Sunday 14 August 2016

14th August 1816: Jeffrey Lockett sends an update on the Nottinghamshire Luddites to the Home Office


The conviction of James Towle has excited considerable alarm amongst the Luddites.—They are very actively employed, and are certainly plotting some further outrage, but whether they meditate the rescue of Towle at the time of execution,—the further destruction of frames,—or some act of personal violence, has not yet been ascertained—Slater, who was acquitted at Leicester, and about ten or twelve of the Luddites, concerned in the outrage at Loughbro, have been in Derby since yesterday morning.—They are very closely watched,—and the guard at the Depot has been increased.—In Nottingham there is a great forment.—Every person concerned in the trial of Towle is marked,—and every possible attempt is made to irritate the populace, and evade a prejudice against him.—Scarcely an hour passes without some threat reaching me;—and you will see from the enclosed handbill, that Barnes and Lawson (two Nottingham police officers) who were examined on the trial, are particularly pointed at, as the principal cause of the conviction. The Review newspaper, which will be published on Saturday, is to contain a full account of the trial,—reported, no doubt, in such a manner as to increase the present vilification. I will take the liberty of sending you one of the papers.

It is most anxiously hoped that the Secretary of State will direct the reward of 500gs to be distributed amongst the police officers and witnesses: Without such encouragement it cannot be expected that they will exert themselves hereafter, have as they have done on the present occasion, and expose themselves to the anger which is inseparable from this service.

I have [etc]

Mr Jeffrey Lockett
Derby August 14th: 1816

[To John Beckett]

[Enclosed Handbill follows]

A particular true Statement of the
Trials & Sentences

Which took place at LEICESTER Summer Assize, 1816.

THE Public anxiety has been so feeling alive, respecting the result of the late pending Trials at Leicester for Frame-breaking; and has been so much, and so repeatedly trifled with by vague and uncertain reports, that to relieve it at once from longer suspence and uncertainty, may not prove unacceptable to the readers of this Statement, particularly in Nottingham and its Neighbourhood, from its locality to the scene of action, and the interest feeling excited in the breasts of the friends and relatives of the unfortunate men implicated in the business. This we trust will be a sufficient apology for publishing the following NOTE, which was sent from the Court, by a Professional Gentleman, for the express purpose of satisfying the enquiries of the Friends of the Accused. We choose to give it verbatim from the original Note itself, (with which we are particularly favoured) leaving the Reader to make his own comments upon it.


"SLATER and BADDER is acquitted—TOWLE is condemned; but there is a hopeful Point of Law will be raised on the Indictment, which if the Judge Graham will point to be law before the Twelve Judges, will very probably invalidate the Indictment, and procure his liberty. Towle’s confession as proved by [Barnes] and [Lawson] (Nottingham Constables) has been the principal means of his conviction, connected with other evidence.

“Towle is charged in the Indictment, as a PRINCIPAL in firing the Pistol. The Jury have returned a verdict of Guilty, but not of FIRING THE PISTOL. Upon which a Point of Law also arises. He is also charged as an ACCESSARY, but not as an ACCESSARY FELONIOUSLY, upon which Point of Law also arises.

“The Judge has promised to pay particular attention the Points, so that there are yet some hopes."

(Ordonyno, Printer, Nottingham.)

This letter can be found at HO 42/152.

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