Thursday, 3 November 2016

3rd November 1816: General Fane rejects William Sherbrooke's request for troops for Nottinghamshire

Litchfield 3d Novr 1816—


Maj Humphrey, commanding the 73d Regt at Nottingham, has laid before me a requisition signed by you, for a Corporal and six Soldiers to Garrison the Poor House at Radford, from sun set in the Evening of each day, untill the following morning; in consequence of some apprehensions which are entertained for its safety: and he has stated to me the manner in which he has complied with the requisition—

I feel it my duty to state to you and the Magistrates of Nottinghamshire who directed this requisition to be made, that the so employing his Majesty’s Troops does not at all accord with any of my ideas of what is right; or with what I conceive to be the intentions of the Secretary of State for the Home Department—

I hold that it is my duty as a Military Officer to support the Civil Authorities with all the means entrusted to my disposal; and they will even find me promptly ready to do so: but I feel it equally incumbent upon me to resist the employment of Military Power as a Substitution for the Civil: which I consider to be done in the instance before us.—The ground upon which I form this conclusion is that "the civil Authorities of Nottinghamshire cannot but be able to produce a force which shall be equal in efficacy to a Corporal and six Soldiers"—

This forms one strong reason of objection to the measure which has been adopted; but I have a second, equally strong, "in the situation in which it places the Soldiers so employed"

I would ask the Magistrates, supposing this garrison was to be attacked, What are the Soldiers to do? Are they to fire in their defence? If they were to do so, and to kill a man, would they not be guilty of Murder? And if they are not to fire, what could seven Men do against a Mob coming to attack this Poor House?—Is this then a situation to which such a Party of Soldiers ought to be reduced?

My feeling is, that both the Laws and Constitution of our Country, and the wishes of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, forbid the Military being so employed; being employed at all excepting under the eye of a Magistrate, Unless the Civil Powers shall have found that they are no longer equal to executing the Law themselves—

These being my notions of what is right, I have to request the favour of you to submit what I have said to the Magistrates concerned—

I shall not, however, remove the Garrison from the Poor House at Radford until I have the honour to hear from you—

I am, Sir,
Your most obt Servt
H. Fane
Majr General

This letter can be found at HO 42/155.

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