Wednesday, 15 October 2014

15th October 1814: George Coldham informs the Home Secretary about the attempt on Thomas Garton's life

My Lord,

I am desired by the Magistrates of the Town of Nottingham to refer your Lordship to the former communications, made to you on the part of the Mayor and Aldermen for their Opinion of the extent and danger of that extensive Conspiracy existing amongst the Framework knitters of this District, in order, for the destruction of the Frames the property of their masters and other acts of violence to controul the management of the Trade and dictate the amount of the wages to be paid to the labouring hand.—The system of Framebreaking had almost entirely subsided until about June last when several Frames were broken and amongst the rest some Frames at the house of Thomas Garton of Basford were destroyed the house being violently and burglariously broken into by several persons amongst whom one James Towle was recognized by Thomas Garton and upon his Testimony he was committed for trial at the Assizes.—This circumstance has excited much terror amongst the active members of the Combination they imagining that the case would reach the life of James Towle and they have ever since vowed Vengeance upon Thomas Garton.—Several circumstances have lately occurred to induce a belief that plans have been in agitation to destroy Thomas Garton on the part of those who were possessed of the means of confidential a Information in consequence of the Society lately instituted by the Hosiers.—Last night information was obtained that this intention was about to have been executed at or about 8 oClock.—In consequence of having been specially authorized by both the Town and County Magistrates upon all urgent occasions to command in their name the application of a portion of the Military force of the District to the emergency of the moment, I, immediately dispatched under the directions of one of the Constables of the Town who had been sworn in a Peace Officer at the County a Military Guard who brought Thomas Garton away from his house and disposed of him in safety in the Town.—Whilst a party of the Constables of the Town of Nottingham were dispatched to Mr. Garton’s home at Basford, to keep Guard there—At the time I set off to solicit the aid of Colonell Mudie at the Barracks a Messenger was dispatched to Mr. Thomas Garton who reached him previous even to the Military escort from the Barracks, and afterwards proceeded to his brother's house who lived a mile and a half further distant and brought him to the assistance of Thomas Garton’s house and property.—

The Copies of the Depositions which accompany this letter it is hoped will furnish a full detail of the events which occurred at Thomas Garton's house from the time he left it till the morning when the Constables returned home.—It appears from that Detail at about half past 9 o’Clock the house was attacked and entered by force by the foremost of a Band from 7 to 10 men armed with Swords and Pistols.—The leader of this set of Ruffians brandished a Pistol and called out where is he, and several of these men actually let fired their Pistols upon which a Volley was fired from the Constables and persons stationed in the House by which a man of the name of Bamford a very notorious Framebreaker supposed to have been engaged in the first Outrage at Gartonls house was killed and two or three more were wounded, and unfortunately nearly at the same time a most respectable man and a near neighbour at whose house the wife of Garton had sought refuge was killed by a Pistol Shot from the Assailants The man still threaten vengeance upon their Opponents.—The Magistrates of the County and the Town under these circumstances, feel themselves under the absolute necessity of requesting that a portion of Infantry not less than 200 in number may be immediately stationed in the Town to enable them to meet with promptitude such Outrages as may be in future planned by these desperadoes.—This request has once before been made to your Lordship as Secretary of State of the Home Department, and altho’ the Magistrates have felt every anxiety to accommodate themselves as much as possible to the exigencies of the State, Experience has shewn that the system of lawless violence here in operation cannot be properly and effectually opposed without a competent force of Infantry.—From private Information upon which we can depend it appears to be a fact, that the attack upon Thomas Garton's house was made with a deliberate intention to commit murder and there is too much reason to fear that the present system of the Desperadoes who still adhere to the Conspirators is to keep a system of terror by taking the lives of those most obnoxious to them or necessary to secure the Lives of their Associates in Crime.—

I have [etc]

Geo Coldham
Town Clerk

15th Octr. 1814.

[To: Lord Sidmouth]

This letter can be found at HO 42/141.

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