Sunday, 29 May 2016

29th May 1816: Henry Hobhouse sends his latest about the forthcoming Ely Special Commission to the Home Office

May 29. 1816.

Dear Sir,

In the course of yesterday I went thro’ the minutes of the Examinations taken on the previous Days, and though some of them are very defective, yet enough appears to satisfy me that our Prosecutions will be confined to the Transactions of two days, viz. last Wednesday & Thursday. On the former, a Mob, collected from the Parishes of Littleport Downham & Ely assembled in the Evening at the former Place, levied Contributions of various Amounts from many persons, some in the Street, & others in their Houses, committed Outrages amounting to Burglary in 2 or 3 dwelling houses, & finally plundered that of the Rector Mr. Vachell, & expelled him & his Family, at which last House there was not only a Burglary, but a beginning to demolish within the Riot Act.

The Mob continued together during the Night, & on Thursday morning marched to Ely, where besides levying small Contributions on numerous Persons they attacked several Houses & grabbed the owners of money or Goods.

This short Statement gives you the general Complexion of the Prosecutions. I shall endeavour to select the Cases, where the greatest Outrages were committed, & the largest number of Prisoners can be proved to have been engaged. I see no reason to doubt that the Offences will be fixed by satisfactory Evidence on all the Ringleaders. I hope I shall get away from hence tomorrow, but I shall remain until while I find I can be essentially useful.

I have ascertained that the Chief Justice of Ely holds pleas of the Crown, not by virtue of his Appointment from the Bishop, but by a standing Commission of Oyer & Terminer & General Gaol Delivery under the great Seal, which is directed to others besides the Chief Justice, the latter being of the quorum. If there [should] be no reason for extended the intended Commission to the rest of Cambridgeshire, it may follow the Form of the standing Commission that the Isle, which will obviate the difficulty as to the Officer by whom the Jury is to be summoned. And the Bailiff of the Isle assures me that he has no doubt of getting from the north part of the Isle a panel of Jurors omni exceptione maiores.

I write this hastily to send by Sir H. Dudley. If any thing material occurs before the Post, I will write again.

Yrs faithfully.
H. Hobhouse

This letter can be found at HO 42/150.

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