Friday, 16 December 2011

16th December 1811: The Rector of Loughborough writes to the Home Secretary

Loughborough Decr. 16. 1811


I have the honor, as one of the Magistrates of the County of Leicester, to address myself to you with respect to the disturbances which, from it’s contiguity to Nottinghamshire, & a considerable part of the Inhabitants being Frame-work knitters, have broken out in this part of the County where I reside.

I have the satisfaction to say that the activity of the Magistrates, by swearing many of the Inhabitants of the different Parishes as special Constables, & collecting as many of the Yeomanry Cavalry (who were very alert upon the occasion) have prevented any considerable damage from being done in this County; & the presence of the Military force, which his Majesty's Government have provided for us, will, of course, tend greatly to secure the public Peace: but the systematic proceedings of these Banditti, & the more than hints thrown out that the prices of Corn & Meat &c, must be regulated according to their ideas, will make it necessary to be very watchful of their motions at least thro’ the present Winter. The Magistrates with whom I have the honor to act, are very sensible of this, & have taken every [illegible] to reach the offenders; hitherto indeed without effect, except in one case, when Mr Dawson & I, have committed a man under the Black Act for extorting money to support Ned Ludd’s Army. The difficulty of procuring information is very great, & the willingness of parties to give evidence, from an universal fear of private injury to their persons or property, is so prevalent, that it is almost impossible to substantiate any charges.—The County Magistrates have no ground upon which they can draw, either to gain information, or to reward it, or to satisfy Persons for their loss of time, or the hazard they run, in attending, upon them, or acting under their directions. How far any of these difficulties could be removed by his Majesty's Government, I do not presume to say: but I venture to throw out these observations for consideration, & should be happy to find them listened.

I have [etc]

Ric Hardy
Rector of Loughbro’

Right Honble the Secretary of State for the Home Department &c &c &c

The letter appears at HO 42/118.The man committed for extortion was one of those named in the depositions about Luddite fundraising in Osgathorpe & Hugglescoat, and we will return to this case next year.

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