Milden Hall May 31st: 1816
My dear Beckett,
Having qualified myself properly on Wednesday to act as a magistrate, I went with Mr. Barker to Brandon yesterday. We collected all the Evidence which could be obtained on the subject of the Riots in that Town:—and in consequence of what came out we issued warrants against two more men & two women (in addition to the five men committed on Tuesday) and we succeeded in securing one of each viz: Mingay Rampling, & Helen Dyer. The other two (Willm Clark, & Anna Folkes) have fled.—It appears that Peverett, one of those committed on Tuesday, is the most dangerous Character of the Party. He was the Leader and perhaps the mover of the whole business. The day before the first Riot he was seen to have many Bank notes in his hand and was boasting of the money he had at command—next to him we may rank Talbot, Wiggan, Rampling, Spendlove, & Helen Dyer—The fair Sex were very active, and both Helen & Ann Folkes are very good looking young women.—The Townspeople of Brandon have recovered from their Panick, & are now ready enough to give their testimony. We are much obliged to a Gentleman, Mr. [Toomey], who has returned from Benfield to his house at Brandon since the Riots, for his personal Exertions in seizing Peverett himself, in spite of a desperate resistance.—Mr. Barker & I have sent up our Clerk Mr. Wootton Isaacson to lay the Depositions before the Duke of Grafton & with his approbation before Lord Sidmouth. Mr Isaacson and was at Brandon with us, & give you further information.
I am inclined to believe that Spendlove repents hastily of his Share in the Riots, and might would give information of all &c he may know.—And now I must introduce to your notice a fresh Character, named James Smythe:—he is a petty Attorney at Brandon:—Clerk to Justice Burch:—and, as it would seem, leading the Justice by the nose. Mr. Smythe is moreover a little dissenting Preacher. He mixes constantly with all the poor & profligate Characters of Brandon, and unless He be grievously belied is deeply connected with them. This fellow very imprudently attempted to oppose Mr. Barker's first proceedings on Tuesday, but was very properly put down. There are many grounds for suspicion against this Mr. Smythe; & I wish to have the [track] closely & skilfully followed.—Mr Burch’s misconduct as a magistrate has certainly been flagrant, nor has it been confined to the instance of these Riots.
I have been sitting seven hours again today on minor Justice-business with my two Colleagues—I have been particularly anxious to get insight into the provision made for the Poor round this neighbourhood & the treatment they have experienced. I feel no hesitation in saying that in general the Provision has not been what it ought & might have been;—& in many cases the Poor have been treated with great harshness or great neglect
P.S. Since writing the above the aforementioned William Clark & and Anne Folkes have been brought before me; and I am about to commit them to Bury Gaol.
[illegible] my dear Beckett
Very truly your’s
This letter can be found at HO 42/150.