Wednesday, 3 August 2016

3rd August 1816: Details of a Luddite-like plot to destroy press-nail machinery in Birmingham is sent to the Home Office

August 3rd. 1816

May it Please your Lordship

in Consequence of the Nail Ironmongers again reducing their Workmen's Wages, and so many being Wholly out of Employ. A Plot is forming among them of A Dangerous tendency to Disturb the Peace in this Country. as the Nailors look upon the newly invented Machinery to Press Nails to be the Principal Cause of the Trade being so Bad. one of the Principal of these Manufactorys is in the out Skirts of Birmingham and known by the Name of the Britania Brewery and Another about A Mile out of Birmingham Called Bromford Mill. as these are the most Extensive Works. their Plan is for about 50 from each Parish that are Stout, and able to keep the Secret, about the next Change of the Moon to Set out in Small Bodys from their homes after Dark. half of them to one Manufactory and half to the other. and meet there at One O Clock in the Morning. and What fire Arms, they are Able to Collect to be in the hands of those that are Disciplined to lie in Ambush. While the other either Demolish the Machinery or if that Cannot be Done, to Set the Buildings on Fire, and if the Soldiers from the Barracks Should Come on them before they have Compleated their Work for the Ambush to Fire on them which at least Would throw the Soldiers in Such Confusion as to Allow the rest time to Escape and if they can Compleat it before the Soldiers Come to Disperse and return home in the Same Manner as they Went. this I thought it proper to inform your Lordship of. and When the Night is fixed or any further Proceedings take Place if you Wish it. if you please to Give me A Line I Will Wait on all their Proceedings. I remain with the Greatest Deference your most Obedient humble Servant &c &c

William Matthews Rowley near Dudley Worcestershire


before I took this Letter to the Post I heard that there was to be A Meeting on Sunday Afternoon at A Wood near Dudley. I went with 2 more Neighbours about 2 O Clock where we found about 20 met who soon increased to about 50. from all the Different Parishes. Nothing afresh from what I have Named before was brought forward, Except the return of the Number of Fire Arms that they are ar Present informed of which amounts to 79. and another Meeting was to be held in the Same Place on Wednesday next. When one from each parish is to be Selected to Choose the fittest men in his Parish as are Disciplined. and to Consult whether it Would be Proper to have any of the Colliers with them

[To: Lord Sidmouth]

[Home Office note “Send a copy of this privately—to the Birmingham Police Magistrate.”]

This document can be found at HO 42/152.

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