Sunday, 9 September 2012

9th September 1812: The Town Clerk of Barnstaple sends more information to the Home Office about the poet Shelley

Barnstaple Septr. 9th. 1812.

My Lord

Referring your Lordship to my Letter of 20th Ulto., and in addition to the Information therein contained, I beg to inform your Lordship that, not being enabled to obtain here sufficient Information respecting Mr. Shelley, I went Lymouth where he resided, and returned Yesterday — On my arrival there I found he with his Family, after attempting in vain to cross the Channel to Swansea from that Place, had lately left Lymouth for Ilfracombe, and on my following him there, found he had gone to Swansea, where I imagine it present is.—

The Day after his Servant Daniel Hill was apprehended in Barnstaple, Mr. Shelley came here to apply for his discharge, and on visiting him in Gaol, did not, I apprehend, express any Astonishment at his Situation, or reprove him for his Conduct, which appears rather extraordinary.—

In my letter of 20th Ulto. I mentioned that Mr. Shelley had been observed to drop a Bottle into the Sea, which on being picked up and broken, was found to contain a seditious Paper; on enquiring into this Circumstance at Lymouth, I found that that Paper was a Copy of one which I sent to your Lordship intitled the “Devil’s walk”, and which was taken from Daniel Hill on his Apprehension:—I have also learnt that Mr. Shelley has been often observed on the Beach in Company with a Female Servant (supposed a Foreigner) and that he frequently in her Presence only, has been observed to push out to Sea — from the Rocks, some small Boxes, and one Day being observed by a Man more curious than the rest, to put one of these small Boxes to Sea, the Man went out in a Boat and brought it in, and on opening it, he discovered a Copy of the other Paper which I sent to your Lordship intitled “Declaration of Rights”—This little Box I have seen, and observed it was carefully covered over with Bladder, and well resined and waxed to keep out the water, and in order to attract Attention at Sea there was a little upright Stick fastened to it, at each End, and a little Sail fastened to them, as well as some Lead at the Bottom to keep it upright.—This Box I have ordered to be safely taken care of.—From these Circumstances there can be no Room for Doubt but that the Papers found on Daniel Hill were given him by his Master.— I also learnt at Lymouth that Mr. Shelley had with him large Chests which were so heavy that scarcely three Men could lift them, which were supposed to contain Papers.—

Mr. Shelley is rather thin, and very young, indeed his Appearance is I understand almost that of a boy.—

Any further Intelligence which your Lordship wishes me to procure, I will immediately attend to, on hearing from your Lordship.

I have [etc]

Henry Drake
Town Clerk

This letter can be found at HO 42/127.

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