Thursday, 31 July 2014

31st July 1814: The Nottingham solicitor, Louis Allsop, updates the Home Office on local framebreaking

31st July 1814

Dr Sir

I have taken the opportunity of having some Conversation with Mr Coldham on the subject of the degree of Punishment inflicted by the Magistrates on the two men convicted of the unlawful Combination; he informs me that he appeared before the Magistrates in the [purpose] of situation of Prosecution as Secretary to the Association of the Hosiers, that upon this subject he had no Communication with the Magistrates, & that he was much disappointed at the punishment—as far as I could make out there was some Communication between the Magistrates & the parties implicated & the former proceeded upon a mistaken hope that lenity might be productive of good; the proceedings of last Tuesday Night (of which I concluded You have been fully informed) must have satisfied these Gentlemen of their Error. Coldham says the Committee effect to be taken up, the Conduct of the deluded men on Tuesday night was much daring & atrocious.

I have the Honor to be
Dr Sir
Yr most obdt
L Allsopp.

[To] John Beckett Esq

Monday, 28 July 2014

28th July 1814: Percy Bysshe Shelley & Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin elope to Europe

After a developing and all-enveloping love affair that had lasted from the day they met in May, Percy Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin decided to elope to Europe in the early hours of Thursday 28th July 1814, accompanied by Mary's half-sister, Claire Clairmont. The entry below is from Shelley's journal: 

The night preceding this morning, all being decided - I ordered a chaise to be ready by 4 o'clock. I watched until the lightning & the stars became pale. A length it was 4. I believed it not possible that we should succeed: still there appeared to lurk some danger even in certainty. I went. I saw her. She came to me. Yet one quarter of an hour remained. Still some arrangements must be made, & she left me for a short time. How dreadful did this time appear. It seemed that we trifled with life & hope. A few minutes past she was in my arms - we were safe. we were on our road to Dover.

Mary was ill as we travelled. Yet in that illness what pleasure & security did we not share! The heat made her faint it was necessary at every stage that she should repose. I was divided between anxiety for her health & terror lest our pursuers should arrive. I reproached myself with not allowing her sufficient time to rest, with concieving any evil so great that the slightest portion of her comfort might be sacrifized to avoid it.

At Dartford we took four horses that we might outstrip pursuit. We arrived at Dove[r] before 4 o'clock. Some time was necessarily exp[ended] in consideration, in dinner - in bargaining with sailors & customs house officers. At length we engaged a small boat to convey us to Calais. It was ready by six o clock.

The evening was most beautiful. The sand slowly receded. we felt secure. There was little wind - the sails flapped in the flagging breeze. The moon rose, the night came on, & with the night a slow heavy swell and a fresher breeze which soon became so violent as to toss the boat very much .... Mary was much affected by the sea. She could scarcely move. She lay in my arms thro the night, the little strength which remained in my own exhausted frame was all expended in keeping her head in rest on my bosom. The wind was violent & contrary. If we could not reach Calais the sailors proposed making for Boulogne. They promised only two hours sail from the shore, yet hour after hour past & we were still far distant when the moon sunk in the red & stormy horizon, & the fast flashing lightning became pale in the breaking day.

We were proceeding slowly against the wind when suddenly a thunder squall struck the sail & the waves rushed into the boat. Even the sailors perceived that our situation was perilous, they succeeded [in] reefing the sail,―the wind had now changed & [w]e drove before a wind that came in violent [g]usts directly to Calais.

Mary did not know our danger. She was resting on between my knees that were unable to support her. She did not speak or look. But I felt that she was there. I had time in that moment to reflect & even to reason upon death. It was a thing of discomfort & of disappointment than [?terror] to me. We could never be separated, but in death we might not know & feel our union as now. I hope ― but my hopes are not unmixed with fear for what will befall this inestimable spirit when we appear to die.

The morning broke, the lightning died away, the violence of the wind abated. We arrived at Calais whilst Mary still slept. We drove upon the sands. Suddenly the broad sun rose over France.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

27th July 1814: 7 frames broken at 3 locations in Nottinghamshire

In the early hours of Wednesday 27th July 1814, Luddites launched 3 raids across Nottinghamshire.

Four frames, the property of the well-known Hosier Thomas Hayne, were kept in the workshop of a framework-knitter called Hooton in Sneinton. The Luddites had arrived at 12.30 a.m., alerting Hooton and his wife to their presence when they opened the garden gate. Looking out of the bedroom window, they observed at least 12 men advancing to the house and cried out 'for god's sake, what do you mean to do?' - the response of the Luddites was a familiar one - the Hootons were ordered to go back inside or their brains would be blown out. The Hootons obeyed, but began to loudly cry out 'Murder!'. The Luddites followed this up by firing a shot and throwing a large stone at the bedroom which made the Hootons flee to another room.

In the meantime, the raiding party of Luddites had tried to gain entry to the house, but were met with great difficulty owing to shutters and iron stanchions in front of the windows. The raiders even tried to break down the wall, but eventually gained access by breaking down door. Their rage was by this time so great that they injured a pig kept in the back yard and tried to cut down Hooton's apple tree.

The Hootons were not left alone: their shouting and having locked themselves in a bedroom further enraged the Luddites, who broke the door open and threatened them to sit still and quietly on the bed. Below, every component of the 4 knitting frames were comprehensively damaged and destroyed, and four globe lamps were smashed over the frames, with the aqua fortis (nitric acid) they contained further damaging the remnants. The damage was later estimated at £100.

The Luddites also affected a robbery: £20 of lace was taken away, as well as 2 other machines worth £14, and other property.

The same group of Luddites then proceeded to New Sneinton, and the home of a Mr Cooper. There, a brand-new and unused wide-frame - the property of Messrs Holmes, Edenborough & Co - was broken. The value of this frame was estimated at £120.

Later, the Luddites paid a visit to the home of a Mr Kelsall who lived on Trumpet Street in Nottingham. Two point net frames - one the property of Messrs Cartwright, the other belonging to a Mr Harvey - were destroyed.

By 2.30 a.m., the raids were over and the frame-breaking was complete.

Three rewards of £100 each were later offered for information.

Friday, 11 July 2014

11th July 1814: George Coldham sends the FWK Union's seized papers to the Home Office

Nottingham 11th July 1814

Dear Sir,

I herewith send you for Lord Sidmouth’s Information a short memorandum or Note of the Contents of such of the Papers as have appeared upon our Inspection of them most material in Developing the nature & Extent of the late Operation of the Combination as applied to the Turning out & [support] [in] the Hands of Messrs Geo & John Ray in striking upon a Demand for an advance of Price which the very Members of the Combination now admit in all its Bearings have been exhorbitant. I also sent for Lord Sidmouth’s Inspection an Account of the Funds of the Society extracted from their Books during the Existence of the application of their [means] to the purpose above stated. The [main] press of the Exchequer has been [borrowing] [money] for the purpose of being applied to Manufacturing & by this means they have produced a great many Silk Hose which are now sent to London to be sold. When I wrote first you about these Papers I had considerable Doubts about the legality of the Seizure. I [ascertained] more [still] as to the probability of our Detaining them or rather our being enabled legally to do so beyond the Sessions I had therefore entertained a strong Opinion that it was necessary they should have been sent to Lord Sidmouth previous to the Sessions.

Those Doubts are now Dissipated by the Opinion of Mr. Balguy whom I have had an opportunity of consulting & who seems clearly to consider the Magistrates as justified in what they have done by the Contents of the Papers as upon the [same] Ground justified in retaining them after the Sessions. for ulterior operations against these Men. I Do not mean to Detract from the merits of the Secret Committee but I think it only justice to the Magistrates to state that the first Information upon which we could stand was derived from the Skill with which [they] examined Joseph Brookhouse one of Mr. Ray’s Hands (in [consequence] indeed of information given there by the secret Committee) & if the manner in which they Directed the Execution of the Warrant for the apprehension of the Committee

I am Dear Sir
Your’s very Obediently
Geo Coldham

[To John Beckett]

Monday, 7 July 2014

7th July 1814: George Coldham updates the Home Office on the conviction of the FWK Union officers

Nottm 7th July 1814.

Dear Sir,

In consequence of the hurry occasioned to me personally by many circumstances connected with Conviction of George Gibson & Thomas Judd two of the Committee of the existing Combination amongst the Frameworknitters I was not enabled to write to you yesterday to inform you of their Conviction. On Tuesday Evening late the Magistrates heard their Cases the third Person implicated in these Charges Samuel Simpson not having been apprehended & they convicted them both upon the Evidence of William Robinson the Warehouseman of Messrs Ray & Joseph Brookhouse Frameworknitter working for Mr Ray who had been employed by the Committee in collecting for receiving Money of the said Joseph Brookhouse for these illegal Purposes. As this was the first Prosecution under the Combination Act it was not thought politic to push the Conviction up to the full Extent the Law would have warranted either on the part of the Prosecution or the Magistrates & they were accordingly sentenced to 1 months Imprisonment to hard Labour. in the House of Correction. The papers are undergoing Examination & the Committee to whom I am Secretary would be glad to know whether Government or Lord Sidmouth would wish to see the originals in short have any Opinion to express respecting the Disposal of them. I do not think we have all the Papers belonging to this Society but what we have will enable a pretty good Guess to be formed of the Extent of their present Funds.

I hope a great Deal of good has been Done altho’ the Combination does not yet seem prepared to dissolve itself.

I am dear Sir

Yours very truly
Geo Coldham

[To John Beckett]

Saturday, 5 July 2014

5th July 1814: The Town Clerk of Nottingham informs the Home Office about the arrest of FWK Union officers and seizure of books

Nottm 5th July 1814.

Dear Sir,

I have the pleasure to inform you that for the Honour of the Police of this Town the Magistrates Mr Alderman Ashwell & Mr Alderman Coldham by their Warrants apprehended two of the Committee in their general weekly Night of Assembling & brought away all their Books & Papers which from the hasty looking at them we have yet been enabled to give contain the Accounts from 1812 the origin of the Union Society to the present moment but of this I cannot yet speak with any Confidence—Two of the Committee Tom Judd & George Gibson have been committed to Prison & the Hearing of the Convictions adjourned to this Afternoon at 5 oClock. All was affected by about 16 of our own Constables without Breach of the Peace

Yours very truly & obediently
Geo Coldham

[To John Beckett]

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

2nd July 1814: George Coldham reports an attempt to break the Framework-knitters Union

Nottingham 2d. July 1814

Dear Sir,

On Friday Sennight last we summoned before the Magistrates in the Name of Messrs Rays but in reality under the direction of the Secret Committee a great number of Mr Ray's Master Hands under a Charge made against them by the managing Warehouseman of Messrs Rays of having neglected their Work in the hope that these Men could have been induced as one Man to step forward & put an End to this nefarious Combination. At first we seemed likely to be successful—one of the Master Hands came forward & told us the plain Truth he acknowledged that he believed that [they could if this charge] put a Stop to these proceedings by forcing the Men to work & preventing the Contributions to the Combination but he called upon us to obtain for him a fair & reasonable proportion of the other Master Hands to act with him He expected their cooperation but he was mistaken there was only one other he [illegible] disposed to act a similar part tho’ [illegible] appeared devoted to the Combination & had committed themselves beyond the power of retracting. There was some Satisfaction in coming at the Truth altho’ it boded us much more trouble than we first anticipated. But we have taken up some also of Mr Ray's Journeymen in consequence of [being] possessed of some private Information respecting them & any of the [mouth] a few of these I obtained Information which implicated three of the leading Members of the Committee three of the leading Managers & Directors of the whole Society by Saturday I went over in consequence of this Information to Mr Balguy our Recorder my Notice was that we ought to spare with Expence or [spare] no Trouble if predictable to make the Blow sure. With this Impression strong upon me It occurred to me that it would be adviseable if possible to get Mr Balguy to attend the Magistrates on the Conviction of the Offenders who are liable on for a separate Charge to three month’s Imprisonment in order that in the first Instance they might be liberated if it was [illegible] that the thing would not hold Water & that if they could legally be convicted, the parties might comprehend that after an Appeal to the Sessions there was little hopes of Mr Balguy’s reversing his own Judgement. Mr Balguy however declined attending altho’ he was of opinion that the parties might be [convicted]. As however there was much nicety in the form of the Conviction I thought it but to proceed still with the [but] legal assistance at Hand & immediately wrote to Mr John Balguy to London to urge him to come down as soon as possible to attend upon the Magistrates at the Conviction as Counsel for the Crown. Mr John Balguy came down, & he is strongly of opinion we shall succeed. We have held a Consultation with him & with my Brother & Alderman Ashwell the two Aldermen who has taken upon themselves the Conduct of this Business & we have determined to enter upon the Business on Monday evening & to endeavour to seize the parties implicated on that Evening in the midst of their Papers & to take their [obscured] away along with them. It is much to be regretted [obscured] the Nottingham Gazette (whose violence I am sure can not be to them the most agreeable way of supporting Ministers) has published the Organization of the Society & the first Minutes of the Conference. If it had not there might have remained some doubts as to our course of Conduct but after this I can entertain no probable objections to our striking at over at the Committee The State of the Trade is putting them down & I hope they can't stand long but we [illegible] not I am well aware [illegible] our Vigilance on Account of any Appearance of Stillness

Your’s very truly
Geo Coldham

[To John Beckett]