Sunday 16 October 2016

16th October 1816: The influence of Luddite Committees in Nottingham is 'exposed' by an anonymous writer to the Evening Mail


SIR.—We are truly, as you describe us, at the mercy of, not a rabble whom a few soldiers could disperse, but of a committee, acting with all the power of a revolutionary assembly. To form a clear idea of the state of this town, you should witness the receipt of a piece of lace by a manufacturer from his workman. The manufacturer stands as a culprit: should he, in the slightest degree, violate one of the laws laid down by this committee, he receives a letter the next day. This letter contains no ideal threat. Two or three nights have not elapsed before he is informed, that his property, to the amount of 200l. 300l., is destroyed: he is afraid to stir out after dark. Even at his own door has the manufacturer been shot. Should this unfortunate being reside at a short distance from the town, his trees are destroyed; he sees armed men on his premises during the night. But I hear you exclaim, "Where is the police? What are the magistrates doing? Is this committee known?" Yes, Sir, this committee is known—every member is known; it is well known to the magistrates where this committee meets every night. What will surprise you still more, this committee sent forth its agents last week to collect in the town for its support, and they absolutely preceded the collectors of the poor rates. The overseer immediately informed the magistrates of the circumstance, but no attention was paid to the information. I can assure you, the lower class speak openly of a revolution; they say they can, and will govern. These frame-breakers do nothing for their livelihood; they are supported by regular payment. Towle, who is under sentence of death at Leicester, has not made a dozen pair of stockings during the last three years. Thus a power resides in this country which bids defiance to all its laws, laughs at its police, assassinates, plunders, and destroys, without the least notice being taken of its daring outrages. Should I be known as the author of this letter, I would leave the town immediately, as my life would not be in safety 24 hours.



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