Monday, 28 November 2011

28th November 1811: George Coldham, Town Clerk to Duke of Newcastle

Nottingham November 28 1811

My Lord Duke,

I stated in my Letter of yesterday to Your Lordship sent by an Orderly Dragoon of the 15th Regiment of Light Horse that I should have the honor by the first post of addressing myself to Your Grace – upon the Topick’s in Your Grace’s letter to me, to which the urgency of the business would not permit me to which give immediate attention.

The only enquiry distinctly made by Your Graces is as to the force at present in Nottingham and the Neighbourhood which consists of 2 Squadrons or 4 Troops of the 15th Dragoons, to this intelligence I ought in candour to add that the Magistrates have received advice from the General of the District that another Squadron of the same Regiment is to be immediately marched to the assistance of this District, this additional force was fairly in the contemplation of the Town and County Magistrates at the time they concurred in the proprietary of forwarding your Grace’s Letter to Colonel Sherbrooke.

As however the terms in which your Grace’s Letter are conceived seem to imply some doubt in your own mind as to the necessity of further aid and a desire to obtain Information as to the state in which this Town and Neighbourhood is placed, I am desirous of detailing to your Lordship our proceedings in the Town from the first period of which the Tendency to disorder in our Neighbourhood began again to manifest itself.

Since I have been resident at Nottingham we have had many dangerous and alarming Riots, some of which are of very short period, have assumed a more dangerous Character in the present state of the surrounding country exhibits, but I regard them all as having afforded infiniteless cause of serious alarm and permanant danger than the present – The state of the Manufacturers who are spread in every direction thro’ a wide extent of Country, and united by one common feeling of distress and one common desire of forcing upon the Hosiers, or the public some decisive measures for their relief; gives the present disturbances a most serious aspect.

On the 12th of the present month, the Magistrates of the Town in consequence of intelligence that one man at Bulwell well had been killed in the act of attacking a House with Frames in it, and that the very next day a great number of Frames were destroyed in the same village and that large assemblages of the people threatened to come to Nottingham for the same purpose and thought it their duty to meet together to take measures to securing the public tranquility.

They immediately called upon the Constables of the Town, and put them into a state of organization to keep a Watch at night, and appointed a place where every one might know where to resort for assistance, and in order that the Constables might be stimulated to a more vigilant discharge of their duty they called out 3 or 400 of the most respectable of the Inhabitants, and appointed them Special Constables, and again arranged them in classes and put a small number of them upon watch during the whole of every night.

The care of the Magistrates extended still further they enquired with the greatest anxiety into the Military force which they could command, and found that owing to the detachment from the 2nd Regiment of Horse Guards and the Demands made upon it by the County Magistrates, they could not mount above 10 or 12 men to come into the Market place, in case of danger from the Barracks, and that in case of any particular House or Factory or Deposit of Frames being threatened, we had not a single Infantry Soldier whom we could send to protect it from Outrage – They therefore wrote to the Secretary of State, the Secty at War and the Commanding Officer of the District, with the expressed concurrence of the County Magistrates stating that “they could not consider themselves in a Situation effectually to secure the public peace and tranquility in conjunction with the Magistrates for the County with whom they were in the habit of acting with the utmost cordiality without the Magistrates – could depend upon a least 3 efficient Troops of Mounted Cavalry. – They also thought that it was important to the efficiency of that force that a Regiment of English Infantry should be stationed at hand to prevent the Cavalry being broken in upon by detachments which are necessarily applied for from the Military to keep the peace of particular Villages in the Neighbourhood”

This was the opinion of the whole of the Magistrates of this District at the very commencement of their being compelled to act in putting down the present perturbed state of the District, and under the impression the Magistrates for the Town were for a year few days kept in a state of dreadful suspense as to the safety of the Town, – this was dissipated by the appearance of the 1st Regiment of Local Militia who amply supplied our then deficiency of Cavalry and placed the Town in a state of perfect Security.

I believe I can safely assure your Lordship that the experience of their utility has established in the minds of the Magistrates a Conviction that they were originally correct in stating that a force of Infantry was essential to the complete protection of the Town, and altho’ less than a Regiment might suffice for that purpose the County Magistrates seem still to think that the District surrounding us if it continue disturbed can scarcely be secure without a whole Regiment being stationed here for the Winter.

Since the commencement of these disturbances the state of the surrounding Country has hitherto been progressively growing more serious – Great numbers of the people are armed, they act by Signals giving by the firing of Guns from Village to Village and collect considerable sums of money in the Country. – Anonymous threats and incendiary Letters have been addressed to numbers in the Town, and I am sorry to say not without effects having a Tendancy to encourage the efforts of the misguided populace.

Six or 8 Frames have also in the Town been lately destroyed, notwithstanding the utmost exertions of the Magistrates who have always been upon the alert, and who have in Custody 2 persons resident in the Country who appear to have been concerned in these outrages. With a very short Interval occasioned by a temporary appearance of tranquility the Mayor and Aldermen have kept up their nocturnal watches and have every night seen a Military Guard posted so as to be at any moment ready to move for the protection of the public peace.

They have reason to fear that the spirit of disorder is not yet subsiding. – This conviction induced them to apply to your grace on the 26th Inst. for a further Reinforcement of Infantry and they felt themselves under the necessity from the same Conviction of publishing the hand Bill a copy of which I enclose for your Grace’s Information.

Their communications with the County Magistrates which are of the most confidential nature give them reason to know that those Gentm consider the state of the County more alarming than ever, and that they still continue decided in their opinion of the necessity of a Stationary force of infantry and are taking other measures for the more complete protection of the District.

I have [etc]

Geo. Coldham, Town Clerk

P.S. in order that your Grace may have some Idea of the extent of the mischief done since the first commencement of the system of Frame-breaking I understand that it is computed that about 600 have been broken of the value of £6,000 depreciated as this species of property is by the present dreadful state of the Manufactory, but of more than double that value if the Trade was in a prosperous state. –

The letter can be found at HO 42/119, and is a verbatim transcription. £6000 is about £332,000 (using RPI) or £4 million (using average earnings) at today's values.

No comments:

Post a Comment