Thursday, 3 November 2016

3rd November 1816: A Northamptonshire magistrate has concerns about a 'Luddite association'

*Ravensthorpe Northampton
Nov 3.

My Lord

I think it my Duty as a Magistrate of this County to acquaint you with the following circumstance.

It has been reported to me from a respectable quarter the persons have called at different Villages in this neighbourhood, endeavouring to swear in persons men for the Luddite association

I have made all the inquiry I possibly could in order to get at the Truth, and I have an evidence of the attempt having been made in one instance already upon which I can rely. Your Lordship must be aware that caution is requisite in a Case like the present and I have therefore thought it most advisable to make you acquainted instantly with this particular. Your better judgement will suggest that mode of proceeding which is generally pursued in similar circumstances, but we cannot act with too much decision in the infancy of such evil. I shall not fail to watch most minutely for an opportunity of securing any one who may be acting in this manner; or shall I lose sight of that degree of Caution so necessary on an occasion like the present. But I [should] feel honored by your Lordships advice if you think it proper to notice the communication—

I am but too well aware of the inflamable state of the lower classes of this neighbourhood; it is to be hoped nothing will occur to cause an explosion—but opportunity and circumstances [would] I fear be a temptation they [could] not withstand.

I have this morning acquainted my Brother Magistrates Col. Samwell with the particular whose zeal may be depended upon.

I remain
with Respect
yr Lordship’s
faithful humble Servant
Thos Hornsby

Please to direct
Rev T. Hornsby*

Might not an intelligent Officer from Bow Street in disguise be of Service? If one is sent, he is welcome to make my house his head quarters.

This letter can be found at HO 42/155.

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