Wednesday, 16 November 2011

16th November 1811: Duke of Newcastle to Home Office

Nov. 16, 1811


Had there been any post from hence yesterday l should have written to inform you that within these few days some disturbances have unfortunately arisen in that part of the County which lies between Nottingham and Mansfield.

The rioters are chiefly stockingers, and the causes of discontent, in the first instance, that a new machine had been invented which enabled the manufacturers to employ women in many instances in which men had hitherto been employed; also that the malcontents were looking to exacting greater wages than the manufacturers were able or inclined to pay them, and this because trade is very flat and that there are many industrious men (sufficient in number to supply the trade) who will work at more moderate terms.

Those who were then thrown out of employ by reason of the new invention and of their not choosing to work for decreased wages thought to realise their demands by force, and imagined that their ends would be gained by proceeding to destroy the frames of those who would work for the manufacturers and for this purpose broke into the houses of those who possessed them destroyed their frames and committed many outrages.

The rioters proceeded in considerable parties armed with firearms and the Householders were determined on their side to protect their property; in doing this a life was lost and some men hurt — this made the affair serious and exasperated the mob. It was then found absolutely necessary to call out the armed force to the assistance of the Magistrates and in consequence the whole of the Local Militia and Yeomanry Cavalry were called out and are now under arms.

The promptitude with which the armed force was assembled intimidated the rioters and on their (the military) marching against them they every where dispersed. I am informed that the rioters are compleatly overawed by the force which has been brought against them and it is expected that order will be very soon entirely restored.

It should be observed that these disturbances are entirely of a local and partial nature, totally unmixed as yet with any political notions, tho’ I should add that in addition to the reasons which I have above given in a former part of my letter the high price of corn very much tends to aggravate their grievances.

I anxiously hope that l may in the course of a few days be able to write you word of the total extinction of all riot and that the accustomed order of things is returned.

It will however be a matter of great satisfaction to you to learn as well as it is to me to inform you that the Yeomanry cavalry and Local Militia are well disposed; the former has been most employed and the alacrity with which they came forward, and their conduct when ordered to act is I am informed entitled to the greatest praise, they have been of great use in bringing about the present state of things and may on all occasions be thoroughly depended upon.

The Local Militia from the nature of their service cannot have been so much employed, but I learn that they most of them quickly repaired to Head Quarters when required to do so, and many as they collected where marched against the rioters. I will endeavour to obtain more accurate information of the spirit which animates the Local Militia regts. as it is an highly essential and most interesting point to ascertain. From all I can at present learn I have every reason to believe that the Local Militia regiments may be trusted, and in that case the county armed force is most ample to protect the county against the most extended riots.

I am to receive accurate reports from all parts of the County tomorrow and I will not fail to inform you of the result.

I have [etc]


The letter can be found at HO 42/117.

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