Thursday, 8 May 2014

8th May 1814: 4 silk frames broken in Nottingham

William Matthews was a framework-knitters who kept four wide silk knotted frames in his workshop, above his home on Bellar Gate in Nottingham. Two of the frames belonged to a Master framework-knitter called John Bullock who also owned the yard ('Bullock's Yard') where Matthews lived. The other two belonged to the firm Messrs Prith & Co.

At 9.45 p.m. on Sunday 8th May 1814, most of the Matthew's family were having supper when 2 men disguised with handkerchiefs over their faces entered the room they were in. One carried a hatchet, the other a horse pistol. The man with the hatchet took the candle on the table the family were gathered at, and went upstairs to the workshop, followed by the man with the gun. At the same time, another man at the door warned the Matthews family 'stir if you dare and I will blow your brains out', and up to 4 guns were pointed at them from outside. A voice at the door told the Luddites to 'stand fast and do your duty'.

Upstairs in the workshop, the two Luddites proceeded to destroy the 4 silk frames. The noise could be heard outside, and a neighbour John Griffin, who was also a constable, went downstairs and opened his door to find a man standing outside: he was immediately threatened 'take in your head Sir, or damn your eyes I'll blow your brains out'. Griffin was quick to obey.

The destruction of the silk frames took 10 minutes, and the 2 men were careful to leave 3 other narrow frames untouched and undamaged. After the destruction had ceased, the 2 Luddites came down the stairs, wishing the family 'good night' and then all the men left, disappearing into the night.

The damage to the frames was later estimated as being between £20 & £80.

This has been compiled from reports in the Derby Mercury of 19th May 1814, the Leeds Intelligencer of 16th May and depositions of John Griffin, and William, Hannah, Elizabeth & Mary Matthews, which can be found at HO 42/139. The valuation of the damage by the framesmiths Manlove and Woodhouse is at the same reference.

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