Wednesday, 25 March 2015

25th March 1815: Sunderland Magistrates update the Home Secretary about the recent riots

My Lord

The Magistrates of this Town & district apprised your Lordship on the 21st Instant of the Riot, which had taken place on the preceding Evening. The Revd Mr. Boundling and I were sent for on the following day, and have joined the other magistrates but the spirit of insubordination has not so far subsided as yet, as to admit with safety the setting about the reconstruction of the Staith Machinery and wooden bridge which crosses a deep ravine adjacent to the River, a most serious, and daily loss to Nesham & Co whose Colliery is thus cut off from the River, whilst the contingent [expenses] at the Engines, & pits continues. It seems proper that your Lordship should be informed that this Colliery has been brought down to near the mouth of the river by a rail way for which great way leaves are paid by the Co. and that Ships receive the whole or a considerable part of their cargoes from spouts, without the intervention of Keels or Casters (i.e.) Coal heavers.—There are several on the Tyne, which have existed some years: but this from its vicinity to [Sunderland] and the apprehension that other Coal-owners would adopt the same machinery has occasioned great jealousy on the part of the Keelmen & Casters; & unless they are subdued in this first instance, the Evil will proceed probably to the Tyne; & may be carried from the combustible nature of the Staiths, spouts &c to an alarming length.—Your Lordship should be informed that, besides the mischief to the Staiths &c on Monday, Mr. Robinson and this Son, and Mr Biss a brother in Law, & Partner, having attempted personally to interfere, were beaten, & wounded with bricks & other missiles, and that threatening letters have been sent, of which copies are enclosed; by which the Rioters have endeavoured to intimidate the [company] from restoring their works, & the magistrates from doing their duty.—Messrs Nehsam, & Robinson as Partners, & Dr. Gray, as Lessors of way leave are interested, & therefore, particularly marked by the Rioters.—We have hopes that the Keelmen may go to work to day: altho’ they still shelter their ringleaders, against some of whom we have issued warrants: but we find great difficulty in procuring informations, as the majority of those concerned in the Trade are afraid of rendering themselves conspicuous; and some of them, as rivals in the Trade, do not perhaps see the evil, which has befallen Nesham & Co in its proper light.—If your Lordship should think it proper to offer recommend it to Government to offer a reward on the subject of the threatening letters; or for discovery of the ringleaders it might add to the weight of the offer of Reward from the [company] and [Gentlemen] in this Town, who have offered each 100 [Guineas] for discovery of the ringleaders on conviction—

Your Lordship will perceive that we concur with the opinion contained in the letter of the 21st respecting the military force.—

Any Communication with which your Lordship may honour the Magistrates may be addressed to their Chairman here.

We have [etc]

R. Burdon
R: H: Brandling
Robt Gray
J Hampson
John Davison
G Stephenson
James Jackson

Sunderland 25th March

[To] The
Lord Visct
&c &c

P.S. Dr Gray requests that in any publication of the Threatening letter the names may not be published, the effect of which would be to connect them permanently with the object of Jealousy

R. Burdon

Burdon also enclosed copies of threatening letters received, as follows:

It is to be a expected the interested Part of the people in Sunderland Will have more Respect to there own personal safety [illegible] that of there property than [we] very violent measures to oppose The oppressed part of the People Which have been driven into Riot by Oppression But should you think fit to mark out A few individuals the rest will arise to there rescue your Own Safety [Cries] Alone

For Silence

[To] Mr Robinson


I think proper to inform you of the Ringleders intention that is if the Hors is cald on to thro them with a Chene Cable and take their Harnes from them and then Reve the Chene thro the Dors of and Winders of the Tones Hal and pul it down the Ringleders is Thos Boys Houlden Wardle Waywayman and Daron the pitman Jhon Davison

To tell my name will be death

Mr Robinson
Justis of Pece

This letter can be found at HO 42/143.

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