Wednesday, 29 February 2012

29th February 1812: The West Riding manufacturer William Cartwright, takes up residence in his Mill at Rawfolds

William Cartwright
In 1812, William Cartwright was a relative newcomer to the area of the Spen Valley, having occupied the Mill at Rawfolds, near Cleckheaton, for the past 3 years. He was a manufacturer or, more accurately, cloth finisher.

The Mill itself had stood well before Cartwright had taken his tenure there. It had been built by Benjamin Broadley, after he became the owner in 1774 and had previously functioned as a Scribbling Mill, although the Mill itself was only part of a complex of buildings at Rawfolds which eventually included private residences, a workshop and a chemical factory. Surrounding the complex were plots of private land, an Orchard to the South and the Spen Beck, which powered the Water Wheel on the Mill via the Mill Pond and Weirs.

At some point during his tenure, Cartwright had begun to use shearing frames in the Mill, and his large establishment was the only one of its kind in the immediate surrounding area, which was populated with small cropping shops, employing 3 or 4 croppers who used hand shears. According to Frank Peel (1968, p.10), the arrival of Cartwright and his use of the new technology changed all that, with even the much larger cropping shop belonging to John Jackson at nearby Hightown suffering. In the midst of this hardship, Cartwright was prospering, having done well enough to buy 425 yards of land in a field called Broadroyd, which was opposite Rawfield House in 1810. Hall & Kipling (1984, p.10) describe Cartwright as a Whig, opposed to the war and the Orders in Council. But his political values went hand-in-hand with a belief in an aggressive and ruthless capitalism that had no qualms about undercutting his rivals still using a domesticated system, deploying machinery that could be operated far a less skilled, and cheap, labour force. We can also surmise he must have not lacked a certain amount of arrogance, employing these business methods in an area where the Clothdressers' proto-trade union, the Brief Institution, had been so prevalent.

For a physical picture of Cartwright, we have to turn to Elizabeth Gaskell who supplies a pen portrait of him in her by the subject about, in her book about Charlotte Brontë, an author who was later to romanticise Cartwright as the fictional Robert Moore, in her book Shirley:
"Mr. Cartwright was a very remarkable man, having, as I have been told, some foreign blood in him, the traces of which were very apparent in his tall figure, dark eyes and complexion, and singular, though gentlemanly bearing. At any rate, he had been much abroad, and spoke French well, itself a suspicious circumstance to the bigoted nationality of those days. Altogether he was an unpopular man, even before he took the last step of employing shears, instead of hands, to dress his wool. He was quite aware of his unpopularity, and of the probable consequences."
At the end of February 1812, Cartwright was so aware of his unpopularity that he was not even sleeping at his home a quarter of a mile away. Instead, he had set up a bed in the Counting House in the Mill, at this stage being the only occupant outside of normal operating hours. Although it's likely that Cartwright had already received anonymous threatening letters that were doing the rounds among the hated manufacturers in the West Riding, none have survived. How much his constant presence at his Mill was from an obsessive concern to guard it from anything untoward that may occur or, instead, to draw attention away from his home where his wife and small children lived is not clear. But Cartwright would be resident here from now until eventually something did occur in due course.

29th February 1812: Huddersfield magistrate Joseph Radcliffe writes to the Home Office about new attacks in the area

Sir

I had the honor to receive your letter of the 26 Inst.

The inclosed information was taken since I last wrote. The rioters assemble in the night, suddenly break the machines & depart.

On Wednesday a Troop of the Grays marched in from Leeds, & returned on Thursday, when a Squd of the 2d Dragn Gs came in frm york consisting of 100 men, an other Troop from Sheffield arrived yesterday.

Two Troops will be sufficient provided you will oblige us by ordering 100 Infantry, as we are under the necessity to quarter men in all the neighbouring Villages.—

A number of special Constables have been sworn in, & every exertion in the power of Mr. Armitage & Mr. Scott, my brother Magistrates, & I hav been made to discover the offenders. Guns are fired every night in various parts of the country, by the Luddites, to alarm & mislead.—

Could any power be given to make a general search for arms, it might lead to a discovery of the offenders

I have [etc]

(Signed) Joseph Radcliffe

Milnsbridge House

Feby. 29. 1812.

29th February 1812: Birstall Manufacturers & Middle Class petition Joseph Radcliffe for aid

To Joseph Radcliffe Esquire one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the West Riding of the County of York—

Sir

We, the undersigned, Inhabitants of Heckmondwike and Liversedge in the parish of Birstall, have received information that several acts of violence and outrage have lately been committed in the Neighbourhood of Leeds and Huddersfield, particularly the destruction of Machinery used for the dressing of Cloth, and buildings containing such machinery, by Bodies of persons lawfully assembled in the Night, and acting on a systematic plan; — and we are induced to apprehend that there is a design formed by these misguided or ill-designing people and their adherents, to carry their destructive plans to still greater lengths; as well from the Extent to which the Frame-Breakers in Nottinghamshire (whom they seem to copy as their Model) have carried their mischievous Operations, as, also, from the arrangement, the secrecy, and the dispatch, with which they have conducted themselves near Leeds, and recently in your immediate Neighbourhood. The Tenor of an anonymous letter this day addressed to the older of an Establishment containing the kind of Machinery above mentioned, threatening the Destruction of such Machinery, and the life of the owner in case his resistance should injure any of the assailants; and, moreover, a threat thrown out very lately in Liversedge, intimating that the principal Inhabitants are in danger from the number of pistols in High Town (in Liversedge) which seem to us to manifest the same spirit, and to bear upon the same point.

These and similar considerations induce us, the undersigned, to think that every prudent precaution ought to be used, and every measure pursued by the Neighbourhood to prevent the spread of the mischief, and to detect and apprehend offenders against the public Peace & security, and [obscured] would greatly tend to this salutary purpose if a body of cavalry could be stationed in Heckmondwike Liversedge and Cleckheaton all in the same Parish, as the presence of a few regular soldiers would encourage and strengthen the defence of Property, which the owners with their confidential servants may be enabled to make.

We therefore beg leave to request that you will be pleased to take into your consideration the exposed state of the machinery and property of this Neighbourhood, and, if you should think it advisable, to give directions that a small Body of Cavalry may be stationed, for a while in Liversedge Cleckheaton, and Heckmondwike for the defence of property there, and for the expeditious pursuit and apprehension of any misguided persons who may attempt to violate the Laws by which property is intended to be secured. Such a measure, we presume, might be of use in facilitating the communication with, and the support of the military in Leeds.

Saturday 29. Feb 1812.

[Signed by the following]

Jeremiah Firth
John Oates
Franc Popplewell
Robert Clifford
[W] Child
Thos Brooke
Alist Thompson
Hammond Roberson
Thos Cockill
John Smith
JW Wadsworth
James Lister
Thos Lister

29th February 1812: Huddersfield 'Committee for Suppressing the Outrages' publishes resolutions & offers a reward

Following the attack on William Hinchliffe early in the morning of the 27th February, some Manufacturers & Merchants in Huddersfield formed themselves into a 'Committee to Suppress the Outrages'. They met at the George Inn at Huddersfield and passed resolutions, agreeing to offer a reward for information. The Handbill below was issued two days later on the 29th February.



29th February 1812: Leeds Mercury editorial

We have more than once adverted to the unhappy disturbances at Nottingham, and as far as our endurance and efforts could extend, endeavoured to convince the deluded people concerned in these outrages, that they had grossly mistaken the cause of their distress which originated, not in the use of machinery, but in the decay of trade, the unhappy effect of war, and the Orders in Council; we advised them to petition not for Peace, for we considered that was hopeless, but for the removal of the Orders in Council. For this conduct we were denounced as traitors, and branded as incendiaries; but it is a conduct we do not repent of: We offer the same advice to those mistaken persons who are now disturbing the peace of this county by similar outrages. The destruction of all the machinery in the kingdom would not contribute an iota towards relieving their distress. The proceedings they have adopted are most reprehensible and destructive, they tend to destroy the very bonds of society, they introduce into the very heart of the country a species of Civil War, they put those in a state of hostility with each other, who ought to be the best friends, and ultimately tend to introduce either general anarchy or complete military despotism. We would conjure them as they value their country, their wives, their children, their own lives, to pause in this destructive career, and to abandon, before it is too late, a system which can terminate only in misery and ruin.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

28th February 1812: A Liverpool Merchant, John Bellingham, petitions the Prince Regent



To His Royal Highness the Prince Regent


The humble petition of John Bellingham Merchant of Liverpool


Sheweth!


That your Royal Highness having been most graciously pleased to refer your Petitioner’s case to his Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council. — your Petitioner has now most humbly to state to your Royal Highness, that their Lordships have notified to him their inability to take cognizance of the affair — your Petitioner has therefore been induced to state his case in a petition to Parliment.—As the affair is purely national your Petitioner further most humbly implores that your Royal Highness would be most graciously pleased to order his said Petition to be brought before Parliment to the end that your Petitioner may obtain redress agreeable to Law – and as material justice requires.


And your Petitioner will ever pray
&c &c &c


John Bellingham


London 28th February 1812 

Monday, 27 February 2012

27th February 1812: Huddersfield Manufacturers & Merchants form 'Committee for Suppressing the Outrages'

Following the Luddite attack on the premises of William Hinchliffe in the early hours of Wednesday 27th February 1812, Merchants and Manufacturers in Huddersfield convened a meeting later the same day at the George Inn in Huddersfield to discuss what their response should be. The resolutions of this 'Committee for Suppressing the Outrages' and the rewards they offered for information were formally published two days later. The meeting itself was chaired by John Horsfall, the brother of William Horsfall, the manufacturer who had a factory at Marsden that utilised shearing frames. Huddersfield historian Alan Brooke has written a short piece about the 'Huddersfield Elite' manufacturers and merchants at the heart of the opposition to the Luddites in the West Riding:

There were meetings of merchants and manufacturers held as early as 1800 to deal with trade questions, including, no doubt, the machinery question and the Parliamentary enquiries thereinto. For example, a meeting was held in April 1800 in the George to oppose the repeal of the prohibition of wool exports to Ireland.

In response to the growth of the Clothdressers Institution and other clandestine unions, in 1805 a meeting of woollen manufacturers resolved to resist ‘unlawful combinations of workmen ... by all legal means’, in effect agreeing on a blacklist of any workers striking for ‘an advance of wages, or for attempting to enforce regulations contrary to law.’

Among the backers of these meetings occur many of the names who appear later as supporters of Henry Lascelles (see clipping from the Leeds Intelligencer, 24th August 1807, opposite), the Tory candidate in the 1807 County Election, including the Atkinsons (Bradley Mill), the Horsfalls and J Harrop of Dobcross, as well as Whitacre, Jos Scott, Jos Radcliffe, the landowner R H Beaumont and other names too common to be certain they are the same persons, such as the various Brooks and Armitages. These people were also either in the forefront of promoting machinery or in their capacity as magistrates , repressing the Luddite movement.

Lascelles was on the 1806 Inquiry into the Woollen Trade when he made his hostility to the clothiers attempts to limit machinery and retain apprenticeships according to the ancient statutes quite clear. He also attempted to implicate the clothiers Institution with that of the croppers and, by association, with the West of England disturbances of 1802. The machinery question was consequently one of the main issues in the 1807 election, particularly among the Leeds clothiers.

The merchants, manufacturers and magistrates who met in 1812 to repress the Luddites had behind them over a decade of efforts to introduce machinery, lobby parliament to repeal the laws protecting domestic industry and actively suppress working class organisation. The class and political element in the polarisation of local society must have been evident to the participants, even if it is not to some historians.

27th February 1812: Lord Byron's maiden speech to the House of Lords

On Thursday 27th February, Lord Byron made a dramatic maiden speech to the House of Lords which criticised not just the the Frame-breaking Bill, but also the response of the Government and Army to the outbreak of machine-breaking in Nottinghamshire:

My Lords; the subject now submitted to your lordships for the first time, though new to the House, is by no means new to the country. I believe it had occupied the serious thoughts of all descriptions of persons, long before its introduction to the notice of that legislature, whose interference alone could be of real service. As a person in some degree connected with the suffering county, though a stranger not only to this House in general, but to almost every individual whose attention I presume to solicit, I must claim some portion of your lordships' indulgence, whilst I offer a few observations on a question in which I confess myself deeply interested.

To enter into any detail of the Riots would be superfluous: the House is already aware that every outrage short of actual bloodshed, has been perpetrated, and that the proprietors of the Frames obnoxious to the rioters, and all persons supposed to be connected with them, have been liable to insult and violence. During the short time I recently passed in Nottinghamshire, not twelve hours elapsed without some fresh act of violence; and on the day I left the county I was informed that forty frames had been broken the preceding evening, as usual, without resistance and without detection.

Such was then the state of that county, and such I have reason to believe it to be at this moment. But whilst these outrages must be admitted to exist to an alarming extent, it cannot be denied that they have arisen from circumstances of the most unparalleled distress: The perseverance of these miserable men in their proceedings, tends to prove that nothing but absolute want could have driven a large, and once honest and industrious, body of the people, into the commission of excesses so hazardous to themselves, their families and the community. At the time, to which I allude, the town and county were burthened with large detachments of the military; the police was in motion, the magistrates assembled, yet all the movements civil and military had led to—nothing. Not a single instance had occurred of the apprehension of any real delinquent actually taken in the fact, against whom there existed legal evidence sufficient for conviction. But the police, however useless, were by no means idle: several notorious delinquents had been detected; men, liable to conviction, on the clearest evidence, of the capital crime of Poverty; men, who had been nefariously guilty of lawfully begetting several children, whom, thanks to the times! they were unable to maintain. Considerable injury has been done to the proprietors of the improved Frames. These machines were to them an advantage, inasmuch as they superseded the necessity of employing a number of workmen, who were left in consequence to starve. By the adoption of one species of Frame in particular, one man performed the work of many, and the superfluous labourers were thrown out of employment. Yet it is to be observed, that the work thus executed was inferior in quality; not marketable at home, and merely hurried over with a view to exportation. It was called in the cant of the trade, by the name of 'Spider work.' The rejected workmen in the blindness of their ignorance, instead of rejoicing at these improvements in arts so beneficial to mankind, conceived themselves to be sacrificed to improvements in mechanism. In the foolishness of their hearts they imagined, that the maintenance and well doing of the industrious poor, were objects of greater consequence than the enrichment of a few individuals by any improvement, in the implements of trade, which threw the workmen out of employment, and rendered the labourer unworthy of his hire. And it must be confessed that although the adoption of the enlarged machinery in that state of our commerce which the country once boasted, might have been beneficial to the master without being detrimental to the servant; yet, in the present situation of our manufactures, rotting in warehouses, without a prospect of exportation, with the demand for work and workmen equally diminished; Frames of this description, tend materially to aggravate the distress and discontent of the disappointed sufferers. But the real cause of these distresses and consequent disturbances lies deeper. When we are told that these men are leagued together not only for the destruction of their own comfort, but of their very means of subsistence, can we forget that it is the bitter policy, the destructive warfare of the last 18 years, which has destroyed their comfort, your comfort, all mens' comfort? That policy, which, originating with "great statesmen now no more," has survived the dead to become a curse on the living, unto the third and fourth generation! These men never destroyed their looms till they were become useless, worse than useless; till they were become actual impediments to their exertions in obtaining their daily bread. Can you, then, wonder that in times like these, when bankruptcy, convicted fraud, and imputed felony are found in a station not far beneath that of your lordships, the lowest, though once most useful portion of the people should forget their duty in their distresses, and become only less guilty than one of their representatives? But while the exalted offender can find means to baffle the law, new capital punishments must be devised, new snares of death must be spread for the wretched mechanic who is famished into guilt. These men were willing to dig, but the spade was in other hands: they were not ashamed to beg, but there was none to relieve them: their own means of subsistence were cut off, all other employments pre-occupied, and their excesses, however to be deplored and condemned, can hardly be subject of surprize.

It has been stated that the persons in the temporary possession of Frames connive at their destruction; if this be proved upon enquiry, it were necessary that such material accessories to the crime, should be principals in the punishment. But I did hope, that any measure proposed by his Majesty's government, for your lordships' decision, would have bad conciliation for its basis; or, if that were hopeless, that some previous enquiry, some deliberation would have been deemed requisite; not that we should have been called at once without examination, and without cause, to pass sentences by wholesale, and sign death-warrants blindfold. But, admitting that these men had no cause of complaint; that the grievances of them and their employers were alike groundless; that they deserved the worst; what inefficiency, what imbecility has been evinced in the method chosen to reduce them! Why were the military called out to be made a mockery of, if they were to be called out at all? As far as the difference of seasons would permit, they have merely parodied the summer campaign of major Sturgeon; and, indeed, the whole proceedings, civil and military, seemed on the model of those of the Mayor and Corporation of Garratt.—Such marchings and counter marchings! from Nottingham to Bulwell, from Bulwell to Basford, from Basford to Mansfield! and when at length the detachments arrived at their destination, in all "the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war," they came just in time to witness the mischief which had been done, and ascertain the escape of the perpetrators, to collect the "spolia opima" in the fragments of broken frames, and return to their quarters amidst the derision of old women, and the hootings of children. Now, though in a free country, it were to be wished, that our military should never be too formidable, at least to ourselves, I cannot see the policy of placing them in situations where they can only be made ridiculous. As the sword is the worst argument that can be used, so should it be the last. In this instance it has been the first; but providentially as yet only in the scabbard. The present measure will, indeed, pluck it from the sheath; yet had proper meetings been held in the earlier stages of these riots, had the grievances of these men and their masters (for they also had their grievances) been fairly weighed and justly examined, I do think that means might have been devised to restore these workmen to their avocations, and tranquillity to the county. At present the county suffers from the double infliction of an idle military and a starving population. In what state of apathy have we been plunged so long, that now for the first time the House has been officially apprized of these disturbances? All this has been transacting within 130 miles of London, and yet we, "good easy men, have deemed full sure our greatness was a ripening," and have sat down to enjoy our foreign triumphs in the midst of domestic calamity. But all the cities you have taken, all the armies which have retreated before your leaders are but paltry subjects of self congratulation, if your land divides against itself, and your dragoons and your executioners must be let loose against your fellow citizens.—You call these men a mob, desperate, dangerous, and ignorant; and seem to think that the only way to quiet the "Bellua multorum capitum" [the many-headed monster, i.e. the mob] is to lop off a few of its superfluous heads,—But even a mob may be better reduced to reason by a mixture of conciliation and firmness, than by additional irritation and redoubled penalties. Are we aware of our obligations to a mob? It is the mob that labour in your fields and serve in your houses, that man your navy, and recruit your army, that have enabled you to defy all the world, and can also defy you when neglect and calamity have driven them to despair. You may call the people a mob, but do not forget, that a mob too often speaks the sentiments of the people. And here I must remark with what alacrity you are accustomed to fly to the succour of your distrest allies, leaving the distressed of your own country to the care of Providence or—the Parish. When the Portuguese suffered under the retreat of the French every arm was stretched out, every band was opened, from the rich man's largess, to the widow's mite, all was bestowed to enable them to rebuild their villages and replenish their granaries. And at this moment, when thousands of misguided but most unfortunate fellow-countrymen are struggling with the extremes of hardships and hunger, as your charity began abroad it should end at home. A much less sum, a tithe of the bounty bestowed on Portugal, even if those men (which I cannot admit without enquiry) could not have been restored to their employments, would have rendered unnecessary the tender mercies of the bayonet and the gibbet. But doubtless our friends have too many foreign claims to admit a prospect of domestic relief; though never did such objects demand it. I have traversed the seat of war in the peninsula, I have been in some of the most oppressed provinces of Turkey, but never under the most despotic of infidel governments did I behold such squalid wretchedness as I have seen since my return in the very heart of a Christian country. And what are your remedies? After months of inaction, and months of action worse than inactivity, at length comes forth the grand specific, the never failing nostrum of all state physicians, from the days of Draco to the present time. After feeling the pulse and shaking the head over the patient, prescribing the usual course of warm water and bleeding, the warm water of your maukish police, and the lancets of your military, these convulsions must terminate in death, the sure consummation of the prescriptions of all political Sangrados [bleeding]. Setting aside the palpable injustice and the certain inefficiency of the Bill, are there not capital punishments sufficient in your statutes? Is there not blood enough upon your penal code that more must be poured forth to ascend to Heaven and testify against you? How will you carry the Bill into effect? Can you commit a whole county to their own prisons? Will you erect a gibbet in every field and hang up men like scarecrows? or will you proceed (as you must to bring this measure into effect) by decimation? place the county under martial law? depopulate and lay waste all around you? and restore Sherwood forest as an acceptable gift to the crown, in its former condition of a royal chase and an asylum for outlaws? Are these the remedies for a starving and desperate populace? Will the famished wretch who has braved your bayonets, be appalled by your gibbets? When death is a relief, and the only relief it appears that you will afford him; will he be dragooned into tranquillity? Will that which could not be effected by your grenadiers, be accomplished by your executioners? If you proceed by the forms of law where is your evidence? Those who have refused to impeach their accomplices, when transportation only was the punishment, will hardly be tempted to witness against them when death is the penalty. With all due deference to the noble lords opposite, I think a little investigation, some previous enquiry would induce even them to change their purpose. That most favourite state measure, so marvellously efficacious in many and recent instances, temporizing, would not be without its advantages in this. When a proposal is made to emancipate or relieve, you hesitate, you deliberate for years, you temporise and tamper with the minds of men; but a death-bill must be passed offhand, without a thought of the consequences. Sure I am from what I have heard, and from what I have seen, that to pass the Bill under all the existing circumstances, without enquiry, without deliberation, would only be to add injustice to irritation, and barbarity to neglect. The framers of such a Bill must be content to inherit the honours of that Athenian lawgiver whose edicts were said to be written not in ink but in blood [Draco - i.e. 'draconian']. But suppose it past; suppose one of these men, as I have seen them,—meagre with famine, sullen with despair, careless of a life which your lordships are perhaps about to value at something less than the price of a stocking-frame—suppose this man surrounded by the children for whom he is unable to procure bread at the hazard of his existence, about to be torn for ever from a family which he lately supported in peaceful industry, and which it is not his fault that he can no longer so support, suppose this man, and there are ten thousand such from whom you may select your Victims, dragged into court, to be tried for this new offence, by this new law; still, there are two things wanting to convict and condemn him; and these are, in my opinion,—Twelve Butchers for a Jury, and a Jefferies for a Judge!

27th February 1812: Second reading of the Frame-breaking Bill in the House of Lords

On Thursday 27th February, the Frame-breaking Bill was read for the second time in the House of Lords.

The order of the day for the second reading of this Bill being read,

The Earl of Liverpool: observed, that as the present Bill contained some enactments of a novel nature, it was necessary he should state to the House some of those grounds upon which he thought that it ought to pass into a law. The transactions which had taken place, and were still going on in the county of Nottingham, were pretty well known to most of their lordships, and he rose to state that no exertions were wanting on the part of government to remedy the evil and ensure the return of tranquillity and order under the existing laws'; and this he believed was the conviction of those most conversant on the subject, and who had opportunities of local information. It had at length, however, become necessary to recur to, and express the determination of parliament on the subject. The Bill in question was divided into two parts; which most undoubtedly in some respects proceeded on, different grounds. The second part was introduced with a view to the detection of the offenders, which was the principal object. It went to compel individuals in whose houses frames should be broken, to give information thereof to the magistrates, and the provisions of this part of the Bill were calculated as much as possible to insure detection; and it was deemed necessary to render the offences provided against by the Bill capital. He was aware there existed more difference of opinion on this than on any other point: he knew it would be urged, that such an enactment would only tend to render detection more difficult, and the chance of conviction more uncertain. To this, however, he thought it could be rationally objected, that the terror of the law would in many cases operate, where the apprehension of lesser punishments would be found ineffectual. He, for his own part, could see no well-founded objection to try the effects of the measure which was proposed. The chief difficulty in the present case, he repeated, was the difficulty of detection under the existing applicable law; and he believed at the same time, that the operating dread of the severer punishment would, in the present case, be attended with beneficial effects. In addition to this, he observed, that the act was proposed but as a temporary one, and therefore the legislature would have a future opportunity of revising it, on a consideration of its effects. If it should prove ineffectual, they would have an opportunity of considering how far it would be wise or expedient to continue it. But considering ail the circumstances of the case, he was firmly of opinion, that the measures proposed in the Bill were the most proper for the adoption of the legislature; and that the other House of Parliament were well grounded in sending it up for the concurrence of their lordships. He would therefore move, that this Bill be now read a second time.

Lord Byron: rose, and (for the first time) addressed their lordships as follows:

My Lords; the subject now submitted to your lordships for the first time, though new to the House, is by no means new to the country. I believe it had occupied the serious thoughts of all descriptions of persons, long before its introduction to the notice of that legislature, whose interference alone could be of real service. As a person in some degree connected with the suffering county, though a stranger not only to this House in general, but to almost every individual whose attention I presume to solicit, I must claim some portion of your lordships' indulgence, whilst I offer a few observations on a question in which I confess myself deeply interested.

To enter into any detail of the Riots would be superfluous: the House is already aware that every outrage short of actual bloodshed, has been perpetrated, and that the proprietors of the Frames obnoxious to the rioters, and all persons supposed to be connected with them, have been liable to insult and violence. During the short time I recently passed in Nottinghamshire, not twelve hours elapsed without some fresh act of violence; and on the day I left the county I was informed that forty frames had been broken the preceding evening, as usual, without resistance and without detection.

Such was then the state of that county, and such I have reason to believe it to be at this moment. But whilst these outrages must be admitted to exist to an alarming extent, it cannot be denied that they have arisen from circumstances of the most unparalleled distress: The perseverance of these miserable men in their proceedings, tends to prove that nothing but absolute want could have driven a large, and once honest and industrious, body of the people, into the commission of excesses so hazardous to themselves, their families and the community. At the time, to which I allude, the town and county were bur thened with large detachments of the military; the police was in motion, the magistrates assembled, yet all the movements civil and military had led to—nothing. Not a single instance had occurred of the apprehension of any real delinquent actually taken in the fact, against whom there existed legal evidence sufficient for conviction. But the police, however useless, were by no means idle: several notorious delinquents had been detected; men, liable to conviction, on the clearest evidence, of the capital crime of Poverty; men, who had been nefariously guilty of lawfully begetting several children, whom, thanks to the times! they were unable to maintain. Considerable injury has been done to the proprietors of the improved Frames. These machines were to them an advantage, inasmuch as they superseded the necessity of employing a number of workmen, who were left in consequence to starve. By the adoption of one species of Frame in particular, one man performed the work of many, and the superfluous labourers were thrown out of employment. Yet it is to be observed, that the work thus executed was inferior in quality; not marketable at home, and merely hurried over with a view to exportation. It was called in the cant of the trade, by the name of 'Spider work.' The rejected workmen in the blindness of their ignorance, instead of rejoicing at these improvements in arts so beneficial to mankind, conceived themselves to be sacrificed to improvements in mechanism. In the foolishness of their hearts they imagined, that the maintenance and well doing of the industrious poor, were objects of greater consequence than the enrichment of a few individuals by any improvement, in the implements of trade, which threw the workmen out of employment, and rendered the labourer unworthy of his hire. And it must be confessed that although the adoption of the enlarged machinery in that state of our commerce which the country once boasted, might have been beneficial to the master without being detrimental to the servant; yet, in the present situation of our manufactures, rotting in warehouses, without a prospect of exportation, with the demand for work and workmen equally diminished; Frames of this description, tend materially to aggravate the distress and discontent of the disappointed sufferers. But the real cause of these distresses and consequent disturbances lies deeper. When we are told that these men are leagued together not only for the destruction of their own comfort, but of their very means of subsistence, can we forget that it is the bitter policy, the destructive warfare of the last 18 years, which has destroyed their comfort, your comfort, all mens' comfort? That policy, which, originating with "great statesmen now no more," has survived the dead to become a curse on the living, unto the third and fourth generation! These men never destroyed their looms till they were become useless, worse than useless; till they were become actual impediments to their exertions in obtaining their daily bread. Can you, then, wonder that in times like these, when bankruptcy, convicted fraud, and imputed felony are found in a station not far beneath that of your lordships, the lowest, though once most useful portion of the people should forget their duty in their distresses, and become only less guilty than one of their representatives? But while the exalted offender can find means to baffle the law, new capital punishments must be devised, new snares of death must be spread for the wretched mechanic who is famished into guilt. These men were willing to dig, but the spade was in other hands: they were not ashamed to beg, but there was none to relieve them: their own means of subsistence were cut off, all other employments pre-occupied, and their excesses, however to be deplored and condemned, can hardly be subject of surprize.

It has been stated that the persons in the temporary possession of Frames connive at their destruction; if this be proved upon enquiry, it were necessary that such material accessories to the crime, should be principals in the punishment. But I did hope, that any measure proposed by his Majesty's government, for your lordships' decision, would have bad conciliation for its basis; or, if that were hopeless, that some previous enquiry, some deliberation would have been deemed requisite; not that we should have been called at once without examination, and without cause, to pass sentences by wholesale, and sign death-warrants blindfold. But, admitting that these men had no cause of complaint; that the grievances of them and their employers were alike groundless; that they deserved the worst; what inefficiency, what imbecility has been evinced in the method chosen to reduce them! Why were the military called out to be made a mockery of, if they were to be called out at all? As far as the difference of seasons would permit, they have merely parodied the summer campaign of major Sturgeon; and, indeed, the whole proceedings, civil and military, seemed on the model of those of the Mayor and Corporation of Garratt.—Such marchings and counter marchings! from Nottingham to Bulwell, from Bulwell to Basford, from Basford to Mansfield! and when at length the detachments arrived at their destination, in all "the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war," they came just in time to witness the mischief which had been done, and ascertain the escape of the perpetrators, to collect the "spolia opima" in the fragments of broken frames, and return to their quarters amidst the derision of old women, and the hootings of children. Now, though in a free country, it were to be wished, that our military should never be too formidable, at least to ourselves, I cannot see the policy of placing them in situations where they can only be made ridiculous. As the sword is the worst argument that can be used, so should it be the last. In this instance it has been the first; but providentially as yet only in the scabbard. The present measure will, indeed, pluck it from the sheath; yet had proper meetings been held in the earlier stages of these riots, had the grievances of these men and their masters (for they also had their grievances) been fairly weighed and justly examined, I do think that means might have been devised to restore these workmen to their avocations, and tranquillity to the county. At present the county suffers from the double infliction of an idle military and a starving population. In what state of apathy have we been plunged so long, that now for the first time the House has been officially apprized of these disturbances? All this has been transacting within 130 miles of London, and yet we, "good easy men, have deemed full sure our greatness was a ripening," and have sat down to enjoy our foreign triumphs in the midst of domestic calamity. But all the cities you have taken, all the armies which have retreated before your leaders are but paltry subjects of self congratulation, if your land divides against itself, and your dragoons and your executioners must be let loose against your fellow citizens.—You call these men a mob, desperate, dangerous, and ignorant; and seem to think that the only way to quiet the "Bellua multorum capitum" is to lop off a few of 970 its superfluous heads,—But even a mob may be better reduced to reason by a mixture of conciliation and firmness, than by additional irritation and redoubled penalties. Are we aware of our obligations to a mob? It is the mob that labour in your fields and serve in your houses, that man your navy, and recruit your army, that have enabled you to defy all the world, and can also defy you when neglect and calamity have driven them to despair. You may call the people a mob, but do not forget, that a mob too often speaks the sentiments of the people. And here I must remark with what alacrity you are accustomed to fly to the succour of your distrest allies, leaving the distressed of your own country to the care of Providence or—the Parish. When the Portuguese suffered under the retreat of the French every arm was stretched out, every band was opened, from the rich man's largess, to the widow's mite, all was bestowed to enable them to rebuild their villages and replenish their granaries. And at this moment, when thousands of misguided but most unfortunate fellow-countrymen are struggling with the extremes of hardships and hunger, as your charity began abroad it should end at home. A much less sum, a tithe of the bounty bestowed on Portugal, even if those men (which I cannot admit without enquiry) could not have been restored to their employments, would have rendered unnecessary the tender mercies of the bayonet and the gibbet. But doubtless our friends have too many foreign claims to admit a prospect of domestic relief; though never did such objects demand it. I have traversed the seat of war in the peninsula, I have been in some of the most oppressed provinces of Turkey, but never under the most despotic of infidel governments did I behold such squalid wretchedness as I have seen since my return in the very heart of a Christian country. And what are your remedies? After months of inaction, and months of action worse than inactivity, at length comes forth the grand specific, the never failing nostrum of all state physicians, from the days of Draco to the present time. After feeling the pulse and shaking the head over the patient, prescribing the usual course of warm water and bleeding, the warm water of your maukish police, and the lancets of your military, these convulsions must terminate in death, the sure consummation of the prescriptions of all political Sangrados. Setting aside the palpable injustice and the certain inefficiency of the Bill, are there not capital punishments sufficient in your statutes? Is there not blood enough upon your penal code that more must be poured forth to ascend to Heaven and testify against you? How will you carry the Bill into effect? Can you commit a whole county to their own prisons? Will you erect a gibbet in every field and hang up men like scarecrows? or will you proceed (as you must to bring this measure into effect) by decimation? place the county under martial law? depopulate and lay waste all around you? and restore Sherwood forest as an acceptable gift to the crown, in its former condition of a royal chase and an asylum for outlaws? Are these the remedies for a starving and desperate populace? Will the famished wretch who has braved your bayonets, be appalled by your gibbets? When death is a relief, and the only relief it appears that you will afford him; will he be dragooned into tranquillity? Will that which could not be effected by your grenadiers, be accomplished by your executioners? If you proceed by the forms of law where is your evidence? Those who have refused to impeach their accomplices, when transportation only was the punishment, will hardly be tempted to witness against them when death is the penalty. With all due deference to the noble lords opposite, I think a little investigation, some previous enquiry would induce even them to change their purpose. That most favourite state measure, so marvellously efficacious in many and recent instances, temporizing, would not be without its advantages in this. When a proposal is made to emancipate or relieve, you hesitate, you deliberate for years, you temporise and tamper with the minds of men; but a death-bill must be passed offhand, without a thought of the consequences. Sure I am from what I have heard, and from what I have seen, that to pass the Bill under all the existing circumstances, without enquiry, without deliberation, would only be to add injustice to irritation, and barbarity to neglect. The framers of such a Bill must be content to inherit the honours of that Athenian lawgiver whose edicts were said to be written not in ink but in blood. But suppose it past; suppose one of these men, as I have seen them,—meagre with famine, sullen with despair, careless of a life which your lordships are perhaps about to value at something less than the price of a stocking-frame—suppose this man surrounded by the children for whom he is unable to procure bread at the hazard of his existence, about to be torn for ever from a family which he lately supported in peaceful industry, and which it is not his fault that he can no longer so support, suppose this man, and there are ten thousand such from whom you may select your Victims, dragged into court, to be tried for this new offence, by this new law; still, there are two things wanting to convict and condemn him; and these are, in my opinion,—Twelve Butchers for a Jury, and a Jefferies for a Judge!

Lord Holland: complimented his noble friend who spoke last oh the ability which he had displayed in this his first speech in that House, and expressed his astonishment that ministers had not thought proper to reply to it. The rejection of a Bill brought forward under such circumstances, he admitted to be an evil; but then, the present one was so extremely objectionable, that he felt it his duty to oppose it. He was not much surprised at this measure, for he never was surprised at seeing any thing foolish coming from the present ministers; but the fact was, that the apprehension of such a law had already rendered the chances of detection less probable. This he had from the best authority. But he supposed, when he adverted to the general principle that the severity of the punishment increased the difficulty of detection and conviction, he should be told, that this was speculation and theory. They were for proceeding from day to day, without rudder or compass, as the winds and Waves carried them. But what was the real state of this case? Here was a fact, that the apprehension of such a law had rendered detection more difficult; and yet, in the face of this fact, they proposed to pass the law, as if there had been no other mode of getting at the opinion of parliament. Indeed, such a law was but a very bad way of sending out a strong expression of the opinion of the legislature against this Offence. Our penal code was too thick set with these penalties of death, to render that a very explicit declaration of the sense of parliament as to the enormity of the crime. The people would recollect, that the legislature had declared, that stealing to the value of 40s. from a canal, deserved death; and with this in their minds, they could not easily be persuaded that parliament was deeply impressed with the magnitude of the offence merely because it punished it with death. He was far, however, from thinking lightly of this crime; for few crimes, could he more ruinous to the power, wealth, and prosperity of any country; but it did not follow, that the conclusion drawn by the noble Secretary of State was correct, The noble Secretary admitted that the general principle, that the severity of the punishment increased the difficulty of detection might in some cases be applicable, but here he thought the terror of death necessary to prevent the commission of the crime. Yet of all cases this was one in which this terror could have the least effect; since the offence was carried on by a combination of persons bound together by a mistaken principle of honour. But leaving the general principle, he came to the Bill itself; and observed, that the only difficulty was in the detection. If the offenders could be detected, the law was already severe enough. If the ground on, which the Bill rested was stripped of the legal jargon in which acts of parliament were necessarily involved, and reduced to a plain logical proposition, the absurdity would be too glaring to be for a moment entertained. The amount of it was this: "Whereas it has been found difficult to detect these offenders, we will render that detection still more difficult." This law might irritate and exasperate; but it would do nothing more. So much as to the first part of the Bill; but even the second part, intended to facilitate detection, was not founded on wise principles. He should have thought a civil process much more desirable, by which the person having a frame belonging to another broken in his house, should be liable for damages to the owner, unless he proved that he had used every reasonable exertion to protect it. He agreed with his noble friend in disapproving the manner in which the military had been employed, and urged the propriety of an inquiry to open the eyes of the deluded multitude. Something might be done to break the combination, by offering rewards to persons making discoveries without dragging them to a court of justice to give evidence. If the punishment of death was improper for such an offence it was no excuse to say that the law was only temporary. Hanging our fellow-subjects was not a proper way of making experiments. It might appear, on enquiry, that the cause of this evil was the fluctuation of the market—the tampering with our trade, which was regulated only by the caprice of ministers. A change of policy would then be found to be the proper remedy. The present course was fraught with danger, and he must discharge his duty by opposing the second reading of the Bill without a previous enquiry. He concluded by moving, that the second reading be postponed till that day three weeks.

The Lord Chancellor: observed, that the two parts of the Bill ought to be taken together, and the object of both united was the prevention of the offence. The outrages at Nottingham originated in a mistaken notion of those concerned in them, that their interests were injured by the introduction of certain improvements in machinery, when the fact was, that all these improvements contributed to their advantage, and that by the conduct they were now persisting in, they were deeply injuring their own interests, and destroying their own comforts. From, however, the plan and system adopted by them, the difficulty of detection had become very great, and the object of the second part of the Bill was to increase the means of detection, whilst the first part of it, by enacting the penalty of death, there was every reason to believe would operate, by the terror of that punishment, to prevent the offence. The prevention of offences was the legitimate object of enacting the punishment of death; and there was every reason to suppose that this object would be attained in the present instance, by combining the terror of this punishment with the increased facility of detection.

The Earl of Lauderdale: agreed with the noble and learned lord, that the outrages at Nottingham originated in a mistaken notion of those concerned in them of their own interests, for nothing could be more certain than that every improvement of machinery contributed to improve the condition of persons employed in the manufactures in which such improvements were made, there being in a very short time after such improvements were introduced, a greater demand for labour than there was before. Much, however, of the present distressed state of the manufacturers arose from the system of policy pursued by ministers; and he was satisfied, that before being called upon to pass a measure like the present, an enquiry ought to be instituted, and that that enquiry ought to embrace the effect of the Orders in Council, the state of the commerce of the country, and also of its circulation. The noble earl, after ridiculing the vigour of the ministers in sending down two justices and two Bow street runners to Nottingham, adverted to the fact, that it had been found necessary, by the advice of the judges, and upon the reports of the revenue boards, to do away the capital punishments in cases' of smuggling, because it was impossible to find juries to convict: and yet in a case depending on the same principle, they enacted the punishment of death, when it was notorious that the great evil was the difficulty of detection. The measure evinced an utter ignorance of the principles of law, and of the real state of the country.

The Earl of Harrowby: contended, that enquiry could answer no useful purpose. If enquiry were to embrace the Orders in Council, the state of the commerce and circulation of the country, the investigation must be indefinite, the outrages at Nottingham must in the mean time go on, and all attempt to suppress them must be postponed ad Grœcas Calendas. An inquiry more limited with respect to the outrages themselves, could have no good effect; the offence was, as was admitted by every one, most injurious to the interests of the community, and every means ought to be adopted to prevent its repetition. The object of the Bill was to increase the means of detection, whilst it inflicted the punishment of death; and surely it was to be expected that the terror of the punishment of death, when the means of detection were increased, would operate to prevent the commission of the offence.

Earl Grosvenor: was hostile to extending the penal code by the infliction of the punishment of death for this offence, and contended that information ought first to be laid before the House, to prove that all other means had been ineffectual. Much of these outrages were, he thought, to be attributed to the system of policy pursued by ministers, and he lamented that the Prince Regent should have been advised not to make a change in his councils, convinced as the noble earl was, that the result of a change would have been an improved system of finance, an economical expenditure, and a general amelioration of the situation of the country.

Lord Grenville: found it impossible to allow this question to pass, without expressing in the strongest terms which his powers of language could supply, his indignant detestation of the principles on which the Bill was founded, as well as of the arguments by which it was supported. There was now no time for inquiry, they said; but he hoped their lordships were familiar with the wise maxim of a great authority 'de vitâ hominis nulla est cunctatio longa.' When the question was about the life of man, he should have expected that ministers, and especially the noble and learned lord on the woolsack, would have willingly acceded to the delay, if there was the smallest doubt in the mind of any noble lord, whether it was necessary to add to the horrible and sanguinary catalogue of our capital punishments. It had been said, indeed, that no one doubted the fitness of the punishment to the crime. If that was true, he knew not to what purpose his noble friends about him had been speaking. These laws were, unfortunately, not the result of enlarged views, of general principles, but they sprung up one by one upon some momentary necessity; and a noble secretary had astonished him by stating, that there was no general principle to rest upon. But unless all that he had ever thought, all that he had ever heard, all that he had ever read upon the subject, was utterly erroneous, there was no case in which general principles were more necessary to be attended to, and more capable of application than in enacting penal Jaws, especially when capital punishments came under consideration. To these he trusted their lordships would attend, and not suffer themselves to be drawn aside by these temporary outrages. But if a delay of three weeks could not be allowed in a case where 10,000 of their fellow subjects might be rendered liable to the pains of death, why had there been a delay of two months? The enquiry might by this time have been complete. For six months during which these proceedings had been carried on, no one effectual step had been taken; and yet ministers had the confidence to come now and say, 'Do not ask for delay—trust to us—shut your own eyes and ears, and sign the bloody warrant here presented to you? No, he would not trust ministers before he signed that warrant: he must be satisfied that the offence was commensurate with the pains to be applied. He had no hesitation in saying, that such a punishment ought never to be applied to such an offence; and if their lordships had read one page of that excellent writer Judge Black-atone, they must be aware that he had distinctly said, that the mere frequency of an offence and difficulty of detection was not a ground for a capital punishment. His noble friend had stated, that there were laws in our statute book enacting death in similar cases. He knew it, and deeply regretted it, and wished they could be at once erased from the statute book, if it were for nothing else than to prevent their being resorted to as examples, when the indolence, the ignorance, or the weakness of government led them to enact such laws as this. Here, again, the enlightened Blackstone lent his great authority, for he said that these laws originated in the ignorance of the legislature and the weakness of government. He should have thought inquiry necessary as to this point It had been assumed that the existing law was ineffectual; but before ministers assumed that fact, they ought to prove that every thing had been done to carry it into execution. On that head there was no information whatever, except the boasted exploit of having sent down two Westminster justices and two Bow-street runners; who, though very conversant in the business of detecting thieves and footpads, were not therefore the roost proper to deal with the Nottingham manufacturers. That was their vigour! But something else had been done worse even than that foolish expedient. There never was a maxim of greater wisdom than that uttered by the noble lord (Byron), who had so ably addressed their lordships that night for the first time, that the military ought never to be employed except in extreme cases, and then they should be effectual, if possible, rather by the terror of their appearance, than their power of execution. But here they had been employed in a way the most ruinous to their own discipline, and the least efficient for the purpose of checking these outrages. They had been dispersed in small bodies, and made to perform the duties of civil officers. He might be mistaken as to the force of the law as it stood, but why then not inquire? The truth was, that it had been 20 years on the statute book, and never put in execution in one instance. How could ministers say that a law was inefficient which had never been tried? and yet they were not ashamed to come down, and propose to resort to this last dreadful extremity. No; the fault was not in the weakness of the punishment of the present law, but in the want of execution. Let their lordships compare the punishment of transportation for 14 years with the crime of breaking a stocking-frame. Was not the punishment commensurate to the crime? Aye, more than commensurate. His lordship then read some passages from the Bill, front which it appeared, that the intent to commit the crime of breaking a lace-thread, or damaging a web, rendered the offender liable to the pains of death. To this there could be only one answer,—that the punishment would never be inflicted. But as long as he lived, in a country governed by law he never would consent to put it in the power of the crown to put a fellow subject to death for damaging a piece of cotton or lace.

The Lord Chancellor: was about to put the question, when

Earl Grey: observed, that it was of importance to know what the object of noble lords on the other side was in proposing this Bill. Was it to inflict the penalty of death for the offence stated by his noble friend, as it appeared by the words of the Bill?

The Earl of Liverpool: stated, that the wording of the Bill was a matter for discussion in the committee, but the Bill was framed from other bills of a similar nature with reference to machinery.

Lord Holland: observed, that it was of importance to know the intent of ministers in proposing a clause in the Bill, inflicting the penalty of death upon the intent to commit the offence described by his noble friend.

The Earl of Lauderdale: thought that the House ought not to go on in the conisderation of the Bill, until they had some information of what the precise object of ministers was in proposing this Bill; and with that view he moved that the debate be adjourned till Monday.

The Earl of Liverpool: stated, that the principle of the Bill was to punish a certain offence with death; the mode of carrying that principle into effect, was matter for discussion in the committee.

Earl Grey: observed, that allowing the principle of the Bill to be to punish a certain offence with death, the nature of that offence was a part of the principle of the Bill, and before they could vote for the second reading they ought to be informed what offence it was intended to punish.

The Earl of Liverpool: stated, that un-doubtedly it was the intention of government to inflict the punishment of death instead of transportation, and the clauses describing the offence were copied from the Bill, which rendered it a transportable offence.

Lord Grenville: said, that what had been stated by the noble lord, was indeed a still stronger reason for adjourning the debate till Monday. Here was a minister, who came down to parliament to inflict the punishment of death upon his fellow-citizens, but for what offence that minister knew not. It was in truth for the credit of ministers themselves that this debate should be adjourned, in order that they might be enabled to explain what offence they intended to punish with death. But whatever they might think, he could not give his vote that the House should be involved in the infamy of going to the second reading of a Bill for inflicting the punishment of death upon their fellow-citizens, without knowing what the nature of the offence was that it was intended to punish.

The House divided on the question that the debate be adjourned till Monday. Contents 17: Not-Contents 32. Majority 15. The-Bill was then read a second time, and committed for Monday. On the motion of the earl of Lauderdale, their lordships were ordered to be summoned for Monday. The noble earl also moved, that the Judges be ordered to attend on Monday, which was negatived.

27th February 1812: Town Clerk of Nottingham writes to the Home Office about the forthcoming Assizes

Private & most confidential

Dear Sir,

Since writing to Mr Ryder by Direction of the Magistrates I have learned from Mr Woodcock who is a very active Member of a Committee at Mansfield & who has some amongst the Framebreakers in communication with him that these Men actually meditate upon the presumption of the Military being withdrawn during the Assizes the rescue of some of the Prisoners & [tho] attacking Witnesses on their way to give Evidence against them or personal violence upon them after they have given their Testimony. I receive all this with considerable caution & with great allowances for the exaggerated Statement of one who is anxious to swell the value of his Communication but I do not think it ought altogether to be lost Sight of in considering about the withdrawing the Soldiers.

I occupied some time yesterday in endeavouring to ascertain whether the Military being sent out during an Assize was owing to any [illegible] Law on the Subject or merely custom originating in the strong reason there exists to render the [illegible] as capable of accommodating the Influx of Persons coming into the great Towns on the Business of the Assizes & think I am convinced there is no legal obligation to send them out but on this [illegible] you will do well to enquire & I shall feel myself much obliged if you will when you write again, let me know whether I am correct in my Conjecture on this subject.

If I hear more on this subject of this letter I will write you more fully

Yours very truly

Geo Coldham

Nottm 27th Feby 1812

{to John Beckett at the Home Office]

27th February 1812: Attack on workshop of William Hinchliffe at Leymoor, Golcar, near Huddersfield

William Hinchliffe awoke in shock. It was 1 a.m. and the sound of a gunshot had rushed him headlong out of his slumber. He almost fell out of bed and peered outside from his bedroom window - he could make out the silhouettes of many men below, all around his house. He hadn't time to count them, but thought there must be about 50 of them, a veritable army. In what little light there was, Hinchliffe could make out that their faces were marked black and white. Still shocked he could now hear some banging: someone was hammering at the door of his workshop. It gave way and he heard his shearing frames and shears being smashed and broken.

He ran out of his bedroom and gathered his family about him. They all went down to the parlour and closed the door tight. Just then he heard more hammering, this time on his own front door, which soon gave way. He heard voices "Where is he? Bring him out, let's kill him!" Soon after they were in & one started to pull on the parlour door handle, but another intruder shouted out "let him alone for this time". He could another approach and call out from the other side of the door "if you cause us to come again upon this subject, we'll take your life".

Another voice from outside called the men on the other side of the parlour door to come out, and an order followed to "fall in". He heard many boots stamping around his yard outside as they assembled. Not long after, they moved off.

Hinchliffe waited for some time afterwards before he dared open the parlour door. Making his way to his workshop, he surveyed the toll of destruction the Luddites had wrought on him: all 5 of his shearing frames were smashed, as well 30 pairs of conventional hand shears.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

26th February 1812: Stockport solicitor John Lloyd reports to the Home Office

Stockport 26th February 1812

Sir

It may be necessary to follow up the information I have already had the honor to communicate, respecting the state of the Trade of this County, by acquainting you that the Weavers have latterly evinced a very restless and refractory spirit—have met in small bodies to deliberate on their Grievances, and, on Monday afternoon, there was a general Meeting in an open piece of ground near the Town, from which the assembly dispersed in different divisions—one coming through the Streets, preceded by some man playing a Fife. They remained in the marketplace for some time; but committed no outrage:—thence, went in parties to public houses, where some of them were suffered to continue till late, and much noise and disturbance was made in the Streets during the night; but no mischief done that could be traced to any persons of that description.

Threatening Letters continue to be sent to particular Individuals, but, at present, it has been deemed unnecessary to notice them specifically—the Magistrates intend to meet tomorrow, and an increase of special Constables is likely to be one of the provisions adopted. There are a great many Rumours, which I forbear to remark upon in a Letter to you, Sir, as Secretary of State, because we have not arrived at proof of their authenticity. It may, however, hereafter become my duty to acquaint you further, after proper Investigation—I fear the bad spirit is kept up by some few desperate Characters from Ireland that have got among the weavers here. They certainly do meditate the destruction of the Looms worked by Steam and employed in factories—which cannot well be effected without fire & that in the night. Violence and inflammatory Expressions are made use of tending to such mischief, but nobody to inform against the persons uttering them—

An Application for more Cavalry in the neighbourhood is in contemplation to be made. I leave others to urge the necessity of this measure—my object is answered when I have given you all the Information in my power; which, with your permission, I will continue to do correctly either in any private capacity, or as connected with the magistrates—

I have the honor to be Sir
Your very obedient humble Servant

JS Lloyd

The Right Hon.
R.Ryder secretary of state home Department

26th February 1812: An informer sends a letter to the authorities in Nottingham

febuary 26th 1812

i have rote this that you may kno sum of the frame brakers, thomas bukson the barber in ould basford and thomas Willbore he lives upon the flat in new basford and the Mr dosley in ould Basford and the Maiser griner that stands in Nottingham Marked against the change on a Saturday grindin, thees is sum of the Worst of frame brakers and is at all the frame brakin and thomas Saxton in new basford is one of the head men at layin plans here to go on to get to them. the Maiser griner lives in sandy lane Nottingham against the clock and hors, and Elias carnil in bulwel is the head man at the committee and he lays plans how they must perseed and thay meen to Murder sum Men that thay do not like and the way thay meen to Murder them is that when they see them any whear for is to go after them with a rope with a nouse in the middel of it and one is to put it over is head and then thay pull it at each end of the rope til he is ded and thay meen to send sum dilegates from bulwel and basford to Manchester to the Weavers thear.

and all this is true as I have rote it as true as thear is a god in heaven but you must Exques me putin my name to it, for I dar not

26th February 1812: Town Clerk of Nottingham to Home Office about cases for the Assizes

Sir

Being concerned in two Prosecutions at the Assizes one in the Town against William Parkes and George Shaw, and the other in the County against William Barnes of Bulwell — We hope you will excuse our soliciting you to have the goodness to inform us whether Government intend to take any and what course as to supporting the expence or directing the manner in which these Prosecutions are to be conducted; as it will regulate our mode of Proceeding.

In the first of these Prosecutions we have reason to believe the Prosecution is not at all disposed to do more than his compelled by his Recognizance, and we are inclined to think that he is by no means in circumstances to afford any serious Attack upon his Pocket.

In the second Prosecution our Client is certainly adequate to sustain the expence but will not be at all sorry to have its burden rendered easy or entirely taken away from him by the Interference of Government.

We are more anxious to make this enquiry of you as the Judges have of late made such scanty allowances for the Costs of Prosecutions at Assizes as render it impossible in many Instances for persons in respectable Businesses to have any thing else to do with them but to order the attendance of the Witnesses suffering the Prosecution to take its own course in Court without Brief or Counsel and because it will be necessary in case of the Interference of the Crown to obey such directions as we may receive as to the Counsel to be retained and to whom Brief should be delivered.

We should not have ventured to make this enquiry had not Mr Coldham seen a Communication from Mr Ryder to the Duke of Newcastle, in which he understood the Treasury intended to take upon themselves the expence of all Prosecutions of this kind in the County.

I beg the favor of a reply — and am
Sir, (for Coldham & Enfield)
Your obliged and obedient Servant

George Coldham

Nottingham
February 26 1812

[Home Office note] acquaint him that it is not stated what is the nature of the Prosecutions mentd — if they are [illegible] connected with Framebreaking the Expences attending them will be defrayed by Government

26th February 1812: Town Clerk of Nottingham asks the Home Office for advice about a drunken, seditious prisoner

Nottingham
26 February, 1812

Sir,

I am directed by the Mayor and Messrs. Aldn. Swann and Allen to report to you that on Sunday night last Thomas Hickingbottom an Inhabitant of Basford near Nottingham was brought before them at the Police Office in this Town charged upon the Oath of Thomas Brown a Serjeant in the Berkshire Militia now stationed here with having been guilty of uttering seditious expressions at the Peach Tree Public House in Nottingham in a large Company.

The Magistrates then committed him to gaol for further examination and yesterday Serjeant Brown Thomas Hollick a Corporal Thomas Silvester Henry Weir and John Cook Privates in the same Regiment were examined before Messrs. Aldn. Swann and Allen upon the charge against Hickingbottom and upon the statement they then made the Magistrates conceived it their duty under the existing circumstances of the Town and Neighbourhood to direct me to send you copies of the Depositions of the Witnesses against the Prisoner and I accordingly now transmit the same.

The Magistrates have instructed me to request you will have the goodness to send as soon as your convenience will permit Instructions as to the disposal of this Prisoner.

The Magistrates have also directed me to state that when the Prisoner was brought before them yesterday several respectable persons gave the Prisoner a good character and 13 of his neighbours men who appear to be much in the same sphere of life as the Prisoner also appeared and declared him to be an honest harmless and inoffensive man and one who is not in the habit of interfering in political discussion except when in liquor and off his guard.

The Prisoner when first brought before the magistrates appeared to be much intoxicated from the representation of the Gaoler as to his conduct when put into prison and since it appears he was considerably intoxicated.

These circumstances the magistrates wished me to state to you in order that you may be better enabled to determine under all the circumstances attending this man’s case whether you would direct a prosecution to be instituted against him.

He is yet in custody and the magistrates have required him to find two sufficient Sureties each in £100 and himself in £200 for his appearance to the above charge.

I am further directed to represent to you that it has hitherto been customary to remove the Military from the Town of Nottingham when any has been in the Town at the time of holding the Assizes and also during the continuance of the Fair held in the Month of March but in consequence of the late unhappy outrages in the Town and Neighbourhood they think it right to report to you what has been the custom and to represent to you that it would be an accomodation to the Town if such a number of the Troops at present stationed here could be removed into the Neighbouring villages during the Assizes and Fair as would enable the Inns to be left clear of Troops but the Magistrates cannot think it safe to leave the Town so far unprotected as to Disable the Magistrates from keeping their System of Nightly Patrole as it would be vexatious to have any Frames destroyed in the very presence of the Judge.

The Assizes will commence on Friday the 13th day of March and continue five days and the Fair will commence the 7th day of the same month and will continue 8 days.

I have [etc.]
Geo Coldham
Town Clerk

26th February 1812: Town Clerk of Nottingham to Home Office

Private

Nottingham
26 February, l812

Dear Sir,

I cannot help thinking altho I am fully aware of the Difficulty of framing legislative Enactments of this Subject and be liable to just objections on that Account that much might be still Done in the way of Prevention of the dreadful effects of Framebreaking. You know how anxious I have been to discover the source of the Funds which support the Men who are out of Employment and who are engaged herein. What Funds supported your Informant Mr. Elrick in his Trip to London! and I learn that he has been thro’ Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. We have concluded that the Funds are raised here by the Contributions of those who work, and by the Subscriptions raised here under various pretences and raised by the Sale of Almanacks and various Articles sold in order to avoid the Charge of Begging or of Subscription. Now in most of these instances the Menaces are really started by Terror which could not easily be accomplished if a single person only were permitted to sell or collect Subscriptions and if more than one engaged in those Acts could be Deemed Vagrants. When Frames are broken it is always done in the night from, 6 o’clock in the evening to 6 o’clock in the morning and the Party assemble in some private house for the whole night watching their Hour to make the Attack as they can judge of the probability or possibility of reaching the point of Attack and effecting their purpose in the absence of the Patrole. These Men are armed with Pistols and other offensive Weapons. Would it not be perfectly competent and consistent with every principle of Justice and Liberty under these Circumstances to deem any assembly or Meeting of Persons — more than 2 after 6 o’clock in the Evening and 6 in the morning any two or more of whom should be armed Persons aiding and aiding in the general System of Framebreakers and to punish them upon Conviction by Imprisonment for a first offence and Transportation for a second — or in such manner as the Law Officers of the Crown might advise and those whether they were found in the House deliberating or the Street or open Air. It is said that these Men are afraid of being attacked at these nightly Meetings in the House with Arms and they have always a private place of concealment for their Arms near the place of their operations. I suggest these things the more anxiously because I am sure that its future and judging from their last practical operations these Men can never afford to throw away any effort upon single Frames and will proceed to attack the larger Masters of Frames where they may expect resistance and where they must be prepared to overcome it by pretty strong parties and those well armed. If we could cut off the support from the Luddites they would return to work if we take up any Number of them assembled and punish them by Imprisonment we should cutt off their Leaders from active Exertions and terrify the less daring and enterprizing of them.

Yours [etc.]

Geo. Coldham

Saturday, 25 February 2012

25th February 1812: Nottingham Peace Bill debated in the House of Commons

On Tuesday 25th January, the Nottingham Peace Bill was debated again in the House of Commons:

The report of this Bill was brought up. On the motion for recommitting it,

Mr. J. Smith: took the opportunity of correcting a statement that had gone abroad respecting the mode of payment to the Nottingham manufacturers by their employers. It had been stated that he had said one of the causes of the disturbances arose from the masters paying their men not in money, but in goods. That practice was adopted not by the great body of the masters, but by the lower classes. In the statement going forth as it had done, unexplained, reflections were thrown upon the opulent part of the manufacturers, which he never intended.

The House then went into the Committee.

Mr. Secretary Ryder: said, that since the Bill had been last before the House he had received several communications, which had made it advisable to extend the provisions of the Bill to the whole kingdom. The Bill had been, in consequence, new modelled in many parts, and in that state was submitted for discussion to the committee.

The several clauses went through the committee, and the House resumed.

25th February 1812: Wanted man Pierce Cook committed to Derby Gaol for questioning

On Tuesday 25th February a framework-knitter, Pierce Cook, who was wanted for robberies in Derbyshire that had taken place at the end of December 1811, was committed to the County Gaol in Derby. He had apparently been apprehended in London.

The Norfolk Chronicle of 29th February yields some fascinating details about Cook which seemed to have eluded the more local newspaper. Describing him as "the famous runner", it goes on to say he had "lately challenged Molineaux, the bruiser, to a pugilistic encounter".

Molineaux was Tom Molineaux, the famous black American boxer, a former slave who had won his freedom for winning a boxing match against a rival plantation to that of his owner. He made his way to England in 1809 and was trained by another former slave, Bill Richmond. On 28th September 1811, he had faced a rematch against the English champion, Tom Crib, in front of 15,000 people at Thistleton Gap, Rutland, which had left Molineaux beaten, with a broken jaw.

Two months later on the 19th December, he was sparring again at the Fives-court in London, having parted with Richmond, and the Times of 20th December 1811, carried a description of a anonymous challenger that could well have been Cook:
"The next set-to was a novel one, betwixt Molineaux and an athletic Nottinghamshire man, who gave very unfavourable specimens of wapping talent. Molineaux rallied him with quickness, and had the match his own way."

We may never know if this was Cook, and since he was wanted for a burglary in Derbyshire that took place but 4 days later, this may indeed not be him on this occasion, unless it was an alibi he should have used in less than a month at Derby Lent Assizes.


25th February 1812: Colonel Fletcher writes to Home Office about the findings of his spies

Bolton le moors 25 Feby 1812

Dear Sir

The enclosed Report came to my Hands this day & I thought it proper to be transmitted―it contains what I believe to be a current Copy of the Oath of the Nottingham Rioters—and I am afraid Williamson's Insinuation of their having derived Support & Encouragement from other Quarters is but too true.

The Exertions of the discontend have derived a fresh Stimulus from Mr Whitbreads letter—In the Town notwithstanding the Refusal of the Boroughreeve to call a public meeting (induced to that refusal by a counter requisition) a meeting was held on Friday last when several Resolutions were passed exaggerating the Evils of a depressed trade—and mixed with much jargon couched in the Burdette Stile, respecting the Inadequacy of the Representation in Parliament—it may be feared that under the seducing Name of Peace they will impose upon many & spread wider & wider the Spirit of Discontent.—To counteract as far as possible these Effects—we shall endeavour to procur an address to the Prince Regent―which I doubt not will be signed by far the most respectable Persons in the Town & Neighbourhood.

You will observe that Newman Street Oxford Road is again mentioned as the Place where the Town Committee hold their meetings—and to this Place it is probable Leighton will pay a Visit before his return—A description of his person is subjoined to the report― and

I have the Honor to be
dear Sir
Your most Obedient Servant

Ra: Fletcher

[To] John Becket Esq

25th February 1812: Troop movements

Since Leeds was now without any mounted forces, on Tuesday 25th February a squadron of cavalry was moved from Sheffield, arriving in Leeds at 9.00 a.m. that morning.

In the afternoon, a squadron of the 2nd Dragoon Guards arrived in Leeds from York and moved the next day to Huddersfield to relieve the Scotch Greys stationed there since Monday night. The Greys returned to Leeds on Thursday 26th February, with the cavalry from Sheffield returning home thereafter.

Friday, 24 February 2012

24th February 1812: Troop movements

On Monday 24th February, the first troop movements in response to the Luddite attacks in West Yorkshire took place. The local magistrates had applied to the local are commander, General Vyse at Beverley, for aid. His response was to authorise the movement of a troop of Scotch Greys from Leeds to Huddersfield, and they accordingly left at 11.00 p.m. that night.

24th February 1812: Bolton weavers meet at the Gibraltar Rock & swear illegal oaths

The Gibraltar Rock, as captured by Google Street View in 2009

Somewhere between the end of February and the beginning of March 1812, a small meeting of up to 8 weavers from Bolton met at the Gibraltar Rock public house near the Town.

Also at the meeting were 2 delegates from a weaver's committee at Stockport. These men led the meeting, explaining their past attempts to gain some redress for the dire situation facing hand-loom weavers in Stockport. That they had met with the local Rector, Charles Prescot, who was also a magistrate, explaining the extent of unemployment and the contrary increase in steam loom weaving in the area. Prescot had suggested that they visit Richard Ryder, the Home Secretary, but that when they did this, Ryder had rebuffed them, commenting that steam looms "were of great service to the State".

The Stockport delegates conclusion was stark: since government was not prepared to act, then they must take matters into their own hands. The Stockport men proposed the adoption of an "oath of engagement" among the group: one of the Bolton weavers present was James Lyon, and a Stockport delegate beckoned to him to come outside the room. He was shown the oath in private and asked to read it out to the group, which he did. But Lyon felt uncomfortable, and stated to the room that he would not take the oath and advised others not to do so. There were murmurings of agreement amongst the group, and another local weaver, William Gifford, spoke against the oath, pointing out that he was a member of the local peace committee. Finally, another Bolton weaver called Samuel Kay pushed himself forward - he agreed to take the oath there and then, in front of the Stockport men.

That this meeting was held only a few days after a public meeting to petition for peace and parliamentary reform indicates that different political currents were moving amongst the weavers, with different objectives and methods.

24th February 1812: The Rector of Loughborough writes of an eloping couple & a Leicestershire frame-breaker

Loughborough Feb. 24. 1812

Sir

I have the honor to inform you that Yesterday about 3 o'clock two Persons having come on Foot to this Place under suspicious Circumstances, I ordered them to be Detained ‘till I could examine them, & upon so doing the same Afternoon, it was presently discovered that one of them was a Female in Man's apparel, the daughter of a Tradesman at Ashbourne in Derbyshire, who had eloped from thence on Friday Eveng last with a Man who called himself Paolo Canaro di Bologna (an Italian) but who proves, upon the Girl’s Confession to be Joseph Pieri Lieut Artillery a French Prisoner on Parole at Ashbourne. I have in consequence committed him to Leicester Gaol until his Majesty's pleasure be known & mean to deliver the Girl up to her Friends, to whom I sent to come hither for that purpose – supposing that you would not proceed against her as aiding & assisting in his escape. If such should be the case, I can easily find her at any time

I esteem myself much obliged to Captain Gilbert of the Stirlingshire Militia commanding here for his prompt assistance in securing & guarding these Persons, after our Constable had apprehended them. And if upon investigation of the Circumstances the Transport Board allow any pecuniary reward for the apprehension of the Frenchman I hope I may reward their diligence by distributing it among the Persons concerned

We have experienced only one act of Frame breaking since my last — when the circumstance having reached me, with an account moreover that the Person in possession of the Frame had broken it, & that the owner had brought him to confess it, & has suffered the business to drop, upon the Rascal’s promising to reinstate the Frame. I sent over an Attorney to the Place (Coleorton near Ashby) to investigate the circumstances; & having found them to be correct, he, by my directions caused the Father & Son, who resided where the Frame was broken to be apprehended & carried before the Revd John Piddocke a Magistrates for the County residing at Ashby – by whom (it appearing that the Evidence required it) the Son was fully committed for Trial, & the Father bound, himself in £40 & 2 Sureties in £20 each for is Appearance, at the ensuing Assizes

I thought it my duty not to suffer the Compromise between the Hosier & the Culprits, & I hope Government will not think I did wrong

I have the honor to be Sir
your most obedt Servt

Ric Hardy

My address is - Revd Dr Hardy
Loughbro

Right honourable Secretary of State &c