Friday, 11 May 2012

11th May 1812: Saddleworth's 'suspicious character' taken before a magistrate

On 16th May 1812, the Leeds Mercury's Huddersfield correspondent again reported on the 'suspicious character' who had been apprehended on 5th May.

The report, dated 14th May, said that the man had been brought before a magistrate on Monday 11th May, and was due to undergo a final examination on the 15th. It also revealed that he "appears to be a notorious character, and has been up before the Mayor of Nottingham on a similar charge".

In the Joseph Radcliffe archive, there is a letter from a George Wilson which is undated, but would have been written after 12th April, which seems to have some inside knowledge of the affair at Rawfolds. Indeed, it is the only source for the information that Halifax Luddites had failed to show up at Rawfolds Mill. The letter had been intercepted by John Harrop, a manufacturer at Dobcross, who suspected Wilson - a Nottinghamshire man - of being a Luddite. Harrop wrote two letters to Joseph Radcliffe, which are also in the Radcliffe archive, detailing his suspicions and contact he had had with Wilson.

It's highly likely that Wilson was the 'suspicious character' that the Mercury alludes to.

The documents are in the Radcliffe papers 126/32.

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