Sunday, 16 October 2016

16th October 1816: The Nottingham solicitor, Louis Allsop, updates the Home Secretary about the situation in Nottingham

16. October 1816.—

My Lord—

Having been from home a great deal lately, I had nothing to communicate your Lordship I did not therefore call, when I was in London, which, I left only on Sunday—On my arrival home Yesterday I found this Town & the County was under a considerable State of Alarm, in consequence of a great number of Frames having been destroyed, & of a general Impression that this System of Frame-breaking was to be continued, not only for the purpose of avenging private fancied Wrongs on the part of the Workmen, but to aggravate the distresses of the present times to such a degree, as would cause some open & public Commotion.—There can be no doubt of a considerable number of bad, but able men, in the lower Classes of Society, being engaged in these Scenes of Disorder—The County Sessions being on Monday, the Magistrates continued their Sitting till Yesterday afternoon, for the purpose of taking into their Consideration, the Situation in this part of the Country; I learn that an address is [illegible] to His R:H: the Prince Reg. (which your Lordship will have seen before You receive this) & that some further Steps are to be taken, which, of course, will be communicated by the Magistrates to yr Lordship—

There was a strong attempt made by Mr. Sherbrooke & some of the Magistrates to introduce a Requisition in the address to the Prince, to call the Parliament together without delay, to take into Consideration the Situation of the Country; this has been got over by the good Sense of [illegible name], Dr. Wylde & the majority of the Magistrates; It has occurred to me, that your Lordship might wish to know this, & I have mentioned it in Confidence, that yr Lordship may be upon your Guard—I find the Magistrates a good deal irritated by the attacks made upon them in the newspapers & many of them turn these Attacks on to the administration—All this is bad, it makes Gentlemen dissatisfied, cool & careless; & the Country suffers—It must be confessed that a Set of Country Gentleman meeting once a month, or once a Week, cannot do any permanent good—As in the present Case & while the effects of the present [Impressions] continue, they will do all in their power, but it will die away in a day or two, & We shall be quiet as We were; it cannot be expected that the Gentleman will voluntarily & gratuitously give up their time—

I find all descriptions of people finding fault, but no one proposing any thing, only confessing that something must be done—nothing specific has been recommended by the Magistrates—& I have said to some of them, why find fault with Ministers, unless You point out such Steps, as your local knowledge induce You to conceive, likely to be productive of some good—. they reply, it is useless, it would not be attended to—I press them to do it [now] to the immediate [illegible]—It has always occurred to me, that a permanent police should be established here, with regular police magistrates, a Gentleman well acquainted with the Laws of his Country, whose Education & habits are such as to enable him to associate with [illegible], & to have an Influence over the magistracy, & Gentry, & respectable Manufacturers of this County, that he [should] have Constables or people about, whose sole time & Attention, like his own, [should] be directed to the one great & leading [illegible], that the Jurisdiction of him & his Men should extend into the County as well as the Town, that he [should] not be embarrassed by any Ceremony as to particular Magistrates acting for particular districts that a full understanding [should] take place as to the Employment of the Military, & that, in case the present Laws are not sufficient, [that] the other magistrates will [should] be armed with sufficient Authority to enter Houses or other places to search for Books papers & Documents, of their own Authority, & that suspected men may be apprehended

I am aware that great difficulty & objections exist as to this latter proposal & I state it with much Diffidence, for your Lordships Consideration; it would be better if it [could] be effected; there can be no doubt that such a power in the Hands of an efficient Magistracy, would do more than any thing else, the men engaged in these Excesses, & what is of more Importance, the advisers behind the Scenes, would tremble, they would never feel safe, it [would] cause a panic—Your Lordship will consider this; I have no doubt it has & will be submitted to your Lordships Consideration by others—The Placards & Language made use of in the public Houses, shew an encreasing spirit of disaffection amongst the lower orders—They have unfortunately had nearly seven Years Experience; & common measures will not now do—My Friend Mr James Hooley, one of the principal manufacturers of this Town & a Gentleman of considerable property will be in London on Saturday on business—He is one of the Secret Committee, & well acquainted with what is going on amongst the men—It has occurred to me that he might give your Lordship some useful Information if your Lordship thought it worth while that You or Mr Beckett [should] see him—if so, I have settled with him to call upon at the Home Office, & he will do so, any day after three oClock; He will be at the Guildhall Coffee House, at which place a note will find him—& your Lordship can [illegible] your discussion, all I can say is that your Lordship may rely upon him—

I have [etc]

L Allsopp

PS –
Your Lordship, or Mr Beckett if he sees Mr. Hooley will obtain some useful information from him: He much tells his Story in his own Way—but he is very well disposed well meaning, with a good plain, strong, understanding.—


The address by the Magistrates will I, I understand touch upon the general distress of this part of the Country, the parishes, on the North Side of Town, on the forest, where the Land is very bad, & the population numerous, certainly being in a distressed State—When Men are distressed they are the more likely to be compelled, by the awful Scoundrels, with which this County abounds—

This letter can be found at HO 42/153.

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