Saturday, 3 December 2011

3rd December 1811: The Manchester spy 'B' writes of Irish contacts and 'Jacks'

Colonel Fletcher's undercover agent 'B' was again writing his regular reports again about his contacts in underground politics.

At 1 p.m on Tuesday the 3rd December, he had met up with another Irish contact, Cannovan, who spoke at length about the apparent simmering discontent in Ireland and Scotland but also amongst sailors in the Navy. Cannovan seemed to have recently spent a lot of time at ports on the South Coast of England, gauging the discontent and painted a very vivid picture that included 200,000 Irishmen 'willing and able to come forward' as well as promises of men and arms from France.

Cannovan told 'B' that he had recently spent 5 days in Liverpool, some of the them with a small secret committee that nevertheless could be 'depended on'. 'B' related to him the incident of the funds of a Stockport committee being stolen that he had related to Fletcher in a previous letter - Cannovan agreed it could ruin 'the business' there and threatened to shoot the men if he ever came across them.

'B' said that Cannovan declined an invitation to visit the Manchester secret committee that night, expressing disappointment that the committee were concerning themselves merely with petitioning the Prince Regent and if this was to be worthwhile, it needed to be done 'with arms in (their) hands'. Cannovan promised to call on 'B' again soon, but he would be away for 3 weeks.

'B' reported that only 5 delegates had attended the Secret Committee meeting on the evening of the 3rd and had therefore decided to postpone meeting again until 11 a.m. on Wednesday the 11th December at the Exchange Building.

Lastly, 'B' remarked that many 'Jacks' (i.e. Jacobins) had been enquiring of the progress of the Committees, being as disappointed as Cannovan was that not much was happening around Manchester to 'move the Business forward'.

The letter can be found at HO 42/119.

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