Tuesday, 8 December 2015

8th December 1815: The Warwickshire JP, William Hamper, informs the Home Secretary about a man selling pamphlets about the Luddites

Birmingham, Decr 8th, 1815—

My Lord,

A Man named William Cooper, who appears to have been formerly a Grocer at Nottingham, is now travelling through this neighbourhood, under the pretence of offering for sale a Pamphlet of his writing containing some account of the Luddite Disturbances. He talks largely of being patronized by many of the Nobility, & in a List of Benefactors (whose donations amounted upwards of One Hundred & Forty Pounds) your Lordship’s Name is set down for 5£ in an handwriting which I shall now endeavour to give in Facsimile:

Lord Sidmouth . . . . . . . . 5

Some of the Signatures in his List appear to be genuine, but others have every appearance of being artfully fabricated for the purpose of deception; and I trust your Lordship will not consider me as overstepping my Duty in enquiring whether or not the Man has been a partaker of Your Lordship’s bounty.—I have detected so many Plunderers on public Benevolence, in Persons travelling with Petitions & false Certificates, that I make a point of thoroughly investigating every Case of that description which comes before me. I have the honour to remain, with the greatest Respect,

My Lord
Yr Lordship’s faithful Servant
Wm Hamper.
One of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the Counties of Warwick & Worcester

PS. From the colour of the Ink, it is not improbable that Your Lordship’s name was written a year or two ago.—

This letter can be found at HO 42/147. Sidmouth's reply is not recorded.

Interestingly, an informer employed by the Stockport Solicitor, John Lloyd, also went by the name William Cooper. A letter from Lloyd to John Beckett of the Home Office written on 31st August 1812 stated that Cooper had been sent to Shropshire (near to Birmingham) to be 'out of the way of {the Luddites'] vengeance'.

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