Wednesday, 2 May 2012

2nd May 1812: William Hay informs the Home Office about the preparation of arms in Manchester

Police Office Manchester 2d May 1812.


I have the honor to inform you that the night of the 1st of May has passed over without any general outrage - a great number of strangers resorted to the town yesterday whose intentions we could scarcely doubt, but they proceeded to no violence in the town; and we understand that the arrival of Military has had a great effect on the disaffected already and that has probably occasioned the flight of very many from their homes, who are afraid of being apprehended. Of course from the same cause which has created apprehension in them, the informations against offenders will increase. We hope by tonights post to send you copies of such informations as may have been taken here in cases where the commitments have been to Lancaster or Chester - It being intimated to us that Government propose that special commissions should be issued for the purpose of trying the rioters. We are sorry to find that instances of partial outrage are very frequent which we trust by the hearty cooperation of householders, supported as it now is by the presence of the troops will in time be got the better of. In the night of 30th of April 7 men attacked a house in which a quiet and inoffensive man lived - 2 stood at the outside, 5 went in - all armed they throttled the man in bed – stood over him with pistols threatening him in the most horrid manner - his house was robbed of every thing excepting the wearing apparel of himself & daughter. Last night in the same township, at Rodin Lane & Rainsal 6 weavers houses were entered — the work stolen out of the looms — these people entered by the cellar windows.

We inclose a representation of the Spear or Halberd mentioned in a former letter; it is but imperfectly drawn, but is sharp in all its points. It is to be used for cutting & dragging men from their horses in different directions - the pattern is said to have come from Sheffield, and a man who lived in Newton lane made some - who this man was is not decidedly known but from the circumstances of a search having been made for arms in that neighbourhood and the immediate absconding of a blacksmith, there is reason to believe that he may be the person; & this more particularly, as we can not hear of any other Smith in that neighbourhood. This instrument is fixed to staves of different lengths, from 2 to nine feet long. The sticks have a sort of Spike at the bottom of the Ferrill, that Spike takes off, and into the vacant Hole is inserted the Spike the bottom of the Instrument. We have thought it right to order copies of the Act against taking illegal oaths to be printed & published - i.e. the three leading clauses, in order that the unwary may be put upon their guard.

It is said that an instrument has been prepared with 5 or more points, which is affixed to cords or chains which are to go across the Streets. This is to be used to annoy the horse who may in pursuit be driven against them.

The inclosed copy of an Oath has been delivered to us — it is in the same spirit & expression as those formerly sent, and seems only to apply to those who enlist. vide A.

Thus far I have written with the knowledge & and approbation of Col. Sylvester & Mr. Wright – but I have annexed the Copy of an Extract since received in an extract from a letter from Mag. Clarke of which I consider to be of importance - marked B.

I have [etc]
WR Hay

This letter can be found at HO 40/1/1.

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