Saturday, 8 April 2017

8th April 1817: The Luddite, William Withers, writes to his wife, from the condemned cell at Leicester

Leicester County Gaol

My Dear Wife,

These are the last few lines you will ever receive from your loving and affectionate, but dying husband: pardon me for the distress I have brought upon you, my dear child. O how I reflect upon myself, to think I had no better conduct. Oh! pardon me for the distress I have brought upon you, but I know your good heart; you will forgive me. My dear, let me intreat you not to fret after me. I hope, when it shall please the Lord to call you from hence, we shall meet together in heaven, to part no more. Most of my time is spent in prayer, and I hope, with true repentance, through the merits of our blessed Saviour, to enter into eternal life in Jesus Christ. I cannot die without making one remark to you, it was nothing but distress that ever induced me to be at Loughborough; I now repent, but, alas! it is too late. I received your letter and my mother’s at one time. I forgive my enemies, though you are truly sensible that Blackborne has been the ruin of me; I bear him no malice, I have freely forgiven him.---There are Clergyman attend us, and are very kind to us; they take great pains to prepare our souls for that awful moment when I must forfeit my life to the laws of my country. My dear wife, my fate is very hard, for I am going to die for a crime I never committed, nor intended. O my poor dear mother, and my brothers and sisters, I know the Lord will protect you for ever. My dear friends will look at my dearest wife and sweetest child, for if I had taken the advice of my dear wife, I should not have been in this awful situation; but I assure you I am preparing my sould to meet my God on that fatal day in which I am doomed to die.—Dear wife, I have one remark to make; John Blackborne swore several things against me that I never did; and I solemnly declare, as a dying man, that I never was in the factory, till all the frames were destroyed. Dear wife, I should like to see as many of my friends as can make it convenient to come. Give my love and duty to my poor, dear mother; and I hope I shall meet her, and all my friends and relations in heaven. I hope my tender mother will excuse me answering her letter, as the principal part of my time is employed in preparing, by prayer, to meet the Lord my God. Farewel, my friends! Farewel! Adieu!—I remain your loving affectionate, but unfortunate husband,


Condemned Cell, April 8th, 1817,
11 o'clock in the morning.
This is my Confession.

This is from Binfield (2005, p.160)

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