Thursday, 22 May 2014

22nd May 1814: The Town Clerk of Nottingham informs the Home Office of a secret committee to combat the stockingers Union

Private & confidential

22d May 1814

Dear Sir,

I write you to inform you that on Wednesday last a very numerous Meeting of the Hosiers was held at the Police Office Tavern at which a very liberal Subscription sett on foot to counteract the formidable Combination in force & Activity amongst the Frameworknitters. At this Meeting a secret Committee was appointed upon the Plan which was last year adopted by the Corporation by a very small number of the original Meeting selected by the Chairman without the knowledge of the Body forming the meeting & this select Number nominated the Committee which consists of a still smaller & in fact very inconsiderable Number. I am sure you are aware how essential Secrecy is to the Success of our measures & and how imperious a Duty it is upon me as the Secretary of this Committee. I have however the greatest pleasure of stating to you that the Members of this Committee are Gentlemen of the greatest respectability & upon whom collectively & individually Government may [repose] the most unlimited Confidence. I write to you my Dear Sir entirely from myself with a view to your Information & [certainly] for the Information thro’ your medium of Lord Sidmouth and Invite on your part any confidential communication of the wishes of Government in relation to this Committee—I have reason to think that you will before this have reason to know that this Committee has not been idle since its appointm’ I can assure you it has occupied a great deal of my time.—I am sure you will perceive that it is essential to my Situation you should have the Goodness to withhold from every Person whatever connected with the corresponding Committee in London any letter of a confidential nature from me which may have relation to the secret Committee here or the communications made by them to the London Committee. I have no doubt you will be put in possession of the Opinion of the Secret Committee here by Mr Thomas Hayne as far as it has been embodied in writing but if I can collect it right I think it its operation against the Union Society entirely opposed any publick Declarations of the purpose of its Formation & hopeless if affecting anything in the present State of the Law by Intimidation.

It’s plan is obtain Information and to act upon it by calling upon the executive Power to appeal to the Legislature for such an amendment of the Law as they may Deem adequate to remedy the Evil. The Committee here are Desirous of leaving the mode of redress & the active obtaining of it to Government as a general measure of Legislature necessary from the general System of Combination amongst the Mechanics throughout the Kingdom. The present formidable State of the Combined force here would make the active management of such a Bill in Parliament as they would think essential to the Security of the Manufacturers [a] matter of extreme Danger to any Manufacturer who might be daring [enough] to undertake it. & I Doubt whether any could be found bold enough to Do it. I am however writing entirely from myself & solely with the wish to apprize you of the Impression & feelings under which I am Dispose to think the Committee must necessarily be acting. I hope that we shall be enabled to obtain much useful Information as we now have now a Fund at our Disposal & shall not fail to avail ourselves of it & the neighbouring Towns I am happy to say are following our Example.

Yours very obediently

Geo Coldham

[To John Beckett]

This letter can be found at HO 42/139.

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