Wednesday, 27 April 2016

27th April 1816: Suffolk magistrates report on the disturbances to the Home Office

Cosford Hundred, Suffolk – April – 27 – 1816

We, whose names are subscribed, being Justices of the Peace, acting in the said Hundred, beg leave to inform your Grace, that previous to the receipt of your letter by Sir Robert Pocklington, we had fixed to meet this day in order to investigate the circumstances attending an alarming Fire which broke out yesterday morning about the hour of eight on the Premises of Mr Zachariah Scott of Kettlebaston Hall in the said Hundred, by which his two Barns containing a considerable quantity of threshed & unthreshed Corn, and Granary and other Outbuildings, and also two Stacks of Stover were totally consumed and which there were strong reasons to apprehend were maliciously set on fire.

After a long and careful Investigation of all the Parties implicated in this Transaction, we committed to Gaol one Labourer, for want of Sureties to keep the Peace towards Mr L. Scott [the] said Labourer having used threatening Language respecting the Stacks of Mr Scott, but we had no Evidence before us from which we could conclude that he was the Incendiary.

We also examined several persons respecting the alarming Reports which have been lately circulated in this Neighbourhood respecting the Discontents and threatening Combinations of the Poor in order to oblige their Masters to raise their Wages, and though we discovered that a Paper had been signed by many of them for this purpose, yet we could gain no Information of any nocturnal Meetings having been held; and we beg to assure your Grace, that we will use the utmost Diligence and Activity to prevent such Meetings, and to suppress such Combinations by every means which the existing Laws of the Land enable us to do.

In the mean time, we beg to represent through your Grace to his Majestys Ministers that in consequence of the distresses of the Farmers, numbers of the labouring Poor are out of employ, others working at very reduced Wages, and that all the Women and Children in this Hundred are deprived of means of earning any Subsistence for their Support, through the total Failure of the Spinning of long Wool which used to afford Employment to so many thousand persons in this County,

We beg leave to subscribe ourselves
Your Grace’s Ob. H. Sts

Robt. Pocklington
J. Gee Smyth Clk
Chas. Cooke
[illegible] Harrison

This letter can be found at HO 42/149.

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