Saturday 30 April 2016

30th April 1816: Arson at Groton & Timworth, in Suffolk

The Bury & Norwich Post of 8th May 1816 carried reports about another two cases of arson that took place in Suffolk on Tuesday 30th April 1816:
Yesterday se'nnight a small cottage at Groton, in this county, caught fire, and was entirely consumed.—Same day a haulm-stack on the premises of Mr. Harrison, of Timworth, was destroyed by fire.

30th April 2016: The Duke of Grafton informs the Home Secretary of the situation in Suffolk

Newmarket April 30

My Lord

The Revd Mr Smyth, an acting Magistrate in Suffolk, & in the Hundred in which the riotous disposition, of which your Ldship has heard the full extent, has shewn itself, being on his way to Town, I have desired he would wait upon your Lordship, at the Secretary of States Office, tomorrow, at about one oclock, in order that you may have an opportunity of making such enquiries of him with regard to the disposition of the people, the nature of the disturbance which has taken place, the extent of the mischief done, & the causes of the prevailing discontent, as your Lordships may judge the circumstances to require.

Mr Smyth has informed me of a riotous assemblage of people (Men Women & Children) having taken place yesterday at Rattlesden, about ten Miles from Bury St. Edmunds, in this County, for the purpose of destroying a ground, or mole plough, used to save labour in draining; the farmer, occupier of the land where they had assembled, used every means to disperse them, but, in spite of his endeavours, they first executed their purpose of destroying his plough, & afterwards, without committing any other violence, left this premises, & dispersed. An information of these proceedings being laid before the magistrates at Bury, warrants were issued for the apprehension of certain of the rioters 21 in number whose activity had been particularly remembered by the farmer.

Painful as it is to me to relate these circumstances to your Lordships, it is far more so to reflect upon the causes* of the discontent which prevails in parts of this County, to which it appears very difficult to apply a remedy, but to which I am persuaded H.M. Government will feel it incumbent upon them to give, without loss of time, their almost attention:

I have the honor to be
Your Ldships
Most Obedt
& humble Svt


*chiefly: want of employment;

[To] Viscount Sidmouth
& &c &c

Friday 29 April 2016

29th April 1816: Arson at Hadleigh, Suffolk

The Bury & Norwich Post of 8th May 1816 carried a report about a case of arson in Hadleigh, Suffolk, that took place on Monday evening the 29th April 1816:
About ten o'clock on Monday se'nnight some sheds, in which eight bullocks were fattening, on the premises of Mr. Gray, of Hadleigh, were discovered to be in flames, and, from the repaid progress they assumed, soon became a heap of rubbish. Fortunately,the bullocks were preserved; and, by indefatigable exertion, a barn, to which the fire communicated, did not receive much injury; but an outhouse belonging to Mr. Ling, in which his working tools were deposited, with a number of fowls, were destroyed.

29th April 1816: The Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk writes to the Home Secretary about the disturbances in the County

April 29. [1816]

My Lord

In consequence of the communication I had with your Ldship upon the representation you received, from a gentleman in Suffolk, a riotous disposition which had shewn itself among the lower orders of people in the neighbourhood of Bildeston, in this County, I have now the honor of enclosing, for your Ldships information, two reports, the one from the four Magistrates acting in the Division in which Bildestone is situated, the other from the Magistrates assembled at the Quarter Sessions at Bury St. Edmonds this day.

It will be painful to your Lordships to know, from such authorities, that the distress of the common people of that part of Suffolk is so great, as to have led them to the commission of certain outrages; but I trust your Lordships will be assured, from the tenor of the documents which I have enclosed, that the utmost vigilance will be used by the magistrates in suppressing riotous combinations wherever they may be discovered, & in apprehending, so that they may brought to trial for their offences, any promoters of mischief, or disturbers of the public tranquillity:

I have the honor to be
your Lordships
most Obet
& faithful Sert


[To] Viscount Sidmouth
&c &c &c

29th April 1816: Mole Plough destroyed by a crowd of 200 people at Rattlesden, Suffolk - arrests made

On Monday 29th April 1816, a crowd of around 200 people assembled at the farm of Benjamin Morgan, at Rattlesden in Suffolk. They had come to destroy a Mole Plough, a machine used for drainage, which had the effect of displacing the requirement for labour,

Morgan evidently spent some time remonstrating with the crowd, and attempting to prevent them from damaging his machine, but he failed, and the machine was eventually destroyed. Afterwards, the crowd left the farm and dispersed without taking any other kind of action.

Morgan, however, clearly knew or remembered many of those taking part, and arrests followed in the days to come, with two people being committed to Bury Gaol on the same day - Benjamin Buxton & James Button.

29th April 1816: Bury St Edmunds Justices express concerns to the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk

[29th April 1816]

To the Lord Lieutenant of the County of Suffolk

We, the Justices assembled at the adjourned quarter Sessions at Bury Saint Edmunds this day, having heard the report read and addressed to your Grace from the acting Justices of Cosford Hundred, begged leave to join in their Representation and earnestly request your Grace to state it to His Majesty's Ministers, that the distresses of the labouring poor throughout the Liberties of Bury are greatly aggravated by the total Want of Employment for the Women and Children in Consequence of the failure of the Spinning of long wool, which has thrown the Burthen of additional poor rates for their Support upon the Farmers who can now with great difficulty pay the existing taxes.

[Various signatures]

29th April 1816: Bury St Edmunds Magistrates issue warning against assemblies

APRIL 29, 1816.

WHEREAS disorderly Assemblages of Persons have taken place, and Outrages have been committed in some parts of the Division of Bury St. Edmund's: The Magistrates present at the above Sessions do hereby signify their determination to take prompt and effectual measures to put a stop to such assemblages, and to bring to justice all persons who are found offending against the Peace.

And the Magistrates will, in their respective districts, take such measures for strengthening the hands of the civil power, as shall seem necessary to preserve the peace therein.


Wednesday 27 April 2016

27th April 1816: Suffolk magistrates report on the disturbances to the Home Office

Cosford Hundred, Suffolk – April – 27 – 1816

We, whose names are subscribed, being Justices of the Peace, acting in the said Hundred, beg leave to inform your Grace, that previous to the receipt of your letter by Sir Robert Pocklington, we had fixed to meet this day in order to investigate the circumstances attending an alarming Fire which broke out yesterday morning about the hour of eight on the Premises of Mr Zachariah Scott of Kettlebaston Hall in the said Hundred, by which his two Barns containing a considerable quantity of threshed & unthreshed Corn, and Granary and other Outbuildings, and also two Stacks of Stover were totally consumed and which there were strong reasons to apprehend were maliciously set on fire.

After a long and careful Investigation of all the Parties implicated in this Transaction, we committed to Gaol one Labourer, for want of Sureties to keep the Peace towards Mr L. Scott [the] said Labourer having used threatening Language respecting the Stacks of Mr Scott, but we had no Evidence before us from which we could conclude that he was the Incendiary.

We also examined several persons respecting the alarming Reports which have been lately circulated in this Neighbourhood respecting the Discontents and threatening Combinations of the Poor in order to oblige their Masters to raise their Wages, and though we discovered that a Paper had been signed by many of them for this purpose, yet we could gain no Information of any nocturnal Meetings having been held; and we beg to assure your Grace, that we will use the utmost Diligence and Activity to prevent such Meetings, and to suppress such Combinations by every means which the existing Laws of the Land enable us to do.

In the mean time, we beg to represent through your Grace to his Majestys Ministers that in consequence of the distresses of the Farmers, numbers of the labouring Poor are out of employ, others working at very reduced Wages, and that all the Women and Children in this Hundred are deprived of means of earning any Subsistence for their Support, through the total Failure of the Spinning of long Wool which used to afford Employment to so many thousand persons in this County,

We beg leave to subscribe ourselves
Your Grace’s Ob. H. Sts

Robt. Pocklington
J. Gee Smyth Clk
Chas. Cooke
[illegible] Harrison

Tuesday 26 April 2016

26th April 1816: Major Marrie sends news of Bildeston to the Home Office

Brettenham Park 26th Apl 1816

My Lord

I am sorry to have the unpleasant task of again addressing your Lordship on the melancholy picture before me, I am now writing this letter in view of a Farm house, where the stacks Barns and building have been set on Fire (as supposed) at 8 this morning, the land adjoins mine about a mile from hence. I have sent all my people from the different occupations they were employed in to lend their aide, one servant has returned, and says that there are some hundred [illegible] of Corn in the flames and no chance of saving a single grain really my Lord, under these circumstances it is dangerous to remain in the Country, but I do not like to desert it unless from circumstances I am forced to quit it. There are so many reports and so many agitators, and I hear deep schemes laid, that if something is not done, immediately the consequences may be dreadful, and we may experience by our own hand what Bonaparte long wish for (our destruction) from some propositions made to some of the Farmers by the mob assembled yesterday. I judge there is more intended, than simply the employment of the poor, they (the mob) said if you will join us we will lower the Tithe, and their Corn will be cheaper, and we shall get Work — I fully believe that my night watch may be of little avail as from compositions (which now appears, all the Country people are aware of). They can do any damage they please even in the daylight by laying the [train] at every opportunity – I have not understood that any plan has been spoken of nor do I see any disposition in those who have property to protect it. lights are seen in Cottages all the night tho’ which cannot be kept up without great expence if it is not paid for by secret agents as I am sure the poor cannot find sufficient food to eat, nor half of them gain employment—

Whatever your Lordship  and His Majesty’s Government mean to do, with submission, should be promptly and instantly done, for if a few examples were made, it would no doubt check the ardour that seems to subsist amongst all the Labouring classes, a very considerable occupier and owner of Land called upon me this morning for Taxes and he informed me that he had a paper in his possession which was taken up in the Church, and which he would send me, but it not having arrived I am obliged as the Post will so go out from the neighbouring Town to send my letter without it, but I shall take the liberty of sending it tomorrow on Sunday should I receive it for your Lordships inspection — I beg to intreat an early attention to my communications, as I am convinced that nothing but my own personal attendance with all those whom I can trust, has prevented some of my extensive premises of being destroyed. I have all armed and set spring guns in every direction to intimidate intruders. I again beg your Lordships attention to some measure to put a stop to the present appearances of disorder, and distruction.

I have the Honor to be
your Lordships most obt Hbl Servant

[Illegible] Marrie

½ past 3–

The inclosed is the paper mentioned and I understand there are many more of the same handwriting, but to different purposes – all threatening lives &c—

26th April 1816: The Secretary of the Leeds Cloth Dressers' Union outlines their distress to the Leeds Mercury

To the editor of the Leeds Mercury.


Who is the true Friend of his Country? This Question strikes me more forcibly at a Time like the present, when it is acknowledged by all, that general Embarrassment and Want of Employment pervades the whole Nation. The Man, (at such a critical time,) that does every thing in his power to give employment to the lesser class of the community, must be acknowledged to be a friend truly to his Country, and if he should make a small sacrifice, so much the more. Now, Sir, it is a well known fact to every one that properly understands it, that the Machinery for the making of Cloth in the Town and Neighbourhood of Leeds throws Two to Three Hundred [Men] out of Employment, with very little benefit to the Owner, if any, and the Work, to say the least of it, no better done. If this be true, and it is too true, what will be the feeling of those brave Men returning from the Army and Navy to find all their hopes blasted, and their former employment [taken] by Machinery?

Likewise, the Cloth-workers, who have borne the weight of heavy Taxes and dear Provisions during the War, at the return of peace to [have] every thing turn from them that would Support them and their Families. The Person that gives Employment to the Working Classes encourages Consumption and helps the Revenue, and is worthy the gratitude of all good Men. It is unnecessary to say any thing more, the following statement will say sufficient:

The Quarterly Report of the Clothworkers’ Brief Institution, taken from the 1st of January, 1816, to the 31st of March.

In January there were out of Employ…… 317
In February…….D………...D………….. 378
In March ………..D……….D…….…… [389]

In this Number are included the lately returned from his Majesty’s Service.

The Number of Children dependent on these Individuals or Support is, 1134.

In the course of the last Quarter the Institution has paid to the Relief of their own Sick and Funerals 61l. 6s.

April 26th 1816.

N.B. There are at present not less than Six Hundred Pairs of Sheers going by Machinery.

26th April 1816: Field of reeds set alight at Woodwalton Fen, Cambridgeshire

On Friday 26th April 1816, the Cambridge Chronicle reported that a field of standing reeds belonging to a General Hussey had been set alight in five different places. Hussey offered a reward of £20 for information.

26th April 1816: Multiple arson attacks across Suffolk

The Bury & Norwich Post of 1st May 1816 carried reports of multiple cases of arson that took place across Suffolk on Friday 26th April 1816:
About two o'clock on Friday morning an alarming fire broke out on the premises of Mr. Kingsbury, of Bungay, (whose death we have noticed above) which, from the quantity of tallow, tar, oil, &c. therein, threatened total destruction to the adjoining buildings, but was fortunately got under by the very prompt and active exertions of the inhabitants, though not until the offices were destroyed. 
Same day a fire was discovered in two barns occupied by Mr. Scott, of Kettlebaston, during the time the men who had been threshing therein were gone to breakfast, which circumstance leads to a strong suspicion they were wilfully set on fire, The flames raged so furiously, that the whole were destroyed in a short time, together with a stable, cowhouse, and a stack of stover.—The buildings, which belong to Matthew Beechcroft, Esq. of London, we do not hear are insured, but Mr. Scott had secured his property by insurance in the Suffolk Fire Office. 
Same morning a fire broke out in a cottage in the occupation of Mr. Rosier, of Grundisburgh, which was entirely consumed, and not an article of the furniture saved.

Monday 25 April 2016

25th April 1816: Threatening letter left at Bildeston church


I could wish you to be very carefully about you buisness for endeed things are getting to a very bad pass now for there is a great number of us thinking about making a bussel amongst you Gentlemen

an so I Remain to
R Xmple
are 3 parishes join
I our warning
729 men

25th April 1816: Major Marrie sends another worried letter to the Home Office from Suffolk

4. oClock

Brettenham Park
Bildeston Suffolk
Apl. 25th 1816

My Lord,

I have the Honor to return my best thanks for answer to my letter, on subject of the 22d Instant, I have further to form your Lordship that I have seen one premises on Fire on the 23d at Night and I understand that another took place last night about 9 miles from hence.

The People to the amount of 45 of one Parish (Wallisham) have come down to the next parish Hitcham and are endeavouring to persuade those who are disposed to be peaceable to join with them, this has occurred to two Men who at present have refused to go, and whom I have now in my employment but from what I can collect from them, if speedy measures are not taken they will be obliged to go with the Tide, various written Papers have been dropped, and some posted up with a list of Names, threatening vengeance for higher wages. The greatest part of the Corn in this part of the Country having been carried to market at a low rate, and several Occupiers at this time having none upon their premises, they all appear disposed in a degree to sanction the disposition to riot. One Farmer, has openly said (I am informed) that he is ready to join the mob and that if the Clergy do not lower their tithes or attempt to gather it up, they will burn them in their Beds. There does not appear to be the least motion in the magistracy one of them called at my House in my absence this morning & said they must wait for some act to take the rioters up, my opinion is that 5 fires, and threatening letters besides the gathering together of the people, both night & day in a riotous manner are sufficient cause for them to act, by swearing in constables or otherwise as circumstances require to keep the peace, for with subscription to your Lordships Knowledge of the state of the Country, prevention is better than cure, in my services I happened to be in a ship in the meeting at the Nore – & had the Captains only acted with firmness upon that occasion many ships would have remained with Lord Duncan, on his post of the [vessel] instead of going into [illegible] Roads where they were deserted by their Captains only. In this neighbourhood the magistrates I may say certainly Clergy & I do not hear of one of them stirring in this affair. For my own part I have not been in my bed for the last four nights, nor my servants, but we have been expecting to be attacked and the premises set on fire, I am determined to defend my property with my life, but I assure you Lordship that I think it rather hard after 16 years service to be obliged to watch an enemy who I am in the habit of supporting year after year on my Farm. This way I have done every thing as far as possible to support the poor at a Parish meeting – they are greatly distressed and every thing to make them happy and quiet should be done, although it is impossible for the [hundred] intent to hear, the poor rate, and high tithes

I hope you Lordship will excuse this long detail, & I have written in haste that I might be in time for the post, which is 9 miles off

I have, the honor to be
your Lordships Obedt Servant

[Illegible] Marrie

with submission, would not some of the police officers be of Service in finding out this business. I understand there are many persons lately or now in this place who are suspected of these affiliations – and who are strangers in this County—

Sunday 24 April 2016

24th April 1816: Arson at Martlesham Hall, Woodbridge, Suffolk

The Bury and Norwich Post of 1st May 1816 carried a report about an arson attack upon Martlesham Hall, near Woodbridge in Suffolk, that took place on Wednesday 24th April 1816:
On Wednesday morning, about one o'clock, the barn and outbuildings of Mr. Glandfield, of Martlesham-hall, near Woodbridge, were discovered to be on fire. The flames consumed a quantity of barley in the straw, and also the waggons, tumbrils, ploughs, and general implements. A cart-lodge, about 150 yards distant, was also consumed; a circumstance which sufficiently indicated that the fire was not accidental. A man of the name of Joseph Bugg, who had been heard to use threatening language respecting Mr. Glandfield, was, by the active exertions of Mr. Charles Moor, of Woodbridge, (Agent to the Suffolk Fire-Office, where the corn was insured) soon after apprehended on suspicion of having set fire to the premises. He was examined before Edw. Moore and William Carthew, Esqrs. and has been fully committed to take his trial at the next Assizes.

Friday 22 April 2016

22nd April 1816: A panicked Major Marrie writes to the Home Office from Bildeston, Suffolk

Brettenham Park
Bildeston Suffolk

22d. Apr. 1816

My Lord,

I am induced from the disturbed state of the Labouring classes &c in this part of the Country to address your Lordship, thinking it a duty I owe to my Country and to society in general.

Nightly meetings have already taken place and are still accumulating, they have already burned several Threshing-Machines together with their Barns, [Cows] implements &c—&c— and are dropping threatening letters in the yards and other enclosures of the different persons of property and yesterday one of their papers were dropped in the Parish Church of Hitcham and carried to the Church Warden – they complain of want of work and higher wages – which according to the situation of most of the Farmers here is impossible to grant as they are already too much distressed and having carried all their Corn to Market at so low a price many of them are as unable to bare the pressure of the times as the Pauper – if something prompt is not done, this may lead to serious consequences – I therefore have taken the earliest moment to represent it to your Lordship, as I have been accustomed from my earliest age do my duty. I much regret that a reduction has taken place in all departments, as from reports I have heard several parishes have been taking Oaths to stand by each other as in the meeting at the Nore. I beg your Lordships early attention to my representation, I have armed all my Servants and keep up a patrol for the security of my property & Family

I am, your Lordships obt. Sert.

[Illegible] Marrie

Should your Lordship think proper to [answer] this Letter please direct to

Major Marrie
Brettenham Park

Wednesday 20 April 2016

20th April 1816: Threshing machine destroyed at Cockfield, Suffolk

The Bury & Norwich Post of 24th April 1816 carried a brief report about the destruction of a threshing machine at Cockfield on Saturday 20th April 1816:
On Saturday night a thrashing machine, belonging to Mr. John Fenton, of Whelnetham, was set fire to on the premises of Mr. Sarjeant, of Cockfield, and entirely consumed.

Sunday 17 April 2016

17th April 1816: Arson at Gedding leads to a £100 reward for information

The Bury & Norwich Post of 24th April 1816 carried the following report about a case of arson at Gedding in Suffolk, which occurred in the night of Wednesday 17th April 1816:
During the night of Wednesday last a fire was discovered on the premises of Mr. Samuel Hustler, of Gedding, which raged so furiously, that in a short time a barn, neat-house, and cart-lodge, together with 45 coombs of wheat, a quantity of straw some live stock, &c. were entirely consumed.—The premises were insured in the Suffolk Fire Office, and as there is strong suspicion they were wilfully set on fire, the Directors of the said Office have offered a reward of 100l. for the discovery of the offenders.—See advt.

Friday 15 April 2016

15th April 1816: Resolutions of Leicester Framework-knitters meeting


At a Meeting of the FRAME-WORK KNITTERS of the Town and County of LEICESTER, held at the Bowling Green, Leicester, on Monday, April 15, 1816.

JOHN WOOD, in the Chair.

The following Resolutions were unanimously agreed to:—

1st. That this Meeting has heard, with the greatest surprise and astonishment, the report made from the Throne at the commencement of the present Session of Parliament, namely, "that Trade and Commerce were in a flourishing state."

2nd. That we as Framework Knitters, feel, that the return of Peace has failed in producing those effects which has been so often held out as a consequence of preserving in the late protracted war, namely, "Commercial prosperity."

3rd. That the Manufacturer and Framework Knitter never experienced such a want of trade, during the last thirty years, as is felt at the present moment, when the former is obliged to discharge his workmen, who are reluctantly compelled to seek parochial relief to prevent them from starving.

4th. That nothing can be more distressing to an honest industrious man, than to know that he cannot, by his trade, procure that sustenance for his family which nature requires.

5th. That we consider ourselves no longer worthy of the British name, if we remain any longer silent on this important occasion.

6th. That it is the opinion of this Meeting, that if a spurious article which has been manufactured for many years past into piece-work, and then cut into hose, half hose, caps, mits, gloves, sleeves, sandals, and socks, be suffered to continue, it will ultimately prove destructive of the remaining part of our Trade.

7th. That a Petition, containing the substance of the foregoing Resolutions, be presented to the Honourable the House of the Commons, praying the Honourable House to take into its most serious consideration the distressed state of our Manufactory.

8th. That a Subscription be immediately entered into, for the purpose of carrying the same into effect.

9th. That Samuel Smith and Thomas Babington, Esqrs. the Members for this Borough, be requested to present the same.

10th. That the Members of both Town and County be solicited to support the same.

11th. That the foregoing Resolutions be inserted into the Leicester Papers.

15th April 1816: The death of Sir Simon Le Blanc

Sir Simon Le Blanc, as depicted by John Opie
At 2.00 a.m. on Monday 15th April 1816, the King's Bench Judge Sir Simon Le Blanc died at his house in Bedford Square, London after a short illness. He was 68 years of age.

Le Blanc had played an important part in trials during the Luddite disturbances. He was the judge at the 1812 York Lent Assizes, and acquitted the first person tried for Luddism anywhere.

In May of 1812, he presided over the Lancaster Special Commission with Baron Thomson, sentencing 8 people to death and 13 to transportation.

Most notoriously, in January 1813 he presided over the York Special Commission, sentencing 18 people to death and 6 to transportation. He denied the condemned any mercy from their death sentences.

Articles on this website concerning Le Blanc can be found here.

Monday 11 April 2016

11th April 1816: Arson at Great Barton, Suffolk

The Bury & Norwich Post of 17th April 1816 reported on a case of arson at Great Barton, near to Bury St Edmunds, that took place in the early hours of Thursday 11th April 1816:
About one o'clock on Thursday morning the premises of John Phillips, Esq. at Great Barton, near this town, were discovered to be on fire. The alarm thereof was soon after given here, when many of the inhabitants immediately forsook their beds, and having procured four fire engines, went with the utmost promptitude, and by their timely assistance the fire, which had assumed a most destructive appearance, was most providentially subdued, though not until some outbuildings, a large cart-lodge, and a hay stack, were totally destroyed. From the situation where the fire commenced, being full in the wind, and other circumstances, strong suspicions are entertained it was wilfully occasioned: yet as Mr. Phillips and his family were universally respected in this neighbourhood, especially by the poor it seems difficult to account for such an act. The premises, which belong to Sir Charles Bunbury, Bart. are believed be uninsured. Mr. Phillips's stock on his form was insured in the Pheonix Fire Office, and his furniture, &c. in the dwelling-house, in by the Suffolk Fire Office.—The paragraph in a neighbouring print, stating that a reward of 200l. was offered to any one who would discover the incendiary, is, we understand, without foundation, though, no doubt, any person making such discovery, would he amply rewarded by the Fire Offices, and the parties concerned.

Thursday 7 April 2016

7th April 1816: Threshing machine destroyed at Myland, Essex

Some time on Sunday 7th April 1816, a Threshing Machine belonging to James Posford was destroyed by arson at Myland Heath ('Mile End Heath').

This was the first action in the month which would see the start of concerted uprisings across East Anglia, many of them directed against agricultural machinery.

Wednesday 6 April 2016

6th April 1816: Henry Enfield writes to the Home Secretary about John Dann & another suspected Luddite

Private and Confidential

Nottingham Apr. 6 1816


Indisposition has prevented my communicating to you, for the Information of Lord Sidmouth, the particulars of the conduct of Simpson, otherwise Dann, since his condemnation—

A particular friend of mine attended him almost constantly between his Sentence and Execution — & from the reports made to me from time to time of his conversation, he appears to have been extremely obdurate, or, rather, perversley determined to make no sincere Confession—He made a partial one, & signed it – in which he admitted that he was guilty of the Robbery of Bowes, & of [Cornwell], but denied being concerned in the Robbery of Needham – & tho’ he acknowledged to have advocated the cause of Framebreaking by Words on all occasions, but never took, he said, an active part – a variety of other matters is contained in the Confession, immaterial to be detailed to you – I expected that one person's name would be disclosed – it is so.—& I have been glad to succeed in my Endeavours to confine the knowledge of the Confession as much as possible—He verbally denied being one of the two who shot Mr. Trentham & continued thus until the morning of his Execution—The Gentleman to whom I have alluded in my former part of this letter was with him at ½ past 5 on that morning (Wednesday last) when he was to receive the Sacrament—This moment was seized for the most pointed & solemn Interrogation – & after shewing considerable agony, he confessed that he was one of the two who shot Mr. Trentham, & that he shot Gylby — he was pressed to say who was the other person at the shooting of Mr. Trentham – but his agitation was extreme & he begged to the be spared further—The Gentleman deeming the matter however to be of the first importance, &, having have the name confidentially suggested to him, persevered & asked him if it were Joshua Mitchell—He from [illegible] was greatly distressed—& could only say, take my answer as if I had said it – giving it to be clearly understood that the person named was the man—This last conversation was in the presence only of the Gentleman who has repeated it to me—&, for the best reasons, it must be imparted only in judicious confidence.—Simpson told my friend that at the place of Execution he should say that he had made no Confessions—& he, in fact, did say so—He was executed about ten on Wednsy morning.

From the disclosure in his written Confession of Crofts’s name of residence (of whom our first reports transmitted to you make frequent, important mention, the magistrate for the County took up Crofts—& I had [illegible] to do to prevent the apprehension of our Secret Agent.—Assisted by his former Information, we brought forwards the Butcher (Woodruffe) robbed on Wilford Hills – & upon his Charge Crofts is fully committed to the Summer Assizes for the Highway Robbery—& he will, I think, be convicted—

At this period I am intrusted by the Secret Committee to suggest most respectfully to Lord Sidmouth the [illegible] [illegible] adequate Reward to be given to the Secret Agent from Government for these important results of his most perilous Services—The fund of the Secret Committee is exhausted—but they propose endeavouring to renew it for the purpose of continuing the Secret Service—

I have written you very fully – perhaps too much so – but I have done it only from belief that Lord Sidmouth & yourself would have a satisfaction in knowing minutely the closing particulars of Simpson's Life

I am
Your most obed Servant
H. Enfield

Sunday 3 April 2016

3rd April 1816: The execution of the Luddite, John Dann

On Wednesday 3rd April 1816 the Luddite, John Dann (aka John Simpson), was executed in Nottingham. Dann had been convicted of Highway Robbery, and his alleged involvement in Luddism had not been disclosed. The local authority believed he was deeply implicated in Luddism, but because they had based their case on the word of an informer, we cannot be sure about the veracity of their case. The Town Clerk of Nottingham, Henry Enfield, had suggested that the Assizes Judge be directed to order execution without remission for Dann, although it's not clear if this intervention led to his death sentence.

The Nottingham Date Book (containing extracts from the Nottingham Review) contains an interesting passage about Dann:

April 3.—Execution of John Simpson, alias Daniel Simpson, for committing several highway robberies. 
The offences in particular for which he suffered, were, robbing Mr. Thomas Needham, of Lambley, of 29s. and a bundle of cotton, and Mr. Joseph Bowes, of Eastwood, of a silver watch and a £1 note.   
This malefactor was a native of Ashton-under-Lyne, and after being taught something of the stocking-making business at Lancaster, came to Nottingham in 1799, at the age of 16. He had worked at Melbourne, Mansfield, Sutton, and Arnold, as well as in this town, and had assumed a great variety of names. He was married twice, and his second wife was a native of Arnold.  
At his own request, Simpson was attended to the place of execution, by two gentlemen of the Particular Baptist persuasion. He was penitent, and freely acknowledged his guilt.