Sunday, 19 June 2016

19th June 1816: The Earl of Derby appeals to the Home Secretary about the distress of weavers in Bolton

[19th June 1816]

My Lord

A Deputation of the very respectable Gentleman whose names are affixed to the inclosed Memorial has waited upon me this morning, with their earnest Request that I [should] immediately lay before his Majesties Ministers their representation of the very distressing & alarming state not only of that particular part of the County over which their Superintendence as Deputy [Lieutenants] extends, but also generally over all parts of this County in which weaving constitutes nearly the whole means of support of the Inhabitants I think it my Duty to lose no time in transmitting this Statement to your Lordship in the terms in which it has been made to me, but I likewise consider myself as bound to add, that I am fully persuaded neither the distress of the People, nor the dreadful Excesses to which (if not some alleviated) it may compel them to have recourse, have they in the smallest Degree exaggerated: I am desired further to state that the People are at present quiet, & no hopes have been held out to them of any specific Remedy, nor do I feel myself qualified or entitled to show to your Lordship any Plan for that purpose, I am however confident that the Business calls for the speediest & most earnest attention of his Majestys Ministers & as such I beg him earnestly to recommend it, (thro’ your Lordship) to their Notice

I have [etc]


[To: Lord Sidmouth]

[Bolton magisrates memorial follows]

Bolton June 17th 1816—

My Lord

From an attentive observation of the circumstances, in which the weavers, resident in Bolton & the neighbourhood are at this moment plac’d, we, the Deputy Lieutenants of the division, in which that Town is situated, have assembled for the purpose of investigating to the utmost of our power, the cause & extent of their present distresses, & the probable effect which their urgent wants may have on the peace of the County—

We feel it to be a difficult & most delicate task, to trace the suppos’d causes to their first origin, that we beg to state to you, for the information of his Majesty's Government this simple fact—that, while every other branch of the manufacture of piece goods is declining with a rapidity unexamp’ld—the unlimited exportation of Cotton Twist, is energising the spinning trade to an unparalleled degree—With respect to the extent of the distresses of the Weavers, we have a most painful duty to perform in recommending them to your notice—The Master Manufacturers are lessening the number of those employ’d—the wages are reduc’d to a sum totally inadequate to the support of individual want  & even at this low average—the work to be performed by them is generally limited—The season of the year & the moderate price of provisions have tended to redress the cry of discontent, but such is the general stagnation of the trade that unless His Majesty's Government can afford immediate relief to their wants, & permanent support to their manufacture, we feel ourselves bound to declare, that no influence nor exertion of ours can long maintain the peace of this neighbourhood—Under these impressions, we have thought it our duty to lay before your Lordship this statement, trusting that it will meet with your Lordships forceful aid in a recommendation of it, to the attention of His Majesty's Government—We remain

My Lord
Yr Lordship’s
Most obt Hble Servants

Wm Hulton—
Benjn Rawson
John Pilkington
Richard Ainsworth

This letter can be found at HO 42/151.

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