Thursday, 30 June 2016

30th June 1816: M Babington writes to Thomas Babington, the MP for Leicester, about the 'Loughborough Job'

Leicester 29 June 1816

My Dear father

Last night a most violent and successful attack was made upon the Lace Machinery at Heathcoat & Boden at Loughbro & the whole has been destroyed to the amount of about £10,000 as report says. The persons attacking party were organized with the utmost system & secrecy & are supposed to have been assisted by a band from Nottingham. The whole of them answered to numbers instead of names, & were disguised with painted faces, high cravats &c.

Perhaps about 100 persons might be engaged on the whole but it is very difficult even to conjecture, One of the watchmen appointed to guard the premises was shot thro’ the head, tho’ he is still alive, & another was struck with a hatchet with a view of killing him. There were certainly favoured either by treachery or by unaccountable good fortune. The whole destruction was affected in little more than ½ an hour & there is not at present any clue to the guilty. This has thrown more than £300 hands out of employee at Loughbro in one day. The town of Loughbro is in great consternation & even Leicester has been a little on the qui vive this evening but all is quiet at present.

The recurrence of such events is so pernicious & alarming that Government if acquainted with it might perhaps think it necessary to renew the frame breaking act. The effect of that act is thought here to be considerable.

It is said to have been currently reported today amongst the lower orders that Government will not dare to execute rioters at Ely. There have been many meetings of [Stockingers] in different parts of the county, & the result has seemed generally to be perfectly harmless, but it is difficult to know entirely what passes. I am in no apprehension of any mob keeping a head at Leicester as they did in some parts, because I am sure we have strength to put them down but there may be silent frame breaking.

Burbridge is in London now to Mansfields discomfort & you may perhaps [illegible] him.

One of the leaders in this affair was on horseback.

Love to all

Yours most [affectionately]
M Babington

Sunday morning 7 oclock. I have heard of no disturbance.

[To] Thomas Babington Esq M.P.
Downing Street

This letter can be found at HO 42/151. Curiously, though 'M Babington' (most likely Matthew Drake Babington) addresses this letter to his 'Dear Father', according to family trees Thomas Babington was his uncle!

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