Sunday, 18 March 2012

18th March 1812: The Manchester spy 'B' visits villages in Cheshire

Colonel Fletcher's spy 'B' had been out of Manchester for once and filed a report about his activities on Wednesday 18th March in various places in Cheshire, near to Stockport.

He had first travelled to Marple Bridge, where he had caught up with Yarwood, the man who he reported had been elected Secretary of the Manchester Committee of Trades on 19th February. Yarwood related to him the feelings of the local people in nearby Mellor, who apparently had hopes that the Prince Regent would dismiss the government's ministers upon regaining his full powers.Yarwood said that those active were "all jacks to a man" (i.e. Jacobins).

Yarwood told B about how the weavers were organised in the area, 40 of them having met about 10 days prior and consulted the Stockport committee for advice. The advice coming back was to organise a committee of the different trades and from that choose an executive committee. The aim was to convince the workers that help would not be forthcoming from government, and that self-organisation was the key. Yarwood talked about broader aims, which included a mass rising, aiming to write off the national debt. There was talk of confiscating the estates of the wealthy that sided with the government, and of ending tithes paid to the clergy. B commented "the[y] intend to strike Both Church & State".

B had also been to Romiley near Stockport and Werneth Low near Hyde. He had little time for the people there, describing them as mostly Methodist, saying "these deictful [deceitful] Beings is as deep as the Rest as the[y] deal underhanded and I Belive the[y] are desloyal and would cam forword as soon as any set of people have". B stated that there was a circuit of nearby towns & villages that the Romiley and Werneth folk were in contact with, including Stockport, Gee Cross, Haughton, Denton, Hooley Hill and Newton.

The report can be found at HO 40/1/1.

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