Sunday, 27 November 2011

27th November 1811: Steps towards Martial Law in Nottinghamshire

On Wednesday 27th November 1811, the Commander of the 15th Light Dragoons, Major Lord Waldegrave, received the following order from the County Magistrates:
Notification from the Magistrates of the County of Nottingham, to the Troops employed in preserving the public Peace of the County.

"The Magistrates of the County of Nottingham, beg to inform the Officers and Soldiers now employed in the suppression of the riots and unlawful assemblies of persons to commit felony in the County, that the troops are of themselves, and without the presence of a Magistrate, authorised and empowered to disperse, or apprehend, any of the persons meeting for the purposes above-mentioned

“Clerk to the County Magistrates.
“Nottingham, Nov. 27th, 1811.”

In this order, there is a recognition that given the nature of the Luddite tactics of mounting simultaneous actions in various places at the same time, that the legal authority usually required is too stretched to be able to cope. And so this delegation of authortity, which is a step towards martial law. It's not clear if this order was issued because of the failure of the troops to act to prevent frame-breaking that took place in front of them and in broad daylight on the same day at Red Hill.

The order appears in the Leeds Mercury of 7th December 1811.

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