Monday, 21 May 2012

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

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

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