Sunday 9 April 2017

9th April 1817: Lord Middleton urges Nottinghamshire Hosiers to 'conciliate their workmen', quoting the Luddite Thomas Savage


A Correspondent has transmitted us some particulars of the Meeting held at Mansfield, which we are requested to publish.

A County Meeting was held at the Moot Hall, Mansfield, on Wednesday the 9th Instant, in pursuance of a Requisition to the High Sheriff, "to consider of a proper congratulatory Address, to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, upon his escape from the late violent and treasonable outrage, against his Royal Person," when—

LORD MIDDLETON, after apologizing for offering himself to the notice of the Meeting, observed, that at the last Assizes, a friend of his, then present, suggested the propriety of having a County Meeting, for the purpose of addressing the Prince Regent, upon his escape from the outrageous attack that had been made upon his person; he should always thank that friend, (he meant Mr. Sutton) for the suggestion: it had been said that it was now too late to address the Regent, but in his opinion, an Address, even now, would be preferable to no Address;—(Applause)—besides, he thought that the detection of the conspiracy at Manchester, and which appeared to extend to other places; and the disturbed state this County had long been in, rendered an Address highly proper. It was the duty of every man to rally round that admirable Constitution, which had stood the test of ages, and which afforded protection to the meanest peasant. "We should," said his Lordship, "congratulate the meanest individual in the streets, upon his escape from assassination; how thankful then ought we to feel, for the providential escape of the person, exercising the highest office in the State. I tremble at the very idea of the consequences, had the attack succeeded;" and he thought no man who had any veneration for the Constitution, could object to an Address of Congratulation to the Prince, upon his escape; he had always admired the British Constitution—in that admiration he should continue to his last moments, and he was ready to die in its defence. His Lordship concluded his Speech with moving the Address.

J.M SUTTON, Esq. (of Langwith) said, that he was unaccustomed to public speaking, and he therefore, hoped, the assembly would favor him with their indulgence for a few moments—he stated that evil person had taken advantage of the times to poison the minds of the people, and to make them believe their sufferings were unheeded—he conceived it to be the duty of every man, to use his utmost efforts, to re-call the unwary to a sense of what they owed their King in their country. Mr. Sutton concluded abruptly, by stating that he felt unable to proceed.

R. HOLDEN, Esq. stated that he had heard it remarked, it was now too late to address the Regent, he should only repeat the old proverb, "better late than never." Gentlemen, said Mr. Holden, we ought to shrw that we cannot and will not bear that the Constitution shall be attacked by any body or set of men; the County of Nottingham, Sir, is I am sure as loyal as any County in the kingdom, and I think we should not discharge the duty we owe to our King, to our Country, and to posterity, were we not to congratulate his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, upon his escape from the daring and atrocious attack upon his person; when almost every town in the kingdom has addressed the Regent, shall it be said, that this was the only County which had not congratulated the Prince. Sir, the County of Nottingham does not deserve such censure, I therefore rejoice in the present Meeting, and beg leave to second the address.

L. ROLLESTON, Esq (of Watnall,) after some very pertinent remarks, observed, that it might appear strange, that what six weeks ago was thought to be improper, should now be thought proper; in his opinion circumstances now imperiously called for an address; however in some particulars men might differ in their political principles, yet all must agree as to the propriety of congratulating the Prince Regent, on his escape from the attack upon his person; he thought the County would be disgraced unless it addressed the Regent—"when faction rears its head, shall the County of Nottingham stand alone; I trust that it never shall be said we did not exert ourselves against the designs of factious demagogues"—he therefore heartily concurred in the address.

Several other gentlemen address the Meeting, and ADMIRAL FRANK (one of the County Members) declared that the County of Nottingham was as loyal as any county in the kingdom—he always had vindicated its loyalty, and he always would; it had been declared in the Secret Committee, that this county was not infected with treason.

The following resolutions were passed unanimously, viz.:—That the Address should be presented by the Members for the County—That the thanks of the Meeting should be given to the mover and seconder of the Address—That the proceedings of the meeting should be published in the Nottingham Journal, the Morning Chronicle, the Courier newspapers. And the High Sheriff having quitted the chair, (which was taken by the Duke of Newcastle,) a vote of thanks was given to the High Sheriff for his ready compliance with the requisition, and for his conduct in the chair.

After the business of the Meeting was over, LORD MIDDLETON spoke at some length of the practices that had so long with the disgrace of this county, and after alluding to his own conduct at the late Assizes, (when he withdrew the prosecutions against Mellors and two others, for shooting at his Lordship's Gamekeeper,) said, that at the time he was afraid his conduct would be imputed to a wrong motive—that of fear; his Lordship denied that fear operated upon him. That if any future disturbances arose in this county, no motive should prevent him from using his utmost endeavours to bring the authors to justice. That he had not spared any pains to learn the real cause of the apparently determined hostility that existed between the employer and the workmen—he had dived into gaols for this purpose. "You may," said his Lordship, "think I possess a hard heart, but I assure you I do not." He said he had been to Leicester, and there he had had an interview with one of the unfortunate men who were about to expiate their crimes by an ignominious death. Yes, he had there seen one of the unfortunate engines, in the hands of other men, and he believed he had ascertained the cause of the unnatural rancour that had so long existed. He had asked this unfortunate man if it was not possible for something to be done to put an end to the system which had so long existed in this county; he would name this unhappy man, it was Savage, and this was the reply he made:—"My Lord," said he, "if the employer would fix a price upon the work, so that the workman might know what he had to receive, Ludding would have ceased long ago; but the workman never knew what price he was to have. My Lord," continued this unfortunate man, "I am prepared to die—I do not grieve for myself, but I grieve for my wife, who is now pregnant, and for my six children; it is for them, my Lord, that I grieve, and not for myself, for I fear not death." If, continued his Lordship, there are any manufacturer present, I would recommend them to endeavour to conciliate their workmen, and to try to allay that malignant spirit which has for so long a period disturbed this county. His Lordship concluded his speech, which appeared to excite considerable interest in the minds of the hearers, by a few other observations relative to the baneful practices that have so long existed in the county, but which, he thought, had now received a death blow.

This report was published in the Nottingham Review of 18th April 1817.

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