Monday, 5 November 2012

5th November 1812: The Town Clerk of Leicester asks the Home Office to pay for the failed prosecution of Thomas Allsop

Leicester Novr 5 1812.


By direction of the Magistrates of Leicester I send you the Bill of disbursements &c in the prosecution against Thos Allsop for sending a threatening letter to Mr. Henry Wood, one of our principal Hosiers. The prosecution was instituted by the Magistrates, & was loudly called for by the state of the times, and, tho’ the evidence failed in producing a legal conviction, it left no doubt in the mind of the Public as to the Prisoner’s Guilt. In cases of this description great difficulty is always experienced in getting proof of the Handwriting, and in this case those difficulties were greatly enhanced by the system of terror which then prevented persons in this Neighbourhood from coming forward to speak to the fact. Recourse, therefore, was obliged to be had to distant parties, & great expenses were, in consequence, incurred in seeking, and bringing to the Assizes, Witnesses from different and very distant parts of the Kingdom—. The public safety, however, required that no expense nor exertions should be spared, and subsequent experience has proved that very salutary effects have resulted from them in this particular instance.

I had the the honor to wait upon you, respecting this subject, when in Town last March, accompanied by Mr. Keck, who joined me in requesting that the Government would take the prosecution into their own hands. You stated that you should be furnished with a copy of the Evidence before the attention of Lord Sidmouth could be drawn to the subject, but the vast importance of the case as affecting the peace and tranquillity of Leicester and its neighbourhood, and the shortness of the interval before the then approaching Assizes, made it impossible for the Magistrates, consistently with their duty, to suspend their preparations until Lord Sidmouth’s directions could be taken, and they consequently determined to proceed with the prosecution, and afterwards to submit the fax to the consideration of Government.

Mr Justice Grose, strongly commended the prosecution, & allowed 53£ towards the expence of it, to be defrayed out of the Borough Rate, but this leaves a surplus of £112..5s..8d still due – which the Magistrates think ought to be paid by the Treasury. They have directed me to request that you will be kind enough to lay this statement before the proper department & favor me with the directions which may be given upon it.

I have [etc]

Tho: Burbridge
Deputy Town Clerk

[To]—Beckett Eqre
&c &c

This letter can be found at HO 42/129. Burbridge seems to have got his dates mixed up: the threatening letter was sent to Henry Wood on 29th May 1812, not March. Legh Keck's involvement in the prosecution is interesting, as he had been supportive of the Framework-knitter's cause in Parliament.

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