Thursday, 9 February 2012

9th February 1812: Nathaniel Conant and Robert Baker to Home Office

Feby. 9 1812


Our men with 3 or 4 Soldiers were concealed throughout the last night in the two manufactories that were expected to be entered by the frame breakers but no attempts were made at either place.

Mr. Coldham went this morning to town — and just as he set off he sent us word that not being able to finish the material for the statement till the moment the post was going, he had to save time directed it by the post to you.

By this means after so much delay we are not able to judge whether it contains all that was requisite; but if you yet find any deficiency in the information you wished we will supply it the moment we hear.

We heard first of a letter rec’d yesterday from Mr. Smith the member to one of the Corporation in which he says — ‘he thinks the attack upon Government in the instance of the Nottm. Riots very unfair as he does not see in what respect Government could have done more on their part than what they have done‘. One frame was broken on Saturday night at Attenborough near the Derby Road 7 miles off. We have received your favour of the 8th Feby. and annex to this Letter the general heads of the Mischiefs done which added to Coldham’s account we hope may be satisfactory.

We are [etc.]

N. Conant
Bob Baker

Monday mg —

No account of any outrages last night have reached Nottingham — This town itself is in Perfect tranquillity. The Bucks Militia are going this morning to Country Stations in small divisions.

Nottingham Framebreaking — 1811 - 1812

The Framebreaking first began in Feby 1811
Continued till the End of April & then ceased during the whole Summer

In the Month of November broke out again & have continued till the end of January since which time only one or two frames have been broken & those with no circumstances terror.

No damage has been done in the Town of Nottingham to some weeks past. Many of the most respectable inhabitants having formed themselves int been sworn in Special Constables, and the Town being divided into districts one of them with 3 or 4 Soldiers patrol the district & are relieved at proper times throughout the night

The whole number of frames broken does not exceed 1000 – about 100 of them silk frames — Lace frames, very few indeed.

The damage has been said to be 10,000£ but that estimate is generally understood to be too high; perhaps 6000£ is the juster estimate. A common frame new cost somewhat less than 20£, but most of those broken are old. The general price of second hand frames is from 5£ to 12£ One fifth of the frames have been lately out of work in the Cotton work, which also much lessing the value, many of those frames out of work being upon sale no purchasers.

The silk frames are somewhat dearer; they cost new a little more than 20£

The Lace frames are worth from 40 & 5o to 150£ but there are not many in the whole trade & very few have been destroyed —

A great part of the workmen live in small Cottages with one frame in which they hire of the Hosier they work for, in good times at 2s a week, but latterly at 1/6d — 1s.

In some instances one man hires 4 or 5 frames & employs others to work them or apprentices

And in other cases, a man gets two or three frames of his own & takes others at hire from the Hosier — if such man works at under prices all his frames would be broken. But if his hired frames belong to an obnoxious Hosier, & no blame is imputable to the Workman, the Hosiers frames are broken & those that belong to the Workman himself are spared. Which gives much ground for suspicion that they are broken by connivance of the man in possession — indeed there is too much reason to think it is universally so.

If a Hosier intimates a design to remove his frames, they have been often broken in the interim & this too is supposed to be done at the instigation of the Possession, & that it is done by his neighbours by agreement.

The letter can be found at HO 42/120. The final paragraph before the report commences suggests that Conant & Baker's more subtantial 'Statement of Outrages' report at HO 42/119 was sent to the Home Office on this date: in the Home Office records, it has been dated by a Clerk  as 27th January 1812, presumably because the last document submitted with it is a letter from George Coldham of that date. Nevertheless, the error should be obvious to the eagle-eyed scholar, since the last entry in the report is the 4th February.

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