Monday, 12 December 2011

12th December 1811: Lord Middleton to Home Office

Leamington near Warwick
12 Decr. 1811

My Lord,

The Riots at Nottingham and the vicinity as your Lordship will readily believe, call’d me promptly to my house at Wollaton, as they had threatened to take possession of 200 stand of arms I have there. I was anxious to be upon the spot to inquire and observe, the causes and the consequences of the Dispositions that have been so alarming and disgraceful.

I returnd from thence this morning, and consider it my especial duty from every point of consideration, to communicate to Your Lordship my view of these circumstances without delay.

I can form no judgements upon the question the ostensible cause of dissatisfaction between the Hoziers and the Knitters Declarations and assertions are so various. But the dissatisfied, have now gained such an ascendancy & system, that unless prompt and powerful measures are applied, I think the season of winter and the want to which they have reduced themselves, by the extensive destruction of the implements necessary to earn their support threatens the most serious results.

More than a thousand persons are now without their usual means of subsistance, and many persons are entirely ruined.

The Town appears within these few days only, to be so organised as to promise tolerable security, but I do not think that an adequate system has been adopted around the neighbourhood, where the greatest injury is sustained.

Many Constables have been sworn in especially and I believe they are disposed to act firmly, but these men living many in detatched houses, and many in straggling villages, would easily be prevented from uniting together in cases of alarm, which makes it particularly pressing in my humble opinion, that small Military Escorts, should be so stationed, as to enable the well desposed to get together for general co-operation.

I should judge that a very small intermixed force of cavalry and Infantry quartered in neighbouring villages, would do this effectually, and then I think the inhabitants so uniting, would do for themselves all that might be required, But it is a practice the Rioters rely most upon, to threaten and appal those who shew hostility to their proceedings, - and it is not to be wondered at that it should succeed with the class upon their own level, or those but little above it.

Indeed from thirty years residence in the neighbourhood, and my particular knowledge of the Town of Nottingham and itsMagistrates, I am warranted in being of opinion, that it should never be without a Regiment of Five Hundred Infantry. and a strong Squadron of Cavalry. Had such means been within the reach of the County Magistrates when the first act of open violence took place, the subsequent consequences would not I am confidently disposed to believe, have occur’d.

The Town of Nottingham is extensive, has many Inns, and numberless public houses, and could well support a necessary force without feeling oppressd, even should they derive no relief from the Establish’d Barracks, and altho I should not be disposed to risk any suggestion of offence to the Military Commander of a District, l really feel that I am but in the execution of an important Duty when I submit to you My Lords an opinion, which has always influenced me with equal force, namely, that a very small body of Troops in comparison, consisting of Horse and foot, stationed also in small
intermixed parties, upon the Arch of Circles concentre to the populous Manufacturing Towns, would afford promptly a very considerable and effectual force for the immediate suppression of popular tumult in any direction.

Upon a subject so serious, I am persuaded your Lordship will pardon my intrusion, it must now become a subject for Parliamentary consideration, a repetition of outrage within six months, and the disaffected so organized, calls for executive measures. The confidence of the populace from having done great mischief in the presence of a few Dismounted Dragoons has occasioned the ruin of many, and the forced contributions prolongs the danger.

I have 30 armed men night and day in Wollaton House which it is my determination to defend at whatever risk and having fulfilled my duty I have the Honor to be My Lord your Lordships

Most faithful servant

Middleton

The letter can be found at HO 42/118.

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