Tuesday, 26 April 2016

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.

This letter appeared in the 27th April 1816 edition of the Leeds Mercury.

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