Friday, 13 May 2016

13th May 1816: An informer reports a meeting of framework-knitters in Leicester

13th May 1816

I had been at the Prince Blucher ever since before two o'Clock. There was a man from Leicester and another from Derby. I bought of the Leicester man the copy of "Resolutions of Meeting of the Frameworkknitters at Leicester of 15th April last – a man named Smith of Mansfield was first chosen Chairman between 2 and 3. There was a numerous Meeting 100 or more. The Chairman, called Silence and the Derby man stated that they had solicited the Hosiers of Derby and they had agreed to sign a Petition to Government to put a stop to the cut-up work – He said he had been at Leicester and the Employers and the employed there had petitioned, and it was thought it would not avail much unless the Trade at Derby and Nottingham would do the same and that this Meeting was called to get that done. There were 5 men chosen as a Committee to consult what was to be done. They withdrew into another room and were away about an hour, they then returned and stated that 5 or 6 able men should be chosen to go to the Hosiers tomorrow and next day, and solicit them to do as they had done at Leicester & Derby—and if they did not come to, another meeting was to be called to consult how to proceed. It appeared to be the general opinion of the Meeting that the Nottingham Hosiers would not comply, as they had done at Leicester and Derby, and that the Mayor and Magistrates would not allow them to meet publicly. There was a Meeting at Arnold at Jonathan Stirtevants as I was told yesterday by Robert Mitchell, commonly called Scotch Bob; and he said they were nearly fast at Arnold – as many had nothing to do, and those that had work were so badly paid for it they could not live; and that they had tried in vain to get an honest living by labour, and they must now be under the necessity of breaking the laws of their Country – he said they would kill their own meat – some Frames, & Somebodies carcases beside would be broke. Some said at the Meeting to day that if Government did not redress their grievances violent means must be had recourse to – & they pointed out Mansfield and Sutton where most of the obnoxious work was made.—

This letter can be found at HO 42/150. This letter, and the flyer referred to in it, was sent to the Home Office by Henry Enfield on 15th May 1816.

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