Thursday, 25 June 2015

25th June 1815: Informer's report on Leicestershire & Nottinghamshire Luddites

25th June 1815.—

I went to Leicester last Wednesday morning.—Had instructions to go to the "Nottingham Arms" Belgrave Gate, where I was told there was a Society of Revolutionists and that the son of the Landlady, Elizth Johnson, was one of them.—Dann told me Johnson was a good one.—He is a retail Hosier and works in the Frame himself.—Went to Johnson's as soon as I got to Leicester and saw him.—Told him what I was come about.—Dann is to go and work with him and I told him that something had happened that had prevented him from being with him until next week.—

I asked him if there had not been some stranger from Nottm & told him to be cautious who he said anything to.—He said he did not know of anybody having been there.—Johnson is very close minded.—He said a few Stocking makers could not bring such a thing as that forward and a parcel of us would get hanged if we did not mind. He speaks little and when in company frequently cautions others when they say anything that may be used to their disadvantage.—Went into the Hay market and there saw, a little black looking Chap.—Dont know his name we got into Conversation.—He asked if I came from Nottingham and if I knew Cooke.—I told him I did and had worked with him & Sherwood also―he told me they were Brothers in Law.—When he found I knew & was acquainted with them, he talked freely with me, & we went to Johnson’s together & on the way there he told me there was to be a Meeting in some Field, the name of which I don't remember.—He advised me not to go―When he had been at Johnson’s some time, about 9 o'Clock he said he should be wanted & he then left me.—I told him I thought the Leicester Chaps were not so forward as the Nottm.—He said they were & that they swore in every man that they engaged.—He did not tell me any of their names nor their number — He said Leicester would be as ready as Nottingham to seize the arms there, but it must be done in the night – He did not say they had adopted any plan to do it. Johnson did not hear of any of this Conversation.—Several men came here that night & I afterwards discovered they were part of the set.—Afterwards had some talk with a man of the name of Brown — who was one of those at Johnson's that night.—He is a Painter & lives he says in Belgrave Gate.—He began to talk about Sherwood, and told me Sherwood had been there lately.—I told him I knew he had, and that it appeared from what he had said that the Leicester Chaps hung back sadly.—Brown said that was not the Case and Sherwood never dived into it.—He said he thought they were more ready than Nottm — he understood they had Meetings twice a week at Nottm.—He told me there were several Societies in Leicester, and one was there (at Johnson's) and he was in it.—He did not tell me how many there were who had joined them.—He told me there was to be a Meeting there next Monday night.—Did not say what for.—The foregoing was Secret discourse — Had no other Secret talks with any, but have been with Brown & the man first mentioned at Johnson’s in company with several others when the chief of their discourse had been about the Revolution.—

Yesterday I went to Sherwood and Cooke.—As soon as Sherwood saw me, he told me he wanted to see me & that he was just going to seek for me — we went out together & he told me they had found out there was another Union in Nottm and from what he said I found it was Badder, Slater and their accomplices.—He proposed we two should join & act togr. upon one plan.—I told him I had been at Leicester & I thought they were more ready there than here.—He said he believed they were but when he was there he had not time to get amongst them as much as he wished.—He took me to a great Shop (Wells’s in Barker Gate) where there were some of his Friends, & there I saw Badder, & two other men not known to me my name.—Sherwood told them I was the Young man he had spoke to them about & that I had been at Leicester — we have some talk there and others came in.—They asked if somebody was not going to London from Leicester.—I told them I understood there was and then we agreed to meet at the Leather Bottle — We went there soon after but there was a deal of mixed company, & we cd. not say what we wished.—Haines came in & stuck up a written Paper in the Parlour "If France is subdued Europe's Liberty ends". We agreed to go to Seymour’s & went there separately – We had a Room to ourselves a Chamber — Thos. Burton dont know where he lives – Sherwood, Badder, Holmes dont know where he lives, John Mann and a Needlemaker who lives in Woolpack Lane, in a yard at the Cottom, either King Street or Wool Alley, & another Chap called Henry, were all there.—They began to say now we are met we must consult about the means to send two to London along with one from Leicester, as this was the very moment to strike the blow, when the Soldiers were all out of the Country, as they should never have a better opportunity.—They then asked me if I should like to be one.—I told them I should have no objn. but I was going into Yorkshire.—They said there should be no time lost in going to London & I had better go there & somebody else to Yorkshire.—They wanted to know how much money I could get amongst my friends towards the expence of the Journey.—They talked of raising 8 Guineas, I told them I thought I could raise £2.—They are to meet a Chap today at Badder’s Garden, who is to tell them on many staunch Jacobins to join them. They propose Holmes & myself to go to London next Tuesday to tell that then than Nottm & Leicester were quite ready to seize arms and begin & that if the blow be first struck in London, it will stop the whole trade at once & create a General forment.—That the night is to be agreed upon when the blow is to be struck & it is to be at all the places at the same time.—The blow to be struck is to seize the arms of the Military & the Militia Arms & they think the military will join them.—Nothing was said what was to be the next measure.—They were in high Spirits & sanguine in their expectations of success.—They are to have a Petition prepared as a Cloak to cover a Subscription — & they talked of going to the Committee at the Colonel Wardle and to confer with Sampson Walker and to make known to him their intentions — I told them I thought he might be trusted — Burton is to go to Walker this morning — We are to meet again tomorrow night at 8 at Seymour’s.—

This report can be found at HO 42/144.

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