Wednesday 30 December 2015

30th December 1815: Leeds Cloth Dressers' Union Secretary writes a corrective letter to the Leeds Mercury

Following the report of his arrest in the 23rd December 1815 edition of the Leeds Mercury, John Sunderland - the Secretary of the Cloth Dressers' Union (or 'Brief Institution') - wrote to the paper, who published the letter on Saturday 30th December 1815:

SIR,— I beg that you will correct a Paragraph in your last Paper, by the Insertion the following Statement:—On Monday Night, the Eighteenth Inst. John Sunderland, Clerk to the Cloth Workers’ Brief Institution, was apprehended in the Act of reading a Letter, paying the Sick, &c. and himself and Twenty-Four other Persons searched, along with Five Women, who were applying for Relief for their Sick Husbands. At the same Time the Books and Papers were seized, and all taken away. John Sunderland and others were immediately conveyed to the Black Lion, Mill-Hill, at Nine o'Clock, and there remained till Two the next Day in the Afternoon, without being examined by any Magistrate. The said John Sunderland, Joseph Tillotson, William Anderson, William Hampshire, and Samuel Wheatley, after being examined, were held to Bail, for persuading Thomas Marshall, (the Informant,) to leave his Employers, Messrs. Oates and Hardisty, contrary to the Statute in that Case made and provided.
I am, Yours, &c. 

Tuesday 29 December 2015

29th December 1815: Manchester Magistrates request troops due to worries about Calico weavers

My Lord,

In the efforts recently made by the master calico printers in this neighbourhood to resist the unlawful combinations which have so long and so injuriously prevailed amongst the journeymen, we find, from respectable representations, some reason to apprehend the latter may resort to plans of intimidation, either by destroying machinery where it is employed, or by other outrages of a similar tendency. The printing establishments are chiefly in the immediate vicinity of Manchester, Bury, Burnley, Blackburne, Clitheroe, Chorley and Stockport―

It is naturally the wish of the masters to be enabled to repel with effect, any attempts of the above description, and as their works are all within the range of thirty miles from Manchester it is conceived a sufficient force (about four troops) of cavalry stationed at the barracks there, for a few weeks, would fully answer the end.

Circumstances may render it expedient due to dispatch a portion of the proposed military aid to situations where, no violent proceeding has actually taken place, but where it appears to be threatened or meditated, and we beg leave to submit the propriety of directions to the officer in command at the barracks that he may not hesitate in attending to the request of the magistrate in cases of this nature. When we are honored with your Lordship’s sentiments we can if necessary communicate the same to acting magistrates near the several establishments we have mentioned. We are informed that only one troop of horse is now left at the Manchester Barracks.

we have the honor to be, My Lord,
Your Lordship’s most faithful obdt Servts

Ralph Wright
W Evans

New Bayley Court House
Manchr 29th Decr

To the Rt Honble Lord Sidmouth

Wednesday 23 December 2015

23rd December 1815: 'The Thrashing Machine: A Tale'


Many ages ago, the inhabitants of a large, populous, and opulent island were divided into sects or castes, distinguished from each other by the kind of corn which they grew and consumed. The principal of these were the Wheatites. There were the Oatites, the Barleyites, the Ryeites, and a great many ites, most of them composed of different mixtures of some of the above-mentioned kinds of grain. In these enlightened and liberal-minded times, it will be almost difficult to comprehend and believe, how much animosity subsisted between these different classes of the same community, for no other reason in the world, but because they each chose to grow, and live upon that food, which they believed would the most contribute to health and long life. My intention is not at present to enter into either the cause, the nature, of the effects of these animosities, otherwise the subject might be rendered both instructive and interesting. I shall therefore proceed to the relation and description of what is my more immediate object.

A distinguished and opulent Farmer from amongst the Wheatites, sailed to a far distant country where these islanders had long had a settlement. When there, he could not but notice and be pleased with a very simple machine, which had long been used in country for thrashing corn. The most unskilful person could manage it. It was certainly very rude in its construction, and did not rid much work,—but the Farmer saw at a glance of his "eagle eye," that it was capable of much improvement. With distinguished benevolence, he not only set himself to construct one on an improved plan but, without fear or reward undertook to instruct the natives in the use of it, and for several years continued to assist them in working it. Such was his success that every body who saw it, at once perceived and admired its beauty and utility.

A length he transmitted to his own country a full, clear and correct description of the apparatus, and the effects which it had produced. Strange as it may seem, little notice was taken of his invention by any of his countrymen at home. Not a Wheatite offered to profit by the valuable discovery. When the benevolent Farmer returned to his native island, he had the mystification of learning, that his suggestion had been by his caste totally unnoticed. Having himself for the business which fully engaged his time and attention, he suffered his own discovery to lie totally dormant, and so to this day, in all human probability, would it have lain, for any thing that the Wheatites cared about it. It happened, however, that before the return the Benevolent Farmer, a poor labourer, of the name of Joseph who had all this life been a thasher of corn, happened to see the statement which the Farmer had transmitted home, and being both a shrewd and industrious man, he at once recognized the value of the discovery, and determined to avail himself of it; at the same time he perceived, that it was capable of great extension and improvement.

Joseph was a kind of [illegible] [illegible], not so much inclined to [illegible] as many others; he therefore was not so narrow minded as to stand entirely aloof from those who ate different bread from himself, when he thought, that by joining together, they might benefit each other. He saw that machine might be constructed, and worked at little expence, capable of thrashing much more corn than could be thrashed by the poor, (for he intended it for their use,) of any one caste in any one neighbourhood. The only chance, therefore, which he had of proving the capability of the invention was, to induce the rich of all castes to contribute towards erecting the machine, and the poor of all castes to send their corn to be thrashed by it. This, in these times of christian charity, may be thought not only to be an easy task, but one which would meet with universal approbation and support. Poor Joseph, however, had the prejudices of other times to contend with. At first, notwithstanding these, such was the novelty of the plan, and such its evident utility, that it banished for a time all animosity, and rich and poor, of all castes, joined so heartily in the undertaking, that Joseph had soon more work for his machine than it could do. This, instead of disheartening him, served only to stimulate him to greater exertions; he enlarged his machine, he published an account of its success; the whole island rang with its praises; almost every town in the kingdom were at strife which should erect the first and the best, and they called them by the name of Joseph. The great and the noble of the land patronized him, and even ROYALTY itself visited, [advocated] and encouraged the use of the machine, [illegible] poor Joseph too much for weak human nature to bear without being the worse for it. Joseph’s heart not being devoid of the seeds of vanity,—and this rich manure so abundantly appeared, caused them to grow, and bear leaves, flowers, fruit so abundantly, that the appearance of the meek and humble man was in a great measure hid under their luxuriance. At this good may sigh, the gay may smile, but none but the bad will rejoice. Let him, who could have better withstood such temptations, throw the first stone at poor Joseph, yet the man who could have withstood such flattery, will be among the last to do it.

Now it came to pass, that when the rich Wheatites, and more particularly the great farmers among them, perceived that Joseph’s Thrashing Machines were then spreading through the whole land, that the rich of all castes supported them, and that the poor of all castes sent their corn to be thrashed [illegible], they began to look about and bestir themselves in good earnest, meeting together and saying "if this man be thus suffered to thrash the corn of our poor, we shall have half of them poisoned by their wheat being contaminated with pernicious mixtures,—some scattered grains of oats, or barley, or rye, cannot fail to get in amongst it, and let the other castes say what they will and thrive even better than they do, which is not necessary, we are well assured that no kind of grain is wholesome but pure wheat. If they will thrash for their own poor, we will take care that they do not thrash for ours. Besides, what business have they to use these Trashing Machines at all; much less to call them after the name of a man, who has no more claim to the invention than a thief to his stolen property? Did not our caste invent it, and shall we suffer another to claim the merit, and reap the advantage without asserting in supporting our title to whatever may have arisen from it? So saying they sent, and called the Benevolent Farmer from that useful retirement in which he had almost forgotten that such a machine existed. They told him of the mighty works which he had done. He stared a little at first, but he was soon persuaded,—(for who could not in such a case be soon persuaded)—that he had been the author of all these wonderful things.—They determined to erect Trashing Machines for the thrashing of wheat only, in all parts of the Island, to be called NATIONAL MACHINES; they appointed the Farmer Superintendent of them, and they raised him to great honour and riches.

Now, notwithstanding that Trashing Machines of both kinds were thus very numerous, the island was so fruitful in corn of every kind, that there was more than work sufficient supplied by the poor, for them all. The competition, therefore, was of the greatest advantage—since almost all the poor, of whatever caste, might now have their corn thrashed in an expeditious way for nothing, instead of knocking it on as well as they could themselves, or having it done for them by the old, slow, and expensive method. Thus far, therefore, the effect at least was good, and all might have thrashed away as hard as they could, in peace and harmony with each other, without any fear of wanting employment.

It, however, unfortunately happened, that some of the more opulent farmers amongst the Wheatites were not content to enjoy the advantages which their caste reaped from the greatly improved Machines, unless the whole world would confess that they and they only, had any claim to merit in the discovery and perfecting of the machine. They abused poor Joseph most dreadfully, called him very hard names, and probably, if they had had him fully in their power, might have employed their machines in thrashing something else besides wheat. Nay, they went so far as to affirm that all the alterations which he had made in the machine, were calculated to spoil it; wherefore they did all in their power to turn the whole into ridicule; and they determined, that not a nail, a screw, or a wheel in theirs, should resemble Joseph’s machine. They asserted, that the latter were without exception coarsely and clumsily put together; that the power was ill applied, and that many parts were introduced for no other purpose than to attract attention and produce surprise. They affirmed, that the oil used was not only injudiciously administered, but that it was in itself bad and unfit for the purpose.—They asserted, that these machines did not perform their work well, but that in spite of all the care they could take, each kind of flour would contract and retain a flavour of some of the others. The corn, they said, was too much agitated in passing through the machine, jumping about from side to side, kicking up a very great and unnecessary dust, in short, they affirmed that poor Joseph was more fitted for exhibiting dancing automata at a country fair, than for being the manager and conductor of a machine, which required the greatest solidity of judgment, with the most unwearying perseverance.

How much of this was true the account from which I have drawn this statement does not proceed to state; it however does affirm, that the Wheatites were not, in this instance, altogether actuated by those pure and disinterested motives which in our happier times prevail. Neither does the accounts go on to state the final result of this conduct in the Wheatites; perhaps it was written during the contest, and before the issue could be known. We, however, in these latter days, who have had more experience, and have, moreover, the happiness and the privilege to live in an age, when brotherly love so much more abundantly prevails amongst all sects, parties and classes, shall feel no hesitation in condemning and stating our conviction of the mischievous consequences of such unchristian conduct. We, supposing ourselves the place of the Wheatites, should no doubt have felt and acted very differently. We should have seen and acknowledged that each of the rival candidates had his respective share of merit.—We should have rejoiced in the success of our rivals in the good cause, as well as in our own.—We should have strenuously supported our own machine, without derogating from the advantages of theirs:—nay we should have been happy, whenever they had hit upon any improvement, to adopt it, as well as to have furnished them with any useful idea which had suggested itself to us. Thus should we have gone on in love and charity together, mutually encouraging and assisting each other in the good work. Let us not, however, too severely condemn the errors of men who have prejudices of time country, station and self  interest to combat, which, probably, under all the same circumstances, we might not have been able to overcome. Let us, therefore, be thankful but not censorious.


Tuesday 22 December 2015

22nd December 1815: The Nottingham Review exposes the Mary Stainsby 'Luddism' hoax to the public

Hoax extraordinary.—It is known to our readers, that an advertisement appeared in our last, offering a reward of two hundred pounds to any one that should be instrumental in convicting one or both of the persons who shot at, severely wounded, and thus attempted to murder Mary, the wife of Thomas Stainsby, of Mansfield, in a street called Blind-lane, in the evening the 12th Instant. The conclusion was, that Ned Ludd had re-commenced his depredations; and fear, for a moment, induced the most unpleasant expectations; but why a woman should be the object, or what the cause of the vengeance, no one could conjecture. In confirmation of the daring outrage, one celebrated character, who wishes to the King’s letters patent for permission to assume that name of Fielding, who is very great in his own eyes, and in other people's when known, declared that he had picked a quantity of shot out of a wall near to whence the woman was said to have been wounded, which probably might have been exhibited in a court of justice as confirmatory evidence, if any one had been found to impeach a suspicious character. Thus the thing appeared conclusive; when behold, the following Hand-bill made its appearance on Saturday, and a number of them were immediately sent to Nottingham.


The Public are informed it is most clearly ascertained, that Mrs. Stainsby was NOT SHOT AT MALICIOUSLY, or from motives connected with LUDDISM.

By Order of the Magistrates,

Mansfield, Dec. 16, 1815.  W.M. LANG.

We, with great pleasure, offer our tribute of thanks to the Magistrates concerned in this business, for their prompt exertions in setting the public opinion at rest on so foul and false a charge; the truth of which is, as we have been informed, that the woman had retired, for conveniency’s sake, with an enamoured captive, into the fields during the shade of evening, at least a mile from Blind-lane, where they were seen by two persons returning from a shooting excursion, when, for the sake of a little fun, though very improperly and censurably, one of them drew his charging of shot, and discharged the powder at the loving pair; but it appears that a few shot-corns remained in the piece, which severely wounded the lady. And for reasons which we need not explain, a conspiracy was formed, which, if not detected, might have been attended with very unpleasant consequences to Mansfield and its neighbourhood.

Friday 18 December 2015

18th December 1815: Cloth Dressers' Union Secretary arrested in Leeds

In the evening of Monday 18th December 1815 John Sunderland, the secretary of the Cloth Dressers' Union (or 'Brief Institution') was arrested in Leeds. The two local newspapers carried reports of the arrest.

From the Leeds Mercury of Saturday 23rd December:
On Monday night last, John Sunderland, Secretary of United Cloth-Dressers’ Society, was apprehended at a public-house in this town and committed to prison, on a charge of aiding and abetting an illegal combination for preventing the use of Machinery in the dressing of woollen cloth, and at the same time the papers of the Society were seized and inspected by the Magistrates. On the following day Sunderland and three other persons were held to bail to appear at the Quarter Sessions to answer to the said charge.
From the Leeds Intelligencer of Monday 25th December:
Monday last, five men, members of a Committee of Cloth-dressers, were convicted at our Rotation Office of having entered into an illegal combination for preventing or their fellow-workmen from following his trade, unless he paid the sum of five pounds, which this Committee thought itself entitled to demand of him. They have appealed to the Quarter Sessions. It might have been hoped that the awful example at York, would have been a sufficient warning to workmen of every description, of the danger of entering into illegal combinations. Though any Class of workmen may set out with a resolution not to give way to such daring acts of outrage, as drew down that terrible infliction of the law, they ought to be aware that, having once entered upon an unlawful career, it is impossible for them to foresee where the evil may terminate, and that, however guarded they may be in their proceedings, detection, must, sooner or later, overtake every deviation from that course which the laws of the land, as well as every principle of policy, of necessity, and of justice, have marked out. The object of dislike to the present combination, is that species of machinery, employed for the dressing woollen cloth, called Gig Mills. By this machinery, some are of opinion that the manufacture can be finished, at the same expence, in a style much superior, to that which the Cloth-Workers are either able or willing to affect by manual labour. Several manufacturers, therefore, exercising that opinion, (which is their undoubted right) have determined on employing such machinery. Against this system, it appears, the Cloth-Workers have combined; and having demanded, as we have above stated, five pounds from an individual who had worked with machinery in Ireland, before they would allow him to earn his subsistence here by his wonted avocation, he gave information of the system, and the Committee, with their books and papers, were taken into custody. An extensive correspondence and combination have in consequence been discovered. As the next sessions must determine the business, it would be improper here to dwell further on the subject.

Thursday 17 December 2015

17th December 1815: James Stevens explains to the Home Secretary the reality of the attack on Mary Stainsby

Mansfield 17th Decr 1815.

My Lord,

Since I had the honor of addressing your Lordship on the subject of a female having been shot at in this place & wounded on a supposition that the Spirit of Luddism was reviving, the Hand Bill circulated (of which a Copy was transmitted to your Lordship) has had the Effect of bringing to light the Circumstances occasioning the Accident―It appears from the Confession of such female (who is a married Woman) that at the time she received the Shot she was in Company with a respectable Tradesmen in a private Lane near the Town of Mansfield, and that a young Man who was returning from shooting in Company with another person had imprudently fired off his Gun and the Contents struck the female, she being a married Woman and desirous that her Husband should not get to know the knowledge of her Infidelity, had represented the Case in a deep laid plot to give Colour to the Accident having arisen from a Spirit of Luddism, but in Consequence of certain circumstantial Evidence collected and being closely interrogated as to the Truth of the Circumstances she made the Confession.—

I inclose your Lordship one of the Hand Bills which has been issued by direction of the Magistrates in pursuance of such Confession.

I have the Honor to be
My Lord
Your Lordship’s humble Servt
James Stevens

The Right Honble
Lord Sidmouth

Wednesday 16 December 2015

16th December 1815: Mansfield Magistrates issue handbills saying attack on Mary Stainsby is unconnected with Luddism


Mrs. Stainsby.

The Public are informed it is most clearly ascertained, that Mrs. Stainsby was NOT SHOT AT MALICIOUSLY, or from any motives connected with LUDDISM.

By Order of the Magistrates,
Wm. Lang.

MANSFIELD, Dec. 16, 1815.

Monday 14 December 2015

14th December 1815: James Stevens of Mansfield blames an attack on Luddism

Mansfield Notts
Dec 14th 1815

My Lord—

By the advice of Col Need the acting magistrate of this place, I am again under the necessity of troubling your Lordship upon the subject of Ludism which I am sorry to inform you Lordship has again made its appearance in this neighbourhood

—On Tuesday night last a Woman was Shot at and severely wounded in the act of taking her work to the House of her employer―this took place as early as half past six in the Evening and the inhabitants feel alarmed—as a great quantity of the Work (which has I conceive occasioned this daring attack) is Manufactured in this place—a reward has been offered a Bill of which I have enclosed

I am most Respectfully
Your Lordships
Humble Servant
James Stevens

[The enclosed reward notice is reproduced below]


200 Pounds 


LAST NIGHT, about HALF-PAST SIX O'CLOCK, MARY STAINSBY, Wife of THOMAS STAINSBY of his Town, was wilfully and maliciously SHOT AT, and SEVERELY WOUNDED, by TWO MEN, in Blind Lane, leading from the Church to Cockpit; the one a TALL Man in a Light Coloured Coat, and the other a SHORT Man in a Dark Coloured Coat.

WHOEVER will give such Information that they may be brought to Justice, shall receive the above Reward, on conviction of the Offenders: One Hundred Pounds of which will be paid by the INHABITANTS of MANSFIELD, the other Hundred Pounds by the ASSOCIATION of the HOSIERS for the protection of the Persons and Property of the Trade.

If the Person in company with the Man who actually Shot the Woman will impeach his Accomplice, he shall receive the above Reward, and every interest made to procure his Pardon.

Mansfield, December 13th, 1815.

Saturday 12 December 2015

12th December 1815: William Cartwright thanks the Home Secretary for the £300 reward sent to him

Rawfolds December 12. 1815

My Lord

I have the Honor to acknowledge the receipt of Three Hundred Pounds, convey’d to me, by your Lordships Directions, by Genl Wynyard, under Circumstances particularly grateful to my Feelings

To have been thought deserving of a Testimony by of the approbation of his Majesty's Government, I shall ever esteem, the highest Honor I could have receiv’d; & I trust, I scarcely need to add, that I feel confident no further Emergency will find me, hesitating to sacrifice every Private Convenience to a Sense of Duty. I have the Honor to be,

My Lord, very respectfully,
Your Lordships grateful
humble Servant
Wm Cartwright,

[To: Lord Sidmouth]

Tuesday 8 December 2015

8th December 1815: The Warwickshire JP, William Hamper, informs the Home Secretary about a man selling pamphlets about the Luddites

Birmingham, Decr 8th, 1815—

My Lord,

A Man named William Cooper, who appears to have been formerly a Grocer at Nottingham, is now travelling through this neighbourhood, under the pretence of offering for sale a Pamphlet of his writing containing some account of the Luddite Disturbances. He talks largely of being patronized by many of the Nobility, & in a List of Benefactors (whose donations amounted upwards of One Hundred & Forty Pounds) your Lordship’s Name is set down for 5£ in an handwriting which I shall now endeavour to give in Facsimile:

Lord Sidmouth . . . . . . . . 5

Some of the Signatures in his List appear to be genuine, but others have every appearance of being artfully fabricated for the purpose of deception; and I trust your Lordship will not consider me as overstepping my Duty in enquiring whether or not the Man has been a partaker of Your Lordship’s bounty.—I have detected so many Plunderers on public Benevolence, in Persons travelling with Petitions & false Certificates, that I make a point of thoroughly investigating every Case of that description which comes before me. I have the honour to remain, with the greatest Respect,

My Lord
Yr Lordship’s faithful Servant
Wm Hamper.
One of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the Counties of Warwick & Worcester

PS. From the colour of the Ink, it is not improbable that Your Lordship’s name was written a year or two ago.—