Sunday, 26 February 2012

26th February 1812: Town Clerk of Nottingham asks the Home Office for advice about a drunken, seditious prisoner

26 February, 1812


I am directed by the Mayor and Messrs. Aldn. Swann and Allen to report to you that on Sunday night last Thomas Hickingbottom an Inhabitant of Basford near Nottingham was brought before them at the Police Office in this Town charged upon the Oath of Thomas Brown a Serjeant in the Berkshire Militia now stationed here with having been guilty of uttering seditious expressions at the Peach Tree Public House in Nottingham in a large Company.

The Magistrates then committed him to gaol for further examination and yesterday Serjeant Brown Thomas Hollick a Corporal Thomas Silvester Henry Weir and John Cook Privates in the same Regiment were examined before Messrs. Aldn. Swann and Allen upon the charge against Hickingbottom and upon the statement they then made the Magistrates conceived it their duty under the existing circumstances of the Town and Neighbourhood to direct me to send you copies of the Depositions of the Witnesses against the Prisoner and I accordingly now transmit the same.

The Magistrates have instructed me to request you will have the goodness to send as soon as your convenience will permit Instructions as to the disposal of this Prisoner.

The Magistrates have also directed me to state that when the Prisoner was brought before them yesterday several respectable persons gave the Prisoner a good character and 13 of his neighbours men who appear to be much in the same sphere of life as the Prisoner also appeared and declared him to be an honest harmless and inoffensive man and one who is not in the habit of interfering in political discussion except when in liquor and off his guard.

The Prisoner when first brought before the magistrates appeared to be much intoxicated from the representation of the Gaoler as to his conduct when put into prison and since it appears he was considerably intoxicated.

These circumstances the magistrates wished me to state to you in order that you may be better enabled to determine under all the circumstances attending this man’s case whether you would direct a prosecution to be instituted against him.

He is yet in custody and the magistrates have required him to find two sufficient Sureties each in £100 and himself in £200 for his appearance to the above charge.

I am further directed to represent to you that it has hitherto been customary to remove the Military from the Town of Nottingham when any has been in the Town at the time of holding the Assizes and also during the continuance of the Fair held in the Month of March but in consequence of the late unhappy outrages in the Town and Neighbourhood they think it right to report to you what has been the custom and to represent to you that it would be an accomodation to the Town if such a number of the Troops at present stationed here could be removed into the Neighbouring villages during the Assizes and Fair as would enable the Inns to be left clear of Troops but the Magistrates cannot think it safe to leave the Town so far unprotected as to Disable the Magistrates from keeping their System of Nightly Patrole as it would be vexatious to have any Frames destroyed in the very presence of the Judge.

The Assizes will commence on Friday the 13th day of March and continue five days and the Fair will commence the 7th day of the same month and will continue 8 days.

I have [etc.]
Geo Coldham
Town Clerk

The letter can be found at HO 42/120.

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