Friday, 16 March 2012

16th March 1812: Nottingham Lent Assizes commence

The Nottingham Review of 20th March 1812 reported extensively on the Nottingham Lent Assizes, and described the Judge, Sir John Bayley's opening remarks on Monday 16th March 1812:
On Monday morning, the Grand Jury were sworn in: after which, the Learned Judge Bailey addressed them in nearly the following words:—

GENTLEMAN,—Nothing could give me greater satisfaction, amidst the troubled state to which this important county has been reduced by a number of misguided individuals, and to see so respectable a Jury assembled, as a barrier between guilt and innocence, as a safeguard to property, to our liberties, and to our lives. The calendar laid before me does credit to the moral state of the county, with the exception of one crime, which swells the awful list. It is not for me to enquire, whether the persons who have thus involved themselves in trouble, have any just cause of complaint; because, if grievances do really exist, the proper, and indeed the only way to get them redressed, is to apply to the legislature of the country. But this should likewise be particularly remembered, that while the complainants continue in a state of open violation to the law, even the legislature will not attend to their prayers; and, to add to their sufferings, partly brought about by their own misconduct, the law will be too strong for them,—many of them will fall victims to their own daring folly; for the law must and shall be obeyed. The violent proceedings, if persevered in much longer, may have the effect of driving the lace manufacture from Nottingham; for why cannot it be carried on in other places as well as at this? It is true, that this appears to be the native seat of this branch of the British lace-manufacture; and no doubt it will be grateful as long as it is treated with indulgence and care: but when that ceases to be the case, it may leave those who have been fed by its bounty in a state of deep repentance, for having exercised their own folly and violence. The length of time these outrages have been carried on, might almost make it a matter of enquiry, whether the Magistrates of the County have done their duty: but the highly respectable assemblage of Nobleman and Gentleman this morning, renders such an enquiry unnecessary; for none can doubt that that their duty has been done. His Lordship then gave it, both as his own and Lord Ellenborough's opinion, the latter of which he produced in writing, that it was the bounden duty of every good citizen, particularly the wealthy, to risk their lives for the protection of private property; and he hoped, by exertions like these, aided by the salutary rigour of the law, that the misguided would see their error. After stating that when he left the town, the Assizes would only be adjourned, and that upon the seizure of any rioters, a Judge would come down and act upon the present commission, his Lordship proceeded to stay, that the act of one individual, in a riotous multitude, became the act of the whole; and, consequently, that every man became accountable, in the eye of the law, for the misdeeds of his neighbour, when thus assembled. On the subject of collecting money for lawless purposes, his Lordship said, that the person obtaining money by means of intimidation, subjects himself to the punishment which attaches itself to that crime which is perpetuated through the application of such money; and that those who give money freely for the promotion of a lawless purpose, likewise stand amenable to the law in the same degree as the former. His Lordship concluded, by enjoining the nobility and gentry to remain at their respective seats, while the troubles, or the probability of their renewal, continued; and likewise with enjoining the Grand Jury to do their duty, without prejudice or partiality to one party or the other.

Monday's business did not involve any cases related to Luddism. The trials of the prisoners accused of frame-breaking and other offences would commence the following day.

No comments:

Post a Comment