Tuesday, 17 July 2012

17th July 1812: Gravenor Henson writes to Nottingham about the way forward with the Framework-knitters Bill

1812. July 17


Dr Sir

I have no doubt but the Trade at Nottingham are in a great State of Agitation at the Resolution of the Committee of the House of Commons to report that the Clauses which relate to the Hosiery should be withdrawn from the Bill; I think you have been too precipitate in calling a general Meeting of the Trade and that they in the temper of disappointment have resolved rather too hastily to withdraw the Bill altogether; Parliament have a number of Maxims that they act upon, which in the main are very erroneous, this is not confined to the Ministry, but is as much the foible and more of the Opposition than them

Sir Francis Burdett told us that Parliament never interfered with Disputes between Masters and Workmen; but the maxim of Parliament was to ratify agreements between them. He told us roundly that if the Masters opposed us that he should us, our Bill; Sir Francis did not attend to support us but left the House and we have every reason to believe he spoke his own opinion Mr Whitbread, Mr Brougham, Mr Tracey and many of the Leading Members gave us to understand the same, it is the ministerial Side of the House that is the advocates of our Bill: We have been to Mr Hume and Mr D Giddy this morning and have succeeded in a great measure to remove to the grand objection not to interfere in Trade

You must be convinced as well as myself how important it is under such Circumstances to have a Precedent, whereon to Act, The Lace Manufacturers are willing to adopt every Clause of the Bill as far as it relates to them that is Prohibition, Schedules, Rack and Search when the Evidence of the Hosiers is printed you will then see that this is indeed a Victory as from the Nature of their Evidence if their testimony and objections are unfounded in the Practice as we all here know it will, they must never face Parliament again We are not beat by the Hosiers, we are beat by time. If there are had been an Opportunity to have given further evidence, we should beyond all doubt have obtained our Bill and shall we miss the glorious Opportunity of having a precedent acted upon in the Trade by the Consent of one Part of the Masters, which will surely enable us to obtain the Bill next Sessions, till when if the Union of the Trade is kept up [we] shall certainly be a Match for them;

Mr Hume and several other Memb[ers] told them positively if they did not adopt some stable Regulations among themselves he should give his Support to any Bill brought forward next Sessions I can assure you they are very humble; The Bill for the Lace will have the Schedules annexed to it; and will be read a third time to night We think of going thro' Banbury Hinkley, Leicester, Loughborough, Sheepshead, Melbourn and Derby, I shall go to Tewkesbury and join them at Derby, from whence we shall all come to gether to Nottingham I am not, none of us are in the least discouraged, altho' they have by a manouvre got a Year of us, Yours

G Henson.

[Addressed to:] Mr T. Roper . . . Nottingham.

This letter can be found in the Records of the Borough of Nottingham, vol.8, 1800-1835 (pp.160-161).

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