Wednesday, 7 March 2012

7th March 1812: Town Clerk of Nottingham writes to the Hosier, William Nunn about the Assizes


We received your letter of the 6th instant which very much surprized us as we had not until the Receipt of a letter from our Agent Mr. Alexander of the day before the least Notice of any objection on your part to our conducting the Prosecution against Ingham with all the rigour the law would admit of. We cannot conceive that your Property in Frames is exposed by this prosecution, but are rather disposed to think it will be protected, by the Impression it conveys that you are not one of those who will suffer your Property to be threatened or Attacked with Impunity. We should rejoice in every way in our power to obey your directions and consult your wishes but feel ourselves very awkwardly situated hearin as we are apprehensive that the Prosecution being of Necessity in the Name of the King, that the Officers of the Crown may if they please take the conduct of it more or less upon themselves if they should think that you are disposed to abandon it.—We know that they have taken up this Impression from the Conversation which passed on this subject between you and Mr. Ryder.—The consequence of which has been that we have received Subpoenas to serve upon all the Witnesses here from the Solicitor to the Treasury & it has been intimated to us that one of the Solicitors of the Treasury will be down at the Assizes if not previous to them to see that we do our duty herein or to do it for us. Under these circumstances we confess ourselves at a loss to discover how you can avoid prosecuting John Ingham for the Felony unless the Counsel with whom we advise on the subject or the Officers of the Crown should acquiesce in such a wish on your part which we are very much disposed to fear they will not unless it should come recommended to them in the regular course of business by Counsel.—We however are perfectly ready to consult with Counsel and to intimate this as your wish and desire, and would strongly advise that you abide by their determination. Without such a Sanction we do not see how you can avoid forfeiting your Recognizances which are to prosecute for the Felony Mr. Selby in £500 and all the Witnesses here in £100 each.—We are clearly aware that you cannot be proceeded against for stopping the Prosecution unless you compound the Felony which we are confident nothing on earth could induce you to do; but we apprehend that you are vulnerable thro' the sides of those who have entered into Recognizances much beyond the extent of the Penalties in which they are bound, as we fear they can be indicted for not appearing to prosecute and give evidence. It is unfortunate for you that John Ingham is supposed to be a leader in this conspiracy and that it is the only case in the Town in which we can expect a Conviction the Government therefore feel themselves interested in following it up as far as it will go, and on the part of the Magistrates, the Hosiers and the Public there will be a perfect outcry against you if it be abandoned.

It strikes us that it is probable that your wishes and those of Government might be both reconciled by your offering to take the Prosecution upon yourself they would allow you to indict for the Misdemeanour, and by your desiring them to take the avowed conduct & management of it upon themselves if they insisted upon its being an Indictment for Felony. In this way you would have the credit of an attempt to lessen the Prisoner’s Punishment and extend mercy to him, & that you did not do so would appear to be the Act of the Officers of the Crown who would be known to take the Prosecution into their own hands on that account. We cannot say that this point is accomplishable, we only throw it out for your consideration. We intend if you have no objection to consult with Mr. Clarke and Mr. Reader as our Counsel to prepare for the Indictment and Trial of either for the Felony or the Misdemeanour as they may advise unless you give us contrary directions, or we should be forced to abandon the conduct of the Prosecution to the Solicitors to the Treasury as the Representatives of the Crown who of necessity is the Prosecution in all these cases, but upon this subject we beg your full directions and opinion by return of Post.—We are convinced that in the present state of the Country there is no possibility of doubting but that the Judge in default of your prosecuting the Prisoners would immediately forfeit the Recogns and would refuse on account of the absence of any Witness (they being all in your employment) to put off the Trial till the Summer Assizes. If this were done it would be done by directing the Magistrates to compell you as we think they undoubtedly might, after the forfeiture of the present Recognizances to enter into fresh ones yourself in a still severe Penalty to prosecute the Prisoner at the Summer Assizes, when after all this loss & after the abominable system of Framebreaking has may have subsided we are persuaded the prosecution would appear in a much less gracious shape that now.

Nottm 7th March 1812

We are, Sir
Your very obedt & faithful Servants
Coldham & Enfield

William Nunn Esq.

This letter can be found at HO 42/121.

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