Wednesday, 16 March 2011

16th - 23rd March 1811: 'outrages in the villages' - 100 frames broken

Sources of information about exactly what happened following the Arnold attack on 11th March are somewhat thin on the ground. Several authors allude to the fact that the disturbances carried on for two weeks, before being checked by the events of the 26th March (a post will follow on that date), and the information is drawn from local newspapers, as well as a report by two Bow Street magistrates, Nathaniel Conant and Robert Baker written almost 12 months later.1

In his timeline2, Thomis report that frames were broken in this period at Sutton-in-Ashfield, Kirkby, WoodboroughLambley, and Bulwell in Nottinghamshire and also at Ilkeston in Derbyshire. Citing Conant & Baker, Darvall tells us that:
"Night after night in the surrounding villages mobs collected and entered various workshops in order to break the frames of unpopular hosiers. All over the north-western part of Nottinghamshire, in the various hosiery villages, often in several different places on the same night, and sometimes even by day, cases of framebreaking were reported."3
In Nottingham, the local magistrates ordered regular patrols by "six regular and six special constables", these being augmented by small parties of the military in some of the villages. Meanwhile, the Derby Mercury of 28th March 1811 has reports of large troop movements, with three whole divisions moving into Nottinghamshire:
"The 2d division of the first Royal Lancashire Militia, on its rout from Worcester to Hull on arriving here this morning, received a counter order to proceed to Nottingham, where the 3d division will follow it, to assist the civil power in preserving the tranquility of the town and neighbourhood. The 1st division which arrived here yesterday, was ordered to proceed to Mansfield, & halt there till further orders."
In a report on the 23rd March (below), the Nottingham Journal expresses alarm at the continuing disturbances, and notes that 100 frames have been broken4 in the past 14 days:
It is with great concern we hear, that the mischievous proceedings which took place at Arnold last week, have been extended to most of the manufacturing villages in the north western parts of this county, where upwards of one hundred stocking frames, the property of individuals have been destroyed. These outrages are the more to be deprecated, since they will be attended with less evil to the proprietor, than the unfortunate workman, who must for a length of time be thrown  entirely out of employment. The persons engaged in these depredations, proceed in small companies, disguised so that their persons may not be known; in some instances, however, their designs have been frustrated by the determined resistance of those who were in employ. We hope, shortly to be able to announce a happy adjustment of existing differences between the workmen and their employers.

1. Conant & Bakers report is at H.O. 42/119, and the author has yet to (and would very much like to) read it. Contact me if you can assist by visiting Kew.
2. Thomis (1970, p.177)
3. Darvall (1934, p.66)
4. Felkin (1867, p.231) puts the figure at 200 in the three weeks following the Arnold attack.

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