Sunday, 5 February 2017

5th February 1817: The fuller confession of John Blackburn.

The voluntary confession of John Blackburn of the town of Nottingham Framework knitter taken by me Lanct. Rolleston Esqr one of his Majestys Justices of the Peace to the County of Nottingham

Loughbro’ Job

About a week before the job at Loughbro’, one William Withers of the Town of Nottm Frameworkknitter, came to him, at that time living at Lambley, & said they, meaning the Luddites, wanted him & two more for a job, that he should have his expences paid, & there was £40 for it; it was to take place next friday night, & was to be at Loughbro’, that deponent in company with Aron Daykin, a man whose name he did not know, but called, little Sam, & now sent to the Isle of Wight as a deserter, & Samuel Caldwell, alias the Dragoon, alias big Sam, soon left Lambley & staid at different places; two nights they remained at the Kings Head, narrow marsh in Nottm they paid the landlord 6d each, the reason they went to the lower part of the town was because Savage told them they must not be seen in the upper part, thinks they had all been at the house before, but does not know that the landlord, named Barker, or any of his family knew them as they were all tramps; little Sam & Aron Daykin, remained in the kitchen all the [evening] but deponent & big Sam went out. staid two nights at a public house at Beeston, either the Durham Ox or next door to it, the landlady charged them nothing for lodging or only 2d, thinks little Sam must have been known at Beeston as he had worked at the town, & the others had been used to go to the house, thinks it was a widow who kept the house, she was a jolly woman; whilst we were at the public house at Beeston a man, called whistling Bobby, alias Robt Twigg who was serving the bricklayers in the town, & was working as a houserow man, came in & upon telling him there was going to be a job, he said he was glad of it, &, if it succeeded would give a quart of ale. The next day they parted, leaving big Sam & little Sam in Beeston, himself & Daykin, went together to Hathern, they got some ale at a house on the road, thinks it was the Anchor at Hathern, did not see the landlord, the ale was served by an old woman, they then parted, deponent went to Loughbro’, & Daykin according to Savages previous orders went to Sheepshead to fetch John Disney; alias Sheepshead Jack; it was on Thursday, the day before the job; he got to Loughbro’, & according to appointment met Savage at the sign of the Pack horse, the landlord served deponent with some ale, as soon as he had finished it he left the room, & Savage followed him, according to previous agreement; thinks Savage must have been known to the landlord, as he had been more than a week at Loughbro’; two or three days at the Pack horse, & sometime at the Duke of York; went from thence to Tom Tylers, the White Lion in Swan street, there met according to appointment, Sheepshead Jack, & Daykin; deponent knew the landlord who also knew him; he went out with Savage to buy some beef steaks & had part of them cooked at Tylers, did not stay to eat them as Savage told him it would not do to stay there as they might be noticed; he took him to the Duke of York public house & gave him a bottle of porter, & thinks the landlord knew Savage; he then, about 10 oclock by Savages directions went back to Tylers, & took Disney & Daykin with him to Mount Sorrel hill, where stone is got for the roads, & brought away with them a great hammer and about 30lb, two of about 12lb, & an iron crow; they then returned towards Loughbro’, leaving the tools in the dike just before they came to needless Inn; all three slept in a cart in the outskirts of the town; about 6 in the [morning] went into the Duke of York, found Savage there, breakfasted with him, but the other two Disney & Daykin, were sent to the White Lion, Tom Tylers; during the day took Savage to see the tools in the dike, but as two men appear’d to be watching had not time to look for them, as deponent & Savage run away & were pursued by them; thinks this was about 3 oclock P:M: they first went down a lane towards a windmill, crossed the canal at a bridge, & went towards Hoton, about a mile before they got to the Nottingham road they parted, Savage sent deponent to Hathern to meet little Sam & big Sam, who were coming from Beeston, & Disney & Daykin who had gone there during the day; he was to bring them to Loughbro’; they were not ready, as the hatchets they brought with them wanted new handles, which the ploughmaker at Hathern was doing for them, they had not money enough to pay for them, & deponent was sent back to Loughbro’ to get some from Savage; met him & Jack Amos about a mile before he got to the town, who went back nearly to Hathern, & then gave enough to pay for the hatchets & 3s between every two men for the expences during the night; deponent Savage & Amos came first towards Loughbro’ leaving big Sam, little Sam, Daykin & Disney near the town, meaning Hathern Daykin with either Disney little Sam sent & paid 3s for the hatchets, they were quite new & heard it said Will Withers had bought them but does not know where; when they got near Loughbro’ Savage told deponent he must not go into it as he was well known but must return to Hathern & tell the men there the tools not be brought into the Town till the job was ready; they hid them in a drain under the footpath; big Sam & I, then went to the White Lion & had some cold meat, Daykin, Disney & little Sam to the Green man & had either beef steaks or mutton chops; whilst at supper Savage & another, thinks Hill, came in & asked Tyler the landlord, for a quar of rum & to give him a bottle to put it in, but if he did not like to give it one, he would pay for it, thinks Tyler gave or lent him a bottle; Savage then went out, deponent followed, & was sent to the Green man to fetch those who were there at supper, in about a quarter of an hour they joined him in the road, it was between 11 & 12 o'clock; they were instructed by Savage to proceed on the Ashby road till they came to a house near the turnpike, & to turn down a lane, where they all assembled; the party then consisted of himself & his brother, big Sam, little Sam, Daykin, Disney, Savage, Hill, Jos. Mitchell, Jack Slater, John Amos, John Crowther, William Withers, Bill Burton, Bill Towle & James Towle; whilst in the lane, they disguised themselves in various ways, some by changing coats, some by turning them inside out, & all tied their handkerchiefs over their faces; Slater had big Sam's smock frock on, Mitchel his own coat turned & a handkerchief over his face—

Between Loughborough & Hathern when deponent first met Amos, he asked him, how long he had been there, he said not long; being asked who were coming, he said Jos. meaning Mitchel was with him on the coach, that they passed some on foot, thinks Bill Towle Bill Burton & Crowther; Slater walked, Hill came by the coach, Withers walked, James Towle walked; thinks some of them Bill Towle, Burton & Withers stopt at the ship at Rempstone, they had pistols in their inside great coat pockets, & heard some of the party often say, at a labouring man who saw them, fetched either his master or the landlord to look at them, he did so over a screen, he said something to them wishing to know, what their pistols were for; they left Rempstone & went to the Bell, Hoton, where Bill Towle was sick, is not certain whether this occurr’d at Rempstone or Hoton; Bill Towle had a great coat on—The above named persons went from the lane before mentioned directly towards the factory, they met a man going to it, & threatened if he did not get them quickly admitted, he should suffer for it, he got the door opened & they rushed in, a great dog flew at them James Towle fired at it; Bill Towle struck at it with a hatchet which flew out of his hand, the cry was brush forward; deponent stopped at the corner of the factory till he heard them in the room where the guard was placed, whilst entering the door a pistol went off, he wished to retreat, but one of them said he would blow his brains out if he did not go forward, which he then did, does not know who it was that fired; deponent place sentry at the door of the Factory; upon their going to the top shop, he was  placed sentry over three men in the first floor shop, whilst there, he saw them go up to the top shop, Hill arrived with pistols went first, Mitchel with pistols next, in the call to go up & went with an axe & broke some of the frames, Mitchel soon went down to see all was right, & returned with a gun & bayonet, he said, "Ned, have you done your work well," some one answer’d, yes, "its a Waterloo job by god;" Rodney alias Bill Towle, was going to pocket some lace, Hill said we are not come to rob, but for the good of the trade, if ever I see you up to that again I will blow your brains out, he took it away & burnt it on the floor, they all broke the frames in turn; on going out of the factory several of them went to shake hands with Asher who was shot, whilst deponent was guarding the outer door, he told them to be off, that he might have a doctor; when the pistols were fired at Rushforth's & Sylvesters house, deponent was in the factory but heard big Sam say he fired; & that a curtain was set on fire; as soon as they left the factory 20 or 30 pistols & guns were fired off, they set off home, they went by Garendon Park, knows little of the road till they came to Kingstone Village, which place he remembers from having asked for some water there some day before; a powder flask was taken by big Sam from the factory & carried home to Lambley, but Savage, Mitchel, & Hill saying it might lead to detection if it was found by any one & desiring they might have it, he would not give it up, but broke it to pieces, St if he might not keep it no one else should; and governments also taken from the factory thinks by big Sam, but it was thrown into a canal as they crossed it at a bridge, Sam threw it in; near Kingstone they saw a man at plough, who looked at them but was told to mind his business, he went on with his work; they then went down to the Trent found a boat, got into it, but it would not carry them over the wear; they then went further down the river, towards another boat, part being tired like behind, they crossed the river in two parties, deponent crossed with the first party; Savage paid for the whole, meaning both parties, as they were crossing the river he saw two men on the other side waiting to get over, he heard one of the party say, damn that fat fellow, I know him & he knows me, but he dare say nought, does not know which it was, when they had got over, they took off their disguises, and soon parted, deponent big Sam, little Sam & Daykin, went together, they were desired by Savage, to be at the Fox near Sneinton by ten oclock, & he should have some money for them; they went towards Beeston, before they got there big Sam & Daykin went on first, himself & little Sam stopt at their old house in that town & got a cup of ale, it was between 4 & 5 in the [morning]; they went forward to Lenton, stopt at the wrestlers a public house & had another cup of ale; there he left little Sam saying, if he did not come back in 3 hours, he was to come to him, to the Fox, he did so, big Sam & Daykin were there before them; big Sam said he & Daykin had met Barnes the police officer of Nottingham, he questioned them as to where they had been, told him they came Derby road; they remained at the Fox till dinner, being tired with waiting went to see Savage, met him near the house, he gave two shillings each, he does not know where he got the money but is almost certain at Loughbro’; being questioned for his reasons, he said he not only had heard so, but after his own, deponents, frames were broke at Lambley being out of work, Budder of Nottm desired him to go to one Pounder, one of Lacey’s hands at Loughbro’; saying that after his, Badders trial & acquittal at Leicester, Pounder had behaved well to him, & that as deponent had been at the Loughbro’ job he thought he would assist him too; accordingly he went but did not see Pounder. After he got the money, he went to Lambley with Daykin being taken in from excessive fatigue, he did not leave his house for nearly three weeks.

Thinks it was one of the Guards who took little Sam sometime after, before the magistrates as a deserter, who lived at the Lion & Lamb.

When they parted after crossing the river, James Towle Bill Towle, Mitchel & Hill went together towards Chilwell–

Radford job

A week or two before the job at Radford, Jack Slater met deponents as he was going in with his work, deponent asked him to go & drink, they went to Galloways public house down a yard in St. Ann’s St. Nottm Slater told him they were going to have a job, & that he thought they would want him, saying they, (meaning only the Nottm set) had intended doing it themselves, but had quarrelled, he did not know the time but would send word to him; the same day he met Badder who told him nearly the same thing; sometime after Badder told him to come the next Saturday & bring big Sam, little Sam, Daykin, Disney & Jack Plumb all of Lambley, they went accordingly, & met at Seymours the chaise & horse Sandy lane Nottm staid there till Badder & Slater came, about 10 or 11 went to Lammas closes; the party then consisted besides the Lambley set of James Towle Bill Towle, Jos. Mitchel & Hill, Thos Humphrey or Emphrey, & thinks the two Diggles & Bill Burton but is not certain as he did not know them at that time & cannot swear to them; there was also a club footed man of Basford, whose name he does not know. Staid in the lammas closes an hour or two; Slater & Badder left them, the rest then went direct to the houses of Mullins & Wright, met no one by the way; James Towle, Bill Towle, Mitchel, Hill & little Sam, were inside men; saw James Towle with an iron crow breaking the door, & Bill Towle with an hatchet, others were in the house does not know who; deponent knows but little of any thing particular that passed, having been placed sentry in Chapel street where he remained all the time watching; others were placed in West street & others down the sands; does not know the particular persons; the guard in WestsStreet told him, that several persons upon hearing the noise & particularly an old woman, were coming out of their houses, but they forced them to go in again; as soon as the job was over they all but Hill & Jos. Mitchell who he thinks went home, went to Red Lane & deliver’d up their arms to a man appointed to meet them there from Nottm they were put into two bags, & taken away; the Lambley set made the best of their way home, does not know the man who took the arms but he was old & a Nottm man as deponent understood; met no one on their way to Lambley.

The job in Woolpack Lane last Goose Fair

The day it happened he was at home & at work, a man from Mansfield, known to big Sam & sent by him, came to him saying big Sam wanted him & he must come directly, went with him to the Eclipse in Chapel lane in Nottm, met Jos. Mitchel & big Sam, both told him there was going to be a bit of a job & he must make one; this was one at oclock, they all staid there till about 6, they sat in the room fronting the street, drinking ale; Mitchel gave them 2s apiece as deponent said he would not go without; the ale was served sometime by the maid sometimes by a servant man & sometimes by the landlord, thinks Mitchel was well known there but deponent was never in the house before; thinks it is very likely their party was not particularly noticed as the house very full on account of the fair & every one very busy; saw no one particular who appeared to know Mitchel; after 6 oclock being dark & rainy, they went into a field, on the other side the Volunteer, the party then consisted of Jos. Mitchell, Hill, big Sam, the Mansfield man, Adam Slack, Willm Withers, Jack Plumb, Tom Daykin brother to Aron, & deponent, they all except Withers, Adam Slack, & deponent disguised themselves all having a smock frock on, Mitchel supplied some & big Sam brought two; at 7 oclock they went to the house, deponent did not know the persons name; deponent was placed sentry over a grocers shop at the next door, Mitchel, Hill, Tom Daykin & Jack Plumb went in, the Mansfield man was placed over the back door; as soon as they were in the house women and children made a great noise, which brought a crowd about the house, thinks more than 100 persons, they endeavour’d to keep those in the house from coming out but were prevented by big Sam, who run up the steps & pulled some of them from the door, Sam asked deponent what he should do, had he not better fire to alarm those in the house? he did so into the air; as soon as he had fired a man endeavoured to lay hold of Sam, but he pointed his gun at him & the man desisted, the crowd also gave way; Mitchel & the others immediately came out of the house, & they all, (except Adam Slack run away when the crowd was round the house) returned to the fields they met in; here deponent deliver’d up the pistol he had in his hand & went back to the Eclipse where he slept, leaving the others in the fields; saw nothing of any one except his own townsmen for three weeks or a month after—

The Attack upon Kerry near Aspley in the parish of Radford.—

It was for the purpose of breaking his frame that the attack was made, he was working cut up work; no previous intention of injuring him was entertained, & no violence would have been used had he not resisted; this job has long been talked of, the day before it happened, Tom Humphrey, or Emphrey, of Basford, came to deponent, said what was going to be done, & asked him to make one, he refused saying, he should get nothing by it, besides he should have to go & return thro’ Nottm & Radford, & thought he should be noticed, he has every reason to believe that Daniel & Joseph Mellors the men now in custody for shooting Lord Middleton's keepers, & Tom Humphrey, were the men; as the night they assembled for the purpose of attacking Cooks house, he heard Mellors telling Diggle his wife was a dam’d open mouthed bitch, & would get them hanged, or words to that effect; deponent knows Diggle’s wife has talked about it—

Various circumstances related by John Blackburn to Mr. Rolleston

The circumstances which first led to his connection with the Luddites was a quarrel at a public house with some of the set, & thinking himself illused he applied to Jos. Mitchel whom he had previously known, for redress, when Mitchell saw the persons he had quarrelled with, he said they were good fellows, he advised him to make it up & join their party, which he agreed to; the first job he ever was at was about 4 or 5 years ago the last job that was done before the act passed, making the offence capital; they met in the fields at the back of Nottm near Sneinton, whilst there ale &c was brought by some of the party, & a quantity of arms, well remembers a great many swords, they proceeded to break the frames at New Sneinton, old Sneinton, & in Trumpet street Nottm; being the first time he was out, was alarmed, & remembers no particulars, except they were nearly shooting a man who would look at them, thinks he was called old Moore; Mitchel Savage, Badder, were of the party, also James Towle & Simpson (who have been executed) & Bamford who was shot at Basford,—At the time the 15th or 9th Lt. Dragoons had new accoutrements whilst quartered at Nott, their old swords were sold, & bought by a man living in the Long Row named Blackwell, & sold by him to a man named Jarratt, who was once a noncommissioned officer in the Nottm militia, who brought them to the Ludds when assembled near Sneinton, for the purpose of breaking the frames—

The Luddites have at this time no regular depot of arms, each man generally has his own which he keeps;

Does not know they are in any way connected with the members of the Hampden Clubs, deponent is not one;

Knows of no organised system for a general disturbance, never heard of such a thing, but some talk of a revolution, does not think any thing particular is meant, is certain he should know were it the case to any extent.

A committee of the Luddites is held at the Unicorn, Pannier close Nottm thinks their books & papers may be kept there, but does not know; thinks Ludding is not conducted with the same spirit it has been; money, which they cannot do without has been scarce, owing to the bad times; when a job was intended money was collected from any one that that would give; it would surprise you to know the many respectable shopkeepers in Nottm who had given money; does not know if they were reduced to do so by fear, or other motives; is certain of the fact; their funds are at this time exhausted; should the men now in custody be executed, is certain it will break up the Ludding system, as they are at this time, the leading men, particularly Savage, & Mitchel who is the most determined & desperate character he knows, Mitchel with either Bamford or Simpson were the persons who shot Mr Trentham; thinks it was Mitchel who fired.

Is certain every effort will be used for his destruction when it is known the part he has taken, a very large body of men can be collected at Nottm & altho’ the actual Ludds may not be so very numerous, yet he is sure in case of any desperate effort being intended, every disaffected or dissatisfied person would join them, & make their force very great; thinks a great effort is most likely to be made at the time he appears at the assizes at Nottm against the men committed for shooting at Cook; "you wont believe me, but I know for certain there are many who will risk their lives by shooting me in Court if they can, as they know if I appear against the men in custody all Ludding will be over & there are many who for money & the good of the trade will do any thing."

at the time Glover & Chettle were tried for the Radford job, there were a great many armed men ready to rescue them, should they have been convicted; at the time Towle was tried at Leicester he deponent was offer’d money to go & shoot the Judge, & rescue the business; he refused, but several went, but owing to the precaution taken, of having those who were not known searched, they dare not come into Court; about 2000 men were to have assembled in the meadows to have murder’d the Judge as he left the town, but as most of them were to come from Hinckley side, they did not arrive in time.

Before me
Lanct. Rolleston
Jany 9th & other days

[On reverse] Blackburn’s full Confession to Mr Rolleston, inclosed in his letter of 5th Feby 1817.

This document can be found at HO 40/10.

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