Wednesday, 18 May 2016

18th May 1816: The Norwich magistrate, John Patteson, updates the Home Office about riots in the city

Norwich 18 May 1816

My Lord,

Mr Yallop, our worthy Mayor, had the honor of writing to your Lordship yesterday, to express to you that the Barrack Master had received the West Norfolk Regt. of [Militia] under the command of Lt Coll. Nelthorp into the Barrack, & also to request to your Lordship that that Regt. should not be disbanded next week as proposed.—The magistrates are anxious to impress this request upon your Ldships mind, as well that they may avail them themselves of that force so ably commanded, as to prevent the return at this moment of many men of that regiment. to their families in this City. It cannot be denied but that the manufacturing employment here is very low, which with the daily increasing price of flour & bread causes a general irritation in the minds of the labouring poor & the class immediately above them

Early yesterday the magistrates issued the inclosed handbill – they met at their hall about 7 oClock the people began to collect together — at ½ past 8 they were in considerable numbers, when the Magistrates thought proper to address them on their unusual appearance, stating to their them the necessity they should be made of reading the Riot act if they did not disperse—some of the Norwich Light Horse Volunteers having passed through the Market to the Swan Inn their place of rendezvous, the mob followed them — a person from that Inn soon came to the hall to give notice of their breaking windows & committing other outrages — upon which about ¼ before 9 oClock the Riot act was read in due form—About 15 of the Royal Dragoons, all there were in the barracks, under the command of Capt. Phipps, then came into the market & were joined by 29 in the Norwich Light Horse Volunteers under the command of Capt. Hudson – more of that corps could not be collected as many of them reside at some distance from the City—A Captain's guard from the West Norfolk [Militia] was placed in the Town Hall—All exerted themselves to the utmost & came assisted by a considerable number of respectable inhabitants, so that the market place was soon cleared & the people assembled their dispersed—Several persons were taken into custody & at this moment the Mayor & Magistrates employed in enquiring into their offences — It is very certain the people came into the market with a riotous determination having their pockets filled with Stones & offensive weapons — There is every reason to suspect they will renew their attempt this evening — every necessary precaution will be taken the propriety of which is more apparent every moment, from information we receive, that that the people did not expect the Magistrates to have been in such a state of preparation last night to meet any attempt to disturb the peace of the City – their object will never be absent from our minds, nor will any exertion be omitted on the part of the Military the Magistrates & a large number of respectable inhabitants to insure it.

I have now to apologize for addressing your Lordship, which I do at the request of the Mayor Mr Yallop, whose attention is altogether employed in hearing the various reports which are brought to him & in giving the necessary directions

I can assure your lordship no man could fill the office better, nor exert greater Zeal in satisfying its duties – I have requested his signature to this letter to give it all the official Sanction your Lordship may wish

I have [etc]
John Patteson

The Mayor has blotted out his Signature out of delicacy to the signing of his own promises

This letter can be found at HO 42/150.

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