Monday, 5 December 2011

5th December 1811: Luddites soliciting contributions in Osgathorpe, Leicestershire

On Thursday the 5th December, framework-knitters in Leicestershire received visits from Luddites soliciting contributions for the cause.

William Brown Junior of Osgathorpe was making his way through the village near to the home of a Joseph Woodcock when a fellow framework-knitter Thomas Maton Harris beckoned him inside to meet three strangers. Harris explained that he wanted Brown to gather together the head stockingers and bring them back to Woodcock's house, with a veiled threat that if he did not he "would be worse for it."

Brown collected his father, William Brown Senior, as well as William Hardy and William Davenport Senior and headed back to Woodcock's house for 5 p.m. to find others from the neighbourhood gathered there, including a Hosier, Thomas Gilbert. When there, Thomas Maton Harris took the three men into the parlour and presented them with a letter from Ned Lud, which read:
“Gentleman all — Ned Lud’s compliments unto you and hope you will give a trifle towards supporting his army as he well understands the act of breaking up not just frames: if you comply with this it will be well, if not, I shall call upon you myself. Edward Lud
Hardy had no money on him, and had to borrow a shilling from Maton Harris, contributing sixpence. Davenport had a number of frames in his workshop, and fearing they would be broken by Ned Lud's army if he refused contributed 1 shilling sixpence for himself and another shilling for his son. William Brown Senior gave 2 shillings. Hardy noticed that in total, 7 shillings and 6 pence had been laid upon the table by those present. Maton Harris asked Gilbert if he would like to contribute as well, but Gilbert said nothing and promptly left the house.

Hardy returned home and never saw the 3 strangers again. Gilbert however, returned later to Woodcock's house to find Maton Harris still present. Maton Harris told him 'in an apparent friendly way' that his frames, along with those of Messrs Johnson were to be broken by the Luddites.

This account has been compiled from the depositions of witnesses and accused which can be found at HO 42/119. It's not clear what had caused the statements to be taken, nor what happened to the threats levelled at Thomas Gilbert & Messrs Johnson.

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