Friday 30 March 2012

30th March 1812: The seven Nottinghamshire Luddites sentenced to transportation leave the town forever

The seven men sentenced to transportation at the Nottingham Lent Assizes - William Carnell, George Green, Benjamin Hancock, Gervas Marshall, Joseph Maples & Robert Poley - had been waiting for several days for their removal to the South of England. Amongst the authorities, there were concerns that a rescue may be attempted.

Special arrangements had been made for their journey. Two Bow Street officers - Pearkes and Adkins - had arrived in Nottingham on Saturday 28th March 1812 to facilitate their removal from the Town Gaol with the least possible fuss. The Bow Street men had arranged with the proprietor of the stage-coach to hire the whole vehicle for all of the journey and an escort of Hussars were to ride with the transport removing them at some distance from Nottingham.

On Monday 30th March, the stage-coach was brought to the prison at 5.00 a.m. All seven men were handcuffed prior to leaving the prison and moved to the coach as quickly as possible, with a simultaneous signal being given to the cavalry to mount up and surround the coach. Pearkes and Adkins were to ride with the coach themselves, with one of them inside and one on the outside at all times.

The crowds the authorities had expected did not materialise in significant number, not doubt due to the early hour. As it was up to 40 people turned up, but the speed of the operation and the numbers involved meant nothing material occurred.

The coach and escorts stopped at Leicester to breakfast, and apparently drew some crowds out of curiosity. On their way again, the cavalry escort left the stage-coach a few miles out of Leicester, to be replaced by another escort of the Blues.

The seven Luddites arrived at Newgate prison in London the following day. By Thursday, they had been delivered to the prison hulks at Woolwich, their home for several weeks. Although a petition signed by four thousand Framework-knitters had been sent to the Prince Regent asking for mitigation, the men would begin their forced journey of several thousands miles and several months to Van Dieman's Land in June, never to return.

Thursday 29 March 2012

29th March 1812: A Secret Committee is formed in Manchester

In Manchester on the morning of Easter Sunday 1812, 4 men awaited the arrival of a coach from Stockport: they were Humphrey Yarwood, the Secretary of the Manchester Committee of Trades who had been elected on 19th February, John Buckley Booth, aka 'The Parson', a lay preacher, George Royles, an Irishman partially-sighted in one eye, and George Haworth, a Yorkshireman who lived at the time in Pillings Buildings. All four were weavers, and active in workers' committees in and around Manchester.

When the coach arrived, a young, smartly-dressed man called Joseph Wright met them. Wright was a delegate from the Stockport Committee of weavers. The group retired to a quiet room somewhere in town. They discussed the development of secret workers' organisations in Stockport, and their chief aims: the destruction of Steam Looms, the collection of funds to purchase arms with a view to using force if necessary. As their conversation developed, Wright explained to them that it would be necessary for them to form a Secret Committee and be sworn into an illegal Oath  - an obligation of secrecy - which was by then in use in both Stockport and Bolton. He explained that it would be necessary for the three towns to be in contact with each other, but the necessity of secrecy meant documentation would have to used to facilitate correspondence and communications. Being the most confident of the group, Buckley Booth suggested that he Royles and Haworth should form the Secret Committee.

Wright suggested that a delegate from Bolton should visit Manchester on his way back from Stockport in the next few days and leave the documents with them. The ever self-assured Buckley Booth volunteered to met the delegate.

Within 2 days, the delegate had met Buckley Booth and left with him the paraphernalia. It consisted of a transcribed copy of the Oath the four men had taken, and two indented cards, the purpose of which was to act as tickets which would only match with similar cards held by the other Secret Committees at Bolton and Stockport, so that a delegate system could be used. The underground in the North West now included Manchester, the newest of the Secret Committees.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

28th March 1812: The Manchester spy 'B' meets a contact from Leeds and Irish rebels in Stockport

Colonel Fletcher's spy 'B' filed another report for his master on 28th March 1812.

On 25th March, after a meeting with another agent L.F., he was visited at home by a man called Welch from Leeds. B tried to get as much information as he could from Welch, establishing that there were 3 grand committees or 'heads' in the British Isles: London, Glasgow and Ireland, who communicated by delegates and had the final say on any plans. They were secretive and cautious - new recruits could only join if 2 existing members proposed them, with one of those members being prominent. They also had an oath which was sworn on the Bible:
I do most solemnly promise and swear that I will be faithful and keep all things entrusted to me on the business now carrying on and I furthermore do swear that I will do all in my power to forward the same and that neither hope fear or reward shall induce me to declare the same directly or indirectly but rather have my head cut off with both my hands and all my family served the same if I have so help me God

Welch told B that Jacobins ('old jacks') were not permitted to be involved, as they had been 'suspected' of late, and also favoured rash action.

B then asked Welch about Leeds and the surrounding area. Welch estimated that about 700 people could be counted on to act in the event of any uprising, but admitted they were very careful about recruitment. Meetings were not convened in public houses, as private houses and even fields were preferred if the weather was clement. Leeds was waiting for orders from London.

On the afternoon of Friday 27th, B went to Stockport to meet with his contact Wilson. At 8 p.m. they went to nearby Edgeley and met a dozen Irishmen, and proceeded from there to a field in Cheadle. Five of the men kept watch while the others held a discussion. B was expecting the men to all be part of the Stockport Committee, when in fact only 4 of them were. They had concerns that 'the business' was being conducted too openly, which they found alarming. Their meetings were announced at short notice, no more than five days. Wilson revealed that their delegate who had been to Ireland had been in touch, and he planned to visit more towns than had been the plan. He had managed to recruit 50 'converts'.

B also learned that the Stockport men also had an oath and did his best to make it plain than he could be of use to them. They told him that 700 were sworn in the area and they had links with London, and a regular correspondence with the 'Knights of the thimble' (i.e. Tailors) there. B gave his impression of the Stockport men for Fletcher:
"I find these men most of them dengers dering fellows and no Les than fore of them had be[en] in the Rebellion in Ireland and no doubt but the[y] wish to be at the same game again"

On the 28th, B had gone to Hollinwood to see his contact Taylor, but he was not at home, having gone to Oldham. B couldn't find him there, but spoke to other contacts he knew about 'the business' there.

B had missed the meeting of the Manchester Committee of Trades, which had supposed to have taken place on Tuesday 24th March as 'the Masons' had their usual room on that night. B heard the meeting had been adjourned to another venue, but did not know where or what had been discussed.

28th March 1812: West Riding manufacturers turn their Mills into fortresses following warnings

On Saturday 28th March 1812, William Cartwright received a warning from a man called Abraham Pule. Pule was a cropper who had formerly worked for Cartwright before he automated his factory, and had in between times become a dealer in pigs, but was now back working as cropper at Halifax.

Pule told Cartwright that two days earlier at the place where he now worked, Waterhouse's factory, he had been party to a private conversation: the workers there said that they had heard from Huddersfield Luddites, who were planning to attack Rawfolds within the next four nights, unless they determined that Cartwright was "on his guard": if the latter, then the attack would be deferred for between 2 to 3 weeks.

Pule promised to alert Cartwright as soon as he knew the date of the attack. But Cartwright did not trust him, viewing Pule's friendly approaches as "affected motives". In any event, he had been preparing the Mill at Rawfolds for all possible eventualities.

The Mill had a certain built-in defensive nature, in the sense that it was surrounded on one side by the Spen Beck, which effectively acted as a moat. Cartwright had replaced the main door with a more substantial one reinforced with studded iron. Although the ground floor was left unprotected, he intended to use the first floor as his firing platform: the flagstones nearest the windows had been propped up against them to form embrasures, a robust defence for a defender with a musket. Cartwright planned to arm a small number of his workforce when they were needed. Later, he would apply to the Cumberland Militia to station soldiers at Rawfolds.

Cartwright had also planned to raise the alarm, by fitting a bell to the roof with a rope than ran all the way down to the ground floor to allow it to be pealed by those inside. Cartwright later estimated he had spent £80 on his preparations, equivalent to more than £53,000 at today's prices.

Ottiwells Mill (since demolished). The remains of the defensive wall & gun loops can be seen bottom left.

Another manufacturer who had an aggressive & defensive mentality was William Horsfall. Over the hills at Marsden lay the 'manufactory' of his family, Ottiwells Mill. He he had built a stone wall to surround the front of the Mill facing the road, complete with gun loops which could be used by those of his employees he had armed with muskets. Like Cartwright, he had started a night watch at Ottiwells.
A view of William Horsfall's House, Ottiwells House, showing the defensive wall, from the Huddersfield Weekly News, 27th November 1880

One thing that was clear was that any Luddite attacks on such premises would not be the one-sided affairs they had experienced thus far in the West Riding.

28th March 1812: Huge distress reported in Liverpool

In an editorial item published on Saturday 28th March, the Leeds Mercury briefly reported some statistics about the numbers of people seeking parish relief in Liverpool:
The distress of Liverpool have so much increased, that, the week before last, 18,000 persons received relief on contributions of the inhabitants.

To provide some context, the population of Liverpool at the time was around 100,000 people.

Sunday 25 March 2012

25th March 1812: Plans for an uprising are put before the Stockport Weavers' Committee

On Wednesday 25th March, the Committee of Stockport Weavers held a meeting in a local public house. At some point during the evening, the 20 men gathered there were addressed by a delegate from Manchester, a person whose identity we still do not know to this day.

Present at the meeting was a local weaver, Thomas Whittaker. He later described the details of what the unnamed Manchester delegate said and did during the meeting.

According to Whittaker, the delegate stated that an oath was in use which went beyond mere secrecy - this oath bound men to act and to obey orders of those appointed as leaders. He described a system of organising units of 10 men directed by a Sergeant, and 10 of these units forming a company under a Captain. These units would regularly drill at night time in secret.

Going further, the delegate stated a date for a 'General Rising of the People' rising would be set in due course. Plans were laid for printing an address urging the ranks of the army to join in, with the first task following this being to seize barracks and arms and detain those of the military unwilling to join. Officers, as well as Magistrates, would be seized or killed. Banners would be raised across the country at waypoints to which the forces of the rising would rally.

Delegates were being sent out to different parts of the country, but there was to be no communication in writing. Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire were described as being in 'a very forward state', to the extent that they might not wait for other counties. The delegate said that it was estimated that the counties of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Westmorland and Cumberland would raise 500,000 men who could bear arms. The plans even extended to London, with an aim to secure the Tower of London, the Bank of England and Woolwich docks.

Finally, the delegate revealed that there was interest amongst 'gentlemen', as well as 6 cotton merchants and some manufacturers. He said that he had 'twisted in' 13 of these individuals, who had given £10 to the cause.

25th March 1812: Reward poster for Luddite attacks in Leeds area

25th March 1812: Manchester 'Church & King' loyalists petition the Borough Reeve for a Public Meeting

Manchester, 25th March, 1812.


Boroughreeve and Constables



WE, whose Names are hereunto subscribed, request you will convene a PUBLIC MEETING of the Inhabitants of the Towns of Manchester, Salford, and the Neighbourhood, to prepare a dutiful and loyal ADDRESS to his Royal Highness the PRINCE REGENT, expressive of the strongest assurances of our attachment to his Royal Person and of our ardent zeal for the support of his Government.

Jas Ackers.
R. A. Farington
J. Silvester
Hy. and John Barton
T.O. Gill
Thos. Johnson
T. Blackburne, L.L.D Warden of the Col. Church
Lawrence Peel
William Mayor
John Walker
Robert Peel
Edward Cheschyre
Thos. Jackson
Otho Hume
Thos. Hartmann
Wilson and Williamses
Samuel Smith
Dauntesey Hulme
Jonathan Beever
J.L. Philips
Joseph Seddon
John Parker
James Braddock
Ralph Ellam
Thos. Blackwall
Thos. Watkins
Jno. Pryce
C.W. Ethelston, Fel. of Christ Col.
Samuel Gardner
Wm. Cooper
S. Hall, Clerk, St. Peter’s
John Hull, M.D.
John Bill
Thomas Potter
John Wilson
H. Brottargh
Thos. Hewitt
Samuel Unwin
Jno. Kelsall
James Gordon
Abm. Haverhill
Geo. Grundy
Hen. Fielding & Brother
Thomas Darwell
Jonathan Dawson
R.W. Kitler
Wm. Tate
Richd. Barlow
John Orford
John Collins
Nath. Milne
Thos. Redhead
James Alsop
John Gatliff, Fellow of Christ Col.
Geo. Gould
C.D. Wray
Fred. Maude
James Bateman
Radfords & Waddington
Wm. Harrison
John Holford
Francis Philips
Robt. Hindley
Saml. Bayley, jun.
Thos. Marriot
Samuel Edge
Nath. Hayward
John Foole
Salter, Thompson & Co.
Josh. Denison
Js. Potter
Jeremiah Whittenbury
T.A. Ward
John Clowes, Fell. of Chr. Col.
Francis Parker
John Parker, jun.
John Miller
Thos. Stone, Cheetham's Library
James Harrop
Jer. Smith, Hd. Mas. of the F.G.S.
Jos. and Saml. Ryle
Hutchinson, Mallalieu, and Co.
Fogg, Birch & Hampson
John Ratcliffe
John Ollivant
James Cooke
Geo. Gardner
Rich. Shelmerdine
Danl. Phillips
Chas. Wheeler and Son
John Greaves
Richard Clogg
Edwd. Norris
Robt. Duck
J.R. Saunders
John Arrowsmith
Robinson, Nickolls & Co.
James Clough, M.D.
John Close
Robt. Hayworth
Allen, Bradley and Co.
Thos. Geary
Micah Rose
Thos. Challender
Staines and Mottershead
James Wright
James Bayley
Jackson, Rushforth and Scott
Joseph Heaton
G. .I Noden
Joseph Gould
James Ingle
Henry Bellott
Edwd. Smyth
Rd. Gould,
John Satterfield
Thos. Dunnington
T. Gaskill
J. Frith
Thos. Ollier
Geo. Darwell
R. Whithington
Thos. Atkinson
Geo. Kirtley
Wm. Grant and Brothers
Wm. Townend and Sons
Jos. Gould, jun.
Thos. Fosbrooke
Chas. Weston
Jno. Stacey
C. Parker
John Haigh, jun.
Geo. Webster
Danl. Lynch
Richd. Alsop
Thos. Scholes
John Hurst
Robt. Milne
R.H. Whitelock
Arth. Clegg
M. Randall, A.B.
Wm. Sergeant
J. Clowes, St. John's
Jno. Leaf
Nathl. Gould

IN compliance with the above Requisition, Public Meeting will be held in the Dining Room, at the Exchange Buildings, on Wednesday the 8th April, at 11 o'clock, for the purpose therein stated.

RICH. WOOD, Boroughreeve.

25th March 1812: Destruction at Dickinson, Carr & Shann in Leeds

In the early hours of Wednesday 25th March, Luddites broke into the unguarded finishing shop of Dickinson Carr & Shann in Leeds. They entered the premises through the roof, and whilst no machinery was broken, all of the finished cloth in the shop - around 18 pieces - was cut up or torn to shreds. The damage was later estimated to be between £400 and £500.

The Luddites left the shop by lowering themselves from the upper storey via a piece of cloth.

Saturday 24 March 2012

24th March 1812: Massive petitions against the Orders in Council are sent to London from the Leeds area

On Tuesday evening the 24th March, three massive petitions left Leeds for London. Each of them was signed by 16,000 to 17,000 people and they were addressed to the Prince Regent and the Houses of Commons and Lords. The petitions called for the rescinding of the Orders in Council.

The day before, Earl Fitzwilliam had spoken on the subject in the House of Lords, as recorded by Hansard:
He [Fitzwilliam] said he should have several petitions to present from manufacturers and other commercial persons, complaining of the injurious and destructive consequences resulting to their interests from the Orders in Council: and that, when these petitions should be before the House, he should feel it incumbent on him, to come forward with a motion for the repeal of so injurious a system.

24th March 1812: Duke of Newcastle writes to the Home Office about a Nottingham Luddite delegate to Manchester

March 24


It really appears as if the rioters are beginning to think that their wisest way will now be to remain quiet, and if what I learn is correct, there certainly is fresh ground for indulging a hope that this business is drawing towards a close.—

What I am at this moment anxious to ascertain is whether you would wish that the arrest of the offenders should still continue, at present it proceeds as usual, and yesterday a man was brought in who has been the prime mover of all the proceedings which have so much disgraced us. We have every reason to believe that this man will be able to give a great deal of information respecting the disturbances at Manchester, as we know that he is just arrived from thence. Every means will be used to extort the information from him and I hope we shall succeed.

I am told that a man belonging to the Berkshire Militia (who is on furlough at Manchester and went from hence where his regt. is stationed) is very busy at Manchester, he has been understood to say – that his regt. would not fire if they were called upon to do so, as they wish well to the framebreakers.

You will perhaps think proper to have this man watched.

I have the honor to remain
Your very obed.
humble Serv.


The Right Honble
Richard Ryder
&c &c &c

24th March 1812: Shearing Mill attacked at Rawdon, near Leeds

In the early hours of Tuesday the 24th March, Luddites approached the Shearing Mill of William Thompson & Bros at Rawdon, north-west of Leeds.

Between 40 and 150 armed Luddites arrived near to the Mill between midnight and 4 a.m. The solitary watchmen was shocked when a pistol was fired close to him - 6 to 7 Luddites grabbed him & once entry had been gained, pushed him inside the mill, holding him on the floor. They now stood guard over him.

The gunshot & noises had woken people in adjoining dwellings, and more Luddites were posted as guards outside, warning the occupants against opposition or attempts to raise the alarm.

The commander of the group then gave his order to the remaining Luddites, "go to work." 30 to 40 pairs of shears were destroyed, and other machinery damaged, all within 20 minutes.

The destruction complete, the Luddites moved into formation on a nearby hill. A roll was called, with numbers instead of names, and the men thereafter dispersed into the night.

Friday 23 March 2012

23rd March 1812: Colonel Ralph Fletcher writes to the Home Office about the findings of his spy, and encloses an oath

Lancaster 23d March 1812


On my return from Town (where I had the Honor of a Conversation with the Right Honorable Secretary and yourself) I found that disaffection had made further progress than I had expected, and had assumed a more alarming aspect.

Delegates from the Neighbourhood of Nottingham have been in Bolton and succeeded to make some Converts to whom they have administered Oaths (Copy of which I enclose). The Adjutant of the Local. under my Command has procured a confidential Person to join, apparently, in the Schemes of these People, and from him has been derived the Information contained in the Letter herewith inclosed, which has been sent to me at this Place where I am attending the Assizes.

What will be the best mode of checking the dangerous spirit, will be for the consideration of Government. If I were even to apprehend all the Persons that may be assembled at some future nocturnal meeting, will it be proper in order to bring them to Justice to prove the administering of illegal Oaths – and thereby discover & consequently cut off the Sources of future information?!—Will it not be better to watch a while, in Silence, their further proceedings, until we can discover the yet concealed first movers of this machine breaking System?—Our Confidant will, I trust, get at still more important Information, but there may be Danger from a sudden commencement of the Execution of their Plots.

We have a Troop of the Scotch Greys—and a small Yeomanry Troop of Volunteer Horse—together with from 60 to 70 of the Local—part of which last Force are now and most of them have formally been in the Permanent Establishment & may be depended upon and have had arms delivered to them up their several Residences and the Pretence of Practicing previously to the Assembly of the Regiment.—By means of this Force, I [trust] we can defeat the Intentions of the Incendiaries, should they attempt to carry them into Execution, as far as regards Bolton and its Neighbourhood—and that without discovering the Persons who give us secret Information.

The Instructions of Government are requested on these matters – and in the meantime we shall endeavour to find out the concealed moves, of the Incendiary Plot.—Please to address to me at Bolton as I expect to leave this Place in 3 Days.

I have the Honor to be
Very respectfully
Your most Obedt Servant
Ra: Fletcher

N.B. The non delivery of the Letter to me at this Place for 2 Posts has so long delayed the Information

[To] John Beckett Esq

I A B — on my own voluntary Will and accord, do declare an solemnly swear, that I will never reveal to any Person or Persons, in any Place or Places, under the Canopy of Heaven, the Name or Names of any Persons who compose this secret Committee, their Secret Proceedings, Meeting Place, Abode, Dress, Features, Connections, or any thing else, that may lead to a discovery of the same, either by Word Deed or Sign, under the Penalty of being sent out of the World, by the first Brother who shall meet me, my Name & Character blotted out of Existence, and never to be remembered but with Contempt and Abhorrence. And I furthermore do swear, that I will use my best Endeavours to punish by Death, any Traitor or Traitors should any rise up amongst us, wherever I can find him or them, and though he should fly to the Verge of Nature, I will pursue him with unceasing Vengeance, — So help me God, — and assist me to keep this my Oath, inviolable
amen, So be it.

23rd March 1812: Weavers meet in secret near the Brick Kiln, Bolton

Another secret meeting of weavers was held in Bolton on the night following the one at the workhouse. This one was held at a Brick Kiln belonging to a Mr Pilkington, which stood on Ridgeway Row near to the turnpike road on Bolton Moor.

Those present included Oliver Nicholson, who had also attended the meeting at the Gibraltar Rock in February, and Peter Gaskell who had been at the meeting the previous night. Nicholson & Gaskell recalled that John Stones was there, and gave some kind of a report and informed the meeting that his father had sworn in 15 people at a meeting near Bury.

Also present was a member of the local militia, Richard Eckersley, who stated 20 people were present. He was asked to accept an illegal oath, but later said he refused.

23rd March 1812: The Manchester spy 'B' visits Oldham, hears doubts about his motives and is concerned about workers organisation in the area

Colonel Fletcher's spy 'B' picked up his latest report only the day after his previous one.

On the 19th March, he had been in Oldham, Lees and Dobcross in Lancashire. His contacts there told him they needed 3 more months to be ready, noting that most of the military were abroad in Portugal and expecting other units in England would be needed in Ireland. B's impression of the people in the area was blunt: "their is Corse one you can meet but they are preaching up this docktrin".

On the 22nd, B had an appointment with a contact called Wilson, who reported there was some dissatisfaction with B's presence on an unnamed committee, since B was not on the Manchester executive committee. Another contact called Devlyn had vouched for B, explaining that he had been "imployed on secret Business" and travelled hundreds of the miles for the cause.Wilson was expecting a delegate to return from Ireland in the next 20 days and went on to outline the situation further north in Kendal and also Paisley and Glasgow.

B reported that the Manchester Committee of Trades had met at the Falstaff Hotel, and expressed much concern about the degree of organisation, thoroughness and communication now apparent, saying "this you may depend will Ruin this Kingdom if these meetings is not prohibited ... this must be Looked after before it is too Late all the Manufacturing towns is on this plan and many of the viliges also".

On the 23rd, B had witnessed a man making seditious comments to two female companions in Brown Street, Manchester. He had followed them, and reported the man speaking openly, his comments meeting with agreement and amusement from others nearby .

Lastly, B gave a warning to Fletcher "the Countys of Chester derby & Lancaster and york is in a dangers state and if troops is not sent to them I ham afraid it will be of bad Conquence".

23rd March 1812: Luddites are charged and sentenced at Leicester Lent Assizes

The Assizes at Leicester opened on Monday 23rd March, with the presiding Judge being Sir John Bayley once again.

A number of cases involving alleged Luddites were tried at these Assizes, although detailed records of the proceedings are hard to come by. Even the local newspaper, the Leicester Journal of 27th March 1812, chose not to use many column inches covering the trials: indeed, greater space was given over to the Derby Assizes in the same issue.

William Quenby and Joseph Smith were charged with frame-breaking, although we don't know on what date and at what location. Quenby was sentenced to 14 years transportation, whilst Smith's punishment was 'to enter into his Majesty's army'.

The other offences yield a more recognisable name: Thomas Maton Harris was charged with using a threatening letter 'purporting to be sent by Ned Lud' to extort money in aid of the frame-breakers. Charged alongside him were David Walker, William Plant and Thomas Thorn. Their cases were traversed until the next Assizes.

Thursday 22 March 2012

22nd March 1812: Secret weavers meeting near the Workhouse, Bolton

The next secret meeting of weavers in Bolton we know about took place on Sunday 22nd March. In John Stones' report of the 21st March, he states that "There will be a Meeting next Sunday Eveng at 8 o'clock next Field to the New Poor house".The 'New Poor house' was the workhouse in Bolton, built around 1810, and standing ironically on Fletcher Street (named in honour of Colonel Ralph Fletcher).

Peter Gaskell, a weaver from Bolton, had "heard of shoutings and night meetings" and was curious enough to "try to find them and know what they meant". As he approached the workhouse, he met John Stones who challenged him as to his purpose. Gaskell explained what he was looking for, and Stones took him back to his house to wait for others to arrive and they then headed back to a field near to the workhouse.

There they met others, including John Fielding and Joseph Edge (who left before the end of the meeting) and the whole group constituted about 20 other people. According to Gaskell, they talked about being organised and newcomers were asked if they were "twisted in" (meaning had they received an illegal oath). Gaskell was asked this by Stones, but lied that he was. Each in the group was given a number and also divided into 'classes' headed by certain members of the group. Stones decided to admit Gaskell to his class, and John Fielding later remembered that Stones had dubbed himself 'Colonel Wardle'.

At the end of the meeting, a countersign was agreed for the next meeting the following night - this was to be 'Nottingham'.

Gaskell left with Stones and went back to his house. Stones gave him 2 pieces of paper with numbers on - for Gaskell the number 5, and for another man called James Becket the number 6.

22nd March 1812: Reports of disturbances in Manchester turn out to be a false alarm

On Sunday 22nd March 1812, the Courier newspaper reported that 2 or 3 'gentlemen' that had arrived in London on coaches from Manchester had reported disturbances there, and also that a large number of troops had been sent to the area.

The Monday edition of the paper verified the story, but emphasised that the no serious damage had been done. The Leeds Mercury of the 28th March reported on the story, pointing out that the Manchester newspapers did not report any trouble.

The Commanding officer of the military in Manchester was quick to explain to the Home Office that the rumours were unfounded, but did not seek to hide facts about the real situation in Manchester:

23rd. March. 1812.


Paragraphs having appeared in several of the London Papers, stating that disturbances existed at Manchester, I consider it my duty to acquaint you that they are entirely void of Truth, & that the rumours in question can only have been fabricated for the worst of purposes.

A spirit of discontent certainly pervades the Labouring classes of the Community here, to a great extent, & it has been considerably increased by the sudden advance in the price of Flour and Potatoes; but, as yet they have not evinced any tendency to Riot.

I have the honor to be,
Your most obedient
Humble Servant

JG Clay
Colonel, Commanding
the Garrison

The Right Honble
Richard Ryder
&c &c &c
On the 25th March, the Boroughreeve & Constables for Manchester wrote to John Blackburne, the MP for Newton:
Manchester 25th March 1812

We have observed with great regret in the London Newspapers, reports of serious disturbances among the Weavers & Mechanics in this town and neighbourhood, which we are happy to be enabled to contradict. There is no foundation for such reports, on the contrary it is with pleasure we bear testimony to the exemplary patience with which the working Classes have borne the pressure of the present times. We shall feel obliged by you making this communication known to the Secretary of  State for the Home Department and if any opportunity should occur of giving it further publicity, we think it very desireable.

With the greatest respect,
your obt humbe Servs

Richd Wood - Boroughreeve
Edwd Lloyd, Jas. Kearsley - Constables

To John Blackburne Esq &c &c

Blackburne, along with Colonel Stanley the MP for Lancashire, passed this letter to the Home Secretary,  Richard Ryder, who directed that the reports of disturbances should be 'publicly contradicted'.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

21st March 1812: The trials of Samuel Sellers & William Elliott at Derby Lent Assizes

The Nottingham Review of 27th March 1812 ended its coverage of the Derby Lent Assizes with the trial of two alleged frame-breakers on Saturday 21st March 1812:
Samuel Sellers and William Elliott, charged with frame breaking within the precincts of Swanwick, in Derbyshire, were brought to the bar; and Samuel Hill, framework-knitter, who resides at Swanwick Delve, deposed that he knew the prisoners; and that on the 9th of December, some persons passed by his house, when one of them said to him, “we shall come again some;” that he met a man disguised soon after; that he sat up till half past two in the morning, when he went to bed, thinking all was safe for that night; that his wife said, (he being hard of hearing) they are break two frames; got up and opened the door half-char, to peep; went out and saw two men with guns in their hands; said “you are all neighbours, and break the frames and be damned!” He then stated that he found three frames upon the common. On his cross-examination, he said that he could not tell how the men were dressed; nor did he know whether their faces were black.

George Hill deposed, that he saw three men stand on the causeway on the evening of the 9th December, with their faces blacked, and having on smock frocks; that he did not know them, but thought two of them were Sellers journeyman; watched Sellers house; saw four men come out of it; went home; mets three men on the causeway, one of whom was so disguised as to frighten him, and another was Sellers, who walked behind the other two, and was not disguised. On his cross-examination, he admitted that it was one o'clock in the night when he met the men, and that it was not a moonlit night.

Hannah Hill, wife of the first witness, remembered that the night alluded to; was disturbed at three in the morning; informed her husband; heard a particular voice when the men were going away; knows Sellers, and thought the voice was his. She then stated that she looked through the window, which was some distance from the road leading to Swanwick; but she heard a gun let off; went out, and found one frame in the road, one in the sink-hole, and one in the gutter. She admitted that the night was very dark, and that she only heard a word or two, which were, “damn it, stop a bit.”

Ann Jackson, sister to the first witness, deposed, that she resides in a small house adjoining to her brother’s workshop, the window in the sleeping room of which is hold up with barrel [illegible], through one of which is a bung-hole, which, to keep out the cold, is stuffed up with rags. She was alarmed about three in the morning alluded to, and said to the man who lodges with her, “are they breaking cinders in the road so soon?” She then pulled the rags out of the bung-hole, and pept, when she exclaimed, “O Lord! I wish I had not looked!” To which her lodger replied, “prithee what’s the in there?” “Why, I know them all!” “hold thy tongue, (replied the lodger,) or we shall all be hanged!” She then went on to state, she saw three men, two of whom, with black faces, were breaking frames with hammers in the road, and one standing on the causeway with a candle and lanthorn to light them—Knew that the prisoner Elliott and George Bacon were the men who broke the frame, and that Sellers, the other prisoner, was the man who held the light; was quite sure it were them; and no body else; knew them all; heard the sound of their voices; but did not understand a word they said, on account of the wind; went to bed again, and said she had seen enough. On her cross-examination she said, she slept with John Folding; that he got up first; that she saw Sellers from head to foot, but did not see his face, only by a side view, and that she worked in spectacles.

John Folding deposed, that he lodged with Ann Jackson; that there were but two beds in the house, and that the children slept in one, and himself and Ann Jackson in the other. He then proceeded to stay, that on the morning named in the indictment, he heard a noise; got up first took the “clouts” out of the bung-hole; saw seven or eight persons breaking frames, but did not know them; formed no judgement that Sellers was one, though he had known him about a year, and was reacquainted with his person, and had resided with Ann Jackson eighteen months; was distant from the frame breakers twelve or thirteen yards.

Sellers said, that Folding had known him many years ago; to which the other replied, “you was then a boy.”

Mr John Bing proved the property of one of the frames, whose testimony closed the evidence on the part of the Crown.

Job Berisford stated himself to be a farmer at Swanwick; he gave Sellers an excellent character, and stated, that in his opinion, Ann Jackson ought not to be believed on her oath; that she was a reputed liar and tale bearer, and bore a general bad character. He further stated, that on the 14th of December, he had a conversation with her at her brother’s, when he, witness, called, out of curiosity, to see the broken frames, and likewise to inform Hill, that in consequence of him having his frames broken, he had better have pay from the parish. On this occasion, Ann Jackson was washing at her brother’s, and witness asked her if she knew any thing about the matter, when she replied, that John got up first, pulled the rags out of the bung-hole, saw three men breaking frames, but did not know them. Witness said, “it was what she did not know some of them;” to which she replied, “Aye, bless you! they were all in disguise.” Susan Mather lives at Swanwick; knew Martha Orange, and had seen Ann Jackson with her; remembered hearing the former say to the latter, “I thought you had been at Derby to day?” (the day on which her brother Hill, went to the magistrates about his frames,) “Indeed! what must I go for? I know nothing about it! I was not up till our folks called me up for a light.”

Martha Orange stated, that she had a conversation with Ann Jackson shortly after the frames were broken, and that she said to witness, “why, they have broken Samuel Hill’s frames! Did you know any thing of them? No, for I was not out of bed—John was up, but if all Swanwick had been there, he would not have known any of them.” This witness concluded by giving it is her opinion that Ann Jackson ought not be believed.

Ann Robinson, whose husband is a Collier, remembered the frames being broken; went and saw them; saw Ann Jackson there, and heard her say, “God, I know nothing about them! I was not out of bed till they were broken.”

Francis Mather deposed that he kept a huckster’s shop at Swanwick; and that he would not believe Ann Jackson either on her word or her oath. On being asked to state his reason for having formed so bad an opinion of her, he replied, that by a continued form of falsehoods, she had gotten into his debt. He was then asked whether Sellers was not also in his debt; “yes, he owes me a few shillings, but he is an honest man, and will pay me.”

Jane Elliott, widow of the prisoner Elliott’s father, deposed that the prisoner Elliott came to her house at Swanwick about a month before Christmas to lodge, on account of his work calling him from Nottingham; that on the night the frames were broken, he went to bed with her son David about eleven o'clock; that she slept in the same room with them; that she got up in the night to turn her son’s flannels, that they might be dry for him to go to the pit in the morning; that she heard the clock strike three while she was up; that she saw the prisoner in bed at that time; and that he did not get up till eight in the morning. The unaffected simplicity with which this witness gave her testimony, excited the Judge’s attention.

David Elliott, with equal simplicity, confirmed the greater part of his mother’s evidence.

Luke Cartledge, lives next door to Jane Elliott, and remembered going into her house at eleven o'clock the night Hill’s frames broken, and saw the prisoner Elliott sitting by her fire. This witness was asked whether he had not been a collector for the frame-breakers, to which he answered, that he had been a collective the stocking-makers out of employment, and thought he was not doing any harm.

Another witness was called, who produced a plan of the houses of Hill and Ann Jackson, to prove the impossibility of the latter person seeing any part of Sellers below his shoulders, when she said she was peeping through the bung-hole; but as he rendered his own evidence of no avail, by stating, in is cross-examination, what he probably never intended to say, we shall not enlarge upon it.

Folding was again called on the part of the Crown, who stated, that the witness Berisford promised, if he would not appear against Sellers, that he should never want money. His testimony, in this respect, standing unsupported, the Judge thought it of little worth.

Elliott had an excellent character given him by a gentleman of high respectability from Nottingham.

When the jury, after a trial of six hours, Acquitted both the prisoners without many minutes hesitation.

Mr. Copley and Mr. Balguy advocated the cause of the prisoners and we never witnessed two gentleman do their duty better.

21st March 1812: Reward poster for arson at William Radcliffe's warehouse

21st March 1812: Joseph Falconbridge committed to Nottingham Gaol

It was reported on 2nd April 1812 that Joseph Falconbridge, a Framework-knitter from Nottinghamshire, had been committed to Nottingham Gaol on Saturday 21st March, charged with frame-breaking at the premises of Francis Betts at Sutton-in-Ashfield on 13th November 1811.

21st March 1812: The trial of 'Luddite burglar' John Thompson at Derby Lent Assizes

The Nottingham Review of 27th March 1812 continued with coverage of the trial of John Thompson on Saturday 21st March 1812:
On Saturday morning, John Thompson, aged 25, a native of Draycot, in Derbyshire, was put to the bar, and charged with having, in company with others, on the 6th of January, 1812, robbed the house of Thomas Theobald, of Wilsthorpe, in the said County.

Mr. Theobald deposed, that he was the holder a little farm at Wilsthorpe; that his family consisted of two daughters, a servant girl, and a little girl; that just before two o'clock in the morning of the 6th of January, he was awakened from his sleep by two men coming to his bed side, armed with pistols, one of which had a candle in his hand; that they demanded his money, when he said he had but 15 or 16 shillings in his breeches pocket, that lay on the bed, which they took away; that he saw their faces, and was sure the prisoner at the bar was one of them; that a third man came in, that one staied by him while the other two went to search other rooms and came again; but they stopped an hour; that his daughter had the care of his other money; that they took eight five pound notes, five one pound notes, eight silver tea spoons, three silver table spoons, one pair of silver tea tongs, several linen and cotton sheets, and various other articles. Witness further stated that he got up at three o'clock, and when he went down stairs, he found the kitchen window taken out, and that it was large enough for a man to get through. On his cross-examination, he stated that his house was an odd one; that Mr. Harriman, who lived at least sixty yards from him, was his nearest neighbour; that he was 77 years of age, and his eyes not very good; that he knew the prisoner when a child, and was sure as to his person; that when the robbers had taken his money, he told them to go about their business, in reply to which they threatened to shoot him if he spoke another word—would not swear that he had ever mentioned the prisoner’s named till after he was taken, nor could he tell the reason why he had not done so.

Mary Theobald stated herself to be the daughter to and housekeeper of the former witness; that on the 5th of January, at night herself and the servant girl were up the last in the house; went to bed at ten, and was quite sure that she fastened the door and windows. She then stated that at two o'clock in the morning she was alarmed by two men coming into her bedroom, and drawing aside the curtains, one having a candle to his hand, and each holding a pistol, servant who slept with her having fled as they entered the room; and that they told her death should be her portion if she did not lie still. Witness then saw them go into the middle room, and so on into the far room, where the money was, and where her sister slept, who was then on a visit. She got out of bed, notwithstanding the threat, and distinctly saw them rummaging a large trunk, in which was a small trunk, which contain the cash notes named in the indictment. She swore positively to the prisoner being one of the men, though he was not the man who held the candle; and that the other man had a large nose.

Jane Hanberry, daughter to the first witness, deposed that she was on a visit as a father's house at the time it was robbed; that she slept the room where the truck was that had been rummaged; distinctly saw the men; was much alarmed, and would not swear to the person of the prisoner.

Mr. Whiston clerk to Dr. Forester, deposed that he took down the prisoners examination before the Magistrates; and that he, the prisoner, on hearing the deposition of Mr. Theobald read, declared at about three o'clock in the morning mentioned to the indictment, he was walking near Barrowash, and found Cook, Scott, and Fine John, who shewed him that articles said to have been stolen from prosecutors house; but they went to England's house at Derby, and there divided the spoils; that he Cook went up to London, where Cook sold the silver spoons, &c. to a landlord whom he knew; that he bought himself a suit of clothes with part of the money; gave the prisoner another part of it, who then went down to Tewkesbury. The prisoner had nothing to say in his defence; and the Jury, without hesitation, found him Guilty. The Judge, in passing sentence of death upon him, was peculiarly impressive, and very much affected. His Lordship said he understood that the prisoner’s father had ten or eleven children, and that his grandfather now lay dead in the house of broken heart, on account of the prisoner’s abandoned conduct, and the fate that now hung over his head. The Court were in tears; and the Judge, after he had pronounced, in the most solemn manner, the awful sentence of the law upon the prisoner, gave him hopes of mercy, in consequence of some important discoveries he had made respecting the desperate gang.
NB: John Thompson's death sentence was later reprieved by Judge Bayley.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

20th March 1812: Joseph Radcliffe receives a threatening letter from the "Soliciter to General Ludd"

For Mr Ratcliffe Esq

Genl Ludd's Solicitor March 20 1812

Jos Ratcliffe


Take notice that a Declaration was this Day filed against you in Ludds Court at Nottingham, and unless you remain* neutral judgment will immediately be signd against you for Default, I shall thence summon a Jury for an Inquiry of Damages take out Execution against both your Body and House, and then you may Expect General Ludd, and his well organised Army to Levy it with all Destruction possible

And I am Sir your

Soliciter to General Ludd


March-20th 1812

*PS you have Sir rather taken an active part against the General but you are quiet and may remain so if you chuse (and your Brother Justices also) for him, but if you Either convict a one, or coutinance the other Side as you have Done (or any of you), you may Expect your House in Flames and, your-self in Ashes in a few Days from your next move, for our Court is not Governd by Sovrns But Equity

NB, In shewing the General the other Side for Inspection He orders me to inform you the Cloth Dressers in the Huddersfield District as spent Seven Thousand Pounds in petition Government to put Laws in force to stop the Shearing Frames and Gig Mills to no purpose so they are trying this method now, and he is informd how you are affraid it will be carried on to another purpose but you need not be apprehensive of that, for as soon as ye Obnoxious machienery is Stopd or Distroyd the Genearal and his Brave Army will be Disbandd, and Return to their Employment, like other Liege Subjects

20th March 1812: The trials of the 'Luddite burglars' Pierce Cook, James Tomlinson & John England at Derby Lent Assizes

 The Nottingham Review of 27th March 1812 had extensive coverage of the trial of the Derbyshire 'Luddite burglars' whose trial took place on Firday 20th March 1812:
On Friday morning the Court was crowded to excess, when James Tomlinson, alias Fruz, [the prisoner obtained this appellation having large whiskers,] Perceval Cook, and John England, were put to the bar, charged with committing a burglary in the house of Mr Samuel Hunt, at Ockbrook mill, early on the morning of the 23d December, 1811. They each to the least five feet nine inches high, and were all fine looking young fellows; Cook being 26, Tomlinson 27, and England 29 years of age. England protested against being tried with the other two, saying, if he were, and was found guilty, he should consider himself a murdered man. The Court, however, took no notice of his protest, and proceeded to call

Elizabeth Walker, an interesting young woman, sister to the prosecutor’s wife, who resides with him in the capacity of a servant. She stated, that she got up to wash at two o'clock of the morning named in the indictment, and when she had been to the kitchen about an hour, had a strange voice call “hallo;” that she then went into the house to listen, and heard some people whispering on the doorstone. They then lifted up the latch several times, and she proceeded upstairs to call Mr. Hunt, who bid witness go down stairs and ask what was wanted, which she did, but received no answer. Mr. Hunt then went down and asked the same question, when he was answered, that they were Ned Ludd’s men; that they wished him to sign a paper to sell his corn and flour at a reasonable price; that they had left off breaking frames, and now intended to break human souls, if their grievances were not redressed. Witness then stated that several of the persons went to the windows, the shutter of which was then open, and demanded admittance; that one person had his face close to the glass, and another looked over his shoulder. On being told to look at the prisoners, and state whether any of them were the men, she immediately pointed out Cook and Tomlinson, and said Cook was the man who had his face close to the glass, and that Tomlinson looked over his shoulder. She was positive as to the identity of their faces, in consequence of having had so clear a sight of them, which she was enabled to have from the light of a large fire and having a candle in her hand, and from their standing conversing whether in that position at least a quarter of an hour. She further stated, that Cook had a black handkerchief on, which reached up to his ears and covered his chin; and that Tomlinson had something under his hat like the ears of a cap, which came down by the side of his face. [It was inferred that this was a cap to conceal his whiskers.] In the meantime, Mr. Hunt had been upstairs to fetch his gun, and on being pressed to open the door, he positively refused; when one of the depredators said if he did not, he would be dead if he should not see his mill and house burnt before his eyes. He then asked permission to dress himself; but they swore they would have him as he was. He then lifted up his gun, when one of them said, “he has a gun! we have fire arms as well as him.” Mr. Hunt replied that he had twenty guns up stairs, and that he would discharge them all before he would be robbed. She admitted that this was a [illegible] to drive the depredators away. Witness then said that she asked her brother where the trumpet was with which she might alarm the village, which was not more than a quarter of a mile from the house; but that while she was thus preparing to defeat their purpose, a brick-bat came through the window, which induced her to open it and call out murder; she then received a blow on the mouth from another brick-bat, which cut her upper lip and caused her to bleed profusely. Witness then went on to state, that a man set his foot against the door and sprung it partly open, when another said “stop a bit;” then they shortly after forced it open; and Mr. Hunt went up stairs with his gun; saw two men on the first or second stair, the first of whom was Cook; saw them quite plain with pistols in their hands, and observed Tomlinson have bits of flannel on the side of his face proceeding from under his hat; and saw other men in the house. One of the prisoners then said, what makes this man so stupid? why dont he come down and sign the paper? if he dont we will have vengeance! Mr. Hunt said, he would shoot the first man that attempted to advance another step. Mrs. Hunt had by this time dressed herself, and came to the top of the stairs with a child in her arms; and on seeing witness bleed so profusely, begged most tenderly of her husband to surrender himself, lest they should be murdered, which induced him to set his gun down and come downstairs. They then demanded his money, and he gave them his purse, containing a little silver and the key of his bureau. Witness saw five men in the house, some of whom had their faces disguised: saw three go up stairs, two of whom were Cook and Tomlinson; followed them, and saw them in Mrs. Hunt’s sleeping room; saw them at the drawers casting the things upon the door; went to them and laid hold of Cook’s arm, to whom she said, “justice will overtake you in this world, for this crime, and vengeance from an offended God in the next.” Witness then went down stairs, and saw them take three shirts from among the dirty linen. On her cross-examination she re-stated near the whole of the foregoing, and added, that she was quite sure that she knew Cook and Tomlinson, as they stopped in the house half an hour, and besides the light of the fire, there were six or seven candles burning in the house; and that she saw Cook take away Mr. Hunt’s gun.

Miss Hunt being then sworn, he stated himself to reside at Ockbrook mill, and confirmed all the material parts of the last witnesses testimony. He was positive as to the persons of Cook and Tomlinson; sure he was not alarmed until, at the tender entreaties of his wife, he surrendered himself, and that then he was afraid they would have murdered him from the resistance he had made. He further stated, that, besides his gun, which Cook had carried away, they took thirty-five one pound and guinea notes, which lay in his drawer under two suit of clothes, with sundry other articles; and that, when they were going away, he begged most tenderly that they would leave him a little money, to which Cook answered by shaking a pistol at him, and said, “We will remember you another day.”

Thomas Draper, an accomplice, aged 22, the same who swore against William Wells, alias Black Tom, at the Nottingham assize, was called as a witness: and, after receiving a caution from Counsellor Clarke to speak nothing but the truth, he deposed, that he had known Cook and Tomlinson about two years, and England about six months. He likewise knew Ockbrook Mill, Andrew Scott, a Scotchman, and Howett. He stated, that on the night preceding the burglary, the whole six met at England's house who gave them four black crapes for face cloths, and a flannel cap to Tomlinson to cover his large whiskers; it being agreed the Ockbrook Mill should not go [illegible] house in his own neighbourhood, therefore he did not want a face-cloth. [This accounts for only five persons being seen in Mr. Hunt’s house.] Witness went on to state that England furnished them with five loaded pistols, and advised them to go first to Brentnall, at Locko-grange, whom he knew bred many horses and sold them, and did not put his money in the bank, consequently, that they would there “get a good life” that they went out of England's house two by two; that they went to Brentnall's house, and got defeated; that they had forgot to bring their powder from England's; that for want of priming to discharge the pistols, he drew his own to prime the others with; but they all discharged their pistols in a close, except Cook, who he believed had not a sufficient quantity of priming; that they did not wish to do murder; that they then went to Mr. Hunt's house and robbed, as described by the two foregoing witnesses, (the circumstances attending which robbery he particularly described;) and that Tomlinson was the man who forced Mr. Hunt’s door, a panel of which he kicked out, and then entered through the hole, unlocked the door, and let in the rest. He further stated, that on their return they found England's back-door open, according to agreement, that England was gone out a brewing, and that when he came home to breakfast they gave him Hunt’s gun, and two one pound notes. On his cross-examination he admitted, that he had been charged with stealing his indenture from his master when he was an apprentice at Sheepshead; that he was a deserter from four regiments, but denied having received £111 14s. bounty money in one year.

The evidence against Cook and Tomlinson here closed, but then it was necessary to corroborate Draper’s testimony against England, to prove him an accessary, and to accomplish this, Mr. Whiston, clerk to Dr. Forester, a magistrate for the county of Derby, was sworn. He stated, that having taken down the deposition of Draper, and when he was reading it over to England, and came to that part which says, that they went out to commit the robberies in question with five pistols, “nay, says England, you had six.” “I think they [obscured] Draper,” “Yes,” replied England, “you know, Cook had two!” Witness further deposed, that when he came to that part of Draper’s testimony, which says that England received Mr. Hunt’s gun, and two notes, England said ”Nay, the notes were given to my wife!”

William Jowett, game-keeper to Lord Harrington, deposed, that some time ago he gave England a blue coat. The object in calling this witness was to prove that the coat which Cook had on Mr. Hunt’s was the one thus given to England; but as the latter part of the circumstance was not clearly proved the Judge struck out the whole of it from his notes.

Cook had an excellent character given him from his childhood down to the year 1807, by persons of high respectability from Nottingham; Tomlinson’s character stood high in the estimation of a creditable housekeeper of Belton, with whom he had lodged for a considerable time back down to 9th of January, 1812. But when he was asked, whether Tomlinson had not sometimes been absent for several days at a time, he said yes; but suppose that such absence might be accounted for by him going to Leicester with his work. And England had a fair character given him by several people up to May 1811.

The Learned Judge bestowed infinite pains in summing up the evidence; and the Jury, almost without hesitation, pronounced the prisoner Guilty.

Cook and Tomlinson were again indicted for having, in company with others, entered the dwelling-house of John Brentnall, of Locko Grange, on Sunday night the 22nd of December, 1811, it being the same night that the robbery at Mr. Hunt’s was committed; and England was again indicted for being an accessary to such forcible entrance.

Joseph Brentnall, son of the prosecutor, stated, that at eight o'clock, on the night stated in the indictment, his father's door being shut, two men rushed into the house; and that on him rising up in attempting to force them out again, he received a violent blow on the head with a pistol, while another was snapped at his breast; that he through the first man down; that three or four others rushed in: that the servant girl with a brush, and his father with a long bill-hook came to his assistance; but one of the ruffians cried out “murder; that they then got the whole of them out; that his father pursued them into the yard with the bill-hook, and was then knocked down by one of the villains throwing a large piece of wood at him; that he ran to his father's assistance as soon as possible, got him into the house and shut the door; but on missing the servant girl, he opened it again to seek for her, when he met her returning towards its and one of the villains pursuing her; and that on him appearing, the latter retreated with all possible speed.

John Brentnall deposed to the foregoing, and further stated, that when, in the yard two or three pistols were snapped at him; that he found two buttons, part of the tricker-guard of a pistol, and a hat; and that when the depredators entered his house, his family which was just rising from prayers.—We should have stated on the former trial, that Miss Walker deposed to one of the villains being without a hat, and having a handkerchief tied round his head; and that Draper declared himself to be the man. On this trial, this wretch deposed that he and Andrew Scott were the men who entered Mr. Brentnall's house; that he struck young Mr. Brentnall with a pistol, and Scott snapped the other at his breast; that he lost his hat in the scuffle; that he believed that Tomlinson was the man who knocked Mr. Brentnall down with the wood; and that on their disappointment here, they went and robbed the house of Mr. Hunt.

Mr. Whiston, Clerk to Dr. Forester, deposed on this trial, as he had done on the former, respecting the expressions made use of by England.

The Judge, in summing up the evidence, particularly stated, that a man who had furnished the means for the commission of a crime, became equally guilty, in the eye of the law, with the perpetrator of it, and consequently merited the same punishment.

The Jury found the business Guilty, and the Judge immediately proceeded to pass the awful sentence of the law upon them, and more than once enjoined them not to expect mercy.

These two trials lasted eight hours, during which time the prisoners conducted themselves with becoming deportment.
NB: John England's death sentence was later reprieved by Judge Bayley.

20th March 1812: The 1812 Frame-Breaking Act

An Act for the more exemplary Punishment of Persons destroying or injuring any Stocking or Lace Frames, or other Machines or Engines used in the Framework knitted Manufactory, or any Articles or Goods in such Frames or Machines; to continue in force until the First Day of March One thousand eight hundred and fourteen. [20th March 1812.]

WHEREAS the Provisions of an Act of the Twenty eighth Year of the Reign of His present Majesty, intituled An Act for the better and more effectual Protection of Stocking Frames and the Machines or Engines annexed thereto or used therewith, and for the Punishment of Persons destroying or injuring of such Stocking Frames, Machines or Engines, and the Framework knitted Pieces, Stockings, and other Articles and Goods used and made in the Hosiery or Framework knitted Manufactory, or breaking or destroying any Machinery contained in any Mill or Mills used or in any way employed in preparing or Spinning of Wool or Cotton for the Use of the Stocking Frame, have been found ineffectual: And whereas such Outrages have for some time past been carried on to an alarming Extent; it is therefore necessary that more effectual Provisions should be made against such unlawful Practices, and for preventing such Outrages, and bringing Offenders therein to exemplary Justice; and that such Provisions should be extended to the Frame-work Lace Manufactory, against which similar Outrages have been committed: May it therefore please Your Majesty that it may be enacted; and be it enacted by the King's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That if any Person or Persons shall, by Day or by Night, enter by Force into any House, Shop or Place, with an Intent to cut or destroy any Framework knitted Pieces, Stockings or Lace, or other Articles or Goods being in the Frame, or upon any Machine or Engine thereto annexed, or therewith to be used or prepared for that Purpose; or with an Intent to break or destroy any Frame, Machine, Engine, Tool, Instrument or Utensil, used in and for the working and making of any such Framework knitted Pieces, Stockings, Lace, or other Articles or Goods in the Hosiery or Framework knitted Manufactory; or shall wilfully and maliciously, and without having the Consent or Authority of the Owner, destroy, or cut with an Intent to destroy or render useless, any Framework knitted Pieces, Stockings, Lace, or other Articles or Goods being in the Frame, or upon any Machine or Engine as aforesaid, or prepared for that Purpose; or shall wilfully and maliciously, and without having the Consent or Authority of the Owner, break, destroy or damage with an Intent to destroy or render useless any Frame, Machine, Engine, Tool, Instrument or Utensil used in and for the working and making of any such Framework knitted Pieces, Stockings, Lace, or other Articles or Goods in the Hosiery or Framework knitted Stocking, or Framework Lace Manufactory; or shall wilfully and maliciously, and without having the Consent or Authority of the Owner, break or destroy any Machinery contained in any Mill or Mills used or any way employed in preparing or spinning of Wool or Cotton, or other Materials for the Use of the Stocking or Lace Manufactory, every Offender being thereof lawfully convicted shall be adjudged guilty of Felony, and shall suffer Death, as in cases of Felony without Benefit of Clergy.

II. And be it further enacted, That every Person in whose House or Custody or Possession any Frame, Machine or Engine, Tool, Instrument or Utensil, used in and for the working and making of any Framework knitted Pieces, Stockings, Lace, or other Articles or Goods in the Hosiery or Framework knitted Stocking, or Framework Lace Manufactory as aforesaid (not being his or her Property) shall be at the time of the Destruction or damaging thereof, or of any Framework knitted Pieces, Stockings, Lace, or other Articles or Goods, being in the Frame, or upon any Machine or Engine as aforesaid, and who shall not, within Twenty four Hours after he or she shall have known of such Destruction or Damage being committed as aforesaid, give Notice thereof to the Owner of such Frame, Machine or Engine, Tool, Instrument or Utensil, as aforesaid, if residing within Twelve Miles, or if such Owner shall not reside within such Distance, then to some known Agent of such Owner, if any such Agent shall reside within the Distance of Twelve Miles; and also within Forty eight Hours, go before some Justice of the Peace or Magistrate residing near the Place where such Destruction or Damage shall have taken place as aforesaid, to be examined upon Oath, as to every Matter or Thing relating to the committing of such Destruction and Damage, and his Knowledge thereof, and of all Particulars relating thereto, which may lead to the Discovery of the Offender therein, every such Person shall for every such Neglect, be deemed guilty of a Misdemeanor; and every such Offender, being thereof lawfully convicted upon any Indictment or Information, may be punished as in Cases of Misdemeanor, by Fine and Imprisonment, at the Discretion of the Court in which he shall be convicted; and every Justice of the Peace or Magistrate before whom any such Person shall so go, shall examine such Person upon Oath (which Oath every such Justice of the Peace or Magistrate is hereby authorized to administer) as to his Knowledge of such Damage or Destruction, and of the Persons committing the same, or of any Particulars which may lead to the Detection of the Offenders therein; and shall also allow the Owner of the Frame, Machine or Engine, Tool, Instrument or Utensil, as aforesaid, or Agent if present, to put any Question upon Oath to such Person for the Discovery of the Offender; and if such Owner or Agent shall not have had sufficient Notice to be present when such Person came before the Justice or Magistrate for Examination as aforesaid, such Justice of the Peace or Magistrate shall, if required by the Owner or Agent aforesaid, or if such Justice of the Peace or Magistrate shall deem it necessary, although no such Requisition shall be made, again call such Person before him for Examination by the Owner or Agent aforesaid; and every such Person who shall neglect or refuse (upon being summoned) to appear again before such Justice of the Peace or Magistrate, and be again examined as aforesaid, shall be deemed guilty of a Misdemeanor, and punished as in cafes of Misdemeanors, at the Discretion of the Court in which he or she shall be convicted.

III. And be it further enacted, That if any Person examined by or before any Justice of the Peace or Magistrate under this Act as aforesaid, shall wilfully or corruptly swear any Matter or Thing which shall be false or untrue; or if any Person shall suborn or procure any Person to commit Perjury in any such Examination, every such Person so offending, and being, thereof duly convicted, shall be and is hereby declared to be subject and liable to the like Pains and Penalties as are by Law inflicted upon Persons committing Perjury, or guilty of Subornation of Perjury.

IV. And be it further enacted, That this Act may be altered, amended or repealed, by any Act or Acts to be passed in this Session of Parliament.

V. And be it further enacted, That this Act shall remain and continue in force until the First Day of March Oue thousand eight hundred and fourteen, and no longer.

52. Geo. 3. cap. 16. 

20th March 1812: William Radcliffe's factory set alight in Stockport

William Radcliffe of Stockport was the inventor of a dressing machine which had served to facilitate the smoother working of power looms, which up until that point had proved to be a machine too problematic for general use. It was then arguably not coincidental that an attack on his business premises should herald the brief but spectacular course of Luddism in the North-west of England.

Radcliffe's factory-cum-warehouse stood on Higher Hillgate Street in the centre of Stockport. Between 2 and 3.00 a.m. on Friday 20th March, a large crowd of around 500 people had gathered outside it. Windows were smashed and 5 torches were thrown in in an attempt to burn down the premises. The crowd then dispersed.

At the same time as the windows were smashed, a woman who lived opposite was getting out of bed. She observed the torches being thrown into the building and wasted no time in raising the alarm, waking Radcliffe who lived in a house adjoining his factory. He summoned help and was able to extinguish the fire before it got out of control.Three large club-like sticks were found lying outside the building.

The following day, handbills offering a £200 reward were posted by Radcliffe, and with the help of a local (and soon to be notorious) solicitor John Lloyd and the Rector of Stockport, Charles Prescot (also a JP and Clerk to the Magistrates) Radcliffe sent a memorial to the Home Office requesting the issuing of a royal pardon for informants. Lloyds' covering letter dripped with the contempt he held for the situation of working people when he stated "every proper attention has been paid to the distresses of the weavers and measures taken for their alleviation - I did not expect gratitude neither could I anticipate violence."

Monday 19 March 2012

19th March 1812: Secret weavers meeting at Dawes Field, Bolton

At 9 p.m. on Thursday 19th March 1812, about 20 weavers from Bolton gathered in a field ('Dawes Field') belonging to Matthew Corr Dawes, a local brewer, for the purpose of a secret meeting.

For both William Rothwell & Noah France, two local weavers, it was their first visit to any such meeting. Upon arriving, they would have been hailed by 3 or 4 men at a distance from the main group, whose job it was to ask for a countersign or password. Having been invited along that night, Rothwell & France would have known the countersign was 'Bolton'.

The men were not to know at that time, but amongst them was a spy, a man called John Stones (aka Stones or /S/ in the reports provided to Colonel Ralph Fletcher), a member of the Bolton Local Militia. His role at this and subsequent meetings and what later occurred in the Bolton area in the Spring of 1812 is still the subject of much debate amongst historians. Indeed, there are at least 3 reports of what took place at this meeting, and all the accounts differ.

The most detailed account is the report provided by Stones himself  and taken down by Adjutant James Warr, another member of the Bolton Local Militia reporting back to Colonel Ralph Fletcher.

According to Stones, plans were laid out for the destruction of 4 factories in Little Bolton by arson. They were being targeted because of the presence of Steam Looms, although one of them had yet to have any installed. Nevertheless, the fact that the establishment planned to do so meant the factory was condemned to burn by those present. It was made clear that anyone who had cold feet would be killed (a violent threat that has, as we shall see later, the hallmark of Stones himself all over it). It was estimated that 26 men would be sufficient to complete the task, but the plans did not stop there. It was made clear that delegates had been in town the previous week from Manchester & Stockport and were to travel to Preston, in an effort to get the four areas to make simultaneous attacks on factories on the same evening at some point in future. The attacks would then culminate with the groups amalgamating to burn down the Mill at nearby Westhoughton.

According to Stones, 2 delegates from the meeting were to be sent to Manchester the following Sunday evening for 'instructions'. Each town had 6 people chosen to administer illegal oaths, and they each were given tickets to admit entry to meetings. Stones had been chosen to have such a ticket.

The planned date for the attacks on factories was to be kept secret until the night prior to the attack, but the night in question would most likely be one with a 'dark moon' and prior to the evenings becoming too short. The next 'new moon' was due on 18th April 1812.

The meeting was read a letter from a Mr Croney, who was travelling and administering illegal oaths. He had written from Nottingham in the last week and brought news that things were 'going on bravely' and that none of the Luddites had been caught (obviously not true).

The meeting agreed a resolution - that any Magistrate who apprehended anyone involved in attacking the factories would be killed by those sworn in and their house would be set alight.

Finally, Stones gave information on some of those present, confirming the names of a handful that he presumably had been introduced to or knew already. These men were:

Noah Gerard of Pilkington Houses
Mr Dewhurst of Pilkington Houses
Noah France of Dumar Street
Mr Rothwell of Slater Field
John Burkitt of Slater Field
Hugh Brown of Pilkington Houses
An un-named person that lived at 'Corner house'

Although Stones named only 7 people, and started his report saying 20 were present, it's not clear why there is this anomaly, unless others drifted away before the end. This would seem unlikely given the subject matter. But in his deposition given 7 months later, William Rothwell stated that 8 people in total were present, and corroborated the presence of Hugh Brown and John Burkitt (transcribed as 'Becket' in his deposition) as well of John Stones. Indeed, Becket/Burkitt had brought Rothwell to the meeting, having administered an illegal oath to him a few nights before.

But here the accounts of the meeting given by Noah France and William Rothwell diverge from Stones' report. France stated the topic of conversation was 'the badness of trade' and the 'mischief which steam looms did'. Rothwell states that Stones had a copy of a illegal oath with him at the meeting, and reported that he had a contact in Leyland whom he planned to pass this onto and who had related that the people there were 'ready for anything'.

Neither Rothwell nor France say anything about the plans to attack factories, or delegates from other towns, or the resolution passed according to Stones, and this may have been because their depositions were taken months later, and they didn't wish to incriminate themselves. This is understandable, but it doesn't help us to determine exactly what went on that night.

19th March 1812: A Luddite is apprehended at Mansfield

On Thursday 19th March, a man was apprehended at Mansfield for stealing a club-box. Under the questioning, the man admitted to being a Luddite and apparently confessed to knowledge of Luddite activities, giving names to the authorities, in particular, a man named Bull who had been involved in the breaking of frames belonging to a man called Shipley. The Luddite gave 30 names all told, of whom 9 were later taken into custody, with others escaping.

19th March 1812: An Ashton man overhears a conversation about oaths and a planned uprising

On Thursday 19th March 1812, Joseph Taylor of Hurst, near Ashton-under-Lyne, was standing near to his house watching the world go by. Across the way there was a labourer steadily building a wall and he noticed a man approach him and stop to talk.

Taylor was close enough to recognise the man as a local weaver, William Bardsley, and he could also hear their conversation:

"I though you would have been over the hills by this time, as you talked of when I last saw you?" said the labourer,

"I thought you would have been gone too, I haven't seen you for so long" replied Bardsley. Taylor assumed they meant Yorkshire.

"It's a wrong place for you to go into at this time, they seem to be very uneasy in that County"

"Aye, and it will be here before long!" said Bardsley

The labourer then asked Bardsley why he said that, and Bardsley related that two 'strange men' had come into his workshop in the last week. They had asked him how weaving was going, and would it not like it go better? Bardsley has said that he would, and they then the two asked if he would risk his life to make things better. The men said they wanted to 'twist in' local people who were interested in coming forward, and that hundreds of people in Stockport and Ashton had taken an oath. They talked about having a plan to seize the arms of the Local Militia.

Taylor was shocked. He felt it was his duty, as a Sergeant in the Middleton Local Militia, to go as soon as he could to the authorities to report what he had heard.

19th March 1812: Duke of Newcastle writes to the Home Office about the Assizes

March 19—1812.


When I left Nottingham yesterday every thing was quiet, with every appearance that it would remain so – But there can be no certainty in appearances, consequently they will not be attended to and the same measures will be continued which have been hitherto adopted.

There was no disposition to disturbance shewn during the Assizes except on one trifling occasion, when the first frame-breaking cause was terminated by sentencing the man to 14 yr. transportation, when the populace attempted to hustle two of the principle evidences for the prosecution as they went out of court—but the activity and energy of the Police quickly crushed any intention which they may have had.

I am most extremely happy to inform you that the misunderstanding between Genl. Hawker and Mr. Becher is now at an end – and I am in great hopes that our internal disagreements have had the good effect of shewing us the folly of them, and that propriety by the lessons which we have received we shall be more united for the good of the Public Service in future —

I have the honor to remain
Your obedt.
humble Servt


The Right Honble
Richard Ryder
&c &c &c

19th March 1812: The opening of Derby Lent Assizes

Unlike the local newspaper, the Derby Mercury, the Nottingham Review gave extensive coverage of the Derby Lent Assizes in the 27th March 1812 edition. The presiding Judge was Sir John Bayley, who had just conducted the Nottingham Lent Assizes. Indeed, Bayley had head the last case in Nottingham at 6.00 a.m. and proceeded to Derby the same day. The Nottingham Review set the scene with this introduction:
At this place, as well as at Nottingham, the Assizes were never attended by greater crowds of persons of every rank, nor were ever listened to with greater interest; we, therefore, attended every trial of import at both places, that we might put them circumstantially on record, as documents proper to be referred to on another day. And we here congratulate the county of Derby on the breaking up of one of the most formidable and dangerous gang of nightly depredators that has infested England for many years; a gang [illegible] and directed in their operations by a character worthy to be ranked with Jonathan Wilde, of the name of John England, who resided at a little stone house, the first on the right hand on entrance into Derby from the Nottingham road. The breaking up of this gang is chiefly to be attributed to Woodward and Newton, two active officers of Draycot, who have traced its baneful ramifications into the counties of Gloucester and Worcester. It is worthy of remark, that this gang was wholly made up of deserters, with the exception of England, who, as a brewer, labourer, and petty hukster, used every possible act to keep up the shadow of reputation, for the purpose of finding a cover for the rest. He never went out himself with his comrades to plunder, but always pointed out the object for their depredations; and his concubine (the wife of a person of the name of Matthew Bush, of Wessington, in Derbyshire, who was principal witness against one of the depredators in these important trials, and who was attempted to be seized as a deserter as he entered the hall.) provided them with caps, masks, and other things necessary to form a proper disguise. For these aids he used to have a share of the plunder; but at length he was too witty for himself.

19th March 1812: Judge Bayley writes to the Home Office about the outcome of Nottingham Lent Assizes


18 March, 1812

Dear Sir,

The Assizes here have finished, with the exception of one case for a threatening letter, to be tried—tomorrow morning. There have been two Acquittals, and as I think rightly, and the other persons have been found guilty of transportable offences, and some I have sentenced for l4 years, some for seven, but as you may perhaps wish to know something of the cases to exercise your Discretion upon them, I will notice them very shortly —

Wm. Carnell aged 22 & Jos. Maples aged 16} were both found guilty, and sentenced for 14 years: Carnell was the Leader and Director of a mob of 13 who broke into a House about 8 in the evening, and destroyed 7 frames—but he had the merit of protecting the occupier of the House, an old man of 70 from any personal violence; Maples called several witnesses to prove he was the whole evening a quarter of a mile off, and tho’ the Jury disbelieved them, I am not quite clear that the verdict was right. However, Maples was apprehended the next Night with a pistol about him.

Benjn. Poley aged l6 — pleaded guilty: and the particulars of his case were not detailed.

Benjn. Hancock aged 22 was proved to be a Ringleader where the mob amounted to above 1000, and many of them had arms, and where Frames to the Value of £400 were destroyed at one House: He had a very good character, but was clearly at the head of that outrage.

Gervas Marshal aged 17 Geo. Green aged abt. 22} were also found guilty as being of Hancock’s mob—They were probably drawn into the outrage, without considering the consequences—and Marshall and Green had very good characters. They were all however proved to have broken Frames, Marshall went into a Shop for the purpose the two others contributed to break them after they were thrown out of the shop window.

I shall adjourn the Assizes till the 5th of July, unless some of the persons in the Commission shall first come on given Days in April, May or June, and the Juries have been so far ready upon fair Cases to convict, and the Magistrates during the Assizes have behaved with so much vigilance that I think the spirit of outrage will not break out again. I may however be too sanguine.—I am [etc.]

J. Bayley

18th March, 1812

I have opened my letter to say that the Case upon the threatening letter terminated in an Acquittal, upon a variance, but I think it right to mention that it appeared in evidence that one of the witnesses, on the part of the prosecution had sent away from the Assizes yesterday a Servant in the House whom he knew the prisoner had been endeavouring to subpoena, and had it not been for the Acquittal it is very probable that conduct would have excited considerable indignation.

I enclose a note handed up to me by the Gaoler from Carnell, which shews that his spirit appears subdued. Of course I did not see the man, but desired him to make any Discovery he thought fit to the Gaoler or to Mr. Hobhouse.