Saturday, 26 March 2011

26th March 1811: Public Meeting between Hosiers & Stockingers - an agreement is reached


15 days after direct action by Framework knitters had begun in Arnold, and the Hosiers in and around Nottingham were beaten: a public meeting was called for the 26th March to attempt to settle grievances. Our last post reported a letter published in the Nottingham Journal (NJ) on the 23rd March from an anonymous writer who called for "GENERAL MEETING of the TRADE, and come to a decided resolution on which to act, and publish the same," so it's a moot point whether this person was a clairvoyant or merely influential. The 30th March edition of the NJ contained the following report:
AT a numerous meeting of Manufacturers, (held this day at the Exchange) 
RESOLVED, That this meeting do recommend to the Trade in general, to give for all full-fashioned Work the OLD prices, according to the annexed statement, and that the Deductions, in the inferior Goods for Work taken out, be also followed, agreeably to the Prices there specified. 
At the same time they see, with Concern, the illegal measures which have been resorted to by some of the Frame-work Knitters; and are determined to support and aid the Civil Power in its Exertions to bring the Offenders to Justice (a measure in which every Rank in Society is equally interested), and for which purpose a large subscription has this Day been entered into. 
Nottingham, March 26, 1811.
The Hosier's statement attempts to 'divide and rule' the Framework knitters between those they felt they could do business with and the 'criminal element', and there is still much unresolved debate amongst historians between how far the 'legal' and 'direct action' methods of redress for the Framework knitters represented either different tactics or different ideological standpoints. There will be much more time to devote to this in the coming months.

Nevertheless, the statement was true to its word, and the Hosiers did fund a reward of 50 guineas1 for information leading to conviction of the proto-Luddites, and a broadsheet was distributed on the same date (see above). As far as is known, no-one ever claimed the reward.

The agreement held (with one or two hiccups, which will be reported here) over the next 7 months until November 1811.


1. According to measuringworth.com, this is the 2009 equivalent of £2,900 (rpi) or £35,000 (average earnings)

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