Thursday, 13 September 2012

13th September 1812: General Maitland updates the Home Office about arrests made in the West Riding

13th September

My dear Sir

Since I wrote you yesterday I have seen all the People connected with the Men taken up in this Neighbourhood, and I have no hesitation in stating, that my Opinion is, we have got completely into a Set, consisting of about 18 of Vagabonds, who will pay heavily for their Conduct, before any Tribunal to which they may be sent, and I have little doubt indeed, that under the Evidence as I understand it, every Man will be capitally convicted, though at present there is only four seized, to whom this fatal penalty will probably attach.

The Number seized altogether is Seven, of these the List is as follows, with my Opinion relative to each—

Swallow, Committed to York Gaol for Burglary.

Lumb Fisher Batley: Against whom I have no doubt, there is that Species of Evidence, that left no option to a Magistrate to commit them, for any thing but a Capital Offence, and I have as little doubt of their Conviction

Rushworth will probably stand in the same Situation.—

Naylor, & Clegg, I think it doubtful.

In addition to those who are already in Custody, Norton, that we are now searching for, and a Principle in the whole Thing, is to be added.—

We are also looking after a man of the Name of Green, and another of the Name of Sedgwick, but these two last may be also doubtful.

I flatter myself however, if any Management is observed, we will get at all the rest, and should we fortunately so do, it will be a great relief to this part of the Country.

In regard to the Halifax People, I am not able to give you any decided Opinion. I have long known of them, before I came into this Part of the Country, but I have reason to believe too, from what I have heard to day, that the probability is out of this, a fatal result will follow to some of them.—

I cannot state what the effect of all this may be upon the Riding, but I am sure it must be salutary, though the Degree can only be judged of by the Experience of its Effects.—

I shall not intrude at present with any observations, as I hope to see Lord Sidmouth, and yourself so soon, but I can assure you, all this is not done, without a considerable responsibility.

Happily that responsibility, has not hitherto been called in question, from no act of Violence having occurred. But there is no doubt, much of it is not of the strict letter of the Law, though I believe perfectly, in the Spirit both of the Law, and of the Constitution, when fairly understood—

It does not appear, that the Gang here have ever taken the Oath regularly, and I rather think it will turn out, what I heard for the first time three days ago, that an accumulation of Villains, had come into this part of the Country, finding that the Terror, and the Timidity was such, that by knocking at a Door, and stating themselves to be Luddites, they could obtain the same Evils, in a much more quiet manner, than they had heretofore done, by House breaking or any such Practice.

I am [etc]
T Maitland
[To] John Beckett Esqr.
&c &c &c

This letter can be found at HO 42/127.

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