Thursday, 16 October 2014

16th October 1814: George Coldham relates the circumstances of the attack on Thomas Garton to the Home Secretary

Nottingham 16 October 1814

My Lord,

After the Perusal of my Letter the written by Desire of the Magistrates of yesterday you will be aware of the general Bearing of the circumstances relating to the Attack upon Thomas Garton’s House but I thought it due to myself & your Lordship to explain a little more fully than I could even to the Magistrates, the peculiar Situation in which I was placed & the nature of the Information under which I acted. On Thursday Afternoon I received Information that on Sunday it was the Intention of a Band of the Luddites to assemble for the purpose of Destroying Thomas Garton. I received this Information from one was to be of the Party & who was in the confidence of the Leaders of the Plot. By Friday Morning I sent for Garton & his Brother & arranged with them that Thomas Garton should leave his own House & be placed in a State of Safety on Saturday Morning & that then we should concert measures for the Security of the House & if (as I was given to understand we should) we had previous Notice of the time of the Attack for the apprehension of the Assailants. On Friday at ½ past 6 OClock in the Afternoon I was given to understand the same that it had been that moment settled by this Band of Scoundrels that the Attack should be made at 8 OClock that as soon as ever they could arm themselves & proceed to the place. I immediately proceeded to the Police Office & ordered my Clerk to assemble the most confidential of our Constables & instantly went myself to the Commanding Officer in the Town & being cloathed with authority from both the Town & County Magistrates I required of him a Guard to proceed instantly to Thomas Garton’s House & bring him in Safety away. It was now nearly 7 oClock the Officer Declared that the Discipline of the Regiment did not permit of his Doing so & that he must & could only refer me to Colonel Mudie at the Barracks which be about ½ a Mile or more from the Town. To Colonel Mudie I proceeded all along [impressed] with the Idea that the Man must be taken away by 8 oClock or he would be Destroyed imagining very difficult to have a force assembled in the House competent to meet the Attack by that time Basford being about two Miles off. I not with considerable Difficulty in persuaded or Directing Colonel Mudie to furnish me with a Guard but after some time I procured six Men & standing by all the time to see & urge their Dispatch at about half Seven they were sent off & returned the some time afterd with Garton safe to the Police Office. In the mean time my Clerk had applied to Mr Ashwell our Mayor who with all the promptitude which distinguishes his Judgement sent off his own Secretary as a Messenger in the manner Described in my more publick Letters. As soon as I returned to the Police Office we were diligently employed in Dispatching our Constables well armed to Thomas Garton’s House. We had scarcely done this effectually ere we learnt from our Constables Barnet & Griffin that the Attack had been made & then the Magistrates Dispatched another party of Dragoons to the Assistance of the Person stationed at Basford & if possible to apprehend the Assailants. The Depositions shew your Lordship the result. I have received full Instructions from the Society of which I am Secretary to reward handsomely the Constables our Informant & all the parties operating to those measures which however it may be lamented they have not been more effectual in producing the Convictions of some of the Confederates have saved an important & valuable Life & we will hope by the Destruction of one of the most active of these Miscreants in the very Attempt at Murder will operate an important Lesson in deterring from similar Attempts in future.

I have [etc]

Geo Coldham Town Clerk

[To Lord Sidmouth]

This letter can be found at HO 42/141.

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