Sunday, 2 September 2012

2nd September 1812: John Becket of the Home Office writes to the Stockport solicitor John Lloyd


2. Septr. 1812.

Dear Sir

I have received your several letters (3 in No) dated the 31st Ulto by this mornings post.

I had certainly been a little misled by your Statement respecting the Persons who had come in & taken the Oath of Allegiance at your office at Stockport concluding that they were from the immediate neighbourhood of that Place—this however does not appear to have been the case—I hope nevertheless the Example will be followed there in a short time.—

I hope the Clergyman at Holmfirth is a discreet man otherwise the Discretion you have entrusted him with to hold out the Expectation of a Pardon to any Person who will offer to make an ample disclosure of his Crimes may lead to some Embarrassment—The moment this is known every Scoundrel in the neighbourhood may come & claim the Benefit of this offer—& I don't see how a Pardon could be refused in any such case—Besides you are to recollect that the Legislature has not authorized such a Pardon to be granted. & it ought to depend & must depend upon the circumstances of a particular case Whether the Party should receive the Kings Pardon for any offence to Which it is not Extended by act of Parliament. I wish therefore you would write immediately to the Clergyman at Holmfirth and desire that for the present at least no previous general Engagement to grant a Pardon to Persons coming in & making disclosures be made, or the Expectation of it held out—it is not at all Clear that Persons who have taken an illegal Oath, will not readily take the opportunity afforded them by the Act of getting quit of the Penalties attached to that offence—Although they may be conscious of having been concerned in other outrages—It is also Possible that Persons with this Prospect of obtaining something like a General Pardon may come in & pretend they want Absolution from the Penalties they have incurred by taking an illegal Oath—While in point of fact their object is to procure a Pardon for other offences—they never having taken the Oath at all.—

You ask what you are to do with Yarwood. Upon this Point I will write to you again for the present let him remain in Custody—Bent also should remain unmolested—I have received information about him Which leads me to request you will take no notice of Him Whatever without writing to me first—You had better consult General Maitland about William Cooper Who you say was sent into Shropshire to be out of the way—if there is a Probability of his being made useful—it would be an easy matter to send for Him & employ him, I should doubt Whether [near] him not suspected—would not be the better Agents.—

I quite approve of your having urged a Commitment to York Castle in Scholefield's Case & you will acquaint Mr. Scott that He has adopted your suggestion very properly. Mr. Wood was not aware probably of all that you had passed respecting him—Which may account for his suggesting a previous communication with the Secretary of State—I trust that your Endeavours to procure Evidence against the other Parties Who were accomplices with Scholefield may prove successful—The case is so strong against Him that nothing should be said to Him Which can be construed into a promise of Mercy, by way of inducement to him to confess—if He proposes of Himself to say any thing let it be received—but I beg the Gaoler at York may be cautioned on this point, it is one of much Consequence. You will of course apprize me if you discover any thing from the Parties Whom you mention it is your intention to take to a distance—I see no great objection to this Step—provided you bear in mind the caution above mentioned respecting Scholefield—& apply it if possible to other Parties Who are implicated. It is not impossible that with care a conviction may be obtained against more than one.—

Please to send me back the intercepted letter signed J.B.—keeping a copy if you please—& send a copy to Ralph Fletcher Esqr. Bolton to Whom it may be [usefully] new Information against the 38 from Lancaster should be taken and sent up for consideration.

I am &c

(Sigd) J. Beckett

[To] J. Lloyd Esqr—

This letter can be found at HO 42/127.

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