Tuesday, 13 December 2011

13th December 1811: An insurrection "with no parallel in history"

The insurrectional state to which this county has been reduced for the last month, has no parallel in history, since the troubled days of Charles the First, against which misguided Monarch it took so decided a part. Day after day have the Magistrates, both of the town and county, used every possible endeavour to restore tranquillity; day after day have they added to the strength and activity of the civil powers, and called in additional aid of the military; but hitherto, their exertions have been but of little avail; a mysterious organization has been brought into existence, which baffles every ordinary effort to suppress it.―The rioters appear suddenly, in armed parties, under regular commanders; the chief of whom, be he whomsoever he may, is (called) General Ludd, and his orders are as implicitly obeyed as if he had received his authority from the hands of a Monarch. Indeed it is well understood, that disobedience to his commands is punishable with death, according to a solemn oath administered to all the party; and any that gives information against any of them, subjects himself to the vengeance of the whole organized band, both in person and property; some dreadful examples in the latter instance having already been inflicted, by the burning of haystacks, &c.; hence it is that so few impeachments are made, and so few of the depredators apprehended.

This infamous editorial, which drew criticism at the time, is from the Nottingham Review of the 13th December 1811. It's the first reference I can find to the term 'General Ludd'.

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