Sunday, 13 August 2017

13th August 1817: Charles Mundy informs the Home Secretary of the whereabouts of John Hill & Christopher Blackburn

Burton August 13th
Near Lougborough

My Lord

I have the Honour to inform your Lordship that John Blackburn came to me a few days since to inform me that John Hill, one of those concerned with him in the outrage at Lougborough, was concealed in a House at Nottingham. I wrote to Mr. Lockett to know if he had rec.d any directions from your Lordship respecting those men against whom Bills were found by the Grand Jury at the last Lent Assizes at Leicester but who had not been apprehended  if this member John Hill is one.―as there will be no possibility of convicting any of them without the testimony of John Blackburn or William Burton I beg the favour of being instructed by your Lordship what steps to take concerning John Hill.―As I have received no answer from Mr. Lockett I presume he is from home.―John Blackburn also informed me that his Brother Christopher is working at the embankments in the Fens of Lincolnshire, the usual resort of those who are driven from this part of the Kingdom.―Would your Lordship think it advisable to endeavour to allure him to return & give Evidence against Frank Ward now in custody under your Lordships warrant on suspicion of treasonable practices? but against whom I apprehend we have no case whatever for a jury.―Savage & Joshua Mitchell both told me before their execution that the Loughborough Job was arranged between Frank Ward & Christopher Blackburn, if Ward could be convicted as an accessory before that Outrage it would be a most effectual blow against the revival of Ludding. How far Christopher Blackburns evidence might go or how far it might be possible to [confirm] him of course I can form no idea till without seeing him.―I am sorry to say things are not in a good footing between the workmen & the Hoziers.―there is plenty of work but the prices in general given are so low that no workmen can maintain a family. This has given rise to a sort of warfare between the parish Officers & the Hoziers. the former having proclaimed their intention of supporting the men without work whose masters will not give an advanced price. some of the Hoziers have adopted the advanced price, & I am assured by several very respectable Hoziers that it is no more than the trade can well afford to give. but many of the Hoziers, & those the most opulent & of the most extensive business still give the low price. they have also enlarged the size of the pieces making a yard of work to consist of forty two Inches instead of thirty six. but when the piece is sold to the shopkeeper the yard is only thirty six Inches. I fear those desperate may without close watching lead to dangerous combinations again on the part of the workmen who at present are very quiet

I have the Honour to remain
My Lord your Lordships most Obedient
Very Humble Servant
C. G. Mundy

Friday, 4 August 2017

4th August 1817: Charles Mundy sends an update on the Informers Blackburn & Burton to the Home Office

Burton August 1817
Near Loughborough

My dear Sir

Blackburn & Burton have both decided that they should like to go with their wives & families to America if any mode can be pointed out of their earning a living there. This decision was not finally made until a day or two immediately previous to Leicester assizes. the letter from the Gaoler informing me of it did not reach me so soon as it ought to have done owing to my being it at Derby in attendance to give evidence before the Grand Jury in the Reason Bills. & on my return home I found Mrs Charles Mundy whom I had left ill still so & all my three children in a state of the utmost danger. this prevented my attending the assizes at Leicester I wrote to Mr. Lockett who I knew was there to beg he would see Blackburn & Burton & tell them to remain quietly in Leicester Gaol till I rec.d directions from Lord Sidmouth respecting their wish of going to America.

unfortunately, Caldwell had having pleaded guilty & Lockett having no other business there he was gone home to derby before my servant got to Leicester with my letter.―In consequence of these accidental circumstances Blackburn & Burton heard nothing from me.

The undersheriff, (Mr. Miles) & some others I believe went to the men, and as they describe it told them some one thing & some another” & puzzled them till they did not know what to do―The High Sheriff went to Mr. Justice Bailey & stated that two men were in Gaol without any charge & commitment but justice Bailey conscientiously felt himself justified compelled to ordering them to be discharged the day he left the Town & at ten OClock at night they arrived at my House without money or place of refuge. I determined then after consulting with them what would  be best for them to do till I could hear from Lord Sidmouth respecting their going to America they determined that Blackburn should remain here all night & set out early in the morning for Kettering in Northamptonshire & stay with his father there and that Burton should go on in the dark to his Wives father at New Radford, Nottingham: this subjected to us thinking it a dangerous plan for Burton but he was bent upon it and said he would get there in the night & remain concealed till I send to him.

I gave them a pound note each for their present support but I own I feel nervous about them especially Burton. as soon as Lord Sidmouth determines in the mode of conveying & providing for them I shall be glad to be inform’d.―

Would Lord Sidmouth now think it worth while to set John Blackburn to work to find his Brother Christopher and try to persuade him to surrender & to give evidence against Frank Ward as an accessary before the fact of the Loughborough Job? Frank Ward is now in custody under Lord Sidmouths Warrant on suspicion of Treasonable practices but we have nothing to support any charge. he is such a rascal & so mischievous a fellow it would be a good thing to transport him.―

I remain dear Sir
Ever yours faithfully
C.G. Mundy

If the Sheriff & Mr. Justice Bailey would have been quiet the two men would have remained quietly in Gaol they had both signd their consent to remain there.

[To] H. Hobhouse Esq

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

1st August 1817: The suspected Luddite, Frank Ward, writes to Lord Sidmouth from his cell at Oxford Castle

Oxford Castle August 1. 1817

My Lord

When I was taken from my home I had a respectable business that imployed nine frames. but the last account I received from my Wife informs me that she as not received anay Work since I was taken and my Lord I have a wife and four Children that wholy depended on that business so soport and as been inabled by it to pay taxes to the amount of nearly £20 a year. but in my abstance the business is Lett for want of me to superintend it and if the taxes must be paid while I ham kept from home the business must be broke up and my family be brought to Distress and Ruin. and why My Lord must this sevear punishment be inflicted upon an innocent and helpless familey it is not because their farther is gilty of the crime he is charged with. no My Lord. I declare my innocence and solicet proof of my gilt. and the olney faviour I ask your Lordship is spedeley to bring me to trial. that I may prove my innocence to the Disgrace of those. that have so wickardly and maliciously Slanded and ruined me. and my family. and Deciveingly have deceived and imposed upon your Lordship. to the ingury of your Lordship in your precent situation and carracter. and my Lord I humbly look to you for redress and I hope I may not look in vain―I hope and trust your Lordship will give me your advice weather my Wife must pay the taxes or no in my abstance I hope a acte of compassion to a destressed and helpless familey  your Lordship condescend to answer this Letter and I Remain My Lord your Lordships Most Humble and most obedient Servent

Frances Ward.


My Lord

Whe saperately and jointly Humbly thank your Lordship for your kindness in permitting us to be togeather 3 or 4 hours per Day and prays your Lordship will permit us to be to Geather constant as there is an apartment in the prison witch whould make us mutch more comfortable wheir whe both might be to geather if it meetes your Lordships approbation whe shall be very thankfull

Monday, 31 July 2017

31st July 1817: Jeffery Lockett informs the Home Office of the outcome of Samuel Caldwell's trial

Leicester July 1817

Dear Sir

The prisoner accepted our proposal & pleaded guilty to the indictment charging him with the offence of framebreaking―The words were scarcely out of his mouth before he was seized with a very violent convulsion fit which continued more than half an hour and left him in a state of insensibility. The judge will pass sentence upon him tomorrow.

My advances on account of the Treasons & in this [business] are considerable. You will oblige me if you will authorize Mr Litchfield to place some money to my acct: at Messrs Lees & Co. of Lombard St.

I am Dear Sir
Your most obed Servt

Wm Jeffery Lockett

[To Henry Hobhouse]

31st July 1817: Samuel Caldwell convicted of frame-breaking during the 'Loughborough Job' - the final Luddite trial

On Thursday 31st July 1817, at Leicester Assizes, the Luddite Samuel Caldwell (aka 'Big Sam') pleaded guilty to frame-breaking during the 'Loughborough Job' over a year earlier, and was sentenced to transportation for life.

Caldwell had stood trial with his comrades in April at the previous Assizes, but had been seized with a violent fit before the trial commenced proper. He had been held in prison since then awaiting another trial.

The Leicester Chronicle of 2nd August 1817, covered the trial thus:
Samuel Caldwell, charged with breaking Heathcote and Boden's frames, in Loughborough, having pleaded Guilty, was sentenced to transportation for life, the charge for shooting at Asher being abandoned. This is the Prisoner whose trial stood over from last Assizes, in consequence of being seized with a fit, when arrainged with the unfortunate men who have since suffered. He was similarly attacked on Thursday, after he had pleaded Guilty to Frame-breaking.
Caldwell's trial and sentence has been overlooked by most historians, but this was effectively the final Luddite trial.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

22nd July 1817: Two frames sabotaged at Wimeswold, Leicestershire

The Leicester Chronicle of Saturday 2nd August reported an act of sabotage that had taken place in Wimeswold in the early hours of Tuesday 22nd July 1817:
In the night of Mondsay se'nnight, a stocking-maker's shop at John Clarke's, of Wimeswold, near Loughborough, was broken open, and the jack-wires withdrawn from two of the frames, and taken away, besides a little injury done to some of the needles. It is supposed that this serious mischief (serious indeed to the life of the perpetrator thereof, if he should be caught,) was committed at the early hour of one o'clock in the morning, as some neighbours heard a noise thereabouts. There was another frame in the shop, but is escaped being at all meddled with. Working under price is assigned as the cause of this lamentable occurrence. We also understand, that an event of a pretty similar description has recently taken place at Castle Donington.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

19th July 1817: Pre-publication advert for Francis Raynes' expose of his anti-Luddite activities in the North of England in 1812

Francis Raynes attempts to secure remuneration for his services to the Government during 1812 had been largely fruitless, and by 1817, amidst the furore produced by the uncovering of Oliver the Spy, he had taken a decision to 'publish and be damned' (in the words of Wellington).

The advert below appeared in the Morning Chronicle of Saturday 19th July 1817:

In the press and speedily will be published,
AN APPEAL to the PUBLIC, containing an ACCOUNT of SERVICES rendered during the Disturbances in the Manufacturing Districts of the North of England, in the year 1812. With an Account of the Means adopted which eventually led to their Suppression; together with a Correspondence with Governors, the Duke of Montrose and others, on the subject of a Remuneration for those Services. By FRANCIS RAYNES, formerly Lieutenant in the 12th, of Price of Wales’s Light Dragoons, late Captain in the Stirlingshire Militia.

“Then fancy that the thing is done,
As if the power and will were one.”
“Kings might indeed their friends reward,
But Ministry find less regard.”―GAY.

London: printed for John Richardson, 91, Royal Exchange, and Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, Paternoster-row; and M. Stack, Gainsburgh.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

12th July 1817: The Treasury Solicitor authorizes payment of the legal bills for the final Luddite trials

[Lincoln’s] Inn
12th July 1817.


The King agt: Towle & ors
Same agt: Savage & ors.

I have the honor to inclose the Bills of Costs charges and Expences incurred in these Prosecutions by Messrs: Ward Lockett & Balguy of Derby amounting in the first Case to Seven hundred and ninety two Pounds fifteen Shillings & nine Pence and in the latter Case to Fourteen Hundred and Seventy five Pounds and nine Pence together with Abstracts thereof―These Accounts have been examined in the usual manner, and deductions made of those charges which are not ordinarily allowed, but the principal part of those deductions arising from an Extra charge for a managing Clerk in the course of this business, which considering the nature & Extent of these prosecutions & the various places, at which the business was going on at the same time, may not be deemed unreasonable or improper to be allowed. I should submit that with the deduction of fifteen Shillings from the first Bill and Six Pounds one Shilling from the Second, the remainder which will then amount to Two thousand two hundred and Sixty one Pounds x x x x x x v and six Pence may be allowed and paid to Messrs: Ward Lockett & Balguy in full discharge of these Bills―

I am
Your very faithfull
and obedient Servant

H. C. Litchfield

[To] H. Hobhouse Esqr
&c &c &c

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

11th July 1817: The 'Destroying Stocking Frames Act, 1817'

An Act to repeal an Act, passed in the Fifty fourth Year of His present Majesty, for the Punishment of Persons destroying Stocking or Lace Frames, and Articles in such Frames, and to make, until the First Day of August One thousand eight hundred and twenty, other Provisions in lieu thereof.

[11th July 1817.] 

WHEREAS an Act was passed in the Fifty Second Year of His present Majesty's Reign, intituled An Act for the more exemplary Punishment of Persons destroying or injuring any Stocking or Lace Frames, or other Machines or Engines used in the Framework Knitted Manufactory, or any Articles and Goods in such Frames or Machines; to continue in force until the First Day of March One thousand eight hundred and fourteen: And Whereas an Act passed in the Fifty fourth Year of the Reign of His present Majesty, intituled An Act to repeal an Act of the Fifty Second Year of His present Majesty, for the Punishment of Persons destroying Stocking or Lace Frames, or any Articles in such Frames, and to make other Provisions instead thereof: And Whereas it is expedient that the said last recited Act of the Fifty fourth Year aforesaid should be repealed, and other Provisions made instead thereof: Be it therefore enacted by The King's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That from and after the passing of this Act the said last recited Act of the Fifty fourth Year aforesaid shall be repealed, and the same is hereby repealed, save and except as to so much of the said last recited Act as repeals the said recited Act of the Fifty second Year aforesaid, and also save and except as to any thing done before the passing of this Act, with respect to which the said Act shall remain and be in full Force and Effect as if this Act had not been made.

II. And be it further enacted, That from and after the passing of this Act, if any Person or Persons shall by Day or by Night enter by force into any House, Shop or Place, with an Intent to cut or destroy or any Framework Knitted Pieces, Stockings, Lace or other Articles or Goods, being in the Frame, or upon any Machine or Engine thereto annexed, or therewith to be used or prepared for that Purpose, or with an Intent to break or destroy any Frame, Machine, Engine, Tool, Instrument or Utensil used in and for the working and making of any such Framework Knitted Pieces, Stockings, Lace or other Articles or Goods in the Hosiery or Framework Knitted Manufactory, or shall wilfully and maliciously, and without having the Consent or Authority of the Owner, destroy or cut, with an Intent to destroy or render useless, any Framework Knitted Pieces, Stockings, Lace or other Articles or Goods, being in the Frame or upon any Machine or Engine as aforesaid, or prepared for that Purpose, or shall wilfully and maliciously, and without having the Consent or Authority of the Owner, break, destroy or damage, with an Intent to destroy or render useless, any Frame, Machine, Engine, Tool, Instrument or Utensil used in and for the working and making of any such Framework Knitted Pieces, Stockings, Lace or other Articles or Goods in the Hosiery or Framework Knitted Stockings, or Framework Lace Manufactory; or shall wilfully and maliciously, and without having the Consent or Authority of the Owner, break or destroy any Machinery contained in any Mill or Mills used or any way employed in preparing or spinning of Wool or Cotton, or other Materials, for the Use of the Stocking or Lace Manufactory, every Offender being thereof lawfully convicted shall be adjudged guilty of Felony, and shall suffer Death as in cases of Felony without Benefit of Clergy. 

III. And be it further enacted, That this Act shall continue and be in force until the First Day of August, which will be in the Year of Our Lord One thousand eight hundred and twenty.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

21st June 1817: Frank Ward & 2 other suspects arrested for 'treasonable practices'

On Saturday 21st June 1817, the Leicester Chronicle repeated a story printed in the Nottingham Review:
During the last ten days, Francis Ward, a master silk-stocking-maker, and John Holmes, and Samuel Haynes, lace-hands, have been taken into custody, and on Saturday last, were removed to London in two post chaises, where, we understand it is likely they will be detained, on suspicion of seditious or treasonable practices.
Francis, or 'Frank' Ward, had been named by the late Luddite Joshua Mitchell at the end of March, in a confession made just prior to his execution. Ward's arrest would later become cause célèbre, as we shall see in due course.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

10th June 1817: A desperate Gravenor Henson writes to Lord Sidmouth from Cold Bath Fields prison

House of Correction, Cold Bath Fields
June 10. 1817—

My Lord

I hope after an imprisonment of upwards
of two months in close confinement you will not [obscured]
me importunate in making the present application
especially as I have several Weeks since ma[obscured]
[illegible] communication to Sir N Conant. I was [obscured]
must recollect the circumstance of my [obscured]
in London with a Petition to the Prince Regent [obscured]
Hand; and as I left Nottingham with only [obscured]
of Linen, as I expected to return thither on [Sunday] [I am]
in extreme want of necessaries particularly Shirts [obscured]
I brought with me were considerably worn nay [obscured]
more than I thought till I came to examine them:—[obscured]
I am now in that situation that during my further con-
finement I shall not have a clean Shirt: I have nothing
to complain of the Diet I receive; but I hope my Lord
you will consider that clean Linen, Shoes, [and] Drawers (mine
have divided in two parts) are as necessary as Virtue.
I hope my Lord innocent as I certainly am, and m[obscured]
worthy of recompence than imprisonment, that [you] [obscured]
not treat me so harshly as to keep me here con[obscured]
naked, dirty, shirtless, perhaps filthy, and that [obscured]
even hinting to me the nature and bearing of [my] [obscured]
My Lord you have told me that you suspected [obscured]
High Treason, but when my Lord I [illegible]
was against my principles to engage in Rebellion [obscured]
shook your Hand; I cannot suppose my Lord
would barely on your own suspicions confine any Man for
Months, but I must anathemise those who have done me
so great an injury in the opinion of your Lordship
Mr Smith told me at his Seat at Blendon Hall that your
Lord received Information that it was me, and John
Blackner (now deceased) who were the “principal Instigators”
[obscured] the Luddites,” I believe that there are persons in Nottingham
[and] its Neighbourhood who would not hesitate a moment
[obscured] giving your Lordship such malicious and false information
[obscured]lieve that you have received such Information; I told
[obscured] Smith so; but I told him at the same time that I thought
[his] Lordship knew better, that you knew that I had at
[various] times done my utmost to moderate the minds
[of] the Workmen and induce them to seek other means
[of] redress than Force, outrage, and disturbance for their
acknowledged grievances: in conformity to these views I was
an active promoter of the Framework Knitters Bill, which
passed the Commons Houses of Parliament (but which I had
the misfortune to understand in your Lordships Office
was considered one of my Offences).

At the particular request of Mr D. P Coke, Mr John Smith
and Sir Thos Tyrwhit, after the Bill was rejected in
the House of Lords, I undertook to endeavour to soothe and
moderate the public mind in Nottingham, with the assis
tance of several worthy Persons it succeeded but in a
manner that gave additional offence to some of the
masters, by advising the workmen to seek fir redress
by Combinations as the workmen of various Trades
have done in London for a great number of years without
I believe incurring the suspicion of his Majesty’s Govern-
ment; the plan indeed was objectionable but in the midst
[obscured] so wild a commotion it was the only expedient [practible]

I believe that at that period your Lordship had great [confidence]
of me; buy I was the most entitled to praise, but [obscured]
shall even believe that that was one cause of my [present]
confinement,—But if I offended them I have since [obscured]
them (I mean the unprincipled malicious part of the [manufac-]
turers) great offence; by prosecuting them for [paying]
workmen in Frames and other Goods instead of [Wages]
which was brewing a storm that had already [obscured]
mischief and was likely to do more; these [Persons]
raised the clamour of Luddites Committees &c &c [obscured]
my Lord for a positive fact, that when those [obscured]
were broken in Woolpack Lane Nottingham [obscured]
of these Persons made applications to the [Magistrates]
for my apprehension, though I knew no [more] [obscured]
affair than your Lordship, nor of any of the [obscured]
prior to their commission: thus my Lord have [obscured]
persecuted for doing good, and preventing to a [great]
extent the distress being greater, and the depredations [obscured]
extensive; I have offended the more desperate Luddites
whom I have been informed have repeatedly threatened
to shoot me for counteracting their designs; and for the
freedom of language I have used at various times against
the practice; on the other hand the Masters (and per[obscured]
some of the Magistrates who are Masters) have misrep[resen]
ted and [illegible] me to your Lordship;

With respect to Politics if I am confined further [obscured]
still more innocent, I interfered only when I [understood]
the Habeas Corpus was going to be suspended, because [obscured]
every reason to expect that they would denounce me t[obscured]
Lordship; I have been no Delegate, I have attended as [obscured]
or private Meetings if there are any in Nottingham [obscured]
secret to me, the only Meetings I have attended were [for the]
purpose of petitioning the Legislature against the [suspension]
of the Habeas Corpus Act—

I beg I must again request your Lordship that you will
[have] the generosity to order me some Linen: but if this should
[not] meet the intentions of your Lordship in clothing the Persons
under confinement, on account of the expences that you
[obscured] put me on the Gaol allowance in provision, and approve
[obscured] the allowance You now make for my maintenance
[obscured] Linen &c, or if neither of these should meet
[your] Lordships approbation, I have particularly to request
[obscured] Lordship that you will remove me to some of
[obscured] Gaols that I may be within reach of my
[obscured] to find me those necessaries that I am so much in
[need] of, in short my Lord I hope you will take some
[obscured] means of relieving my necessities as shall seem to
[your] Lordship most expedient, as for my Liberation, I am
[much] afraid that your Lordships mind is too much preju
diced against me to hope for so great a Blessing, though
I am conscious that from some quarter or other your Lord-
ship has either much misconceived (and it is very probable
that Mr. Smith or your Lordship might misunderstand the
nature of my communication to him respecting the Petition
[or] that I have been much misrepresented in my Case.—

I came to Town conscious of the rectitude of my intentions
[which] was for the purpose of saving the lives of some
[misguided] People; and of enabling your Lordship without
[compromising] the dignity of the Laws, to conciliate a refra
[obscured] district and finally tranquilize it and your Lordship
[obscured] some cause or other has placed me in Prison in close
[confinement], I am ready my Lord and willing to explain
[obscured] every part of my conduct and I am confident I can
[obscured] to your Lordships satisfaction

I am My Lord your Lordships Most Humble & obt Servt
Gravener Henson

Monday, 29 May 2017

29th May 1817: A writer to the Home Office tells of a Middleton man visiting the late Luddite trials

My Lord

I take leave to acquaint your Lordship that on the 15th March, in passing from Coventry to Birmingham by Coach, I accidentally got into the company of a man whose name I afterwards understood to be Bedford from a place called Middleton near Manchester

I again saw and had much conversation with the same Person on 21st and 22nd March at Leicester, and from whom I then understood that he was directed by his associates (the disaffected in and about Manchester) to attend the Trials of the Luddites there to collect any useful information that might transpire on the Trials of these men.—I appeared to have got entirely into the confidence this man, who told me that he intended going from Leicester to Nottingham and Sheffield, that at both of which places they had many Friends particularly at Sheffield, and at which place I appointed again to meet him, where he promised I should be introduced to some "good Fellows, friends to liberty"—So far I consider not worth troubling your Lordship about, but this man at Leicester shewed me the model (turned very neatly in wood) of a most ingenious Pike or Dagger, one part of which was intended to form the Head of a walking stick, and the other part a distinct Knife, and the very great facility with which it could be converted from Knife to Pike or Dagger was well conceived—he said that they had got several hundreds of the Head part manufactured at Birmingham, and at Sheffield they intended to have the Knife part manufactured, and that he intended when in Sheffield to get a few Friends together and to whom I was to be introduced.—

I remained at Sheffield from 25th to 31st March, and then went to Nottingham, and enquired for Bedford at the House he said he should be at there, but could hear nothing of him.—I returned to Sheffield on 5th April, and remained there until the 9th, but have not seen any thing more of this man, and am entirely unable to account for his not calling on me at Sheffield—I had a very good deal of conversation with him, particularly at Leicester, and which if it is at all desirable to your Lordship to be made acquainted with, I shall have great pleasure in communicating, if your Lordship will permit me to have a line addressed to me at Mr. Gwynne’s Solicitor’s office—Stamp office Somerset House, with your Lordship's commands on the subject

& I have [etc]

J Johnston

29th May 1817.

[To] Ld— Viscount Sidmouth

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

16th May 1817: Charles Mundy tells Louis Allsopp that John Slater's wife wants to go to Australia with him

Burton May 16th 1817

Dear Sir

I wish we had met before you set off—If you see Lord Sidmouth as you probably will pray [name] to him that Slater’s wife has been with me to press her application to go with  her Husband when he sails for new South Wales, & also to take their five children.—Of course I could give her no other answer than that I would forward the application to Lord Sidmouth.—I [mailed] her former application to his Lordship who seemed to think it not quite impossible that she might be allowd to go; but at that time no mention had been made by the woman respecting the five children—I must say to you I think the Police Officers at Nottingham are slack in searching for the Luddites who are still at large.

I have had information on which I think I can depend that Disney (Sheepshead Jack) was walking openly about Nottingham in the day time about some days since. It is stated in a letter from a native of Sheepshead living at Nottingham to his father at Sheepshead.—a very active man, who is of great service to us at Sheepshead, came to me this afternoon to inform me I said he could rely on the veracity of the person who told him he had seen the letter. I shall go to Nottingham tomorrow morning to see Enfield or Carpenter [Smith] about it or Hooley about it. I suspect the Officers are lying by for an offer of reward.—I am sorry to say the application for relief & the complaints of want of work have been very numerous within the last week & what is perhaps more alarming the application for warrants of distress for poor rates have also been abundant.—

many thanks for your remembering me about Madeira I should be greatly obliged to you to order me a Pipe. pray let me know what the price is & when to be paid as on that may depend whether I should wish for one pipe or two.—I fear poor Heathcote will suffer much by the decision in Orgills case.—

How come the Magistrates to admit Green to Bail? by your statement when I last saw you I should have thought it not Bailable.—

I hope to see you when you return.—

Believe me my dear Sir ever yours [truly] C. G. Mundy
I rejoice in the failure of the Catholick claims I am one who think the nation will be wind if this Bill is ever carried.—

[To] Louis Allsopp Esqr

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

2nd May 1817: Simon Orgill loses the appeal of the award of damages in his favour

On Friday 2nd May 1817, 18 months after the hearing had been ordered, the Hundred of West Goscote successfully appealed the verdict of damages awarded against them for the attack on Simon Orgill's lace frames in 1814. The Times of the following day carried a law report about the case (erroneously dubbing the location of the attack as 'Castle Dunningford'), which is reproduced below:




This action, under the 52. Geo. III. c. 130, was brought by the plaintiff, a lace-maker, at Castle-Dunningford, against the hundred, to recover compensation for "twelve lace frames, being engines," which were destroyed on the night between the 10th and 11th of April, 1814, by divers persons riotously assembled. A verdict was taken for the plaintiff, damages 400l., subject to the opinion of the Court upon a case which, after mentioning the destruction, stated that the plaintiff carried on his business in a factory adjoining to his dwelling-house, and that each of the frames or engines in question weighed 600lb. being made of wood and iron; that they formed no part of the factory, but could not be removed from it without being taken to pieces; and that they were fastened to the window-sill by an iron bar, and to the floor by two pieces of board. The question for the Court, upon these facts, was, whether these frames within the meaning of the above-mentioned act.

Mr. BALGUY, in support of the verdict, first called the attention of the Court to the Riot Act (1 Geo. I. c. 5.), to the Black Act (9 Geo. I. c. 2.), and to the 9 Geo. III. c. 29. which were statues in pari materia; the two first giving a remedy, in case of demolition by tumult, against the hundred in the statutes themselves, and the last having the same remedy communicated to it by 41 Geo. III. c. 24. At the same time the act in question passed, 52 Geo. III. c. 130, [1812], instances of destruction of stocking and lace frames, by riotous mobs, were of daily occurrence, and the object of the Legislature was to afford protection to property of that description; the title was "An Act for the more effectual punishment of persons destroying the property or His Majesty’s subjects, and for enabling the owners of such property to recover damages," & c; and it went on to recite, that it was expedient and necessary, that more effectual provision should be made for the protection of property not within the provision of former acts, viz.1 Geo. I. c. 5.; 9 Geo. I. c. 2.; and 41 Geo. III. c. 24. In consequence, it proceeded to enact, that, thereafter any person or persons who shall unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assemble and "demolish or pull down, or begin to demolish or pull down, any erection, building, or engine, which shall be used or employed in carrying on any trade or manufactory, or any branch or department of any trade or manufactory," shall be guilty of a capital felony. The clause immediately following the above gave the party injured his action against the hundred for compensation. It would not be denied that these lace-frames were used and employed in a trade or manufactory; and it was quite as clear that they came within Dr. Johnson's definition of engine, the word used in the act—"any mechanical complication in which various movements or parts concur to one effect." The statue contained nothing to limit or restrain the engines there mentioned to those employed for any particular purpose. Thus these lace-frames came within the strict terms of the clause; or if they did not, the case of Hide v. Cogan (Doug. 699) had settled, that under the riot-act the injured party was entitled to a liberal construction of the words.

Mr. READER, on the other side, impressed upon the Court the very great importance of this question to a large district of country, where many actions of the same kind were still pending. In order to show that a lace-frame was not an engine within the meaning of the 52d Geo. III. c. 130. he examined the statues recited in the preamble: neither the Riot-Act nor the Black Act mentioned engines, a term first employed in the 9th Geo. III. c. 29. explained by 41 Geo. III. c. 24. What then was the meaning of the word engine? A spinning-wheel, and even a pair of scissors, came within Johnson's general definition; and to prove it, the Doctor quoted two lines from Pope:—

"He takes a scissors and extends
"The little engine on his fingers ends."

The true explanation of the term in this case was, therefore, to be sought in the act under consideration, and in other statues of the same subject. It deserved attention, that wherever this word engine was used (with one exception) it was accompanied by "demolishing, or pulling down," which could not apply to a lace-frame, though it would to "an erection or building," the two words preceding engine in the 52d Geo. III. c. 130.

Lord ELLENBOROUGH.—To satisfy the word demolish, there must be a moles, the part of which must be separated. Can that be said of a lace-frame?

Mr. READER added, that the primary sense of the word demolished, given by Dr. Johnson, was "to throw down a building, to raze," though "to destroy" was added as a secondary signification. Lace-frames were never called engines in Nottinghamshire.

Lord ELLENBOROUGH.—The word engine may mean a larger or a less thing, according to the subjecta materia: thus, in statues we have engines for mines, and engines for killing game: but does it not mean, in this case, something capable of demolition?

Mr. READER.—The words preceding in the act are erection and building; and it would be a miserable bathos indeed to say, that the word engine, which followed, was satisfied by a lace-frame. He farther argued, that this statute was not meant to protect the mere instruments of trade like lace-frames; because the 52d Geo. III. c. 16. Had passed only a few months before the 52d Geo. III. c. 130. for the express purpose of inflicting the penalty of death upon the destroyers of them. No remedy was there given to the owner against the hundred, because the destruction would probably be a private act of malice, and not the consequence of a public riot or tumult. The stat. 28 Geo. III. c. 55.the first on the subject "for the better protection of stocking-frames, and the machines or engines annexed thereto," clearly proved that the frames themselves were not considered engines by the Legislature. He cited Reed v. Clarke (7 T. R.496.) to show that the hundred would be liable, unless the act by which the house, &c. was destroyed, amounted to a capital felony.

Mr. BALGUY replied.

Lord ELLENBOROUGH.—In the course of the argument my mind has fluctuated, and has now undergone a change: for I am clearly of opinion, that the word engine does not properly apply to all the moveable means of carrying on a trade—to the utensils, tools, & instruments employed in it. It is true, that engine is to be found in both the 52 Geo. III. c. 130; and in the previous statue of 52 Geo. III. c. 16: but the meaning of words is often to be ascertained from the company they keep: the two acts have different objects—the first for the protection of "erections, buildings, and engines;" and the last for the preservation of the engines, utensils, tools, or instruments of trade: this double or equivocal application of the same word has occasioned the difficulty, but it requires a different interpretation, and coupled as it is in the act immediately before the Court, with "buildings and erections," it must be understood as engines connected with the soil, and not merely moveable from from one part of a room to another, like a bed, which, as a lace-frame, must be taken to pieces before it can be got out of the house: the word engine must be understood in both statutes as ejusdem generis with the terms by which it is accompanied.

Mr. Justice BAYLEY concurred.

Mr. Justice ABBOTT observed, that the words "demolish, or pull down," could not, in their correct and sober sense, be applied to the destruction of a piece of mechanism like a lace-frame: but the at went farther, and said, that it should be felony "to begin to demolish or pull down;" so as plainly to indicate, that the operation must take time, and be upon some engine much larger and stronger than that in question. The terms of the other acts strongly confirmed this construction.

Mr. Justice HOLROYD, who entered the Court while Mr. Balguy was speaking, expressed his assent as far as he been able to form an opinion.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

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

Derby April 26th 1817


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


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


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


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

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

J. Anderson

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
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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:
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. 
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.


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:
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