Tuesday, 8 May 2012

8th May 1812: Lieutenant-General Maitland writes to the Magistrates, Boroughreeve & Constables of Manchester

Head Quarters
8th May 1812


On considering the subject of the short Conversation I had the pleasure to hold with you on Tuesday last, I shall not for a day or two, within which period I shall probably have the honor of hearing from His Majesty’s Secretary of State upon the Subject, enter into any general discussion of the Measures I conceive ought to be adopted, all over this part of the Country by every Individual possessed of Property for his own Protection, but limit, the few observations I now have the honor to submit to you, to the narrow View of giving an incipient degree of Organization to a large Body of Respectable Persons, who have been sworn in Special Constables of the Watch & Ward Bill.

At present and that indeed in any Situation such a Body must be of considerable utility is not to be denied, but it appears to me equally incontrovertible that its Service will be great or small exactly in proportion to its assuming a Degree of Organization rendering it more or less manageable and easy to be guided to give effective Aid.

With a view to obtaining then this Object I would propose for your consideration that the Special Constables already sworn in, be with the earliest Convenience classed in Divisions as may suit Situation and circumstance, of 100 or of 50 each.—I conceive that it would be of material Benefit should each Division select from its own Body, one person as its Head, that some Mark fixed & settled should be established, such as a Ribbon of a certain Colour round the Arm by which each Division might be distinguished.―That to each Division a Place of Assembly should be fixed, in the event of apprehension of any Tumult and that a Signal should be established by Ringing of Bells, Firing a Gun or Beating of Drums upon which the different Divisions were forthwith to assemble at their different Places of general Rendezvous, till they were called for to act by the Magistracy as might be necessary.—I do not mention the State of Armament they ought to be in tho’ I am sure this point will not escape your attention and consideration.—

In submitting the short Memorandum, I have limited myself to the Narrowest View of the Subject and I should not have taken the liberty of suggesting it had I not been convinced that it may be carried into effect without interfering with the Comforts or Convenience of Individuals, & that it must in all results have a tendency to give additional Security to this Great & Opulent City. —

Being upon this Subject I must beg leave however further to submit to your Consideration the Propriety of the Special Constables for a time at least Patroling round the Neighbourhood with the utmost Vigilance. This I do not mention as conceiving it necessary the general Protection so much as being the only means of effectually getting at stopping the new attempt, which I am happy to say has only appeared here in one solitary Instance to have recourse to what never before existed in our Country the atrocity of Assassination.—

With this View to I cannot help calling your notice to the Propriety of at least for a time employing a great number of Officers of Police than are at present kept on that Establishment.—

Were it possible by any exertion of the Military that these Attempts could be suppressed I certainly would not have urged these two last points but it appears to me perfectly clear the only Security we can have against this unfortunate Disposition is by enlarging the Police Establishment and by the vigilance of the People themselves―

I have [etc]

(Signed) Ths Maitland

To the
Borough Reve
Constables &

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

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