Sunday, 5 February 2017

5th February 1817: The Town Clerk of Leicester suggests a Special Commission to try the 'Loughborough Job' Luddites

February 5. 1817


I beg to acquaint you that the Report as to the Hampden Club proceedings of last Monday night contains nothing of sufficient importance to communicate, but my Agent states that in a conversation with Pares, a Jacobin Printer here, Pares stated that he had circulated several tracts amongst the Soldiers here, particularly the dialogue between the privileged class & the people, & that if he could get money enough he would circulate some thousands amongst them. He added that if they were to rise the best way would be to ascertain all the Soldiers Quarters, & parties of young men to go & seize their arms at once before they could muster, or know what was intended.

I mention these facts merely to shew you the sort of ideas to which this party familiarizes itself, tho’ it may not be seriously intended to act upon them.—

I had the pleasure of attending the examinations & final commitment of 8 Luddites for trial at our County Gaol on Monday, & 2 others who must be admitted evidence, & I strongly advised the Magistrates to apply for a Special Commission to try these men by way of a signal example. I hope His Majesty's Government will acquiesce in the propriety of this step, as the County Gaol is full of Offenders for desperate crimes besides the Luddites, & if all are to be reserved till the Assizes it may appal the stoutest Jury to return so many Verdicts of Guilty where they know Execution must follow Besides which in the trial of so many Luddites the most active exertions & vigilant attention of the police & the public will be required to prevent serious disturbance, & those exertions would be less effectual if divided & harassed by attention to other business.

I hope you will not think me officious in these observations which regard matters not exactly within the pale of my duty:

I have [etc]
Tho: Burbridge
Town Clerk

[To] J.H. Addington Esqr
&c &c &c

This letter can be found at HO 42/159.

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