Saturday, 16 June 2012

16th June 1812: The informer 'RW' attends a secret nocturnal meeting near Stockport

The second part of the information from an informer 'RW' relayed to the Home Office by the Manchester Magistrate William Hay concerned a secret meeting that took place in the vicinity of Stockport on the evening of Wednesday 16th June 1812. This is the report sent by a third party, RW's employer:
This morning my informant tells me that a person called upon him last night a little before dusk & said he was going to attend the meeting in the Country; my Informant asked if he would take him with him, was answered “come along,” they proceeded to a place behind Mr. Philip’s at the Bank to a lane end on the right hand going to Didsbury a little short of Mr Walker's house – a little up this lane they met with persons appointed to direct them to a field, in going to which they passed several cross lanes. arriving at the field they met an assemblage of from fifty to one hundred men, in the midst of which a man of genteel appearance (a stranger in the Neighbourhood) of brown complexion, blue coat, from 30 to 40 years of age, under the middle stature came forward & addressed the meeting which was composed of two or three men delegated from each different Townships or village in the Neighbourhood.

This gentleman began to state their plans, which was that they were going on, & will in the collection of arms & in the formation of sufficient Bodies of men in the different Districts – when these things were completed, which he was afraid would not be much before Christmas, attempts would be made against Ministers in London, (at which place he said they had a many well organized staunch friends) at the same time attempts would be made to rob the Mail Coach, which attempts by immediately getting into the newspapers, were to be the signal for an immediate rising, as he said that in little more than twenty four hours of this account left London it would be known over the greatest part of the Kingdom, at the same time, rockets are to be sent up from different stations on the great roads for the information of the surrounding Country.—He said it would be in vain to begin the next time in the partial way they had done before, as it gave the Magistrates and Gentleman sufficient time to draw forces different parts of the kingdom—these efforts must be general & at the same time. He strongly and repeatedly urged the meeting to impress upon the minds of their Neighbours the necessity of not starting ‘till their plans were ripe, by which time there would be a sufficient quantity of Arms for every person who chose to join them.

He then went into a long detail how & by whom the people were oppressed—ministers andc avowed to oppress the people by raising the price of corn, knowing it would bring all the Landed Interest to their side, by enhancing the value of their farms, &c hence this sort of Government must be pulled down before any good could be done—He described and enlarged upon the happy state of France where they had a Government of their own choosing &c—He told the meeting they had a many friends all over the Kingdom, rich & respectable, but which neither policy nor prudence would allow to be seen or named at present, but who at a proper time will come forward & avow themselves.—

Not a word on Mills & Machinery—He concluded by repeating his former cautions & emphatically appealed to their feelings by saying “where can we enter house but the Family are starving, & where is the man that would not meet Death manfully rather than endure it any longer.”

My informant says “he never heard such as speaker in his life, & that he was as fit to stand up either in the pulpit, or at the Bar as any man in the Kingdom.—

The meeting commenced about half past eleven and continued about one hour & half, during which they had out posts to prevent surprize, afterwards the men dispersed & sauntered about until the time that the Watch & Ward were gone off before they entered towards the Town.

The report can be found at HO 40/1/1.

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