Friday, 30 March 2012

30th March 1812: The seven Nottinghamshire Luddites sentenced to transportation leave the town forever

The seven men sentenced to transportation at the Nottingham Lent Assizes - William Carnell, George Green, Benjamin Hancock, Gervas Marshall, Joseph Maples & Robert Poley - had been waiting for several days for their removal to the South of England. Amongst the authorities, there were concerns that a rescue may be attempted.

Special arrangements had been made for their journey. Two Bow Street officers - Pearkes and Adkins - had arrived in Nottingham on Saturday 28th March 1812 to facilitate their removal from the Town Gaol with the least possible fuss. The Bow Street men had arranged with the proprietor of the stage-coach to hire the whole vehicle for all of the journey and an escort of Hussars were to ride with the transport removing them at some distance from Nottingham.

On Monday 30th March, the stage-coach was brought to the prison at 5.00 a.m. All seven men were handcuffed prior to leaving the prison and moved to the coach as quickly as possible, with a simultaneous signal being given to the cavalry to mount up and surround the coach. Pearkes and Adkins were to ride with the coach themselves, with one of them inside and one on the outside at all times.

The crowds the authorities had expected did not materialise in significant number, not doubt due to the early hour. As it was up to 40 people turned up, but the speed of the operation and the numbers involved meant nothing material occurred.

The coach and escorts stopped at Leicester to breakfast, and apparently drew some crowds out of curiosity. On their way again, the cavalry escort left the stage-coach a few miles out of Leicester, to be replaced by another escort of the Blues.

The seven Luddites arrived at Newgate prison in London the following day. By Thursday, they had been delivered to the prison hulks at Woolwich, their home for several weeks. Although a petition signed by four thousand Framework-knitters had been sent to the Prince Regent asking for mitigation, the men would begin their forced journey of several thousands miles and several months to Van Dieman's Land in June, never to return.

As reported in the Derby Mercury of 9th April 1812 and the Lancaster Gazette of 11th April 1812.

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