Thursday, 18 August 2016

18th August 1816: Jeffery Lockett informs the Home Office that Luddites are involved with Hampden Clubs


In my last letter, I informed you, that Slater, who was acquitted at Leicester, was in Derby. He has been here ever since, and has been joined by ten or twelve other notorious Luddite from Nottm. They are certainly collecting money, and pretend to be employed in forming associations of workmen, in the Stocking and Lace manufacturies, both in this town, and the neighbouring villages, which they call "Hampden Clubs".—The names of the members are inrolled, and a system of communication is established, by which every club, within a certain district, can be assembled at an appointed place, in the most expeditious possible manner. Whether this is a scheme preparatory to the attempt of a rescue of Towle, or to create a disturbance at the time of his execution;—or whether the object of the associations is of a more general, and of political nature, has not yet been ascertained.

Hitherto Towle has shewn no disposition to discover his confederates.—They are in the greatest alarm. I know many of them in, and near Nottingham and Loughbro’ also, who were certainly concerned in the outrage at Messrs Heathcoat & Boden's factory, but seeing no chance of convicting them, without the evidence of an accomplice of an accomplice, I have abstained from taking them into custody.—If Towle should, as I shall think him he will, make any discovery, however unimportant it may be, it would be adviseable to take up every suspected person. The fact of Towle having given information might be divulged, and the particulars of it be kept profoundly secret—The Loughbro’ men who were concerned in the outrage, are novices in Luddism.—They would at once [infere] that they were apprehended in consequence of information given by Towle—and it is very probable that some of them would impeach—

I am afraid you will think me officious and troublesome. I am most anxious to give these wretches a check before the winter sets in—but I cannot act without authority; and since the death of the late Mr. Mundy there has not been a magistrate in this neighbourhood who has taken the same active part in public business, which he did.

May I request the favour of an early answer from you as I propose to go from home for a short time on Saturday next. I have the honour to be

Your most obedt Servt
Mr Jeffery Lockett
Derby Augt. 18th 1816

This letter can be found at HO 42/152.

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