Sunday, 5 February 2012

5th February 1812: Nathaniel Conant to Home Office


Feby. 5 1812


I beg to acknowledge your inclosure received today, alluding to the business named in your letter by the Sunday Coach. The intercourse with Birmingham & Manchester, similar to that named with Birmingham in your inclosure, continually are spoken of here by weak people, but with the utmost gravity and apprehension; but no one ever has any authority for what they surmise, or can give any clue to any quarter in which anything from authority can be had or the report be traced. There is a poor half starved dissolute and profligate fellow here who has been sometimes a hackney writer to the Attorneys, whose hand writing they have sometimes thought might be traced, in disguize, in some of the threatening letters received here, at an early part of the disturbances;

If this man had been well paid, he would certainly have engaged in any mischief — but it is very unlikely that he would ever have been trusted, and I believe some attempts have been made to let him understand that he would be rewarded for laying open any conspiracy he is acquainted with, in a way that would not have failed to have engaged his attention if he had any one to betray. I will know if any letters come here by the cross post from Bm. directed to this man. I believe his movements have been long watched by the Town agents.

With respect to the letter itself from Leicestershire to Birmingham, that the writer may be respectable he may also be credulous — He having overheard this plot looks very like inaccuracy of expression — but if he did so, further enquiry might be made if he knew the persons, and if he did not they might be traced, and all might be done without his appearing the least in the Case. They would more easily have been traced nearer the time it happened and on that account it is a pity the gentleman endured ten sleepless nights before he unbosomed himself. However as there is a possibility that something of the kind has happened every attention will be given on our part to the subject as if the information had been certain.

I am [etc.]

N. Conant

The letter can be found at HO 42/120.The comments about 'intercourse with Birmingham and Manchester' are similar to rumours being heard and propogated at this time by Colonel Fletcher's spy 'B' in Manchester.

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