Saturday 27 September 2014

27th September 1814: The Home Secretary tells the Duke of Montrose to not encourage rewards for service

Had Captain Francis Raynes been aware of this letter from the Home Secretary to his commanding officer, his heart would have sunk: the government was already discouraging rewards and recognition for those who had served it faithfully during the Luddite disturbances.

Whitehall [illegible]
Septemr 27: 1814—

My Lord,

Upon my Return from Devonshire, I was honored with your Grace’s Letter of the 7th of Septr, with two Enclosures, consisting of a Letter, & memorial from Captain Peter Macdougal, of the Stirlingshire Regiment of Militia – And I am extremely sorry to be under the Necessity of stating to your Grace my opinion that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to give effect to Capt. Macdougal Representation.—The Account for the Service in question has been very long since closed, and to open it again would be to afford Encouragement to others to prefer similar Applications, which could not fail to lead to Inconvenience, and Embarrassment, and which, if made at all, ought to have been brought forward at a much earlier Period after the Services had been performed.—

S. [i.e. Lord Sidmouth]

[To] His G.
The D of Montrose

Wednesday 10 September 2014

10th September 1814: Letters to the press about Joanna Southcott's 'pregnancy'

Both of these letters appeared in the Leeds Mercury of Saturday 10th September 1814, in a column entitled 'Extracted from the Courier':


TO THE EDITOR.—SIR,—Several persons having expressed a wish that I should visit Joanna Southcott, that they might be better satisfied what foundation there was for a report that she was pregnant, I consented to accompany one of her friends, a surgeon and accoucheur of experience, for that purpose, on the 18th of August. He informed me on my way thither, that the most satisfactory examination would not be permitted, but that it was not at all necessary, as no professional man could have any doubt of her situation, upon seeing the state of her breasts.

Their appearance gave no reason to doubt the truth of her statement, that she was in her 65th year, and that certain natural effects had ceased since she was 48; circumstances under which her pregnancy was naturally incredible, and were it real, might well enough have induced a belief that it was supernatural.

I endeavoured, however, not to prejudge the case, but to form and my opinion of her situation from the symptoms alone, as I should have done had she been only 45 years of age, and therefore within the period of probable pregnancy.

After a minute statement of particulars of his examination of the woman, the writer concludes thus:—

Considering all the above appearances, I did not hesitate to declare it to be my opinion, that Joanna Southcott was not pregnant, but I was told that I was the first medical man that had seen her, who was not perfectly satisfied of the contrary.

I believe that her uterine organs are diseased, and that the breasts, as is usual, sympathising with those parts, have an increased quantity of blood determined to them. Had I thought the external appearances such as ought to lead to a belief in her pregnancy, I should have urged the propriety of submitting to a more satisfactory examination; but feeding, as I did, a perfect conviction that she was not with child, it seemed to me unnecessary to insist upon any further enquiry.

Having observed in the newspapers, that assertions are repeatedly made, the eminent accoucheurs have declared this woman to be pregnant, I am desirous not to be reckoned of that number. Yet, before I conclude, I feel right to say that I am convinced that this poor woman is no imposter, but that she labours under a strong mental delusion.


Sept. 3, 1814.


SIR,—In a Morning Paper the 30th ult. a Medical Gentleman, the signature of J. C. H., states, that "he should not be doing his duty to those poor deluded people, who are in the belief of John Southcott, and the public at large, were he not, after having an opportunity of seeing her, to state the result of such a visit." He then complains "of an imposition that was tried to be practised on him; or rather a trap, in which he had like to have been caught." This trap, it seems, was a request made by Joanna Southcott, that in giving his opinion, he should consider her a married woman of 24 years of age, and divest his mind of all prejudice respecting her inspiration. Now, Sir, I should suppose that a Medical Man employed on such an occasion, would pay no attention whatever to the statement of a woman, who was represented in all the Journals to be an impostor: one would suppose that he would have attended to those symptoms only, the existence of which he had an opportunity to ascertain. Mr. J. C. H. who I understand is Mr. Hobday, of Ratcliffe Highway, was allowed to make the same examination as was afforded to the other Medical Gentlemen who attended her, on which he has thought proper to be silent. Joanna Southcott, I find, was examined by nine medical practitioners of some eminence in London, six of whom pronounced her to be pregnant, and the other three declined to give a decided opinion, principally on account of her age. [Here the writer enters into some particulars which it is not necessary for us to repeat. He concludes thus:]

As the medical men who have attended Joanna Southcott, has to be apprised of her labour when it takes place, I hope they will all attend. Indeed, so far from being her wish to have it conducted privately, I know that applications have been made to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to appoint a person to attend her accouchment, and to procure for her a suitable apartment, which his Grace has refused to do, under the idea that such a measure would tend to confirm her followers in the belief of her inspiration. The pregnancy of a woman in the 65th year of her age, is in modern times a novel occurrence, and deserves to be recorded. With respect to the operation of the law, I consider it worthy of notice, causes having been determined in the House of Lords against claimants born in foreign countries, on the presumption that their mothers were at the time of their birth, too far advanced in life to bear children, although one (Lady Jane Grey) was about ten years younger than Joanna Southcott. If then, in this point of view, the case of Joanna Southcott be interesting, it is of great consequence that its authenticity should not be called in question at any future period. For the purpose of avoiding deception, and any ground for suspicion or misrepresentation, might not he Lord Chancellor with great propriety, take her under his protection, place her in decent apartments, and appoint accoucheurs of experience and respectability to attend her? Such an interference could not possibly be considered by her followers as in any degree countenancing the marvellous part of the business. Of this plan, I understand her followers, and I think I may say the public in general, would approve.

I am Sir, your obedient servant,


171, Picadilly, Sept. 2, 1814.

Thursday 4 September 2014

4th September 1814: 16 stocking frames destroyed in Old & New Basford

On Sunday 4th September, just before midnight on the 5th, around 20 Luddites undertook a series of raids in both Old and New Basford in Nottinghamshire.

At the house of Thomas Ford in Old Basford, the group demolished 5 frames. The Luddites moved on to the house of James Smith in the same town, where they destroyed 5 cotton frames.

Moving to New Basford, the Luddites went to the home of Thomas Garton, and destroyed 6 frames there. Within a week, a man had been arrested after Garton gave testimony that he recognised one of the Luddites: his name was James Towle, and he was to become one of the most notorious figures in Midlands Luddism for the next 2 years.

Wednesday 3 September 2014

3rd September 1814: 'Some Account of Joanna Southcott, the Pretended Propehtess'

This 'Passport to Heaven' from 1803 was sold at Bonhams in 2007 for £2520

From the Leeds Mercury of Saturday 3rd September 1814:


In the following summary of the prophetic origin and history of Joanna Southcott, it is not only my intention to submit any other information than what is to be found in writing.

In the year 1790 she was employed as a work-woman at an upholsterer’s shop in Exeter. The shopkeeper being a methodist, his shop was frequently visited by ministers of the same persuasion; and Joanna Southcott, possessing what they termed a serious turn of mind, did not pass unnoticed. She had frequent discussions in the shop with these ministers, and was regarded as a prodigy. Indeed, so much was she sensible of her own importance and superiority, that, with the aid of a few dreams, and some extraordinary visions, she began to self to think herself inspired. But what confirmed her in this belief was, the realization of a circumstance which she had been forewarned of in a vision—it was the miraculous seal. One morning, in sweeping out the shop (it is not stated whether or not she had a miraculous broom), she found a seal, with the initials J.S.; this could not possibly mean any other person than Joanna Southcott. From this moment she bid adieu to the shop, and commenced a prophetess. In a first prophecies she states, that in 1792 she was visited by the Lord, who promised to enter into an everlasting covenant with her, and told her that a vision would be shewn to her in the night. It accordingly appeared, sometimes like a cup, then like a cat, which she kicked to pieces, but was very uneasy, until she was told it was nothing more than the tricks of Satan, with a view to torment her. On the appearance of her first prophecies, the methodist preachers, already adverted to, endeavoured to convince her of the diabolical nature of her attempts; and attributed their origin to Satan himself. She then appointed an interview with as many as might choose to attend, in order to put the question to rest. The day arrived; the discussion was warm; and she adopted the argumentum ad hominem with such effect, that it terminated in the following valuable document, subscribed to by all parties present:—

“I, Joanna Southcott, am clearly convinced that my calling is of God, and my writings are indicted by his spirit, as it is impossible for any spirit, but an all-wise God, that is wondrous in working, wondrous in wisdom, wondrous in power, wondrous in truth, could have brought round such mysteries, so full of truth, as in my writings; so I am clear in whom I have believed, that all my writings come from the spirit of the most High God.


Signed in the presence of 58 persons (including the Methodist Preachers) who assented to the truth of the statement.

From this period her converts increased surprisingly, so that she could not furnish seals sufficient to answer all demands. The sealed papers contain a text of scripture (not uniformly the same) promissory of beatitude hereafter, stamped with the seal found in the upholsterer’s shop. The sealed person is forbidden to open the paper, lest the charm should be destroyed. That money has been given for these passports to Heaven I do positively assert, but that they are publicly or openly sold, I am not prepared to affirm. Those who would wish to inform an opinion of Joanna Southcott from her writings, need only purchase a 1s. 6d. number from Mr. Sharp the engraver, or Mr. Tozer, (one of her preachers), of the Westminster-road.

The three leading preachers were, Mr. Carpenter, (who preaches at the ‘House of God,’ Newington Butts), Mr. S.P. Foley (said to be a relation of Lord Foley), and Mr. Tozer; the former (Mr. Carpenter) has seceded from his Mistress, and afterwards employed a young man to see visions for him on his own account, but provided for by one of his flock. The two latter preachers still hold forth in Johanna’s interest, at a church near the Obelisk in Westminster-road.

With regard to the doctrines of Joanna Southcott, it is no very easy matter to arrive at a knowledge of them. They are not to be found in her works; for they are all of a prophetic, mysterious, ambiguous, blasphemous, or illiterate description. All that I have been able to collect from her preachers or admirers, relates to a second redemption of mankind through the medium of her writings and deeds; that her coming is called the Second Advent; that when the number of her followers amounts to (we believe) 300,000, then the objects of her mission will be for the most part accomplished—then all who admit the truth of her writings will be blessed, and those who deny them condemned to everlasting torment. She also asserts that the salvation of mankind would not be complete without a second redemption wrought in her person.


3rd September 1814: Casualties to machinery in Leeds in the last week

From the Leeds Mercury, Saturday 3rd September 1814:

The following casualties have occurred during the present week, at Hunslet, near this place.―A young woman lost her arm at a cotton-mill; a boy was desperately bruised by the machinery at a flax mill; and another boy lost his leg from getting entangled in the works of a steam engine.