Friday, 4 November 2016

[4th] November 1816: William Sherbrooke responds to General Fane's denial of troops for Nottinghamshire

Oxton November 1816—


I have this moment the honor of your letter, which I shall have an opportunity of laying before the Magistrates assembled in Sessions on Monday next. The Magistrates requested that a small Military Guard might be placed in the House of Industry, as they had reason to apprehend that an attack would be made upon it, they had previously sworn in a great number of Special Constables, in the Parishes of Basford and Bulwell; on the confines of which it is placed; but so remote from the Villages, that there was a reason to apprehend that the Building might be demolished before an adequate Civil force could be collected: a Special Constable is always in the House & there are Magistrates within a few Miles who would attend with all possible expedition upon the first alarm—

The Military force was requested as an auxiliary to, not as a substitute for the civil Power.—The Watch and Ward Act will be put in force on Saturday next which I hope will prevent the Nocturnal Meetings of the Depredators & that a Military Guard will no longer be no longer necessary—I must take this opportunity Sir, of requesting your attention to a point of Law in which I have reason to believe that I differ (tho’ with great deference) from your opinion & that of the Secretary of State I apprehend that according to the Constitution of this Country, every Man is enjoyned whatever his profession to be aiding, assisting & abetting in taking any Person in the commission of a felony & that when he is so employed he is protected by law the same as a Constable performing his duty

The Outrages committed in this District are Felonies and Burglaries & the Persons perpetrating them, meeting in the night with faces blacked & fire Arms differ in Crime & every material effect from a Mob assembled some political purpose or to remedy some Fancied grievance. My opinion is that if Soldiers are sent by the Civil Power to defend the Bank of England, a House of Industry, or any other Building, that they are as guiltless of Blood, upon resisting an attack as a Constable would be in firing upon any Person in the Act of destroying a Building, every other means of resistance having been previously & in vain resorted to; & tho’ no man can more highly appreciate the wholesome Laws & regulations which preserve a Constitutional Controul over the Military by the Civil Power yet I am unacquainted with any law that can prevent the Soldier from making every exertion to save the life & protect the property of his fellow Subjects—I cannot conclude Sir, without offering you my personal thanks to not withdrawing the Guard before you had a communication with the Magistrates, although the measure did not meet your approbation.

I have the honor &c
W. Sherbrooke

Major Genl Fane &c &c—

This letter can be found at HO 42/155. The letter is a copy of the original, which has omitted the original date, but I have posited that Sherbrooke responded the following day to Fane's letter of the 3rd November. It was certainly written between the 4th & the 10th, because Sherbrooke mentions in it he would lay Fane's letter before the coming Nottinghamshire Magistrate's Special Session of the 11th November.

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