Friday, 23 March 2012

23rd March 1812: The Manchester spy 'B' visits Oldham, hears doubts about his motives and is concerned about workers organisation in the area

Colonel Fletcher's spy 'B' picked up his latest report only the day after his previous one.

On the 19th March, he had been in Oldham, Lees and Dobcross in Lancashire. His contacts there told him they needed 3 more months to be ready, noting that most of the military were abroad in Portugal and expecting other units in England would be needed in Ireland. B's impression of the people in the area was blunt: "their is Corse one you can meet but they are preaching up this docktrin".

On the 22nd, B had an appointment with a contact called Wilson, who reported there was some dissatisfaction with B's presence on an unnamed committee, since B was not on the Manchester executive committee. Another contact called Devlyn had vouched for B, explaining that he had been "imployed on secret Business" and travelled hundreds of the miles for the cause.Wilson was expecting a delegate to return from Ireland in the next 20 days and went on to outline the situation further north in Kendal and also Paisley and Glasgow.

B reported that the Manchester Committee of Trades had met at the Falstaff Hotel, and expressed much concern about the degree of organisation, thoroughness and communication now apparent, saying "this you may depend will Ruin this Kingdom if these meetings is not prohibited ... this must be Looked after before it is too Late all the Manufacturing towns is on this plan and many of the viliges also".

On the 23rd, B had witnessed a man making seditious comments to two female companions in Brown Street, Manchester. He had followed them, and reported the man speaking openly, his comments meeting with agreement and amusement from others nearby .

Lastly, B gave a warning to Fletcher "the Countys of Chester derby & Lancaster and york is in a dangers state and if troops is not sent to them I ham afraid it will be of bad Conquence".

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

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