Wednesday, 25 January 2012

25th January 1812: Birmingham Magistrates forward an alarming letter from Leicestershire to the Home Office

[illegible] Leicestershire

dated 25th Jany 1812.

Addressed to a Gentleman in Birmingham

I have been turning it over in my mind to write to you for the last 10 days to relate a conversation which I overheard in this village since I returned Home, which I must confess has occupied my mind day & night how I should act & being with our neighbour W. ____ the magistrate yesterday Evening & hearing from him some strangers were come into this Place of very suspicious character within the last three days & well knowing that two men last week had been in this village from Nottingham at the Principal Stocking makers Shops, to get support for the Rioters in that part of the Country, (who call themselves Ned Luds Men) I mentioned it to the Magistrate what I had heard & what were my intentions & he requested I would not delay a post to write to you, for if time were the delay of a few hours might be the greatest consequence. I therefore will communicate to you the following information —

That there is a correspondence going on at this moment between the Nottingham & Derbyshire Rioters & the lower class of Manufacturers in Birmhm, but as the latter are obliged to manufacture the Arms privately, they cannot be ready to join them this fortnight; in which time One Hundred Thousand will be ready to join them from Birmingham & they request the Rioters to keep on their depredations in some degree till they are ready.

(This information has been made in the fullest confidence that the writer’s name may never be divulged, who is a person not only of the greatest respectability, but not at all likely to feel alarmed without a good cause for being so.)

This letter (which us a copied extract of the original) was forwarded to the Home Office by 3 Birmingham Magistrates - William Villers, William Hicks and William Hamper - on the 30th January 1812. The talk of arms being prepared in Birmingham and 100,000 being ready to rise is redolent of the information being passed to Colonel Ralph Fletcher by his spy in Manchester B.

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