Friday, 14 March 2014

14th March 1814: The Home Office ask The Rev Hay for more information on a North West Printers Union

Sent to
Revd. W. R. Hay
Ackworth
near Pontefract

W.H. 14th of March 1814

Sir

A copy of your letter

Lord Sidmouth having directed a reference to be made to the Attorney & Solicitor General on the Subject of the “Rules for the conducting of the Union Society of Printers Cutters & Drawers in Lancashire Cheshire Derbyshire &c" which you transmitted to His Lordship in your letter of the 20 of last month—I have received His Lordship’s directions to acquaint you that the Law Officers have reported that the articles entered into are illegal by the Statute of 39. & 40 Geo: 3. Ch: 106

The object of these articles is to prevent the masters from using machinery by agreement of the workmen who are parties to the articles not to work for such masters; & also to prevent the workmen from working in certain sorts of work described in some of the different Clauses of the  Articles.

This is a combination for controlling & affecting persons who carry on the Trade or business, & as such is illegal, & any of the persons who can be proved to be members of the Society or to have subscribed their money for the purposes of the Combination are guilty of an offence for which they may be convicted—as however no facts are stated as to any particular case the Law Officers cannot point out on which peculiar Branch of the act any individual should be prosecuted, the peculiar offence meant to be charged on any Individual must depend on the specific facts which can be brought home to him; and the Law Officers are further of opinion that when sufficient evidence can be procured of the Society acting upon the principle of these articles the persons who can be proved to be parties to such acts will be very fit subjects for prosecution.

Under these circumstances it would be very desireable that the magistrates should take measures for ascertaining who are the Individuals composing the Society in question, and that sufficient evidence should be procured so as to bring fact home to one or more of the parties of their being members of the sd. Society or of their having subscribed money for the purposes set forth for in the Rules, in order that a case should may be made out for immd. prosecution; and as soon as you the Magistrates have collected any Information on which they conceive a prosecution may be instituted, Lord Sidmouth requests that it may be transmitted to Him for His information with as little delay as possible.

Case.

Lord Sidmouth having received from the Magistrates assembled at the last Salford Sessions a Printed Copy of certain Resolutions which have been lately published at Manchester entitled ‘Rules for the conducting of the Union Society of Printers, Cutters, and Drawers in Lancashire Cheshire Derbyshire &c.  has directed the Solicitors of the Treasury to submit the same to the Attorney and Solicitor General and Consult them as to,

How far it would be proper to constitute any legal Proceedings against them.?

We are of opinion that the articles entered into are illegal by the Statute of 39 & 40 Geo 3. ch 106.—

The object of these Articles is to prevent the masters from using machinery by agreement of the Workmen who are parties to the Articles not to work for such masters, and also to prevent the workmen from working in certain sorts of work described in some of the different clauses of the Articles. This is a combination for controlling and affecting persons who carry on the trade or business, and as such, is illegal, and any of the persons who can be proved to be members of the Society or to have subscribed their money for the purposes of the Combination, are guilty of an Offence for which they may be convicted. As we have no facts stated to us as to any particular case, we cannot point out on which peculiar branch of the Act any individual should be prosecuted, the peculiar offence meant to be charged on any Individual must depend on the specific facts which can be brought home to him; and we think when sufficient evidence can be procured of the Society acting upon the principle of these articles the persons who can be proved to be parties to such acts will be very fit subjects of prosecution.

W Garrow
S: Shepherd

Lincolns Inn
11th March 1814

These documents can be found at HO 42/138.

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