Thursday, 1 December 2016

1st December 1816: Jeffrey Lockett writes to Louis Allsop about James Towle's confession

Derby Decr 1st 1816

My Dear Allsopp

In the night before his execution Towle made a full confession to Mr Mundy, who was sent for to Leicester upon his request, of everything [within] his knowledge relative to the Outrage at Loughbro’, & the parties concerned in it.—He acknowledged the justice of this sentence—and lamented most bitterly that he had not availed himself of the opportunity which was afforded him becoming a witness for the Crown—Mr Mundy has [reduced] the confession into writing and I am in possession of a copy of it;—In some matters relative to himself, it does not agree with the evidence on the trial—but as to [Slater] it is a complete confirmation of it—and I have no doubt of its accuracy with respect to the names of Towles other associates—

The High Sheriff was present during the whole of Mr Mundys interview with Towle—you may have heard that after the conviction he would not permit any one to see the prisoner.—But he himself visited the gaol almost daily;—and it now appears that Towle, very soon after the assizes, evinced a disposition to discover whatever he knew relative to the outrage at Loughbro’ and the Luddite conspiracy.—You who know the High Sheriff will not be surprized, tho’ it must appear strange to any one not acquainted with him, that he did not think proper to acquaint Mr Mundy (to whose exertions the detection & conviction of Towle, were principally owing—and who was not well informed in everything relative to the Loughbro’ affair) with what was going on between him & Towle—and request Mr Mundy's cooperation & assistance. However he certainly opened a correspondence with Lord Sidmouth and reported to him from time to time, Towles discoveries—and it appears that the pardon of Towle in order that his information might be made use of against other offenders, was once contemplated by [illegible] his Lordship. The High Sheriff attended a meeting at his Lordships chambers at which the attorney general and I believe Lichfield were present when this point was considered.

Soon after the assizes I addressed a letter to Mr Beckitt in which I suggested a plan of operation which subsequent reflection & events have convinced me would have been completely successful. I received on this, as on all occasions the most kind attention from Mr Beckitt,—but I found that if I asked it must have been on my own responsibility.

The statement which I have received from Mr Mundy and the intelligence which I now possess respecting Towles previous confession to the High Sheriff leave no room whatever for a doubt, but that if Mr Mundy or any other person acquainted with the [business] had known what was going on between the prisoner & the High Sheriff and had been permitted to see the prisoner, the most desperate leaders of the Luddite conspiracy would have been brought to punishment—and the conspiracy itself perhaps broken up.

Enough, I think, some of the gang who were concerned at Loughbro’ might be brought to the Gallows—but there is but little encouragement given to Police Officers—but little discretion used in the [detection] of them—and but few magistrates who are disposed and told enough to exert themselves sufficiently to succeed against these desperados—you do not know Mr Mundy—He has all the energy and fortitude of his father—and with a little more experience will make a most valuable magistrate. He is the only one that I have yet seen who is qualified for this service.

I am likely to be in London about the 9th or 10th inst. I hope I shall find you there, when I can give you more particulars if necessary—I can depend upon your secrecy.

[Final paragraph obscured]

I am Dear Allsopp
Most truly Yrs
W. J. Lockett

This letter can be found at HO 42/156. Evidently. Lockett couldn't 'rely on Allsop's secrecy', as the latter forwarded this letter to the Home Office!

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