If I am wrong in addressing this letter to your Lordship I hope the intention will be received as my apology; I will not however take up your Lordships time by more introductory matter but proceed at once to the point.—The Woollen Manufacture of Devonshire has ceased to be profitable, and has therefore in a great measure been abandoned.—The manufacturers of Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire cannot find a market for their goods at prices adequate to the cost of manufacturing them by the old machinery.—Messrs Heathcoat & Boden of Loughborough feeling a existing restraints applied to me, a year ago, to purchase a suitable situation for them in Devonshire to erect improved machinery and I obtained for them the five Mills of Heathfield Melford & Co. at Tiverton—The Luddites learned the intention of Heathcoat & Co. to depart from Loughborough and destroyed their Machinery, for which offence Towle lately suffered the penalty of the Law
Application has lately been made to me by upwards of wtenty of the principal manufacturers in Devonshire to sell their Mills for them, and the point upon which I am anxious to receive information is, the policy, in the present state of the country, of advertizing these Mills and offering them directly to the Manufacturers in the disturbed districts—I have a duty to perform to my Employer, but that must give way to considerations of a higher nature, and I cannot but feel that the offering of these Mills may be productive of some alarm but whither that alarm would operate favorably or otherwise I am not competent to decide; It is possible that the dread of losing their employment might quite the Luddites, it is also possible that it might stir them to greater act of desperation—Thus circumstance and before I take any final step I am anxious to receive better information and I know no where to apply for it but to your Lordship as Minister for the Home Department—Your Lordship may rely that any communication which may be made to me shall go no further than I am authorized to communicate it, and tho’ in the midst of Manufacturers from the north of this House I have not communicated to any one the step I have deemed it provident to take
I intend to remain in London one week and to remove to private lodgings No. 1 Southampton Buildings, Chancery Lane in the course of tomorrow—I have the honor to subscribe myself
Your Lordships most humble Servt.
Of Heavitree near Exeter
Parliamentary agent and
Castle and Falcon
6 Decr 1816
[To] Lord Viscount Sidmouth
This letter can be found at HO 42/156.