Saturday, 21 March 2015

21st March 1815: Thomas Thompson of Sunderland writes to the Home Office about the riots

My dear Sir

We were last night thrown into the greatest states of alarm, the Keelmen casters & others working in the wear assembled in a large Body and about 4 o Clock in the Afternoon placed the Keels a little above the Bridge in such a situatn as to completely impede the navigation of the River, after this, they proceeded to pull down the Arch thrown across the Rector’s Gill by messrs Nesham [Goodchild] & Co: for bringing the Newcastle Coals to the Staiths for Shipment into the Vessels, and after they had finished this work of destruction they set fire to this Staith Depot, the Conflagration was dreadful and had it not been a mild night I dont know where the mischief might have ended the damage as it is well be about Six thousand pounds.—Robinson, & Biss, went while the mob was at work to remonstrate, but they were thrown down & much beaten.—We had no military here but are an express about six in the [evening] was sent to Newcastle and between one & two o Clock this [morning] a troop of Horse arrived, and every thing is again tranquil. The Respectable Inhabitants had been sworn in Constable and hand Bills are circulated for any Rewards for detection of the Ringleaders.

We had in my opinion a foolish [meeting] the other day to petition against the corn Bill which only [means] to inflame the minds of the lower orders of society, but and in some measure to this do I ascribe the late Unfortunate [business]; but the immediate object these poor deluded men who have done this mischief had in view was to destroy the works of the proprietors of the Newbottle Colliery, in order to prevent coals being [illegible] down by the waggon way which dispenses with their services as Keelmen.—A Letter has been written to my Lord Sidmouth by the magistrates soliciting military Aid to prevent a repetition of mischief a copy of which Letter I am requested by the magistrates and Inhabitants to send you and which I herewith enclose, and I am also desired to solicit your interference with his Lordship in arguing the necessity of some military constantly to be stationed here.—Our Barracks are very commodious & fit for the Reception of soldiers, and I am well persuaded unless we have military constantly here [always] again look for scenes similar to those we had the last night, may I therefore solicit you to forward the Views of the Gentleman of the Town by representing our [obscured] to Visct Sidmouth. I am my dear Sir

Your very obedt & faithfl St

Thos Thompson

21 March 1815

This letter can be found at HO 42/143.

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