Sunday, 22 April 2012

22nd April 1812: Birmingham Magistrates update the Home Office on the disturbances

Public Office, Birmingham, April 22nd. 1812.—

Sir,

After the time of dispatching our Letter of Yesterday, which was written necessarily in great haste, the Town was tolerably quiet until the Dusk of the Evening, when the Workmen coming out of their Shops, the Numbers in the Streets encreased, & some of the noisy, idle, profligate & disaffected became clamorous & threw stones at the Peace: Officers, who were on the watch in different parts, insomuch that it became necessary to send for a Party of the Warwickshire Yeomanry from the Barracks where by our desire they had come from an inspection in the morning.—No mischief however of any consequence was done, before the Yeomanry arrived at this Office the greater Number of the Populace had left the Town & were gone towards Harborne & Edgbaston in this Neighbourhood threatening mischief. The Yeomanry therefore accompanied by Magistrate pursued them, & found that they had chained & nailed up the Turnpike Gates at the end of the Town with a view of preventing the Military from following them: the Gates were however forced and they were so closely pursued that they dispersed in all directions without having done any damage. Patroles were kept in different parts of the Town until Midnight when everything appeared quiet & a Guard both of Horse & Foot left ready any emergency, the Scots Greys under Major Hankin, who have been on duty all the Day & to whose prompt mentions we have reason to attribute the security of the Town, and the Yeomanry were sent to Barracks & Quarters.—A Party at the Handsworth Cavalry arrived in the Night, and we have desired the first Troop of Warwickshire Yeomanry to come from their Field today to relieve the 2nd which with the Scots Greys will then be ready to protect the Farmers tomorrow.—We issued a Hand Bill yesterday, one of which will be enclosed, and sent some of them all round the Town several miles.—We wish it to be plainly understood, as our decided opinion, that this disturbance although under the pretence of the Orders in Council, the high price of Provisions & the badness of Trade, is neither entirely occasioned by the one or the other, it doubtless arises principally from seditious Persons, who catching the flame from inflammatory speeches which they have read or heard & from Papers of that description dropped in the Streets & Roads, and such evil disposed Persons stirring up other idle, unprincipled, profligate & abandoned Characters to act under them.—Indeed we have great reason to believe that some Persons from Nottingham & from Sheffield have been all over this part of the Country with those views, & the Paper which we had the Honour to send you last week we believe will be found to be of Yorkshire Fabric, & the language that of Yorkshire.—The Inhabitants of this Town are chiefly loyal, quiet & industrious Persons, but none of them would appear in the Streets nor would any tumult arise, was not the Poison spread amongst the minds of others.—Every care will be taken to prevent mischief & to put a stop to these proceedings; and we flatter ourselves that the promptness with which measures were adopted has had its due effect.—We received yesterday an Answer from Lichfield stating that Major General Dyott not being there, & no Dragoons, we could have no assistance from thence.—Enclosed you have a Paper which was found last night on the spot where the principal Crowd was collected, & from the latter part of it may plainly be seen the spirit which actuates the Rioters.—We could wish to have all the Papers we send to you returned, as we may have persons come to us who can give us some information concerning them.—

(2 o'Clock) the Town remains quiet, but we expect, and (as we trust) are fully prepared for, a renewal of Disturbances at night.—

We have the Honour to remain
Sir Your most obed. hble Servants

Wm Villers
W. Hicks
Wm Hamper
W Withering

The Rt. Honble. the Secretary of State

This letter can be found at HO 42/122.

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