Friday 21 October 2016

21st October 1816: Sir Robert Peel replies to J H Addington's revelations about the Luddite, Thomas Pickup

[To: J H Addington]

I have the Honor of your letter of the 9th and have sent your letter to my relation who interested himself in the liberation of Pickup I was much obliged by your attention to my wishes and should be very sorry to find that I importuned in favour of an unworthy object my Friend thinks Pickup will be found to stand clear of the unfavourable report against him and will take the very first opportunity of informing himself of the fact

your obliged Servant

Robert Peel

Tamworth [21st Octr 1816]

By the inclosed letters [received] yesterday are on the same subject

[To] Right Honourable
JH Addington

A letter from Peel's nephew, also Robert Peel, follows:

Manchester Octr 20th 1816

Dear Uncle

In consequence of your letter enclosing one from Mr Addington I wrote to Mr Ainsworth and to Jas Wrigley who collect the rents of Bengall Square to enquire whether Thos Pickup had attended the meeting at Bolton or had been active in promoting it—

Wrigley says

"I received your letter respecting Pickups conduct and on enquiry I find that he was no way connected with the meeting alluded to—I have made all the enquiry I possibly could – I believe he was not present at the meeting.”

I enclose you the letter which I have received from Mr Ainsworth, and from what I heard of Pickup I feel confident that he will not meddle with any more meetings—His son is only 19 yrs of age and I can easily conceive that he would sign the requisition on being told that it would be of service to him.

I know the Magistrate who has given the information to Government and if you think it desirable I will apply to him to ascertain what proof he has of Pickups having interfered, but probably Mr Addington would not wish any notion to be taken of his letter—if necessary I could make the enquiry as having heard that Pickup had promoted the meeting

I remain yr affectionate nephew

Robt Peel

The letter from Thomas Ainsworth was also enclosed:

Bolton Octr 18th, 1816.—


I made private enquiry through well affected weavers whether Tom Pickup had attended the Bolton meeting, but could not learn that he either had, or had not

I thought it best to go to his house and see the state of his work and family—I found them all busy at work and apparently doing as well as things admit of—I asked him how he could think of signing Papers or attending meetings, after the pains his friends had taken to procure his release from the Hulks—He positively denied having ever signed a paper or attended a [meeting] since his return, that his answer to every application made to him, was, you have not had your feet in the Irons as long as I have or you would have had enough of meetings.

Jno Rothwell our old overlooker who lives opposite offered to make oath that from what he knew of T:P: he believes he never signed any paper or even attended a meeting for he knew of his having been repeatedly upraided for not doing so—while I was questioning him and family, his son Tom then at the Loom said "I signed a paper but ne’er read it" on enquiry I found it to be the Bolton Requisition—his father was not at home when it was signed and seemed perfectly ignorant of it—I really think this is the whole of the business—T P seemed very ill hurt and would very readily have gone over to Manchester, to satisfy you would take an oath but I sent him to Mr Jones who he weaves for to get his certificate which I annex—thinking that would be most satisfactory—I think he has behaved himself since his return pretty well, and his punishment, I hope, has done him good, and that his release will not reflect discredit on those who procured it.—

I remain,
Yours sincerely Thos Ainsworth

PS Being very much engaged I am obliged to get our Clerk to why my Letter as I am obliged to be in [Warrington] at 4 oClock

(1/2 past 12)

Robt. Peel Esqr

Since the return of T. Pickup who worked for us before his confinement and during which time his family continued to do so very industriously, we have perceived nothing singular [obscured] but on the contrary they all work hard, are sober, [obscured] Pickup himself at Church on Sunday. since he has procured cloths fit to appear in as he thinks

I am
[illegible signature]

Bolton 18 Octr 1816

Sir Robert Peel's letter is dated 19th October, but this must be a mistake, as his newphew's letter is dated 20th October. I have dated it 21st October, as he says his newphew's letter was 'received yesterday'.

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