Saturday, 3 November 2012

3rd November 1812: General Maitland gives the Home Secretary his view of the situation in the West Riding

Wakefield
3rd November
1812

My dear Lord

I arrived here the day before yesterday, and yesterday received your Lordship’s letter communicating to me what I own I was most happy to hear that all confidence in Lawson was perfectly at an End.—

I had a letter yesterday from Scotland stating he wanted to proceed to Carlisle, was detained by not being able to procure a Place in the Hayes, which makes me hope they may be able to get hold of him there, should he turn up in this Quarter I shall send him to Chelmsford under a similar letter to that sent to Scotland from General Acland.

Since my arrival here I have been making myself thoroughly master of the Cases that have occurred during my Absence, and of the present State of the Country.

In regard to the first I have read with much attention, all informations taken in the Case of Horsfall’s Murder, and I own if it be permitted to make use of the term on such an occasion, the satisfaction I felt upon their perusal was infinite, as I have not the smallest doubt the Evidence must go home to the feelings and Verdict of any fair and impartial Jury.—

In the numerous Cases of Shear Breaking &c, the Evidence too in many, is very strong and such as must I think lend to conviction.—

In respect to the second, the Situation of the Country, I have great satisfaction in saying, I think a great change has been produced by confidence being regenerated, and People been no longer afraid to speak out.

The supposed Magic Charm of the Illegal Oaths is completely done away, and that general system of Terror which prevailed is I trust fast subsiding.

Under the circumstances a most material point for consideration is the expediency of bringing the Prisoners in York Castle to an early trial, and upon this I received a letter this morning from Lord Fitzwilliam a Copy of which I have now the honor to enclose together with my Answer.

Your Lordship will perceive if you will do me the honor to peruse that Answer, that I have expressed to Lord Fitzwilliam my sentiments pretty fully, which will save me the trouble of intruding further upon Your Lordship than to express my extreme solicitude that a Person be sent down for the purposes I have mentioned in that letter without any delay.—

It may be said that sending up the Cases would have a similar effect, but I hope I may be permitted to say that no written Informations can be thoroughly relied on without the whole circumstances of the Case being investigated on the Spot, and due enquiry being made upon what grounds these informations were given.

I own I feel deeply anxious upon this Subject, because convinced as I am we have enough of good Cases to bring forward, I should be sorry indeed to see the General Cause suffer from over Zeal and mistaken anxiety of our own People.

Neither can there be the smallest objection I apprehend to this course of Proceeding, it can excite no Jealousy, and in its results I am convinced will be attended with an infinity of good.

It seems to me to be the natural course of proceeding on such an occasion.

I shall write you more fully in a day or two relative to the general State of these Districts, and am

My dear Lord
Your’s most truly
T Maitland

[To] Lord Visct: Sidmouth
&c &c &c

This letter can be found at HO 42/129.

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