Sunday, 6 May 2012

6th May 1812: Colonel Ralph Fletcher writes to the Home Office with the latest news about prisoners

Bolton 6 May 1812

Dear Sir

An apology is due for not having more fully answered your letter of the 2d instant respecting the Testimony of private Informants—but the incessant call upon my time both in my civil & military Capacity must be my excuse.

I am happy to be able to acquaint you that all the Witnesses whose Names are subscribed to the Depositions Copies of which have been sent from hence may be called upon to give their Testimony. Our main Informants have been hitherto kept in the Back Ground—and our promises not to bring them forwards, has hitherto been faithfully kept—For fear however of exposing our most confidential Informants we have been under the necessity of admitting several persons concerned to Bail—the Names of these are Oliver NicholsonRobert WaddingtonJohn Dewhurst and Richard Charlton—the first of these was Treasurer – but when it would have been difficult to commit – as he had left the meeting to go to the Factory in Westhoughton on the Night of the 19th ultimo to reconnoitre;—and was not therefore under the Observation of those of our Confidants who attended at that meeting―the 3 others – by the Evidence of S – might have been committed – but we thought it better to admit all four to Bail — rather than betray S — which I trust will meet your approbation.

Yesterday I was sent for by Lieutenant General Maitland to Manchester – who wished for my Information as to the State of the Country – which is far as regarded military objects was given to him.

There have been no Riots or Tumults for the several days past — and the spirit of the Disaffected appear to be very flat since the apprehendings which have lately taken place;—but I lament the continuous advance of the Price of Provisions which in the two articles of Oatmeal & Potatoes is nearly double what is usual. This is the most melancholy part of the Subject — and the Distresses consequent upon it are & must be very great until it shall please Heaven by a plentiful Harvest – to relieve them.

If you shall wait for any further particulars as to what the Witnesses can provide Messrs Stoner & Ravald (Clerk the Magistrates here and who prepared & sent you the Copies,) will reexamine them – and either they or I can transmit what may further appear upon such reexamination, for your Information.

Your Communication respecting Mr Charles Chaddock came to Hand by this Post. I am anxious for the Names of the murderers that are said to reside in this Town – not doubting but that they will turn out to be some of those implicated in the late Outrages— and who have planned future Assassinations.

In Consequence of an Information sworn to at Manchester yesterday—by one Clayton a private in the Cumberland militia – purporting his having been sworn in to become a Luddite by one William Burney of Bolton presence of John Burney – we gave direction to the Local to arrest both William & John. John only is taken, William fled as early as the 26 Ultimo—We are now sending John a Prisoner to the New Bayley – to be examined there as Clayton the Witness is at the New Bayley. The Revd Mr Hay will examine the witnesses & from him you will hear what may be done in that Business―

I remain
Dear Sir
Yours very sincerely
Ra: Fletcher

[To] John Beckett Esqr

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

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