Wednesday, 26 April 2017

26th April 1817: Jeffrey Lockett updates the Home Office about Christopher Blackburn & other wanted Luddites

Derby April 26th 1817

Sir

In confidence of your letter of yesterdays date, I have given directions for the immediate apprehension of Christopher Blackburn. It is supposed that Hudson Dakin and Hill also are in the neighborhood of Nottingham, and every exertion shall be made to take them also. Blackburn is the only one who is privy to the treasonable designs of Henson, Ward, & that party. There can be no doubt but that he will be ready to communicate all that he knows either of Luddism or treason, and think himself mercifully dealt with if he is only transported.

Mr Mundy called upon me immediately after my letter of the 23d was sent to the post office,—and I had a communication from him after his conference with Mr Allsopp and Mr Enfield. As he informs me that he has written fully on several subjects to Lord Sidmouth I presume that the further detention of John Blackburn and William Burton and the subsistence of them and their wives in the house of correction at Leicester—and the expediency of employing Mrs Wing or Woodward, and making [illegible] a small weekly allowance for his services, are topics upon which he has consulted his Lordship. I have apprized Mr Mundy of his Lordship’s wish that C. Blackburn [should] be taken.

I have [etc]

Wm Jeffery Lockett

[To] Rt Honble H. Addington

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

25th April 1817: Informer's report on a meeting with the notorious Nottingham Luddite, Benjamin Badder

25th April 1817.

I was with B. Badder last night and the night before—We were talking about the Ludds that were hung, when he said (after expressing his sorrow for them.) "But never mind and as to that damned Blackburn there is something preparing to strike level with them"—I told him I should like to have the pleasure of shooting him myself—He said "Oh! never mind you'll know when it is to be done and they thought they hanged them all because they had hanged Six but there were some left yet as good as those they had hung"–He said they died like men and would not be forgot, and that their persecutors would be struck level with yet as the Revolution was going on only in a different way not quite so public and he desired me to tell them at Bulwell to keep themselves in readiness to be called on at any hour as Nottm was riper than ever— I mentioned that I had heard [Christopher] Blackburn was taken he said he thought if he were he would not bring any body into a premunire about the money.—

25th April 1817: Charles Mundy writes to the Home Secretary about the wanted Luddite, Christopher Blackburn

Private

Burton April 25th 1817
near Loughborough

My Lord

I have the Honour to state in addition to what your Lordship will have received in a letter from Mr. Allsopp written while I was with him yesterday some circumstances of difficulty that we feel ourselves plaid in respect respecting Christopher Blackburn who it is ascertained is now in the neighbourhood of Nottingham.—I understand that while when John Blackburn was first taken in the attack on my Lord Middletons gamekeeper he was detained for some days at the House Lord Middletons House before he was removd to the House of Correction of Nottingham & that a promise was there made to him by Lord Middleton and Mr Rolleston that his brother should not be included in the consequences that might result from any discoveries he might be disposed to make.—I have always understood from Savage & John Blackburn that Christopher knew more of the planning of the Ludding mischief than any one else & that he was also privy to a great deal of political mischief.—There is no doubt but he might be made an evidence against Frank Ward, Frank White, Jewkes & Neale as accessaries to the Loughborough outrage & probably against Benjamin Badder also, who is as bad a character as any of the others. it is not impossible but he might furnish something against Gravener Henson. Withers, whose sister he married, told me he thought he was concerned in every thing, and John Blackburn says that Christopher was to have conducted the proposed attack on the barracks at Nottingham.—

The difficulty that we feel is this, if he is apprehended & it turns out that he cannot give the evidence we want that we cannot support him so as to give effect to his testimony, how shall we dispose of him so as to keep good faith with his brother? The Bill is found by the Grand jury against him as against the others for the Loughborough outrage.—I was not aware that he had been included in the Indictment till I was so informed by Mr. Lockett to whom I went on Wednesday last to ascertain that point. I had always understood he was to be left out.—It might possibly be the best way to try to open a communication with him & endeavour to persuade him to surrender himself voluntarily, this will be difficult as his brother John is too great a rascal to trust at large for such an Employ, added to which he would be afraid of going to Nottingham. It would be the greatest of all objects as far as the Ludding system goes to conflict Frank Ward & Badder and if White, Jewkes & Neale who have absconded could be discoverd & taken it would be a great object to convict them especially the two former. This with the punishment of some of the perjured Alibi witnesses following so close on the late Executions would bid fair to annihilate the system.—as White Jewkes & Neale have all friends & close connexions in and about Loughborough it is probable that if your Lordship thought it right to examine letters at the post office the place of their retreat might be discover’d.—I had much conversation with Mr. Alsopp on the subject of the statement made by Savage and as to the possibility of dealing with Burton of Sandy Lane as recommended in the last letter I had the Honour of receiving from your Lordship.—When Mr. Hooley returns, who is better acquainted with the [stocking] manufacturers than almost any body, the attempt must be set on foot. I find this Burton has been long in the habit of travelling the Country selling Political Books &c.—and is probably well acquainted with the members of Committees & the delegates or missionaries in different parts of the kingdom.—

I can I feel a strong desire to obtain by some means an interview with Christopher Blackburn if it could be arrang’d.—it is very probable he might furnish a Clue to more things than the mere concerns of Luddism.—

I believe Mr. Alsopp will have the Honour of waiting on your Lordship in few days.—The death of a near relation of Mrs Charles Mundy for whose widow & children I have much business to transact will compel me to leave Burton on Monday Morning next for a few days. should your Lordship have any Commands for me I will beg the favour of their being directed to Washenborough near Lincoln.—the distance from Nottingham is little more than thirty miles.—I hope to be at Burton again by the end of the week of which I will have the Honour of informing your Lordship.—I do not exactly know when Mr. Hooley is expected to return.—

I have [etc]

C. G. Mundy

[To] The Right Honourable
Viscount Sidmouth

Monday, 24 April 2017

24th April 1817: Louis Allsopp writes to the Home Office about the wanted Luddite, Christopher Blackburn

Private

Nottingham
24 April 1817.—

My Lord—

Mr Mundy came here yesterday afternoon, & We have had a great deal of Conversation on the Subject of Savages confession—a plan has been thought of, to [cause] Burton, through the medium of the person, who has been employed as the Secret Agent here, but I do not expect any Success—it certainly would be of the greatest Importance to get that one or two of the men, who have instigated the Loughborough Job, that this business might be made quite complete; from Information obtained here by Mr Enfield & communicated to him by him to Mr Mundy, there can be no doubt but that two or three of those, concerned with Loughboro’ business who have not been taken, are near here, indeed Christopher Blackburn is known positively to be so, but there is a difficulty to know what to do with him, in consequence of some promise made by Lord Middleton & Mr Rolleston to his brother, when first taken, but Mr Mundy, (who is in the room with me) will communicate with your Lordship [hereon]—He will thank your Lordship to send him a Copy of Andersons Letter; & We take the Liberty of submitting to your Consideration, the propriety of giving orders at the post office for all Letters from Calais to be searched, as your Lordship will have this much letter better done in London than at this place—I have some thoughts of being in London on Sunday I will do it myself the Honor of calling upon yr Lordship on Monday Morning—

I have [etc]

L Allsopp

PS.

We have since fixed that Mr Mundy shall write to yr Lordship by tomorrows post, on the Subject of [Christopher] Blackburn, which will have given yr Lordship time to conclude what ought to be done, prior to my calling on Monday, if I am able to leave home—

[To] Lord Visct Sidmouth

Sunday, 23 April 2017

23rd April 1817: Jeffrey Lockett informs the Home Secretary that the wanted Luddite, Christopher Blackburn, is in Nottingham

Derby April 23d: 1817

My Lord

The death of a near relation of Mrs Mundy has taken Mr Mundy into Lincolnshire,— and in his absence I presume to inform your Lordship, that I have this morning received information, upon which I can depend, [Christopher] Blackburn is in the neighbourhood of Nottm and may be taken. Mr Mundy will be at Burton to night and I have sent a messenger to him with this intelligence. C. Blackburn was privy to the negotiation between F. Ward and Savage—and Mr Lacey's factory men, respecting the Loughbro’ outrage;—and he has some time past been in the confidence of F. Ward—G. Henson & other political Luddites. He will be very ready to give information and I will endeavour to get him taken with as much privacy as possible lest Ward [should] abscond upon hearing that he is in custody. White, Jukes, and Neale, (Mr Lacys factory men) who were the principal promoters of the Loughbro’ outrage and leading Hampden Club men, have been absent since the beginning of February.

I am happy to be able to assure your Lordship that there is every appearance of security in this part of the Country—There is now sufficient employment for the poor of every description—and the poor rates rapidly decreasing.

I have [etc]

Wm Jeffery Lockett

[To: Lord Sidmouth]

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

18th April 1817: The executed Luddites are buried in Nottingham & Chilwell

The Leicester Chronicle of Saturday 26th April 1817 reported the burial of the Luddites executed at Leicester, on the day following their hanging:
The bodies of the unfortunate men executed on Thursday the 17th instant, for the outrage at Loughborough arrived at Nottingham the following morning at three o'clock in two covered carts for interment. Mitchel, Amos, Withers, and Crowder were interred in St. Mary’s Church Yard: the former, (Mitchell), at about five o'clock in the morning, the latter three about five in the afternoon; and Savidge was interred in the New Burying Ground about the same hour as the latter, amidst great numbers of people. Towle was taken forward to Chilwell, near the place where his friends reside. 
Savage (aged 39) has left a wife and six children; Amos (aged 30) a wife and five children; Mitchell (aged 29) unmarried; Withers (aged 33) a wife and one child; these were natives of Nottingham. Towle (aged 22) a wife and one child a native of Chilwell. Crowder (aged 40) a wife and five children, a native of Leicester.

18th April 1817: Gratian Hart suspects a 'nest of refugee Luddites at Calais'

Friday Morng. [18th April 1817]

I have long some days, suspected there was a nest of refugee Luddites in Calais; the enclosed Letter appears to confirm it: it may be of great use, in fact, in my Opinion this Letter is important, and some one should come down and take them up this Writer; who could explain his meaning.

Your faithful
Obedient Servt
Gratian Hart

[To] Francis Freeling Esqr
&c &c &c

18th April 1817: The Nottingham Review reports the arrest of Gravenor Henson for High Treason

As a report has been in circulation for some days past, that Gravenor Henson and William Robinson, the persons who were deputed to carry the Petition to London, to be presented to the Prince Regent, in behalf of the unfortunate men who have suffered at Leicester, had been taken into custody, it may be proper to give a brief statement of the case, The aforesaid persons after their arrival in London, previous to their calling at Lord Sidmouth’s office, thought it advisable to call upon a gentleman to ask his influence and interest, to give the greater weight to the petition. This, Henson agreed to do himself, and Robinson was to wait for his return in St. James's Park. They had, however, no sooner separated, than a Crown Officer took Henson into custody: Robinson waited about three hours for his companion, in vain. He then returned to their inn, where he learned that an officer, in company with a Nottingham manufacturer, had been, and the officer had seized Henson's box with all its contents. Robinson immediately waited upon the manufacturer, and wished to have an explanation, and to know if there were any charge against him—and said he had no objection to go to the office of Secretary of State, to vindicate himself and explain. In consequence, an officer waiting on him on Saturday, to request his attendance there, but said he was not obliged to attend; however, Robinson chose the accompany the officer, and was introduced to Lord Sidmouth, to whom he stated his object in coming to London; and said he was not conscious of any charge being brought against himself or colleague. The Honourable Secretary, we understand, spoke in terms of approbation, of the frank and undisguised conduct of Robinson, and applauded his motives, but refused him all communication with Henson, who, it seems, is taken up on suspicion of High Treason. A messenger from the Crown arrived at this place on Saturday last, who entered Henson's house, and major a seizure of a variety of papers, which he sealed and took with him to London. Robinson was not arrested, nor his house searched. Henson is at present in Coldbath-fields prison. Such is the information handed to us, and which we believe to be correct.

Monday, 17 April 2017

17th April 1817: J Anderson of Notts writes to a Mr Wood at Calais, France "ned Is at Leister now And they can do As they like"

[To] Mr. Wood
at Mr. Thompsons
Bass Ville
Calais
France

Dear friend I Received your Letter yesterday dated 12th And I ham very sory that Mr. C. should look At it in that Light that Is factory might be considered A depot for they can be no depot whithout the Arms And other Instruments is lodged their Mr. C. whould find Im A very youseful young man for he is a very good hand either In wharp or point net And if he likes to take Im he need not be Afraid of Is factory or Any thing else for there As never been Any of them Advertised nor Is there likely to be for government Is tired of it only he cannot stay no where About here for our constables whould fetch Im Any where in England but they have got no orders to go any further he is not Afraid of Any body knowing Im because he As been Away from home ever since he whas young And therefore very few Nottingham people knows Im And he thinks he should be safe there And so do I think so he Is very mutch obliged to you for saying you will do every thing Lays in your power but he says he cannot expect you to maintain Im without work though Is parents will find Im enough to carry Im ten times As far As that And you know he Is a well drest young man And of good Aparance Is parents whant Im to go to America but he had rather come to you but stil he dose not like to come without Mr. C. would say he whould Imploy him as there Is no danger you may depend therefore he Is determined to wait here for Another Answer sooner then he will go to America, you must excuse me troubling you so mutch but we are forced to troble Any people now but he will pay you the expence of the Letters If he comes If you go up the country he Is Agreable to wait hear two or three weeks but you may depend he will be safe there If he comes And if he comes he will let you know that you may meet Im at the flying horse in calais and send whord whether he will be forced to get A pasport or not If he comes he thinks of staying In dover one day to wright to you to let you know what packet he shall come by that you may be there ready to carry Is clothes to prevent suspicion And to take him strait where you think fit dear friend will be so good As to Answer this As soon As possible you can if it is not trobling you to mutch—

I have some very unpleasant news to tel you whe sent a peticion up to government to save the lives of these unfortunate men that sufferd this day at Leister And whe sent it by gravener henson and Wm. Robinson And when they got there they seised gravener And put Im in the towr for I treason And told him that he had saved them troble of fetching Im so how he will get on we cannot say they gave Robinson Is answer that must have its cours but whe expect the pardon for the rest after a little time is past the men that suffer is Joshua Mitchel old crowder John Amos Thos savage Rodney Towle and william whithers slater Little Sam the desarter that worked with barton & another Basford Lad is transported for life the other 6 poor Lads suffer this day at twelve whe understand, be so good As troble Mr. C. this time And send word by return of Post And that will satisfy All trade is better here then it As been but they have begun to late And to tel us that ned Is at Leister now And they can do As they like Mr. & Mrs. henson and all give their respects to you & are all well direct as before

I remain your well wishing
friend

J. Anderson

Nott.
April 16. 1817

James Hobson 'The Last Luddite Executions, April 17th 1817'

Luddites destroyed machines in the Midlands in the period 1811-1816. These machines were destroying skilled jobs and emboldening the master manufacturers to treat their workers with contempt. The Luddites may have been wrong in their belief that they could hold back technological change, but they were organised and principled people who were trying to use their view of the world to bring back social justice. “Luddite” is used here as a badge of honour rather than a term of abuse.

The Luddite violence in Loughborough, Leicestershire was seen by the hostile press of the time as the worst outbreak of machine breaking since March 1811. It was in many ways an unusual example of machine breaking. The perpetrators were not local; this was the first time serious Luddism visited Loughborough; and there was not much love lost for the manufacturers who were the victim of violent protest either.

The lace factory of Heathcote (sometimes “Heathcoat”) and Boden was the target; and there may not have been a less popular pair of businessmen in Loughborough.  John Heathcote and John Boden were no ordinary textile entrepreneurs. Heathcote had invented and patented new technology that reproduced the work of skilled people making   good quality pillow lace at the fraction of the price; earlier Luddites attacks on lace making machines had been on Heathcote’s franchised machines. He was notorious as an exploiter of workers and fellow manufacturers, and his factory in Mill Street (where Loughborough Iceland) now stands, was an obvious target for Luddite resentment.

He employed six guards to protect his factory, but on the early morning of June 28th, they did not prove to be enough. About 30 people organised an attack in the early morning on June 28th. It was a well organised attacked, with men armed with blunderbusses, ramrods, and a detailed knowledge of the layout of the factory. How well organised was impossible to work out; it served the purposes of the hostile press to imply that it was a quasi-military organisation, with a captain on a horse with attackers having their own number; as it turned out most of the men called each other “Ned”

Heathcote and Boden were not popular locally. Heathcote and Boden had already reduced wages  of its 400 employees  in January and survived the subsequent strike (“general turn out”) but starvation and lack of alternatives had forced most to work; some previous workers were “ not accorded that privilege”, according to the loyalist Stamford Mercury. The owners had clearly blacklisted those deemed trouble-makers.

The Luddites attacked the machines because they were convinced that the bosses  had unfairly altered the relationship between masters and men  by exploiting the new technology to reduce wages, although it may be that the company’s reason for reducing wages was the loss of revenue from  other manufacturers stealing their technology. The company, being hated by both capital and labour, were making plans to leave Loughborough even before the attack, having annoyed both lace masters and lace makers. It may have been that the master lace makers even encouraged the attack.

John Asher and two others were guarding the entrance to Heathcote and Boden. John was the first to the pistol and fired at “Ned’s Band” and one of them replied with a blunderbuss and shot Asher in the back of the head; all three guards were disarmed and guarded as the majority pushed their way through to the factory. Five other men were forced to lay prostrate on the floor as 53 lace knitting machine were destroyed to the replacement cost of over £8000 pounds. The whole event took no more than 45 minutes.

The attackers taunted the guards that were lying helplessly on the floor.

Now men, if you can tell us of any machines that are working under price, if it be one hundred or two off, we will   go and break them......

All’s well, Ned Ludd, do your duty well, it’s a Waterloo job by g-d !

The serious nature of this outbreak could be judged by the response. The local constables patrolled the streets and ordered locals not to extinguish their lights to help the Luddites escape; homes were raided and pubs were closed at 9pm; the town crier passed news of the attack and the reward given of £500. Panicking government often offered outlandish rewards for information about the ringleaders during this period. It was by this mixture of law, violence, and bribery that the state operated against the anger of the lower orders.

Another weapon of the establishment was the informer, in this case Jack Blackburn, who turned King’s evidence at the trial of William Towle and the others. Blackburn gave evidence against him at the trial. “Bill” Towle was one of the Ned’s band. According to Blackburn, Bill was armed with an axe or hatchet, mostly for the destruction of the machines, but also available to threaten those guarding the machines. When a dog barked on the entrance to the factory, Bill tried to chop it down but is eventually shot by Jem Towle, William’s brother, who had already been executed for his part in the violence in 1816. Bill was there when John Asher was shot, and was deemed complicit in his injury. John Asher took a few months to recover and was never in danger of dying. The real crime was the organised assault on property- if John has been shot in a pub brawl it would have resulted in a two year sentence at a local House of Correction.

William and the other Luddites, Thomas Savage, William Withers, Joshua Mitchell, John Crowder, and John Amos, were executed at the Leicester County Bridewell on April 17th. The initial expectation was that the execution would take place on the Monday previously, but the crowd was still about 15,000, with dragoons clearly in place to deter any crowd reaction.   They were accompanied by a whole bevy of clerics who all wanted the men to be launched into eternity in with the conventional amount of dejection, admissions of guilt and calls for the undeserved mercy of the redeemer. The Luddites did moderately well; they Luddites appeared very cheerful, but were singing   hymns most of the way as they passed along. They mostly accepted the exhortation to look to heaven; but they were not going to admit their guilt. They carried oranges, as many condemned people on the scaffold, and threw them out to people they recognised, telling them to save them for their children.

Towle did not speak; William Savage said the most; all of the men died with dignity, but Towle wavered a little, according to a later report in the Leicester Chronicle.

“Towle, a fresh looking youth, betrayed no symptoms of agitation, until towards the close of the tragic scene, when, on the cap being pulled over his face, he evidently seemed much affected”.

Mr Musson, the executioner, used the New Drop system of hanging- a long rope rather than slow strangulation. All the other Luddites were buried locally; William Towle’s body was returned to his wife and child in Chilwell.

Heathcote and Boden prospered.  John Heathcote moved his whole enterprise to Tiverton, Devon and took 200 of his Leicestershire workers with him. Legend has it that he went on his horse and his workers walked. They were employing 1500 people by 1822 and members of the two families prospered into the twentieth century.  Heathcote died a rich man in 1861.

After the last executions, the establishment newspapers were triumphant and - literally - of one voice.

“The System of   Luddism , which has been so long carried on to the terror of the Nottinghamshire and the neighbourhood ,is expected to be finally checked by the imprisonment  of the principal offenders”

Stamford Mercury, 21st February 1817
Leeds Mercury, 1st March 1817
Lancaster Gazette, 8th March 1817

A compliant press is not a new phenomenon!

James Hobson
Twitter - @about1816
Facebook - The Dark Days of Georgian Britain
Book - The Dark Days of Georgian Britain-Rethinking the Regency - out in October 2017

17th April 1817: The Mayor of Leicester reports the Luddite executions to the Home Office

Leicester 2 oClo Thursday
April 17 1817

Dear Sir

I have the satisfaction to acquaint you that the Execution of the six Luddites here has taken place this morning, in the midst of an immense concourse of People, but without the slightest symptoms of disturbance [illegible] or any expressions of disapprobation of their Punishment amongst the multitude—I attended on horseback for the purpose of observing any manifestation of the public feeling—but nothing met my ear except a Regret that so many fine men in the prime of Life, should by their Crimes have exposed themselves to its forfeiture—

The men appeared resigned tho’ very firm but I understand from one of the magistrates who accompanied the Sheriff on the Scaffold—that had it not been for the very judicious conduct of the Sheriff two of the men had proposed to make very inflammatory addresses to the People; but by his persuasion they were prevented—one of them did say to the People "that they all died for a crime of which they were not Guilty"—& it is remarkable that this Scoundrel (Amos) was the very man whom many Gentlemen thought so well of us to feel anxious for his reprieve—

I confess I have not been troubled with these feelings towards them—& if I had they by their conduct today appeared to me so unconcerned that I should have felt satisfied they did not deserve them—

Savage & Towle were the most impassioned with their situation & all the rest as well as Babington who was executed with them for Arson shewed much more indifference than at all became their situation—So that I trust the destruction of Luddism is affected [although] the loss of any persons much to be lamented—I learn from Mr Mundy that he has the names of a few desperate characters who have been implicated in some of the late outrages: therefore I perfectly agree in the propriety of the delay which your superior judgement has suggested, as to any offer of amnesty—Croft who had been sentenced to suffer for Highway Robbery, but who has since recd from the Judge a respite—communicated some particulars of a very desperate Robbery committed in this County some time back to Mr Mundy & myself yesterday—& tho’ he have not the power of giving any information of the proceeding of the Luddites or Hampdenites [&c]—We hope to lay hold of some desperate characters through heat his means—He is so open & so desirous to make all amends in his power for his part Guilt, that I sincerely hope his Life will be spared—and if you should have reason to think there are Doubts as to this I begged the favor of your information, that Mr Mundy & myself may exert ourselves as far as we can to save him—

I remain [etc]

Jno Mansfield

[To] John Beckett Esqr &c &c

17th April 1817: The Loughborough Job Luddites' hymn - 'How sad our state by nature is!'



How sad our state by nature is!
Our sin, how deep it stains!
And SATAN binds our captive minds
Fast in his slavish chains.

But there’s a voice of Sovereign Grace
Sounds from the sacred word;
Ho! ye despairing sinners come,
And trust upon the Lord.

O may we hear th’ Almighty call,
And run to this relief!
We would believe thy promise Lord;
O help our unbelief!

To the blest fountain of thy blood,
Teach us, O Lord, to fly!
There may we wash our spotted souls
From sins of deepest dye!

Stretch out thine arm, victorious King,
Our reigning sins subdue;
Drive the old dragon from this seat,
And form our souls anew.

Poor, guilty, weak, and helpless worms,
On thy kind arm we fall;
Be thou our strength our righteousness,
Our JESUS and our all!

According to accounts in both the Nottingham Review and Leicester Chronicle , John Amos led his comrades in the singing of the hymn 'How sad our state by nature is!' prior to their execution on Thursday 17th April 1817. The hymn is by the nonconformist Isaac Watts. It is notable that the version sung by the Luddites differs from the most common versions available.

17th April 1817: The final Luddite executions at Leicester - John Amos, John Crowther, Joshua Mitchell, Thomas Savage, William Towle & William Withers are hanged



On Thursday 17th April 1817, the final executions of Luddites took place at Leicester. There was coverage in various local newspapers but, unusually, the coverage in the Nottingham Review was short & muted. Although we have displayed their article below, we have placed the article in the Leicester Chronicle first, as it is much more comprehensive:

The Leicester Chronicle Saturday 19th April 1817:
EXECUTION 
OF 
Thomas Savage, Joshua Mitchell, John Amos, Wm. Towle, John Crowder and Wm. Withers, for entering Messrs. Heathcote and Co’s factory, at Loughborough, and aiding and abetting the shooting at John Asher; Thomas Babington, for setting fire to a stack of oats belonging to Mr. John Moore, of Newbold Verdon. 
About half past five o'clock on Thursday morning, the above unfortunate men were removed from the County Gaol in a covered cart, escorted by a squadron of Hussars, to the New Bridewell, adjoining the Infirmary, where they immediately proceeded to prayer and continued very devoutly engaged the greater part of the morning. About twelve o'clock, they made their appearance on the platform, chained together by the wrist. Savage was placed first; Mitchell, second; Amos, third; Towle, fourth; Crowder, fifth; Withers, sixth; and Babington, seventh. 
After bowing to the vast numbers of persons assembled, Savage shortly addressed them as follows:— 
"My dear Brethren, I am now addressing you as a criminal. I shall not say a great deal. I hope you will take warning by all by our untimely fate, and not regard Man, but God. I feel confident of meeting my saviour hereafter and hope to be forgiven. I did intend to say more, but I have since declined the idea. In behalf of myself and fellow sufferers, I beg to return thanks to Mr. Vaughan & Mr. Hayton, for the attention they have shewn to us.—Farewell!" 
Amos addressed the spectators—"Friends and Fellow-Countrymen—You now see six young men going to suffer for a crime they are not guilty of, (alluding, we presume, to the firing at Asher) for the man who committed the crime will soon be at large. I would have you take warning by our fate, and be careful what company you keep. Farewell!" 
Babington said, "Gentlemen—I am as innocent as God is true, and [looking up,] God will witness it.—Farewell!" 
Mitchell wished to read a paper, but was not permitted. Amos then invited the crowd to join them in singing the following Hymn, which he gave out, two lines at a time, in a most audible and distinct manner, and was joined therein by Savage, Mitchel, Towle, &c. with equally firm voices. 
HYMN. 
How sad our state by nature is!
Our sin, how deep it stains!
And SATAN binds our captive minds
Fast in his slavish chains. 
But there’s a voice of Sovereign Grace
Sounds from the sacred word;
Ho! ye despairing sinners come,
And trust upon the Lord. 
O may we hear th’ Almighty call,
And run to this relief!
We would believe thy promise Lord;
O help our unbelief! 
To the blest fountain of thy blood,
Teach us, O Lord, to fly!
There may we wash our spotted souls
From sins of deepest dye! 
Stretch out thine arm, victorious King,
Our reigning sins subdue;
Drive the old dragon from this seat,
And form our souls anew. 
Poor, guilty, weak, and helpless worms,
On thy kind arm we fall;
Be thou our strength our righteousness,
Our JESUS and our all! 
The last short offices of devotion being concluded, Mr. Musson and the Executioner proceeded to adjust the ropes about the culprits’ necks, during which the prisoners shook hands with each other, and bade a last farewell to several of their friends whom they recognized before them, throwing to each some oranges, with a request that they might be given to their children, &c. 
Having shook hands with the High Sheriff, Clergyman, the Jaoler, &c. one of the unfortunate men (Amos) at about half past twelve, gave a signal by stamping his foot, when the fatal board fell and they were launched into eternity without much struggling, with the exception of Mitchell, who appeared strongly convulsed for several minutes. 
Almost throughout the whole of the awful ceremony they conducted themselves with a degree of firmness seldom witnessed on such a melancholy occasion. Though not insensible to religious impression, they appeared to await their approaching end with a composure we scarcely know how to express. Savage, who was a fine, tall, well-dressed, sensible looking man, appeared to be offering up his prayers with great earnestness when he was tied up. Mitchell, a well-made, bold-looking, well-dressed man, did not appear quite so devout. He assisted in adjusting Savage’s rope, as well as his own, with an unexampled coolness, worthy of a better fate. Amos, a tall, strong, decently dressed man, witnessed his fate with a smile upon his countenance, and seemed to be a man possessing great strength of mind. Towle, a fresh looking youth, betrayed no symptoms of agitation, until towards the close of the tragic scene, when, on the cap being pulled over his face, he evidently seemed much affected. Crowder also seemed much agitated towards the last, as did Withers a little, which he evinced by a restlessness in standing. 
It is to be hoped that the dreadful example now made, here and at Nottingham, will operate in putting an end to a system which has caused so much terror and alarm in this and a neighbouring county, and that Justice will now be satisfied. For ourselves, we are of opinion, with a celebrated writer, that "It is not the intenseness of the pain that has the greatest effect on the mind, but its continuance; for our sensibility is more easily and more powerfully affected by weak but repeated impressions, than by a violent, but momentary, impulse;" and consider we that "the death of a criminal is a terrible but momentary spectacle, and therefore a less efficacious method of deterring others, than the continued example of a man deprived of his liberty, condemned, as a beast of burthen, to repair, by his labour, the injury done to society. If I commit such a crime, says the spectator to himself, I shall be reduced to that miserable condition for the rest of my life. A much more powerful preventative than the fear of death, which men always behold in distant obscurity." 
A troop of Huzzars were in attendance on the above occasion, and we understand the Yeomanry Cavalry were also in readiness in case any attempt to rescue or disorder should have been made.—happily, however, the whole passed over without any interruption, the unfortunate malefactors having experienced every accommodation which the humanity of the High Sheriff and the Gaoler, was capable of affording under such circumstances. 
The execution being generally understood to take place on Monday, thousands of persons from all parts of this and adjoining counties thronged the town on that day. The postponement of the execution, it seems, was in consequence of the County Sessions commencing the early part of the week. It is computed not less than 15,000 persons were present on Thursday.
The Nottingham Review of Friday 18th April 1817:
LEICESTER, April 17, 1817.—"This morning about six o'clock, the six Luddites under sentence of condemnation, viz. Thomas Savage, William Withers, Joshua Mitchell, William Towle, John Crowder, and John Amos, together with Thomas Beavington, (for Arson) were removed, under an escort of dragoons, from the County Gaol, to the County Bridewell, preparatory to their being executed on the new drop. The Luddites appeared very cheerful, singing hymns most of the way as they passed along. Beavington seemed very dejected. In the course of the morning a greater concourse of people assembled than was ever known in this town, supposed at least, twenty thousand, to witness the melancholy spectacle. At about half past eleven o’clock, they all came on the platform, accompanied by Rev. Mr. Highton, Chaplain to the Gaol, Rev. Mr. Mitchell, Rev. Mr. Vaughan, &c. After attending the exhortations and prayers on the occasion, which they did with becoming behaviour, Savidge thanked the Ministers, &c. for their kindness and attention, on behalf of himself and fellow sufferers, and particularly for pointing out to them the way to heaven; he said he had intended to have addressed the multitude, but the time being too far gone, he should say very little; he declared their innocence as to the shooting at Asher. Amos said a few words and declared the same—Mitchell also said a few words.—Beavington declared his innocence, calling God to witness, and with his eyes lifted to heaven, said he did not set fire to the stacks. After these declarations, Amos with a firm voice, said he would now give out a hymn, desiring the people to join in singing the same, which was very readily complied with by many. The hymn was Dr. Watts, 90th hymn, 2d book, which begins, 
"How sad our state by nature is,
Our sin how deep it stains;
And Satan binds our captive minds,
Fast in his slavish chains." 
"They all joined and sang the hymn, apparently without faltering; after which at about a quarter past twelve o'clock, the signal being given, the platform fell, and they were launched into eternity;—during the time they were on the platform, they recognised several of their friends, and threw oranges to them, desiring to be remembered to their friends in Nottingham. 
“Every thing was very peaceable—the dragoons attended the platform."
Finally, the Leicester Journal of Friday 18th April 1817:
Expectation was on tiptoe, and curiosity afloat throughout the County and its vicinity, on Monday last, from his supposition that seven of the Malefactors (convicted at the last Assizes) would be executed on that day, an immense influx of people poured in from all quarters, in consequence, during the morning, (many of them from a considerable distance.)—but came to be disappointed. The Sessions for the County taking place in the early part of the week, their execution was postponed until yesterday. At six o'clock in the morning, Thomas Savage, William Withers, William Towle, John Amos, John Crowther, and Joshua Mitchell, LUDDITES, together with Thomas Beavington, for wilfully setting fire to a stack of oats, were removed from the County Gaol, under a military escort, to the New Bridewell, near the Infirmary.—The High Sheriff attended at seven o'clock, to see that the Prisoners had every accommodation consistent with their situation.—The LUDDITES were deeply impressed with the approach of the awful moment, and were very attentive to their devotion, in which they were assisted by the Chaplain, Mr. Hayton, together with the Rev. Mr. Vaughan and Mitchell. Savage acknowledged the justice of his sentence; and expressed himself grateful for the religious instruction he had received from the Rev. Messrs. Hayton, Vaughan, and Mitchell. At half past eleven they appeared upon the scaffold—after bowing to the populace—Savage addressed the multitude, cautioning them against inattention to religion, and neglect of the Sabbath, to which he attributed his own [illegible]. Mitchell was desirous of reading a paper, which was not permitted. Amos told the people, that he and his companions suffered for a crime which they never committed, (alluding to the firing at Asher,) but they all acknowledged to have been at Loughborough, and engaged in the business as proved on the trial. They all then sung an hymn, and were shortly after launched into eternity.—Their deportment to the last, although apparently repentant, savored strongly of hardy indifference.—The immense number present (at least ten thousand) behaved with great decorum, and dispersed perfectly quiet; too much praise cannot be given to the Civil Power, for the judicious arrangements adopted.

17th April 1817: Charles Mundy sends Thomas Savage's statement to Lord Sidmouth

Burton April 17th. 1817.
near Loughborough

My Lord

I have the Honour to enclose for your Lordships information the statement made to me by Thomas Savage who is this morning to be executed at Leicester I saw this unhappy man yesterday when he inform’d me he had nothing to add to what he had before stated to me. William Towle persists in stating that a man of the name of Lee now under sentence of transportation from the last assizes at Nottingham is innocent of the crime of which he has been convicted. namely a most outrageous robbery in a Booth on a Cricket ground near Nottingham William Towle declares he was there himself but that Lee who had been drinking with the party before they set out to commit the crime & who was with them next morning when they were spending part of the Booty was not at the Robbery and that he was not privy to it in any way either before or after.—I mentioned this circumstance to Mr. Baron Richards at Warwick who had not then time to refer to his notes of the trial.  but said as far as he could recollect that the evidence was very clear.—not knowing how to direct to Mr. Baron Richards I take this opportunity of mentioning that from every enquiry into the former conduct of James Crofts whom Mr. Baron Richards has respited from death having been convicted of a Highway robbery it appears that though Crofts has without doubt been concernd in robberies yet that he has never been guilty of violence & there is instance on record in the Police Book at Nottingham of his having dissuaded his associates from carrying pistols.—This man seems inclin’d to give some information that may prove important respecting a Burglary accompanied with great violence that took place at a farm House near Loughborough last summer. He was concernd in it but has heard those that were talk of it—I beg to know your Lordships intentions wether the whole of the prejudiced witnesses who appeared at the Leicestershire assizes last August on behalf of James Towle and Slater should be prosecuted or only those of the most notorious character. The expence of this prosecution I presume is to be carried on by the County but I shall hope for your Lordships Commands on this Head & also whether as it is a prosecution growing out of the former ones the same attorney should be concerned

I have [etc]

C. G. Mundy

[To: Lord Sidmouth]

17th April 1817: Awaiting his execution, the Luddite, John Crowther, writes to his wife

New Bridewell, Leicester, 8 o'clock, on the morning of our execution.

O my dearest and best of Wives,

When you receive this, I shall be no more in this world. But I die happy, in the hope of a blessed Saviour. O what a comfortable thing it is to serve the Lord. I still think my sentence very cruel and unjust, I may say murderous, for Blackborne owned upon the trial he was the man that shot Asher, for which we suffer for aiding and abetting. I was never in the factory at all; I was an outside sentinel, forty or fifty yards from the factory at the time Asher was shot, therefore I could not be assisting in the shooting of Asher, for I did not know he was shot until we had got several miles from Loughborough, on our return home. Blackborne and Burton swore that all the outside sentinels had pistols, which was false, for I had none until it was nearly over, and that which I had then was not loaded, for I threw stones at first.

My dearest wife, I most earnestly wish I had taken your advice, I should not have come to this end. I feel quite calm and in good spirits. O trust in the Lord, for he can strengthen us in the time of trouble: O trust in a blessed Saviour, for he will give us rest. I could wish for John Rawson, John Roberts, and John Roper, to be my bearers; dear wife, choose the other three thyself.

Pray remember my love to my mother and relations; remember my respects to my neighbours, shopmates, and all inquiring friends. For ever adieu! Adieu! I hope, dear wife, to meet you and my dear children and mother in heaven.

JOHN CROWDER.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

16th April 1817: "The Last Gift of John Amos, to his Dear Children"

The Luddite John Amos, awaiting sentence of death the following day at Leicester, allegedly wrote this poem to his children into the Bible he had received from the Reverend Mitchell of Leicester, prior to his execution:
THE LAST GIFT OF JOHN AMOS,
TO HIS DEAR CHILDREN.
Oh! my dear children, when this you see,
Pray serve your God, and think on me!
I'm torn from you, to an untimely end,
But on the Lord I do depend!
To serve him truly is my delight,
And to find mercy, in his sight.
I hope, dear children, you will do the same, 
And when you read this, think of his name,
And serve him truly in his sight,
He is our Saviour and delight;
I hope in heaven to meet you there,
Then death’s alarms we need not fear.
Farewel, vain world, I have done with you;
I have a better world in view!
To meet my Saviour, Christ our Lord,
Who better joys can me afford!

16th April 1817: The GPO Surveyor, Gratian Hart, forwards the letter from John Blackburn to William Burton, to his superior

Nottingham 16 April 1817

Dear Sir

Among the letters from Leicester this Afternoon, was one, directed Mr. William Burton, Lambley, near Nottingham; the man's name, & the Village, are both of notoriety, & accordingly I have copied the Contents: I have no one at this moment to communicate with, Mr. Alsop being absent, nor is there in this Case an immediate necessity.

Blackburn was admitted Evidence—one expression in his letter requires explanation, before he regains his liberty: "My Master is settled with me for the Frames"—now it strikes me, Mr. Blackburn has received his remuneration for his work of Iniquity, breaking the Frames from his Master, who is the person just now exactly wanted.—If it strikes you in the same point of view, you will of course acquaint the Secretary of State.—

I am [etc]
(signed) Gratian Hart

[To] F. Freeling Esq
&c &c &c

16th April 1817: Charles Mundy informs the Home Secretary of the preparations for the executions the following day

Leicester April 16 1817

My Lord

I have the Honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordships letter of the fourteenth & to say that although I did myself the Honour of calling at your Lordships Office on Tuesday last I thought the day of the week might probably have caught your Lordships recollection. I shall have the Honour by tomorrows post to transmit to your Lordship the statement of Savage of the substance of which I made your Lordship acquainted on Saturday last. I perfectly coincide in your Lordships opinion that painful as it is a striking example must, for the public good, be made of the unfortunate men now under sentence of death here. but I thought it my duty to make your Lordship acquainted with every circumstance respecting them that came to my knowledge, which occasioned my letter respecting Amos.—I arrived here last night Nottingham & am informed by the High Sheriff that the execution will certainly take place tomorrow.—a vast crowd was assembled here on monday in expectation of the execution being about to take place. they even climbed on the Tops of the Houses near to the Gaol & on the walls of part of the prison itself, & calld to the condemned men. Two Troops of the 15th Lt. Dragns who are quartered here are to attend the execution and & transmit the unhappy men from the old Gaol to the new House of Correction where the drop is erected—& two Troops of the yeomanry Cavalry are to be in the environs of that part of the Town.—

Mr. Allsopp communicated to me at Nottingham the contents of a letter he had receivd from your Lordship. it seems to me to be advisable that in making selections for any future prosecutions attention should be paid to how far deeply the persons implicated may be supposed to be connected either in the Ludding or Political conspiracies.—I have communicated my ideas on the subject to Mr. Rolleston & also, on the former subject, to Mr. Enfield whom I know Mr. Rolleston will confer with.—

I had the pleasure of an interview yesterday at Nottingham with Mr. Hooley & Mr. Smith and am particularly glad to be in communication with two Gentlemen who seem to be so well dispos’d. I find Mr. Hooley purposes writing on your Lordship shortly I have the Honour to remain My Lord

your Lordships most Obedient very Humble Servant

C.G. Mundy

[To] The Right Honourable The Secretary of State
for the Home Department.

Friday, 14 April 2017

14th April 1817: Louis Allsopp updates the Home Office on the mood in Nottinghamshire

Nottingham
14 April 1817.

My Lord.

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordships letters this Afternoon.—

Your Lordship will have received a Copy of the Letter I procured respecting Henson's reception by Mr Smith, which I obtained from the man to whom it is it was addressed

Mr Mundy returned by the Mail, I expected he would have slept at my house, but he went on with Mr Rollestone, & as I must go into Warwickshire in the morning for a few days I shall not be able to see him to my return, but I will forward your Lordships letter to him tomorrow—

Henson's Apprehension has caused great alarm; no Information has been obtained thereon at the Post Office at present; Mr Hart, the Surveyor, informed me that the Letters coming into the Office here shew that there is great Consternation, at the intended Execution—

Lord Middleton made a foolish Speech at Mansfield on Wednesday at the Meeting to address The Regent, reflecting on the Conduct of the Hosiers to their Men; stating it as coming from Savage; this is given umbridge to the Hosiers, & they are to have a private meeting tomorrow; I hope the matter will drop, the business will do harm, & these sort of observations lead to encourage the Luddites—

I shall hope to see Mr Mundy very shortly after my return the latter end of the Week

I have [etc]

L Allsopp

Mr Hooley will be in London on Saturday, if your Lordship wishes to see him, will do himself the Honor of waiting upon you any day after 3 oClock he is detained at the India House in the Morning—

[To] The Right Honorable Lrd Visct. Sidmouth—

Thursday, 13 April 2017

13th April 1817: The GPO Surveyor, Gratian Hart, reports that news of Gravenor Henson's arrest has not brought any reaction

Nottingham
April 13. 1817

Dear Sir

Mr Allsop had prepared me for the arrest of Grosvenor Henson in Town, when, we expected, the intelligence of this event, would be communicated by the first Posts, to Manchester and other Places: I have attended the Office at Night, and perceive nothing like any political or rather, Seditious communication: I shall continue on the Alert.

I am [etc]

Gratian Hart

[To] Francis Freeling Esqr.
&c &c &c