Sunday, 29 April 2012

29th April 1812: Colonel Ralph Fletcher reports the arrest of suspected Luddites

Bolton le Moors - 29 April 8 O’Clock AM

dr Sir/

I inclose you for the Information of the Right Honorable Secretary of State Copies of the Depositions of Witnesses before myself & other magistrates relating to the Persons examined & committed to Lancaster Castle - for being concerned in setting Fire to the Westhoughton Factory.—Several other Depositions not sent herewith have been taken & several persons examined—but as in these Cases either the Proofs were insufficient or none at all—these persons have been either admitted to Bail—or discharged.

In Pursuance of your letter of the 26th instant I have ordered the arrest of upwards of 20 persons concerned in, or present at, the administering of the illegal Oath to Serjeant Bowden of the Local under my Command.

These were seized in their Beds this morning at 3 oClock by a detachment of the Local under the immediate Command of Adjutant James Warr—and with the aid of the two other Magistrates of this Division I hope to go through their Examinations in the Course of this day but not [time] enough to send you the result by this Evenings Mail—

I much doubt our ability to identify the Chiefs or General in this nefarious Plot—without more or less making use of the Testimony of our main Informant—It may happen that some of the men charged will declare the whole of their Knowledge on the subject and if so, I intend to admit their Testimony in order to avoid calling upon our Informant—but should not any of the Guilty suspect the others we shall be reduced to the disagreeable Alternative.

In Haste I remain
dear Sir
your most Obt Servant
Ra. Fletcher

To John Beckett. Esq

This letter can be found at HO 40/1/1.

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