Friday, 27 April 2012

27th April 1812: Attempted assassination of a Nottingham Hosier, William Trentham

William Trentham was Hosier in the town of Nottingham, a partner in the firm of Trentham, Tierney & Morton. He was already a notorious and hated character among the framework-knitters of that town.

At the height of Luddism in Nottinghamshire in January 1812, his windows had been smashed on two occasions.

In February, his warehouse was broken into and a quantity of silk and cotton stockings were removed.

Only a few days ago, he had received a threatening letter about his subcontracting to another Hosier who was paying extremely low wages to some of her workers. The letter was clear about the consequences of continuing in the practises he had thus far.

According to Thomas Allsop, a member of the United Committee of Framework-knitters, on Saturday 25th April, Trentham had docked his workers' wages and told them to 'tell Ned Ludd' if they were unhappy.

At 10.15 p.m. on a Monday evening, the 27th April 1812, Trentham was returning home, when he thought that 2 men were following him. He couldn't be sure, but with the letter he had received suddenly springing to mind, he decided to hurry home. He reached the door of his house at Kaye's Walk near St Mary's Church Yard in Nottingham, and knocked on it. While he waited for an answer, the 2 men that had been following approached him, one of them presenting a large horse-pistol to his chest. Without a word, the man shot him.

Trentham was lucky: he was found shortly afterwards, and help was obtained to remove the bullet which was lodged just under his left shoulder. Despite being 63 years of age, he survived and later recovered.

This has been compiled from reports in the Leeds Mercury of 2nd May 1812, the Derby Mercury of 30th April 1812 and the Times of the same date. Trentham's address can be found in the Records of the Borough of Nottingham, Volume 8 (p.134). Thomas Allsop's letter is in Binfield (2004, p.254).

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