Wednesday, 6 June 2012

6th June 1812: Gravenor Henson writes to Ann Wood about the reward handbill

Following the publication by the Leicester Hosiery firm, Ann Wood & Sons, of the handbill offering a reward for information about the threatening letter to Henry Wood of that firm, and the direct link drawn between that letter and the Leicester Framework-knitters Committee Secretary, Thomas Allsop, Gravenor Henson wrote to Ann Wood to express his concerns:

1812 June 6



I hope you will excuse my Freedom in writing to nominate unpleasant circumstance that occurred in your Family, but the Interests of the Trade of Framework-knitters (whose Deputy I am) being so strictly concerned in an Hand Bill published by your House in which you state that "a Copy of which is been sent to the Secretary of State and also to every Member of Parliament"; compels me to point out that I think you have acted rather prematurely without reflection. With respect to the threatening Letter I always held such Attempts to disturb the Peace and Tranquility of Families in the utmost Abhorrence, I think that no Individual is or can possibly be justified in such diabolical actions Though at the same time I cannot but observe that this Letter is coupled with a Request signed by Mr Allsop that the Hosiers of Leicester would meet to consider the Framework-knitters Bell, I have examined them both carefully, and I cannot see any Analogy whatever between the Letter signed N.Ludd and that signed T.Allsop Secy, The one is a glaring outrage on Humanity and Social Order, the other is a mere notification of an intended Meeting to discuss a very important measure; I am certain Madam that those Persons who advised you to insert them in one Hand Bill was no Friend either to you, the Trade of Leicester or the Community at large; I am very willing to make any allowance for the agitation into which the diabolical Letter in question might have thrown you, I am also well aware that Persons in that Situation are apt to take rash and violent measures; My correspondent Mr Large states, that the Hand Bills the moment the Meeting had met were handed round the Room I know not by whose Orders that was done, but it certainly had the appearance of Design to throw an Odium on the Persons who are making the present Application; I believe it had in some measure that effect; I am perfectly astonished at your Motives for intending to send a Copy of your Hand Bill to every Member of Parliament, to send it to the Secretary of State for the Home Department was a very proper measure, but to send it to every Member of Parliament, could have no other object than to prejudice the Minds of the Members against the Bill. If you are really a friend to Peace and good Order in Society, you certainly took thewrongest step for that purpose, you could possible devise Nothing is so much calculated to restore the distracted Peace of the three Counties, than the Bill which will be presented to the House in a few Days The Regulations of which will do away altogether those Disputes which have for years existed between the Hosiers and their Workmen, it will tend in a great measure to restore several Branches of the Framework-knitting Trade to their once flourishing state and give employ to Thousands; Twill Benefit all & injure none; There is not an Honest Man or Fair Tradesman in the Business that can come forward and say this Bill will injure one; I feel extremely sorry that any thing of this unpleasant kind should have occurred at Leicester, as the Hosiers at Nottm and Derby are on such good Terms with their Workmen: I felt extremely happy yesterday when I found that your Hand Bills had not been received by the Members and so I can assure you did the Hon Members who compose the Committee; Rely upon it Madam, there is no Person would use his utmost endeavors to discover the Incendiary who sent that Letter than myself  As I conceive him to be an Enemy to me, to you and the whole Framework-knitting Trade

I am positive Madam when you and your Sons properly understand the Bill that you will give it every encouragement in your Power, as its tendency is to destroy the Pretence that any Person can have for these Outrages on Humanity

I am sure it must be far from your Intention to do any thing to obstruct any measure that would in the least tend to allay the dreadfull spirit that at present exists in the Bosoms of too many Men in this Country The Committee of the Framework-knitters have done every thing in their Power to restore the Peace of the Counties of Nottingham, Derby, and Leicester, and you must confess Madam, that their Labor has not been entirely lost, I feel confident that you would not by any Act of yours, cause an Event that might produce those dreadfull Outrages in Leicester that too long existed in Nottingham and its Vicinity

I wish you to endeavor by every means in your Power to discover the Author of the Letter that has thrown the Town of Leicester in such Confusion but I could wish at the same time, that you would not throw any obstruction in the Way of the present Application of Parliament; as your Interest must always be strictly connected with the Interests of the Workmen whatever is for their Benefit must be ultimately for yours I trust that you will have the candour to perceive that this Letter is written without any Acrimony, and with no other View than to explain the true Sentiments of the Frameworkknitters Executive Committee In whose Behalf I beg leave to subscribe myself

Madam Your most humble and Obt Servt

Gravener Henson
10 Leigh Street Red Lyon Square

PS If you should wish any further information, either now or at any future Period, I shall feel myself extremely happy to give it you; on the other Hand if you have any communication to make I shall feel myself much honored by your Correspondence.

This letter can be found in the Records of the Borough of Nottingham, vol.8, 1800-1835 (pp.149-150).

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