Friday, 1 July 2016

1st July 1816: John Heathcoat writes to the Mayor of Tiverton, fearing a Luddite attack there

Tiverton 1st July 1816

To J Govett Esqre


A Messenger has just arrived from my Partner, Mr Boden now at Loughborough with the unpleasant information that all our valuable machinery at that place was destroyed on Friday night last by a large party of Luddites, as is supposed from Nottingham, amounting to upwards of an Hundred, with their faces blackened and otherwise disguised – One man who attempted resistance was shot by them and left for dead but hopes are entertained of his recovery—the remainder of our workmen who were placed there for the protection of the property, were compelled to lay themselves down with their faces to the floor and not permitted to rise till the mischief was completed under threats of instant death — by this atrocious proceeding, several hundred people are thrown out of employment and we are deprived of property of immense value the machines being a new invention for making Buckingham Lace, and for which I obtained a patent in the year 1809—and have been occupied ever since in constructing and putting up the same—I have great apprehension of an immediate attack at this place also – in fact I believe the real cause of this mischief being done is principally, if not wholly, owing to the offence given by our removing here and I have been informed upon undoubted authority that the Nottingham lace makers have sworn my entire destruction

I therefore request you will take such steps as you may think best adapted to prevent or defeat any attempts to destroy our Manufactory in Tiverton—

I am
your mo Obed Servt

John Heathcoat

This letter can be found at HO 42/152.

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