Monday 21 March 2016

21st March 1816: Henry Enfield informs the Home Office of the result of John Dann's trial

Nottingham March 21. 1816.


I have the Satisfaction to acquaint you, for the Information of Lord Sidmouth, that John Simpson, alias Dann, Allwright &c, was yesterday convicted of two Highway Robberies – a third case came out against him on Saturday last – the party in that instance robbed spoke to Simpson's person with most positive certainty — he was therefore tried first upon that Indictment, & convicted — & afterwards upon Bowes’s, & convicted — the Judge did not try him upon the other Indictment – & he is left for Execution—

I am Sir
Your most obed Hble Servt.
H. Enfield

[To John Beckett?]

Sunday 20 March 2016

20th March 1816: The Luddite, John Dann, is sentenced to death at Nottingham Assizes for Highway Robbery

On Wednesday 20th March 1816, John Simpson, aka the Luddite John Dann, was sentenced to death  at Nottingham Assizes for undertaking two highway robberies.

It's currently not possible to know if the Home Office put pressure on the trial Judge to deliver a death sentence for Dann, although the Town Clerk of Nottingham, Henry Enfield, had written to the Home Secretary to suggest such an intervention. Given that Enfield (and George Coldham before him) was relying on an informer for his information about Dann's involvement in Luddism, it's also difficult to know the truth about how implicated he was in the various actions he was alleged to have undertaken.

In any event, the general public would remain unaware of any allegations of Luddism against Dann, (or Simpson, as he was known in this case) because they were not referred to in this trial, either at the time, or afterwards. Indeed, Dann's case seems to have escaped the attention of historians of Luddism, even those with a particularly local focus on Nottinghamshire and a reactionary view that equated Luddism with criminal activity, such as Malcolm Thomis.

Saturday 19 March 2016

19th March 1816: The convict, Thomas Holden, writes to his parents & his wife from Sydney, Australia

My Dear Father and Mother

March 19th 1816

this Comes to Let you no that I ham in good Ealth hat present thanks be to god for it. I hope it will find you the seme Dear Father if you Could Send me a few things has [   ] same Coulters Bouls and tr\h/ed and mousless spolled for Caps and gouns and Shalls the Best you have yet and a pase of them prinilled Bed Covers wich the making even I laft home and Coulters stokings and a pace of the Best /peses of\ prints you Chan get and Seddels and fine Lin Clath for shirts the Best you Can get and Legs and futten for Caps and tepe and if you heve Recourse to Send soum of the Boults that Coums of the Masten works sumaker hals hers [                ] for the hals and Julanlen and Ribbens Blu and [   ]te and if you send me these particlars it will [    ]u me a great kindness hat this present time

Dear father plese to derect them to Mr Heath Sherby Street Halton garden London to the Comissary girel Allen Nue South weles and put the Letter in the Box that I [       ] the [   ] for and ples to send a Letter to [ ]illm Heath to fonned the seme to Nue South weles a Long with the Allan things and I shall be shoure to get them sefe put Mr Allan neme on it But not mine be sure to Nale this Box doun fast and if there is hanny Room to send James bradley thing with mine

Dear Father has there is No More oppertunety of Sending me No more as my thime is groing Short of Confinement wich I ham Looking for it will Be the happeness dey that he[ ]er I had in My Life if you Should Receiv this Letter Send me word if you Can send me these hartic\less/ nor not Rite to me as soon as you Can for I hop that I soon be with you hall Dear father and fine poucet andkerchifs Someone hat present From your hun dutty ful Son Thos Houlding till Death

Dear wife and Louing Child I Hope the dey will Com when we shall be Both to gather Dear Wife I hope you will geat /the\ monny that my huncel hattan Would [in det to one  ] Left home has it will dow Me a greate kindness hat this present thime and send me has much has you cand get in gouds has this is the Last oppertunity you Shall heue wilst I ham in Country sell the 2 pare of Looms if you can and hall my Close to /sell them\ send to me has it will be a great thing for [to have my pacadge] to England as it is a Long we for me to Com home Rember my Love to My Brother willam and to my Cousen James and to your sister Nancy and Father and Mother and to little nancy grene and if you send me these thing be shour that we hare sefe and if Mr Biley gouse to London yet tell /im\ to see Mr Heath imself and no More from your Loving Housbond till Death Thomas Houlding

Sunday 13 March 2016

13th March 1816: Henry Enfield reports John Dann's involvement in another robbery

Mar. 13. 1816


Another Case of Highway Robbery have risen up against Dann – & most extraordinarily: the Seal found upon him attached to the Miller’s watch, turns out to belong to a Farmer who was robbed (& robbed as we know by this gang) of his watch &c, £40 in money, & other property [from] him before the Miller’s Robbery – I think this Second case will be a stronger one than [the] other—

I omitted in my last letter to say that Dann’s present name, & the name by which he has been Committed & is upon the Calendar is John Simpson

I have the honor to be Sir
Your must obed Serv
H. Enfield

J. Beckett Esqr.


I beg to express, from myself & [illegible] with whom I am [illegible] an Acknowledgements for your very kind letter just received—


[To] J. Beckett Esqr.

Thursday 10 March 2016

10th March 1816: The Town Clerk of Nottingham reports the arrest of an important Luddite activist, John Dann, to the Home Secretary

Nottingham March 10.  1816.


In my Interview with you last November, I told you, that the Secret Channel of Information as to the proceedings of the Luddites, which Mr. Coldham so happily & so judiciously availed himself of, would be continued (notwithstanding his lamented Death) to be [possessed] by the "Secret Committee" – &, that they would make me the future Organ of Confidential Communication for his Majesty's Government—

I have now the Satisfaction to acquaint you, for the Information of Lord Sidmouth, that one of the most desperate, most Sanguinary, of the above Gang of Offenders, was, yesterday, apprehended & committed for Trial at the next Assizes for the County of Nottingham for a Highway Robbery — He & three others, disguised & armed, Stopped a Miller on Friday Night last on his way from the Fair & robbed him of a Silver Watch, Money &c.—The Attention of the Secret Committee has long been closely & constantly directed to the Conduct of the man now in custody; & they Congratulate themselves & the County that [their] perseverance & Exertions, aided by the zealous Co-operation of the Magistrates of Nottingham, have at length arrested his murderous Career—This is the man of whom you will find [such] important mention made in the Secret Informant’s Reports transmitted to you by Mr. Coldham in June 1815, & in Mr. C’s letters of that period—He is John Dann, alias Allwright &c &c, who according to the Secret Informant’s reports shot Mr. Trentham in 1812, who was one of the most active leaders in the attack upon Garton's House in October 1814, Shot & killed Gylby (as the party were returning from Garton's premises) & meditated the cold-blooded assassination of Mr. Coldham—I would request you to turn to the reports & Correspondence, if the Circumstances be not still in your recollection—The Conviction (& the capital Conviction) of a man of this Character is important – I scarcely know [how] to use the word desirable – but it is very important his example must appall—& tend to stop these dreadful enormities of Crime—I entertain Doubts however of a capital Conviction, because of the difficulty of identifying the prisoner’s person under the circumstances of the Robbery—I have nonetheless advised his being Committed upon the Capital Charge—if we fail Capitally, we shall assuredly Convict him of the Simple Felony, the Watch having been found upon him, at a pawnbroker’s, whither he took it early on Saturday morning to pledge it—but whither also we (thanks to our Secretive informant) had previously been, & taken the necessary steps—

I am writing this immediately to you under the presumption that, possibly, Lord Sidmouth may think it right to make [firm] communication to the Judge of Assize.

Mr Coldham's correspondence upon these confidential Subjects was, I find, addressed by him to yourself – I hope that I am right in also doing so—

I am Sir
Your most obed Servt.
H. Enfield
Town Clerk

[FAO Lord Sidmouth]

Tuesday 8 March 2016

8th March 1816: General Wroth Palmer Acland, Luddite baiter, dies from fever, age 46

Acland's memorial stone at Bath Abbey (photo copyright Robert at Flickr)
On Friday 8th March 1816, General Wroth Palmer Acland died from a recurrence of the fever he contracted during the peninsula campaign years before.

He had been one of the principal commanders of the military forces stationed in the North of England during the Luddite disturbances in 1812-1813. Most biographies - including this one at Wikipedia - fail to mention this fact.

Posts on this blog mentioning Acland can be found at this link.

Monday 7 March 2016

7th March 1816: Suffolk Yarn makers lament the automation of their trade to local MPs

The letter below was published in the Bury & Norwich Post of 27th March 1816:

Yarn-makers.—A Copy of the following letter was last week transmitted to the Members of Parliament for this county —

"GENTLEMEN.—While the Freeholders of the county are petitioning against Income and Property Tax, permit the Suffolk Yarn-makers to lay before you the state of spinning of fine worsted yarn, and the bad consequence of encouraging machines for spinning of wool, which has been in part the cause of parish rates getting up to their present height, and now threatens a total annihilation of all hand spinning. The coarse spinning by hand has already been done away, to the injury of many thousands of women and children, and about 800 journeymen combers in the said county; and there are about 400 more likely to share the same fate, if a stop is not put to mill-spinning, principally manufactured in Yorkshire. The number of spinners in this county amounts to about 40,000, and their earnings on an average 3d. each per day, amounting to the sum of 156,000l. per annum; this sum must, of course, fall principally on the occupiers of land, and if a stop is not put to so growing an evil, it must in the end be the ruin of the Agricultural interest, as well as the Yarn-makers of this county. Although the ingenuity of man is patronised and encouraged, still when it becomes a national grievance, surely it then behoves the Legislature to stop, or remedy, the evil. It must be allowed the Wool-growers in some counties find a readier and higher market, owing to a less sum being required to manufacture the raw material; yet if it is considered the large sum it takes for the maintenance of the labouring poor, still increasing, how is the landed interest to support the expences, or find employment for so greater a number of women and children? Besides, all selfish considerations must be extinguished, or give way to a public good. It has been observed, that the machine spinning enables our manufacturers to undersell the Foreign Markets; the contrary will be proved to a demonstration in times of Peace, from the raw materials having advanced triple during the War, the consequence of which will be, the manufacturers will have a quantity of goods on hand, their journeymen unemployed, thousands of females and children out of employment, pauperism rapidly increasing, and a  general distress among the lower orders of the people; nor will the Farming Interest be able to live with moderate rents, even if Wheat should get up to 40s. per coomb, from the enormous sums they will have to pay rates. If it be asked, are the goods equal to hand spinning? the answer is, they are made to sell; perhaps some will say, 'Can no other employment be substituted?' I answer, I know of none that will give labour to two millions of people in this kingdom. Must they not be brought up in idleness and vice? and will it not be the ruin of the morals of the people? That you, Gentlemen, will take this into your serious consideration, is the wish of the Yarn-makers of the County of Suffolk.

7th March, 1816.


Saturday 5 March 2016

5th March 1816: Ralph Fletcher forwards Adjutant Warr's letter to the Home Office

Bolton le moors 5th March 1816

Dear Sir

In consequence of your query, respecting Benefit Societies, I have procured from Adjt Warr the inclosed Report relating to the Application of the Friends of such Societies in this immediate Neighbourhood.

The members composing the Societies, of which he speaks, are principally Cotton Weavers, who, forming, by much, the largest Class of persons in this manufacturing part of the County of Lancaster, have never been all for any considerable length of time, and in any considerable Numbers, to turn out (or strike) from their Employ, so as materially thereby to affect the Interest of their masters. That period (alluded to by Mr Warr (1808) was their greatest Effort, when a Colonel Hanson later of Manchester, deluded many of them into a Tumultuous assembly – for which offence he was indicted and sentenced by the Court of King's bench, (I think) to Six months Imprisonment.

The Classes of persons in the manufacturers of this County, that have been most formidable to their Employers, by their Combination, are the Calico Printers and Cotton Spinners who labouring in large numbers together in [illegible] works or Cotton Factories under the same masters respectively – have for many years past been, almost every year in some Plan or other in a State of Combination against their respective Employers, and, in regard to the Calico Printers, will appear from the [Press] or of the correspondence [seized] lately in this Town, and which I doubt not you will have perused. How far Benefit Societies (I mean such as one sanctioned by the Act of the 35th yr of his Majesty) have increased the [facilities] of forming such Combinations, I am not fully informed so as to give a decided opinion; but although I frequently heard of Combinations amongst the Calico Printers, before the Enactment of the said Statute, yet as Sick Clubs or Friendly Societies prevailed in many parts of the Country before any Law gave them a Sanction, so it is probable that such Societies, before the said Law, might have been the Germ from which sprang originally such illicit Associations.

I intend to make some further Enquiries and should I draw any material Information, you shall be immediately furnished therewith.

I observe, from the public papers, that great pains are taken to raise a Cry against the Property Tax; but, excepting in Liverpool, I have not heard of any meeting being called in any part of the County against to petition against it. The respectable part of the people here, are is not averse to its continuance under the modifications proposed by Government, being fully aware that should this Tax cease, others must be imposed, which as they would probably bear more positively, would be far more grievous and burdensome.

It is hoped, here, that Government will not be deterred by any Clamour against it, the object of which is to drive his majesty's ministers to the Imposition of new Taxes, which will have a Tendency to diminish the popularity of their measures.

I have the Honor to remain
Dear Sir
Yours most sincerely
Ra: Fletcher

To John Beckett Esq

Tuesday 1 March 2016

1st March 1816: Adjutant James Warr sends a report about Bolton Friendly Societies

Bolton 1st March 1816

Dear Sir

Agreeable to your request I have made Enquiries contained in your last respecting Friendly Societies—I find at the time that Delegates, where sent to London with a Petition, from the Weavers to get a fixed Minimum of Wages according to sorts & quantities of cloth [worked]. An affiliation was  made by them, through the committee at Bolton to the different Friendly Societies for a Sum of Money, to be advanced to them, out of their [respective] Funds—In consequence of which their was General Meetings called of a Number of the Societies for that purpose—and several clubbs agreed, to lend them money, on point notes being given for the same, by such of the members as would come forward & who where thought to be Eligible to which several of the Members agreed to on condition, they might be allowed to sollicit Subscriptions, [illegible] the Members the ensuing Quarter day, for the repayment of the same but they delegates not succeeding in their affiliation, to Parliament—when they began to make their Collections from they Members it came far short of their expectations and they had trouble to make the Deficiency out of their own Pockets—They where other Societies that advanced five Pounds each, out of their respective Funds, without any notes being required—but it has been a bone of contention ever since, with those that where opposed to it who declare their shall never any more money to go out again but for the Purposes it was put in for viz to Relive the Sick & Bury the dead

In the year 1808 at the General turn out of the Weavers, a number of Families where brought into distress by having their Shuttles &c took from them their was General Meetings of several Societies again called, to consider of the propriety of assisting such of their Members, who were in distress—when it was agreed to [allow] out of their respective Funds, ten Shillings to such Member that would apply for the same they repaying it back in Six or 12 Months with Interest—the Principle fact of such Money so advanced, has been paid back when such Members hath not repaid the same, it is deducted from their Burial Money—I cannot learn of any Society failing to Relieve their Sick or becoming Bankrupt in consequence of any Sums advanced to the Weavers delegates—as the Largest Sum advanced by any Society was ten Pounds I learn there has been 2 or 3 Sick clubbs broke up—but it was owing to not having a sufficient number of Paying Members joining their Societies—and being principly composed of old Persons their Funds got reduced so low—that they agreed to divide what little Money they have left—

I believe the Money received in Friendly Societies in Bolton has been invariably applied to the paying of their Sick and Burying their dead except in the before mentioned cases—And I understand that those who where advocates for the advance of such Money is convinced of the impropriety of letting any Money go out of their Funds for any purpose whatever but for what it was subscribed for—

I am
Dear Sir
you're very obedt Servant
J Warr

To Col Fletcher