Monday, 23 April 2012

23rd April 1812: Birmingham Magistrates provide their last report to the Home Office on the disturbances

Public Office, Birmingham, Thursday, April 23rd. 1812.


Resuming our Narrative from 2 o’Clock yesterday, when we dispatched our last Letter. About half an Hour after that time the Crowd increasing considerably and the People not going off to their Workshops, as we expected, but some halloeing & throwing DeadCats & a few Stones by which means some Windows were broken & complaints made to us from the Inhabitants of the danger to which they were thereby exposed; two of us, accompanied by a few Scots Greys, some special & other Constables, & about 20 Infantry with Arms, went into the midst of them, but many fled away at our approach, we judged it right however then to have the Proclamation in the Riot Act read, which, after a short address to the People, was done, at half past Two exactly, & we then ordered the Cavalry to clear the Streets, staying ourselves with them till 3 o'Clock, &, having secured a few of the most troublesome, we thought it best to retire, leaving the Military & the Constables to Keep the Streets clear & to take up any Persons who might appear to deserve it.—We then issued the Hand Bill with the words “Riot Act” at top, having before dispersed a considerable number of the large one commanding all Persons to keep the Peace, and between 4 & 5 o'Clock, finding all quiet, called in both the Military & the Constables. At Five we sent Patroles of Military to all the different Avenues of the Town to prevent the evil disposed from getting into the Country as they had done the night before, and those Patroles were Kept up till 11 o'Clock.—At 7, finding that the assemblage was again encreasing in the Marketplace, we ordered the Military & the Constables to go out, and Two of us went with them, by which means the Persons coming from their work were prevented from stopping, and no damage was done: by 11 o'Clock all was again quiet, the Military sent to Quarters & Barracks & no mischief done either in Town or Country.

This (Thursday) being Market Day, it was thought right to send the Patroles again, at 6 o'Clock in the Morning, to the Outskirts of the Town, lest Persons coming to Market should be insulted.—The special as well as other Constables, were also sent into the Market, at 9 o'Clock, to protect the Farmers selling Potatoes, & one of the Constables, who had called on most of the Farmers in the Neighbourhood to persuade them to bring Potatoes, engaged a considerable Quantity which were brought in & sold at a fair & moderate, but not at a reduced, price, which would only tend to encrease the consumption & of course the scarcity.—

(½ past 2.)

The Dinner Hour of the Workmen having now completely past over, the Populace in the Market place decreasing, and no appearance of Disturbance shewing itself, we close our Letter with a confident Hope that the Disposition to riot is gradually dying away.—

We have the Honour to be
Your mo. Obed. hble Servt.

Wm Villers
Wm Hicks
Wm Hamper
W Withering

The Right Hon: the Secretary of State.

This letter can be found at HO 42/122.

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