Friday, 27 May 2016

27th May 1816: Colonel Ralph Fletcher informs the Home Office of the distress of the Bolton Weavers

Bolton 27 May 1816

Dear Sir

Some the enclosed papers came to my hands several days ago, but I waited to have heard from Mr Warr—some further particulars of the Intention of the Seditious, before I made any communication.

The minds of the Weavers are in a considerable degree of Fermentation from the Lowness of Wages, and Scarcity of Employment (even on their low Wages) owing principally, to the Number of recent Failures, and also from the discharging of Workmen, by those who are yet solvent. Some Attempts have been made in this town, this day, and are now making to rouse the Feelings of the Weavers, by exhibiting a Shuttle covered with Crape. The Effect it may have this evening, I hope will not be serious; but should the Number of Weavers be discharged that, it is predicted, will be in the course of three Weeks in this Town & Neighbourhood, (10000 & upwards) the Consequence will, I fear, be alarming.

Tomorrow a Representation will be sent from this Place, to my Lord Sidmouth, by the magistrates, at the Suggestion of two (loyal) Delegates from the Weavers, in which will be contained their Statement of the Average Wages earned, and the Number out of Employ—and their Opinion as the best mode of alleviation, the Distress that prevails in the Cotton Trade.

I thought it necessary to apprise you of the Intention—and in Haste, for fear of losing a Post—

I remain

Dear Sir

Yours most sincerely

Ra: Fletcher

[To] John Beckett Esqr

This letter can be found (& is mis-filed) at HO 42/151.

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