Sunday, 1 January 2012

1st January 1812: the Manchester spy 'B' reports on a Stockport delegate touring Yorkshire

On New Year's Eve 1811, the spy 'B' continued his reports for Colonel Fletcher about the underground in Lancashire and Cheshire.

That day, he had met a man named Waterhouse from Shaw, near Oldham. He reported that the local people were enthused by the disturbances in Nottingham, noting that the 3,000 troops stationed there could not quell the disturbances, and that an extension into other Counties would mean the government could lose control. Despite this, Waterhouse felt that things in his local area were not yet bad enough for people to rise as Nottingham had, but if they were, it would take 10,000 troops to keep them and neighbouring districts down.

On New Year's Day, 'B' reported he had met a 'Jack' (i.e. Jacobin) from Stockport who had news from another delegate that had been sent through Yorkshire. He had reported on divisions amongst committees in Leeds between those who were for revolution and those for reform. The delegate had reported the difficulties in organising experienced by the secret committee in York since the "Lord Mayre add is people allways on the Lookout". The delegate had then made his way to Hull, and the general feeling was that a rising could only succeed in the area if Hull were to be at the forefront. The Hull delegates he met held very strong fears about the response of the military in the area to any attempt at a rising as "the Garison Could Lay the town in ashes in a short time". The local committee promised to stay in regular monthly contact and the Stockport delegates plan was to head north into Teeside and Tyneside and then head back down to Halifax.

Finally, 'B' reported that the Manchester committee's plans to requisition the Borough Reeve for a public meeting about peace & parliamentary reform were still stalling.

The letter can be found at HO 42/119.

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