Wednesday, 8 July 2015

8th July 1815: The Mayor of Nottingham writes in support of Charles Sutton ahead of his trial for Political Libel

Nottingham July 8th 1815―

My Lord

I take the liberty of addressing your behalf of Mr. Charles Sutton, Publisher of the Nottingham Review, against whom a criminal information has been filed for writing a Letter signed General Ludd, Having been well acquainted with him for upwards of Twenty years I have no hesitation in stating that his conduct in private life has been unimpeachable and that as a member of society few Characters stand higher; and from my Knowledge of him I can declare with confidence, at any improper or unjustifiable observations which have appeared in his Paper, have arisen more from an error in judgment than any wish to inflame the minds of the public—this indeed the extracts from his Papers which I beg leave to inclose, will render it apparent that the outrages committed in this neighbourhood were in reality discountenanced by him.—With regard to the Letter in question; I can positively assert it had no connection with outrage that took place at Basford on the evening of its publication, having as a magistrate had previous information that an attack would be made upon Mr. Garton,—Upon these grounds I am induced to hope Your Lordship will Please to dictate, to Mr. Sutton some terms upon which further Proceedings on the Information may be waived,

For if the prosecution be pushed to the extremity, not only himself but am Amicable and deserving family will be involved in utter ruin, and the existing evil not removed,—You will allow me further to state that it is my decided opinion from the Knowledge I have of the lower Class of Society — in this neighbourhood ― that a severe sentence would only have a tendency to revive that spirit of insubordination which has disgraced this neighbourhood so long—I by no means however wish to dictate to you what ought to be done nevertheless my Lord I have thought it not inconsistent with my situation, and the duty I owe to his Majesty's Government to offer you these remarks which I trust will not be deemed impudent in my Lord. Your Lordships most obedient servant

John Ashwell
Mayor of Nottingham

PS. I wish my Lord to say if this letter should give rise to a desire on your part for further communication on any subject [connected] with this affair you may write me with the utmost confidence

For The Rt Hble Lord Visct. Sidmouth
Secretary of State &c &c &c

This letter can be found at HO 42/145.

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