Saturday, 23 June 2012

23rd June 1812: William Robert Hay sends the confession of the convicted Luddite Samuel Radcliffe to the Home Office

Police Office, Manchester 23 June 1812.


Not knowing whether the information contained in the accompanying paper has been transmitted to Government, I feel it to be my duty to send it. I have only received it from Mr. Higgins the Gaoler of Lancaster Castle by this mornings post. It is in account given by Samuel Radcliffe under sentence of transportation from the last Lancaster Assizes being concerned in the administration of oaths. He was the man who administered the Oath to Holland Bowden nr Holton as appeared from the evidence of one John Stones – appears to have been a leading man at the meeting on Dean Moor, and was proved to have afterwards been very active at the fire at West Houghton. On that charge however he was acquitted – his escape was a very narrow. Mr. Higgins has detained this man for the present, thinking that he may be very useful.

I have [etc]
WR Hay

[To] John Beckett Esqr.
Samuel Radcliffe says he has been a delegate from Bolton to Preston. The papers to be conveyed by a delegate are delivered by one of the Secret Committee of the Town or place into other hands by appointment. Thus after having gone through several hands, the person fixed upon as a delegate is told that he must go to a certain field where he will find a stick or mark, where the papers and counterpart Card are deposited. On finding them he takes with him the counterpart card and proceed to the Town or place, where, in an adjacent field he looks of the staff, stick or Mark, & if he finds the counterpart of his card, he there leaves the papers. This is generally done about 11 Oclock at night—He then goes into the Town & visits some of the weavers during the next day. The next night he resorts to the same place, & finds the papers to be returned. There were meetings held every 3 or 4 weeks, and if a delegate be detected or suspected, the signs, countersigns and counterparts are altered – he says the Gentleman at Manchester hold meetings for the district. That there is a considerable fund & many depôts for pikes which are particularly constructed. The Pike part is called the drill from its likeness to a blacksmiths drill or pointrell. The Crescent with two Edges is called the snigger. The whole pike consists of three parts & can be taken to pieces, & fits together by a socket, with a thorough pin & nut screw. It is the rule of the Union never to keep any books more than one night in a house the fear of a search; but every thing is kept out of doors. He does not doubt that there are many thousand Pikes made & deposited. All information is conveyed from Town to Town by the delegate Messengers; who are allowed about 5 [shillings] or 5 [shillings] 6 [pence] per day, & Coach hire, if necessary. He believes the Union extends from London to Nottingham, & from thence to Manchester & Carlisle. Small Towns line between principal places are not yet organized – such as Garstang & Burton. Only some of the Trades have taken the first Oath. He says there is a second Oath taken by superior persons. In the list of names transmitted there is a mark placed opposite the name to denote the possession of trade.

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

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