Sunday, 1 May 2016

May 1816: A panicked letter sent to the Home Office about the situation in Suffolk

My Lord

From the remote situation of this part of the Country from the metropolis I am confident you are not aware of the great disorder that prevails & the spirit of insurrection that hourly shews  itself—apparently without any immediate remedy—as the evil  increases—& the mob is daily added unto—every night, we have the horror of observing a fire from some part of the County—& we have  no rest in our Beds but are kept watching till Break of Day the Servants & Labourers are with ourselves quite exhausted—nothing will quell this tumult but some regiments being sent into this district,—& if possible some officers of police for we cannot depend upon one of our own people—even the constables chosen by parishes which I dwell are suspicious persons—& would head the mob rather than disperse them—these villains meet at a public house in Hitcham the Sign of the [Buckie] Lions—the names of them are White, Deacon, two the name of Baker, one Wilding,  [illegible] Brett—&c—but an officer of police from London would very soon detect some of these ring leaders which from being unknown he might do better than any other way—& a troop being stationed in the environs of Bildeston would soon disperse these wretches! pardon my Lord my daring to hint the means of checking this rise of misadventure but I am certain if you will condescend to attend to my proposals it will prevent much harm—to the Country. God knows only if not stopped what will be the event, to Town & Country—they threatened to burn the Clergy in their Beds—the Clergy are all magistrates—& they have gained from some quarter an idea that the high Tythes are the cause of their low wages—in the Parish of Kettlebaston which is the worst in England for  civilization, there is neither magistrate nor Parson—the Rector having another living never visits the Parish—but on an hour on a Sunday, so they are left to their own wicked devices, & all look like Savages—in the next parish viz. Hitcham the magistrate is a Clergyman now absent for two months so that the poor labourer in that village are all in a State of rebellion & threatening to burn every Stack & Barn—then the mills we shall then say they be all equal.

for God’s sake my Lord think of some expedient immediately if not, I predict it will gather Strength—we are all so tired with watching & want of Sleep that we must give up the contest—otherwise the ground can not be tilled—& then a famine inevitably will ensue—send some Troops directly  & some police Officers to the Villages of Kettlebaston Hitcham & Bildestone this will Strike [terror] in the rest—I was in Town when the mob rose on the Corn Bill—I saw the good effect that the Soldiers had immediately in quelling riots.

we are without magistrates & without Rectors & [more/none] that are resident—are in danger from the exorbitant Tithe demanded.—

I am
your Lordships
Ob.nt Servant
J Nicholson

[Undated - May 1816]

This letter can be found at HO 42/150. It is undated, but appears in the division for May 1816 and refers to events around Suffolk at this time (though there is little to tie it to a general or specific date in May).

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