Sunday, 6 May 2012

6th May 1812: William Hay informs the Home Office about threatening letters from North Wales

Police Office Manchester 6 May 1812


I have the honor to inform you that the Information against three more rioters at Mr. Burton's premises are directed to be transmitted to you by tonights post. The parties are all committed to Lancaster.

I feel it proper the Government should be made acquainted with the following circumstances. There are very extensive Cotton Works carried on Holywell in Flintshire, under the firm of the Holywell Twist company. The proprietors have a Warehouse in Manchester, and the partners Mr. Douglas & some others live at & near Manchester—Yesterday by the Post Mr. D received a letter of which the following is a copy with the Post mark of Holywell upon it – “Sir if you do not advance the wages of all your workmen at Holywell, you shall have all your mills burned to the ground immediately – it is harder upon many of us here and upon those who receive parish relief – we are starving by inches by reason of our small wages & provisions so high. You had better be content with a moderate profit, than have your mills destroyed. You know how it is with Burton & Goodier & many others, it will be the same with you in a few days, if you do not advance all hands – All the Miners and Colliers are ready to join us – 3000 men can be collected in a few hours

The poor cry aloud for bread
Prince Regent shall lose his head
And all the rich who oppress the poor
In a little time shall be no more

Take care you be not in the number of the oppressors we cannot wait but a very few days, we are all ready for blood of bread, any thing is better than starving by inches.”

By the same post which brought the above, a letter was received by the proprietors in Manchester containing a copy of one received with the Holywell Post mark, & addressed to Mr. G. Platt who is one of the Principal servants at the before mentiond mill

“Sir, We cannot live with the wages we have – unless all hands are advanced the mills shall be burned to the ground immediately - the miners & colliers are all ready to join - 3000 men may be called to join us in a very short time — We can also send for Bolton & Middleton mob to come. We have proper direction to some other leaders. Letters have been received thereupon lately. We are all read for blood or bread – anything is better than starving by inches as we do, rely upon it.”

Then follow the four lines before written, with the Addition of the two following

“With deep regret, I write these things,
They'll contest pass in spite of kings—

N.B. A copy of these lines in the same handwriting was taken from the Window shutters of Mr. Jones Junr. last week.

By the same letter came a copy of a Hand Bill taken from the wall of a house in Chapel Street Holywell, & more of the same were pasted up.

“Come brave boys, & make ready your arms, pikes & pitchforks to upset the rich tyrants of the land and grind the face of the poor, such as Mr. Thos Mostyn, Sir Pyerce, Pennant and many others too numerous to mention, have tribled the rents of the farmers, the poor the sufferers.”

The foregoing particulars had been communicated by me to General Maitland & in another quarter where I hope there may be some chance of detecting the writer—All the papers are in the same handwriting—

I beg leave also to add, as the view to ascertain whence this revolutionary Spirit proceeds, that Mr Leigh Phillips, (whose brother Mr Fras Phillips is now in London on Parliamy business) has this morning recd a letter from his brother in London; wherein he says that on 4th of May he had spoken with Mr. Howard the son of Col. Howard of Baltimore, who left Paris 5 days before; & who said “that in that place the Manchester riots were better understood than in London”—Messrs Phillips & Hardman were obliged to go to the House of Coms which prevented further conversation at the time —

Of this we may probably hear more tomorrow; but I thought it better to send up such circumstances as have occurred, nearly in the order in which they have done so.

I have the honor to be, Sir,
with great respect,
Your faithful & obedient humble servant
William Robert Hay

The Right Hon. Richd Ryder
One of Hs Mjs princ. Secs of State &c &c

PS — I find on inquiry that at the Holywell works the wages are as high as at Manchester – they have never heard a murmur or complaint from their people respecting wages, till the notice above written – their works, with the exception of 6 or 8 are worked by Welch people. Mr. Thos. Mostyn has notice of the handbill—


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

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