Saturday, 17 December 2016

17th December 1817: John Wheatley tells the Home Office that frame-breaking is 'falling into disrepute with the Workmen' in Nottingham

Wollaton Park Nr Nottingham
December 17.. 1816


In consequence of an Interview I had with my Lord Sidmouth, in the middle of October I take the the liberty, by his directions of addressing myself to you; on the state of the Public tranquillity in our neighbourhood.

Since I had the honor of speaking to his Lordship on the above subject, we have been sufficiently tranquil, & I [waited] the result of what has been styled the Spa Fields meeting to see if possible, if any commotion should subsist between the disaffected here & in London and as far as my information goes & opinion, I think there was none; & I have conversed with the frameworkknitters, round these parts not only in our County but that of Derbyshire & Leicester in particular; & I am sure no explosion is likely to happen in these parts at present; tho I must confess that a more regular system of meetings is evident, than ever were, for the last twenty five years—(as is termed for Parliamentary Reform) & very strong observations are made upon Public Men & Measures; Which I fear has another meaning. The time of the meeting of Parliament is looking to, with apparent anxiety & if no revival of Trade takes place in two months (which I see no prospect of) I dread the consequence; for there will most assuredly be so many Idle Men loose, that they will defy the Laws & proceed to outrage & their system here is far more regular than what appears to me, the system of the Londoners—besides they have so much local knowledge how to be troublesome to the Peaseable dispos’d and also the Military.

I think I am aware of the plans of the styled Ludites, so as to anticipate them; & to protect the Neighbourhood from disorder, & as I mean to be in London in [about] a week, I shall have the honor to wait on you, & Lord Sidmouth, to state the same & if my services can be useful to assure you of the same for it will be as agreeable to my own Principles, as it is my wish for the tranquillity.—

Should you require any particular information or any definite [point] & will state the same, as early as possible I am only three Miles from Nottm you may rely on my prompt attempting previous to my coming up.—I mention’d a particular Person in the neighbourhood of very violent sentiments against his Majesty's Government, this person is very frequently going to & from here, Birmingham & Manchester & those populous parts is, in my mind for rather mysterious objects.

There will be no more frame breaking here I think, if mischief ensues, it will be of a worse character: that system is falling into disrepute with the Workmen themselves; reasoning to themselves, the objects which I have before stated.—

Wanting the honor of your answer

I am very respectfully
Sir your most obt humble Servt
John Wheatley
Wollaton Park nr Nottingham
17th Decr 1816

This letter can be found at HO 42/157.

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