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

This letter can be found at HO 42/120.

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