Friday 31 August 2012

31st August 1812: Arms raid & shots fired at Brighouse

Between 11.00 p.m. and midnight in the evening of Monday 31st August, Luddites launched raids at Brighouse in the West Riding.

At Thornhill, 3 houses were raided for arms by 40 Luddites, and 4 guns taken from them.

At 2.00 a.m. on the 1st September at Brighouse itself, shots from a blunderbuss and other weapons were fired into the home of a Mr Waddington, a corn-miller. Seven bullets were found lodged in his bedroom ceiling, with a musket being discharged into his parlour. The Luddites had managed to avoid a patrol of soldiers that had just passed by.

31st August 1812: The Stockport solicitor, John Lloyd, informs the Home Office of his breakthrough with John Hinchliffe

31 August 1812


It is with much satisfaction I inform you that John Schofield was this day committed by Mr. Scott to York Castle under Lord Ellenbro's Act for being present at aiding &c the shooting at Jno Hinchliffe the Examinations relating to which outrage, taken before the same Justice the day after the commission of it, I find, will copied & transmitted by that magistrate to you, & are referred to in the short Examination of Hinchliffe taken to day — a copy of which & also of the Examination, which the Prisr gave voluntarily, I shall sent here with. In the former Examinations Hinchliffe has foreborne to fix upon the Prisoner, Schofield, as one of the men — and this I find was a caution which fear alone occasioned — nor can I wonder at it when I contemplate the state of the country and the remote situation of Hinchliffe's House which I visited yesterday — To the removal of that fear and dread and to the promises which I gave him of protection by the Law if he told the truth and did his duty to the public, must be attributed the confidence with which he has now spoken of Schofield being one of the identical persons concerned; and happy for the Country; I hope it is, that he has. — I have an additional fact, collected at Holmfirth yesterday Evening, which may be important — I allude to Blythe’s statement upon which I have obtained a Warrant from Mr Scott against Battye and Thulas — and without any confession from Schofield we may be able to get a knowledge of the other man — we have all been very cautious with Schofield & have taken care not to affect our case against him.

Genl. Maitland was present at the Examination this forenoon — and there was a Justice of the name of Wood a Clergyman, who wished Mr. Scott to postpone the Commitment to York till the Secretary of State shold be consulted, but, as there appeared sufficient grounds to commit at once, I urged him to do so, undertaking to explain every thing to you — and I shall be happy if I know I have your approbation in what I have done — & shod be glad if you enable me to convince Mr. Scott of his having acted properly — I thought I discovered the motive of Mr Wood, who is the visiting magistrates I suppose of the Gaol — but as this is only conjecture I may be going too far to state it — however, you are not likely to blame me urging a Commitment to York without a direct solicitation or a hope encouraged for the Prisr to be come King’s Evidence — the case can never made so strong against the other man as it is now again Schofield

I have [etc]

J Lloyd

J. Beckett Esquire
Under Secy of State &c

31st August 1812: General Maitland tells the Home Office that Fear is the key to success against the Luddites

31st August

My dear Sir

I this morning received Your’s, Lloyd’s information is correct as to the fact of the Oaths of Allegiance taken at Stockport, but not one of them Stockport Men, they all came from the Country, and that part of the Country. I have so frequently alluded to, indeed it is most material there should be no misunderstanding upon this Subject.

The numbers that have come in have been induced by Fear, and Fear alone, in fact whenever we seized any of their Heads that moment they begin to come in, and not till then, and of this I have the most clear and distinct Proof. It is very difficult to get at them from the Magistrates Clerks, but the return of those coming in, who have already been sworn is fast increasing, in fact, in that part of the Country where there has been real Military Exertion the Thing it over, and if we can set it agoing here in the same Way we will soon get rid of it.

Upon this Head I am happy to tell you that I think tomorrow or next day we will be able to commence at Barnsley, and I have at present great hopes we shall be able to lay hold of at least 6 or 8 of the Ringleaders, if we succeed in this, it will be a great Thing.

Schofield is just committed, to York Jail for trial, and the information is complete as far as one unimpeachable Evidence goes.

I have just received this moment a letter from Lawson, he is to be at Liverpool the 3rd and I shall send Acland to see him.

I shall be at Sheffield tomorrow about the Barnsley business, and shall write to you.

Mr. Scott who committed Schofield had some previous communication with your department upon the Subject, but on thorough consideration he judged it right to commit at once, if any use can be made of him otherwise, it is of course still open should it be deemed expedient.

T Maitland

[To] John Becket Esqr.
&c &c &c

31st August 1812: The Stockport solicitor writes to the Home Office about his spies and informers & suspects John Bent

31st August 1812


I have to beg your pardon if not sooner answering yours of the 26th –

The people continue to flock to my Office to take the oath of allegiance but at the time I left home I understood from my Clerks that the Inhabitants of Stockport formed no part of what had then been; of course Genl Maitland will explain the mistake which seems to have been made — as to our correspondence — There is no doubt however of its becoming very general — & I will venture to promise that in a few days we set it a going at Huddersfield — for we have obtained abundance of materials to act upon.

Your request of having the Instances of persons returning to their allegiance made public was anticipated, for I wrote paragraphs, for the papers the day before your wishes were known to me and I find Genl Maitland has done the same —

(1) I find from talking with the Clergyman at Holmfirth yesterday that his opinion is that the Luddites are afraid to come forward under the Act of Grace (if I may so term it from the provision it contains) because they are not indemnified in respect to their stealing arms — but I endeavoured to remove the obstacle by desiring him to assure some one Individual of a pardon from Offences even of that nature so that he made an ample disclosure — & told him if the Delinquent informed of two capital felonies he wou’d be intitled to his Pardon — that the promise cou’d not be extended — and he must induce some one to embrace the offer as early as possible

Extract 2 (with respect to the Letter from Ireland it appears to have been written by James or Jno Bent whom Yarwood mentioned as Treasurer of the Disaffected and Knight appears to be a relation to Knight that is one of the 38 at Lancaster (the 38 bundles of Blue) immediately returned — I do not know whether Whitaker did not mention Bent also. They are right about Yarwood being still at Middlewich. Pray what must I do with him, he is in prison he is no longer, I conceived, of any use — William Cooper alias Strapper, is a man whom I employed at Newton & he was instrumental in convicting Daniel Garside of being privy to an unlawful oath adminsd to Cooper, and in convicting Joseph Thomas Schofield of inciting a felony, for which the latter was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment — the former of course transported). I sent Cooper into Shropshire after the trials at Chester to be out of the way of their vengeance but I think such men wou’d be very useful here — not that they wou’d again trust a stranger — but still a stranger cou’d observe the motions. I am already making some of them useful —

Wou’d you have any thing done with Bent

Your faithful & obedient St

J Lloyd

[To] J.Beckett Esqre &c &c &c

[Written vertically in the: “there is evidence in my office to fix some of the 38 returned — I suppose it must be done"]

31st August 1812: John Hinchliffe implicates John Schofield in his shooting

Since giving his initial deposition to West Riding magistrates on 23rd July, the day after he was shot, John Hinchliffe had now decided that he now knew who one of the men was.

The Stockport solicitor, John Lloyd, had 'persuaded him' to identify a man who was already suspected, John Schofield. Lloyd had essentially abducted Hinchliffe by removing him to a private residence, ostensibly 'for his own safety'. But since he was outside of legal custody, Lloyd could effectively do what he liked with him. There is no doubt that he subjected him to an interrogation, but it is not possible to know what went on beyond that. We do know that General Maitland had previously expressed his discomfort about Lloyd's methods, and that Lloyd's letters to the Home Office are full of dark hints.

On Sunday 30th August, Lloyd travelled to Holmfirth to talk to Constable Blythe. He found out from Blythe that Hinchliffe had connections to the Luddites: Blythe recounted a meeting between himself, Hinchliffe and two other men at his house on Sunday 19th July. One of the men, John Thulas, told Hinchliffe to 'give over following the Luddites' and pay attention to what the parson at the Church said in his sermons. Hinchliffe left, and Blythe then told the men that what Hincliffe had told him 'would hang both him and John Schofield'. The other man present, Abraham Battye, then left without saying anything.

Blythe now told Lloyd that he suspected Battye had gone more or less straight to relate the tale to Schofield, for the following morning at 6.00 a.m., Schofield visited Hinchliffe, asking him what he had said to Blythe. Two days later, Hinchliffe was shot.

On Monday 31st August, Schofield denied to Lloyd he had been involved, though in the same deposition, he did admit to meeting Hinchliffe on the 20th July, and asking him what he had said to Blythe.

Lloyd then presented his new knowledge to Hinchliffe. No doubt he laboured long and hard on him that he knew he was involved with the Luddites, and spelled out to him what that could mean for him. Despite saying previously that he did not recognise his assailants, that day, he signed the following deposition:
the former Examination he gave to Joseph Scott Esqr. on the 23d July and now read over is true and he further saith that from the observations which he made of one of the men whom he has alluded to in that Examination he has no doubt whatever of John Schofield the younger (the prisoner now in custody) being the man called him up and afterwards had hold of him at the Door and fled upon the hearing of the Horse for, he is very well acquainted with the Prisoner’s Voice having been much in his Company when the Prisoner has been learning to sing and he thought at the time he was called to that it was the voice of Schofield the Prisoner that did call — and when he came to see his person he thought it the person of Schofield — It was quite the shape of him — and he got a sight of part of his face & he thought it like the face of Schofield

31st August 1812: The Stockport solicitor, John Lloyd, informs the Home Office of his methods of intimidating suspects

Rather private


In the Case against the murderer of Horsfall & other Depredators committed to York I have obtained a material piece of Information, which, if the Zeal of Mr. Radcliffe the Justice has not marred, I shall avail myself of here — but the doubt I have is that Mr. R. has been taking some steps upon the same Information which was ultimately laid before him — & now if I make any thing out of the Witnesses it must be by suddenly taking them up & running away with them to a distance; a measure I shall certainly take the responsibility of doing, and therefore I am not asking your advice but informing you of the resolution I have formed

I find Mr. Scott valuable Justice — I fear Mr. R. talks too much – He is very resolute & independent and has other good qualities to recommend him — But if I ventured to act without consulting him I am sure to obtain his reprobation in return for my good opinion of him

Your faithful
& obedient

J Lloyd

[To] J Beckett Esqr

[31st August 1812]

31st August 1812: Handbill offering Pardon of Illegal Oaths posted in Manchester area

Wednesday 29 August 2012

29th August 1812: Arms raid at Skircoat, near Halifax

In the night of Saturday 29th August 1812, the house of a man called Haigh at Skircoat, near Halifax was visited by a group of Luddites who took 3 weapons from him.

29th August 1812: The Stockport Solicitor, John Lloyd, takes John Hinchliffe into private custody

29 August 1812


By a particular mode of Examination which I made use of in this neighbourhood where I have met with Hinchliffe, (the person shot at nether Thong), I have now prevailed over Hinchliffe to identify Schofield as one of the two men are concerned that outrage – I have been at Wakefield & have seen Schofield in the House of Correction there but have foreborn to say any thing to him. On my return I waited after Mr. Scott the magistrate who has fixed Monday for the Examination at Wakefield & has requested me to attend which I certainly shall & go through with it to the best of my ability — The Case from all the facts which I can collect from Exams in Mr. Scott’s possession & the last Examination of Hinchliffe taken in writing makes the Case extremely strong against Schofield, and there is not the smallest doubt as to a committal to York on Thursday upon a Case sufficient for Trial—

This shall be reported to you from Wakefield by the Monday’s Mail

The commitment will create a considerable sensation in this neighbourhood.

Mr. Scott informed me of the correspondence with you — & he appears well satisfied with what we have to lay before him as Evidence against Schofield —

Hinchliffe is now safe at a Gentlemen's House in this neighbourhood not to be seen by any except myself and Mr. Allison the Solr of this place — I found him extremely reluctant occasioned by the fear he was under for his own safety, & I have taken pains to give him confidence —

I have [etc]


[To J. Beckett Esqr]

29th August 1812: General Maitland reports that 600 Luddites have taken the Oath of Allegiance at Stockport

29th August

My dear Sir

I am happy to say the Spirit of coming in still prevails, about 600 confessions have been taken at Stockport alone and they cannot go on fast enough with them as Crowds are flocking in still

I this Morning learnt that it was extending itself to Oldham and that some few of the Arms stolen had been placed the night before last, at the Doors of the Houses from which they had been previously taken. All this is extremely favorable if we can only keep it moving, but the want of intelligence here is particularly incredible, when they do get it, I fear they do not make the [most] use of it

I have little doubt however on the whole by pursuing same plan we did in Cheshire that we will in a month get among them. indeed this day, I have received some favorable informations from Sheffield that leads me to think we may be able shortly to get hold of some of them at Barnsley & its Neighbourhood

With a View to make it as Public as I could I inserted yesterday the enclosed in the Leeds Mercury, a very mischievous Paper universally read among them, & shall continue doing every thing in my power not to keep the Thing quiet for that is doing nothing, but to get rid of it.

I have kept this open to the last moment in hopes of hearing further information but I must close it and request you to keep this for me as I have no Copy of it—

T Maitland

I have just heard of the miserable acquital of the 38 at Lancaster—

[To] JB &c

29th August 1812: "How long this is to continue, we cannot tell"

The Saturday 29th August 1812 edition included a desperate-sounding article from their Huddersfield correspondent about the situation in the town:
We have now upwards of 1000 Soldiers in this town—the Publicans are very much distressed to accommodate them. There are only about 33 Public-houses in the town, so that each house has, on an average, upwards of 30 soldiers. How long this is to continue, we cannot tell.
 As Brooke & Kipling point out (1993, p.32), under the law, publicans were obliged to provide straw, candles, food and drink to the troops billeted there, and rarely received payment that was sufficient to cover costs.

29th August 1812: Extensive movements of troops around England

The Leeds Mercury of  Saturday 29th August 1812 reported on extensive recent and future troops movements around the disturbed Counties of the Midlands and North of England:
We have to announce the following military movements:—the Cumberland Militia has marched from Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield to Hull. The West Kent are on their rout from Leeds to Nottingham. The Royal Denbigh arrived yesterday in this place from Hull. The Somerset Militia are on the march from Nottingham to Leeds, and are expected to arrive on Monday. The Carlow Militia from Hull, will march into this place next Wednesday. The Out-Quarters of Bradford, Halifax, and Huddersfield will be occupied by the Suffolk and Norfolk regiments. The South Hants marched from Wakefield to Colne, &c. In Lancashire on Tuesday, and on the day following were replaced by the North Lincoln Militia from Liverpool. The 23d Light Dragoons marched on Tuesday last from the Metropolis for this district. Four troops of the Blues, consisting of about 300 men, have marched from Manchester to be embarked on foreign service. The Bays and the 15th Regiment of Hussars now quartered in this Riding have not yet received their rout.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

28th August 1812: General Maitland reports Luddites from Lancashire & Derbyshire taking the oath of Allegiance

28th August

My dear Lord

I this morning had the honor to receive Your’s of the 26th and should not trouble You to day there being no Post, were I not sure it would give you great satisfaction to know that the Spirit which has manifested itself at Mottram is beginning to extend. I understand about 40 yesterday from the Neighbourhood of Ashton made their confessions at Manchester, and I understand too many have gone out of the corner of Derbyshire to Chapel Le Frith for the same purpose.

It is sincerely to be hoped, that the present Spirit may be kept up, it is the only sure and pleasant Mode of getting rid of the whole Thing and you may rely upon it, that no exertions on my part shall be wanting to keep it a going


Your’s My Dr Lord

T Maitland

[To] Lord Viscount Sidmouth
& &c &c

28th August 1812: The hated Huddersfield Manufacturer, Francis Vickerman, sends information to General Acland

General Ackland


I hope you have got your Confidential men so aranged that the Rebels May be Found out. I Shall mention a few Names that are believed to be Rebels and it might be best for your men to get acquainted with Soon as posable. John Walker lives at Salford nr. Lockwood a Journeyman Cloth Dresser he his a private in the Local Militia. Benj Walker Sames Place & Trade. James Armitage, Samuel Armitage, Thomas Smith, Mowbrey Farnis at Taylor hill all Cloth Dressers, Some of those are Oftence at the Publick houses in Lockwood and a great many more of the Same kind. If your men Could get to have Conversation with those that Act as Deligates or Swearers In, and give them to Understand that they could have nearly all the Militia to join in the Rebellion. by this to get to know their Strength Places for Meeting Depot for Arms &c &c. Do not leave those Men to their Own Judgement, but you or your Officers to Corispond with them and If one Mate will not take to get them another, it would have been very Easey to got hold of them If no thing had took place at Holmfirth. Should be glad If the Watch & Ward act was put in forse. I Suppose you will have heard that the Rebels Atacked two places in the Neighbourhood of Huddersd last Week. Should be glad to have a few words with you respecting the Shooting of Mr. Horsfall. Might not twoday the Market day be a proper time at the George Inn In Huddersfield. In Hast I am Honoured Sir Your

Most Obdt Servt

Augt 28 1812
Taylor hill Nr. Huddersd

Francis Vickerman

Monday 27 August 2012

27th August 1812: The trial of the 'Manchester 38' at Lancaster Assizes

Lancaster Castle c.1830: an engraving by Richard Parry from an original by William Westall
More than 2 months after they had been arrested at a meeting in Manchester, the trial of the 'Manchester 38' began at Lancaster Summer Assizes at Lancaster Assizes on Thursday 27th August 1812.

The trial began between 10.00 and 11.00 a.m., and the indictments were first read. All of the prisoners pleaded Not Guilty. The Counsel for the Crown, Mr. Park (the Attorney-General for the County Palatine of Lancashire) pointed out to the Jury that the effect of the Special Commission in May on the public mind had been diminished because so few people of the thousands that had taken part were tried. He stated that the large number of defendants on trial in this case could have a greater effect, especially as since the 9th July 1812, the penalty for such offences as they were accused of was now death.

Two of the prisoners - William Washington & Thomas Broughton - were charged with administering the oath to the informer, Samuel Fleming, the Crown's star witness. The other 36 prisoners were accused of aiding, assisting and consenting to the administration of the oath.

The prisoners' defence was led by a team that included none other than Henry Brougham, although he was acting only for Thomas Broughton, the man who Park contended was one of the two administrators of the illegal oaths, and the one accused of being most enmeshed in conspiracy.

Park then went on to introduce the Crown's witness, Samuel Fleming, and the events he said he was witness to, setting out the Crown's case. Fleming was an Irish weaver who had come to live in Manchester 9 years ago, a former soldier in Ireland who had joined the Local Militia in Manchester. Park stated that it was 'common practice' to get such men involved amongst the 'unlawful combinations'. The link between Fleming and with what was to occur was Thomas Broughton: Fleming lived in the house where Broughton had resided, and through coming to know him, Broughton had tried and succeeded to get Fleming involved in nocturnal meetings in fields around Manchester. Park contended that Fleming was resistant to be 'twisted in', so much so that one night he was shot at as he was leaving his house. It was at this point that Fleming approached his commanding officer in the local militia, Colonel Sylvester, who was also a magistrate. Sylvester and Joseph Nadin, the Deputy constable of Manchester, now arranged for Fleming to alert them to a meeting, in order that they could make arrests.

The evening of 11th June 1812 came, and Fleming met Broughton at the Elephant public house on Tib Street in Manchester, where a meeting was due to take place. The meeting was later adjourned to another pub nearby, the Prince Regents Arms, in an upstairs room. Broughton & Fleming drank in the bar downstairs, and Fleming at last expressed a wish to be twisted in. Broughton went up and downstairs a couple of times before telling Fleming he could proceed upstairs. Once there, Fleming
contended that he witnessed William Washington administer the oath to 3 other men before he did the same to Fleming. Fleming contended that, after this, Washington gave him the signs and countersigns which could be used to identify another similarly 'twisted'.

Fleming then said he had left at 10.00 p.m. to alert Colonel Sylvester & Nadin, with Nadin then proceeding to the pub with a troop of Scotch Greys and making the arrests, initially of 37 men, as Thomas Broughton was downstairs.

After outlining the case for the prosecution, Park began to examine witnesses, starting with Samuel Fleming. He brought out details, which included an allegation that in being introduced to the political underground by the defendant Thomas Broughton, he had attended meetings in St George's Fields near Manchester, and that on one occasion in the week before the 20th April 1812, there had been an intention to go the Middleton and burn down Burton's steam loom factory.

The defence objected strongly to the introduction of this information, saying that it had nothing to do with the charges, but the Judge, Baron Wood, overruled them.

Park continued to examine Fleming along the lines of the case he had outlined earlier, and got Fleming to state that he had observed the landlord, John Brown, (who was also on trial at the Assizes in a separate case) putting up curtains in the upstairs meeting room before he was twisted in. He also stated that he had talked with a defendant, Isaac Birch: the prosecution was aware that at the hearing where the 38 were initially charged, Fleming had sworn several times that a prison officer called Evans in the lineup was Birch, whilst the deputy constable Nadin had tried to force another defendant, John Knight, to stand near to Evans. Led by Park, Fleming insisted that his identification of Evans for Birch was a mistake, since on the 11th June Birch was wearing a hat all night, and when the 38 were charged, he was not: he insisted that the fact Birch was bald-headed meant that he didn't recognise him without the hat.

Fleming then went on to state that he had been ordered to go downstairs and wait there, and after drinking for a while with Broughton, left the Prince Regents Arms to divulge what had happened to Colonel Sylvester and Nadin.

Fleming was then cross-examined by Mr Scarlett, one of the counsel for the 37 men. Scarlett got Fleming to admit that he went to the meeting on the 11th June, in order to become twisted-in, at the behest of Colonel Sylvester & Nadin, and that Sylvester had given him money since then. Fleming also stated that he had entered the upstairs room at 10.00 p.m., then left to go downstairs, but had not lingered to drink with Broughton, and went straight to Colonel Sylvester's. Scarlett got Fleming to estimate the time taken for him to arrive at Sylvester's house, and then fetch Nadin - he estimated that he did not bring Nadin back before 11.00 p.m.

Scarlett also demonstrated that Fleming was inconsistent about who he knew at the meeting, and how he was then able to identify them when they were charged 3 days later. Fleming admitted that other than 4 people he knew personally, he could not positively say that any of the others were present at the meeting, and that he had not seen them since they were charged over 2 months ago.

At an interval another counsel for the defence, Mr Williams, pointed out that the indictment had Thomas Broughton administering the oath to Fleming, but the evidence thus far had held that he was not in the room at the time Fleming was twisted in, and that this undermined the whole case. Henry Brougham echoed the objection, but it was overruled by the Judge.

Colonel John Sylvester, the Manchester magistrate and Local Militia commander then took the witness stand. He confirmed to the prosecution his earlier contacts with Fleming and also that he had come to him at 11.00 p.m. on the night of the 11th June. Henry Brougham made sure the time was highlighted in his brief cross-examination.

The Deputy Constable of Manchester, Joseph Nadin, next took the stand. In cross-examination by Mr. Williams, he estimated that he arrived at the Prince Regents Arms by 11.30 p.m. and though he insisted he took all the papers from the meeting room, he was clear that he did not find a Bible (the prosecution had alleged that a Bible was used in the oath ceremony). Williams uncovered more inconsistencies in the prosecution's case: they had maintained that Nadin had heard voices calling out numbers when he arrived, and that the front door was locked - yet under cross-examination, he only admitted to hearing the indistinct voices of 2 people talking, and that the door was unlocked - he even pushed it open himself.

When the landlady of the Prince Regent's Arms, Elizabeth Brown, took the stand, the prosecution had difficulty getting her to swear that Thomas Broughton was downstairs on the 11th June, as was outlined in their case. Furthermore, under cross-examination from Brougham, she stated that William Washington did not come to the pub before 10.45 p.m. that evening, which was 45 minutes after the time that Samuel Fleming maintained he had left the public after being twisted-in by him. Mrs Brown also stated that Fleming had arrived at the pub at 7.00 p.m. that evening, before the meeting took place, and had been served 2 pints of beer, but had not gone into the upstairs room at all.

The prosecution's case then drew to a close. The prisoners were asked if they wanted to make statements to the Jury:
Mr. Baron Wood. William Washington, have you anything to say in your defence?

William Washington. My Lord, and Gentlemen of the Jury, if I was not in this situation, but capable of being called upon to give evidence on the present occasion, I should most solemnly state, upon oath, that there is no truth in the charge against us; and I have no doubt, but one and all of my suffering companions would do the same; indeed, by our plea of NOT GUILTY, that declaration is already made by each of us; so that you will have to try on which side the truth lies. For myself, I repeat my innocence; and as a proof of that, I declare, that I was not in the room at the time that Fleming has fixed upon, nor for some time afterwards; in fact, I had been employed and much engaged that evening, in levying an execution, as will be proved to you, beyond the possibility of contradiction, and I was not able, therefore, to go to the meeting till within a quarter of eleven o'clock, when the outward door of the house was shut, as can be proved, as well by Mr. and Mrs. Brown; so that it is utterly impossible that I could have administered an oath to Fleming, or any other man living, at the time, and in the way, I have been charged with. Fleming has said, that the oath was administered soon after ten o'clock, and that the house door was open when he went out; it therefore follows, that as I did not arrive until after the doors were shut, that I was not in the house at the time and suppose so foolishly and wickedly to have acted.—I say foolishly, because I must be considered as the most unthinking blockhead living, and so must also the rest of these prisoners be, if what has been stated be true. But, Gentleman, is it likely that such a body of men, should so far disregard their own safety, as to commit so serious a crime with the room door open, in the presence of so many unknown characters; and more especially so, when you find some intimation had been given of Mr. Nadin’s intended visit?—Such an expectation, if we had any guilty object in view, would naturally have increased our caution, and not slackened it into such indifference. But that is not all—Where is the BIBLE that is spoken of? All our papers were seized, and everything taken from the table, and from the persons of all the prisoners, but yet no Bible, or other book, was found; nor any paper, or other document, confirmatory of the story now told by Fleming; but, on the contrary, every paper seized is consistent with the true motives and object of the meeting, connected as it was with former meetings, to petition for peace, and a reform in parliament. I crave your most serious examination of the facts in evidence, and hope you will compare them, and the nature of the offence charged, with the probability and improbability of the case; after which, I consign myself and all that is dear to me, on this side the grave, into your hands, as an honest impartial Jury of my country.

Mr. Baron Wood successively asked the prisoners, what they had say in their defence? And they addressed the Court the following effect.

Thomas Broughton. There were a few men came to my house, and asked me to go round, to see how many would pay a penny a piece, towards the trial of apprentices.—That was all the meeting I was at.

Thomas Cooke. I have nothing to state.

John Haigh. My Lord, and Gentlemen of the Jury, the first time I heard of this meeting, was on Monday, the 8th June, when a man left a handbill at my house, containing resolutions to petition for Peace and Parliamentary Reform. Another meeting was to take place on Thursday, the 11th June, at the Elephant; I let some of my neighbours see this handbill, and I told them I was going to Manchester; they requested I would endeavour to get a copy of the petition: I was therefore there to hear the petition read, and to get a copy, and nothing else.

Thomas Wilkinson. Gentleman, all I have to say is, that the declaration of Fleming, is totally false: I attended the meeting for the same reason, seeing the handbill.

Charles Oldham. I have nothing more to say, than what has been said.

James Knott. I have nothing more to say, than what has been stated by the others.

Charles Woolling. The things alleged against me are utterly false: coming from my work I heard of the meeting, and merely went to hear the petition and address read.

Robert Thornley. I know nothing of any meeting but this: as I was going from my work, a number of people said, there was to be a meeting, to hear an address and petition for peace and parliamentary reform read: I thought there could be no harm in going to hear them read, and these papers were heard read. As to the charge laid against this, we are as innocent as the child unborn.

Simon Simmons. Some nights before 11th June, being out of employ, I was engaged by the committee to occupy a certain place, to procure names to the petition, and post-up handbills. On Thursday, the 11th June, I was sent for by Mr. Washington, and he desired me to take the book and the resolutions to the public-house; he informed me, he was going to make a levy, and take an inventory of goods, and that he would be there as soon as possible: I went with these things, and left them, and I stopped whilst Mr. Nadin came there.

William Coppock. I was told I was a petition for peace, the Prince Regent Arms, and I went to hear the petition read.

John Oldham. I have nothing to state but what has been stated before.

Aaron Marvell. Gentleman, a few days before the 11th June, a man shewed me resolutions agreed to for a petition and address for peace and parliamentary reform; and he told me of the meeting at the Elephant—I have a great desire to hear them read.

John Howarth, on the 11th June, John Gee came and desired I would go with him to hear a petition the peace read: as my hand was scalded, and I could not work, I agreed to go with him; I stopped till seven o'clock, in the Market-place; I agreed to go to the Prince Regent’s Arms; I went up stairs, and Mr. Nadin came in about half an hour afterwards.

Err Oldham. I have nothing to say, but what has been already stated.

John Kershaw. My Lord, and Gentlemen of the Jury, it is well known by many here, that I was sent to the meeting by the trade: I was appointed to be present by the trade. Me and another person were desired to attend: I had not time to attend at the time proposed, but when I had an opportunity of attending, I went up in my working dress; I went to the Elephant, but the people were dispersed. A man said, is not this a meeting for peace and parliamentary reform? They did not wish to be disturbed. He asked me whether I would go to the meeting at the Prince Regent’s Arms? I thought, as I had promised, I would attend: in consequence of that, I went forward; I staid till between nine and ten o'clock, but no business was transacted—I happened to have no money; I had been to Kersal Moor, seeing the soldiers. This person went out soon after —I sat there while Mr. Knight read the resolutions, until Mr. Nadin came in. I believe it is well known that I abhor such things as we are accused of; I avow eternal abhorrence for the witness has expressed—nothing of the kind was administered, or thought of as an oath.

Charles Smith. On the 21st May, I was informed by Mr. Washington, and Mr. Bent, a respectable cotton-merchant, that in a few days there would be a meeting, for the purpose of considering the best mode of addressing the House of Commons for peace and parliamentary reform. The resolutions, now read, then passed: I was called upon to take the chair, and to prepare the said petition and address. I have, since that night, attended several committee meetings, and the resolutions appeared in the Statesman newspaper, on the 3d June, and it was well known that a public meeting was to be on the 11th June, respecting how funds were to be raised. About half-past eight I was at work, and saw Cannavan; I asked him why did not go to the meeting? He said, it was removed to the Prince Regent’s Arms—I went there; the ranging the company occupied the time till nine, when the resolutions and the address were read. About a quarter past eleven Mr. Washington came in—no oath was administered; and what has been adduced by Samuel Fleming, is utterly false and groundless.

Thomas Harsnett. I have nothing to offer but my positive assertion, that the alleged charge of administering the oath, is a fabricated falsehood.

John Knight. Had not those who have gone before, taken up so much time, I should enter more at large into the nature of the accusation, but as they have sufficiently occupied your attention, I shall be brief:—I was one of the few who were first to go to the room; I staid there till Mr. Nadin came—I solemnly declare, that no such thing as an oath was ever proposed—I deem this sufficient, and as much as if I was to speak an hour.

Thomas Cannavan. What has been adduced by Samuel Fleming, is utterly false, and will be so proved to your satisfaction.

Joseph Tinley. As I stated at the New Bayley, I only went to hear the petition read. I rely with full confidence on God, and the verdict of a British Jury.

John Godley. I went to the meeting for nothing but to hear the resolutions and address read—I went for that and nothing else.

Daniel Jevins. I attended the meeting, for the purpose of hearing the petition and address read.

Stephen Harrison. I have nothing further to say, than what has been already said.—What has been adduced by Samuel Fleming is utterly false.

Edward McGinnes. I have nothing to say, but that no such thing as an oath was ever administered.

James Hepworth. I never heard any thing of an oath named; what has been said by the soldier is absolutely false.

Rycroft Hepworth. What Fleming has said, is absolutely false. I happened to be there, I went to hear the petition read.—Nothing else passed in my presence.

James Lawton. I do not wish to say any thing.

Robert Slack. Gentleman, I have nothing to advance, but what has been said—the accusation is entirely false.

Randal Judson. Gentleman, before the 11th June I heard there was to be a meeting, for an address to the House of Commons, for peace and parliamentary reform, and I attended the meeting with no other view than to hear it read.

Edmund Newton. I went to the meeting, for nothing but to hear the petition read; and I declare, the accusation is entirely false.

Aaron Whitehead. I have nothing to say, but what I stated in my examination. I made it in my way to call at the meeting, when I got to the Elephant I was informed the meeting was removed, and I followed it to the Prince Regent’s Arms. I went to no other purpose but to hear the petition read—I never heard any thing else while I was there.

James Buckley. There is nothing I wish to say.

John Newton. I have nothing to say.

James Boothby. I have nothing to say, but that the accusation is false.

Edward Phillips. I can state nothing, but what has been already advanced.

James Greenwood. I cannot add any thing to what I said on my examination.

Isaac Birch. When I went in I doffed my hat, and never put it on till Mr. Nadin came into the room.
The defence questioned a witness called William Cummins, who had been at the Elephant public house prior to the meeting, and had joined the meeting at the Prince Regents Arms later, leaving at 11.00 p.m. after the landlord had asked that the meeting be concluded. Cummins stated that, as he was coming down the stairs, Nadin arrived. Contradicting Nadin's evidence, he stated that Nadin passed him on the stairs and went into the meeting room, without ensuring that he went back into the room, and that he was later locked out of the pub. Crucially, he also attested that William Washington had arrived at the meeting only a few minutes before 11.00 p.m. Under cross-examination from the prosecution, Cummins further stated that Nadin had ordered him to go downstairs, rather than back into the room, as Nadin had said.

The defence brought another witness, Thomas Hepworth, who was also at the meeting that night. He also stated that he had left at 11.00 p.m. when the landlord asked for the meeting to end, and that William Washington had arrived only 5 to 10 minutes before that.

Both of the defence witnesses who were at the meeting stated that no oaths had been sworn in their presence.

Richard Scott was also a defence witness. He stated that he had been with William Washington in the daytime on 11th Jun, who was working as a general agent (i.e. debt collector) on a job at Gee Cross in Cheshire. They had arrived back in Manchester at 9.00 p.m. and Washington had met Scott at the Sir Sidney Smith pub on Port Street in Manchester for a drink, and had remained there with him until 11.00 p.m.

Thomas Johnson was also called and confirmed that he had been at work with Washington in Gee Cross on the 11th June, and drank with him and Scott at the Sir Sidney Smith, leaving them both there before 11.00 p.m.

Isaac Bland, the landlord of the Sir Sidney Smith was also called by the defence. He confirmed that Washington left at 11.00 p.m. - he stated he remembers the time not only because the clock had struck, but also because his wife had locked the door before eleven and he had to unlock it to let Washington out. He also stated that the clock was set ten minutes early, to induce people to leave earlier than closing time.

Nadin was called again, and challenged about his testimony about seeing a man on the stairs whom he ordered to go back into the meeting room. He disputed this was William Cummins, and stated that the man he saw was bigger in physical build.

The case of the defence was then concluded.

In summing up, the Judge, Baron Wood, highlighted the contrary testimonies as to the time William Washington attended the meeting, and the time Fleming contended he was twisted-in by him: the Judge himself had earlier made a point of asking Fleming what time he left the Prince Regent's Arms, and he had replied 10.30 p.m. He also highlighted the contrary times given for Nadin's arrival, and the fact that Nadin found no Bible, upon which Fleming had attested he had rested his hand to swear the oath.

Baron Wood went on to make it clear that the only evidence for the oath being administered to Fleming was that of Fleming himself, and that several other witnesses contradicted him. Similarly, for the time that Washington had attended the meeting. He commented that it "seems to me, that the witness for the prosecution being so contradicted, it makes an end of the case, and that the
prisoners must be acquitted", but that ultimately, the Jury must decide who they believed.

When the Jury reconvened later, they found William Washington, and all of the other defendants Not Guilty. The trial ended at 2.00 a.m. on Friday 28th August 1812, around 14 hours after it had commenced.

27th August 1812: General Maitland reflects on the success of his tactics in Cheshire

27th August

My dear Sir

I did not write to you yesterday, from having been occupied the whole day.

My information corroborates daily, the letter I have transmitted Lord Sidmouth, and I do not believe there is less than at least 800, who have applied, and to whom the Oath of Allegiance, has been either administered, or who have tendered themselves, and to whom it will be administered, as soon as possible.—

At the same time, as you may easily conceive, this new Event has been attended with some, not material, but still contravailing circumstances, of no serious moment, but necessary to be got rid of.

When it first happened, I was consulted, about, how far a Magistrate should go into the Country to facilitate it, and doubting both the Extent, and as doubting the Extent, and general feeling; the result of such a Measure, I give it as an Opinion, that going for a day might do no harm, but that I would not make it a Measure, of that Importance, to give 3 days notice, to the People, which was proposed; This was at the time, I was only aware of the Spirit having extended to a few Individuals; but when I found the real extent to which he went the Day after, and that there was no longer a doubt, that the general Feeling in that peculiar part of the Country, was favorable to the renunciation of their past Errors, I immediately wrote a letter to General Acland, directing him to forward it, stating, that I not only advised a Magistrate going in, but enclosing them a form of a Placard, I thought might do some good, Stating generally their anxious Wish, and the pleasure they would have, in giving every facility, by attending such and such Days, to the inclination that manifested itself to return to their Allegiance.—

This however I understand, is considered by one of them in particular, as an indulgence unmerited by the Luddites, an Absurdity I cannot understand, for after all I am sure Lord Sidmouth will agree with me, that whatever indulgence it may be to the disaffected to have their return to their Allegiance made as easy as possible; it is in truth a much greater Indulgence to the Magistrates when they come to reflect that by the return of such Disaffected they are not only relieved from their present Fears, but any probable chance of any of those Men being again drawn into the unfortunate Situation, in which they have hitherto some Period stored.

About this [demur] however I have no doubt, I am sure their good Sense will get better of it.—

[Another difficulty however of a very different Nature has started up, and proceeding from an extreme, exactly of an opposite Nature, “To Wit”, the Twisted in, and Twisters in, have all flocked to the same Standard.

Upon this myself I have no doubt, The Clause of the Act appears to be perfectly clear and explicite, and to exclude all those who administered, and to comprehend those only who have taken illegal Oaths.—

Many however I have reason to believe have been admitted to take the Oath of Allegiance who have administered the Oath to numbers, and as the speediest Mode of getting rid of it (possibly too it will be the most expeditious mode of explaining my Wish to Lord Sidmouth through you) I sent an Express yesterday to which I shall get an Answer tomorrow Morning, to the Attorney General at Lancaster (Parke) of which a Copy is enclosed. Pray send down as soon as you can the Opinion of the Attorney & Solicitor Generals upon the Subject.]

In the Part of the Country to which I allude, they are completely beat, which I think shews itself from the Numbers that have come in, but it must appear singular, not a Man has stirred at Stockport, or any of the Adjacent Towns, and that it is limited exactly where the System I have mentioned to Lord Sidmouth was carried into effect.

Another very singular thing, and from which every one can deduce his own consequences, is the Number of Men that have come in, in such a limited District of Country.—

Judging of the rest of the Disaffected Parts of the Country by this Criterion what Number, may not be supposed to be involved in this dangerous System.

I am now trying to organize five or Six Parties in the same Principle of the Party that produced these effects, but it is not easy to get Officers who understand it, and it is still more difficult to get Special Constables to act with those Officers, I do not however dispair of either, and having this practical lesson before us, I am not without hopes of being able, but not within less than 3 or 4 Weeks of producing a similar feeling in this Part of the Country.

I hope you got my letter about Lawson, which I have never heard from you upon, and which leads me to fear it may have miscarried.

I am [etc]
T Maitland
[To] John Becket Esqr.
&c &c &c

Saturday 25 August 2012

25th August 1812: General Maitland informs the Home Office that 200 Cheshire Luddites have taken the Oath of Allegiance at Stockport

Leeds 25th August

My dear Sir

In addition to the letter I wrote to Lord Sidmouth yesterday, I have now the Satisfaction of informing you, that by a letter I have just received two hundred men were waiting yesterday at Stockport to take the Oath of Allegiance, I shall write more fully on this interesting Subject tomorrow, having come over here for the day to look at a Regiment. I have just had a long conversation with your Father

Ever yours

T Maitland

[To] John Beckett Esqr

Friday 24 August 2012

24th August 1812: The Stockport solicitor, John Lloyd, reports the success of the Oath of Allegiance to the Home Office

Chester 24t Aug 1812


Mr Hobhouse will inform you of our success here. We have convicted a man for administering an unlawful oath and others. The principal article of Intelligence I have to communicate, is, what will give you pleasure, as it has done me & the Judges as well as others interested for the public peace & welfare of the Country — It is contained in a letter I have this day received from my friend at Stockport who is in the profession & left by me to attend such business in my absence.

I shall extract from it the material information —viz
Saty night 11 P.M.

It has occurred to me that you wou’d like to know how I have been occupied this morning — since it has been in a way most agreeable & in your Office a circumstance rather unusual

The mercy of Government offered to penitent Sinners will I am certain be productive of the happiest Effects & be the means of bringing back many a stray sheep into the right way upwards of 20 from Hollingworth have this morning signed their recantations and taken the Oath of Allegiance. I never saw joy more gratefully manifested than in the poor fellows’ countenances in embracing the munificent Offer & I dare to be answerable for their becoming excellent Subjects for the future. Strangers seem to have introduced the oath into that neighbourhood but I think they may be easily discovered — The taking of Jonathan Hollingworth whom you have at Chester and of Massey & Band [mentd in Donnelly's informatn] who were taken yesterday and are in the Stockport Prison now has produced a terrible Effect sensation about the Township of Hollingworth and I expect we shall have some hundreds coming for absolution.

One of your Clerks arrived this morning I was glad to see him as I do not feel quite up to the business left to my management” &c &c
We had two persons here to give Evidence that had been twisted in & we administered the Oath of Allegiance to them previously in open Court which had seemed to me to have an admirable Effect

I have [etc]

J. Lloyd

J. Beckett Esq
&c &c.

24th August 1812: Convictions at the Chester Summer Assizes

Some of the less well-known convictions for Luddism took place at the Chester Summer Assizes, on or before Monday 24th August 1812. William Cooper, a spy/informer from Newton in Cheshire employed by the Stockport Solicitor, John Lloyd, played an important part. Cooper had been uncovered by the local Luddites prior to the Assizes, and an unsuccessful attempt had been made on his life in July.

Daniel Garside (around 23 years of age) was found guilty of being present at and consenting to the administering of an illegal oath to Cooper, although another man called John Hollingworth charged with a similar offence was acquitted after taking the oath of allegiance. Two other men, George Dernally & Joseph Horsefield, were found guilty of taking the oath, and were acquitted after admitting evidence for the crown and taking the oath of allegiance.

Thomas Schofield was convicted of inciting Cooper to steal a barrel of gunpowder, and also taking an illegal oath.

Although the newspaper reports do not contain details of the subsequent sentences, the Home Office records show that Garside was sentenced to 7 years transportation, with Schofield receiving 4 years imprisonment.

A report in the Lancaster Gazette states that evidence was given about both men convicted, that alleged they had collected money for delegates, and also to pay for Counsel for the 'Manchester 38', whose trial at the Lancaster Summer Assizes was imminent.

The firmness of these convictions, and Cooper's role in it all, is as yet unclear to this historian.

24th August 1812: General Maitland writes to the Home Office about the success of his 'experiment' in Cheshire

24th August

My dear Lord

You will of course have seen the Communications I have had with Becket.

I have now the satisfaction of being able to report to Your Lordship, on a Subject I think of the very greatest Importance as connected with the Disturbed Parts of this Country in as much as if I am correct in my Opinion and Judgement, it affords us the best practical Proof we have hitherto had of the only real means of putting an End to this Illegal combination, and Administration of Illegal Oaths.

Your Lordship will naturally recollect that I have stated to you particularly in my Dispatch of the 27th of June, that I had determined to make an Experiment of the effect of keeping a small Body of Troops moving about the Disturbed part of the Country. I have had occasion too, to state my Opinion of the good Effects that resulted from that Measure, in quieting exactly the most disturbed Part of the Country, “To Wit”, The District round Mottram in Londondale. Upon this Service the number of Men I employed did not exceed Fifty, under a Captain, accompanyed by two Special Constables, selected for the occasion and whom indeed I paid.

They have kept that District by constantly marching in the Night and never being fixed in one Place above 24 hours, in a continued Series of Alarm, have picked up a great deal of Intelligence, and as I wished on my coming here to employ the same Officer in this Quarter, I directed to seize, and send in to the Magistrates all those against whom any Criminal Charge could be proved; he accordingly began and succeeded in laying hold of several of the Parties, which spread immediately universal Consternation, and the effect of which has been, feeling themselves perfectly insecure and liable to be laid hold of, they either absconded, or are running in to take the Oath of Allegiance, and the benefit of the 3rd Clause of the Act, Your Lordship sent down to me, 21 went in a Body two days ago to one Magistrate at Stockport, and I have no doubt many others are following.—

I have been particular in making this Detail to your Lordship because if I am founded in my Opinion and I own individually have no doubts of its correctness, we may I think within a short time by pursuing similar Measures not only keep the Thing under but totally eradicate it, and I shall certainly make use of every endeavour in my power forthwith to employ small Parties all along the Borders, in a similar Way, and on similar Principles, for if I am convinced we can by this means terrify them into a Sense of their own Weakness, and by so doing induce them to take the advantage of the Pardon, I am equally persuaded no other Measure will ever have any effect of the kind.—

It is through Fear I sincerely believe many were induced to take these Oaths, and it is by Fear, we will alone get them to come back.—

I really cannot understand the State of this County, as it is made out: We are told on the one hand that every thing is now quiet, when on the other, if the Military are but moved for a day we have nothing but applications stating the necessity of these Military.

I have ever been inclined to suppose that where the presence of the Military is necessary to keep the King’s Peace, that part of the Country cannot be held to be quiet State, and least of all can I suppose any part of the Country to be in a quiet State, where the pressure of the Military is necessary, not for the suppression of Riots in consequence of the momentary high Price of Grain, but to prevent Robbery, Assassination, and destruction of every kind.

In respect to the Associations they are certainly highly to be approved of, but with regard to their Competency as an efficient Protection, I hold it to be totally out of the Question, and in the instances where they profess not to want Military Aid, I am by no means prepared to say that such declaration proceeds from a Sense of Security, and not from a Wish just to let the Thing go on, and from the strongest principles of Fear lest the Disaffected should think the principle Persons in the District had advised calling in the Military.

Every thing that I see however leads me to believe, that the numbers are even smaller than I have heretofore imagined, it is impossible to state it, but I am apt to believe, that if 7, or 8 Parties, were sent forth, with the same Success, that has attended the Measure in the Corner of Cheshire, the whole Thing would be put a Stop to.—

I have only plagued your Lordship with all this, because I am most anxious, we should take advantage of the short space of Time left us, to try to get at the bottom of it, before the long Nights, if we do not, and America, should unfortunately be closed, most undoubtedly the Winter will be a Scene of Want of Comfort, and Alarm to the Inhabitants.—

I do not apprehend, though I have stated this, and though I hope for Your Lordship's support in it, that there will be any occasion for me, to apply to you, for any interference.

As far as I have seen, the Gentleman here, I have no doubt they will willingly give in to the Measures I propose, and I feel particularly secure in the strongest Support, from Lord Fitzwilliam and Sir Francis Wood, with whom I had this Morning a long conversation on the Subject.—

I am [etc]
T Maitland
Lord Visct. Sidmouth
&c &c &c

Thursday 23 August 2012

23rd August 1812: Luddites begin to appear in Stockport to take the Oath of Allegiance to the King

Stockport 23rd August, 1812.

My Lord—

Yesterday twenty-five of the Luddites in the neighbourhood of Mottram the most disturb’d district in Cheshire, & bordering upon the Huddersfield neighbourhood, came before me, & took the Oath of Allegiance,. I have reason to expect that numbers will follow their example, & under a conviction that your Lordship would be pleased to hear of this good effect of the late Act of Parliament, & of the prospect that now opens, of the serious alarms, which since the middle of February we have been subject to, subsiding, I have taken the liberty of making the above communication—

I remain [etc]
Charles Prescot,

Rector of Stockport

[To: Home Office]

Wednesday 22 August 2012

22nd August 1812: General Maitland gives the Home Office his view of the recent West Riding riots

22nd August

My dear Sir

I wrote you a short note the night before last from Sheffield.

Yesterday there was no Post, but I had a good deal of conversation with the Magistrates of Sheffield, and with Lord Fitzwilliam & St Francis Wood.

I find it is their united Opinion, that the late occurrences at Sheffield, entirely arise from the high Price of Flour, & in this Opinion I am not only inclined to concur, but I own, I think this kind of tumultuous Proceeding is so far salutary, that it completely explains its Object, and End, and naturally leads one to suppose, there is nothing beyond what shews itself.

On my arrival here last night, I understood there had been some symptoms of the same Spirit shewn here, & in seeing this Morning Coll. Campbell from Leeds, I have received from him a Report, of similar Proceedings having taken place there: All this however is in itself nothing, & it must be acknowledged, the Price of which the People complain, is unaccountably high, and I understand too, from every Enquiry, infinitely higher than in London.

The unfortunate circumstance that took place in Sheffield of their not suffering Voluntarily, but tolerating without proceeding to Extremity the Sale of Flour at Three shillings, instead of Seven Shillings, has led considerably I believe to the appearances of Tumult at Leeds, and some trifling symptoms of it here: But all these have no relation to, or connexion with the System that is alone dangerous here “To Wit”, that of Secret Meetings, and treasonable Oaths.—

A Relief from the immediate high Price, will set all this to rest, and I should apprehend that Relief, is nearly at hand, for the Price of Wheat fell considerably in the Market here yesterday, though the Price of Flour kept up, and if I am not grossly misinformed, there was too yesterday a small Importation of Wheat from London, which in itself must produce an immediate fall.—

In regard to the general state of this Riding, looking at it in quite a Separate View, from these Symptoms of Riot, I can say not much in its favor—

I own it appears to me, that we have never looked at it here fully in the Face, but that we are trying to suppose, that tranquillity exists where every thing is at the same time to the knowledge of all, Hollow, and Unsound.—

One would naturally think, that where Reports were made so favorable, as I understand they have been, by the Committees of the Lieutenancy, and Magistracy, that Security, and Confidence, would have been reestablished, and that the common course of the Law, would have been administered with Promptitude and Cordiality; This I apprehend, however, is by no means the Case, I believe that a System of Terror universally prevails, and that we are merely shutting our Eyes to an Evil small in Amount, but serious in its Nature, from the dread of trying totally to extirpate it.

I have not yet had time sufficient, to make myself so thoroughly Master of the Subject, as to give any decided Opinion, either of the exact State of the Riding, or of the Measures adviseable to be pursued as I could wish.—

My general Opinion however is, from every thing I have heard here, coupled with what I have seen elsewhere, that I have been perfectly correct, in the Statements I have frequently made to Lord Sidmouth, that the Thing has no Head, and I am now rather inclined to believe, the numbers of the Active are smaller than I have heretofore supposed, but I cannot have a doubt, that the Spirit is most Mischeivous, and as far as my Opinion at present goes with regard to Measures, I have no difficulty in saying, that I believe the only Thing that will give Security to this part of the Country in the long Nights that are approaching, will be, a most Active Use of the Troops, under proper Police Officers, for the Period we have antecedent to the Setting in of Winter.—

I shall write more fully upon this Subject tomorrow and

My dear Sir
Ever Your’s—
T Maitland

[To] John Becket Esqr.
&c &c &c

22nd August 1812: Arms raid at Sheepridge, near Huddersfield

In the early hours of Saturday 22nd August 1812, at least 40 armed men arrived at the house of Edward Hepworth, a farmer from Sheepridge. Hepworth was not hailed to the window, the Luddites simply immediately set about breaking down his door with a hammer, and when Hepworth was found, they demanded his gun. Hepworth protested that he didn't have one, and that his wife had taken it elsewhere Two Luddites demanded he reduced the price of his milk to twopence a quart, but Hepworth said he couldn't afford to do that - another Luddite threatened to shoot him, and another shouted encouragement 'blow him to atoms'. They then proceeded to destroy many of the valuable items in his house, including his clock and furniture.

Several other houses in the neighbourhood were visited by the Luddites that night.

Monday 20 August 2012

20th August 1812: General Maitland writes from Sheffield about the riots there

20th August

My dear Sir

You will properly have heard of the Riots that have taken place here.

I was totally ignorant of them till my Arrival to day at 3 OClock, having seen however the Acting Magistrate, and having dined in Company with Lords Fitzwilliam (who said he had just written to Lord Sidmouth) I am happy to say that as far as I am aware at present, they seem to have originated, merely from the increased price of Flour, and to be material result of their feeling on this Head, without any other View, connected with any other cause of any kind.

This night since Dark, it has been reported to me, that they have tried to seize a Woman, who had given Evidence against some of the Men, who were seized last Night, who have been with one or two exceptions all released, and they are shewing some symptoms of Riot, but I have no Idea it will end in any thing but throwing a few Stones, indeed I believe it to be made the most of.

I shall meet the Magistrates tomorrow, at 11 OClock, after which, I shall write you fully on the whole of it.

I regret this should have taken place, not that I think it is of the smallest consequence, but because it may lead the misinformed to believe there is more in it than is really the fact.—

I am [etc]
T Maitland
[To] J.Becket Esqr.
&c &c &c

20th August 1812: Shelley's servant, Daniel Healey, is arrested after distributing seditious literature in Barnstaple

My Lord

I am directed by the Worshipful the Mayor of this Town to address your Lordship, on the following Circumstances:

Last Evening a Man was observed distributing and posting some Papers about this Town intitled “Declaration of Rights”, and on being apprehended and brought before the Mayor, stated his name to be Daniel Hill, and that he is a servant to P.B Shelley Esq. now residing at Hooper’s Lodgings at Lymouth near Linton a small Village bordering on the Bristol Channel and about 17 Miles from Barnstaple: On being asked how he became possessed of these Papers, he said, on his Road from Linton to Barnstaple Yesterday, he met a Gentleman dressed in black, whom he had never seen before, who asked him to take the Papers to Barnstaple and post and distribute them, and on Hill’s consenting the Gentleman gave him 5 shillings for his Trouble — on interrogating Hill more particularly respecting his Master, he said he principally lived in London but in what Part of it he did not now know, but that he had lived with him in Sackville Street — that he married a Miss Westbrooke or Westbrooks a Daughter of Mr. Westbrooke of Chapel Street Grosvenor Square and that two Sisters of Mr. Shelley are now with her at Lymouth, and Mr. Shelley his Master's Father is a Member of Parliament.—This is all the Information the Mayor could get from Hill, but he has been informed that Mr. Shelley has been regarded with a suspicious Eye since he has been at Lymouth, from the Circumstances of his very extensive Correspondence and many of his Packages and Letters been addressed to Sir Francis Burdett — and it is also said that Mr. Shelley has sent off so many as 16 Letters by the same Post — The Mayor has also been informed that Mr. Shelley has been seen frequently to go out in a Boat a short distance from Land and drop some Bottles into the Sea, and that at one time he was observed to wade into the Water and drop a Bottle which afterwards drifting ashore, was picked up, and on being broken was found to contain a seditious Paper, the Contents of which the Mayor has not yet been able to ascertain but will apprize your Lordship immediately on learning further particulars.

Daniel Hill has been convicted by the Mayor in 10 penalties of 20£ each for Publishing and dispersing Printed Papers without the Printer’s name being on them under the act 39. Geo. 3. c. 79. and is now committed to the Common Gaol of this Borough for not paying the Penalties, and having no Goods on which they could be levied.

I have taken the liberty of transmitting to your Lordship a Copy of the Paper intitled “Declaration of Rights” and also another intitled “The Devils Walk” which was also found in Daniel Hill's Possession

I have [etc]
Henry Drake
Town Clerk

Augt 20th 1812

20th August 1812: 'Lady Ludd' leads autoreduction in Leeds again

On Thursday 20th August 1812, and two days after leading a mob in the town, 'Lady Ludd' returned to Leeds in the morning. Potatoes were seized in the market-place, and shopkeepers were ordered to lower their prices. The Manchester Mercury reported that similar actions took place in many of the towns in the surrounding area.

In Sheffield, fearful of what may follow, the local bourgeoisie organised a meeting at the Cutlers' Hall to arrange a subscription to relieve distress to those not already on Parish Relief. £700 was subscribed by the meeting. The Leeds Mercury said "The town is in much confusion, none knowing to what lengths these acts of insubordination, once begun may be carried".

Sunday 19 August 2012

19th August 1812: Food rioting continues in the Leeds & Sheffield area

In the evening of Wednesday 19th August, the food rioting that had broken out in Leeds the previous day continued across the area.

At Armley, a crowd was ready to storm the premises of a meal seller when he produced a gun loaded with shot and discharged it into the crowd. The reaction of the crowd and the resulting casualties go unrecorded. As The Leeds Mercury described 'turbulent mobs' gathering at the King's Mills and several Meal Shops and said 'no material violence occcurred', choosing to overlook the report of the gun being discharged, which appeared in the Manchester Mercury.

Similar disturbances that had occurred in Sheffield on Tuesday were repeated on this day. In the evening, there were reports of nocturnal meetings taking place in fields, and at one such meeting, 20 arrests were made, although all were later released. 

19th August 1812: The Nottingham Town Clerk tells the Home Office that the Framworkknitters funds are depleted

Dear Sir

I have now the pleasure to inform you that all appearance of mischievous organization in this Neighbourhood is completely dissipated, and that there seems to be a complete Conviction of the impropriety and utter incompetence of the working hand to attain their objects by violence.—There has indeed taken place if I am rightly informed a more close and intimate union of the several Classes of the Workmen with a view to assist each other in their several detached parts of the Manufactory of Lace and Hosiery in such differences between the master and the Artizan as may concern the whole class of the Workmen, and I have reason to believe in many instances Funds are raised by general contributions for that purpose. In the mean time the Funds of the General Body of Frameworkknitters have been happily and completely exhausted by the Parliamentary Campaign of the Workmen against the Hosiers and I have great hopes it will be very difficult for the mischievously disposed amongst the Artizans upon any future occasion to restore the general organization which was so formidable here, the Mass of the Workmen being much dissatisfied with the mode of applying the former funds, many of them approving the grounds of the Hosiers opposition to the Bill and the majority of them entertaining great suspicion of the rectitude of those who administered the Finances they lately possessed and being therefore averse in future to sustain any privation for the purpose of creating a Fund so easily dissipated.

You promised when I last saw you that you would transmit any application made by me from my friend Bullivant to the War Office or the Office of the Commander in Chief.—I have therefore ventured to write you a Letter confined to this subject which I enclose you and for your Attention to which I shall ever esteem myself much indebted to you.

I am [etc]
Geo Coldham

19th August 1812.

[To John Beckett]

Saturday 18 August 2012

18th August 1812: Food riots in Leeds headed by 'Lady Ludd' - similar scenes in Sheffield

Despite the reports of abundant harvests that had been reported in a recent edition of the Leeds Mercury, the price of Corn in the West Riding remained high. On Tuesday 18th August 1812 ordinary people could not bear it any longer, and food rioting broke out four months after it had been widespread in the North West of England.

On that day, one farmer from Seacroft was jostled by people in the market, but peace officers arrived and he hurriedly left. Another farmer from Swillington who had come to the market-place was singled out for attention, since his prices were the highest. His corn was seized en masse by the people in the market, with around two sacks of wheat being thrown around the streets. Other farmers and corn-dealers were later assaulted on their journey home, one suffering a head injury.

In the afternoon, a group of women and boys had gathered and began to move around the streets. They were led by a woman the Leeds Mercury described as being 'dignified with the title of LADY LUDD'. The Manchester Mercury described their activity:
"they hooted every passenger who had the appearance of a farmer or corn-dealer and shouted huzzaed opposite the bakers and meal-sellers' shops"
Later in the evening, the property of a miller at Holbeck called Shackleton was attacked - windows were broken and the damage was later estimated at between £30 and £40.

At Sheffield, similar  disturbances took place the same day, and also the following day: flour dealers were compelled to sell their stock for 3 shillings per stone, and oatmeal proportionally similar. The Leeds Mercury described the autoreduction as being 'principally led on by women'.

18th August 1812: John Knight of the 'Manchester 38' writes to his wife from Lancaster Castle

Unbeknown to them, the letters of the 'Manchester 38' - imprisoned and awaiting trial at Lancaster Castle - were being intercepted, copied and sent to the Home Office. This is John Knight's letter to his wife, written on  Tuesday 18th August 1812:
“Soon after our arrival here we had the audacity to petition to be indulged with a Newspaper at our own Expence—on which occasion our Governor told us the Bible would suit us better and be more useful to us and with which our Day room was furnished—Accordingly I have sometimes spent an Hour in looking therein, and I there often find the Rich accused with oppressing the poor—the author of the Book of Proverbs condemns the oppressor, so does the writer of Job, Psalms, Ecclesiates, and the Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, but these writers always represent the Rich as oppressing the poor, nor have I been able to find one Instance where the poor are accused of oppressing the Rich—but now things seem to be changed, the poor are now considered as being a burden to the rich, how can this change have come to pass think you, is it not done by a System of Legislation which instantaniously converts the produce of the Labour of the poor into the property of the Rich, and this to such a Degree that in some cases the Industrious Poor are dependent upon the Bounty of the Rich for a maintenance the Produce of their Labor being insufficient for the purpose—We read also of those who add House to House and Field to Field by taking the poor man's Labor for nought, and is not this attempted to be affected three Ways, ie, First by advancing the Rent of Land (though we read the Earth is the Lords and the people the Sheep of his Pasture—Second by increasing the System of Taxation. Third by the rapid Improvements in machinery by which they render manual Labor less necessary therefore redundant and then reduce the Wages thereof. We also read “thou shalt not muzzle the Ox that treadeth out the Corn,” from which Saint Paul infers, that if the Law secured to the laboring Ox a maintenance there could be no doubt of the laboring man being entitled to a maintenance see 1 Cor IX Chapter.”

Wednesday 15 August 2012

15th August 1812: General Maitland posts placards about the Illegal Oaths Act around Lancashire

[15th August 1812]

My dear Sir,

I received your Letter the night before last, and yesterday published all over the County the Handbills of which the enclosed is a Copy.

I endeavoured to make it as simple and concise as possible and in addition I have this day directed it to be advertised thrice in all the County Newspapers, in the West riding, Cheshire & Lancashire.

Our search for arms has produced but little, but we are getting the population returns, and upon any information or suspicion will not fail to make active use of the bill.

I am very anxious to get into Yorkshire, but shall not be able to be there before the 20th, after which day I request you will be good enough to direct to me at Wakefield.

I am sorry to say from the reports I have received that the [burst] with America has again occasioned a very considerable stagnation, and that there is now nearly as great a Depression as there was antecedent to the repeal of the orders in Council—

I shall have the Honor to write Ld. Sidmouth the moment that I hear from Ld. Fitzwilliam

and have [etc]
T Maitland

[To] John Beckett Esqr.

15th August 1812: Handbill offers Pardon of Illegal Oaths in the North of England

15th August 1812: Reports of abundant crops throughout England and Wales

On Saturday 15th August 1812, the Leeds Mercury ran an article reporting that various areas of the country were showing signs that the forthcoming harvest would be abundant:

Wales.—The crops of Wheat throughout Wales are as abundant as ever known.

Winchester.—The Wheat harvest has commenced in the vicinity of this place, and the crops most abundant.

Sussex—Throughout this county, the harvest is very promising, and a larger crop is expected than has been known for many years.

York.—There is a most promising appearance of a plentiful harvest in this county.

Truro.—The harvest in this neighbourhood promises to be most abundant.

Liverpool.—There has not been for many years a more greater promise of an abundant harvest than at present.

The uncommon abundance of the approaching harvest may now be considered as a matter of incontestable certainty. The accounts from all parts of the kingdom concur in justifying this opinion; and we have particular pleasure in observing, that the heavy luxuriance of the crops throughout the western counties, has seldom been equalled within the recollection of the oldest person. Neither blight, smut, mildew, nor any other injurious visitation has yet been witness. The reaping is partially commenced.—Taunton Courier.

The papers represent the crops as highly promising, and only requiring warm and dry weather to bring them to maturity.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

14th August 1812: The solicitor to the Treasury advises Joseph Radcliffe that better evidence is needed against those committed to York Castle

Lincolns Inn
14th August 1812


In addition to Mr. Litchfield's Letter of Yesterday I have the honor to inform you that with respect to Saml Haigh and the seven other Prisoners committed at the same time, the Attorney and Solicitor General think that as the Evidence against some of them consists only of their own Declaration and against others is only the Testimony of an accomplice it is not adviseable to prosecute them merely on such Evidence, while there is a prospect of obtaining better. The Judges therefore will not be applied to to hold the adjourned assizes in September but as circumstances may arise to make it necessary to have recourse to the next adjournment in October it is highly desirable that no time should be lost or pains shared in procuring further Evidence against these Offenders—I have written to Mr. Lloyd to this Effect.

and have the honor to be
Sir &c
(signed) H. Hobhouse

[To] J.Radcliffe Esq

Monday 13 August 2012

13th August 1812: Troop movements

Following the huge numbers practising autoreduction at Knottingley 2 days before, on the night of Thursday 13th August 1812, a detachment of the South Hants Militia were moved from Wakefield to Knottingley.

Saturday 11 August 2012

11th August 1812: 300 women practice autoreduction at Knottingley, West Yorkshire

On Monday 10th August 1812, a group of women had assembled alongside the canal at Knottingley Lock, near Pontefract, to try to intercept a barge laden with corn. Either the barge did not turn up, or there was some other reason, but nothing happened.

The following morning, they turned out again at Knottingley, and were joined by 300 other women. They visited the provision shops, and demanded that flour was sold to them at the reduced price of 3 shillings per stone. The shopkeepers complied, and the woman persuaded the town cryer to announce the results of their autoreduction more widely. Soon, a large number of women came from nearby Brotherton to buy flour at the reduced price.

The direct action had knock-on effects in the locality: the bourgeoisie at nearby Ackworth hastily organised a subscription to sell flour at reduced prices, and similar measures were adopted at Pontefract.

Thursday 9 August 2012

9th August 1812: William Whitehead committed to York Castle for riotous assembly

On Sunday 9th August, William Whitehead, a clothier from Friezland, then part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, was committed to York Castle for riotously assembling in Lydgate on 20th April 1812. He was named by Betty Wrigley of Lydgate as heading a mob which enforced auto-reduction on the area on that date, in a deposition taken by Joseph Radcliffe the day before.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

8th August 1812: Poem 'Bella, horrida bella'

This poem appeared in the Saturday 8th August 1812 edition of the Leeds Mercury:

Bella, horrida bella.

How fast some little time ago,
Our spinning Jenny seem’d to go;
How buisy was the Loom!
Order resum’d her peaceful reign!
And LUDD, and all his sooty train,
Were swept away by BROOME.

But Peace and Plenty little weigh
With fighting men—like CASTLEREAGH:
And now our PREMIER’S plot is—
To quarrel with our old allies,
And very largely subsidize
A crew of BERNADOTTE’S!!

And now they’ll gull poor MISTER BULL,
And swear as purse is fill’d so full,
By war and by disaster—
That Heaps of Gold must fly like chaff
Who’ll keep it for—his MASTER!!

But—Oh what news! To gain the CZAR!
To gain—another glorious war
Across the wide Atlantic!
Why! All these glories on his head,
With want of work and want of bread,
Will make poor JOHN quite frantic!

Sunday 5 August 2012

5th August 1812: John Schofield, the suspected Luddite assassin, is apprehended in London

Four days after the West Riding magistrates had interviewed John Hinchliffe about the attempt on his life on 22nd July 1812, a reward notice was issued, offering 200 Guineas for information. The notice also stated that the man Hinchliffe had mentioned to the magistrates as taking to him about Luddism - John Schofield - was suspected of being involved. and offered a further 20 Guineas for information leading to his apprehension. The notice carried a description of Schofield:
The said John [Schofield] is by Trade a Cloth-Dresser, about Twenty-one Years of Age, Five Feet Ten Inches high, Brown Hair, Dark Complexion, rather stout made; commonly wears a dark coloured Coat, made rather short, and Lead-coloured Jean Pantaloons.

But by then, Schofield had already left the West Riding: indeed, he had left the morning after the incident with Hinchliffe at Wickens. Schofield's father later gave a deposition that his son had voiced his concerns that he would be implicated in the attempt on Hinchliffe's life on the morning he had left, and stated that he intended to flee, leaving his wife and child behind, though he didn't say where to - only that he wouldn't head for Liverpool, in case he was recognised by any West Riding folk.

Taking 10 Guineas with him, Schofield travelled on foot, almost to Leicester, a journey of over 80 miles. There, he took the Nelson coach to London, arriving on Monday 27th July. He headed for the home of a relation called Blackburn, a woollen draper who lived in Aldgate, and stayed there a further 8 days. He borrowed another 5 Guineas from Blackburn to pay the 15 Guineas he would need for his passage to America on a ship that was leaving on Wednesday 5th August 1812.

Schofield's mistake was to use his real name for the ship's register - before it departed, a police officer from the Whitechapel Office called Francis Freeman boarded the ship, the Independent of New York, and found Schofield's name on the register and confronted him. Freeman asked him if he was from Yorkshire, and he said that he was, and Freeman noted his lead-coloured pantaloons. Schofield was asked to read the reward notice and admitted he was the person described in the notice, but denied knowing Hinchliffe. Freeman then arrested him, and took him before the police magistrate Daniel Williams.

In a deposition sworn later that day, Schofield said he had been invited to New York by an uncle called George Hirst, a shopkeeper. He described himself as a farmer, working for his wife's father, who ran a farm at Netherthong. He again denied knowing Hinchliffe, even of the fact he had been shot. He stated that he had bought the lead-coloured pantaloons on the London docks on Saturday 1st August, although he had failed to point out the shop to the police officer when challenged to do so, and the police officer had been unable to find a shop that sold such pants. In any case, the officer had looked through a chest Schofield had taken on board and could not find any other trousers amongst his possessions.

7 days later, with Schofield still in custody in London, his father was examined by the West Riding magistrate Joseph Scott, and related the conversation he had had with his son on the 23rd July. Describing his son's occupation as a clothdresser, crucially he stated that neither he nor his wife had any relation called George Hirst in New York.