Saturday, 11 June 2016

11th June 1816: Henry Enfield reports the recent Luddite attack to the Home Office


With great Regard I sit down to report to you, for the Information of Lord Sidmouth, that the Luddites have again commenced their lawless outrages. Last Sunday morning about two oClock a party of them, consisting of about four or five & twenty, attacked, at the same time, two adjoining Houses at New Radford, in the immediate vicinity of Nottingham, broke to shivers the outer-Doors, & went up Stairs into the workshops, where they destroyed a great number of very valuable Lace-Frames, & a large quantity of Lace. They flashed a pistol at the woman of one of the Houses, who threw open the window, & upon her shutting it they sent a Volley of Stones at the Windows – They were in the Houses nearly half an hour – frequently using the word "Ned", & when they had completed their work of mischief, they mustered before the Door, gave a Shout, fired off two pieces, & then went away — The Daughters of the woman of the House before alluded to, spoke with great certainty to two of the persons engaged, & the two men are in Custody. on Saturday night they are to be again examined before the Magistrates of the County

The revival of these dreadful Scenes has, naturally, excited strong expectations of their early repetition; & the magistrates of Nottingham have in consequence been actively employed in making the [best] police-measures for their suppression – but the facility with which these practised Banditti heretofore so generaley eluded Detection, rinders the watching for them an almost hopeless Task — It is impossible that we should be without apprehension of popular Tumult, when we look at the unemployed & dreadfully distressed State of the Bulk of the frameworkknitting mechanics in this Town & neighbourhood. At present however there is not anything overt

They have been preparing a petition to Parliament for the redress of some alleged Grievances in the manufacture; & may, perhaps, be allayed by the expectation of Relief.—

Under these lowering appearances, it is a Source of great comfort & satisfaction to the magistrates, to see the military Strength in Nottingham so competent—They beg that Lord Sidmouth will be pleased to continue to them this important Force (which may be said to be constantly operating in Check) untill the prospect [shall] brighten—

I am
Your most obedt Servant
H Enfield
Nottingham 11 June 1816

[To] Jas. Beckett Esq
U. Secry of State
&c &c &c

This letter can be found at HO 42/151.

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