Thursday 31 January 2013

31st January 1813: Lieutenant Cooper reports the theft of lead & intimidation of the enemies of Luddites at Elland

Elland 31st January 1813.


I have the Honor to report to you this week, what I fear will not be very agreeable, a Robbery committed at some Copperas Works, at Upper Elland Edge, of a considerable quantity of Lead, the place is not above a mile from the Town. I did not hear of the Robbery ‘till yesterday when I sent three several times to enquire the particulars that I might transmit them to you this morning, unfortunately the Overseer of the Works was absent and is so this morning, therefore my Report proceeds from his Wife who did not know the Weight of the Lead stolen but it consisted of two Pumps and a Pig, the latter I should suppose not less than a hundred pounds weight. The supposed attempt to rob the Toll bar keeper at Aniley Top I also did not hear of ‘till yesterday and in my enquiries about it I find that three Men called him (the bar keeper) out of bed to open the gate for a Waggon and three horses, on his looking out of the Window he found there was nothing at the Gate, they after that gave him much abuse which instead of intimidating, for though an old man he is an old Soldier, occasioned him to sally out with a shovel in his hand when they choose to clear off. this happened on monday night last and the same men, he says, came again the following night to no better purpose. on one of the nights they broke his Windows, and on his going out they called out to shoot him.

Some cowardly Raskals, last night about eleven o'clock, taking advantage of Mr. Cartledge’s being at Halifax, to which place he is known to go every Saturday and not return ‘till a late hour, broke the Windows of his counting House which adjoins his residence and the Windows is within one Yard of the Hall door.

I beg you, General, to excuse the late hour that I send my Report off, which is the consequence of my not being able to satistactory answers to my enquiries yesterday about the matters I have reported.

I hope the same excuse will be allowed by you for any inaccuracies I may have been guilty of as I have written in much haste.

I have [etc]
Alf. Cooper Lt.
West Suffolk Militia

[To] Major General Acland
&c. &c. &c.

I forgot to state that the Robbery of the Lead took place last Monday Night, the Hour I believe not known, and the Works are generally open

31st January 1813: Captain Francis Raynes reports a manufacturer is still intimidated by Luddism

Mills Bridge 31st January


I have great satisfaction in having the Honor to report to you the perfect tranquillity which has prevailed in this part of the Country since the Detachments were withdrawn, altho it is still too evident the turbulent spirit is not destroyed, yet it is sufficiently subdued if the Inhabitants would exert themselves to ensure future quiet and good order but tho’ they know they have nothing but their own vigilance to depend upon, they are relaxing most materially in their exertions for the preservation of the peace—In those places where Associations had been formed, during the last week several have been given up. I have convers’d with many people on the subject, and find them all agreed in one point, that it is fear causes their backwardness, but they say were they under proper regulations, well arm’d and could go out six or seven in a body, they would not be afraid of doing their duty—

Immediately on the Troops being withdrawn, I heard a report that Mr. Lindsey of Gildersome intended taking down his Shears, and to advertise that he had done so—I wrote a Note to enquire if this really was his intention, his answer I have the Honor to enclose, I have since been over to Gildersome, but did not offer any advice on the subject, I merely said, taking Shears down would shew too much fear of the Croppers, he acknowledged it would be cowardly and seems more determined to [keep] them going—

I am sorry to observe Sir, the people here [evince] no disposition to avail themselves of the Pardon offer’d by his Majesty on the contrary, one of the Proclamations was torn down a very little time after it was posted up

I have [etc]
Francis Raynes Captn
Stirling &c Militia

Major General Acland
&c. &c. &c.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

30th January 1813: William Cartwright tells General Acland that Joseph Mellor is lying

Rawfolds January 30 ’13


I omitted to inform you in the Hurry of my last seeing you that on reading the paragraph in the Mercury of last Saturday respecting the outrage at Mellor’s of Lockwood, I sent over to ascertain the Fact & find the thing altogether contemptible;—Mellor up to the Night of this affair had not dared to sleep at Home, when he only did so but left a piece of Cloth upon his Tenter all Night in the Morning it was found to have had cut in it about 4 yards from one End the shape of a Heart which yet however was hanging in the Pine & above it the Letters BBL were chalked; The Foot Marks of 2 men were visible in the Snow near the Tenter.

He having his Cloth upon his Tenter knowing himself to be obnoxious & the Thing’s occuring in the very first Night of his sleeping at Home are circumstances which compel me to suspect that it is a notable Contrivance of his own—

I remain respectfully—


Your most obedient
and very humble Servant

Wm. Cartwright

[To] Major General Acland
&c &c

30th January 1813: The Leeds Mercury reprints the Reverend Brown's letter about George Mellor's last words

The following Letter, addressed to the Editor of the Leeds Intelligencer, by the Rev. G. Brown, Chaplain of the Castle of York, is decisive of the point at issue between the “Attentive Hearer” and the “Diligent Enquirer,” and can indeed leave no room for further discussion or doubt upon the subject. It is hardly necessary to observe, that the situation of the Rev. Divine who remained on the fatal platform, close to the prisoners, during the whole of the mournful ceremony, must render his authority, as to what was said by the Prisoners, infinitely superior to that of any hearer, however attentive, necessarily placed at a considerable distance, and where words imperfectly heard might be easily misconceived. And if the “Attentive Hearer” possesses a single particle of candor, he will hasten publicly to retract his confident assertions, and apologise for an insinuation most unfounded, and which can only be protected from the charge of malice by successive folly and absurdity.

Saturday 26 January 2013

26th January 1813: General Acland asks Major Bruce to investigate the fire at Sutcliffe's Mill at Todmorden

Wakefield 26th January 1813.


It has just been reported to me that a large Cotton Mill belonging to Mr. Sutcliffe of Todmorden was last night burnt to the ground. I request you will send over a Dragoon & make every enquiry in your power & ascertain the truth. in the way I have it, it is stated that it is suppos’d to have been done maliciously, this is material to ascertain, most properly if it happen’d at all it has been accidental. The report comes from a Mr. Jenkinson the Landlord of the White Lion of Halifax — let me hear from you as soon you can – make every thing out — Todmorden is ten or twelve miles from Halifax on the Barnsley road

Wroth: P Acland
M General

[To] Major Bruce
Stirling Militia

26th January 1813: The Stockport solicitor, John Lloyd, tells the Home Office that his agents are greedy for a reward

Stockport 26 Jany 1813


I have the honor of your public and private Letters this morning, the first containing Instructions for the distribution of the Proclamation, many Copies of which accompanied the Letter—& in pursuance of it, I dispatched Taylor & Whitehead to the proper Counties to post this morning—

The latter relative to these two men surprized me, for they that knew that it was my intention to write about them to Mr. Hobhouse which I have done, and I consider their conduct as exceedingly impertinent in writing to the Secretary of State & taking the liberty of asserting that there was an agreement entered into—

I acknowledge that they have made themselves very useful and that in some cases they have risked their lives; but at the same time they have been very expensive, & I have to recommend that you first see the accounts, which I shall send up to Mr Hobhouse in the course of a day or two, before you fix upon any pecuniary remuneration — in the mean time I will give them something to keep them — I certainly do think their Services were of real importance but am not enabled to say what compensation will be sufficient to satisfy them.

I am very happy to be enabled to state that the proceedings at York have had the best possible effect all over the country — Before I left the West riding I took my Horse & rode through the different places where I was known to have been busy against the Luds — and since my return home I have visited many companies & been much about in my own neighbourhood and have derived the greatest gratification in witnessing the proper observations & feelings of the people—

I have [etc]
J Lloyd

P.S. I shall take no notice at present to Taylor & Whitehead of having had any Letter from you.

[To] J Beckett Esqr
&c &c

26th January 1813: The Treasury Solicitor suggests that the Home Office pay off the informer, Samuel Fleming

Lincolns Inn
Jan. 26. 1813.


With Reference to Mr Litchfield’s Letter of the 28th ulto, in which he transmitted a Bill and Mr. Joseph Nadin of Manchester containing (among other Things) various Payments made by him to Samuel Fleming a Witness for the Crown at the Summer Assizes at Lancaster, I have the Honor to inform you that having seen at York both Mr. Nadin & Mr. Hay the Magistrate I took an opportunity of speaking to them on the Subject of Fleming, & have now to transmit to you for Lord Sidmouth’s Information a Copy of a Letter from Mr. Hay, suggesting what appears to the magistrates on the spot to be the best mode of getting Fleming off the Hands of Government.

I have [etc]
H. Hobhouse

[To] J Beckett Esq

[Written in margin]

27. —

Write to the Treasury — and request that this will authorise them [illegible] to advance 100£ for the purpose stated out of monies in his hand, for [illegible] a Criminal [Prosn]

Friday 25 January 2013

25th January 1813: The Chaplain of York Castle intervenes in the war over George Mellor's last words

To the Editor of the Leeds Intelligencer.

SIR,—Having seen your Paper two Letters signed An Attentive Hearer,” wherein he asserts that Mellor in his prayer begged of God to forgive “us poor murderers.”

I think it a duty I owe to the public to contradict the assertion, as no such expression was uttered by him, neither was any acknowledgement of guilt for the offence, made at any time, by him or his companions, directly or indirectly, either to me or the public; so far from any thing of the sort taking place, when I put the question in their last moments, “I hope you acknowledge the justness of your sentence?” The answer was “I desire you will not ask me any questions on the subject.” Notwithstanding which, no man in his senses can entertain a doubt of their guilt. I am afraid your Attentive Hearer has mistaken the word adulterers (which Mellor made use of in his prayer) for murderers, as there is a little similarity in the sound.

I am, Sir, your humble servant,

G.BROWN, Chaplain, York Castle.
York, 20th January, 1813.

25th January 1813: 'An Attentive Hearer' writes again about George Mellor's last words

Mr. Printer,—“A Diligent Enquirer” has certainly taken great pains to ascertain whether Mellor did or did not acknowledge itself and his companions to be murderers, and it appears that those persons he has communicated with did not notice the confession. I believe there were present a great many more persons who did not hear Mellor make use of the expression alluded to, but this is no proof that what I advance is false.—“A Diligent Enquirer” says that some of the persons whom he enquired said, Mellor's words were, “even to his murderers.” That these persons are mistaken is evident, as he was addressing himself to Christ, and not speaking of him.—His words were—“Thou who cast devils out of Mary Magdalen—thou who pardonest the thief upon the cross—thou canst still save thieves, aye, and even us poor murderers.”

The words us and his, are very similar in sound, so much so, that they might easily be mistaken the one for the other, but their meaning is so very different, it will always be possible to determine which is spoken.—In this instance “A Diligent Enquirer” and the public must, I think, determine it in favor of “the word I have put into Mellor’s mouth,” us. Otherwise the sentence is rendered very unmeaning.

Wagers are in my opinion no argument, and I am astonished that “A Diligent Enquirer” should propose this mode of settling any dispute.—But his wager is particularly objectionable; if I understand it right, in all probability both parties must lose.—If it be necessary, I can produce respectable testimonials of the truth of what I have advanced. “the word of honour of persons of character,” that Mellor did make use of the expression alluded to.


25th January 1813: The Leeds Intelligencer suggests liberal newspapers are to blame for Luddism

It requires no extraordinary acuteness of penetration nor clearness of judgement to perceive, that, from the first appearance of open violence in Nottinghamshire, down through the whole of the successive stages of disorders, mischiefs and outrages in the more Northern counties, to the late awful executions at York, the labouring part of the community, who really are in distress, as well as those who imagine themselves deprived of those comforts, or of that affluence which they suppose themselves entitled to possess, have been uniformly taught, by certain Newspapers, that the evils they suffer, or imagine they suffer, are to be attributed to the fault of their Governors. The same Newspapers have led these people to think it their duty to unite in opposition to the measures which are represented to them as the oppressive needless acts of their own unwise or unfeeling Government. They are told, that if they will but persevere they must ultimately succeed, and after they have been induced to desire and expect from Government such things as it would be unwise, dangerous or impossible to grant, still they are taught to consider themselves as injured, and oppressed, and encouraged to persevere. What then can they suppose themselves urged to do, but to proceed to actual violence, in such ways as to themselves may seem most likely to accomplish their absurd wicked withes. It is an insult to common sense and common observation, for those who encouraged them to any thing, which, in their own misguided estimation, was right or necessary, but the accomplishment of which is likely to lead on to acts of violence—to say that we never intended them to destroy property or life. If they are to unite of persevere till their object be obtained, they must bind themselves to each other—when bound they must proceed. Hence illegal oaths, illegal practices, and every mischief.

There is much reason to hope that the proceedings of the late Commission in this country, under which such just firmness, severity, and well-directed clemency have been mingled with so much wisdom and discernment, that fresh lustre has been added to the brightness of our unrivalled code of Laws, and to the firm, discreet and temperate manner in which they are executed in our courts of justice, will have the effect so ardently desired by every friend to society and humanity, unless that desirable effect be prevented and set aside by the same injurious and cruel means by which the late lamented disgraceful events were originally fomented and encouraged.

But to what purpose, we ask, is it again insinuated that the perpetrators of the late atrocious crimes were men who have been urged to commit them by the privations, the want of employment, and consequent difficulties and distresses which have been wilfully brought upon the country in general, and upon these offenders in particular, by what are represented as to the impolitic, unnecessary measures of Government. To what purpose, we ask, are these misrepresentations renewed, if it be not to re-foment and keep alive in the minds of the populace the same false unjust prejudices, which have led to the outrages we have witnessed.

Shall we implicitly credit the representation that all is perfectly free from any Political bearing, when we remark the extreme caution in all the parties concerned, as to the extent of the information given by the witnesses who know most, and the confessions of those who suffered?


Thursday 24 January 2013

24th January 1813: Lieutenant Cooper informs General Acland about a Luddite funeral and another wanting to take the oath of allegiance

Elland 24th January [1813.]


I have the Honor to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 22d Instant and shall take care to follow your directions as they regard the diminution of the Detachment. I have already followed your directions as to patroling, which I received from you when at Wakefield.

I shall take pains to impress on the minds of the people of Elland and it’s neighbourhood the necessity of protecting themselves by their personal exertions Mr Dyson of Mr Cartledge have always been aware of it but though their exertions have been great they have not been generally supported.

The only Funeral in the neighbourhood of Elland was that of John Hill and no disturbance occurred but what was the consequence of the Methodist Parson refusing to read the service over the body, which was not of sufficient importance to notice.

I am happy to inform you that a man, of the name of Mitchell, who lives at Sowerby and whose son I had a Warrant against but was prevented serving by his leaving the Country, came to me this morning to ask me whether his son could be allowed to take the benifit of the Prince Regent's Proclamation for he was willing to go to Mr Radcliffe to take the Oath of Allegiance. I desired him to come to me again on tuesday I hope to hear from you under what circumstances such an indulgence may be granted. I had no information of his being concerned in any crimes beyond stealing Arms at the time I applied for the warrant, but I have reason to apprehend, from subsequent information, that he has been engaged in depredations when money or other property was stolen.

I have [etc]
Alf. Cooper Lieut.
West Suffolk Militia

[To] Major General Acland
&c &c &c

Wednesday 23 January 2013

23rd January 1813: General Maitland issues a circular to West Riding Magistrates about the withdrawal of troops

York, 23d January, 1813.



As it is my intention to make an immediate change in the distribution of that part of the force under my orders, employed in the West Riding, and, as it is probable a further change may eventually take place, considerably diminishing the amount of that force, I feel it a duty incumbent upon me, to make you aware of the nature of the immediate change, that you may adopt such local measures, should you deem any necessary, as to you may appear fitting for the security if your division. Hitherto the troops have been detached all over the country, as circumstances, and the information I received, rendered it necessary: they were kept in a great state of activity, and constantly on the alert, with a view to the general tranquillity of the country.

The experience, however, of the last two months having plainly indicated that the temper of the country was considerably changed, and that he deluded men who have been guilty of the atrocities that had occurred, had either repented of their illegal courses, or had been intimidated to forbearance from future outrage; and having now before us, the heavy but necessary and salutary example of the late executions in this place, for which the happiest effects must justly be expected to rise, it is deemed adviseable that the feeling of the country should have a full and fair trial, by withdrawing all the numerous detachments, by the ceasing of all military activity, and by allowing the general temper to manifest itself in the most free and unfettered manner. All the detachments are, therefore, forthwith, with very few exceptions, to be called in; nor shall I give way, without the strongest reasons, to any applications that may be made, either for their continuance in part or in whole.

If, in the opinion of the magistrates, any protection is necessary in any part of their division, it is expected they will find that protection, by calling forth such local force as they have now had ample time to organize, and which, under the present circumstances, appears to be fully adequate to the purpose of local protection.

Should the same spirit happily continue to prevail, and no further symptoms of dissatisfaction shew themselves, a diminution of the large force employed by His Majesty in the West-Riding, will materially take place within a short time; which leads me, still further, to be anxious to make this statement to you, that you may keep in view, the necessity of preserving in those measures for local protection, to which you must eventually look for safety and security.

I trust it is unnecessary for me to add, that should our just and well grounded expectations of the restoration of tranquillity, unfortunately not be realized, you will find, on my part, the same wish and anxiety to give every military aid, which has been my uniform study since I honor to command in this part of the country.


23rd January 1813: The Leeds Mercury expresses relief that Luddism was unconnected to reformist politics & politicians

However afflictive the transactions the late Assize, under the Special Commission, at York, must have been to every humane mind, there is one point on which every friend to his Country, and every loyal heart – loyal in the true sense of the word, will find consolation; and that is, the discovery that the disturbances which have recently prevailed, stand unconnected with political men and political parties. In these disturbances, not an individual above the rank of the persons who have paid the forfeit of their lives to the injured laws of their country seems to have been concerned, either directly or indirectly.—In the Judge’s Charge the Grand Jury, his Lordship seemed to conceive that the erroneous opinions of the persons concerned in these disturbances, had been infused into their minds by some evil disposed persons, for the worst purposes; but there was not a tittle of evidence to support the supposition that these mistaken men acted under any sort of instigation other than that of persons engaged in their own pursuits. Nor is it necessary, to look to any other causes for a solution of their conduct. The objection to machinery amongst persons affected by its operation, is no new objection; nor are outrages on that account in former times, unknown to this country. Upwards of a dozen years ago, a vast number of persons riotously assembled in the streets of Leeds, and from thence proceeded to a Mill in this neighbourhood where Machinery used in the dressing of cloth was used, and completely destroyed the Mill. This spirit was again roused by the practices which so long prevailed in Nottinghamshire, accounts of which, Mr. Park observed, the persons engaged in these practices were in the habit of reading in the Newspapers—in all Newspapers—for these accounts, as forming a part of the history of the times, when inserted in every Newspaper in the kingdom.

The only part of the evidence given at the trials under the Special Commission, that seemed to have any political aspect, was that given by John Hinchliffe, who deposed, that when Scholefield was attempting to prevail upon him to take the illegal oath, he said that they were waiting to get a body of men within the liberty of Holmfirth,—they had got such a body at Huddersfield, and they wanted to get a body of men at all places, and then they might start in a moment and overthrow the Government; and that all the officers and men, except one Serjeant in a whole regiment, were twisted in, besides four of the Queen’s Bays. But no sober-minded man would lay any stress upon this redoubtable story, which carries on the face of it, a notorious falsehood; and which would if true, not so much implicate political as military men. We assert, then, and we appeal to the proceedings [at] every stage of the business [obscured] confirmation [obscured] [illegible], that there [illegible] arcana of this [illegible] combination [had] [obscured] got into, though persons most deeply implicated in its transactions, and best acquainted with its secrets have become evidence for the Crown, and made all the discoveries in their power, that there never was a combination of the same extent in this, or any other country, so perfectly free from all political subjects, or so entirely destitute of political characters. It is true, however, that indirectly the political relations of the country, and the want of a free commerce, have given an extension to this combination that it would never otherwise have acquired, and that the privation and deficiency of labour amongst the poor, have led men (in want of better employment,) to hazard their lives in these desperate enterprizes.

We shall at present only further observe, that conceiving it to be a vast importance to the restoration of the public tranquillity to lay before the public, with promptitude, the proceedings under the Special Commission York; we have spared no pains to affect so desirable a purpose, and it may without arrogance claim the exclusive [merit] of having by those exertions given to our readers in a certain sense to the whole kingdom, faithful history of the transactions of an assize equal in importance to almost any occurrence in the criminal jurisprudence of this country.

23rd January 1813: A new correspondent - 'Diligent Enquirer' - enters the debate about George Mellor's last words


Mr. EDITOR,—“An Attentive Hearer” seems to be a very [pernicious] one. He set out with asserting, that George Mellor, one of the murderers of Mr. Horsfall, in his prayer on the fatal platform, speaking of himself and his fellow-sufferers, used the words, “us poor murderers,”and said, “There are many here who have expecting to see us die game.” These words, you say, were never used; on which he repeats his former assertion: and such conflict and testimonies, on a topic of general conversation, naturally produces the enquiry on which side truth is to be found. Feeling this curiosity, in common with many others, and not being myself present at the execution, I determined to ascertain the fact of the case from the best authority; and for this purpose I addressed myself to the Ordinary, to the Under Sheriff, and to the Governor of the Castle, all of whom concurred in stating, that they did not hear either of these expressions, and that they were persuaded they were not used by any of the malefactors. Not satisfied with this, I next enquired of a number of the Sheriff’s Officers, who stood within a pace or two of the culprit when he delivered the prayer or address, in which “An Attentive Hearer” says the words occurred, but they all, except one, agreed with the gentleman mentioned above, and that officer said, that he thought he heard some expression of the kind, but he was engaged at the moment, and could not be quite certain. I then applied to some of spectators who stood in front of the drop, and they confirmed the declaration of the officers, that the words imputed to Mellor were not used by him. Some of the persons said, that in speaking the forgiveness of Christ, he enumerated it sinners of several kinds, to which his forgiveness was extended, and concluded the sentence with saying, and “even to his murderers,” but that no such abhorrent word as “game;” abhorrent I mean in that sense, fell from Mellor’s lips. I am therefore of opinion, and I think my authority will not be thought weak, that as to one of the expressions “An Attentive Hearer” has fallen into a mistake, and as to the other he has indulged in a bold figure of speech.

But as he may still, from “prudent motives,” reiterate his assertion, I will place the matter in a way that may make the dispute not quite so uninteresting to the public, as it might otherwise appear; and for this purpose I have lodged ten guineas in the hands of my printer to be applied to the use of the General Infirmary at Leeds, if an “Attentive Hearer” can, out of the vast concourse of spectators that attended the execution, produce six persons of character who will assert, on their word of honour, that Mellor used the words which he has put into his mouth, and I  challenge this “Attentive Hearer”to offer the same sum to be applied to the same purpose,  on my producing twice that number of persons of veracity, from amongst the spectators, who will assert, that neither Mellor nor his fellow-sufferers, used either of those expressions. As to their guilt there cannot be a particle of doubt, the point at issue is the confession. I was, Sir, not “An Attentive Hearer,” but I have been


Tuesday 22 January 2013

22nd January 1813: General Acland rebukes Lt Colonel Lang for providing a guard for Joseph Mellor

York 22nd January 1813.


Your communication respecting Joseph Mellor dated yesterday has been forwarded to me here—It does not appear that the circumstances you have detail’d are of sufficient importance to authorize a Guard being placed in this man's house & I therefore desire you will withdraw it & that in future you will not furnish any additional Guards on such applications without a previous communication to Head Quarters & receiving permission for granting them.

If this is allow’d to be done on every application that may be made, & there can be little doubt but such will be very numerous arising out of the plans & apprehensions of the weak minded & timid, it will be impossible either General Maitland or myself can judge of the true spirit & feeling of the country, as the natural disposition of the greatest part of the Inhabitants is never to [fancy] themselves [illegible] without Military protection & as soon as this is granted they cease to exert themselves in organizing any Local Measures for their own security & protection which is the plan that ought generally to be adopted & on which they must ultimately rely for their safety, as the Military can only be at hand to afford General protection & not be [fritter’d] away in small & useless detachments which [harries] the efforts of [every] individual in the country as to any self exertion

I am &c &c
Wroth: P: Acland
M General

[To] Lt Colonel Lang
South Devon Militia

22nd January 1813: General Acland issues orders for the winding down of troops in the area of Liversedge

York 22d Jany 1813


You will receive Orders for the withdrawing all the detachments under your Command, excepting the men of the Stirling militia to join their respective regiments on the 25th Inst. It is General Maitlands directions that this detachment of the Stirling should continue under your command & to be stationed at Mills Bridge. One Corporal & six Dragoons, will be attached to this—You will therefore be enabled to give Mr Cartwright the protection he has usually had, & also to check any appearance of disturbance, should any shew itself which however I do not think likely—

It is necessary you should send out patroles less frequently than Hitherto, and relax from your usual activity, leaving the country in a great degree to itself that we may be enabled to judge of the Spirit and temper of the People—You will therefore only adopt such measures and would generally be resorted to in the ordinary times of quiet, for the tranquillity of your immediate neighbourhood, unless circumstances should positively require your acting otherwise; but then the reason should be well founded and perfectly satisfactory and then reported to me.

I am aware the withdrawing the Detachments may excite some fears & alarms in the weak minded & that numerous applications may be made for Guards & Military protection you must resist all such, & impress on the minds of all persons making such applications the necessity of availing themselves of the present circumstances of the Country to organize such Local system has may immediately & eventually ensure their own protection & security, as well as keep order & tranquillity, & inform them that it is my firm determination approved & sanctioned by Lt. General Maitland not to give any further military protection, but on the strongest & most imperious grounds of necessity; & it will be therefore [unavailing] to make any applications for it—

I will tomorrow  send you a Copy of a Circular letter from Lt. General Maitland to the Magistrates

I have [etc]
Wroth P Acland

Capt. Raynes
Stirling militia

22nd January 1813: General Aland issues orders for the winding down of troops in the area of Elland

York 22 Jany 1813


It is Lt. General Maitland's intention that the Detachment at Elland shall be reduced to three Serjeants & thirty rank & file which is to remain under your Command. Directions have been sent major [Garnham] to call in Ensign Young with the remainder on the 25th Inst., but you will select, such as you think proper to comprize the detachments to be continued with you.

I have received a letter from Mr. Dyson & Mr. Cartledge on the subject of the troops being withdrawn from Elland; you will have the goodness to inform these gentlemen that it never was in contemplation to do so immediately, though eventually it may take place, & certainly will, if however circumstances are sufficiently favorable to admit of it—

It is therefore adviseable the Inhabitants of Elland should organize some system of [illegible] arrangement that may be fully adequate to the preservation order & tranquillity, & give themselves security & protection, & you will lose no opportunity of impressing this upon their minds, while circumstances are so favourable for their carrying such a system fully into effect.

Though it is still necessary you should be vigilant in your enquiries & observations, it is highly advisable you should leave the Country in a great degree to itself, that we may be enabled to judge of the temper & feelings of the people, you will therefore discontinue constant patroling & only send out such as you would do in ordinary times of quiet & tranquillity for the good order of your immediate neighbourhood, unless circumstances authorize greater activity & you have very strong & good reasons for occasioning your exertions which must be reported to me—

I have [etc]
Wroth P Acland

Lt Cooper
West Suffolk (militia)

22nd January 1813: Lt Colonel Lang reports the incident with Major Cartwright to General Acland

Huddersfield Jany 22nd 1813


I have the honor to acquaint you, Major Cartwright arrived at the George Inn last night about five, or six, oclock and sent for several of the most suspicious persons in the Town to join him, which was done — about ten oclock the watch and ward being apprehensive for the quiet of Huddersfield, from the discription of people who had met, thought it advisable to interfere, and finding printed papers in the room calculated to inflame the minds of the lower orders of the people, and Major Cartw right refusing a Copy to be taken, it was considered right to procure one by legal means which I presume will be forwarded this Day by Mr. Radcliff the Magistrate to the Secretary of State for his information.

I hear the Major is going this afternoon from hence to Wakefield—

And have the honor [etc]
R Lang Lt Col
South Devon Regt

[To] Major General Acland
&c &c &c

Monday 21 January 2013

'The Luddite Legacy' by Alan Brooke

Full text of a paper forming the basis of a talk given at York Guildhall on 19th January 2013, to commemorate the execution of the West Riding of Yorkshire Luddites in 1813.

In Huddersfield alone, where the Luddite tradition is the most tenacious, the Bicentenary has involved at least a couple of thousand people in events which have been covered by the media, bringing the name 'Luddite' to thousands more.

There have been numerous meetings, plays, folk sessions and poetry readings involving people with a wide range of interests in Luddism - political and campaigning (such as Luddites 200), academic and cultural. It has involved playwrights, poets, musicians and morris dancers as well as historians. Some people have attempted to analyse Luddism and its continued relevancy – others have been happy to perpetuate the mythic and romantic view of Luddism.

There is no doubt that Luddism has left a vibrant legacy. This talk looks at some aspects of that legacy, both local and international.

Whether the Luddites ever considered that they would be remembered by posterity we have no record. In Yorkshire we have no speeches from the dock and the brief last words of George Mellor on the scaffold were soon after obscured by controversy about what he had actually said.

There was no attempt to claim martyrdom [1] – and in that the mainstream labour movement has been glad to oblige them. The cult of martyrdom, such as it is, is a very anaemic, apologetic and self conscious phenomenon in the British Labour Movement which just doesn’t ‘do’ martyrs. Martyrs seem only acceptable if they are ‘innocent victims’ such as the Peterloo martyrs and the Tolpuddle martyrs. This is despite the long roll call of working class people who have died fighting for their rights.

As well as the 40 or so who fell during the Luddite rising, there are the 3 Pentridge insurgents of 1817, Hardie, Baird and Wilson executed in 1820, Dic Penderyn hung for his part in the Merthyr uprising in 1831, George Shell and the twenty or more others shot in the gunbattle with troops at Newport in 1839 and John Clayton, Samuel Holberry and the other Chartists who died in gaol. More recently we have David Jones and Joe Green who were killed in the great Miners' Strike of 1984-1985.

Although some of these have been honoured with local plaques and monuments, the example of their actions has not been assimilated into the tradition of the labour movement.

Certainly Shelleys’ imagery of martyrdom from his revolutionary poem 'Queen Mab' has not gained wide acceptance in British working class culture as it has, for example, among Irish republicans.
Love’s brightest roses on the scaffold bloom,
Mingling with freedom’s fadeless laurels there...
Shelley was writing this poem as the Luddite rising was unfolding. He was certainly aware of the York executions and suggested raising subscriptions to help the families, though I don’t know if this got off the ground.

I come from the village of Honley in the Holme Valley, three miles south of Huddersfield and a focus of Luddite activity in 1812. From my house I can see the site of two workshops attacked in 1812 and a few hundred yards away is the Coach & Horses pub, where two of the Luddites said to be involved in the assassination of the mill owner William Horsfall, spent the evening after the attack. I grew up on stories of the Luddites - it can safely be said that Luddism is part of my cultural heritage. [2]

But as a historian the problem for me remains – how much is this tradition genuine folklore, handed down orally in the community, and how much has it been derived from a literary tradition which has fed back into local consciousness? How far is it acquired culture and how far real collective memory?

Earlier last year I asked my uncle about my great grandfather who had been a conscientious objector in the First World War and if there was any family account of his imprisonment. He replied, 
"They were a funny lot in those days. I once asked about a relative who was supposed to be involved with the Luddites and was told 'You don’t want to know about that. There are some things best not talked about.' "
How much local knowledge of the Luddites was lost because people didn’t want to talk about events with which they, or those close to them, were involved? A kind of omertà born partly out of loyalty and partly out of fear. This reticence accounts for the paucity of references to Luddism in the generation after 1812-1820, and through the turbulent period culminating in Chartism. It also accounts for the total absence of any accounts of ‘insiders’ in the later period which throw any light on the inner workings of Luddism. For all the claims that late Victorian writers like Frank Peel drew on authentic oral tradition there is really little in his account which reveals anything about the Luddite movement.

However, despite this silence from the Luddite milieu itself, the Luddite rising did maintain a hold on the local imagination. Charlotte Brontё’s 'Shirley' both reflected this fascination and helped to perpetuate it, as did the accounts of Peel and D.F.E. Sykes, author of ‘Ben o’Bills the Luddite’ and others, which mingled fact and fiction in varying degrees. 

For an excellent account of the literary heritage of Luddism one can do no better than read Steven Jones' Against Technology – From the Luddites to Neo-Luddism.

But as well as the literary and traditional heritage of Luddism, what of its’ practical political legacy?

Locally, the Luddite influence on the immediate aftermath of 1812 is apparent. Luddism did not end in 1813 with the hangings, there was at least one incident of machine breaking in Huddersfield in 1815 and there is no doubt that the militancy of Luddism fed into the insurrections which were planned in the area in 1817 and 1820. George Taylor, a Holme Valley leader, was reputed to have been involved in Luddism in 1812 as was James Smaller of Horbury. Thomas Riley, suspected of planning the assassination of the magistrate Joseph Radcliffe in 1812, was arrested for involvement in 1817 and committed suicide in York Castle. In the run up to the rising one man who asked what they should do if they didn’t have enough arms was told ‘They would go Ludding’, and one of the victims of just such a raid for arms in Honley also described the insurgents as ‘damned Ludding rogues’. Ludding therefore did not just refer to machine breaking but was also associated with raids for arms and rebellion. There is no doubt that the factors which contributed to the vitality of Luddism in Huddersfield in 1812 also played a role in the insurgencies of 1817 and 1820, making the area the only one in Britain to participate in all three risings.

Huddersfield also remained a stronghold of both demands for radical reform of parliament, Owenite trade unionism, resistance to the factory system and to the new poor law in the late 1820s and 1830s,  although now it was the handloom weaver rather than the cropper who was the backbone of the movement. Although there were no attacks on machinery Richard Oastler, the Radical Tory leader of the Factory Movement, did advocate sabotage of  machines used to flout the Factory Acts and overwork children. The culmination of these movements, the great General Strike of 1842, did involve attacks on mills, but not to destroy machinery, only to force their closure and reinforce the strike.

Thanks to the literary tradition I have referred to, and particularly Sykes' novel which was published by the Worker, the Huddersfield socialist weekly paper in 1911, the Luddite centenary was an opportunity to draw on the account of the Luddite rising in the popular domain in order to point out parallels with contemporary events.

The 2012 Luddite Bicentennary has overshadowed the commemoration of more recent events in 1912. This was the high-tide mark of what has been variously called the Workers Rebellion or the Labour Revolt – a wave of industrial militancy between 1910 and 1914 which saw miners, dockers, seamen, railwaymen, builders and others locked in protracted and violent disputes with employers and the state. People were killed in riots in Tonypandy, Llanelli and Merseyside, thousands of troops garrisoned towns and cities and gun boats were stationed on the Mersey and Humber. These events gave impetus to the syndicalist movement which based its tactics, as the Luddites had done, on direct action and sabotage.

This development alarmed those on the left who believed that political action, was primary. In October 1912 the executive of the British Socialist Party, led by the dogmatic Marxist H.M. Hyndman, issued a statement condemning direct action:
‘There is no probability that Syndicalist methods will find favour in Great Britain.  The tactics of the Levellers and Luddites belong to a lower stage  of economic development and working class organisation than that to which we have attained.’
A few weeks later, Ernest John Bartlett Allen, a leading industrial unionist and former associate of Tom Mann (that is Tom Mann the English trade unionist, not the German novelist) wrote an article reproduced in the Huddersfield socialist weekly, the Worker, entitled ‘Is sabotage un-English’. E.J.B. Allen had lived in Honley between 1910 and 1912, where, despite his Oxford education,  he was a labourer in a bobbin turning workshop and was well known in the local movement through his support for the maverick former revolutionary socialist MP, Victor Grayson.  He pointed out:
‘the textile workers created a sabotage of their own when they had their Luddite movement ... In the Huddersfield area they had a specially heavy hammer made for this work ... they sang the praises of this great hammer, Great Enoch, as they had named it.’
He has got hold of the wrong end of the stick, or rather hammer, in saying it was specially made – but his point that direct attacks on machinery were an indigenous form of struggle is valid.
The syndicalist claim to have the Luddites among their fore-fathers was given another twist at a meeting in 1914 when Guy Bowman, editor of the Syndicalist journal, visited Huddersfield. He had been gaoled in 1912 along with Tom Mann for issuing a ‘Don’t Shoot’ appeal to troops called out against strikers. The chair of the meeting George Greensmith, a leading Huddersfield anarchist, claimed that one of the first manifestations of anti-militarism had occurred locally when one of the soldiers stationed in Rawfolds Mill was flogged for  refusing to fire on the Luddites.

Greensmith has gone on record with his own startlingly modern Luddite prophecy. This was  in a debate in 1912 with Fred Shaw, a Huddersfield engineer, leading local Marxist (and syndicalist sympathiser!) Greensmith criticised Marx for reducing man to
‘the modern sport of the machines man had made in the factories man had built.  [but] When man desired they could chuck the machines into the gutter and refuse to go into the mines. It was no longer necessary.  They could chain the tides and harness the sunshine.’
Those who pointed out the differences between 1812 and 1912 had some justification. The Luddites were resisting the introduction of machines in the infancy of industrial capitalism – the years before the first world war saw the zenith of heavy industry in Britain. The main problem now was how to gain control over the industrial system. Though the syndicalists embraced Luddite methods they were not seeking the curtailment or abolition of the machine. However, Greensmith’s quote shows that some anarchists, (as did aesthetic socialists like William Morris), saw the machine itself as an obstacle to a new society.

The dispute between Marxists and state socialists on one side and Syndicalists and Anarchists on the other about the relevancy of the machine and Luddism was not confined to Britain. It was a dispute between those who saw socialism primarily in terms of the development of the productive forces and those who emphasised a new society based on changed social relations. The most revolutionary and original among the latter was the German Anarcho-Socialist Gustav Landauer.

In his stirring and poetic ‘Call to Socialism’ published in 1911 he slammed Marxism for its dependency on technology.
Marxism is the uncultured plodder who knows nothing more important, nothing more splendid, nothing more sacred than technology and its progress ... The father of Marxism is neither the study of history, nor Hegel. It is neither Smith nor Ricardo, nor any of the pre-Marxist socialists. It is neither a revolutionary democratic condition, nor even less the will and longing for culture and beauty among men. The father of Marxism is steam. Old wives prophecy from coffee dregs. Karl Marx prophecied from steam.
For Landauer, socialism could not be produced from the same technological basis as capitalism – it requires a decentralisation and a move back to the land. Above all it requires an assertion of the human soul, or spirit – the Geist. For those of you who think I have wandered off the Luddites, the significance of this will become apparent at the close of this paper.

One who came to Landauer’s views over the following years was the young poet and dramatist, Ernst Toller, whose experiences on the Western Front turned him into a pacifist and who through the anti-war movement came into contact with the Independent Social Democratic Party. Both Toller and Landauer found themselves leaders of the short lived Munich Soviet in 1919 when Toller announced that they were making a revolution not of force, but of love. Nevertheless Toller was projected into command of the soviet’s small red army and led an action which drove the whites out of the village of Dachau.

On 1st May 1919 the army of the German Republic and the proto-Nazi Freikorps paramiltaries took Munich, launching a white terror killing up to a thousand people, including Landauer who was beaten almost to death then shot. Ernst Toller, thanks to the intervention of prominent figures such as Max Weber and Thomas Mann (that is the German novelist not the English trade unionist), was spared the firing squad.

His five-year imprisonment gave him time to reflect on the ethical and moral dilemmas raised by the revolution. In 1920 to 1921 in the Niederschonenfeld Fortress he composed a drama based on the Luddites entitled ‘Die Maschinenstürmer’ - ‘The Machine Wreckers’. Toller was an Expressionist and did not seek just to portray historical events, which is just as well since the play is not at all accurate. The events of 1812 were used to explore his views about revolutionary violence. Ned Ludd is not a leader, mythical or otherwise, but an ordinary down to earth and somewhat naive worker who believes that smashing the machines will improve the situation. The leader of the ‘weavers’ as they are referred to is Jimmy Cobbett, a surname obviously taken from William Cobbett, who exhorts the men not to resort to violence and to take control of the machines, rather than smashing them. It is he, rather than the millowner, who becomes the target of assassination by the Luddites. Toller explained that in his play the machine was:
"..more than a mere thing. It is a ‘devil’ a ‘demon’ and it provokes its own destruction. It is ‘the  symbol of  our mechanistic age."
The question of violence is not entirely resolved. Though it is shown as ultimately futile it is not condemned. Ned Ludd closes by saying:
"We know what we have done and we shall atone for having killed him.  But others will come after us with greater knowledge, greater faith, greater courage than us.  Your kingdom is crumbling O rulers of England!"
The production of the play was met with both enthusiasm and violent hostility, so strongly did people see the parallels with the situation in 1920s Germany.

The domination of the machine is a central theme of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film ‘Metropolis’ but here the culminating act of machine-breaking also leads to the destruction of the worker’s city itself.

In Herman Hesse’s slightly bizarre surrealist novel of that year, 'Steppenwolf', he describes; ‘the long-prepared, long-awaited and long-feared war between men and machines.’ There is a passage so vivid and so resonant with the feelings of some neo-Luddites today that it is worth quoting in full:
‘On every wall were wild and magnificently stirring placards, whose giant letters flamed like torches, summoning the nation to side with the men against the machines, to make an end at last of the fat and well dressed and perfumed plutocrats who used the machines to squeeze the fat from other mens’ bodies [3], of them and their huge fiendishly purring automobiles. Set factories afire at last! Make a little room for the crippled earth.  Depopulate it so that grass may grow again, and woods, meadows, heather stream and moor return to this world of dust and concrete.’
We also have of course Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Modern Times’ which has none of the violence of the above but portrays the life of the worker dominated by the machine which he sabotages in his own individualistically anarchic way. Perhaps an even more powerful reference to  technological society is his closing speech at the end ‘The Great Dictator,  where he asserts that:
‘More than machinery we need humanity'
and he denounces militarism as ‘machine men with machine minds.’

The 1920s and 1930s see a shift from concern about the machine’s effect in the workplace on workers and the labour process to a concern about its domination of society as a whole.

One response which perhaps is closest to the original Luddite concept of what they were fighting for was propagated by Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton. In fact, when they were discussing a name for their organisation established in 1927 the ‘Luddite League’ was suggested. They settled on the clumsy and uninspiring name of Distributist League. It’s object – to restore the small producer and property owner which they saw was being destroyed by monopoly capitalism. In his manifesto ‘The Outline of Sanity’,
To go mad and smash machinery is a more or less healthy and human malady, as it was in the Luddites. But it was really owing to the ignorance of the Luddites, in a very different sense from that spoken of scornfully by the stupendous ignorance of the Industrial Economists.  It was blind revolt as against some ancient and awful dragon, by men too ignorant to know how artificial and even temporary was that particular instrument, or where was the seat of the real tyrants who wielded it.
Note how Chesterton saw a dragon, where Toller depicted a devil or demon. This I think owes more to the later 19th and 20th century concept of technology than it does to the actual Luddite perception.  The Chartist image was often of Moloch, the idol and consumer of infants.

By the way, Chesterton’s also refers to the Luddites in one of his best known verses:
‘I saw great Cobbett riding,
The horseman of the shires,
His face was red with judgement,
And the light of Luddite fires’.
Here he is obviously in fact referring to the Swing rather than the Luddite rising, a reminder that Ned Ludd came in different guises to serve different causes – Swing, Rebecca, or today’s ‘V’.

Chesterton’s populist ideology, and again this perhaps in some respect bears a real similarity to the original Luddites’ aims of defending small scale domestic industry, appeals more to a nostalgic merrie England of rural artisans and yeoman. In fact one of the alternative names proposed for the Distributist League, the ‘League of the Little People’, though rejected because it suggested fairies,  would have been most appropriate,.

Chesterton’s world view has something Tolkeinesque about it, an aura of the Shire and Hobbits.   Tolkein’s 'Lord of the Rings' actually has its own Luddite episode, though unknown to many because it was not included in the film. The penultimate chapter of the book, ‘The Scouring of the Shire’, deals with the Hobbits’ return home to find not only a police state but environmental destruction centred on a massive new mill with its smoke belching chimney. What the mill does we are not told except it is ‘full o’wheels and outlandish contraptions’. The Hobbits, Luddite style, even arm themselves with ‘heavy hammers’ and after a successful uprising against Saruman’s ‘ruffians’ the mill is destroyed and the Shire re-afforested. This and other references in the trilogy reflect Tolkein’s own real sense of loss in the face industrialisation which destroyed the countryside of his childhood. No wonder that the book became a cult in both the New Age and environmental movement of the 60s.

The unmitigated evil of industrialism, the demon of Toller, the Dragon of G.K. Chesterton seemed to be realised in 1939-45, with total mechanised warfare, industrial scale genocide and nuclear weapons. Lewis Mumford’s concept of the ‘Megamachine’, arising from the domination of an integrated system of technological, economic, political and military power, described in his ‘Myth of the Machine’ and the ‘Pentagon of Power’ also found horrific expression in the Vietnam War and many subsequent so called ‘small wars’. 

Growing consciousness of the pervasiveness of the Megamachine, coupled with concern about ecological damage, climate change, etc has over the last forty years focused hostility on technology itself - not just as a product, but also a cause of a destructive system and attitude to life that arguably threatens the basis of both its own survival and the biosphere of the planet.

The deep ecology movement and the ‘monkey-wrenchers’ have again turned to sabotage and direct action of the machine in order to raise awareness of the threat. The re-adoption of the name 'Luddite' as a symbol of resistance has been described by Kirkpatrick Sale and I can do no better than refer you to his book ‘Rebels against the Future’ (although his account of the original Luddites is not without its faults). The works of Ted Kaczynski, John Zerzan, Green Anarchists and others who have laid claim to, or have been attributed with, the 'Luddite' mantel, are available on the internet. I have not time to go into the pros and cons of Neo-Luddism now - but I urge people not to be put off by some of the more anti-humanist strands of the movement.

Although hostility to new technology has continued in the labour movement – the struggle of dockers against containerisation and of the Wapping printers being perhaps the best known examples – it has been the environmental and anti-globalisation movement which has really embraced neo-Luddism and its traditions of direct action -  anarchists of various types, rather than socialists and trade unionists.

This discursive account has taken us from Huddersfield, via Bavaria to Middle Earth ... and back again - and in case I have lost anyone on the way I should therefore recapitulate the main points in the process of the unfolding of the Luddite legacy:

Opposition to machinery falls into three types, which broadly constitute three historical phases:

•    Opposition to particular machines because they directly effect the worker in a specific trade and in the immediate community.

•    Opposition to industrialisation as a whole because of the degrading and empoverishing effect on the working class.

•    And the phase that we are now in - opposition to technology due to its scale and all-pervasiveness, since it is both fundamentally dehumanising our species and also threatens the ecological stability of the planet as a whole.

What then did the Luddites do for us?

•    They left us the word Luddism which, once merely pejorative and derogatory, is now being reclaimed.

•    They left us the Luddite methods of direct action and the will to resist against massive odds.

•    They left us the Luddite ethos – which is to question received wisdom that ‘progress’ is to be found in technology and economic growth whatever the human cost.

George Mellor’s aphorism in his last letter from York Castle is I think worthy of Socrates or a Buddha ... ‘A SOUL IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WORK OR GOLD...’

We don’t know exactly what he meant by it but the broad message is clear – humanity is more important than mere economic interests.

I think that this encapsulates the most potent part of the Luddite legacy which spans the centuries and is even more relevant today.

Mumford believed that the Megamachine could be beaten.  In the closing words of  the 'Pentagon of Power' he says:
‘for those of us who have thrown off the myth of the machine, the next move is ours: for the gates of the technocratic prison will open automatically, despite their rusty ancient hinges, as soon as we choose to walk out.’
But the Luddites showed us - it is not just an easy matter of walking out.

Some of those who chose to challenge technocracy in 1812 ended up behind the very real gates of York Castle and other gaols. But they have left us their legacy of sacrifice and their example of resistance in the face of the juggernaut of ‘progress’.

The best tribute we can pay to the Luddites is to continue their work  - and ensure that we create a society where indeed life is revered and:


[1] In the course of the debate following this talk a member of the audience pointed out that the Methodist hymn sang by some of the victims on the scaffold did contain imagery of martyrdom ‘Behold the saviour of mankind/Nailed to the cruel tree...’  and that the Methodist ideology of some of the Luddites may have fuelled  their sense of self sacrifice.

[2] Since writing this I came across another local story.  According to Stuart Christie in his biography ‘Granny made me an Anarchist’,  the house he rented in Honley, where he came to live after his acquittal in the Angry Brigade trials, contained an attic in which  Luddites had hidden after the shooting of William Horsfall ! I have not come across this story anywhere before, so whether this is a garbled account of a true event, a local legend - or a tall tale told by locals to humour Christie I don’t know.

[3] The accounts of the use of the use of the body fat of concentration camp victims to make soap makes this a prophetic utterance rather than just lurid hyperbole.

21st January 1813: The political reform campaigner, Major Cartwright, arrives in Huddersfield to the alarm of the authorities

A portrait of Major John Cartwright in the early nineteenth century, by an unknown artist
At 5.00 p.m. on Thursday 21st January 1813, the veteran 72 year-old campaigner, Major John Cartwright, arrived in Huddersfield on a stop of one of his tours of the country to promote political reform. An impromptu meeting at the George Inn, where he was staying, worried the already highly-nervous authorities into sending a party to the Inn. The authorities - and the rival publication to the Leeds Mercury, the Tory Leeds Intelligencer - regarded Cartwright with suspicion, and often viewed reform and Luddism as virtually synonymous: the irony is that Cartwright's younger brother, Edmund Cartwright, was an inventor of the steam loom, the object of the Lancashire and Cheshire Luddites ire. The Leeds Mercury of 30th January 1813 wrote a long article about the encounter, which is below:

As nothing is too extravagant for Prejudice to fancy, or too absurd for Rumour to circulate, it is not surprizing that the arrival of Major Cartwright at Huddersfield, on Thursday evening the 21st of this instant, should have given rise to certain extraordinary proceedings, and to a variety of false reports.

The simple facts of the case, prior to their extraordinary proceedings alluded to, are these.—The Major arrived at the George Inn about five o'clock, and, as soon as it could be served up, got his dinner alone. Not being personally acquainted with a single individual in the town, and with only one by correspondence, he invited that person, a respectable tradesmen, to his inn.

It is scarcely necessary to inform our readers, that the tradesmen alluded to is a firm friend to Parliamentary Reform. This person had mentioned to a few others, of the most respectable characters, that he expected the Major to pass through Huddersfield the next day, that is, on Friday the 22nd, when they had expressed a wish to be introduced to that Gentleman; but it so happened that most of these particular persons were either out of town, or engaged at the time the Major did arrive, being a day sooner than he was expected. The invited person however, after having seen the Major, left him while at dinner, and having mentioned his arrival to a few others, these in succession, (some of them in humble situations) to the  number of six or seven, requested admission, that they might see and shake hands with the veteran advocate of Parliamentary Reform.

Being received with civility and requested to sit down, they had each his glass of such liquor as he preferred, paying themselves for the same, when the conversation turned, as natural to suppose, chiefly on that political object, respecting which they were all agreed in opinion, and to which they all felt the strongest interest.

Thus passed the time, until the hour approached for the patrole going its rounds, and the Major’s visitors were preparing to depart, when, on a person's knocking at the door, and then desired to walk in, they had an unexpected visit from a military officer, attended by constables.

This, as it afterwards turned out, was in consequence of the very officious activity of some person, who might possibly think of a Reformer, as the Jews, or the Gentiles (the writer forgets which) thought og St. Paul, that he was a “pestilent fellow.”

On the military officer who first entered having stated that it being rumoured that the parties were holding a public meeting for political debate, he came with a desire to join in the discussion; he was informed by one of the company that he had been misinformed; for that on merely hearing of the Major’s arrival, he had come thither for the sake of “seeing the good old Gentleman,” and he believed the same motive alone had brought thither the rest.

In a short time, in compliance with the present rules the police, all the Major’s original visitors left him; but not so the remainder; for by more, or fewer, of those he was never quitted, until the object of their visit was accomplished. Meanwhile he was entertained by various observations not much to his taste; as well as asked what appeared to him very unnecessary questions.

But there being reared up in the angle of the room, very obvious to sight, certain sheets of large paper rolled up and tied with red tape, he was given to understand that these had been pointed out to his then present visitors as papers which ought to be examined.

Under the circumstances in which the Major found himself he did not feel much inclined voluntarily to gratify the curiosity thus excited; but after many repeated requests, he so far acquiesced as to consent that the contents should be read. On this being done, it was found that the contents were the form of a Petition to the House of Commons.

In return for having thus after much entreaty, gratified curiosity, observations were made on the composition which could not be very gratifying to his feelings, and certainly, were not necessary.

The contents being now known, the next object was to have possession of one of these forms, or a copy taken on the spot. Argument, persuasion, and entreaty were now renewed, not without intimations of consequences which would ensue, if the Major would not give his consent.

That which originally might have been had at a single word, of a single Gentleman, with appearances of constraint, circumstanced as he was, he steadily refused to grant; until at a very late hour, one of the parties present served on him the Warrant of a Magistrate, [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] of an information on oath, that the informant had the suspicions stated in the said Warrant; which purported to be an authority to take the Major before the Magistrate by whom the Warrant was signed.

This part of the ceremony having taken place, an attorney, who was one of the actors in this scene, said he should now make free with the Petition and take a copy, which he accordingly did.

This having been accomplished, the Major was left a to retire to his bed, about half past three o'clock in the morning. Being in the seventy third year of his age, and of regular habits, to have had his rest thus broken was not of course more convenient than it was agreeable.

About eleven o'clock in the forenoon, being called on to attend the magistrates who resided two miles off, he got into his carriage, and attended accordingly.

The copy of the petition which had been taken while he was in custody at the Inn was now read, and he certified, that to the best of his recollection, it was correct; on which the magistrate asked the attorney if the Major might not now be discharged, but on the attorney replying he wished the other examination to be taken in his presence, he was detained till two officers and a constable had given their testimony. In the progress of these examinations, the Major now and then took notice of expressions, which did not exactly tally with his recollection, although the points were not very material.

In the course of these examinations the attorney (who is not of that branch in the law, which carries with it the title of “learned in the law”) having hazarded a legal opinion on the nature of the petition in question, the Magistrate immediately observed, that it was not for him to form any opinion on that question, but merely to transmit the copy, with the other examinations to the Secretary of State; and in all other respects, while executing the duty which had been imposed on him by the information on oath, on which his warrant was granted, conducted itself towards the Major, as became one gentleman towards another. And indeed the Major was informed by his first visitor and correspondent, that there had been this delicacy observed towards him, that the serving of the warrant had been entrusted to a gentleman.

The military officers who had been examined, having noticed to the Major while with him at the Inn, what struck them as an indecorum, namely, his being in the company of persons with whom they did not think it became to associate, he now took occasion to make a few observations on that head, in order to free himself from the imputation of an ungentlemanly habit of keeping, what is called, low company, through a vulgarity of disposition; and intimating that there were occasions when it was not unfit for gentlemen to show sympathy for, and attention to the opinions of persons in the least opulent stations in life; and by way of illustration, he took notice of what very commonly occurred at Elections.

On that subject, he might indeed, had it been a fit time and place, have delivered sentiments correspondent with such as have frequently fallen from his pen, in condemnation of that intercourse for the vilest purposes, which too frequently take place between the loftiest of our gentleman, and the very dregs of vicious society in Borough towns, which I glanced at in the petition that is now sent up to the Secretary of State, as a “CAUSE of the general depravities in morals.”

It afforded the Major on this occasion, a high degree of satisfaction, to hear it explicitly declared by the professional gentleman who took the examinations, and in the presence of the magistrate, that government certainly had no desire to prevent the people from petitioning the legislature for a parliamentary reform.

The examinations already spoken of being finished, the Major was allowed to pursue his journey.

We now come to the conclusion of this extraordinary proceeding. After Major Cartwright had been suffered to depart, the persons found in his company, were summoned before the same Magistrate on a charge of what — treason, sedition, conspiracy? No, Reader, on none of them, but on a charge of tipling, of taking a glass of wine with this venerable apostle of Parliamentary Reform, after nine o'clock at night! The information having been laid upon oath, Mr. Radcliffe was under the necessity of convicting them, and they readily paid the fine. They all expressed themselves highly satisfied with Mr. Radcliffe’s conduct towards them in this business, both as a Magistrate and a Gentleman. Mr. R. observed, that if they chose to bring the same charge against informants, he would convict them also; but this they declined to do. We blush to have to add, but one of these informants was a military officer of some rank.

21st January 1813: The Gaoler of York Castle writes to the Home Offfice about the late executions

York Castle _ 21 Jany [1813]

Mr Beckett

I beg to Acknowledge the Receipt of your Letter this morning, from which I am sorry to find that no Information has been forwarded to Lord Sidmouth or Yourself relative to the Executions of the 17 Unhappy men, 14 of whom Suffered last Saturday, three also Suffer’d on Friday the 8th Inst for the Murder of Mr Horsfall, the Account given generally the Executions in the Publick Prints are nearly Correct, except in the Instance, where the Leeds Paper States that the three Murderers Confess’d their Guilt, they by no means did so for when the Revd G Brown the Chaplain urg’d them to Confess at the Fatal Tree, they requested him not to Put any Questions to them and they were Immediately launch’d into Eternity,—

As to the other 14 men, they all Confess’d their Guilt, and Acknowledged the Distress of their Sentence, and did all true penitents, from the time of that Awfull Sentence being pass’d upon them, they never Ceased from Using their last Efforts to Obtain forgiveness from God, And I have a pleasure in Adding that during the Course of 22 Years that I have been a Witness to Such Cases, I never Saw more Sincerity in Repentance of Prisoners, than in the last 14 who Suffered, the Immense Number of People that Attended upon that Occasion was great indeed.

Attendance of both Foot Soldiers, as also three Troops of Dragoons Added to the Solemnity of that Awfull Scene, and must also had a Serious and proper Effect upon the publick mind, and I trust and do most Sincerely hope that this sad (but necessary) Example will induce those wretched and Ill advised persons in the West Riding to Consider the fate of the late Comrades, and induce them to return to the parts of Peace & Honesty,—

As to any information given by the prisoners during the time they were under Sentence of Death, Nothing Whatever to my Knowledge transpired, except, the Robbery of Balm Mill near Cleck Heaton the prisoner James Hey Confess’d that he and J. Carter who was an Evidence for the Crown, was the two persons who did Commit that Robbery,—

Upon the liberation of Joshua Haigh a Soldier in the 51st Regt of Foot (which you will perceive by the Calendar) he Informed me that one of the Murderers with whom he had formerly Slept, had Communicated to him the place where a Quantity of Guns, &c &c were deposited, & Could be found in the Neighbourhood of Huddersfd, in Consequence thereof I spoke to Genl Maitland and he dispatch’d a party with Haigh in Search thereof, but whether or not they Succeeded in finding them I have not been Obliged to learn,

My Extra Care and duty have been for Sometime very laborius, as also Expensive to me – by Additional Servants &c, which I have Stated to Mr Hobhouse a few days Ago, and I Should hope will in Some Small degree be Consider’d, having I flatter myself fulfill’d my Office to the Satisfaction of Government and the County at large,

I Remain Sir with respect
Yr Obt Hble Sert
Wm Staveley

B—Since my Writing the above I have Seen the Revd. G. Brown, who informs me that during his Visits to those Unforte Men, he put this Important Question to them “viz — In this Society formed by you and others, was there, or not, any Persons of high Station in Life Connected,—the Answer was NO, the Reason of the Chaplain Asking that Question, was owing to the Circs of Some of those men having Money paid weekly to them, as my Report,—


21st January 1913: 'Blood for Blood Says General Ludd' - a threatening message is left for Joseph Mellor at his home

On the morning of Thursday 21st January 1813, a worker or apprentice at the workshop of Joseph Mellor found an alarming message nearby.

The Tenters that Mellor kept near to his workshop had been cut, as had some of the cloth on them. Hung on the latch of a door was a piece of cloth, crudely cut into the shape of a heart, with holes cut into it. Across the shape was a series of letters written in chalk spelling 'B.F.B.S.G.L' - 'Blood for Blood Says General Ludd'.

Although Joseph had done exactly as his cousin George had urged him to do at the trial, i.e. 'tell the truth', it seems that some were unhappy with him having given any evidence at all. But Joseph felt intimidated enough to get a message to the commanding officer at Huddersfield - Lieutenant-Colonel Lang - and 3 soldiers were posted guard at his house the same day. If he hadn't done so before, by seeking such help Joseph had now firmly pitched in his lot with the military and the authorities.

Saturday 19 January 2013

19th January 1813: Francis Raynes reports the arrest of a man calling for revenge for executed Luddites

Mills Bridge 19th Jany


I have the Honor to acquaint you that within the last day or two I have received information relative to the Arms stealing in this part of the Country, which if follow’d up may probably lead to many discoveries on that subject.

I wait your instructions Sir, whether to pursue the intelligence I have got actively, or quietly to gain all the information I can, to be acted upon as future circumstances may dictate.

A Serjeant of the Greys and James Robertson, on Sunday detained a man at the Globe Inn, Mills Bridge for for saying, as the Bodies of the Men executed at York were passing, that “they should be reveng’d, Blood should have Blood,” and using many other violent expressions, I sent him before Sir George Armytage the following morning who bound him in £100 and two Sureties of £50 each, to appear at the quarter Sessions

many unguarded words of a similar nature have fallen from people drinking in Public Houses, but thought it better after making one example not needlessly to irritate them by too minute an observation of their expressions

I have [etc]
Francis Raynes Captn,
Stirling &c Militia

Major General Acland
&c. &c. &c.

Friday 18 January 2013

18th January 1813: Major Bruce reports that the corpses of two Luddites have arrived at Halifax

Halifax 18th January 1813—


I have the honour to acquaint you that the Bodies of two of the Convicts came here this morning by the carrier and will lodged in a Warehouse about 11 o'Clock they were taken off in Carts by their friends, one to Sowerby and the other to Elland, both parties were accompanied by or five people very much affected

I ordered a person on whom I could depend to follow the party to Sowerby and to be present at the Interment, he inform’d me he saw the Body taken into a house at Sowerby and that he understood the Funeral would not take place to day.—everything went off very quietly—

I did not think it necessary to watch the party going to Elland

I have [etc]
A. Bruce Major
Stirling Militia

[To] M. General Acland
&c &c &c

18th January 1813: Lt Colonel Lang reports the arrival of the bodies of Luddites in Huddersfield

Huddersfield Jany 18th


I have the honor to acquaint you the Bodies of the Culprits arrived here last evening half past six oclock were attended by considerable number of people but perfectly quiet & orderly — their Bodies were taken to the Homes of their friends at Lockwood Longroid Bridge and in this Town after which the persons attending them went quietly about their business in the most satisfactory manner — the Bodies are not yet Interred —

Enclosed is an application for leave of absence for Lieut [illegible] of the North Devon—

I have [etc]
R Lang Lt Col
South Devon Regt

[To] Major General Acland
&c &c &c

The number of Subalterns present with the Regt - 8 — two absent with leave whom I expect to gain by the 24th Instant

18th January 1813: 'An Attentive Hearer' writes again about Mellor's last words


Mr. Printer.—The Editor of the Mercury has taken great pains to controvert the account I gave you, of the murderer Mellor’s Confession on the scaffold, by positively asserting “that neither in his prayer not in any other part of his address did he make the confession imputed to him.” In reply to this I will maintain that my public statement is a correct one, and that Mellor did actually make use of the expression “imputed”to him —“US POOR MURDERERS.” Certainly no one who was present and listened with any attention to the culprit, can deny this fact. The Editor of the Mercury may not have heard this expression, (he did hear, however, what nobody else heard, that the Jury recommended Smith to mercy.) Or, if he did hear the confession, he may, for aught I know, have very prudent motives for concealing it from the Public. I was not the only person who heard the confession—it is corroborated by the testimony of other witnesses.


Leeds, Jan. 16, 1813.

18th January 1913: The Prince Regent issues a new Proclamation offering an amnesty for those 'twisted in'

By His Royal Highness The PRINCE of WALES, REGENT of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in the Name and on the Behalf of His Majesty.



Whereas it hath been represented unto us, that divers unfortunate and misguided persons, who have been induced by the artifices of wicked and designing men to take some oath or engagement, contrary to the acts of parliament in that behalf made in the 37th and 52nd years of his majesty's reign, or one of those acts, or to steal ammunition, fire arms, and other offensive weapons, for the purpose of committing acts of violence and outrage against the persons and property of his majesty's peaceable and faithful subjects, and who are not yet charged with such their offences, may be willing and desirous to make a disclosure or confession of such their offences, and to take the oath of allegiance to his majesty, upon receiving an assurance of his majesty's most gracious pardon for such their offences; We, therefore, acting in the name and on the behalf of his majesty, being willing to give such assurance upon such conditions as are hereinafter mentioned, and earnestly hoping that the example of the just and necessary punishments which have been inflicted in the counties of Lancaster, Chester, and York, upon certain offenders lately tried and convicted in those counties, may have the salutary effect of deterring all persons from following the example of their crimes by a renewal of the like atrocities, have thought fit, by and with the advice of his majesty's privy council, to issue this proclamation; and as an encouragement and inducement to his majesty's misguided subjects to relinquish all disorderly practices, and return to their due and faithful allegiance to his majesty, we do hereby, acting in the name and on the behalf of his majesty, promise and declare, that every person not having been charged with any of the offences hereinbefore mentioned, who shall, previous to the first day of March next ensuing, appear before some justice of the peace or magistrate, and declare his offence, and the oath or engagement by him taken, and when and where the same was taken, and in what manner, or the ammunition, fire arms, or other offensive weapons by him stolen, and when, where, and from whom the same were stolen, and the place where the same were deposited, and also, according to the best of his knowledge and belief, the place where the same may be found, and who shall at the same time take before such justice of the peace or magistrate the oath of allegiance to his majesty, shall receive his majesty's most gracious pardon for the said offence; and that no confession so made by any such person shall be given in evidence against the person making the same in any court or in any case whatever.

Given at the Court at Carlton House, the 18th day of January 1813, in the 53rd year of His Majesty's reign.

GOD Save The KING.

Thursday 17 January 2013

17th January 1813: Lieutenant Cooper reports from Elland

Elland 17th January 1812. [sic]


Agreeable to the directions I have the Honor to receive from you when at Wakefield last thursday, I have made every possible enquiry relative to the feelings and disposition of the People since the conviction of the Culprits at York.

Those I have conferred with on the subject tell me they have no doubt but disaffection prevails as strongly as ever, they think that the Execution of a few men will make no impression upon those Gangs that have escaped detection or indeed any persons who did not intimately know the Sufferers and lived immediately in their neighbourhood. They have no doubt that that the Luddites believe their detection alone owing to the Military and that should the latter be removed they shall expect them to break out with redoubled fury, instigated by revenge towards those persons who have shewn themselves adverse to their proceedings, particularly by cooperating with the Soldiers—

They say, Elland has ever had a great number of disaffected and riotous Inhabitants, and they [illegible] assured that they have been restrained from the commission of depredations entirely by the presence of the Military and it is a general belief among their principal Inhabitants that they are in great danger of assassination if that protection be withdrawn during the Winter.

I believe it to be the intention of the Gentleman of the Township of Elland to send a Deputation to be you will not deprive them wholly of the aid of the Military and to beg a few Soldiers rather than none.

What I have written nearly expresses the sentiments of the quietly dispose part of the Inhabitants of this place as delivered to me, but not the alarm, which appears to be very great, lest the Military should leave them. Some of them have expressed a determination to quit the Country themselves during the Winter if there are not Soldiers in it.

I am not qualified to give an opinion on the subject, I have certainly reason to believe that hitherto many Robberies if not murders have been prevented by the vigilance of the Patroles, but what affect the execution of the Convicts may have upon the ill disposed part of the community it is impossible to ascertain immediately, I understand there is no external appears alarm or surprize created by the event.

The Inhabitants of Elland deserve much credit for their personal exertions during the time I have been at Elland, they have shewn much activity and cooperated with the Military with much zeal whenever call’d upon, and if any distinction could be allowed for such conduct, they have a claim to it—

I enclose an anonymous letter, received by Mr. Cartledge (the Chief Constable of Elland) he has had one since threatening his life and saying that though Mellor had been hanged, he died game and there were many Mellors left to revenge him.

Mr Cartledge possesses an undaunted soul and I believe a perfect stranger to fear, but he coincides with the general opinion that the soldiers should not be withdrawn during the Winter Months not ‘till the days are longer, when people will be better enabled to guard against private assassination. The anonymous letters he very properly treats with contempt, but employs himself secretly to discover the Author. He will probably be one of the persons deputed to call upon You when he will relate some other curious circumstances that have lately occurred to him which if I reported would take up much of your time and perhaps appear to you extraneous.

I have no interest or desire to stay at Elland but should wish to be and should consider myself honored by being employed actively and usefully by you in any place or situation.

I had a report brought me, last night, that a Robbery had been committed at Halifax last week and that a hundred pounds weight of Tobacco were stolen at the time, if it is a fact I should presume you must have had the particulars.

I have [etc]
Alf. Cooper Lieut.
West Suffolk Militia

[To] Major General Acland
&c &c &c