Saturday, 5 May 2012

5th May 1812: Letter from Holywell, Flintshire, to Mr. Douglas and others at Manchester

Sr. If you do not advance the wages of all your workmen at Holywell, you shall have all your mills burnt to the ground immediately. it is harder upon many of us here than upon those who receive parish relief. we are starving by inches by reason of our small wages & provisions so high. You had better be content with a moderate Profit, than have your mills destroyed. You know how it is with Burton & Goodier & many others, it will be the same with you in a few days, if you do not advance all hands. All the Miners and Colliers are ready to join us. 3000 men can be collected in a few hours

The poor cry aloud for bread
Prince Regent shall lose his head
And all the rich who oppress the poor
In a little time shal be no more

Take care you be not in the number of the oppressors. we cannot wait but a very few days, we are ready for blood or bread, anything is better than starving by inches.

A transcript of this letter is contained in a letter from William Hay to the Home Office of 6th May 1812, an can be found at HO 40/1/1.


  1. Have you found an earlier reference to the phrase "blood or bread" than this letter?

  2. No, but then I haven't been looking for that phrase