Thursday, 22 March 2012

22nd March 1812: Reports of disturbances in Manchester turn out to be a false alarm

On Sunday 22nd March 1812, the Courier newspaper reported that 2 or 3 'gentlemen' that had arrived in London on coaches from Manchester had reported disturbances there, and also that a large number of troops had been sent to the area.

The Monday edition of the paper verified the story, but emphasised that the no serious damage had been done. The Leeds Mercury of the 28th March reported on the story, pointing out that the Manchester newspapers did not report any trouble.

The Commanding officer of the military in Manchester was quick to explain to the Home Office that the rumours were unfounded, but did not seek to hide facts about the real situation in Manchester:

23rd. March. 1812.


Paragraphs having appeared in several of the London Papers, stating that disturbances existed at Manchester, I consider it my duty to acquaint you that they are entirely void of Truth, & that the rumours in question can only have been fabricated for the worst of purposes.

A spirit of discontent certainly pervades the Labouring classes of the Community here, to a great extent, & it has been considerably increased by the sudden advance in the price of Flour and Potatoes; but, as yet they have not evinced any tendency to Riot.

I have the honor to be,
Your most obedient
Humble Servant

JG Clay
Colonel, Commanding
the Garrison

The Right Honble
Richard Ryder
&c &c &c
On the 25th March, the Boroughreeve & Constables for Manchester wrote to John Blackburne, the MP for Newton:
Manchester 25th March 1812

We have observed with great regret in the London Newspapers, reports of serious disturbances among the Weavers & Mechanics in this town and neighbourhood, which we are happy to be enabled to contradict. There is no foundation for such reports, on the contrary it is with pleasure we bear testimony to the exemplary patience with which the working Classes have borne the pressure of the present times. We shall feel obliged by you making this communication known to the Secretary of  State for the Home Department and if any opportunity should occur of giving it further publicity, we think it very desireable.

With the greatest respect,
your obt humbe Servs

Richd Wood - Boroughreeve
Edwd Lloyd, Jas. Kearsley - Constables

To John Blackburne Esq &c &c

Blackburne, along with Colonel Stanley the MP for Lancashire, passed this letter to the Home Secretary,  Richard Ryder, who directed that the reports of disturbances should be 'publicly contradicted'.

The letter can be found at HO 42/121.

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