Sunday, 27 November 2011

27th November 1811: Samuel Smith MP to Home Office

Nov. 27, 1811


Having been staying at this place for a few Days, I take the liberty of troubling you with a few lines respecting the disordered state of the Neighbourhood. The destruction of Stocking Frames in the surrounding Villages is still going on in a secret crafty manner.

The Night before last some Frames were demolished at the Village of Basford within ten yards of the place where a Magistrate and a party of Dragoons were stationed and yet no one gave information. I mention this to show with what cunning and artifice these outrages are conducted.

This evil has prevailed about nine months, more or less, as I am informed, and yet no one person in custody for the offence, or any means devised to obtain evidence against the offenders.

Anonymous threatening letters are continually received by the Magistrates without detection, and the Military are likely to be harrassed by misinformation, and are themselves unequal to meet the evil, unless some collateral assistance can be afforded. Perhaps you might think it advisable to send down some Bow Street Officers who might act without suspicion and could possibly obtain evidence.

The Magistrates for the Town are much on the alert, and will it is to be hoped supress any gross violation of the public peace, but the County Magistrates acting for this District do not seem to proceed upon much system, and indeed when it is to be considered that they are so exposed to much private injury, it is no wonder they do not put themselves very forward in the performance of so arduous a duty.

No doubt, Sir, you have the best information from those in authority, and it may be considered as presumption in my offering an opinion, but I am persuaded you will receive it as intended, and consider it confidential.

I shall remain here till Monday next and have the Honor to be with sincere respects,

Sir, [etc.]

Saml. Smith

Samuel Smith was the MP for Leicester at this time and was part of the Smith banking dynasty (Smith's Bank in Nottingham was the first English Bank outside of London). The letter can be found at HO 42/117 and has been transcribed verbatim.

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