Monday, 14 November 2016

14th November 1816: Seven knitting-frames damaged in Luddite copy-cat attack in Leicester

In the evening of Thursday 14th November 1816, a Luddite copy-cat attack took place at a workshop in Leicester. Within 2 days, the circumstances had been reported in the Leicester Chronicle of 16th November 1816:
We are sorry to learn, that seven frames, standing in the shop of one Richard Gumley, of this Town, were wilfully damaged on Thursday night. The Magistrates were engaged on Thursday morning in the investigation of the transaction, and we had that a youth of the name of James Lodge, who worked and slept at Gumley’s, has been fully committed for Trial. It is clear from various circumstances, that no other person was concerned with him in this outrage, and there appears to have been no possible motive for it but a pure spirit of mischief or a wish to do something which should be talked about. The shop is a detached building, and situate about eight or ten yards the House. Two other men who lodge at Gumley’s were at work in it until about ten o'clock on Thursday night, and they then went into the House to get their supper and go to bed. Lodge remained in the shop about half an hour after them without any assignable motives, and he should have locked the door, when he left it. They all went to bed, two of them in one room, and Lodge in a separate one, about a quarter before eleven, and in the morning when they got up to go to work, Slaney who went first to the shop found that the door was latched, but had not been locked all, and there were no appearances of force used either at the windows or door; no footsteps were discoverable in any of the adjoining Gardens, nor in any other direction, but from Gumley’s House to the shop. And this was the more observable from the circumstance of snow having fallen during the early part of the night. The mischief was effected by piece of Iron called a Roller belonging to a Frame in the shop which was not in work, and the violence was so slight as to have occasioned little or no noise. The damage is estimated at about 12l. We are glad that this prompt and successful investigation is likely to relieve the Town from what would otherwise have been very pleasant state of feeling.
The Tory Leicester Journal adapted the same report (suggesting it was a local authority press release) the following Friday 22nd November 1816:
A momentary alarm of an unpleasant nature was excited on Friday morning last, in consequence of seven frames standing in shop of Richard Gumley, in a bye lane in the neighbourhood of Churchgate, having been wilfully damaged during the preceding night. In the investigation of the transaction before the Magistrates, it appeared that a youth of the name of James Lodge aspiring to Luddite fame, had in a mischievous spirit committed the depredation, for which he is fully committed for trial. The shop is a detached building, and situate about eight or ten yards the house. Two other men who lodge at Gumley’s were at work in it until about ten o'clock on Thursday night, and they then went into the house to get their supper and go to bed. Lodge remained in the shop about half an hour after them without any assignable motives, and he should have locked the door when he left it. They all went to bed, two of them in one room, and Lodge in a separate one, about a quarter before eleven; and in the morning when they got up to go to work, Stanley who went first to the shop found that the door was latched, but had not been locked, and there were no appearance of force used either at the windows or door; no footsteps were discoverable in any of the adjoining gardens, nor in any other direction but from Gumley’s house to the shop; this was the more observable from the circumstance of snow having fallen during the early part of the night. The mischief was effected by piece of Iron called a Roller belonging to a Frame in the shop which was not in work, and the violence was so slight as to have occasioned little or no noise.

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