Tuesday, 11 November 2014

11th November 1814: The Hosier William Woodcock reports to the Home Office about spies & informers amongst Framework-knitters & Luddites

Mansfield 11th November 1814.


Several months elapsed after your Communication of the eighteenth of February last before I could engage a fit Person to ascertain the facts pointed out in your Letter. I discovered that there was only one Society at mansfield and at length procured a Copy of their Rules which had no essential variance from the printed Rules of the Nottingham Societies before obtained by me I found also that the Society had ten pounds deposited in the mansfield Bank in the names of two of their numbers and that their Secretary had in his hands about six pounds more the six pounds has since been sent to two of the Societies at Nottingham and the mansfield numbers have divided the six Pounds amongst themselves at this time they were gradually putting [off] from the Society which has now altogether ceased to meet. The weekly Collection of money from the Journeyman (whether members or not of the Societies) is also discontinued.

In the year 1811 and man who had been guilty of many acts of framebreaking confessed those to me in order to procure his protection. I took his Confession before a magistrate and have ever since been in correspondence with him – finding that Nottingham and its immediate neighbourhood was likely to be the Scene of Depredation I recommended him to get better acquainted with the Framebreakers there which he did – but as he informed me that the Call made by these men on their Companions to the Commission of any mischief was frequently very sudden allowing no time to give me notice I made him known to Mr Coldham of Nottingham and am glad to find that he gave Mr Coldham notice of the late atrocity at New Basford when he was of the Party. I have seen this man a few days since – he says some of the Nottingham Framebreakers have proposed destroying Frames at Mansfield

I shall have notice of their Attempts and further Situation of the objectionable Frames I trust there will be little Chance of the Depredators escaping.

I am
Your most obedient humble Servant
Wm Woodcock

[To] J. Beckett Esq.

This letter can be found at HO 42/141.

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