Thursday, 19 May 2016

19th May 1816: "...we mean to circulate your blood with the leave of God", Ashill, Norfolk

On the morning of Sunday 19th May 1816, the servants of Reverend Bartholomew Edwards of Ashill, Norfolk found an anonymous letter at the entrance gate to his property:
To the Gentleman of the Parish of our Ashill, Norfolk This is to inform you that you have by this time brought us under the heaviest burden & into the hardest Yoke we ever knowed; it is too hard for us to bear; you have oftentimes blinded us saying the fault was all in the Place-men of Parliament; but now you have opened our eyes, we know they have a great power, but they have nothing to do with the regulation of this parish. 
You do as you like, you rob the poor of their Commons right, plough the grass up that God send to grow, a poor man may not feed a Cow, Pig, Horse, nor Ass; lay muck & stones on the Road to prevent the grass growing. If a poor man is out of work & wants a day or two's work you will give him ‘6 per week, & then a little man that does not employ a labourer at all, must help to pay for your work doing, which will bring them chargeable to the parish. There is 5 or 6 of you have gotten all the whole of the Land in this parish in your own hands & you would wish to be rich & starve all the other part of the poor of the parish: If any poor man wanted any thing, there you will call a Town meeting about it, to hear which could continue to hiss him the most, which have caused us to have a County Meeting, to see if we cannot gain some Redress— 
Gentleman, these few lines are to inform you that God Almighty have brought our blood to a proper circulation, that have been in a very bad state a long time, & now without an alteration of the foresaid, we mean to circulate your blood with the leave of God. And we do not intend to give you but a very short time to consider about it, as we have gotten one or two of the head, on our side. There was 2 cows & an ass feeding on the road last Saturday & there was 2 farmers went to the keepers & said they would pound them, if they did not drive them away; one of them candidly sent home, got a plough & horses & ploughed the grass up that [growed] on the road
We deem the miller to be full as big a rogue as you farmers, for if the wheat raise 1 per Coomb, He will then raise 2d per Stone. So we shall drive the whole [before us] & knock down the mill, set fire to all [beggarly] [obscured] houses & stacks as we go along, we shall begin in the Night. 
And the first man that refuse to join the Combination shall suffer death in a moment, or the first person that is catched saying any thing against the same, shall suffer death. We have had private ambushers round us for some time, and by this time you will find it is coming to a point— 
Take notice that this is a private letter wrote at this time, but we fear it will be too public for your profits; so we wish to prepare yourselves ready for action; for we intend to have things as we like; you have had a good long turn. We have counted up that we have gotten about 60 of us to 1 of you; therefore should you govern, so many to 1? No: we will fight for it & if you gain the day, so be it. 
Swines, Fokelee Moocher [Blonin]

This letter can be found with Edwards' covering letter at HO 42/150.

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