Wednesday, 16 November 2011

16th November 1811: Fletcher's spy 'B' hears of an Irish Rising and meets a Nottingham Framework-knitter

In Lancashire, Colonel Fletcher's informant 'B' began to write another report on the 11th November about the underground in Lancashire and Cheshire. But he started his report with news of Ireland from an Irish contact. The contact explained that 200,000 Catholics and Protestants were ready to rise in either April or May 1812, with religion and sectarian division seemingly having as loose a grip on society than ever before, & that they expected to receive help with arms and troops from the French. As a member of the Orange Order, this no doubt horrified Fletcher more than anything else.

The meeting of the Trades scheduled for Wednesday 13th was brought forward to the Tuesday, as a General meeting was scheduled for Thursday 14th. The Trades meeting discussed petitioning the Prince Regent for a reform of Parliament and an end to war, and scheduling a meeting 'of towns of Manchester' to enable this.

The General meeting on the 14th was described by 'B' as being packed, and proceeded to ratify the plans laid by the meeting two nights before and set up a committee to organise a Requisition. 'B' describes how a 'publickation ... from Glasgow' was read to the meeting, but the he apologised to Fletcher for not obtaining it, expressing fears that his life would be in danger should he be discovered to be spying.

'B' went on to relate how, on Saturday 16th November, he had met a man called Williamson from Nottingham, who he describes as some kind of Master Framework-knitter travelling to market his wares. Williamson describes how not only Nottingham, but also the surrounding area is 'ready' and waiting for a leader to emerge and that they 'was for a revelaiton and nothing Else as nothing Else would do'.

The letter is at HO 42/117, and contains no evidence of when it was received or posted. Once again, the quotes are verbatim transcriptions, and the spelling is interesting!

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