Saturday 1 April 2017

1st April 1817: "I, Daniel Diggle..." - Daniel Diggle's confession

I, Daniel Diggle, being about to suffer death, and fearing that I may not be able to unburthen my mind at the place of execution, have requested a friend to write down the following remarks and confessions, to be made public after my decease.

I freely acknowledge my guilt with respect to the particular crime for which I am to suffer; yet I declare, that when I entered Kerry’s house, I had no intention of taking away his life, and that I never thought of injuring him, until he seized Woolley.

I also acknowledge that I was guilty of the attack upon Lord Middleton's gamekeeper, and that I have been engaged in most of the framebreakings, which have taken place in this neighbourhood during this last eight months: but I never was engaged in Luddism, previous to that time: I do not however, publicly mention the names of my associates, as it is my most anxious hope, that they will take warning from my unhappy fate, and escape the miseries and disgrace which I now experience.

I would exhort with the earnestness of a dying man, not only my immediate companions, but all who have been engaged in Luddism, to break off from practices, which only involve themselves, and others, in trouble and ruin. When they observe a young man just 21 years of age, and who has only been married about as many weeks, brought to the scaffold, by those very practices—when they see the anguish of my afflicted wife and parents—when they pass by the church-yard of Basford, and observe the graves of Bamford, Towle, and myself—and when they consider the perilous state of those now confined in Leicester gaol, surely they will forsake their wicked course, and all who may have furnished money, or liquor, as an incentive incentive to crime, will be induced to repent of their cruelty. We have been often told that Luddism would benefit trade, but I most earnestly beseech all my acquaintance, as the last request I shall ever make of them, to consider it, as leading, insensibly, to the commission of the worst crimes, even murder itself.

Almost the only comfort that I now experience, is that the life of an innocent man was not sacrificed; and as I consider Kerry, and those who gave evidence against me, as instruments in the hand of Almighty God, in bringing me to justice, it would greatly increase my present sufferings, could I suppose that any should bear them ill will, or malice, on my account.

I feel very grateful to Lord Middleton for his tenderness towards my brother; and I confidently hope from the change of mind which took place in Nathan, whilst he was in prison, that there will be no occasion to bring him a second time before a bar of justice.

If any who have visited me in prison, have fought from my silence and reserve, that I did not feel my situation sufficiently, I can assure them that I now weep bitterly for my crimes, and fervently implore forgiveness at the tribunal of HIM, who once pardoned a dying criminal, and who will not, I hope condemn me, although so guilty a sinner, "TO THE BITTER PAINS OF ETERNAL DEATH."



County Gaol, Nottingham, Tuesday, April 1, 1817.

This letter was published in the Nottingham Review of 4th April 1817.

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