Sunday, 15 July 2012

15th July 1812: The Home Secretary receives a letter which raises concerns about General Grey's sympathies


15th July 1812. —

If Mr. Whitbread’s Speeches are attended to, Hardy has the power of preventing the strongest measures being taken for the suppression of Rebellion in this part of Yorkshire, it will very soon be too late to check it: what I hear and see, nothing less than Martial Law will stop it; a Village a Mile and a half from hence was attack’d last night, ten Houses broken open, 8 Guns taken from the Inhabitants, and one fired into through the Windows, & Sir George Armytage, who lives in the Village, examined the Houses this Morning, and in one found Bullets that had been fired at the Master, and as these Luddites were going off, they were overheard consulting whether they should not go to Sir George's, but considering it too near morning, deferred it ‘till another more favorable opportunity.—Eight men were committed to York Castle on Sunday by Mr. Radcliffe. A Corporal now on confinement belonging to a Regiment of Local Militia, declares 600 men of that Militia are sworn Luddites, that there are more does not admit of a doubt.—St Fr. Burdett's and Mr. Whitbread Speeches encourage them, and disgust the Magistrates, who are serving the Country without Emolument, & at the risk of their lives.—It is very well for such a man as Mr. Whitbread, who does not live within 150 Miles of a Manufacturing Country, but in a peaceable County, to say Magistrates are cowardly & pusillanimous (or words to that effect) that are surrounded by Rebels, and their lives threatened daily; as I do not act as a Magistrate myself, it is not on my own account I make the remark, but in defence of those Gentlemen, who I know devote the whole time, night & day, for the good of the Country; should they decline acting, then the Country would be in a much worse than it is.

Mr. Wilberforce was right in saying the Bill proposed by Lord Castlereagh did not go far enough, & in my opinion, nothing less than Martial Law will be of use, the business is too well organized, & too far gone for half measures to suppress Rebellion.—The Troops are harassed Night & Day, and cannot do more than occasionally take up a few men, most of whom now in York Castle, I am told, will escape, and none capitally convicted. I know I am surrounded with Luddites, but cannot accuse any Individuals of being so.

The Reason of my writing this letter, is from supposing you may have Interviews with Ministerial People, and that you might take an opportunity of pointing out to them the necessity of the most immediate strong measures being adopted, and not to pay attention to what Mr. Whitbread says.—I have no doubt if General Grey, the Brother in Law of Mr. Whitbread, and who commands in Yorkshire, was applied to, he would allow Mr. Whitbread was mistaken.—

I am &c

This letter can be found at HO 42/125. It is not clear who wrote this letter, since it is a copy of the original and bears no signature.

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