had not been sufficiently active.

The minutes were ordered to be printed, and taken into further consideration on Monday next; also that the said high bailiff and magistrates do then attend. It was likewise ordered, That the said high bailiff and magistrates do repair to their several posts forthwith, and prevent any further outrage or disorder in the passages to and about the House, during the time the House shall continue to sit this evening, and until after the departure of the members.

6th March 1815: Corn Bill riot at the Palace of Westminster & in London's West End

A C19th engraving depicting the Corn Bill riot at the Palace of Westminster on 6th March 1815, which allegedly appeared in an 1895 edition of Cassell's 'Illustrated History of England'
On Monday 6th March 1815, serious disorder & rioting took place outside the Palace of Westminster, which was in the midst of debating the 1815 Corn Bill. The Corn Bill, and the various Corn Laws preceding and succeeding it, aimed to keep the price of corn artificially high via import charges, aiming to favour producers in Britain. The result for working people was higher food prices and destitution.

In the resulting rioting, not only were Members of Parliament jostled and subject to violence on their way into the Palace of Westminster, but also many of the homes of the ministers were attacked and ransacked in the West End.

Many newspapers covered the events of that day, both metropolitan and county. I have chosen the report from the Chester Chonicle of 17th March 1815, as it seems to be reasonably comprehensive, and also covers the events of the following day, and this is reproduced below:
About the usual hour of the Meeting of Parliament on Monday, there were assembled in different parts, from George-street, to Abingdon-street, various groupes of persons, not numerous at first, all declaring against the Corn Bill, and inveighing against such of the Members as had been most active in support of it. There had previously been a great number of persons in the lobby and avenues of the House, and a considerable quantity of constables have been posted in them, to prevent too great a pressure and disturbance.

The persons who were forced to quit the lobby and passages, took post on the outside of the house. In these groupes were several who were well acquainted with the persons of many leading Members of both Houses, and pointed them out as they came down to attend their duty.—"That is Lord Grenville—that Lord Stanhope—that the Chancellor of the Exchequer"—and hooting or applause followed as the Member passing was known to be friendly or unfriendly to the Corn Bill.—Meanwhile loud shouts of "No Corn Bill!" raised without the House, were distinctly heard within it. For some time the groupes confined themselves to these manifestations of pleasure or displeasure. At length many of the carriages of the Members were stopped, and the Members forced to walk through the crowd amidst hooting and hissing. The civil power now was found to be insufficient for the protection of the Members, and the Magistrates having applied to the Speaker, received an order to call in the military to act under the civil power. Several of the Members, however, had been very roughly handled. They were called upon by the populace to tell their names, and how they had voted or intended to vote. Mr. Fitzgerald, the Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, was treated in this way. Mr. Croker's life was more seriously endangered; his carriage was beset by a mob, who made the enquiries to which we have just alluded, he refused to answer them; on his arrival at the house, both doors of the carriages were forced open, and upon stepping out, he was seized by the collar, and received several blows; same question was repeated to him, and the mob said, he should never enter the House alive if he did not tell his name and his sentiments on the Corn Bill. He still refused, and probably would not have escaped without the most serious injury, if at all, if the mob in their violence and confusion, had not directed their rage against each other. Those who suggested one mode, were opposed by others, and enforcing their arguments by blows, Mr. Croker fortunately made his escape into the Coffee-house of the Lords, and from thence into the House of Commons.

The Attorney General, though assailed at first much in the same manner as Mr. Croker, escaped more easily. He gave the mob his name, and told them he should vote as his conscience would direct him.

The military however succeeded in suppressing the tumult near the House, and the immediate vicinity remained clear during the rest of the night. But the populace, driven from this scene, repaired to other parts of the town—"to Mr. Robinsons!" "To Lord Eldon's!" "To Lord Darnley's!" "To Lord Ellenborough's!" was the cry, and groups report repaired forthwith to one or the other of the houses these Noblemen and Gentlemen.

Having supposed the Hon. Mr. Robinson’s residence to be in Charles’s-square, they went thither, and did not leave the street till they learned he had moved to Burlington-street. As soon as they had fixed upon his house, they broke the windows in every floor, demolished the parlour shutters, and split the doors into pieces. The iron rails before the house were torn up, and instantly carried off. Rushing into the house, they then cut to pieces many valuable pictures, destroying some of the larger pieces of furniture, and threw the rest into the street, to be trampled to pieces by their associates.—From Mr. Robinson’s they ran to the house of Lord Darnleys, Mr. Yorke’s, Lord Hardwicke's, Mr. Meux’s, in Berkeley-square. They broke every window at each place, and demolished the doors, what were prevented from going within.

Another account says, that having mustered about the centre of the street, and not amounting at their arrival to more than fifty or sixty, one (we understand a person well dressed) was selected to ascertain the residence of Mr. Robinson. He knocked at the door, and being informed that Mr. Robinson was not at home, he continued for a short time in conversation with the servant who opened it, when, on a preconcerted signal being given, the others rushed in and proceeded to the work of devastation. The demolition of the furniture occupied little more than an hour.

At ten o'clock, a mob, amounting to about 300, not more, entered Bedford-square, from the corner next Oxford-street, and proceeded to the house of the Lord Chancellor, on arriving before which they gave three cheers, and then regularly began their work, smashing in the windows, breaking down the iron railing, and hammering the pannels of the door in the area, and at the main entrance, setting up a loud cries of "No Corn Bill." His Lordship, who either was in bed, or on the point of retiring to it, after seeing out Lady Eldon and his family at the back door, into the gardens of the British Museum, to which he has a private way, went to the Museum House, where a party of military is always stationed, and brought with him four of the Guards with their arms. His Lordship upon finding this, put himself at the head of the men, desired them to charge with fix bayonets, at sight of which the mob was greatly astonished, supposing the force much greater, and fled precipitately; but not before his Lordship had secured two of the ringleaders with his own hands. They are now committed for trial

The house of Lord Ellenborough in St. James's square, was also attacked, and considerably injured. Soon after they had commenced their assault upon the house, his Lordship, in the most intrepid manner, presented himself at the door, and inquired the cause of the outrages upon his dwelling? The reply was "No Corn Bill, No Corn Bill:" on which his Lordship addressed them in a few words, the purpose of which we have not heard, but the effect was that the mob instantly cheered the Noble Lord and departed. They next proceeded to assail some other houses in the same square, but a party of the Life Guards approached by this time in full gallop, and the square in a few minutes was completely cleared. This, we understand, was the case in every other part of the town where the assailants appeared, and by one o'clock they were no longer to be seen in bodies; straggling individuals only were observable, and the military continuing to patrole the streets and squares, no further attempt to disturb the public tranquillity was any where made.

THE RIOTS—were renewed on Tuesday night, and with fatal consequences. Every person going to the Houses of Parliament was examined by constables, and no tumult occured till after the House of Commons adjourned. Afterwards, however, the mob assembled, and made two attacks on Lord Castlereagh’s house; they renewed their violence against the houses of Mr. Robinson, and Lord Darnley; their next objects with those of Mr. Yorke, Mr. Bathurst, Lord King, Lord Lascelles, Mr. Weston, Mr Wellesley Pole, Sir H. Parnell, Sir W. Rowe, &c. The windows of many private persons were demolished by mistake; but none were entered, owing to the activity of the soldiery. It appears that the mob had actually collected some bags of shavings, for the purpose of setting fire to Mr. Robinson’s house, at the moment the guards arrived, and several wheelbarrows full of stones, were emptied in the street, to facilitate the work of destruction!

In these movements, we lament to say, one man and one woman were killed, and three persons wounded. The man was shot through the head with slugs; he was dressed in uniform of a midshipman, and was immediately conveyed to a public house. He proved to be a son of Mr. Dodd, printseller, in Parliament-street, and had gone out shortly before, for the purpose of viewing the operations of the mob. The woman was a widow of a sailor, and had left her friends with a promise to return in half an hour.

A large train of artillery was brought on Friday from Woolwich. More troops have arrived or are on their road. Two fresh regiments of light dragoons are quartered at Kensington and Bow. Ten thousand horse and foot could be called out in an hour, if it were necessary.

At present, all is pretty quiet.

6th March 1815: Threatening letter sent to the Prince Regent about the Corn Bill

To Inform your Royal Highness that you are well beloved by the Nation as the Divel Loves Holywatter They wishes you all manner of Bad Luck Since you Sign the Corn Bill They wish that you May Never have The use of that hand to Sign any More Bills and wish you May Never Enjoy a Days Health as Long as you Live for you are an Enemy to the Poor and we all wish to be the Bellingham as Soon as Possible and wish Mr Bonaparte had you in this Claws and Castlereagh Likewise and that Damd Robertson and Several more I Can mention I wish you all a good Bellingham and that Verry Soon Sooner the Better its all Ready see you as Soon as tis Convenient I wish the first Bit of Bread May Choak you and to Inform your Royal Highness That it is the Nations wish that you may be Damd and we Shall be Hangd for we May as well be Hangd as to Starve for want of Bread for hear is No Trade for the Poor and when the Bread Rises what are we to do Then as we Can harly Live Now, I Should die Happy if I have But My Revenge [on?] you first from one of your Well Wishers, I Conclude

[Illegible] March 6th 1815

[To his Royal Highness the Prince Regent]

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

4th March 1815: John Lee reports that the former spy, Joseph Taylor, has been sent to prison

Early in 1815, the tables had been turned against the former spy, Joseph Taylor, and a magistrate from reported his conviction to the Home Office:

Rochdale 4th March 1815

My Lord,

The King agt. Taylor.

I beg to transmit my Bill of Costs herein and when approved of I will send my receipt for the same.

Enclosed your Lordship will also receive Mr Haslam the Constables Account of his Expences accompanied by a recommendation of his Character and Services by the Magistrates here — To all these Papers I have no doubt of being honoured with your Lordship’s Answer as soon as convenient.

The Prisoner made no defence and the court sentenced him to Six Months further Imprisonment. He appeared to have suffered considerably already but every one thought his conduct deserved punishment to the Extent of the Law

I am [etc]
Jno Lee

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

25th February 1815: Near riot in Ipswich as threshing-machine breakers are sent to Gaol

The Great White Horse Hotel (formerly Inn) at Ipswich: where the magistrate Sir William Middleton took refuge amidst scenes of near riot. It is now home to a clothing & coffee shop (photo by David Hallam-Jones. cc licence)
On the morning of Saturday 25th February 1815, the 8 or 9 men arrested for breaking threshing machines at Gosbeck 4 days earlier were conveyed to Ipswich Gaol. Two of the men were given bail by the visiting magistrates, and would stand trial at the next Assizes. The rest were committed to Gaol, being unable to afford bail at that time (although by 28th February, they had found bail, and were released).

Accounts as to what occurred afterwards differed between the Bury & Norwich Post and the more local paper, the Ipswich Journal, which differed principally over whether or not objects were thrown (The Bury & Norwich Post having the last word and insisting an onion was thrown, hitting one of the Magistrates).

Both publications agreed that, as they left the Gaol, the officials were surrounded by the general public present & subject to a hostile reception, with Sir William Middleton (the former MP for Ipswich) in particular being a focus of hostility: whilst seven other magistrates slipped away, Middleton was forced to take refuge in the Great White Horse Inn.

The Bury & Norwich Post described a scene outside the Inn as a 'street filled with disorderly people, who stood debating on the Corn Bill till late in the evening'.

Middleton only emerged much later when the crowd had dispersed, at around 10.00 p.m., and then accompanied by an escort of constables, retiring to his residence at Shrubland Hall.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

21st February 1815: 2 Threshing Machines destroyed at Gosbeck, Suffolk

Tuesday 21st February 1815 saw the igniting of a spark in agricultural areas that would consume different parts of East Anglia over the coming months.

At Gosbeck, near Ipswich, 20 labourers collectively destroyed 2 threshing machines and apparently made threats to destroy others. The local magistrates were quick to act to end the disturbance, and 8 or 9 men were arrested.