Tuesday 31 May 2016

31st May 1816: Sir Henry Bunbury informs the Home Office about Brandon prisoners & suspicions about a Civil Servant


Milden Hall May 31st: 1816

My dear Beckett,

Having qualified myself properly on Wednesday to act as a magistrate, I went with Mr. Barker to Brandon yesterday. We collected all the Evidence which could be obtained on the subject of the Riots in that Town:—and in consequence of what came out we issued warrants against two more men & two women (in addition to the five men committed on Tuesday) and we succeeded in securing one of each viz: Mingay Rampling, & Helen Dyer. The other two (Willm Clark, & Anna Folkes) have fled.—It appears that Peverett, one of those committed on Tuesday, is the most dangerous Character of the Party. He was the Leader and perhaps the mover of the whole business. The day before the first Riot he was seen to have many Bank notes in his hand and was boasting of the money he had at command—next to him we may rank Talbot, Wiggan, Rampling, Spendlove, & Helen Dyer—The fair Sex were very active, and both Helen & Ann Folkes are very good looking young women.—The Townspeople of Brandon have recovered from their Panick, & are now ready enough to give their testimony. We are much obliged to a Gentleman, Mr. [Toomey], who has returned from Benfield to his house at Brandon since the Riots, for his personal Exertions in seizing Peverett himself, in spite of a desperate resistance.—Mr. Barker & I have sent up our Clerk Mr. Wootton Isaacson to lay the Depositions before the Duke of Grafton & with his approbation before Lord Sidmouth. Mr Isaacson and was at Brandon with us, & give you further information.

I am inclined to believe that Spendlove repents hastily of his Share in the Riots, and might would give information of all &c he may know.—And now I must introduce to your notice a fresh Character, named James Smythe:—he is a petty Attorney at Brandon:—Clerk to Justice Burch:—and, as it would seem, leading the Justice by the nose. Mr. Smythe is moreover a little dissenting Preacher. He mixes  constantly with all the poor & profligate Characters of Brandon, and unless He be grievously belied is deeply connected with them. This fellow very imprudently attempted to oppose Mr. Barker's first proceedings on Tuesday, but was very properly put down. There are many grounds for suspicion against this Mr. Smythe; & I wish to have the [track] closely & skilfully followed.—Mr Burch’s misconduct as a magistrate has certainly been flagrant, nor has it been confined to the instance of these Riots.

I have been sitting seven hours again today on minor Justice-business with my two Colleagues—I have been particularly anxious to get insight into the provision made for the Poor round this neighbourhood & the treatment they have experienced. I feel no hesitation in saying that in general the Provision has not been what it ought & might have been;—& in many cases the Poor have been treated with great harshness or great neglect

P.S. Since writing the above the aforementioned William Clark & and Anne Folkes have been brought before me; and I am about to commit them to Bury Gaol.

[illegible] my dear Beckett
Very truly your’s

H.E. Bunbury

Monday 30 May 2016

30th May 1816: General Byng's latest update on East Anglia

Milden Hall May 30th 1816

My Lord

I have only to add to the report I have the Honor of yesterday addressing to your Lordship that I have since received very favorable accounts, that I have seen and heard in the excursions I have made is equally so—

At Wisbech on Monday the Magistrates apprehended a riot, and I accordingly sent them some Cavalry from Downham—which I shall leave a few days longer, although they are reported to me quite quiet there—at Downham they also remain so, and the Ringleaders have been apprehended, at Peterborough from whence an application for a for assistance was made last Sunday, I have received a letter from Doctor Strong of yesterdays date, who states their alarm has subsided—

On the subject of withdrawing some part of the additional force sent me upon the late Emergency, so much must depend on the general state of the County, and of necessity for them elsewhere, of which your Lordship must be so much better informed than I can pretend to be—that I will not presume to add to the opinion I ventured to submit in my Letter of yesterday—and in the disposal of myself—I wish to leave it entirely to the decision of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Cheif, and of your Lordship where my services can be most available, in remaining here, by returning to my Head Quarters at Colchester, or repairing to my intended destination at Newcastle upon Tyne, there to assume the command of the Northern District—

Before I close this letter I conceive it my duty to report your Lordship, that I have no doubt will afford you as much satisfaction in learning, as I have in communicating—that wherever the Military have been sent during the late disturbances, not only have the Officers received the greatest attention and Hospitality from the Gentleman of the place, but the Soldiers in their Quarters, have also been kindly and well treated by their Landlords and the Inhabitants—In some instances I had occasion to move the Troops without a regular Route, and not a single difficulty on that account was made in providing Quarters, or in procuring the necessary conveyance for the Baggage—

I have [etc]
John Byng
Major Gen

[To] Rt. Honble
The Secretary of State
Home Department—

30th May 1816: Robert Plumptre sends an update on arrests & prisoners at Norwich to the Home Office

Norwich 30th May 1816


Having been absent from home, when your letter arrived yesterday, I could not answer it by the return of the post. The Commitments to the Castle of the Rioters from the neighbourhood of Downham are eleven, seven men & four women. The women are all committed for stealing articles of provision &c under favour of the riots; the men are all committed for riotously assembling contrary to the Statute; Of the several cases, I have no means of judging the examinations, remaining with the committee Magistrates, till returned to the tribunal, appointed for Trial of the offenders. Four persons have been also committed to the next Quarter Sessions for destroyed Threshing machines, of whom two are admitted to bail by the committing magistrates. In attending to the security of the Gaol, I shall not fail to keep in mind the directions contained in Lord Sidmouth’s letter to the Mayor of Norwich, of not calling in a military force, till the civil power has been found inadequate. Permit me to say, that I shall be happy it be useful in any respect, that can contribute to the maintenance of the public tranquillity.

I am, Sir,
Your very obedient
Humble Servant,
R. Plumptre

30th May 1816: The convict, Thomas Holden, sends his final letter from Sydney, Australia

Sydney New South Wales May 30th 1816

Honorde parents

I take this Opportunity by the Ship Alexander with pleasure to inform you that Mr Allan as procured a promise from the Governor of Emancipation for me which I am to Receive the first Monday in nexs Month which kindness we agree than of this Colony for the Remainder of my Sentence & do expect to leave Mr Allan, in hopes of getting into some More Lucrative Employment which I trust in God will prove [    ] [    ] that at the Expiration of the time I have the [inexpressable] Happyness of once More enjoying my beloved parents and Relations I have to Acknowledge the Receipt of three Letters
from you which I was happy to Receive & hope I shall hear Again at all Opportunity with all information as to hear from you is a great Happyness to me – I have no particular News here to Relate Excepting that the Native Blacks are Continually Murdering the White People in the Interior
of the Country the Soldiers where font in persuit of them A few weeks back & Shot 14 of them – I hope when you write you will inform me of the Welfare of my Wife & Dear Child I wish you to Understand that this favor I am to Receive is totally Risen from my own good Conduct in Service
[of] not the least indebted to Any Interest through Colonell Melcher in fact it is only wasting paper mentioning him or Isaac Crompton & I hope when I have the pleasure of Returning to you which Nothing but Death will prevent that I shall never be Disgusted with their presents or names

I hope that you got my last Letter by the Emu Dated March last, wherein I wishd you to forward me Sundry Goods which I now most earnestly hope you will not Neglect doing According to my Instructions as they will be of Serious Service towards assisting me Home I am Exceeding Sorry to hear the Death of my Grandmother & Uncle Richard Holding – but it is a Debt we must all p[  ] I would be happy to receive a Letter from my Brother if he can possibly find time to Write me one – & [    ] Cousin James – haveing No further information to Communicate at present I conclude hopeing to God to give you all health & Happiness & my speedy Return hopeing to be Rememberd to my Wifes Sister – & all Enquiring friends & with God Bless You all --

I remain Yours
Most Dutifull Son
Thos Holding

NB The night after this was wrote I was robbed of all my money and among other things they broke open this letter. I hope by this time you have received the newspapers which I sent by my last letter. The first monday in next December I am to receive my Emancipation which day I hope you will keep up

yours &c
T. Holding

My dear wife and Louing Child that is the [  ] any has I hope the dey will Coum when we shall have the ple[sure] of once moar meetting  in this world, No more hat present from you Lovin housband

Mr John Holding
to be left at the Golden Lion
Church Gate Bolton le Moors

30th May 1816: William Evans informs the Home Secretary of nocturnal assemblies around Manchester

My Lord

I have observed in the Papers Reports that numerous Bodies of men assemble in the neighbourhood of Manchester—I have not been able to ascertain that the Reports are correct as far as applies to the immediate neighbourhood of Manchester further than that it is certainly true that a body of about 1000 Persons do assemble in the Evenings near Manchester and the Constables of this Place have endeavoured without effect to learn the Object of the meetings by sending Persons into the Crowd—There is a Disposition which requires to be kept in Check and the utmost Vigilance will be exerted in this neighbourhood —

I understand that a Communication has been made to your Lordship by the Magistrates at Bolton respecting the Situation of Things in that District which certainly have a less favourable appearance and I hope we may ascribe to affairs in this Place—

I have [etc]

Wm Evans

New Bailey Court House
Manchester 30 May 1816

Sunday 29 May 2016

29th May 1816: General Byng sends an update about East Anglia to the Home Secretary

Milden Hall. May 29th 1816—

My Lord—

I have the Honor to inform Your Lordship, that it was reported to me from Downham last night, that the Magistrates had, immediately upon the arrival of the Troops I ordered there on the 27th, commenced apprehending the principal persons in the late disturbances there, and that the Military arrived there in time to send in some Cavalry to Wisbech, upon a representation from the Magistrates of their services being required—I expect a report from thence tonight, but too late I am afraid for this Post—

I am just returned from a ride thro several places in Cambridgeshire which were considered as disposed to riot, but every where I have been, I found them perfectly quiet, and at work—the Arrival of the Artillery, which I have placed at Newmarket, will spread some alarm amongst the ill disposed—

It may perhaps be considered too presuming in me in giving any opinion on the amount of Force it may be expedient to retain in these Parts, as your Lordship is probably much better informed of the state of the Country, than I can pretend to be—but at least I should be considered remiss in neglecting to do. I must trust that you will have the goodness to receive what I say on the subject is respectfully submitted to your consideration

As I am aware that the greatest part of the Cavalry placed under my orders are intended for other destinations, as soon as their services in these parts can be dispensed with. I am unwilling to retain them longer than is absolutely necessary—I hear not of any serious disturbance, and I think the measures your Lordship has adopted will be likely to deter any repetition of the outrages which were last week committed, I therefore hope that by the beginning of next week you might begin gradually to withdraw the Force—at the same time I venture to suggest the propriety of keeping at least a Troop of Cavalry and two Companies of Infantry in the Isle of Ely, until the special Commission have closed their proceedings and the sentence of the law (if required) has been carried into effect—I should have recommend also Cavalry to be stationed at Bury, and Norwich, particularly at the former place, as besides a crowded Prison there, and a large Depot of Arms and ammunition, they are well placed to move if wanted towards the places where disturbances have existed—I am perfectly aware that the magistrates in general, will be unwilling, yet a while to part with the Troops which they now have, as they are still naturally under some alarm, which will however I trust by degrees subside, much must depend on the call there is for the troops in other parts—I am fearful the same disposition may be appearing else where, the disturbances have been in general in all parts of this extensive district, that I am afraid it is not alone confined to the Eastern part of the Country—with respect to myself I have not a wish, but to remain here, or go elsewhere, wherever my services can be most usefully employed—it is my intention to go towards Downham in Norfolk tomorrow, and then I shall have completed a tour of the part of the Country, within my power to make during a days excursion

I have [etc]
John Byng
Major General

PS. I must request Your Lordship to excuse the haste in which I write to save the Post, having returned home late—JB

Rt. Honble
The Secretary of State
Home Department—

29th May 1816: Riots continue at Halstead, Essex

Following the liberation of 4 prisoners at Halstead, Essex and the riot that had ensued the day before, more rioting occurred in the evening of Wednesday 29th May 1816. Once again, the Kentish Weekly Post of 14th June 1816 took up the story:
The next evening they collected in greater numbers, many parties having been observed to join them from the neighbouring villages, armed with bludgeons, &c. In order to prevent a recurrence of the excesses of the preceding evening, the Halsted cavalry were under arms; who, after the Riot Act had been read, made several charges on the mob, but without effect, as the insurgents retreated into the church-yard, which rendered their efforts to disperse them fruitless; and having been violently assailed by stones, &c they found it necessary to retreat; upon which the scene of breaking windows ensued, to the great annoyance of the inhabitants, to the amount of 60 or 70 came forward, and offered themselves in aid of the civil power, by being sworn in as additional constables; and in the evening divided themselves into companies, in order to guard the avenues of the town, and prevent any suspicious persons from entering it; by which judicious measure no assemblage took place—all was quiet and tranquil, and from that time there has not been the slightest appearance of tumult or disorder. In justice to the inhabitants of Halsted, says the Chelmsford Paper, it ought to be observed, that very few of them, and these of the very lowest order, and consisting chiefly of women and children, were at all concerned in these disgraceful excesses, the mischief having principally arisen from some misguided person collected from the neighbourhood.

29th May 1816: Henry Hobhouse sends his latest about the forthcoming Ely Special Commission to the Home Office

May 29. 1816.

Dear Sir,

In the course of yesterday I went thro’ the minutes of the Examinations taken on the previous Days, and though some of them are very defective, yet enough appears to satisfy me that our Prosecutions will be confined to the Transactions of two days, viz. last Wednesday & Thursday. On the former, a Mob, collected from the Parishes of Littleport Downham & Ely assembled in the Evening at the former Place, levied Contributions of various Amounts from many persons, some in the Street, & others in their Houses, committed Outrages amounting to Burglary in 2 or 3 dwelling houses, & finally plundered that of the Rector Mr. Vachell, & expelled him & his Family, at which last House there was not only a Burglary, but a beginning to demolish within the Riot Act.

The Mob continued together during the Night, & on Thursday morning marched to Ely, where besides levying small Contributions on numerous Persons they attacked several Houses & grabbed the owners of money or Goods.

This short Statement gives you the general Complexion of the Prosecutions. I shall endeavour to select the Cases, where the greatest Outrages were committed, & the largest number of Prisoners can be proved to have been engaged. I see no reason to doubt that the Offences will be fixed by satisfactory Evidence on all the Ringleaders. I hope I shall get away from hence tomorrow, but I shall remain until while I find I can be essentially useful.

I have ascertained that the Chief Justice of Ely holds pleas of the Crown, not by virtue of his Appointment from the Bishop, but by a standing Commission of Oyer & Terminer & General Gaol Delivery under the great Seal, which is directed to others besides the Chief Justice, the latter being of the quorum. If there [should] be no reason for extended the intended Commission to the rest of Cambridgeshire, it may follow the Form of the standing Commission that the Isle, which will obviate the difficulty as to the Officer by whom the Jury is to be summoned. And the Bailiff of the Isle assures me that he has no doubt of getting from the north part of the Isle a panel of Jurors omni exceptione maiores.

I write this hastily to send by Sir H. Dudley. If any thing material occurs before the Post, I will write again.

Yrs faithfully.
H. Hobhouse

29th May 1816: The Home Secretary writes an approving letter to Sir Henry Bunbury

May ye 29th 1816.

My dear Sir,

I am much obliged to you for your Letter of ye 29th instant. The Proceedings of the Suffolk Magistrates, assembled at Bury on that Day, are perfectly satisfactory; & it is but Justice to declare that the Magistracy of that County, in one Quarter excepted, appears to have been exemplary in the highest Degree.

I am particularly glad to hear that you, Mr. Barker are henceforward to act at Brandon, & I am sure you will be both be cautious not to commit for Offences, which may take place there, except to the Gaol of the County to which the Part of Brandon, in which they may have occurr’d, belongs. I am [illegible] at the Apprehension of the five Delegates & I shall be anxious to learn the Particulars of the Evidence, which may be produced against them. It is also very satisfactory to me to know that the ill-advised Capitulation, made at Brandon, has not many Days to live.

The Evidence addressed against the Rioters, & Robbers at Ely is thought sufficient to put a considerable Number of them upon their Trials for capital Offences; if a Special Commission will accordingly be issued with all possible Despatch.

Be so good as to inform M. Genl Sir John Byng that I have been favour’d with his Letter, & that I propose writing to Him tomorrow, after I have receiv’d that which he intended sending to me by the Post of this Day. He may be assured of my entire Confidence in the Propriety of all his Arrangements.

I have the Honor to be

[To] Major Genl
Sir Henry Bunbury K.C.B.
&c &c &c

29th May 1816: Letter to the Bury & Norwich Post laments the automation of the Wool-spinning industry in the County


Sir,—Through the channel of your useful Paper, I beg leave to make a few observations on the state of the Wool-trade in this County, and to suggest some hints whereby that which is at present nearly lost, may, in the course of a few months be probably recovered. The great disadvantage to the extensive Spinning-trade appears to have arisen from the use of Machinery; to meet this, therefore, I should wish to recommend it to every parish throughout the County to have certain quantity of Wool combed, proportioned to the population of the Parish; that each should supply its own Poor with Spinning, and to pay such wages as will encourage them to keep from the weekly pay-table. Let them not say, “We have no employment;” it is good to keep them employed, and to have their minds as well as their hands occupied. By such measures, and at the same time selling the Yarn made under the price of Machine Yarn, a stop may be put to the use of Machinery; the Trade of the County may return to its own channel; and the Poor be enabled to live by their labour. Embrace, therefore, the present opportunity, or the Trade will be lost past recovery, and thus the landed, as well as every other interest, will be greatly and inevitably injured. I am happy to say, that several Parishes have already adopted the plan now proposed, and that the Poor are well satisfied; and I entertain a hope that it will be immediately attended to in every Parish throughout the County, as I feel no doubt, that at a moderate calculation, it will be the means of employing 1000 combers.

I am, Sir, your obedient Servant.

A Friend to the County of Suffolk.

Saturday 28 May 2016

28th May 1816: 4 prisoners liberated at Halstead, Essex, & a riot ensues

After the arrest on Monday 27th May 1816 of 5 prisoners for the breaking of a threshing machine at Sible Hedingham, Essex, on the 20th May, the authorities took them to be held in custody at nearby Halstead the following day, 28th May. The Kentish Weekly Post of 14th June described what happened:
We are concerned to state that a riot commenced at Halsted, in Essex, in the evening of the 28th ult. by the mob liberating four prisoners who were about to be lodged in Halsted house of correction, for destroying some machinery at Sible-Hedingham. One of the constables who was conducting them to prison, having taken shelter in the house of a tradesman, it was furiously attacked, and the windows of the shop, &c. broken, and otherwise damaged. The mob then continued their outrages during the remainder of the evening, by an almost indiscriminate attack upon the windows of the principal inhabitants. 

28th May 1816: Henry Hobhouse sends details of a wanted man to the Home Office

May 28. 1816.

Dear Sir,

This will be delivered to you by a Constable, who has a Warrant against Aaron Layton for a capital Felony. Enclosed is a Letter from the Prisoner Felon, who is likely, if in London to be at No. 11 St. Mary Street Brook Street New Road—and if at Bath, at the House of his Uncle—Cheesewright, who is a Waiter at the White Hart and lives at No. 51 Walcot Street Bath. The Constable is well acquainted with Layton's Person, and has seen Sir H. Dudley sign the Warrant. The Prisoner Felon is a Bricklayer, 5 feet 7 inches high, 20 years of age, dark Hair, Hazel Eyes, much freckled & pock-fretten, remarkably wide mouth, wears a fustian Jacket & Breeches, blue Stockings, & high-low Shoes.

You will be pleased to give the necessary Directions for the Constable’s being assisted in apprehending the Felon.

I am Sir
Your obedient
humble Servant
H. Hobhouse

[To] J Beckett Esqr

28th May 1816: Henry Hobhouse arrives at Ely to prepare for the Special Commission

May 28. 1816.

Dear Sir,

Sir H. Dudley & myself reached this place between 10 & 11 this morning, & found the magistrates engaged in the Examination of the Prisoners. We lost no time in joining them, & have assisted in the Examinations. The general Complexion of the Cases in such as to lead me to expect that the Guilt and many of the Prisoners will be evidenced much more satisfactory than I anticipated. They consist principally of Robberies committed previously to last Friday in open day the presence of Persons who speak clearly to the Identity of the Prisoners.

I have not yet had an Opportunity of looking at the Depositions taken yesterday & Saturday.

In passing through Cambridge I had some Conversation with Mr. Pemberton the Undersheriff respecting the means of getting to this Place a Jury at any Freeholders out of the Isle. There appears to be some practical Difficulty in it, which will require the Consideration before the Place for holding the Session is fixed, & I will inform myself better on the subject while I am here.

I will write again tomorrow.
& am
Yrs faithfully
H. Hobhouse

[To John Beckett]

28th May 1816: General Byng updates the Home Secretary from Mildenhall, Suffolk

Milden Hall May 28th 1816—

My Lord—

I was this morning honored with your Lordships Letter of yesterdays date, I am most happy that I have it in my power to state, that although an alarm still prevails in some places, I have not heard of any fresh disturbance, the ample means placed at my disposal, have enabled me to send Troops wherever they were actually required – and in this neighbourhood I shall tomorrow have some dispersable, to move upon any point wanting their assistant, the movement of these Troops in different directions has circulated a report of a large force being under my orders, which I have taken care should reach the parts most dissatisfied, and as I think my appearance at such places will corroborate, I shall make it my duty to ride over to them all, as I should be very happy if by a little personal exertion, I could prevent the necessity of moving, or the employment of the Troops—

I have been to Brandon this morning, and arrived opportunely at the time some of the principal persons concerned in the late riots there, were apprehended, which the Duke of Grafton yesterday directed to be done, not any attempt was made to rescue them—[tension] seeming to prevail, much more than any inclination to riot—

I am in hope that so large a Force in this District will not much longer be necessary, but on that subject I propose writing more fully to your Lordship by tomorrows Post, after I have received the reports I have directed to be sent to me—but I now beg leave to submit to you, whether it might not be advisable to withdraw the Troops from Downham and Brandon some short distance, to ascertain if they are really inclined to remain quiet—before any of the Force is withdrawn to any distance—and if they do not remain quiet, the terms ceded to them by the Magistrates will be at an end—

I am so well situated at this place for communicating with the Troops which tomorrow will be stationed at Cambridge Newmarket, Bury, Brandon and Downham, and for going over to them, and for the information I get from Sir Henry Bunbury, that I have applied to the Commander-in-Chief for His Royal Highness’s permission to make this place my Headquarters—which I hope will also meet with your Lordships approval—

I have had an application for some assistance at Peterborough, and have ordered there a Troop of the 1st Dragoon Guards which will arrive there on the 30th or 31st—

The troops at Downham are ordered to move to Wisbech upon leaving hearing of any disturbance at that place, I thought it too distant to send any Force to remain there—

I returned so late from Bury yesterday, and as Sir Henry Bunbury was writing to your Lordship, I trust you will not think me remiss that I did not.

I have [etc]
John Byng—
Major General

[To] The
Rt Honble
The Secretary of State
Home Department

28th May 1816: Sir Henry Bunbury informs the Home Office that arrests have been made for the Brandon disturbances

Mildenhall. May 28th 1816

My dear Beckett,

The business of Brandon has been left of late years (from motions of Courting or Convenience) to the direction of Justices living in & near this place. But nearly the whole of the Town stands in the Hundred of Suffolk for which I am about act in conjunction with Mr. Barker of Newmarket & Mr. Eagle of Lakenheath. We had some conversation yesterday at Bury on the question of meaning the proper Authority of the District magistrates over Brandon; and as we found the Duke of Grafton considered it to be desirable & proper, we have determined to waive the point of delicacy towards Mr. Burch & to take cognizance of proceedings in the said Town. Mr. Barker had previously received information of two Fellows who had been the principal Leaders of the Riots;—and after our meeting at Bury, he set off with great alacrity for Brandon. From the intimidation which had prevailed in that place, Mr. Barker found much difficulty in getting Persons to give Evidence; but at length his perseverance & good management were awarded by such swift Depositions as [moved] him to take up in the course of this morning the five Ringleaders of the late Disorders. Three Fellows were I understand the Delegates of the mob, and prominent in the Tumults & [illegible] which took place. They are all sent to Bury Jail; and I conceive it will be very desirable that, if the Evidence is found sufficient for the conviction of these Offenders, your Special Commission should come into Suffolk & afford some salutary Example to this quarter.—Mr. Barker is deserving of very every commendation for the Spirit, Zeal, & Promptitude he has manifested in this Business.—The Capitulation which had been made with the mob at Brandon, & in conformity with which they are now paying but [two shillings sixpence] a Stone for Flour will explain on Saturday, and we shall then see what course the populace will be inclined to take. But I am strongly persuaded that this Arrest of their Ringleaders coupled with the knowledge of what has passed at Littleport, will prevent their [illegible] the Tumults. However, you must [illegible] Troops in this Quarter & in Cambridge for some time:—during that time exertions will probably be made on all sides to alleviate the distresses of the Poor, and to contrive a means of carrying them through till the Harvest.

Ever, very truly yours
H.E. Bunbury

Friday 27 May 2016

27th May 1816: Ely magistrates inform the Home Office of the situation in the City & about suspects

My Lord

In the absence of Sir H.B. Dudley, & at the request of my Brother Magistrates, I beg leave to inform you, that all immediate apprehension of danger is over, though from the information, we have received, we understand, that this night it was intended by the Rioters again to attack this town. We have many Prisoners, among whom there are several willing to turn Kings Evidence. It appears, that for the last six weeks Delegates have been sent, to various Towns & villages in this district, & that a Combination had taken place, though at present we are unable to stay, to what extent.

We have thought it our duty to appoint as many respectable Persons, as will come forward, Special Constables, & the Town of Ely, have much to their credit, mounted a regular watch. The Ringleader by name Dennis, a Publican of Littleport is in custody.

We understand that a man by name Stephen Saunderson, by trade a Labourer, & born at Land Beach in Cambridgeshire, lately working at Ely, & one of the most active Rioters here, & the Extortioner of the money from the Bank of this place, is now in London. He is a tall Stout man, in a Fustian Jacket, about 30 years age, good looking.

The Bench of Magistrates is at present so weak, that we are in great want of assistance. It therefore would be a very great Kindness in the part of Government to send without delay some efficient Member of the Police to aid us in taking examinations, & making commitments. It is with concern, I mention, that from the strongest evidence it appears before us this day that the plan of the Rioters was levelled at the subversion of the Government itself!! Contributions have been levied, & though the complaint on thursday was "a want of food" no money whatever of the sums levied & extorted, has been expended in provision or food.

I rely on your Lordships kindness to excuse inaccuracies, for I write in a most crowded room [illegible] [illegible]

I am, yr Lordships humble servant
H Law
Acting magistrate for
the Isle of Ely
Wm Metcalfe
F Dawbery

Ely Jail Monday
Ten oclock

Saunderson has a relative of the same name, by trade a [Whitesmith], and & [working] in the neighbourhood of [Piccadilly].

I have just heard that Saunderson the Whitesmith lodges at 91 Berwick Street, Soho & works with Mr Jibholt, Bell Hanger, Wardour Street, [Soho]

Henry Law —

27th May 1816: Sir Henry Bunbury updates the Home Office on the Suffolk County magistrates' meeting

Mildenhall. May 27th 1816

My Lord,

I am just returned from a meeting of Suffolk Magistrates at Bury. Though the waning had been short, a considerable number of Gentlemen were present. There was much discussion of different Plans for the employment of the Poor, & for regulating Parish Allowances:—there was also discussion on the best means of [giving] extraordinary aid, where necessary, to the Civil Power; – and necessity of giving some Arms to Special Constables;— on the means of augmenting the Yeomanry;— & other points connected with the present state of the County. Equal zeal, goodwill, &, unanimity was manifested. It was deemed inexpedient to publish any matters of Regulation or detail;— and we ended with a short Declaration of our Concern at the late Occurrences;—Our opinion that the most careful attention should be given to trace the causes of the Tumults, and also to relieve as far as circumstances may permit the several distresses of the Labourers;— but that we [illegible] would treat with or make any concession whatever to any tumultuous Assemblage, and that we would spare no exertion to suppress such Proceedings & to bring Rioters to Justice.

These Resolutions are to be published & dispersed throughout the County.

Permit me to press upon your Lordship’s consideration how desirable it is that our Special Constables should be properly armed. At present they feel themselves inferior to the Rioters on account of the weapon with which the latter takes care to provide himself:—the latter is consequently audacious & the Constables proportionally backward.

Sir John Byng is at my House. He desires me to say that as I write, He does not trouble your Lordship with a Letter. Suffolk is quite quiet at present:—but we keep an eye upon Brandon, where some Stir may be expected when the Fortnight night shall be Expired during which the Flour was to be issued at [two shillings sixpence] the Stone.

From Cambridgeshire the accounts are very satisfactory:—but as there had been some unfortunate Symptoms at Wisbeach, Sir J Byng has pushed some of the Troops nearer to that Town.—Three of the Ringleaders who fled from Littleport were taken near this place (Mildenhall) late last night.

Is your Lordships answer that besides a great quantity of Communication, there are eight or ten thousand stand of Arms in no very secure situation at Bury?

I write in a great hurry, & must offer many Apologies for the inaccuracies with which my letter may abound.

I have the Honour to be
Your Lordship’s
Very faithful Servant

H E Bunbury

27th May 1816: The Duke of Grafton sends the Home Secretary an update on the state of Suffolk

Bury May 27.

My Lord

I had the honour of acquainting your Lordship by the Post of last night from this place, that I had found such parts of this County as I had passed thro’ perfectly undisturbed, in consequence of the judicious measures of the magistracy, and the appearance of a small detachment of regular Cavalry, chiefly stationed at Bury & at Brandon. I had not then time to inform yr Ldship that I yesterday visited the Gaol, and examined various prisoners committed to it, as promoters, or abettors, of the late Disturbances, and tho’ there are artful individuals amongst them, particularly a writer of several inflammatory letters, & hand bills, I am not disposed to think, from any information which I have been able to obtain, that the disturbances, or fires which have taken place, are to be ascribed to any organized system of persons above the rank of the labouring Classes

The shock experienced by the whole of the agriculturalists, from the depression of the produce of all landed property since the last harvest, has fallen, with peculiar severity, upon all those whose subsistence depends upon their dayly labour, from the impossibility of their finding regular employment, men at reduced wages, and the difficulty of collecting poor Rates, at a period of general distress, in order to supply the wants, & increas'd privations of the poor. Under these circumstances, a spirit of discontent has prevailed during the winter, & have since been excited to shew itself by inflammatory writings, in tumultuous meetings for the purpose of destroying machinery calculated to diminish manual labour, or with threatening to induce the employers, & the overseers to increase the rates of Labour, & parochial allowances.

A well attended meeting of the magistrates was held this morning, in which all the topics touching the present situation of affairs in the County as connected with the late disturbances, were discussed; the result of which has been a perfect understanding amongst the magistracy of the principles, upon which the poor are to be maintained, but, if possible, employed. Also a clear communication between magistrates & Commandants of Yeomanry Cavalry as to the times & places, at which a greater or smaller detachment could be got together & the fullest Confidence established on the one hand, in the prompt co-operation of this Corps, if necessary, & on the other, of their not being called from their usual, and now, more than ever necessary domestic or agricultural Avocations, unless the Security of any part of the County itself was considered to be in danger.

In aid, & co-operation with this Corps & mounted special constables have been considered as likely to give & to receive confidence by joining the ranks of Yeomanry Cavalry, & I have no doubt but that if Swords could be allowed for such number of men of this description as it may be found useful to employ on the present occasion, it would give additional confidence to the men themselves as such as have a tendency to prevent tumultuous meetings.—

With regard to the measures taken by Lieut: Gen: Sir John Byng, with whom I have personally communicated this morning on the regular force required in certain points within the County, & of the Stations most convenient for Cavalry, with a view to the general object of throwing in detachments in whatever part of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, or Essex they may be required, he will have better Explained to your Lordship, than I can, these arrangements.

There undoubtedly are some places in this County which require a small military force such as is stationed in them, to give Confidence to those who act under the direction of the magistrates, & I trust I may assure your Lordship, such is my sense & that of the magistrates of the possible demand for troops at the moment, that a stronger military force, than appears indispensably necessary, will not be required by the civil authorities this County.

I take the liberty odds of all observing your Lordship that the wording of the royal proclamation does not appear sufficiently defined to meet an uniform construction from the magistrates who may have to act under it, or from the parties, who may be interested in pursuing offenders to Conviction—The reward is offered to each and every person who shall be convicted of any of the aforesaid felonies—Now the mere breaking or destroying a threshing machine or other instrument of husbandry, unless a riot be actually existing at the time, I am given to understand, amounts only to a misdemeanor in law; and I have therefore to request the favor of information from your Lordship whether the reward is intended to extend to convictions not of a Capital nature as well as to those, which are Capital.—

I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's
most obedient humble Servt


27th May 1816: Colonel Ralph Fletcher informs the Home Office of the distress of the Bolton Weavers

Bolton 27 May 1816

Dear Sir

Some the enclosed papers came to my hands several days ago, but I waited to have heard from Mr Warr—some further particulars of the Intention of the Seditious, before I made any communication.

The minds of the Weavers are in a considerable degree of Fermentation from the Lowness of Wages, and Scarcity of Employment (even on their low Wages) owing principally, to the Number of recent Failures, and also from the discharging of Workmen, by those who are yet solvent. Some Attempts have been made in this town, this day, and are now making to rouse the Feelings of the Weavers, by exhibiting a Shuttle covered with Crape. The Effect it may have this evening, I hope will not be serious; but should the Number of Weavers be discharged that, it is predicted, will be in the course of three Weeks in this Town & Neighbourhood, (10000 & upwards) the Consequence will, I fear, be alarming.

Tomorrow a Representation will be sent from this Place, to my Lord Sidmouth, by the magistrates, at the Suggestion of two (loyal) Delegates from the Weavers, in which will be contained their Statement of the Average Wages earned, and the Number out of Employ—and their Opinion as the best mode of alleviation, the Distress that prevails in the Cotton Trade.

I thought it necessary to apprise you of the Intention—and in Haste, for fear of losing a Post—

I remain

Dear Sir

Yours most sincerely

Ra: Fletcher

[To] John Beckett Esqr

27th May 1816: Resolutions of a meeting of the Lord Lieutenant & Magistrates of Suffolk at Bury St Edmunds


AT a Meeting of the LORD LIEUTENANT and the MAGISTRATES of the said County, held at the Shire-Hall, in Bury St. Edmund's, on Monday the 27th day of May, 1816, for the purpose of taking into Consideration the late Outrages and Disturbances which have taken place within this County,

His Grace the DUKE of GRAFTON, Lord Lieutenant, in the Chair;
The Hon. and Rev. HENRY I.ESLIE
Rev. Dr. ORD


That this Meeting have observed with the greatest concern the tumultuous proceedings which have taken place in some parts of this and the adjoining Counties. 

That it is the opinion of the Meeting that the most patient and careful attention should be given, with a view of tracing the causes of these disorders, and of relieving, as far as circumstances will permit, the present distresses of the Labouring Poor;—but that it is the decided opinion of this Meeting, that no Concessions should be made, nor any Agreement entered into with bodies of people assembled in a riotous or threatening manner; and that the utmost exertions will he used to put down all tumults, and to bring to punishment all persons who may be concerned in such riotous proceedings. 

That the above Resolutions be inserted in the County Papers. 


Resolved.—That the Thanks of this Meeting he given to the Lord Lieutenant, for his uniform attention to the interests of the County, and for his presence at this Meeting, 

By Order,
JAS. HORTON, Clerk of the Peace.

Thursday 26 May 2016

26th May 1816: John Lloyd sends a circular to Stockport Manufacturers, urging preparations for disorder

Rumours are kept afloat of unlawful [Combinations] & intended meetings of the dissatisfied workpeople. The weavers have petitioned the parliament & their Delegates have just received Letters from the members, who give them no hopes of relief from that quarter — nor cou’d it reasonably be expected.

I do not observe at any serious Check has been put to the Riots & Disorders that prevail in different parts of the Kingdom; on the contrary, I am sorry to see, by the papers this morning, that, in Norfolk, the worst possible example & [encouragement] have been given to the malcontents, by want of courage & firmness in those who undertook to oppose the violence of a lawless mob.

Rather than remain longer Indifferent to the Rumours, & what is actually going forward, the better policy wou’d be to prepare to prevent mischief; and I will venture to suggest that the "honest men active" [should] adopt plans of Operation in case of need & communicate from time to time to some one person such information as may be important to the peace of the Country.

Special Constables [should] be sworn-in & places of rendezvous fixed upon & the first symptoms of Disorder suppressed.

I shall be glad if you will call upon me at any my Office at any hour from 3 to 8 of the afternoon tomorrow—

In this affair I need not point out the necessity of secrecy & good faith

J Lloyd

Stockport [illegible] 26 May

26th May 1816: Sir Henry Bunbury tells the Home Office that "the Riots are quashed"

Milden Hall

My dear Beckett,

I do not trouble Lord Sidmouth with a Letter for I have nothing to write that is worth his time. He will know more of the occurrence a Littleport on Friday Evening than I do:—but the impression hereabouts is that the Riots are quashed. Three of the Fugitive Ringleaders are believed to be near this Village, & and I have people now upon the track.

Sir J. Byng has just written to tell me he will come here tonight, in order to talk matters over with me & to go with me tomorrow to the meeting at Bury.

All is & has been quiet at this Place:—but I hear there were many fellows on the look out & ready to join, tho’ not to take the initiative (as a Quiet Tactician would call it). At Soham & Isleham there were numbers ready to swell the mob if the Rioters had they moved from Ely in this direction. Such a movement was expected on Thursday. The Rioters talked on the preceding night of marching by Soham & this Place (augmenting their numbers as they went along) to Brandon, where they were to unite with the mob of that neighbourhood & of Downham. If they had realized this plan, they would have shewn some thousands in the field.

+All the Suffolk magistrates seem to have done their duty except the man at Brandon—

Ever your’s

HE Bunbury


Milden House
Sunday, 26th May

Major General
Sir Henry Bunbury

26th May 1816: General Byng sends his summary of the situation at Ely to the Home Secretary

Ely May 26th 1816

My Lord

I have the Honor to report Your Lordship that I arrived here at an early hour yesterday, in obedience to instructions I received by express from the Horse Guards during the night of the 24th Inst—

Sir Henry Dudley has informed your Lordship of the disturbances (which at Littleport as well as at this place had assumed an alarming appearance) being subdued—It is my duty to state, that it is owing to his personal example, as well as the prompt and determined measures which he took, aided by the magistracy assembled, the riotous disposition in this part of the Country has been so soon, and I trust I may add, so completely put down.

Sir Henry conceiving in opinion with me that but a small force is any longer requisite here—I shall consider it more my particular duty to attend to the Counties of Suffolk and Norfolk—I take upon myself therefore to move my Head Quarters to Newmarket where I shall be more readily in communication with those as well as the County of Cambridge—and as I am informed the Magistrates and principal Gentleman in the Eastern Hundreds of Suffolk meet the Duke of Grafton at Bury tomorrow – it is my intention to ride over there, to communicate with, and afford every assistance in my power towards the preservation of the peace in that County. I shall also give myself the Honor of communication with the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk by this days Post—

Considering it of much consequence that not a moment should be lost in putting down the least inclination to disturbance, I shall not fail to attend whereever I may hesr it is of sufficient consequence to render my presence necessary—providing always for the forwarding to me of every communication—I have however every hope that if decisive and determined measures are adopted in other places, as they were here, when circumstances render them expedient — the tranquillity of the County will in a few days be completely restored—

I have [etc]
John Byng
Major General

[To] Rt. Honble
The Secretary of State
Home Department

Wednesday 25 May 2016

25th May 1816: The Duke of Grafton is concerned that East Anglian labourers may be encouraged by the events at Downham Market

Clarges Street May 25th

My dear Lord,

I received a letter this Morning from a very sensible Magistrate in Suffolk, who resides on the border of Cambridgeshire giving many particulars of the riot at Downham in Norfolk, which I had not heard before.—The point insisted on by the Mob, was that flour should be sold at 2/6 per Stone, and that labour should be at 2d per day; but finding themselves in force, there seemed to be no outrage for which they were not ripe, and excesses of various kinds were committed without bounds.

Should these rioters have succeeded in their object of fixing the price of food and labour, my correspondent observes (not knowing precisely termination of affairs in Norfolk & at Ely) that it is not likely that the population of the vicinity should be quiet; and that he has heard it currently reported that Cambridge will be in a state of Commotion this day, as well as the Villages of Soham, & other populous places in Cambridgeshire, on the borders of Suffolk. Such a report however may have no other foundation that the wishes of those who circulated it; nevertheless it is a very probable course for the current of disturbance to take; and with a view to such a state of things, or any which can arise in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, or Essex, I beg to submit to your Lordship whether the Town of Newmarket is not better calculated, in a military, as well as in every other point of view, to be a principal station for Cavalry particularly than Ely, or any place so deep in the Fens, and out of reach of communication with other points, at which disturbances may be apprehended of a description to require the prompt assistance of a Military force.

The first Suffolk Magistrate I expect to meet with on my way to Bury, will be at Newmarket, where I propose to sleep this night, to which place I will beg the favour of your Lordship to direct any communication or instructions you may have occasion to send to me. Afterwards my station will be at Bury, until I inform your Lordship of my having changed it.

I have [etc]


[to] Viscount Sidmouth

25th May 1816: Government Proclamation on the East Anglian disturbances


Whitehall, 25 May 1816. 

WHEREAS it has been humbly represented to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, that a great Number of Persons, for some Time past, unlawfully assembled themselves together in divers Parts of the Counties of NORFOLK, SUFFOLK, HUNTINGDONSHIRE and CAMBRIDGE, and have circulated Threatening Letters and Incendiary Handbills; held Nightly Meetings; and set fire to several Dwelling Houses, Barns, Outbuildings, and Stacks of Corn; and have destroyed Cattle, Corn, Threshing Machines, and Other Instruments of Husbandry:

His Royal Highness seeing the mischievous Consequences which must inevitably ensue, as well to the Peace of the Kingdom, as to the lives and Property of His Majesty's: Subjects, from such illegal and dangerous Proceedings, if not speedily suppressed; and being firmly resolved to cause the Laws to be put in Execution for the Punishment of such as offend against them, is hereby pleased, in the Name and on the Behalf of His Majesty, to promise and declare, that any Person or Persons who shall discover and apprehend or cause to be discovered and apprehended, the Authors, Abbettors, or Perpetrators of any of the Felonies or Outrages above-mentioned, so that they or any of them may be duly convicted thereof, shall be entitled to the Sum of


For each and every Person who shall be convicted of any of the aforesaid Felonies.

And His Royal Highness is further pleased, in the Name and on the Behalf of His Majesty, to promise His most gracious Pardon to any Person or Persons concerned in the violent and illegal Pro¬ceedings in question, upon making such Discovery as aforesaid, except any Person who shall have been a Principal in the Commission of any of the Felonious Offences above-mentioned.

The said Reward of One Hundred Pounds to be paid by the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury.


Tuesday 24 May 2016

24th May 1816: Thomas Jessop writes a worried letter to the Home Secretary about Norfolk

Wednesy. Evg. 10 o'clock. [24th May 1816]

My Lord,

I arrived about an hour & a half I arrived about an hour and a half ago from Downham Market in Norfolk, which Town & its neighbourhood had been since Monday last the Scene of very serious Tumult & Violence; & when I left Norfolk this morning, there was a large & increasing mob of Rioters who were assembled at South Dereham, & who had last night "pressed" (their own term) several Labourers into their Gang.

I am the more desirous of being permitted to state what has passed to your Lordship, as I fear the pusillanimity & want of Energy which have been exercised by the magistrates in that District, as likely to be productive of very serious consequences, if prompt & decisive measures be not immediately adopted.

If your Lordship will condescend to favor me with a few minutes audience, at any time to-morrow most convenient to yourself, I would have the honor of waiting on you and receiving your commands addressed to me.

at Richards Coffee House
near Temple Bar.

With great respect, I have the Honor to subscribe myself,

Your Lordship’s most obedient
& very humble Servant

[Thos Jessop]

24th May 1816: Labourers from Outwell, Norfolk, march to Upwell for "Bread, beer & blood"

Peacock (1965, p.116) has a good description of events at Outwell & Upwell in Norfolk on Friday 24th May 1816:

Between nine and ten o'clock on Friday, 24th May, a crowd of about twenty labourers from the village of Outwell marched the few miles to Upwell.' Bread (beer), and blood were again their aims, and incidents very similar to those at Brandon, Downham Market and Littleport took place. According to Robert Atkins, a constable, the crowd assembled at Outwell and was led by William Lister who was armed and who was heard to say, "Damn all constables and farmers." John Massey, who had gone to the village from Upwell, said to the crowd, "Come along and I'll fill your Belly with Beer and your Pockets with Money." 
The crowd were met on the outskirts of Upwell by the Rector, the Reverend William Gale Townley. He remonstrated with them but was told by William Dawson that they were starving, and had no fears. "Here I am," Dawson told the Vicar, "between Earth and Sky—so help me God. I would sooner loose [sic] my life than go home as I am. Bread I want and Bread I will have." The crowd went on to the house of Daniel Dawson, a baker, who gave them bread "under Impressions of fear and to prevent Persons so tumultuously and riotously assembled from committing Depredations or Violence on his Premises". They then went to The Duke's Head, but the publican was in bed. John Lawrence, "Gentleman", argued with the crowd which, like that at Downham, showed little real spirit. Lawrence called Thomas Sheppard, a constable, to disarm Bowers of a bludgeon and three labourers were taken into custody and eventually lodged in Wisbech gaol. From a bill paid to an Ely constable for apprehending William Lister, which included expenses for a journey to Boston, it would appear that some got well away.

24th May 1816: Sir H.B. Dudley updates the Home Secretary from Ely

Ely Friday Evening

My Lord

On my arrival here I found that my Brother Magistrates had entered into an indirect amnesty with the Principal Insurgents, the mischievous terms of which your Lordship will see in the publication enclosed. The consequence has been what might have been easily foreseen: that the Insurgents feeling themselves thus triumphant, fell back to Littleport last night from those of this Town, where they recommenced their outrages with savage activity, and after levying contributions on all the Inhabitants, and destroying considerable property in Dwellings, [Stacks] Guineas &c are preparing as I understand to advance to join the mal-contents of this place this evening. A troop of Royston Yeomanry, we pressed on as we returned will arrive in half an hour; so that what with irregular cavalry we have here consisting of a detachment mentioned Enclosed in another. I have no doubt but we shall defeat them, but I am not inclined to think from all I learn that we shall be able to advance against them, to effect their complete overthrow, & secure the numerous Desperadoes that must be brought to [illegible] punishment until the arrival of a further military force.

—The information in the annexed Letter addressed to your Lordship, was about to be sent off on my arrival.—

Your Lordship may depend upon nothing being left undone on my part that can contribute to the restoration of the public tranquillity.—I have heard of five or six insurgents being connected in this town from Littleport as [illegible] to the main body expected from that place.—We are going instantly in search of them.—

I write in the midst of a noisy & alarmed Committee so that I fear I shall have scarcely made myself intelligible to your Lordship.—

Your Lordship will hear from me again tomorrow without fail

I have [etc]

Bate Dudley

PS. The continuing Outrages at Littleport are so alarming that, I am induced to make a Dash at the Insurgents without loss of time

[Ely Friday evening 24th May 1816]

24th May 1816: Further disturbances at Downham Market - arrests follow

Peacock (196, p.92) gave a brief description of further disturbances at Downham Market on Friday 24th May 1816:
On the Friday (after the Littleport riots had been forcibly put down) there was a scare in Downham Market. Another visit was expected from the Southerey labourers because the concessions the magistrates had agreed to on Monday had not been kept. It is said that the labourers demanded an allowance of 2s. a day for the two days they had spent rioting. By this time it must have been perfectly clear from what had happened at Ely and Littleport that the concessions would not be kept, and that the full force of the law would descend upon those responsible for the riots. Nevertheless, there was some violence and the Yeomanry were sent for again. Four troops arrived and during the early evening guns were seized and the rioters released on Tuesday were again taken into custody. Seven were committed for trial on the Saturday and more were brought in over the weekend.

24th May 1816: Ely Magistrates write to the Home Secretary about the disorder there

My Lord,

In Addition to the Report, which we did ourselves the Honor of communicating to you, by our Brother magistrate—the Reverend Mr [Lomas?], we feel it is our Duty to state further for your Information, that a Detachment of the First Light Dragoons, consisting of Captain [Methuen] & sixteen privates, has arrived here; but that they are by no means sufficient to quell the turbulent Spirit of the riotous populace, who, tho’ dispersed for the present still continue to exhibit the strongest Symptoms of a dangerous Disposition, which we can are apprehensive will again break out with encreased Violence, as all the Reports from the neighbouring Villages confirm; one of them Littleport, which is only five miles distant, being in the intire pawn of the Rioters, who are levying Contributions upon the peaceable Inhabitants, & are threatening Destruction to the Village—We therefore earnestly intreat you to send us a sufficient force to aid the exertions of ourselves & the peaceable Inhabitants of the place, to save us from the Dangers with which we are surrounded & from the Destruction with which we are threatened. We respectfully suggest, that nothing short of two full Troops of Horse will enable us to answer for the peace of this Town & neighbourhood, & that a piece or two of Artillery would be particularly serviceable, as some of the Rioters are armed with large fowling Guns, whose Tubes are from seven to ten feet in length, & will carry from one to two pounds of Shot, & will kill at a Distance of one hundred or perhaps two hundred yards—We have the Honor to be,

your most obedient Servants.
Peploe Ward DD.
John Vachell

Ely, May 24th 1816

[To] The Right Honble Lord Sidmouth
&c &c &c—

24th May 1816: Risings at Ely & Littleport are suppressed by the military

Friday 24th May 1816 was the final day of the labourer's uprising in Littleport & Ely, in Cambridgeshire. Once again, Peacock (1965, pp.pagenos) gave a good description of events using various sources:
Friday, 24th May was the most eventful day in the story of the East Anglian riots. The Ely magistrates had sent for troops to Bury, and had deputised Law "to convey the intelligence" of what had been going on to the Home Secretary. He left for London shortly after the attack on Cooper's house. En route he called on the Royston Yeomanry Cavalry and a detachment of these was sent to Ely. Later, he went to see Lord Sidmouth and asked for regular troops to be sent to the troubled city. 
Sidmouth did not seem to think that troops were needed but sent to ask an associate of his, Sir Henry Bate Dudley, to go back with Law and take charge of operations to pacify the troubled districts.' Dudley agreed and met Law the following day. They set out for Ely early on Friday morning. 
Bate Dudley and Law arrived in Ely at 2.30 p.m., with another forty-two of the Royston Volunteer Cavalry under Captain Wortham, to find the place in an uproar. (Vachell and Peploe Ward had written to Sidmouth, asking for no less than "two full troops of Horse and a piece or two of artillery" to add to the Royston Yeomanry and a seventeen-strong detachment of the 1st Regiment of the Royal Dragoons who were there under the command of Captain Methuen.) Methuen was at first held in check by the frightened magistrates in the same way that Lieutenant Goodenough had been at Brandon. The Dragoons paraded the streets but at about eleven o'clock an incident developed when John Hassett dashed from a crowd of twenty or more hostile labourers and assaulted Joseph Heamers, one of the soldiers. Grabbing the man's sword, Hassett was alleged to have said, "Damn your Eyes I have got your sword and will fight any of you you Bugger". Following this, fighting took place and Methuen's men arrested some labourers, including Wilson. Wyebrow and some of his friends from Downham, but they somehow contrived to escape. This was the first stirring against the crowd for which Daubeny and Seymour, two J.P.s, were responsible. Bate Dudley, however, told Sidmouth that the mob had destroyed "dwellings, stacks and granaries" and blamed "My Brother Magistrates who had entered into an indiscreet amnesty with the Principal Insurgents". His written accounts of the troubles were highly coloured and penned, of course, to glorify his own part. 
Nevertheless he did act with promptitude and considerable bravery although he had the troops to back him up that the unfortunate Ward and Metcalfe earlier had not. 
Ely was brought quickly under control by the new arrivals and Bate Dudley was told of the troubles elsewhere. "The continuing outrages at Littleport are so alarming," he wrote to Sidmouth almost immediately after he arrived in Ely, "that I am determined to dash at the insurgents without delay." About ten more people were recruited from the populace and then Dudley and Law, at the head of "20 of the Royston Yeomanry, the Detachment of the 1st Royal Dragoons and some inhabitants of Ely, and part of the staff of the Cambridge Militia", went "full charge" to Littleport. 
A number of colourful stories gathered around the story of the attack on Littleport, none of which can be substantiated, but most of which are worth repeating. The Rev. E. Coneybeare, for instance, said that the rioters were hunted by a Hanoverian Regiment who combed the district "with true German thoroughness", whereas in fact these troops had left the country long before May. 
"Local tradition still hands down the tale of the poor thatcher," he recorded, "who was engaged on the roof of the great tithe barn at Ely (the largest in the kingdom) at the moment when a detachment of these foreigners was marching past. The usual thatcher's cry to his assistant, 'Bunch! bunch!' was interpreted by the German officer in command as an insult to his troops. On the instant he halted them beside the barn, and gave the order to fire. Pierced by a dozen musket balls, the unhappy thatcher rolled from the roof, his body falling upon the great folding door of the barn, which happened to be half open. There it hung, dripping with blood for over three days, the officer swearing that anyone who dared to remove it should share the same fate, as an example to all to behave with due respect to their oppressors." 
Another writer painted a fanciful yet dramatic picture of the events of Friday and a clash with Methuen's troops. The armed waggon certainly had not been taken to Ely again. 
Next morning a report was circulated that the horse soldiers were coming. The waggon that was brought by the rioters on the previous day was placed at The Lamb corner, and upon it were placed heavy wash guns, charged heavily with slugs, and manned by pot valiant fenmen trained to command the road. Others with forks, cleavers, knives, and bludgeons had assembled, swearing they would cut down every soldier as he came up. About noon a cry was raised, "They are coming", and a troop of Dragoons from Bury came up the Gallery at a sharp trot, their carbines at hip, swords gleamingin the sunlight. The bright helmets, with the rattle and clank of horses' feet and military trappings were too awful for the warlike fenmen and their supporters; they bolted in wild confusion in all directions, some making off for Littleport, others creeping out of Ely the best way they could. Sir Bates [sic] Dudley was sent down also by Government to check further violence. Some of the princi¬pal rioters were soon overhauled, hoisted in a waggon, and thrashed through the streets. Dudley's ride, as it was called, spread terror throughout the fens, and a wholesale dread of incurring the wrath of Sir Dudley. 
While preparations for an attack on Littleport were being made, the labourers there were celebrating in the usual manner. Most of their time was spent in drinking with what money was left over from Thursday, and there were only a very few half-hearted incidents like those of Thursday. South went back to Josiah Dewey's and threatened him with a gun saying, "blast you, I have a good mind to shoot you in your House", and Cammell and Rutter led a crowd to the house of James Horsley, a thatcher, and demanded £5. Much of the spirit the labourers showed the previous day seemed to have gone, and they went away after Horsley had promised them that he would go along to Dennis's public house, a promise which he did not keep. James Luddington, a J.P., also argued with a crowd led by Joseph Irons, who went away from him empty-handed but threatening to return with "the foreman" (Dennis). William Walker was also threatened and told by Robert Langford that the mob was reassembling and that, unless he handed over money and gin, his house would be burnt down. It was generally believed that a plan was afoot to fire Littleport and Ely later during the day. Bate Dudley certainly thought so, and William Crow was reported to have heard James Lee say that "If the overseers of the parish will not come forward this day (Friday) and pay all us [sic] two, shillings per day for yesterday and today then woe be to Littleport tonight". Asked if he meant fire, he replied, "Yes", and told Crow to spread the news around. Long after the riots were over, reports appeared in the East Anglian newspapers saying an attempt to start something had actually been made in Ely. 
"The design of the Littleport rioters to destroy the town of Ely by fire," it was reported, "has been manifested by a discovery, made within these few days, of a quantity of combustible materials, which were found in the warehouse of a Mr. Garratt, a respectable grocer of that place, secretly laid immediately under the floor where he kept his casks of gunpowder: amongst these combustibles was a piece of charcoal, the fire of which appeared to have been providentially extinguished from the want of air." 
When Bate Dudley and Law arrived at Littleport at about six o'clock in the evening, most of the labourers were in The George. Robert Stevens, a local surgeon, said that the Fighting Parson dismounted and commanded them to give themselves up. Cammell became abusive and Bate Dudley tried to grab him, but broke off the encounter when either Rutter or Daniel. Wilson, the blacksmith, hit him over the head with an iron bar. The prosecution brief of "The King versus Daniel Wilson" in the Cambridgeshire Record Office describes this undignified treatment of the victor of so, many duels thus: 
N.B. The truth is that Sir H. B. Dudley attended by the Military went to the door of The George public house and commanded the Rioters to surrender upon which Cammell came out and stood in the Door way and said come on you Piccadilly Butchers (alluding probably to the military) upon which Sir Henry collared him and it was during the struggle between Sir H. B. Dudley & Cammell that this assault took place. 
Shortly after the assault on Bate Dudley, shooting began. It is not clear who fired the first shots, but the labourers, were no match for the military. John Simmons, one of the Dragoons, was knocked off his horse and a sergeant's knee was injured when he, too, was unhorsed. Thomas South seriously injured a soldier named Wallance, a Waterloo veteran, who eventually had an arm amputated and became a pensioner on the Littleport poor rates. These were all the injuries among Bate Dudley's party, but among the labourers casualties were greater. Thomas Sindall was captured and then shot through the head by William Porter while trying to escape, and a colleague had part of his jaw taken away by a sabre cut. Isaac Harley was badly shot but lived to regret that "having three waistcoats on, prevented his death that day". 
Most reports of the incidents at Littleport said that two labourers were killed during the fighting, but Sindall was undoubtedly the only fatality. Bate Dudley told Sidmouth there were two and every journal and newspaper wrote in the same way, The Morning Post, for instance, saying so in the very issue that reported the Coroner's inquest on Sindall. W. H. Barrett says that, according to tradition, two soldiers were also killed and not found until their bodies were dug up during excavations forty years later. It is inconceivable that their disappearance would have escaped comment at the time, however. 
The labourers scattered after the affray outside The George, chased by the soldiers. Fifty-six were taken into custody that evening and a further forty-two were brought in on the Saturday. The chase was not without its drama and the Dragoons compared favourably with those at Norwich. 
"We understand that after the firing ceased at Littleport," noted the Norwich Mercury, "two privates of the First Royal Dragoons, being in close pursuit of two daring offenders on one of the banks of the River Ouse, and the latter having taken to a boat and crossed the river, immediately gave their horses to, a bystander and elevating their pistols with their left hands above the water, swam across the river with their right arms, to the opposite bank, and secured the two men, the river is of a great width." 
All over the weekend labourers were taken in and examined by the magistrates. The two Harleys and John Dennis, for instance, who had £25 in notes with him, were caught on the 25th at West Dereham. Many were sheltered by other labourers, one of whom was eventually fully committed to the Special Assizes for doing so. This was David Stimson who was visited by James Smith of Eriswell, Suffolk, constable, 
who on his oath saith that on Saturday Evening the twenty-fifth day of May instant he went to the house of the Prisoner David Stimson who, resides in Burnt Fen in the Parish of Mildenhall in the County of Suffolk for the purpose of searching the said house after some Rioters who were suspected to be concealed there that the said David Stimson told him this informant that he had, had half a Dozen secreted there the night before and that he would secrete them. 
Some of the locals were zealous in their attempt to bring the labourers to book. One of the bills paid by the magistrates of Ely was for £1 3s. 5d. "Expenses for the apprehension and keeping in custody Thomas Tippell alias Gibbons on suspicion of being Jefferson a Littleport Rioter who was absconded". 
Some of the labourers who ran from Ely, Downham and Littleport got well away, and Bow Street officers were employed to apprehend them. Aaron Layton was one who was caught in London. William Gotobed also got to the capital, but was never caught. He eventually returned to Littleport several years later after his wife and family had become chargeable to the parish and the locals had petitioned on his behalf. His brother, Thomas, had also not been, caught by the time of the trial and Stephen Saunderson was, another who went to London, got clean away and was never brought to book. 
About eighty prisoners were eventually caught, sent before Bate Dudley and the other magistrates and fully committed for trial. It was decided to try them at Special Assizes, which, it was hoped, would attract great attention and serve as a warning to rioters in other parts of the country. According to Sidmouth it was successful in doing this. 
The Home Secretary also changed his mind about the need for sending more troops to the troubled areas. He had stopped the disembodying of the West Norfolk Militia on the 18th May and promised to send troops to Brandon the following day. Hearing that Ely Cathedral was in danger and that "reports from neighbouring villages" confirmed there was "a riotous disposition" prevailing, he despatched three troops of cavalry (100 men), two six pounders and three companies of the 69th Regiment there under the command of Major General Byng. He also ordered the Lords Lieutenants to go to their respective counties, expressed grave dissatisfaction at the behaviour of the magistrates, and ordered the following proclamation to be displayed prominently in all the trouble spots. 
Sidmouth's decision, to send troops to East Anglia and the magistrates' firmness—although belated—almost certainly prevented the riots spreading further. On the very day that the shooting took place in Littleport, there had been troubles elsewhere. There had been every indication that the affair there was but the beginning of a really widespread rebellion.

24th May 1816: A Brandon magistrates expresses concern that the military may be withdrawn from the town

Brandon May 24, 1816


I wish I write to you in consequence of the letter received this morning from Mr [Denny?] one of the Magistrates in the Downham district “stating that you had made an intimation to Mr [Hare] another of the Magistrates there — the Troop of Dragoons stationed at Brandon may be removed there.—if quiet is restored in this neighbourhood to request of you to submit to Lord Sidmouth that I cannot answer for the continuation of quiet in this neighbourhood (which is only partially restored) of the Military force which is now stationed on Brandon is allowed to be sent from thence to suppress Riot, & tumult elsewhere—

And Mr Moseley requests me to add that the Parishioners of Feltwell & Hockwold cum Wilton have expressly declared they dare not lay any information before him against the Ringleaders (who have proceeded so far as to commit Robbery) if the regular force is removed from Brandon because the yeomanry cannot be collected in sufficient time to save them from the vengeance threatened by the Rioters in case of any one of them being arrested

The Revd Mr Newcombe who is now with Us - & a Gentlemen possessed of considerable property in Feltwell and Wilton states he has had information - and has good grounds to believe an organisation of the lower class of the People is now on foot for commencing another riot on Monday next

We trust therefore from the foregoing Statement Lord Sidmouth will see the necessity of continuing the present military force at Brandon, & under our direction

I am
Yr very obedt
humble Servt

JR Burch

J. Beckett Esq
Undr Sec: St:
for the Home department

24th May 1816: Crowd of 200 people intent on machine-breaking in Essex

On Friday 24th May 1816, and having been successful in destroying a Threshing Machine at Finchingfield the evening before, a crowd of 200 people had mixed success with machine-breaking in nearby parts of Essex.

In the morning, they visited the farm of Robert Smith, of Byton Hall and destroyed a mole plough there. They then proceeded to Great Bardsfield (to destroy a threshing machine belonging to a Mr. Messent, according to the Morning Chronicle of 27th May 1816). The Bury & Norwich Post of 29th May 1816 described what happened:
On Friday last a tumultuous and riotous mob of nearly 200 persons, armed with axes, saws, spades, &c. entered the village of Great Bardsfield, in the county of Essex, with the avowed intention to destroy thrashing machines, mole ploughs, &c.—They made their attack on the premises of Mr. Philip Spicer, who fortunately for the place where he lived, as also for the villages and towns on that side of the county, had spirit and resolution to defend his property, and being assisted by about 20 of his neighbours, who were entirely unarmed, they determined to resist the attack of the rioters, and by a Waterloo movement, got between the mob and the barn where the machine was deposited, and dared them to advance: when perceiving the determined manner of their opponents, they wisely resolved to make a precipitate retreat.

Monday 23 May 2016

23rd May 1816: Threshing Machine destroyed at Finchingfield, Essex

In the evening of Thursday 23rd May 1816, a crowd of people destroyed a threshing machine belonging to a John Smith at Finchingfield, Essex.

23rd May 1816: Ely magistrates agree concessions and offer amnesty for offences to date

Hundred of Ely,
In the Isle of Ely.

The MAGISTRATES agree, and do Order, that the OVERSEERS shall pay to each poor Family Two SHILLINGS per Head per Week, when FLOUR is Half-a-Crown a Stone, such Allowance be raised in Proportion when the Price of Flour is higher, and that the Price of Labour shall be Two Shillings per Day, whether Married or Single, and that the Labourer shall be paid his full Wages by the Farmer who Hires him.

No Person to be prosecuted for any thing that has been done to the present Time; provided that every MAN immediately returns peaceably to his Home.

ELY, May 23, 1816.

23rd May 1816: Wisbech magistrates request troops from the Home Secretary, anticipating disorder

Wisbech 23d May 1816

My Lord

As Magistrates of the Isle of Ely, residing in, and acting for the populous Town of Wisbech, containing about six thousand Inhabitants, and its thickly peopled neighbourhood, we feel it our Duty to apprize your Lordship of the present unsettled, disturbed and dissatisfied State of the lower Orders the Town and its Vicinity.

Your Lordship, we doubt not, is aware, that several tumultuous and riotous Proceedings have taken place in the County of Norfolk, to which we immediately adjoin—And since the Disturbances which took place at Downham in that county, which is only thirteen miles from us,—on Monday and Tuesday last—the disaffected here have more openly intimated their Disposition for—and Intention of disturbing the publick Tranquillity as well by inflammatory Speeches as by violent Placards.

The threatened Time of collecting together this ill-intentioned and tumultuous Assembly is Saturday next—the Day of our publick market our public market, which at this Season of the year is very numerously attended.

The Civil Authorities are using every Precaution in their Power for the Prevention of this alarming Evil—and your Lordship may assure yourself of the Continuance of their best Exertions—but as they have no Yeomanry Cavalry, nor any Description of military Force in the Town to aid—if required—the Efforts of the Civil Power—and as they cannot but feel some Apprehension that their Endeavours may not be equal to check that Torrent of Evil and Mischief, which too often attends such tumultuous meetings—we venture to submit to your Lordship, whether the immediate stationing of a small Force of Cavalry in this Place, which has good and ample Accommodation and very conveniently situated for communicating with any Corps, which it may be necessary to station in the Neighbourhood—might not have a more powerful Effect in the Prevention—as also in the quelling of any such alarming Evil, if it should arise, than any Preparations or Efforts, it may be in our Power to accomplish—.

Not doubting of your Lordship’s immediate Attention to this Letter, We have the Honor to remain

My Lord
Your Lordship’s
most obedient Servants

Abraham [Johnson]
Robert Hardwicke
John E’ds
Wm Watson

[To] The Right Honourable
the Secretary of State
for the Home Department &c &c

23rd May 1816: Threatening letter sent to the Prince Regent, "If this is Peace, we must earnestly wish for War"

May it please your Royal Highness

Without something is done to the Benifit of the Working People & the Public at large, and that soon your Life will not only be in the most imminent Danger but the Lives of several others, who enjoy themselves now, by oppressing the poorer sort of People, there are many thousands, in this metropolis almost starving and not being able to get any employ, and those that have, in (consequence of their Wages) being lowered, and all sorts of Provision being Rose, to an extravagant degree. If this is Peace, we must earnestly wish for War, not but very soon we shall have something worse, then a Civil War in our own Country. take warning by this & take care of yourself.—

I have this to tell you (by the express wish you were with the 3000 Associates) that you may guard yourself as much as you Please but the Blow will come when you least expect it.—

May 23 1816.—

To his
Royal Highness the Prince Regent
Carlton House
Pall Mall

23rd May 1816: Littleport labourers march on Ely, where rioting commences

Peacock (1965, pp.100-106) continued to give a good account of the proceedings in Cambridgeshire on Thursday 23rd May 1816: 
Dennis and the labourers reassembled at The Globe Inn, where their plans for the following day (which incidentally was Ely Fair day) were laid. It is more than likely that someone was sent to Downham, a few miles away, to tell the inhabitants there to make their way to Ely the next morning, and probably a reckoning of who had and who had not been forced to part with cash was made with a view to rectifying any oversights. Certainly Richard Burridge and Richard Nicholas went along in the very early hours of Thursday morning and robbed Mary Morley, Ann Cutlack, a farmer's wife, and Isaac Taylor, who was told that "the mob which were then collected together at Littleport were going to Ely to take the Town up to Government". It was also decided to obtain arms, and Littleport was searched for ammunition and firearms of any kind. John Green and Beamiss went again to Wiles' shop (it is interesting to note that, until Dennis appeared on the scene, the powder and shot were untouched) and took 7 lbs. of gunpowder and a barrel containing 56 lbs. of shot back to The Globe, where Francis Torrington contributed another 5 lbs. of gunpowder he had taken from one of the Cheesewrights. William Murat and John Warner knocked up John Rust, a labourer who shot wildfowl, and relieved him of two guns worth £10, while Burridge and Henry Mainer, wearing handkerchiefs and scarves taken from Vachell, took another, worth £5, from Elizabeth Stimson. Robert Salmon took a gun from Cutlack and relieved Thomas Waddelow of another. Somewhat later, an armed William Gotobed held up Robert Whitworth (or Whitmore) and robbed him of a gun and two pitchforks, saying he was off to join the crowd. Dennis was seen by numerous people distributing shot at The Globe from about one o'clock onwards, and Mary How said the labourers had some target practice in the early hours. In all, the Treasury Solicitors; were told, seventy-three offences were committed in Littleport during Wednesday and the early hours of Thursday, 23rd May. 
Having armed themselves, the labourers looked around for a means of transporting themselves and their firearms into Ely. They went along to the farm belonging to Henry Tansley and took a waggon and three horses from his stable. According to George Stevens, the mob was ready to start the march at three o'clock in the morning but the waggon had not then been got ready. Eventually it was loaded up so that it looked like a primitive tank, and was driven by George Crow. "They had armed themselves", a description said, 
with the most dangerous and offensive weapons, such as Bludgeons, Pitchforks, Muck Cromes, Fork Shafts headed with short iron spikes, Fowling pieces and Fowler's guns, the tubes of which latter are from 7 to Io feet in length, carry about 2 lbs. of shot, and will kill at a distance of 150 yards. 
The procession, headed by the armed waggon and John Walker, "carrying a pole in his Hand by way of a Signal", set out for Ely during the early hours of Thursday morning. One last piece of violence was committed in Littleport when Isaac Harley and Thomas South caught sight of William Martin in the street. They demanded that the farmer should accompany them to Ely but he refused. Harley threatened to kill him and South knocked him down, but they left him behind. Another farmer, an old man named William Poole, was not so fortunate. He was working in a field near the turnpike road that led from Littleport to Ely when he saw an armed party on the road. In spite of protests that he could hardly walk, Burridge and Thomas Armiger forced him to join them. Quite a large number of others were similarly pressed into going. 
The authorities had been warned of the approach of the crowd from Littleport, and a magistrate, the Rev. William Metcalfe, met them, on the outskirts of Ely, sometime between five and six o'clock. He asked the crowd to stop but Crow, driving the waggon, said, "Go on, go on, we will go into the market place." 
A crowd, estimated by one observer at 500, collected in the market square outside The White Hart Inn, where a number of the magistrates (all clergymen) had gathered. Metcalfe and the Rev. Peploe Ward asked them what they wanted and received the usual replies. Richard Rutter added a demand for beer at 2d. a pint to the now familiar cry for flour at 2s. 6d. and an allowance or wage of 2s. The magistrates, who were by this time scared out of their wits, invited a deputation, led by John Lee, into the inn to discuss their claims and the following paper was eventually drawn up. 
The Magistrates agree, and do order that the overseers—shall pay to each family Two Shillings per Head per week, when Flour is Half a. Crown a Stone; such allowance be raised in proportion when the price of Flour is higher, and that the price of Labor shall be Two Shillings per day, whether Married or Single and that the Laborer shall be paid his full wages by the Farmer, who hires him. 
During the deliberations in The White Hart the Rev. Henry Law, another magistrate who had been asked by Ward to hurry to Ely, entered the room. He wrote a number of letters, now in the Cambridge University Library, justifying his part in the proceedings and they help determine what went on on that day. Law approved of the concessions. He told Sidmouth that increased relief from is. 6d. to 2s. "to the poor families receiving parochial relief was justified ... My Lord, because the price of grain had become much higher (in May 1816) than when the foresaid allowance was made (November 1815)". 
The concessions were welcomed by the delegates, but they asked for one thing more—"forgiveness for what had passed". This was not acceptable to all the magistrates and an argument developed. Law told the Home Secretary that he warned the magistrates, as did Lieutenant Goodenough at Brandon, that they were acting ultra vires. "I resisted the compromise about to be made to the rioters," he wrote, "and I stated, that I would not agree to such terms which were contrary to law, reason and common sense, and I told the Mob, that he [Peploe Ward] had no power to hold out such a promise of pardon to them for that if they had offended against the Law, so their offences they must be accountable." The delegates' reply to Law's prevaricating was "then we have done nothing we will agree to nothing we will have Blood before Dinner". This was enough for the majority of the J.P.s and they agreed that "No person to be prosecuted for anything that has been done to the present time; provided that every Man immediately returns peaceably to his own Home". A statement of the magistrates' concessions was printed in an extraordinarily quick time and copies are still in existence. Vachell, writing to Law, said that he hoped that Sidmouth would be told of the way the magistrates were coerced. "... you know," he said, "that they were the absolute prisoners ... at the mercy of a most ferocious armed rabble without any means of defence. Every allowance, I trust, will be made for their complying with terms, to which in fact they were compelled to agree." 
The result of the meeting with the magistrates was announced to the crowd who responded with great cheers and many, including those who had been forced along, returned to Littleport with the armed waggon. Rayner Brassett, who had hidden and so avoided being taken to Ely, had followed the crowd there sometime afterwards with one of the Cutlack family and had returned to Littleport by nine o'clock. Shortly afterwards a group, including South, Jefferson and Little Easey, called on him and demanded food and beer. He accompanied them to The Globe and told Robert Johnson, the publican, to let the crowd have whatever beer they wanted. Brassett returned home but was soon called on by John Sparrow (who turned Crown witness) who said that more of the labourers had gathered at The Crown and that they, too, wanted food. The treasurer went along there and found Sparrow, Chevell, Beamiss and others drinking a barrel. Realising that the whole of Littleport was given over to carousing, he then called at The George, where John Lee and Burridge gave him more money, and at The Turk's Head, where he ordered another barrel—"the Mob", he told the magistrates, "said that all the Public Houses should be treated alike". He paid for what had been consumed so far out of his own pocket because, he said, Chevell knew what was in the handkerchief and he dare not touch it except in that firebrand's presence. 
At noon Chevell and six or seven others called on Brassett. Adding two pounds more, Chevell counted out the hoard which amounted to £43 4s. 0d. He then turned to his colleagues and "proposed ... that all the Publicans should fare alike and that the whole of the money should be spent on victuals and drink". They then departed and Brassett dutifully went his rounds settling with the landlords. At the end of the day a balance of £6 7s. 1d. remained which "was spent by the Mob in Victuals and Drink on the Friday morning". Brassett said that he acted his part simply through fear, a contention which rings true in his case. 
Not all the labourers had returned to Littleport. While those that had were drinking, many of their colleagues were rioting in Ely. 
After hearing of the magistrates' concessions, a section of the Littleport crowd—which had been, joined by some of Ely's "refractory inhabitants"—began demanding beer from the local publicans. By about 8.30 they were joined by labourers from Downham and they made their way to the house of Henry Rickwood. "Rickwood," a prosecution brief said, "is a Miller, and resides at Ely and he seems to have been considered by the Rioters as peculiarly deserving of their marked attention." Henry Chapman summed up the general belief about millers when he said, "the corn is got into the great People's hands—Damn them—if they [we?] are all of one mind we will take it away from them". 
Mr. Rickwood was not at home when John Dennis, who described himself as cashier, demanded "£50 as a douceur for saving [the] house and premises from destruction". Gotobed fired a gun into the place and Mrs. Rickwood sent her son, William, to see Robert Edwards, the Chief Constable of the Hundred of Ely and the agent for Mortlock's bank, to obtain the sum demanded. 
William Rickwood saw Edwards and told him of the crowd's demands. The constable began walking back to the miller's house but en route met the labourers with Mrs. Rickwood. At first he refused to give them money and made the mistake of brandishing his constable's staff, whereupon he was set upon and beaten by James Gammen into changing his mind. He asked whom he was to pay the money to and Dennis—who had tried to restrain, the crowd—said that he would "go in for Littleport" ; Flanders Hopkin went in representing the Downham labourers, and Stephen Saunderson those from Ely. Edwards handed the three £16 each and had one shilling left. Asked who should have it, Dennis replied that it had to be "divided equally". Edwards placed the amount to Rickwood's debt. 
A great number of women were in the crowd milling about the streets of Ely and Sarah Hobbes, a soldier's wife and the only woman actually tried at the Special Assizes, was particularly active. According to John Bacon, a constable, she led the crowd through the churchyard and away from Edwards' house saying "come along, come along . . . we will go to Cooper's, he is a bigger rogue than Rickwood". 
William Cooper kept a flour and grocery shop, and was regarded as a profiteer as bad as the unfortunate Willets elsewhere. The crowd of about 200 angry men and women began to call for "a crow or a mattock" to pull the shop down when Law and Metcalfe, the two magistrates, pushed their way forward. They managed to dissuade the mob from destroying the building but a cry of "five pounds, five pounds" was set up. The terrified Cooper handed over a note to Metcalfe who dutifully passed it on to Dennis. At this stage, the Ely labourers pushed William Atkin and Aaron Layton, a tenant of Cooper's and a master bricklayer, forward, saying that they wanted to be treated the same as the Littleport people. Cooper handed Layton, who later claimed he was acting under duress (a witness said he was "taken from the door of his Mother's by one of the Mob"), another note and the crowd gave him (Layton or Cooper?) "three huzzas and went away". 
From Cooper's shop the crowd went to visit George Stevens, another miller. Dennis demanded £50, but, after haggling for some time, agreed to accept ten. For some reason, Dennis objected to Atkin, who was a carpenter "possessed of some property", acting on behalf of the Ely crowd, and the money was divided between him and Layton. 
The rest of Thursday was given over to rioting and drinking in Ely, the publicans being forced to supply food and drink, as they had at Littleport. Most of the Downham and Littleport people, however, left by the early afternoon, and, after this, the authorities made some show of resistance. Some prisoners were obviously taken for, at three o'clock in the afternoon, Aaron Layton, Walton and Hunt were seen in Littleport asking for help to get them released. This was refused, the locals saying that none of their colleagues was missing and that the waggon had been put away. Later on, Henry Chapman, described as a "yeoman" on one of the briefs, also went to Littleport to ask for help. At five o'clock he was back in Ely, saying this had been agreed to and that "they had got four waggons loaded". This was an exaggeration, but some armed men may have returned. Robert Salmon certainly went and relieved Cutlack of the gun he had returned during the afternoon, announcing that they were off to release prisoners at Ely. Certainly, too, about a dozen were released; this is confirmed by letters from Law and others." 
The Littleport labourers were well satisfied with their day's work and the late arrivals joined in the festivities in the town. Dennis, who had purchased ribands, for the crowd, said exultingly, "we have done everything well they give us credit for it", and there were a few more incidents to record. Henry Mainer went to the unfortunate Tansley, who ranked second only to the Martins as an object of hate, and held him up with a gun. James Wortley and Thomas Smith took a pound from Matthew Waddelow. Apologetically, they told him that he had been overlooked the previous night. 
Downham had not been as quiet as Littleport, and there there were some minor incidents perpetrated on their return from Ely by a crowd led by Flanders Hopkin, John and William Wilson, and Matthew, Thomas and Samuel Seakins. Alice Cornwall was robbed of 4s. and another inhabitant was threatened but was left alone when he gave bread away. The Downham crowd, however, were a spineless lot compared with that at Littleport. A description of an attack they made on the house of Francis Tingey deserves quoting in full. 
The prisoners with many others assembled at the prosecutor's House on the 23rd ult. and demanded Money—The prosecutor having refused to obey the call an attack was immediately made upon his window by the prisoners and their party—The prosecutor's wife then took the Alarm and sent her son Francis Tingey with a Flag of Truce to the Besiegers and he succeeded in saving the Citadel from further destruction by payment of a three shilling piece.