Saturday, 29 December 2012

29th December 1812: The Town Clerk of Nottingham writes to the Home Secretary about the recent Luddism in Nottingham

My Lord

On my Return from a Journey, into Lancashire on Business I have the honor of receiving your Lordship’s letter of the 26th of December and have conferred with the Magistrates of this Town on the subject of it. The Information communicated by General Maitland to your Lordship I believe came thro’ me as far as concerns the Frame broken in this Town tho’ the medium of General Hawker's Major of Brigade, and was given for the purpose of being communicated to your Lordship.

I am desired by the Magistrates to inform your Lordship that as far as the extent of their Jurisdiction they had previous to the violation of the Public Peace to which your Lordship’s letter has allusion, taken every means in their power short of reestablishing the Military Patroles to obtain Information as to the authors of this mischief. I have endeavoured to employ every means in my power to possess myself of knowledge as to the source and origin from whence these outrages have arisen but at present without effect. Having been entrusted with the execution of the system so successfully pursued by the Corporation of Nottingham and the Committee appointed by them for the suppression of these disturbances, in the course of the last Winter, I have experienced ever since the passing the Act of Parliament which made it death to break Frames the immense and increased difficulty the severity of that law has placed, in the way of obtaining Information as to the proceedings and Views of these Persons. I am desired by the Mayor to state to your Lordship that the Magistrates of the Town cannot act without the Boundaries of Nottingham and that considering the delicate nature of their situation with the County Magistrates having concurrent Jurisdiction within the Town they must feel themselves imperiously bound on no occasion to overstep the Limits which the Law has placed to their authority. The moment any fresh disturbance occurs the Mayor will direct me to apprize you of it, and in the mean time every means will be used to detect, and secure the Offenders.

It is at the same time proper to state that the Trade of this Town is in the most lamentable state and the distresses of the poor, and working Classes severe beyond the power of description.

We do not still think that the breaking of the present Frame originates, in a widely spread organized plan like the Outrages committed last Winter, but that they have been committed by Persons, infinitely more contemptible in point of Number who have been stimulated by the desire of deterring the Manufacturers from such Practices in the Trade as are unpopular with the labouring Mechanics.

I have [etc]

Geo Coldham
Town Clerk

Nottingham
29th Decr 1812

[To] The Right Honorable Lord Sidmouth
&c &c

This letter can be found at HO 42/130.

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