Monday, 23 May 2016

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

This letter can be found at HO 42/150.

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