Wednesday, 6 April 2016

6th April 1816: Henry Enfield writes to the Home Secretary about John Dann & another suspected Luddite

Private and Confidential

Nottingham Apr. 6 1816

Sir

Indisposition has prevented my communicating to you, for the Information of Lord Sidmouth, the particulars of the conduct of Simpson, otherwise Dann, since his condemnation—

A particular friend of mine attended him almost constantly between his Sentence and Execution — & from the reports made to me from time to time of his conversation, he appears to have been extremely obdurate, or, rather, perversley determined to make no sincere Confession—He made a partial one, & signed it – in which he admitted that he was guilty of the Robbery of Bowes, & of [Cornwell], but denied being concerned in the Robbery of Needham – & tho’ he acknowledged to have advocated the cause of Framebreaking by Words on all occasions, but never took, he said, an active part – a variety of other matters is contained in the Confession, immaterial to be detailed to you – I expected that one person's name would be disclosed – it is so.—& I have been glad to succeed in my Endeavours to confine the knowledge of the Confession as much as possible—He verbally denied being one of the two who shot Mr. Trentham & continued thus until the morning of his Execution—The Gentleman to whom I have alluded in my former part of this letter was with him at ½ past 5 on that morning (Wednesday last) when he was to receive the Sacrament—This moment was seized for the most pointed & solemn Interrogation – & after shewing considerable agony, he confessed that he was one of the two who shot Mr. Trentham, & that he shot Gylby — he was pressed to say who was the other person at the shooting of Mr. Trentham – but his agitation was extreme & he begged to the be spared further—The Gentleman deeming the matter however to be of the first importance, &, having have the name confidentially suggested to him, persevered & asked him if it were Joshua Mitchell—He from [illegible] was greatly distressed—& could only say, take my answer as if I had said it – giving it to be clearly understood that the person named was the man—This last conversation was in the presence only of the Gentleman who has repeated it to me—&, for the best reasons, it must be imparted only in judicious confidence.—Simpson told my friend that at the place of Execution he should say that he had made no Confessions—& he, in fact, did say so—He was executed about ten on Wednsy morning.

From the disclosure in his written Confession of Crofts’s name of residence (of whom our first reports transmitted to you make frequent, important mention, the magistrate for the County took up Crofts—& I had [illegible] to do to prevent the apprehension of our Secret Agent.—Assisted by his former Information, we brought forwards the Butcher (Woodruffe) robbed on Wilford Hills – & upon his Charge Crofts is fully committed to the Summer Assizes for the Highway Robbery—& he will, I think, be convicted—

At this period I am intrusted by the Secret Committee to suggest most respectfully to Lord Sidmouth the [illegible] [illegible] adequate Reward to be given to the Secret Agent from Government for these important results of his most perilous Services—The fund of the Secret Committee is exhausted—but they propose endeavouring to renew it for the purpose of continuing the Secret Service—

I have written you very fully – perhaps too much so – but I have done it only from belief that Lord Sidmouth & yourself would have a satisfaction in knowing minutely the closing particulars of Simpson's Life

I am
Sir
Your most obed Servant
H. Enfield

This letter can be found at HO 42/149.

Though he was tried at the Summer Assizes for assault & robbery as Enfield mentioned in this letter, James Crofts was acquitted.

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