Thursday, 31 May 2012

31st May 1812: Luddites conduct multiple raids for arms in Netherton

On the evening of 31st May, Luddites conducted raids for arms at several houses in and around Netherton, near Horbury. They gathered first near the Cross Keys Public House at the bottom of Horbury Hill between 11.00 and 12.00 p.m.

Several men arrived at the first house and demanded entry. When the door was answered, 2 of them entered and took the householder's gun. They called next at the home of David Stephenson, and took his gun too. At Morritt Matthews' house, despite their demands, Matthews convinced them he did not have one. As compensation, they demanded, and received one guinea.

The Luddites next called at the home of John Burgin and demanded his gun. Burgin would not answer the door and refused to yield to them, but they answered with gunfire through the door, after which he surrendered his weapon.

At William Dickenson's home, the Luddites obtained another gun, plus gunpowder and some shot. Finally, at another house, they obtained 'many' weapons.

Late Spring or Summer 1812: Song entitled "Hunting a Loaf", Derbyshire


GOOD people I pray give ear unto what I say,
And pray do not call it sedition,
For these great men of late they have crack’d my pate,
I’m wounded in a woeful condition.

Fal lal de ral, &c.

For Derby it's true, and Nottingham too,
Poor men to the jail they've been taking,
They say that Ned Ludd as I understood,
A thousand wide frames has been breaking.

Fal lal, &c.

Now is it not bad there’s no work to be had,
The poor to be starv’d in their station;
And if they do steal they’re strait sent to the jail,
And they're hang’d by the laws of the nation.

Fal lal, &c.

Since this time last year I’ve been very queer,
And I’ve had a sad national cross;
I’ve been up and down, from town unto town,
With a shilling to buy a big loaf.

Fal lal, &c.

The first that I met was Sir Francis Burdett,
He told me he’d been in the Tower;
I told him my mind a big loaf was to find,
He said you must ask them in power.

Fal lal, &c.

Then I thought it was time to speak to the prime
Master Perceval would take my part,
But a Liverpool man soon ended the plan,
With a pistol he shot through his heart.

Fal lal, &c.

Then I thought he’d a chance on a rope for to dance,
Some people would think very pretty;
But he lost all his fun thro’ the country he'd run,
And he found it in fair London city.

Fal lal, &c.

Now ending my journey I’ll sit down with my friends,
And I’ll drink a good health to the poor;
With a glass of good ale I have told you my tale,
And I’ll look for a big loaf no more.

Fal lal, &tc.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

30th May 1812: Henry Hobhouse writes to the Home Office about the outcome of the Chester Special Commission

May 30. 1812.


The Proceedings under the special Commission at this Place having closed, I have the Honor of inclosing to you for the Information of Mr Secretary Ryder a Calendar of the Prisoners, with the several Sentences set against their respective Names, from whence it will be seen at the general Result is as follows.

Of the 47 prisoners committed for Trial 15 have been capitally convicted, & received Sentence of Death; one of these & one other have been convicted on Indictment for a capital Offence, but their Sentence has been respited that the Opinion of the Judges may be taken on a Point of Law: 8 have received Sentence of Transportation for seven years: two are to be imprisoned for three years, & four for one year: 11 having pleaded guilty to Indictment for Riot have been discharged upon Recognizance for their good Behaviour & to appear when required: 3 been acquitted: one has been admitted on Evidence for the Crown; & two discharged by Proclamation.

The worst Cases, as well in respect to the Nature of the Offences committed, as the previous Characters of the Offenders, are those of John Temple & Joseph Thompson; whom the Judges me to leave for Execution. They likewise instead (as I have collected from Mr. Burton) to leave some others to undergo their Sentences, but I am not informed accurately of the Individuals. In my View of the Matter, it would be desirable to inflict capital Punishment on some one of each of the three Classes of capital Convicts, viz. Robbers under colour of begging, Robbers under colour of purchasing, & Breakers of Machinery.

The case on which I have had the greatest Anxiety, is that of Whittaker, whom it appeared to me very important to convict, not merely on Account of his Crime, but because he is a man of superior Ability & Education, & of proportionate importance among his Confederates. By the Exertion of Mr. Lloyd (whose merit you know too well to need any Eulogies from me) Evidence of various minute Circumstances was obtained to corroborate the Accomplice, & the Conviction was affected. On the Approval of the Trial (which was that brought forward till this day) the Prisoner intimated to the Goaler a Disposition to make some Disclosures. Yesterday Evening he was supplied with Pen & Ink, & wrote a Paper, of which I inclose a Copy for Mr Ryder's Information. Altho’ it is not unimportant, yet as it afforded no Ground for any legal Proceedings against any of the Persons mentioned in it, it was not deemed sufficient to justify us in forbearing to try Whittaker, & I hope that his subsequent Conviction will induce him to make further Discoveries, capable of being followed up with Effect. I have communicated the Contents of this Paper to Mr. Lloyd, who tho’ he suspected several of the Persons named to be of the Stockport Committee, had before no certain Information respecting some of them, & no Information at all respecting others.

The Consideration of the Act agt unlawful Oaths to which I have been led by these Cases, induces me to submit to Mr. Ryder's judgement two Points with regard to the Act which is now before Parliament. 1. Whether the great Disparity of Guilt between the Party who administers & the Party who takes the Oath (the latter of whom is frequently quite ignorant of it’s Import) may not render it expedient to leave the latter Offence to be punished by Transportation (extended perhaps to 14 years) while the former is made punishable with Death. 2. Whether it may not be advisable to allow a longer Term than four Days for the Taker of the Oath to redeem himself by giving Information to the Magistrate.

The Questions reserved for the Opinion of the Judges in the Case of Heywood & Ellis, are, first whether a Shear-Frame (wch is adapted to finishing the Cloth after it is made) be a Tool used for the making of Cloth within the 1st. Section of the Statute 22 Geo. 3. c. 40.; & secondly, whether such a Frame being fixed to a Building, & turned by a Shaft worked by a Water-Wheel, be a part of the Works of a Mill within the meaning of the 9 Geo. 3. c. 29. Recourse was had to the last Charge, on Account of the Doubt existing with regard to the first. And this leads me to draw Mr. Ryder's Attention to the Law for the Protection of Machinery; & observing the Discrepancy between the Laws Statutes relating to different Manufactures, & even between the various Clauses of the 22 Geo. 3. c. 40., I venture to suggest whether it may not be fit to pass a general Act to punish capitally the malicious Destruction of all Machinery applicable to each of the Staple Manufactures of the Kingdom throughout it’s Progress.

I shall not go from hence till tomorrow; & if I find that any of the Convicts are inclined to make Discoveries, I will remain as long as my Stay is likely to be useful.

I have [etc]

[To] John Beckett Esq

30th May 1812: The results & sentencing of the Chester Special Commission

On Saturday 30th of May 1812, the trials at the Chester Special Commission concluded, and the prisoners received sentenced.

Unlike many of the trials, the content of what happened at Chester does not seem to have been published. Many of the newspapers simply reported the outcome of the trials, with even the local Chester Courant detailing the Judge’s initial charge the Jury at the start of the trials, and then going straight to the details of the sentencing.

A Calendar of the accused, their alleged offences, and the outcome of the trials can be found in the Home Office papers, and I have summarised the details as follows:

For riotously assembling at Macclesfield, Cheshire on 13th April 1812: John Jackson (19) a collier from Sutton; William Stubbs (32) a cotton spinner from Macclesfield & Thomas Livesley (19) a collier from Macclesfield. All guilty. Jackson & Stubbs imprisoned for 3 years in common gaol, Livesley for 1 year.

For unlawful assembly & robbery of John Parker Esq. at Edge, Etchells on 15th April 1812: Colin Lindon (45) a weaver from Ireland; James Wilson a.k.a. Roach (23) a weaver from Ireland; Forster Roach (18) a weaver from Ireland; James Bennett (21) a hatter from Edgeley; Richard Wood (27) a weaver from Holdcome, Lancashire; James Tomlinson (28) a weaver from Bolton, Lancashire; William Thompson (23) a weaver from Haslingden, Lancashire. All guilty. Sentenced to death, but recommended to mercy by the Jury & respited.

For riot & robbery at Pownall, Fee & Styall on 14th April 1812: Richard Lowndes (40) a shoemaker from Morley; James Torkington (16) a cotton spinner from Wilmslow; John Henshall (23) a weaver from Wilmslow. All guilty. Sentenced to death, Torkington & Henshall respited.

For unlawful assembly and arson at the home of John Goodair in Edgeley, Stockport on 14th April 1812: Charles Hulme (40) a weaver from Stockport; John Nield (19) a cotton spinner from Stockport. Both Guilty & imprisoned for 1 year in common goal.

For riotous assembly & robbery at Baguley: John Hamlet (21) a weaver from Stretford; Thomas Chadwick (29) a weaver from Stretford; James Chapman (20) a weaver from Sale Moor; William Woodhall (19) a weaver from Stretford; John Graham (17) a weaver from Sale Moor; Peter Lee (18) a weaver from Sale Moor; William Hancock (41) a weaver from Stretford. All pleaded guilty. Discharged on recognizances of £10 each for 12 months & to appear when required.

For riotous assembly and grand larceny at the mill of Joseph Clay in Bredbury, Stockport on 21st of April 1812: Samuel Lees (33) a hatter from Denton; Thomas Burgess (36) a collier from Bredbury; Thomas Brunt alias Etchels (34) a hatter from Denton. All guilty, transported for 7 years & fined 1 shilling each.

For administering an unlawful oath at Etchells on 6th April 1812: Thomas Whittaker (44) a weaver from Cheadle Bulkeley. Guilty, transported for 7 years

For taking an unlawful oath at Etchells on 6th April 1812: John Bradshaw (33) a weaver from Etchels; John Garner (20) a weaver from Stockport; William Bennett (21) a weaver from Stockport. Garner & Bennett acquitted & discharged. Bradshaw guilty, transported for 7 years.

For taking an unlawful oath at Etchells on 6th April 1812 & for unlawful assembly on 15th April 1812: John Parnell (36) a weaver from Gatley. Admitted as a witness for the crown, discharged.

For grand larceny at the mill of Joseph Clay in Bredbury on 21st April 1812: James Radcliffe (22) a hatter from Denton, Lancashire. Guilty, transported for 7 years & fined 1 shilling.

For unlawful & riotous assembly & grand larceny from Ralph Booth at Gee Cross on 21st April 1812: William Walker (59) a collier from Gee Cross. Guilty, transported for 7 years & fined 1 shilling.

For burglary & arson at the house of John Goodair at Edgeley Stockport on 14th April 1812: Joseph Thompson (34) a Weaver from Preston, Lancashire. Guilty. Sentenced to death.

For unlawful & riotous assembly & robbery at the shop of Elice Berry in Tintwistle on 21st April 1812: William Greenhough (48) a weaver from Mottram-in-Longdendale. Guilty. Sentenced to death.

For unlawful & riotous assembly, machine breaking & threatening the life of Robert Thornley, a manufacturer at Tintwistle on 21st April 1812: James Crosland (49) a shoemaker from Padfield, Derbyshire. Guilty. Sentenced to death but recommended to mercy by the Jury & respited.

For riotous assembly & breaking the machinery of Robert Thornley at Tintwistle on 21st April 1812: Abraham Broadbent (49) a cotton spinner from Padfield, Derbyshire. Acquitted & discharged.

For riotous assembly & destroying seven shearing frames, the property of Thomas Rhodes at Tintwistle on 21st April 1812: John Ellis (22) a tailor & volunteer in the Huddersfield Local Militia. Guilty. Sentenced to death but respited.

For riotous assembly & robbery from John Norris at Etchells, Stockport: James Renshaw (29) a weaver from Wilmslow. Pleaded guilty, discharged on recognizances.

For grand larceny at the warehouse of the Huddersfield Canal Company at Stalybridge on 20th April 1812: Nancy Hurst (49) of Stalybridge, widow; Edward Redfern (28) a labourer from Mottram-in-Longdendale. Both guilty. Hurst sentenced to 1 year in the House of Correction. Redfern transported for 7 years.

For burglary at the home of Samuel Wagstaffe in Adlington on 9th May 1812: John Temples (27) a weaver from Ireland. Guilty. Sentenced to death 

For Breaking machinery at the factory of the Brothers Sidebottom at Tintwistle on 21st April 1812: John Heywood (18) a carder from Hollingworth. Guilty. Sentenced to death.

For taking an unlawful oath at Etchells on 6th April 1812: William Bromley alias Banks (44) a weaver from Gatley. No True Bill, discharged.

For riotous assembly at the home of John Goodair at Edgeley on 14th April 1812: William Lomax (16) from Edgeley; William Moles (18) from Stockport; Joseph Schofield (18) from Stockport – all weavers. Discharged and entered into recognizances for good behaviour.

For handling stolen goods burgled from the home of Henry Lomas of Adlington on 28th April 1812: Nancy Wallace (32) from Ireland. Discharged by proclamation.

Of the 16 sentenced to death, 11 were respited, leaving 5 for execution which was scheduled for Monday 15th June 1812.

8 prisoners were sentenced to transportation for 7 years. The 11 whose death sentences were respited would have been transported for life, meaning 19 people were transported.

30th May 1812: Special Constables take arms from the public in Horbury

On Saturday 30th May 1812, the Chief Constable of the Horbury District ordered Special Constables to collect arms from members of the public who were prepared to surrender them, following a series of arms raids by Luddites in the area. The authorities were greatly alarmed, as reports were being received that every article made from lead that could be carried - principally pumps and water-spouts, were disappearing from the area, and there were rumours that someone was employed in melting them down and casting bullets.

The Constables were apparently openly mocked, 'hooted and abused' according to the Leeds Mercury, whilst they went about the task, with one man taking musket balls from his pocket and throwing them into the air, remarking "here are hailstones for you."

30th May 1812: Letter from "Teoxperoster" at Manchester tot he Prince Regent

[Postmarked: 10.00 a.m. 30 May 1812]


If you do not look into the affairs of the Country and rescind the orders in council and make bread Cheap & dismiss your present ministers you may expect the same fate as Percival we are a long suffering people--look at the affairs at Nottingham Manchester - Chester - Liverpool the people are in a starveing State you may try to stop them rioting—you may introduce foreign soldiers--can they govern a starving people Take this hint - and reform

your obedient Servent

L[illegible] Teoxperoster

I am not a Lunatic

30th May 1812: The trials of Barton & Worsley food rioters & Bolton illegal oath giver/takers at Lancaster Special Commission

On Saturday 30th May 1812, the penultimate day of the trials proceeded to deal with various offences.

Ann Hamer (aged 43) was charged with riotously entering the mill of Messrs Gilbert, Marsdens & Co at Barton-upon-Irwell on 20th April 1812 and stealing flour. While others had tried to break the machinery, Hamer was said to have filled her apron with flour from a sack. When she confronted and told she would be transported for what she was doing, a witness attested she had said "if you say that, I'll have nothing to do with it" and returned the flour to the sack. However, the same witness saw her return later and take more flour, to the approximate quantity of between 20-30 lb (priced at 4d per pound).

In her defence, Hamer said that she was on her way for a pint of ale when she came across the crowd at the mill, and was compelled to join in with them by some of the crowd. She had later handed herself in to the authorities. Hamer pointed out she was the carer of her blind mother. Hamer was found guilty.

John Hope (aged 33) and Samuel Crossley (28) were accused of rioting at Worsley, and stealing a large quantity of grain flour out of a mill there. The two men were alleged to have been armed with clubs and were found guilty.

John Burney (aged 49) was found guilty of aiding and assisting in administering an unlawful oath to Isaac Clayton, a private in the Royal Cumberland Militia.

James Knowles (aged 21), who had been acquitted of a similar offence on Wednesday, and John Fisher (also 21) were accused of taking an unlawful oath, at Bolton. Both were found guilty.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

29th May 1812: Letter from "N. Ludd" mailed to Henry Wood, Leicester

Henry Wood,

IT having been represented to me that you are one of those damned miscreants who deligh in distressing and bringing to povety those poore unhapy and much injured men called Stocking makers; now be it known unto you that I have this day issued orders for your being shot through the body with a Leden Ball on or before the 20th Day of June, therefore it will be adviseable of you to settle your worlly affairs and make the best use of your spare time, as nothing can or shall save you from the Death you so justly deserve.

I am
a frend to the Poore


Ludd Office 29 May year Two

29th May 1812: The trials of Thomas Brookes, Hannah Smith & more Middleton rioters at Lancaster Special Commission

On Friday 29th May 1812, three more trials took place at Lancaster Special Commission.

Thomas Brookes (aged 27) was accused of entering, with up to 100 other people, the house of John Cooke at Pendlebury, near Salford and robbing Cooke of two £1 notes. He was acquitted.

Hannah Smith (aged 54) was accused of multiple offences alleged to have been committed during the three days of food-rioting in Manchester.

She was held to be the woman that had approached Charles Walker, who was selling butter in Ardwick on the 22nd April 1812, and informed him that he could sell his butter at reduced prices or see it taken from him. After Walker was afterwards pursued by a crowd to the outskirts of Manchester before being stopped, it was said that Smith was the woman who climbed onto his cart to help deliver out the butter and collected the proceeds of auto-reduction. This was regarded as highway robbery by the prosecutors, a highly unusual charge for food rioting. Smith gave no defence to the charge.

Smith was also accused of grand larceny for her alleged actions in Manchester on the second day of food rioting there on 20th April 1812.  She was accused of stealing potatoes with a crowd of others at Bank Top in town from a James Radcliffe, as well as inciting many to join in this and other actions during that day. In her defence, she denied ever touching the potatoes.

Smith had no witnesses to counter the accusations, and was found guilty of both offences.

Following this, 6 prisoners, all but one of them women, were put to the bar accused of riot in Middleton on 21st April 1812. The accused were Ann Butterworth, daughter of Robert (19), Samuel Howarth (17), Alice Partington (42), Millicent Stoddard (28), Ann Butterworth, daughter of William (19) and Ann Dean (20). A witness attested that the 6 accused were part of a 200-strong group of armed men and women who had proceeded to the houses of two employees at Burton's Mill, Benjamin Cooke & James Kay, who were suspected of being amongst those who fired on and killed people the day before outside the mill. The houses of Cooke & Kay were ransacked, with Cooke's furniture being broken and burned in the street. Although alibis were given, all six were 'without the least hesitation' found guilty.

Monday, 28 May 2012

28th May 1812: Arson at Horbury

On Thursday 28th May 1812, a shed adjoining a barn belonging to a Robert Waltshaw of Horbury was set alight. The fire was discovered and extinguished before it progressed to the Barn.

28th May 1812: The trial of Manchester & Middleton rioters at Lancaster Special Commission

At 8.00 a.m. on Thursday 28th May 1812, rioters alleged to be present in Manchester & Middleton in April stood trial at the Lancaster Special Commission.

Six prisoners were accused of riotously assembling at the shop of John Holland on Deansgate on 20th April 1812 & stealing provisions.

John Lee (aged 46) was said to have admonished Holland to open the door to his shop, when the crowd initially approached. When Holland refused, Lee was said to have kicked at it. Thomas Hoyle (aged 27) was said to have then said to have brought a piece of wood to join Lee in battering down the door. When the crowd gained entry and began to throw the provisions out into the street, John Howarth (aged 30) was said to have joined in.

Howarth, Lee and Hoyle all contended that on the day they had left work to go home, travelling past Holland's shop, but that they did not join in with the crowd.

The Jury disagreed, and Howarth, Lee and Hoyle were found guilty. The others accused - Henry Ashton, Richard Southern & Phoebe Smith - being acquitted.

On the same day, 6 prisoners were accused of having set fire to the mansion of Emanuel Burton and also of extorting meat and liquor from Daniel Burton at Middleton on 21st April 1812.

Before proceeding to the evidence, Mr J.A. Park for the prosecution stated that in a riotous assembly, where the riot proceeded to arson, all of those present would be guilty of arson - even if they had been there out of idle curiosity.

It was alleged that John Kenyon (aged 40) had been seen outside Burton's factory on 20th April, beckoning to the crowd to attack it, and was said to be present at Emanuel Burton's mansion the next day, taking part in throwing stones through the windows. Abraham Ogden (aged 21) was similarly alleged to be present amongst the crowd at the house.

A single witness attested that he had met John Scholes (aka Wragg, aged 19), James Taylor (aged 25) and Paul Greenwood (aged 26) amongst the crowd on the way to Emanuel Burton's house. He attested that Scholes had been eager to drink beer. At the house, the same witness saw all three, plus Robert Ogden (aged 24) in the yard before the house was set alight. All four were also seen by the witness at Daniel Burton's house later.

Ogden, Scholes and Taylor denied being present, and Kenyon said he had been in Middleton to collect some cloth for dyeing, which he had collected and then returned back home. Several witnesses attested to the good character of the accused.

After deliberating for an hour, the Jury found the 6 men not guilty. However, Park introduced an indictment against the men for rioting, and their cases were traversed until the next Assizes. Bail of £200 each had to be paid, plus 2 sureties of £100 each, sums which they had no chance of meeting, meaning they would be detained until then.

28th May 1812: Arms raid in Horbury

Thomas Milnes lived at Storrs-Hill, Horbury. At midnight on 28th May 1812, he was asleep when he was roused by the raised voices of men from outside, demanding entry. He did his best to ignore them, but they threatened to break his door down if he did not open it soon, and so he let them in.

The men he let in were not in disguise and immediately demanded his guns, but he eventually managed to convince them he didn't have any. The men were not satisfied, and demanded food, drink and money. Milnes gave them some bread, cheese and beer and some silver coins. The men asked him to provide some food and drink for others who were watching outside, and he gave them more provisions to take away. When the men eventually left, they were civil with him, bidding him goodnight.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

27th May 1812: Disorder lasting hours in Dewsbury results in two people being bayonetted

On the night of Wednesday 27th May 1812, a seemingly very significant event occurred in Dewsbury, but which only merited one paragraph in the Leeds Mercury of 30th May:
We are informed, that an affray of some hours duration, took place between the military and a number of the inhabitants at Dewsbury, on Wednesday night, in which two of the populace were bayonetted, but we are happy to say, not mortally. The particulars of this unfortunate rencontre have not yet reached us.

27th May 1812: Parliamentary Select Committee on the Framework-knitters Petitions is released

On Wednesday 27th May 1812, the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to consider the petitions of the framework-knitters released their findings from the evidence they had heard and made recommendations.

The report was clear, as early as the third paragraph that 'nothing less than the interference of the Legislature will be competent'. It considered the Charter granted by King Charles the Second to the Framework-knitters in 1664 to be a 'dead letter', ignored by the hosiers and unenforced by the local authorities.

The report singled out the chief complaint of the framework-knitters the hearings had heard from - that of 'fraudulent work' made by poor practices - as the principal cause of the decline of the trade. The report recommended that single press lace, single cotton and single worsted and cut-ups be prohibited, along with the payment of truck or goods in lieu of wages.

The Committee was keen to underline that none of the witnesses had called for a regulation of wages and, in part contradictory to their calls for regulation, that 'trade must always be left to find its own level'. Similarly, the Committee was similarly sceptical about the value of regulating frame-rents, but did feel that greater transparency was necessary.

Finally, the Committee unhelpfully pointed out that only one Hosier had been prepared to give evidence, leaving the door open for them now to influence the progress of the Bill they had already recommended.

In just over 6 weeks time, Hosiers would become more involved before another Select Committee.

27th May 1812: The trials of the Bolton oath givers at Lancaster Special Commission

At 9.00 a.m. on  Wednesday 27th May 1812, 12 men stood trial for aiding in the administering of an unlawful oath to Sergeant Holland Bowden of the Bolton Local Militia, at Great Bolton on the night of April 19th 1812.

The principal witnesses at the trial were the undercover members of the Bolton Local Militia, the 'blackfaces' that had appeared during the meeting on Dean Moor that evening. Although their names were left out of the newspaper reports of the trials, from notes of the trials in the Home Office documents we know the names of some of them. A couple are familiar - i.e. Colonel Fletcher's chief spy, John Stones, and his father Simon Stones. The others are: Corporal William Orrell, Corporal Lawrence Harwood. Private Abraham Kaye, John Wood & Peter Grundy.

The evidence they gave at the trial paints a vivid picture, but contrasts starkly in many respects from the evidence given 5 months later by others present at the meeting when they 'un-twisted' themselves before the authorities. Our account of the events of April 19th is drawn from these sources and not the trial account.

Fletcher's spies attested that they were sent to Dean Moor by their commanding officer, Adjutant Warr, to observe what happened and arrived at 11.00 p.m. to find 100 others there. Before they were allowed to join everyone, they were challenged by a man armed with a rudimentary pike for the password and offered the correct counter-sign.

The spies attested that John Hurst (37) was 'General Ludd' on the evening, and conducted the meeting. They said he had his face whitened and was armed with a pistol and a kind of Halberd. They said it was he who calmed the group down when there was an alarm that cavalry were approaching, and outlined the plans to go to Chowbent, first to meet with others and then to proceed to Westhoughton.

The trial was largely concerned with the oath being forcibly administered later to the Bolton Militia Sergeant, Holland Bowden, when the group came across him at Hulton Lane Ends. The spies attested that Joseph Greenhalgh (22) had said of Bowden "He's nothing but a spy, he's a sergeant in the Bolton Local Militia; damn him, I know him, either twist him or puff him (i.e. shoot him)". The spies also said that a hatchet was held over Bowden's head whilst the oath was administered to him.

The others accused at the trial were: Christopher Medcalfe (41), James Brierley (30), Henry Thwaite (24), Thomas Pickup (51), Samuel Radcliffe (35 - who had been acquitted of being involved in the Westhoughton incident at the trial the day before),  Joseph Clement, William Gifford, John Hays, Peter Topping, and James Knowles.

With Bowden being unable to identify any of the prisoners as to having been present that night, the identification of the accused was left Stones and his men. That they centralised the role of the accused and minimised their own role and involvement was to be expected. After the trial concluded at 7.00 p.m., the jury took just 30 minutes to find Medcalfe, Brierley, Thwaite, Pickup, Hurst, Radcliffe and Greenhalgh guilty. The other men were acquitted.

27th May 1812: Letter from "Iulius - Lt. de Luddites” to “Revd Mr. Blacow" at Liverpool

Duke Street


It was with the greatest indignation and regret that I sat still, last Sunday, to hear thee profane, the holy temple of the Lord with impious falsehood on the subject of hellborn Percivall.. According to the opinions of our most eminent divines, no man has any right to obtrude his own political opinions from the pulpit to any congregation, and much less to back them with falsities – had it been in any other place than the church my Pistol would have soon silenced thy blasphemy.—however beware tho’ thou art spared for a time yet when that time arrives, not even the Prince of Wickedness whom thou prays for, shall afford thee protection: thou art weighed in the balance and art found wanting, and this is the call of a christian for thee to repent; I do understand thou hast long been a disgrace to the holy order of Christianity.-and a most wily hypocrite, taking care to secure to thyself the places of two better men.-therefore art thou worthy of dying with thy depraved master George the Prince whose body shall be sacrifised to the manes of the brave and patriotic Bellingham and all those who have talk’d against him must repent and drop tears of their hearts blood--for I will overturn, overturn,-overturn,-this is decreed,-

I am thine and his
eternal enemy
Iulius - Lt. de Luddites

Revd Mr. Blacow
St Marks-

The above is a true Copy of the original Letter of which the same purports to be a copy the same having been carefully compared and examined with the original by me.

In Faith and Testimony whereof I have
hereunto subscribed my name and afiixed my
Seal as a public notary this 27th May 1812.
Archd Keightley Public Notary Liverpool

Saturday, 26 May 2012

26th May 1812: Arms raid at Ossett

In the evening of Tuesday 26th May 1812, up to 50 Luddites conducted a nocturnal arms raid on a property in Ossett. Whilst the main group waited at a distance, a smaller group of between 8 and 10 Luddites knocked up the house and upon someone coming to the door made clear their purpose, demanding all the arms in the property. After receiving a gun and a brace of pistols, the Luddites demanded beer, which they were given. After this, they left.

26th May 1812: Peace & Parliamentary Reform meeting at the Elephant, Tib Street, Manchester

As noted previously by Colonel Fletcher's spy, John Bent (aka 'B'), the meetings of the delegates of various trades had now shifted their position to campaigning for peace & parliamentary reform. On the evening of Tuesday 26th May 1812, they held a meeting at the Elephant public house on Tib Street in Manchester and finally agreed on 12 resolutions, as well as the wording for petitions. The resolutions were subsequently printed into a handbill, below.

26th May 1812: The Chester Special Commission commences

On Tuesday 26th May 1812, the second special Assize held in the North West commenced in Chester. The purpose of the trials were to try those committed to Chester Castle for offences in Cheshire during the disturbances the previous month.

The Leeds Mercury of 23rd May suggested that prior to the start of the trials 'an intimation was received' (presumably in a threatening letter) that an attempt would be made to rescue the prisoners. A week later, the Mercury reported on how seriously the authorities were taking security: 600 of the Local Militia of the city of Chester, as well as 300 of the North Lincoln Militia and 90 of the Oxford Blues (cavalry) would occupy the Castle Yard during the trials. Every man had 10 rounds of ball cartridge.

The presiding Judges - Sir Robert Dallas and Francis Burton MP (second justice on the Chester circuit) - arrived on the Monday evening, and were met by the High Sheriff of Cheshire, Edmund Yates. They proceeded to Chester Castle to open the Special Commission.

After attending Divine Service at Chester Cathedral on Tuesday morning, the Judges proceeded to Chester Castle to swear in the Grand Jury, who were as follows:

Wilbraham Egerton, Esq, Foreman.
S. Alderley, Esq.
Richard Congreve, Esq
W. W. Currey, Esq.
C. Cholmondeley, Esq.
[ ] C. Dod, Esq.
Birkenhead Clegg, Esq.
Booth Grey, Esq.
Henry Hesketh, Esq.
Bell Ince, Esq.
Charles Leycester, Esq.
Egerton Legh, Esq.
Thomas Marshall, Esq.
Richard Richardson, Esq.
Roger Swettenham, Esq.
T. Tarleton, Esq. Jun.
E. O. Wrench, Esq.
Robert Willmot, Esq.
George Ormerod, Esq.

The Chester Courant of 2nd June 1812 recorded the charge that Judge Dallas then delivered to the  Jury:
Gentleman of the Grand Jury,

It is not my practice, as you well know, to address anything to you, on ordinary occasions, in the way of normal charge. The cases which are, generally, in the Calendar, being of common occurrence, seldom require any particular remark, and, with the exception of a single instance, which being of a special nature demanded special observation: I have never detained you beyond a few moments, from giving immediate attention to the business to be submitted to your inquiry. The service, however, which we are now called upon to perform, is of a more extensive and complicated nature, and may become, in many respects, both of fact and of law, of some nicety and delicacy of execution.

Of their magnitude and importance, it is scarcely necessary for me to speak, nor to inform you that we are now assembled, not in the common course of public duty, but under a Special Commission; which, on behalf of his Majesty, his Royal Highness the Prince Regent has thought fit to direct, for the general delivery of the gaol of this county, but which will at present be confined to the respective trials of the prisoners now in custody, under the charges of having been concerned in the several riotous and felonious practices that have of late taken place; and which, tending to the subversion of all order and Government, demand early enquiry, and if the results should render it unfortunately necessary, early example.

And, Gentleman, tracing the outline of the duty to be discharged, from the Calendar, with which I am furnished, I lament to observe, as it is not only grievous in respect to the number of commitments, but equally so, in the modes and varieties of offence, comprising almost every sort of crime which guilt, diversified into all its forms and shapes can present, and calling for the application of numerous common law and statuary provisions; with respect to some of which, as connected with the bills of indictment, to be submitted to you, it may be proper that I should make a few observations.

The least and lowest on the list, though the rout and origin from which all the others appear to spring is the charge of riotous and tumultuous assembling; taken singly, and by itself, it is a misdemeanour only; but it is the peculiar property of this offence, even when the least criminal, in its conception, seem to change its original cast and character: and what at first was, perhaps, but a disorderly meeting, more for the purpose of clamour and complaint, than for any serious, and still less felonious mischief, branches out, as it proceeds, into every species of crime, running through the range of capital offences, and often terminating in the guilt of high treason itself. Continuing, however, our present consideration to the charge of riot, as an offence at common law, more or less criminal, according to the circumstances of the particular case, I can do no better than give you the description, as it is to be found in books of authority.

“A Riot, says Mr. Serjeant Hawkins, seems to be a tumultuous disturbance of the peace by three persons or more assembling together of their own authority, with an intent mutually to assist one another, against any who shall oppose them in the execution of some enterprize of a private nature, and afterwards actually executing the same in a violent and turbulent manner, to the terror of the people, whether the act intended were of itself lawful or unlawful.”

It is not necessary to follow the detail into which he afterwards proceeds; but for the purpose of immediate utility, one or two points only need further be stated

“It seems, he says, to be certain, that if a person seeing others, actually engaged in a riot, do join himself with them, and assist them therein, he is as much a rioter as if he had assembled with them at first, for the same purpose.” And as to the degree of violence or terror with which the intended enterprize must be executed, it appears, he adds—“To be clearly agreed, that in every riot there must be some circumstances either of actual force and violence, or at least of an apparent tendency thereto, such as are naturally apt to strike a terror into the people, as the shew of armour, threatening speeches or turbulent gestures, for every such offence must be said to be done to the terror of the people:” and this finishes what I have to say to you on the subject of misdemeanours.

The class of cases to which I shall next advert, are those of felonies, not capital.

Of these, the foremost in point of danger to the public, and of proportionate guilt in the individuals concerned, is the offence of taking or administering an unlawful oath or engagement, which may be treason or felony, according to the circumstances of the particular case, but which I apprehend, will come before you in the shape of felony only.

Considered in this light, it is an offence created by a particular statute and which applies to two descriptions of person—those taking an unlawful oath or obligation, and those imposing it; both of whom are put upon the same footing in point of criminality—such conduct, in each instance, being declared to be felony, and subjected at the discretion of the Court, to transportation to seven years.

With respect to the nature of the oath or engagement, it appears to me that the best direction I can give you will be, to refer to the Act itself, comparing the evidence before you with the description it contains; and I say the evidence, for it is not necessary the express words of the oath should be stated in the indictment, the statute providing that it shall be sufficient to set forth the purport, or some material part thereof. And as to what shall be considered taking the oath or engagement, here, again, you will be relieved from all difficulty, for it is declared, that any engagement or obligation whatever, in the nature of an oath, shall be deemed an oath, within the intent and meaning of the Act, in whatever form or manner the same shall be administered, and whether it shall be administered by any person, to any other person, or taken without any administration, by such person himself. Nor will it be any justification, should the fact be so, that the oath was originally taken by compulsion, unless the party taken it shall, within four days, if not prevented by sickness, or actual force, have declared the same, and the whole of his knowledge respecting it, in the manner the Act points out. This, of course, generally speaking, would be matter of defence to come from the accused; but I mention it as I go along, as the circumstances of compulsion, might, by possibility, appear in some such case, and leave you at a loss for its precise operation and effect, unless the provision of the statute were pointed out. And here again, Gentlemen, before finally quitting this subject, I must beg of you to consider whatever falls from me, as more intended to direct you to the sources of legal information, than as stating with exactness and precision what the law is; it will therefore be more satisfactory to me, and more profitable to yourselves, should any cases of difficulty occur, to refer to the letter of the law, which, of course, you will have before you; and if any doubt arises upon the meaning or construction, to apply to the Court.

I now come to offences of a capital nature, and of these the cases of robbery: that is, taking from the person by violence or putting in fear, will require your particular attention.

To constitute a crime of robbery, there must be a taking from the person by force, or by putting in fear, which supplies the place of force; and therefore in common cases, this offence is easily understood, and as easily established, for no man can doubt what is force or violence: and the threat of violence is itself putting in fear. In the common instance therefore, of a highway robbery, no difficulty can occur, that is not a mere difficulty factor, arising upon the truth of the story told, or the identity of the party accused.

The cases which will become before you, may, in many respects, not prove of so plain and distinct character, and therefore it is necessary I should state a few leading principles, as to be found in the books of criminal law, or settled by cases on a similar description.

I say, nothing as to actual violence, for that property so obtained, will amount to robbery, is that which precludes the possibility of doubt. The difficulty (if any) will arise upon what is putting in fear.

And first, it is clear that a threat of violence, and such as to induce a man of common firmness to entertain apprehension for his safety, is in law, putting in fear. On the threat of violence therefore, as well as an actual violence itself, no difficulties likely to occur but the difficulty (if any) can only be created by the consideration of what in law is a threat, so as to constitute putting in fear.

Now, with respect to this, it is clear that a threat need not be a threat in words, for even a request in terms, is meant only as a cover for a threat, being intended to operate as a threat, and accompanied by circumstances to give it that operation, and thereby excite fear, will be as much a putting in fear, as a direct menace, and therefore, the question in all such cases, will be a mere enquiry of fact, depending upon the precise circumstances of the particular case; was the request a pretence, and nothing more?

But not to leave this too much at large, floating in uncertainty, from any looseness or laxity of statement on my part, I will mention to you the substance of the leading case, applicable to the point, as your best guide on this occasion.

During the riots in London, in the year 1780, a boy, with a cockade in his hat, knocked violently at the door of the prosecutor, who opened it: the boy said, “God bless you! remember the poor mob;” the prosecutor told him to go along, which he said, “then I will go and fetch my Captain:”—he went, and the mob, to the amount of 100, and with sticks, and what else they could get, soon after came, headed by a man on horseback having his horse led by the same boy; on their coming up, the bye-standers said, “you must give them money,” and the boy said, “now I have brought my Captain.” Some of the mob said, “this gentleman is always generous.” The prosecutor then asked the prisoner how much? who answered, “half a crown, Sir;” on which the prosecutor gave the prisoner half a crown, and this was holden to be robbery.

One other circumstance it may, however, be proper to mention, and which is, that it is sufficient if the property be taken in the presence of the owner, it need not be taken immediately from his person, so that there be violence to his person, putting him in fear.—And further I should add, that a threat to destroy property, will have the same effect, with a threat of personal violence, as as destroy a man's house, and cases of a similar description.

Beyond this, I have also to point your attention to a different description of cases, of which I fear there are many in the calendar, and that is, the compelling a party, under pretence of buying, to part with property for less than it is worth: this is clearly robbery.

It is not necessary (indeed it might be otherwise than useful) to pursue any of these subjects more into detail. Whatever the principle of law is to result from matter of fact, slight circumstances will make the distinction between guilt and innocence legally considered: and therefore, beyond the most general illustration, no safe or steady light can be afforded.

On the remaining cases I am not aware that any particular remark will be necessary. Beginning to pull down, or to demolish a house, setting fire to it, burglary, stealing in a dwelling-house to the amount of 40 shillings, setting fire to a mill, all these are capital offences, but will depend for their investigation, merely upon the facts in proof; as will also another set of cases, which by the 22 Geo. 3, C. 41, are made capital felonies, that is, the destroying any silk or cotton manufacture in the loom, or any tools or utensils employed in the making them, or Juve down night breaking into any house or shop with such intent.

And, now gentleman, I have adverted in a general way, more at length than my inclination would have led me to do, but in obedience to what I feel my duty, to the several offences, which in the form of bills of indictment, are likely to come before you. With this general exposition, or rather allusion to what the law is, the task I have imposed upon myself is brought to a close; and beyond the line and limit of judicial duty, I neither feel disposed, nor do I think it proper to advance a single step. To what circumstances these disorders are owing, what may have been the remote, and what the proximate causes, I have no precise knowledge, nor the means of forming any very satisfactory conjecture; absolutely much less so, than you Gentlemen residing upon the spot. That of the multitudes assembled upon so many different occasions, there may not have been many induced to it by the pressure of distress; that there may not have been others seduced by evil example at the moment, it would not only be uncharitable, but unjust to suppose.

But I fear there is reason to apprehend, that much of the character of these dreadful outrages is of a different description: the printed hand-bills, which have been circulated for some time past; the discourses which have been held; the doctrines which have been published; the hopes held out to the disaffected; and the threats made use of to the well-disposed; and lastly, and above all that which was before surmised, but will now distinctly appear, at least in point of existence, though not of extent, the secret oath or engagement binding equally to the commission and concealment of crime; this cement and consolidation of all conspiracy; this stamp and treason itself! All these, put together, denote, and too plainly, for prudence to disregard, the instrumentality of wicked instigation, working to the production of something more than [illegible] or partial mischief. With this, however, exception, it may connect with the business before us, or appear in the course of it, we have at present no concern.—All we have to do is take care, that if the law has been invaded in the cases submitted to your enquiry, it should vindicate itself; and this, I have no doubt, we shall do in our respective stations, by consideration [to] discharge of the painful, not indispensable duty we are called upon to perform; always [illegible], as we shall, in the midst of faith and [illegible] to the public, that temperance and moderation are of the essence of justice, and that even strictness and severity cease comparatively speaking, to be painful when our [illegible] is become single, and we are left without choice.

His Lordship then directed Mr. Hudson to place the whole of the prisoners at the bar: and informed them that their trials would commence the following morning, at eight o'clock, when he expected they would be prepared on their parts.

26th May 1812: The trial of the Westhoughton Luddites at Lancaster Special Commission

At 8.00 a.m. on Tuesday 26th May 1812, the prisoners accused of the taking part in the destruction of Westhoughton Mill stood trial at the Lancaster Special Commission.

Fourteen prisoners stood trial for arson: 10 men, 2 boys of 15 & 16, one 15 year-old girl & one 19 year-old woman. All of the accused were identified by those who worked at the Mill.

Job Fletcher (aged 34) was seen amongst the group that had marched from Chowbent to Westhoughton - it was alleged by a witness that he said to them about Westhoughton Mill "take notice, that yonder devil is not on fire before three hours are over". James Smith (aged 31), walking on crutches, was seen heading up the mob. Later, Smith was said to be active in inciting those gathered to destroy the mill, and was also seen throwing stones at the windows.

Abraham Charlson, (aged 16), was said to be armed with a scythe, which he used to attack the window frames. He was also accused of fetching straw from a nearby public house which was used to eventually set light to the Mill.

Another boy, 15 year-old John Bromilow, was participating in the destruction of the Mill, but was pulled away by his mother.

Thomas Kerfoot (aged 26) was said to be amongst the mob, shouting and breaking windows - it was alleged that it was he that first cried out "set fire to it".

Two sisters, Lydia & Mary Molyneux, 15 & 19 respectively, were said to be extremely active, one using a muck hook and another a coal pick to break the windows. They were alleged to have cursed the souls of those who worked at the factory, with Mary crying out "set fire to it". When the rioters gained entry, both of them were observed clapping encouragement and shouting "now lads!".

The defence argued that the indictment was flawed: they suggested that the description of the building as a mill was in error, since that description should apply to a place where corn or similar was ground. Similar arguments were advanced about the other description offered - warehouse and loom shop - but the Judges over-ruled the objection.

Alibis were offered for several prisoners, alongside attestations as to good character. The trial lasted 12 hours.

The Jury deliberated for an hour before returning their verdict at 9.00 p.m.: Thomas Kerfoot, Job Fletcher, Abraham Charlson & James Smith were found guilty. John Bromilow, William Kay, Bold Haworth, John Shuttleworth, John Charlson, Mary Molyneux, Lydia Molyneux, Samuel Radcliffe, Robert Woodward and Adam Bullough were acquitted.

Friday, 25 May 2012

25th May 1812: A Hosier, James Tarratt, gives evidence before the Select Commitee into the Framework-knitters Petitions

Prior to Monday 25th May 1812, those giving evidence before the Parliamentary Select Committee into the Framework-knitters Petitions had been the Framework-knitters themselves. But five days after the Committee had last sat, a Hosier called James Tarratt gave evidence.

Tarratt was a lace manufacturer from Nottingham. He started his evidence by echoing the views of the Framework-knitters who had presented evidence earlier: that the manufacturer of single press lace had greatly injured the trade, and that although there was a difference in price between this form of lace and others, single press was effectively worthless after the first time it was washed as it lost shape. He advocated the prohibition of single press lace.He also took the framework-knitters line on cut-ups.

Tarratt also called for the prohibition of truck, and that a printed schedule of prices paid by the hosier should be displayed on each workplace, but agreed with the Committee that the prohibition of foreign trade was the 'principal cause' of the 'decay' of the trade.

25th May 1812: The Lancaster Special Commission commences

Baron Alexander Thomson (left) & Sir Simon le Blanc (right)
On Monday 25th May 1812, the special Assize to try those committed for trial during the recent disturbances in Lancashire - a Special Commission - commenced at Lancaster Castle, where the prisoners were also held.

The Judges presiding over the trial - Baron (Sir Alexander) Thomson and Sir Simon le Blanc - had arrived at 6.00 p.m. on the previous Saturday, having left London on Thursday 21st May, and were met by the High Sheriff, Edward Greaves, before proceeding to formally open the court on the same day. The Leeds Mercury of 23rd May informed that Mr Justice Chambre and Mr Baron Graham were also present.

Monday began with the swearing-in of the Grand Jury, who were as follows:

Joseph Radcliffe, of Royton, Esq. Foreman,
Isaac Blackburne, of Bank-Hall,
John Birley, of Blackburn,
Thomas Drinkwater, Irwell-House,
William Farrington, of Shawe-Hall,
Henry Fielden, of Witton,
Ralph Fletcher, of Tonge-with-Haulgh,
Thos. Gillibrand, of Chorley,
Nathanial Gould, of Salford,
Wm. Hulton, of Hulton,
Wm. Horton, of Rochdale,
Strethill Harrison, of Lancaster,
Wm. Jones, of Broughton,
John Lever, of Alkrington,
Thomas Leyland, of Walton,
Edmund Rigby, of Ellel Grange,
Benjamin Rawson, of Darley,
Miles Sandys, of Graithwaite,
John Silvester, of Chorley, and
John Simpson, of Hope, Esquire.

The foreman of the Jury was Joseph Radcliffe, the Magistrate from the West Riding who had his hands full dealing with Luddites there. His pre-eminent position these trials is a fact rarely mentioned by historians. Also notably present was Colonel Ralph Fletcher. Even allowing for the wide differences between the modern trial system and that of 200 years ago, it would be difficult to pick a more prejudiced and partial jury than this.

The Lancaster Gazette of 6th June 1812 gave a brief, summarised account of the Judges' charge to the Jury:
An admirable Charge was given to them, by Baron Thomson, in which he stated the law which applied to the different cases which would come before them. Persons breaking into warehouses, mills, or shops, and setting fire to them, or stealing or destroying any goods therein, were guilty of felony, without benefit of clergy. Persons guilty of administering or aiding and consenting to the administering of unlawful oaths, were liable to seven years transportation. He concluded with exhorting them to use their utmost endeavours, in their respective neighbourhoods, to restore and promote the public tranquillity.
The Court was then adjourned to the following morning, when the trials would commence in earnest

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

23rd May 1812: 'Vindex' expresses sympathy for the plight of the Luddites in the Leeds Mercury

On Saturday 23rd May 1812, the Leeds Mercury carried a letter from a pseudonymous author, 'Vindex', expressing sympathy for the Luddites and questioning the way that technology was being introduced by the manufacturers in the West Riding:

Leeds, May 13th, 1812.

MR. EDITOR, —I should be extremely sorry if there is any thing in the inclosed paper that will preclude its insertion in the Leeds Mercury, for I believe nothing would contribute more to heal the present unhappy differences that prevail about Machinery that a temperate discussion on its propriety and usefulness. It was this opinion that induced me to make the present communication, together with the consideration that nothing like a fair examination of the question as yet appeared before the public.

My hopes that these observations will obtain a place your paper are founded on the liberality of your mind and the independence of your character. You are not, Sir, I believe one of those who would wish to maintain any sentiment principle by the prosecution or suppression of what was contrary thereto, but rather trust it to be rejected or adopted other common sense of mankind.

My object is to say something in behalf of a body of men whose conduct has never been mentioned but to be severely condemned as the most unreasonable and foolish that men could possibly be guilty of.—And even you, Sir, who have generally been distinguished by your moderation, and who usually endeavour more to convince than to abuse, have not failed to bestow on them, pretty liberally, the epithets of misled multitude, miserable wretches, deluded men; and all this without ever examining into the subject of their complaints, or enquiring how far they are founded on reason.

But I shall now proceed to examine the principal object of this paper, namely, the question, How far they are commendable who wish to introduce Machinery at this time as a substitute for manual labour. And, secondly, How far they are justifiable who oppose it.

As to the first, I think there can be no difference of opinion amongst men, tolerably informed, only as to the type of manner of introducing it; for it would be evidently absurd to employ men to perform that business which might be conveniently executed by a machine, unless, by throwing a number of men out of employment, the detriment to society would exceed the advantages; and that this is the case at present I think is pretty evident, for there are already a great deal more men than can find employment.—There is, I believe, no reason to be afraid from the dearness of our manufactures, that we shall lose ground on foreign nations, for all foreigners are yet at agreat distance behind us, both in the price and quality of their manufactures, and, what is of much greater consequence, both in industry and skill. In times of peace, indeed, when we have all other nations to contend with, Machinery will prove an useful auxiliary enabling us to undersell them; but at the present juncture, when we have few other markets than our own settlements, it can make no difference to the Merchants whether their cloth be dressed by hand or machinery, provided they in this respect be unanimous.

I may add too, that the introduction of Machinery has been much too sudden and general; but there has not been time given to those who are injured by it to obtain employment in any other way; and that, upon the whole, those who introduce Machinery at this time, are not entitled to that approbation they have generally received.

I come now to consider, How far they are justifiable who oppose it. My first observation is, that a man’s trade is a kind of hereditary right which he has derived from his parents, it is a sort of property to him for which he has paid, and ought to be held as sacred as any other kind of property whatever; it is not reasonable that a man who has spent a long and labourious apprenticeship in order to learn a difficult business, in expectation that the public would employ him, should at once be deprived of all advantage from exercising it, and reduced to the rank of a common labourer. That this will be the case is evident, for by the general substitution of Machinery numbers will be obliged to seek for common labour, where their work will be much increased, and they will not receive above one-third of their former wages.

Now, Sir, if any other order of men, the Clergy or Military, for instance, was affected in so serious a manner, by increasing their duty and taking away two-thirds of their salary, would it not excite violent discontents among them? and would they not oppose, by every means in their power, a system so ruinous to their interests, however beneficial it might prove to the public?

If it becomes necessary for the good of the community that a trade should be abolished, those who exercise it should not all at once be thrown out of employment and left destitute; they ought to have a compensation for the loss of it. Without this, it would be as unjust as taking the land of a private individual for the benefit of a public road, and not giving him a fair valuation for it. This is an injustice that never takes place in one case, nor ought it ever in the other.

I have only one thing more to touch upon, that is, certain Resolutions published by the “Merchants and Manufacturers,” which have produced a great effect on the minds of the labouring classes, and will, I believe, account for the general complacency with which they look upon the depredations lately committed: These Resolutions insinuate that poor people have grown too high and independent, and that it is necessary to humble them.

I shall conclude with an observation from the celebrated author of “The Wealth of Nations,” who says, “that we cannot surely murmur at those being well clothed and lodged, who clothe and lodge the whole community.” I remain, yours, &c.


23rd May 1812: Letter from "Ned Ludd" to Nicholas Vansittart at London

Mr Vansittart


As you have now accepted the place of Chancellor of the Exchequer I hope you will learn Wisdom from the fate of your predecessor, for if you be determined to persevere in the iniquitics & oppress the poor as he did depend upon it you will share the same fate but I trust the Justness of his death have a proper effect upon your conduct & you will do all that lays in your power to amend & note the injuries he has done otherwise you must take the cousequences—I just give you this Gentle hint if you dont profit by it it will be your own fault or you will be watchd narrowly if an immideate amendment be not made for the poor you may expect to hear from me again shortly

yours truly

Ned Ludd

May 23 1812

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

22nd May 1812: Complaints from Nottingham are sent to Gravenor Henson in London

1812. May 22


Dear Friends,

I take this opportunity of informing you how very Clamourous the people are all Round the Country they say nether you nor Mr Smith mention a word about the Plain trade say your all Lace & plain Silk hands that There has been no proper evedence examined for the too Needle Branch I have been out too days and could not get one Peney they look Plesent as a Cows husband at me Swear they will not pay aney More—I have had a great Deal of trouble these too days on that account—3 Men came from Basford yesterday insisting I should imedeately go to London to see what you have done for them I told them there was the Money to colect from the Country I could liot be spared on that acount that I would write to you for they are not satisfied with what Mr Blackner and Mr Allin told them said you Neaver mentioned a word about their branch in your Letters—PS write to me by return of post or youl soon see me in London or else I must Run my Country—pleas Give my Respects to Mr Allsop Mr Large and Mr Latham—tell them I ham well satisfied with wat you have done for us and I will take Care you shall not want for Money think I can collect 20 or 30 pound next week no more at present from your constant Friend

Wm. Bowler.

[Addressed to] Mr. G. Henson . . . London.

Monday, 21 May 2012

21st May 1812: Captain Francis Raynes encounters Luddites assembling near Mottram at night

Captain Francis Raynes was an officer in the Stirlingshire Militia, a Regiment which had recently been sent into the North from their quarters at Deal in Kent. After being briefly based in the Luddite heartlands of Loughborough and Derby, the Regiment was sent first to Macclesfield, and then onto Ashton-under-Lyne in Lancashire. Raynes was sent with a company of up to 80 men to the nearby village of Mottram-in-Longdendale in Cheshire, which had seen disturbances and machine-breaking in the area in the third week of April.

Upon his arrival, he was approached by the 'principal gentlemen' - mill owners and manufacturers - who all wanted military protection lest their properties be attacked again. Raynes agreed to post guards at the various factories and mills

Raynes was soon receiving reports that Luddites were assembling on the hills between Stalybridge Mottram each night, holding meetings and even drilling. On Thursday 21st May 1812, he was told by George Hadfield, the well-to-do owner of the Old Hall at Mottram, that 'hundreds' of men had assembled on the hills behind his house the previous evening, many of them armed, and that at one point a gun had been fired.

Raynes and his men had been patrolling in a different location that night, and so had missed the assembly. Someone told him that he and his men were being continually watched, and that scouts were reporting their location, aiding the Luddites in avoiding the Militia. He decided to venture out onto the moors that evening, to see what he could learn about the local Luddites, but to only take a small detachment - himself, 2 soldiers and the local curate, a Mr Lightfoot who knew the countryside and all the byeways.

Raynes' small group was on the moors between 11.00 and 12.00 p.m. He had ordered his men to conceal their weapons and 'turn their caps' to make them appear less conspicuous, and after an hour traversing the lanes about a mile and half from Mottram, they could see look-outs in the distance. Moving closer, they perceived greater numbers, but someone in the group ahead gave was aware all was not well - a signal was given, and the whole group dispersed in different directions. Raynes and his men now showed their arms, and ran in pursuit, calling out as if there were greater numbers of the Militia nearby. But Raynes soon realised that the numbers of Luddites were so great that there was now a danger that he and his men "should shortly become the pursued, instead of the pursuers". His group of 4 therefore hid in a ditch until all was quiet.

Making his report to his commanding officer the next day, he wrote that he had heard a plan was afoot for the Luddites to surprise his men in their billets and steal their arms. He also voiced suspicions that some of those enrolled under the Watch and Ward were working with the Luddites.

Shortly afterwards, his detachment would be relieved by a detachment of the Norfolk Militia under Captain Langford and called to the large military camp on Kersal Moor near Salford, but he would be sent back to Mottram again the following month.

21st May 1812: A soldier is attacked in Leeds

In the evening of the 21st May 1812, Ensign Madden of the 30th Regiment was walking through the streets of Leeds. He had passed the Moot Hall when he was set upon by up to three men, one of whom drew a sword from under his coat at thrust it at him.

Although Madden was injured in the thigh by the sword, the wound subsequently proved to be minor.

21st May 1812: Colonel Fletcher seeks help from the Home Office for his spy, John Stones

Bolton 21st May 1812

Dear Sir/

I feel much obliged by your Favor communicating Mr. Ryders Approval of my Offer of Assistance and authorising me to incur such reasonable Expence as may be necessary for giving Effect to the Prosecution of those committed to Lancaster on Charges of Riot – Sidition &c —. (The Testimony of one of our main Informers [John Stones] may, in the opinion of Messrs Stoner & Ravald – Clerk to the Majistrates here) be necessary to convict some of the most notorious Offenders … And therefore his Information has been taken amongst others & was one of those transmitted to you, 15th.—

His Father – Simon Stones – who was the Leader of those Ten Men – amongst whom some others of our Confidants were introduced to the Meeting of the 19th April – has since the Committals to Lancaster become suspected, & the suspicion has been extended also to his Son—who as he resides in one of the most siditious Parts of this Neighbourhood has requested to have his Family removed to a Place of greater Safety – which has been promised on our part & will be carried into Effect during his absence at the Assizes.—We have charged Messrs Stoner & Ravald – to represent to Mr. Hobhouse, that in those Cases where the Proof is likely to be sufficient without Stones’s Evidence to omit him & only make use of his Testimony where absolutely necessary.—

It is hoped that Government will deem his Services deserving of some remuneration – even should his giving open Testimony in Court deprive him of the means of procuring further Information.

Bs last report I thought it proper to enclose. The Information of Taylor respecting the Arming at the Potteries if correct — affords Cause for Alarm.—In disturbed Neighbourhoods – there should in my humble opinion be a Power vested somewhere to disarm all Persons excepting such as may be authorised by Majistrates or the Civil Officers to have them in their Possession.—The use made of the Fire Arms in the attack of Mr. Burtons Works at Middleton in this County—and against Mr Cartwrights Works in the County of York—& the nightly seizing of Arms lately practised by the Rioters in the Neighbourhood of Huddersfield in the said latter County – seem to me to require a stronger remedy than any which is capable of application under any existing Law.—

I am afraid there will not be time sufficient before the special assizes to avail ourselves of Bs Information in respect to John Buckley and therefore it seems to be a subject deserving of consideration whether when the Bill now pending in Parliament, if passed into a Law, will absolve all Persons who have administered or taken on unlawful Oath (on their confessing their Guilt & subscribing the Oath of Allegiance) from the Pains & Penalties of the existing Law – or whether Buckley, & others similarly circumstanced if apprehended after the said Bill shall have passed into a Law & before any such confession, can avail themselves of a subsequent confession – & by that means escape Trial and Punishment.

Arthur Gordon mentioned by B as having fled is one of the Persons charged with being concerned in the Murder of Charles Chadwick of Westhoughton about 3 years ago—John Lever, the other Person charged, is now in Custody - and has been remanded, waiting untill Gordon shall be taken. Harper the accuser (a Convict under sentence of Transportation) being, I fear, an Accomplice, it will require some collateral Testimony to bring the Offenders to Justice – and this will require more time than the Interval to the Special Assizes will afford & therefore this matter must, I fear, be deffered to the Autumn General Assize. Gordon & Lever have long been Associates in Sidition. The latter when last taken into Custody, was under bail on a charge of drinking “the Death of the King”, and it therefore becomes more necessary to keep him in Custody under the Hope that he may be brought to capital Punishment on the charge of Murder, which would render any Prosecution for Sidition unnecessary.—Trusting you will excuse my Prolixity — I remain

Dear Sir
Yours most faithfully
Ra: Fletcher

21st May 1812: Gravenor Henson updates Nottingham about progress at the Select Committee in London

1812. May 21



I take this Opportunity of informing you that the Committee have closed the Evidence, and will make their Report on Monday; We have hopes that the Trade will be incorporated, the same as the Cutlers at Sheffield, or in other Words, the Charter will be ratify'd by Act of Parliament; You must endeavor by every means in your Power to raise a Sum of Money and send us whatever you can; Mr Toplis thinks we shall have to pay Mr Gurney the Short Hand Writer, You dole us Money out as though you was bestowing Alms, here we are at a great Expence, Paying Coach Hire for Witnesses Return, and  you send us Five Pound; If I had not Money of my Own in my Pocket, we should have been quite fast; I gave Ten Pound to Mr Toplis, 2=12=0 to Mr Green 1=11=6 to Mr Blackner and 1=11=6 to Mr Allen Besides paying 15 Shillings for my Lodging which Blackner and Columbell occupied—Latham and Large, I hope will be with you in the beginning of the Week; They cannot come down for want of Money, they mean to collect the Town and County—

One Person is sufficient to remain here when the Bill is in Parliament at least till the Third Reading—Why the Devil dont you send the Silk Stockings; are you asleep! Mr Keck leaves Town for Leicestershire to morrow and will not be in Town before the Kings Birth Day. Lord how negligent you are, If you cannot send all send some Damn the Trade they seem determined on their own Destruction: They are the most backward dilatory, unwilling to do good race of Men on Earth: Send if you can but I confidently hope they are now on the Road; Send them Blast them either send them or bum them, If they do not arrive instantly they will be of no use. If any Man in the Trade refuses to do his Duty in the making of Articles for the Recovery of his Trade Knock his Teeth down his Throat instantly.

I am Sir
Yours eternally
G. Henson

P.S. I have One Pound Ten Shillings left of my own Money.

[Addressed to] Mr. Thos. Roper . . . Nottingham.

21st May 1812: Inquest into drowning of Sgt Moore & companion in Manchester returns verdict of 'Wilful Murder', reward posted

At 12.00 p.m. on Thursday 21st May 1812, and after being adjourned 3 times in the week, the Jury at the Coroner's inquest into the deaths of Sergeant Moore and his companion in Manchester returned a verdict of 'Wilful Murder' after 3 hours deliberation. The inquest heard evidence that Moore had been threatened for the past 3 weeks prior to his death, and went to bed in the dark without lighting a candle, presumably because he feared assassination.

The Boroughreeve and Constables of Manchester offered a reward of £200 for the discovery of one or more of the perpetrators.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

20th May 1812: More witnessess give evidence before the Select Committee on the Framework-knitters Petitions

On Wednesday 20th May, two more witnesses gave evidence before the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Framework-knitters Petitions.

Gravenor Henson resumed giving evidence from the day before. Henson played to the gallery to the extent that he compared the English Trade with the French Trade, saying that the revolution had helped the trade in England because many frames there were destroyed as part of it, and also went on to insert nationalism into his evidence by stating that French knitters were inferior to English ones.

In addition, Henson spoke of the need for the regulation of frame-rents to a fixed percentage of their value, in order to drive out the speculators, and also the prohibition of single-press lace and two-course hole. He laid the blame for the diminution of trade squarely at the feet of the 'fraudulent' quality of work & bad practices.

John Wallbank, a framework-knitter from London was next to give evidence. He stated that he was in full agreement with all that Gravenor Henson had had to say, and noted that the fleecy hosiery trade in London could not compete with the articles being sent from Nottingham, which were being sold for such a low price, but were of totally inferior quality.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

19th May 1812: More prisoners committed to Chester Castle

On 19th May 1812, the Chester Courant reported on a number of prisoners who had arrived at Chester Castle to face trial at the forthcoming Special Commission, which would commence in 4 days time:

On referring to our paper of the 28th ult, our reader will find a list of thirty-two prisoners, since which the following have been received at the Castle:—Abraham Broadbent and James Crossland, for riotously assembly and destroying the machinery of R. Thorniley, a manufacturer, and threatening his life; John Ellis, for destroying seven shere frames, belonging to Thomas Rhodes; and William Greenhough, for entering the shop of Elice Berry, at Tintwistle, and carrying away a quantity of flour.—John Garner, taking an unlawful oath; and James Renshaw, for obtaining divers sums of money, from different individuals, at Etchells; and Joseph Thompson, for stealing a silver soup ladle, a quantity of spoons and other articles, the property of John Goodair, at Edgeley, and for having afterwards set fire to the house and furniture. Nancy Hurst and Edward Redfern, for carrying away large quantities of meal and flour, from the warehouse and granary of the proprietors of the Huddersfield canal, situate at Staley. John Temples, for having, in company with others, entered the dwelling-house of Samuel Wagstaff, at Bollington, and stealing therefrom five silver tea-spoons and a great variety of wearing apparel; and John Heywood, for destroying machinery belonging to Messrs. Sidebothams, at Tintwistle.

19th May 1812: Gravenor Henson gives evidence before the Select Committee into the Framework-knitters Petitions

On Tuesday 19th May, the Secretary of the United Committee of Framework-knitters, Gravenor Henson gave his first day of evidence before the Select Committee into the Framework-knitters Petitions.

Henson spoke first about plain work made from worsted or woollen yarn, and how the introduction of spinning machinery for worsted had meant that the thread was of an inferior quality, having inconsistencies in the thickness, which when used in knitting meant that the goods produced were simply not very strong and inferior in quality. Henson also spoke about plain cotton hosiery, and the profusion of cut-ups affecting quality, and also the use of cut-ups to make silk and cotton gloves.

Henson spoke in great detail about the trade and good and bad practices which he had seen decline and develop respectively.

19th May 1812: The execution of John Bellingham

The Times of 19th May 1812, carried a report about the execution of Spencer Perceval's assassin, John Bellingham, who was hung less than one week after he had killed the Prime Minister on Monday 18th May 1812. The report does not make it quite clear, but after he was hung, his body was sent for dissection.


The crowd assembled to witness the execution of this man was by no means so great as has been collected on many former occasions. The wetness of the morning, and the recollection of the dreadful catastrophe that happened at the execution of Holloway and Haggerty, no doubt, contributed to lessen the number of spectators. Very soon after seven o'clock, the LORD MAYOR and Sheriffs arrived at the Sessions House, in the Old Bailey, where about twenty Gentleman were assembled. At twenty minutes after seven the LORD MAYOR and Sheriffs went from the Sessions House to the prison, to see the sentence of the law put in execution. At half-past seven, the prisoner, accompanied by the Rev. Doctor FORD, came down from his cell, to have his irons knocked off. He walked up to the block which was prepared for that purpose, with a quick but firm step. Upon coming out, he looked up, apparently to see the state of the weather, and immediately laid his foot on the block with great composure; and while the man was knocking off the irons, he desired him to keep them steady, to prevent their shaking or jarring his leg. He was dressed in a brown great-coat, saying that he wore at his trial, a striped kerseymere waistcoat, light pantaloons, and his shoes down at the heels. As soon as his irons were off, he went, accompanied by Doctor FORD, the LORD MAYOR, and Sheriffs, and two or three Gentleman, to a room adjoining the press-yard, to wait until the time for proceeding to the scaffold.

The hour being nearly arrived at which he was to suffer, one of the attendants proceeded to fasten his wrist together: he turned up the sleeves of his coat, and clasping his hands together, presented them to the man who held the cord. When they were fastened, he desired the attendant to pull down his sleeves, so as to cover the cord. The officer then proceeded to secure his arms by a rope behind him: when the man had finished, he moved his hands upwards, as if to ascertain whether he could reach his neck; and asked whether they thought his arms were sufficiently fastened, saying, that he might possibly struggle, and that he wished to be so secured as to prevent any inconvenience arising from it, and requested that the rope might be tightened a little, which was accordingly done. During the whole of this awful scene he appeared perfectly composed and collected; his voice never faltered; but just before he left the room, to proceed to the place of execution, he stooped down his head, and appeared to wipe off a tear. He was then conducted through the press-yard and the prison, to the fatal spot. He walked very firmly, and appeared even more composed than many of the persons were present at this awful scene.

After his irons were taken off, and he had returned to the room adjoining the press-yard, he put on a pair of Hessian boots. He did not appear to be at all emaciated.

The procession, which moved quickly along, was followed by the Gentleman who had been permitted to attend. The Sheriffs and some of the Officers first went out of the Debtor’s door upon a part of the scaffold, between the door and the place of execution, a little lower in situation, covered over from the rain. Here they stood with only their own offices, the LORD MAYOR, and about six Gentleman; the others being left inside the door in the prison. Bellingham ascended the scaffold, accompanied by Dr. FORD, the Ordinary, the executioner, and one or two officers, who kept rather back; the Ordinary and executioner alone going forward with him.

He ascended the scuffle with a rather light step, a cheerful countenance, and a confident, a calm, but not at all and exulting air. He looked about him a little lightly and rapidly, which seems to have been his usual manner and gesture; but he had no air of triumph, nor disposition to pay attention to the mob. On his appearance, a confused noise arose among the mob, from the desire and attempts of some to huzza him, counteracted by far greater number who called “Silence!” He took no notice of this, but submitted quietly, and with a disposition to accommodate, in having the rope fastened round his neck; nor did he seem to notice any thing whatever that passed in the mob, or to be any way gratified by the friendly disposition which some manifested towards him.

Before the cap was put over his face, Dr. FORD asked if he had any last communication to make or any thing in particular to say. He was proceeding about Russia and his family, when Dr. FORD stopped him, calling his attention to the eternity into which he was entering, and praying; Bellingham praying fervently also.

The last thing the Clergyman said to him, was asking him how he felt. To which he answered, calmly and collectedly, saying, “he thanked God for having enabled him to meet his fate with so much fortitude and resignation.”

When the executioner proceeded to put the cap over his face, Bellingham objected to it and expressed a strong wish that the business might be done without it; but Dr. FORD said that was impossible. While the cap was putting on, and fastening, (it being tied round the lower part of the face by a white handkerchief), and just when he was tied up, about a score persons in the mob set up a loud and reiterated cry of “God bless you! God bless you!” This cry lasted while the cap was fastening on; and though those who set it up were loud and daring, it was joined in but by a very few. The Ordinary asked Bellingham if he heard what the mob was saying. He said he heard them crying out something, but he did not understand what it was, and enquired what. The cry having by this time ceased, the Clergyman did not inform him what it was. The fastening on of the cap being accomplished, the Executioner retired. A perfect silence ensued. The crowd evidently expected he would be turned on instantly, but Dr. FORD continued praying with him for about a minute, while the Executioner went below the scaffold, and preparations were made to strike away its supporters. The clock struck eight, and while it was striking the seventh time, the Clergyman and Bellingham both fervently praying, the supporters of the internal square of the scaffold were struck away, and Bellingham dropped, and he then remained only visible down to his knees. The Clergyman was left standing on the outer frame of the scaffold. When Bellingham sunk, the most perfect and awful silence prevailed, not even the slightest attempt at a huzza or noise of any kind was made. He did not struggle at first, and by very little afterwards, the executioners being below pulling his legs, that he might die quickly; they were concealed in the inclosure from the sight of the populace. As Bellingham dropped, the Clergyman retired from the scaffold, and in ten minutes afterwards the mob, which was not great, began to retire.

The body hung till nine o'clock, and as soon as it was cut down, was placed in a cart, and covered with a sack. The assistant of the executioner and a boy got into the cart, and, preceded by the City Marshal, the body was conveyed up the Old Bailey, along Newgate street. The populace followed the cart close: and as the windows were thronged with spectators, the executioner two or three times removed the sack from the body, that it might be seen. The cart turned down St. Martin’s-le-grand, up Little Britain, and the body was delivered at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, in Bell-yard. The populace then dispersed.

He took the sacrament yesterday morning with great devotion, making the responses most corectly, and shewing he was well used to the practice of the Church of England. When this was over, he seemed much relieved, and thanked God he was now on the point of having an end put to the troubles in which he had been constantly involved for the last thirty years.

He was allowed only bread and water after his condemnation: and observed that he thought such diet preserved his health and spirits better. In this cell he lay mostly on his bed, no chairs and tables being allowed; and he slept a great deal. He slept remarkably sound on Sunday night, and until the time when it was called on to prepare for execution. With all his exclamations about his wrongs on account of Russia, and his lamentations about his family, we could fill our paper; but the substance of them is already accurately given in our preceding accounts. He firmly and uniformly refused to express contrition for his crime, or for Mr. PERCEVAL'S fate; and he is steadily denied having any accomplices.

The scaffold or platform of execution was well guarded with additional wooden and iron-fences, none but peace-officers being in view, or indeed within the city.