Wednesday, 4 July 2012

4th July 1812: Nottinghamshire solicitor William Woodcock asks the Home Office for instructions on the prosecution of Luddites

Mansfield July 4th 1812

My Lord

I beg leave to inform your Lordship that at the last Nottinghamshire Assizes Bills of Indictment were found against two persons of the names of William Fell and John Clarke for Misdemeanours in being riotously assembled with others for the purpose of Framebreaking at Sutton in Ashfield in this County to which Bills the Defendants pleaded not guilty. Their prosecutions with others in which I was employed as Solicitor were considered at the Expence of Government – In the month of March last George Spray was apprehended for framebreaking but in consideration of his having suffered much from a shot fired at him on his attempting to escape he was admitted to bail to appear at the ensuing Nottinghamshire Assizes and answer to a prosecution for a Misdemeanour only In the same month of March Joseph Falconbridge (a notorious Character) was committed to Nottingham Gaol for framebreaking.

I now request of your Lordship that I may be instructed whether his Majesty's Government will further proceed against Fell and Clarke and also if any proceedings are to be taken against Spray and Falconbridge at the approaching Nottinghamshire Assizes.

For your Lordship’s better Information I send here with Copies of Examinations of Witnesses against the persons above named besides which there is other corroborative Evidence – but I must remark your Lordship I have received undoubted Information that Robert Caunt the Witness against Falconbridge has lately been seduced away by the Associates of Falconbridge and intends not to appear to give Evidence although himself and two Sureties are under Recognizance for his appearance &c

I have [etc]
Wm Woodcock

[To] The Right Honble
Viscount Sidmouth

This letter can be found at HO 42/125.

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