Friday, 20 January 2017

20th January 1817: Lord Middleton updates the Home Office about the arrest of suspected Luddites

My Lord

Your Lordship has been already apprized by Mr Rolleston, a Respectable magistrate of this County, that Blackburn (the man a few days since apprehended as a Poacher in a daring attack upon one of my Game keepers) has given information of the most important nature, respecting the System & various outrages of the Luddites, who have spread terror & destruction thro’ this, & the adjoining Counties, for a period of full five years.

The Verity of this information has since been fully proved by the apprehension of nine or more of the persons described by him, as the most desperate characters.

Having obtained these means, which if managed with the ability & power of Government may totally overthrow this barbarous combination, & restore confidence & industry to this County, I consider it a Duty from me, (& I request you will believe it is with infinite respect to your Lordship that I venture) to express my own implicit belief of the important information already obtained, & that it will now be highly satisfactory to Mr Rolleston, who altho a young magistrate has certainly on this, & every other occasion shewn great intelligence & resolution, if your Lordship should be pleased to aid him with particular instructions, How further to proceed under these difficult circumstances. —

Blackburn has repeatedly express’d his confident opinion, that in consequence of the apprehension of several of those whom he has impeached, there will be a powerful & desperate attempt at Rescue, He is now confined in the House of Correction in Nottingham.—

Should this actually take place, which perhaps is not impossible, I should feel a sort of self accusation, were I not to make your Lordship acquainted with his opinion in good time, & likewise to state, that the County Jail in Nottingham is extremely insecure, & that the military in Nottingham consist merely of two Hundred & Forty infantry, & Twenty Dragoons.—

I have the Honor to remain

My Lord [etc]


Wollaton House
20th Jany

[To] The Viscount Sidmouth

This letter can be found at HO 42/158.

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