Monday, 17 April 2017

17th April 1817: The Mayor of Leicester reports the Luddite executions to the Home Office

Leicester 2 oClo Thursday
April 17 1817

Dear Sir

I have the satisfaction to acquaint you that the Execution of the six Luddites here has taken place this morning, in the midst of an immense concourse of People, but without the slightest symptoms of disturbance [illegible] or any expressions of disapprobation of their Punishment amongst the multitude—I attended on horseback for the purpose of observing any manifestation of the public feeling—but nothing met my ear except a Regret that so many fine men in the prime of Life, should by their Crimes have exposed themselves to its forfeiture—

The men appeared resigned tho’ very firm but I understand from one of the magistrates who accompanied the Sheriff on the Scaffold—that had it not been for the very judicious conduct of the Sheriff two of the men had proposed to make very inflammatory addresses to the People; but by his persuasion they were prevented—one of them did say to the People "that they all died for a crime of which they were not Guilty"—& it is remarkable that this Scoundrel (Amos) was the very man whom many Gentlemen thought so well of us to feel anxious for his reprieve—

I confess I have not been troubled with these feelings towards them—& if I had they by their conduct today appeared to me so unconcerned that I should have felt satisfied they did not deserve them—

Savage & Towle were the most impassioned with their situation & all the rest as well as Babington who was executed with them for Arson shewed much more indifference than at all became their situation—So that I trust the destruction of Luddism is affected [although] the loss of any persons much to be lamented—I learn from Mr Mundy that he has the names of a few desperate characters who have been implicated in some of the late outrages: therefore I perfectly agree in the propriety of the delay which your superior judgement has suggested, as to any offer of amnesty—Croft who had been sentenced to suffer for Highway Robbery, but who has since recd from the Judge a respite—communicated some particulars of a very desperate Robbery committed in this County some time back to Mr Mundy & myself yesterday—& tho’ he have not the power of giving any information of the proceeding of the Luddites or Hampdenites [&c]—We hope to lay hold of some desperate characters through heat his means—He is so open & so desirous to make all amends in his power for his part Guilt, that I sincerely hope his Life will be spared—and if you should have reason to think there are Doubts as to this I begged the favor of your information, that Mr Mundy & myself may exert ourselves as far as we can to save him—

I remain [etc]

Jno Mansfield

[To] John Beckett Esqr &c &c

This letter can be found at HO 42/163.

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