Saturday, 7 April 2012

7th April 1812: Colonel Fletcher gives more details to the Home Office about the plans for Westhoughton Mill

Bolton le Moors 7 April 1812
Seven in the Evening


Since yesterday another meeting had taken place last night at Bolton—the result of which was a determination to proceed against the Westhoughton Factory on Thursday night—and I received a report from B at Manchester to the same Effect viz that a partial firing should be commenced that night (next Thursday) in each Town from which Delegates had been sent to & had attended at Manchester—And measures had been prepared by the Permanent Local under my Command (without knowing the Object) to be ready to act (out of uniform). But a fresh Dispatch from B this afternoon informs me that the Firing is postponed as from the report of a Delegate lately returned from London it is ascertained that the associates are not so forward there as in the Country—and messengers have from Manchester been dispatched to Bolton &c to inform them of the determination [in that respect] of the Manchester Executive Committee (for that is the name assumed by it)—I shall hear tomorrow morning how this message will be acted upon by the Bolton Committee—but I entertain little Doubt but that the Westhoughton Burning will be delayed in Consequence—The Manchester Committee have directed that each Head a Leader of Ten shall collect from his Division 2d pr week towards Expenses Delegations &c—and I rather think that many of the blustering Leaders & Exhorters to Violence in others—will long delay the Conflagration if they can receive the Fruits of the Contributions of their deluded Followers.

I enclose you /S/ & B reports by which you will perceive better than I can express the objects of these Incendiaries—I have not written to the Neighbouring Towns as yet—for the reasons you will conjecture—viz fear of betraying the Sources of Information—but shall take Care (God Willing) to apprize the Magistrates of each Place before any Firing shall take place & Time enough to prevent it—

I have the Honor to be
your most Obt Servant

Ra: Fletcher

I have been requested by the adjutant & Quarter Master of the Regiment of Local Militia under my Command to enquire whether in Case of that Species of Force should be wholly dissolved, or in case they or either of them should become incapable of executing the duties of their respective situations—they would by the existing Laws relating to the Local Militia, be entitled to any allowance or in case of their death, their Widows after them.—By the Instructions of the Inspecting Officers the adjutant is restrained from following any Business, being occupied solely in his military duties.

[To] John Beckett Esq

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

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