Saturday, 15 October 2016

15th October 1816: William Sherbrooke writes to the Home Secretary about distress in Nottinghamshire

Nottingham 15th October 1816.

My Lord—

The Magistrates assembled at the Quarter Sessions for the County of Nottingham are induced by the present distressed State of the Country, which is daily increasing to request that your Lordship will lay before His Royal Highness the Prince Regent the humble Address, and the documents which accompany this letter—The Magistrates feel it an imperious duty to state to your Lordship the great danger to be apprehended, in a more advanced state of the Season, from the failure of Parochial Supplies which in some instances has already taken place, and they beg leave to call your Lordship’s attention to the probability of the People, through the wants they are now suffering applying to them very soon in large Bodies, when the overseers can no longer collect money from the Persons paying rates for the sustenance of the Poor—

Under all these circumstances the Magistrates trust your Lordship will call the attention of His Majesty's Government to such alteration in the existing Laws for the maintenance of the Poor as may appear calculated to meet every emergency—They likewise beg leave to communicate to your Lordship that from the disorders which have recently taken place, and which are hourly assuming a more serious Character, they have considered it their duty to take steps for carrying into effect the Provisions of the Watch and Ward Act in those Districts of the County where the greatest disposition to Outrage has been shewn—

The Magistrates also learn from authentic information that the greater part of the Malcontents are possessed of Arms, they consider it therefore proper to state your Lordship that the Military force now quartered in this County would probably not be found sufficient to support the Civil Power in the event of any great degree of Commotion; and as it was found peculiarly useful in 1812, when great Outrages took place, to distribute small detachments of the Military in different parts of the disturbed Districts in aid of the Civil Power, they beg leave to suggest the expediency of resorting to a similar measure at the present moment.

And they fully rely on your Lordship’s support in obtaining a pecuniary relief which may alleviate the suffering already described.

Signed by direction of the Magistrates
W: Sherbrooke

[To] The Right Honorable Lord Sidmouth
Secretary of State &c &c

[Magistrates' address to the Prince Regent follows]

To His Royal Highness the Prince Regent &c.


The Magistrates assembled at the Michaelmas Quarter Sessions for the County of Nottingham, deeply impressed with the awful state of the Country, feel it an imperious duty humbly to represent to your Royal Highness, that several Parishes, comprising the whole of the extensive Manufacturing Districts of this County, are so overburdened with Paupers that it is with the greatest difficulty the rates have lately been collected to support the Poor, and as the Occupiers of Land have little to expect from the Harvest, a great part of the Corn being now perishing upon the Ground; there is the greatest reason to apprehend that Maintenance cannot long be found for the numerous applicants, under the existing regulations

The Magistrates find it extremely difficult, consistently with a sense of Justice, to tax other Parishes or Persons in aid of those now oppressed with the burden, and as the most alarming consequences are to be apprehended from the actual failure of the weekly revenue for the Poor, they dutifully submit to your Royal Highness the expediency of an early Parliamentary interference—The Magistrates are solely induced to make this unusual suggestion to your Royal Highness, by the alarming magnitude of the evil, which is more particularly forced upon their attention by daily practice, and upon the most mature consideration they are convinced that a remedy can alone be expected from the wisdom of all your Royal Highness and the other branches of the Legislature.

Signed by direction of the Magistrates—
W: Sherbrooke

These documents can be found at HO 42/153.

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