Friday, 27 January 2017

27th January 1817: Henry Enfield sends the latest informer's report to the Home Office

Nottingham Jany 27. 1817.


Enclosed I  have the honor to transmit to you, for the Information of Lord Sidmouth, a Copy of the last Report of our Secret Agent—That part of its Contents which relates to a meditated attempt to rescue the prisoners at Leicester, I communicated yesterday to Mr. Mundy, with whom I spent the day. He informed me that they have a military Guard in the Gaol—We are proceeding well in the Corroboration of the Impeachment of Towle Savage &c—I don't know whether Mr. Mundy has apprized Lord Sidmouth that Wm. Burton has also impeached. It will, I am sure, be highly satisfactory to his Lordship to know this & to learn that Burton is extremely particular in his narration & altogether confirmatory of Blackburn

I submitted, without delay, your letter relative to the Gaol of this County to two of the leading County magistrates (Mr. Sherbrooke & Doctor Wylde) & communicated its contents to the Under-Sheriff of the County—The magistrates visited the Gaol to-day—

I have [etc]
H Enfield

[To] Rt Honble J.H. Addington

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

25th January 1817: Both Nottinghamshire newspapers publish editorials about the 'Loughborough Job' arrests

On Saturday 25th January 1817, both Nottinghamshire newspapers published editorials with varying degrees of detail. 

From the Tory Nottingham Journal:
We congratulate our readers on the proceedings of last week, as respects the Luddites, and confidently anticipate that a death blow will shortly be given to that nefarious system, which has so long disgraced this town and neighbourhood, and has been of such incalculable injury to the manufacturer, the mechanic, and the public at large. We have reason to believe, that in consequence of the ample confession made by James Towle, immediately before his execution at Leicester, on the 20th November last, the ten men now in custody, charged with the outrage at Loughborough, have been apprehended. As there can be no lasting friendship amongst the wicked, it is not to be wondered at, that the link between these disturbers of the public peace have hitherto been held together, should be broken. These companions in iniquity are impeaching one another; and there is little doubt but the whole of their past proceedings, with the names of the principal actors, will soon be known to the Magistrates. We incline to think, indeed, that it is the case already, at least to a very considerable extent.
From the Nottingham Review:
We find that JAMES TOWLE, on the morning previous to his execution, made a full and particular disclosure, to the High Sheriff of Leicestershire, and to a Justice of the Peace for that county, of every person, directly or indirectly, concerned in the felony and destruction at Mr. HEATHCOAT’S factory at Loughborough, and of the Luddites in general, which has been kept secret until it could be made subservient to the ends of justice. He died penitent; assured the Gentlemen that what he had stated to them was true, observing, it could be of no service to him then to say what was false, and lamented that he had not made this discovery sooner, to have saved his life; his comrades are now dong so; the Luddites are impeaching one another, and the Magistrates are in possession, we are credibly informed, of their whole history. Of the 15 men now apprehended, ten are charged with the offence at Loughborough. It is hoped that the wicked and mischievous proceedings of the Luddites are now at an end: they have driven the best part of our manufactory from the town, and the destruction of the property employed in the trade, has injured the great bulk of the manufacturers and, the public in general. We hope and trust that the time will be revived, when the ingenuity and industry of our mechanics will again raise the trade of this Empire above the rest of the world; and we feel confident, that the skill of the workmen will be powerfully aided by the great capital this country can bring into trade, whenever it can be done with security, and the master and servant are free to make what contracts they may choose to enter into with each other. As none of the men have yet been examined before the Magistrates, we decline entering into further particulars until next week.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

24th January 1817: A Leicestershire magistrate writes to an MP about a 5 year old Luddite case

Whitwich Jany 24th 1817

Sir/ the appearance of Troublesom Times calls every Loyal Subject to be alert in order to Preserve the Publick Peace, even in our little Village at Prescott as well as at a Past Period, we are very much alarmd, but there was a time when some Individuals of which I was one usd every Exertion in our Power to suppress Riotous Proceedings, a number of Persons from a Village went about the Country Extorting money saying to People to whom they calld if they did not comply to their request Ned Lud would call on them in a few days

being informd of their Proceedings, Mr Jno Bonnell who is in Mayor Palmers [Troop] of Calvery a Mr Hutchinson & myself went to some Neighbouring Villages, where we had Sufficient People of the above facts/ Accordingly we applyd to the Revd Doctor Hardy of Loughbro Stating the Names of Wm Plant & Thomas Thorne as two concernd in that Business, he accordingly issud out his Warrant and to have them apprehended, which was done accordingly & they was Kept at the Expence in the Plow Inn Loughbro five days, Every day fresh People were Summond to appear against when they were fully committed the offence and the Witnesses Bound to appear against at the Next assize which they Accordingly did and a Mr Lacy Attorney at Law Clerk to Dr Hardy Attended at the Close of the Business at that Assize we was informd Plant & Thorne was to lay till the Ensueing Assize when we must again appear but Mr Lacy Observd he had no Doubt but he should recover our Expences from Government, wilfully Obeyd to Second Order when When Without even calling our Witnesses forth the Prisoners were Liberated & we had a Second Promise that we should be refunded by Government, we Deliverd all our Accounts into his hand the Bill at the Plow Inn was nearly Eight Pounds & what we had Paid for Witnesses Since & other Expences amounted to Nearly Twenty Two Pounds we then Recd for Answer their was no Doubt but we should be Paid/ we was kept on Suspence some time/ requesting the People of the Plow to wait a letter but their Patience was soon Exhausted & we Receivd three letters of Attorneys when we was Obligd to Discharge that [with] the Attendant Expences making it nearly Ten we thought Doctor Hardy could have made an Order upon Our Parish but he Observd to the contrary he did write a request wishing them to Settle that [Account] but they would not Comply [with] it/ Now Sir we have been advisd by Some respectable People to State the above Particulars to you hoping that you would have the goodness to Accuaint Lord Sidmouth [with] them/ During the time we had the Prisoners at Loughbro, the Prince Regents Proclamation came out offering One Hundred Pounds reward when If our Business had been Brought forth Its Probable we should have been Entitld to It, If you can be of any Service to us we have no Doubt but you will do It [with] Pleasure

If not hope you will Excuse the freedom we have taken

If you at any time think it Worthy an Answer Pleas to Direct for Messrs Bonnell Ward & Hutchinson Whitwich Leicestershire

remain Sir your most Obedt Humble Servt

Benj Ward

[To Legh Keck, Stoughton Grange]

Monday, 23 January 2017

23rd January 1817: Informer's report on Nottinghamshire Luddites

23d January 1817.—

On Sunday last 2 men whose names I dont came to my House and asked me if I had heard Nottingham that morning—This was just before dinner—I went out with them at their request and they told me that Jack Blackner (Blackburn) was telling all he knew and that 7 were taken that morning and conveyed off to Leicester in Chaises and he also, with the Constables—They desired me to let all know of this who had been with him on any Job or that he could tell of and they desired me to go to Hucknall—They told me the Committee had sent to Arnold—I met Barker of Bulwell on Monday and he told me they had made a damned smash at Nottingham and had taken 7 and Slater, that Burton of Basford and Badder were amongst them—He said Blackburn had been telling and had caused their apprehension but he thought he did not know him for he only saw him in the night and that he had only been with those Chaps at two Jobs viz at Loughbro’ and New Radford and that Blackburn was not at New Radford but that his brother Christopher was.—He stands his ground but is on the alert ready for a start in case he should see any one appear he may not like the sight of—I went to Hucknal on Sunday and told Benjamin Butler what I heard that he did not give me any information of any one who was concerned either in the Loughbro’ or any other affair—He undertook to let them Chaps know—I was with Badder last night and the night before at Parr’s and Scattergoods—He told me they had taken Rodney (viz Wm Towle) who was one concerned in the Felony at Chapman’s Tent on the Forest ([query] should not Towle be brought to Nottingham for this offence) Badder told me it was Blackburn (he called him Blackner) who had been telling that had caused the apprehension of them—He lamented very much the affair and said they were going to try to get the three Counties of Leicester, Derby and Nottm to join and rescue them from Prison and also Blackburn and put him to death and he said there was a man not at all connected with them who would give £200 to have him dispatched for his Treachery—I have heard many people exclaim very much against Blackner’s Treachery and declare he ought to die for it—Badder also told me they had got Watson of Basford away who was going to tell before about the Loughbro’ Job but he was dissuaded from it by Jesse Towle—Watson was there, as Badder, Barker and Lomas have told me—Barker told me there were 5 from Lambley but he did not tell me their names—Badder laments much about Slater and Mitchell being in custody and that he should like to die to rescue them.

23rd January 1817: Charles Mundy sends William Burton's confession to the Home Office

Burton January 23d. 1817
near Loughborough

My Lord,

I have to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordships letter of the 22nd. The expression of the approbation of his Majesties Government of my feeble exertion contained therein call for my humble acknowledgements.—I have the Honour to transmit to your Lordship a Copy of a full, & perfectly voluntary, confession made yesterday by William Burton. I have written it in his own words. The poor young man seems deeply penitent for the crime into which he has been drawn by the acts of a set of villains declaring he joined the party more from a foolish than any evil desire to do mischief & that while waiting in the Lane previous to going to the factory he saw by the arms & preparations how serious an affair he was engaged in & wished to have escaped but that the old Hands as he termed it watched the young man so closely it was impossible.—The County Gaoler, a very intelligent man, is quite confident he saw William Towle in the crowd during the trial of James Towle at the last assizes at Leicester. the Gaoler is not privy to any part of Burtons confession.—I have made some progress this day in procuring evidence to confirm the statement of John Blackburn none of them are as yet committed except for further examination.—no more are as yet brought to me but I understand that Caldwell taken at Tewkesbury on another charge is arrived at Nottingham.—

I am sorry to state to your Lordship that as soon as the arrival of the mail in Loughborough was made known the event of the trials of Watson [&] others the Bell man was sent round to proclaim a meeting of the Hampden Club in a field near Loughborough on Monday next—it is said an immense number are expected to assemble it is said four or five thousand this will probably prove an exaggerated statement.—I saw the president of the Loughborough Club in Nottingham on Tuesday last and a most notorious character from Nottingham came to Loughborough yesterday—the committee sat late and early this morning the Nottingham man went by a stage Coach for London. I think I may say that nearly all the manufacturers are members of these clubs & I am sorry to say very many tradesmen & shopkeepers of considerable substance. I think it has not much sway among the farmers and agricultural labourers.—I find William Towle is a member of one of these clubs & probably all the others.—I can perceive an increased degree of insolence of manner & marked disrespect in the classes of persons I have alluded to when before the magistrates & a decided contempt of the Laws and of their the punishments exclaimed by them. this has been observed by many other magistrates.—It is proposed that the trip of yeomanry cavalry residing in this neighbourhood should have a common exercise day at the usual place near Loughborough on Monday that they may be at Hand in case of anything occurring during to the meeting I have mentioned above.—I hope I may be excused if I observe to your Lordship that with the exception of one troop of Light Cavalry at Leicester and a regiment of Infantry at Nottingham there are no troops anywhere in this neighbourhood and that Infantry would move too slowly from Nottingham to be available for any purpose in this vicinity: and that as the residence of the men belonging to the yeomanry in their different villages is well known nothing could be more easy supposing any simultaneous movement of the evil disposed to be effected than for them to seize and disarm individuals belonging to the yeomanry cavalry at their houses.

I have the Honour to remain
my Lord, your Lordship's most Obedient Humble servant
Charles G. Mundy

Sunday, 22 January 2017

22nd January 1817: The confession of the Luddite William Burton

A Copy of William Burton's confession January 22d 1817:—

I lived at Arnold in June last. on the Sunday before the Loughborough Job I was at Old Basford to see my Parents. William Towle of Parsons flat Old Basford came & asked me if I could make one in a bit of a Job I asked what Job he said framebreaking I asked what frames he said Twist frames and that there would be plenty of money for it I said what good would money do me if I lost my work through it but that I did not mind for once. Towle told me I must come to Basford & go with him on friday morning following—On Thursday night I went to Basford. Towle told me to get up about 5 o'clock
Next morning and go by where he lived—I did so and walked on towards Nottingham. Bill Towle overtook me—we then stopped in a place called [Dawson’s] Meadow for James Watson of Basford F.W.K. whom Towle had engaged to be of the party. when Watson came we crossed over the Forest to go to Nottingham down Lark Dale. at bottom of Lark dale we met a man whom Bill Towle knew. the man gave Bill Towle four Pistols. I did not know the man a Jolly looking Man. I don't know that I have ever seen him since. this man left as after having had some talk with Bill Towle which I did not hear.—I did not see him give Bill the Pistols but as soon as the man was gone Towle shewed me the Pistols and said the man gave them to him. we three then went to the Peach Tree in Nottingham. Many People were there I cannot recollect any but Christopher Blackburn gave me five Shillings and Watson five—before we got to Nottingham Towle had told me we were to go to Loughborough I went with Towle Watson and Chris: Blackburn to get on the Loughborough Coach but were too late & walked. Towle & Blackburn went first out of Nottingham and waited for as at the Bridge over the Cut between the Town and the River. when we came up to them they again went on before us and we overtook them at the Coach & Horses at Bunny. we had some bread & cheese & a Cup of Ale each there. then I & Towle went on first we got to Hoton where we went into the Bell Public House & called for some Ale. soon after Blackburn & Watson came in and called for Ale by themselves—we pretended not to know each other—after some time one of the parties ordered some Mutton Chops and invited the other to join. Watson could not eat as he was Sick & Vomited. Towle was [badly] also. before we got to Hoton Towle had lent Blackburn his great Coat to cover his blue sleeves which his Waistcoat had & also gave him two of the Pistols. they loaded them with Blank Cartridge & let them off to try them—did not load again till they got to Loughborough. Towle put one of the Pistols into a Side pocket on is it on the inside of his Jacket gave one to Watson who put it under his Smock frock. he gave the other two to Chris: Blackburn who put them into his side pockets under the Great Coat. while we were at Hoton there was a Gardener there who lives at Hoton they called him Spencer, who was [leaving] with his wife. the Landlord of the Bell seemed like a Butcher before we got to Hoton we saw man [mowing] who asked us where we were going. we told him we were Bleachers going to Chester

after leaving Hoton about 4 or 5 o'clock we went on the road to Loughborough when we got to a bridge over the river near a Water Mill Towle & Watson turned through a gate into a Meadow lay down & went to sleep. I went to a man that was fishing. Chris: staid in the road and after about a quarter of an hour we wakened Towle & Watson and all went together towards Loughborough—when we got to Loughborough I and Towle went into a Public House sign Seven Stars the Landlord is a Taylor think the name over the Sign & over the Taylors Shop is Staples. we have some Porter—about nine o'clock Watson & Chris: Blackburn came in. we staid drinking till about ten. the room was very hot. we sat sometime at the door on account of the Heat. when it grew late we went into the House the room was still very Hot. there was a large fire a Soldier who was there complained of the heat, & asked a young man who look like a Stocking Maker how he could stand it. Blackburn kept his great Coat on notwithstanding the heat about ten o'clock the Landlord said he always shut up at ten and desired the Company to go we four went and walked about the Streets. while we were walking about a Tallish man in a light Coat came to us and took hold of Chris: Blackburn and spoke to him I could not hear what he said they then called me and the man took us down the street some way and then left us saying he must go home I had heard Towle & Chris: said they expected a man to meet them and shew them where to go and were wondering he did not come for some time before this man came—after the man left as we went a little way on a road they said it was Ashby Road. we turned down a lane to the left we found several persons there I did not know any of them at that time we stopped there till a man came up with Three Hatchets—I believe another or two came with him but I am not sure—as we were standing in two parties the party had been saying they wished them two Chaps would come with the Hatchets. the Hatchets were very large ones and quite new—one of them was given to me Bill Towle gave his Pistol to one of the party who said he would have one—Towle took a Hatchet Chris: Blackburn gave both his Pistols to one of the party—two Bottles of Rum were handed about I drank once out of a Bottle there were no Glasses—Some turn their Coats and tied Handkerchiefs over their faces I tied my neckcloth over my mouth we were then arranged—Seven with Pistols were placed first those with Hatchets next & those that had nothing last. we set out and when we got about half way to the Factory I saw a man coming towards us. on seeing he turned back. Chris: Blackburn caught up a Stone and ran after him & caught him just at the factory. we then all ran up to him & told him his brains should be blown out if he did not take us in. the man rang a Bell or else undid the door we were a minute or two before the door were opened. we then all went through the long door into the Factory yard a large Dog chain close to the door flew at us Barking as we went in Bill Towle who was just before me struck at him with his Hatchet missed and the Hatchet flew out of his hand. I then was aiming a blow at the Dog. Some one pushed me away and shot at the dog. I have heard them say since this was Jem Towle the dog never barked any more I staid by a window close by a door going into a little room joining the factory I heard a Pistol go off in the room when I went in I saw three or four men lying on the ground on their faces. I went on into the next place with some others Bill Towle was breaking a door open at the bottom of the Stair Case with an Axe a Lad came down stairs some of them (I have this since seen him & find his name is Jack Hill) asked the Lad how many men there was in the Lad said he would tell their names Hill said he only wanted the numbers the Lad said either eleven or twelve—one of the Gang stood over the Lad I have seen him since they call him Little Sam this is the same man as brought the Hatchets. we then went up into the first Shop & broke all the frames there—I struck two or three Strokes but was overcome with heat & gave the Axe to some one else do not know who it was. I was near fainting. then we went up to the next shop do not know who went first. I saw a man at the top of the Stairs. Some of the party were threatening to knock him down others to blow his brains out if he did not lye down—all the factory men then lay down and we broke all the frames—I helped to break again. when all appeared broken some one said "let us look & see if all is done"—some of the party went to look with a Candle. Bill Towle pulled some Lace off a frame and was going to put it in his pocket. Hill said he would blow his brains out if he took a bit out of the factory saying "We are not come to rob we are come for the good of the Trade" Hill burnt it on the floor—Some one said "Ned you have done your duty well" some one replied "this is a Waterloo Job by God" We then left Sentry on the outside frequently called out "All’s well"—as we were coming out we saw a door shut, it was broken open and two frames found lying on the ground were broken—we then came out. Several Pistols were fired as we came away—we then went on the Ashby Road through a Toll Bar and a little way on turned on the right over a Stile over some Closes—we passed by a Gentlemans Hall. I do not know the road. as we went home one of the party whom they call Big Sam shewed me a Powder flask he had brought from the factory. there was a dog & a man with a Gun upon it. Sam: broke a Desk open in the factory as we came away on the Ground floor & took the flask and two little Pistols out. I do not know the road at all we saw a man driving a Team I think a Cart. Some of the Gang party were long way before us then—when we got to the Trent we found a Boat and all got in & tried to get over the river but the Boat set past it would go back but not forward for the Shallows. some got out into the water we then came back and went on by the Trent side till we came to another boat at a ferry house at very young man came to put us over three of us went over the first time one of our party said "damn your eyes Sirrah you've got Ned." he said, "have I—" When we got over there was two or three then waiting for the Boat I cannot say which. I got out of the boat second & went on do not know if any body spoke to the men—Some of the party had their Handkerchiefs over their faces and some had Coats turned—one of our party paid for all do not know which—one of our party had his Handkerchief all over his face at crossing the river we waited till the other party came over. Jem Towle & Jos: Mitchell & Bill Towle & Jack Hill & Big Sam & I I think another parted from his & went towards Chilwell & Watson went over the fields for Nottingham and went into a Public House do not know the Sign had some Ale & bread & Cheese this might be about eight o'clock two Butchers were there who were talking of what a Job had happened last night at Loughborough from thence Watson set out for Basford & I went for Arnold—in Nottingham I met two men coming up the Street who were talking together & who said "they have been breaking frames at Loughborough"—& that "Towle was concerned"—

On the Sunday following Jos: Mitchell & Jack Hill came to Basford met the in the Parsons flat & Bill Towle was with me he & I followed them. Jack Hill gave Towle one pound & me two saying one was for me & one for Watson. That afternoon I went with Bill Towle to Chilwell he said he was to fetch some of the Pistols they had left there. he left me in the Street do not know where he went for them. I have heard some of the Gang say Pistols were bought for the job at Derby—I think it was Bill Towle. I have heard Big Bill (I mean Withers) say he had been making Cartridges all the week. I have heard Big Sam (Caldwell) say he fired at a person at a window near the factory & knocked the Candle out & that the Curtain was on fire—I knew none of the party except Bill Towle & Watson & Jem: Towle & Chris: Blackburn at the time of the Job but have since seen many of them & knew them again & have talked with them about it—I know Jos: Mitchell & Jack Hill and William Withers Christopher & John Blackburn & Big Sam (Caldwell) and Little Sam. (do not know his name I have heard Mitchell say he is gone to the Isle of Wight as a Deserter.) I knew Sheepshead Jack next time I saw him and another young Chap whose name I never heard. I shall know him if I see him. there is an Oldish man whom I also know but not by name till after we were taken have since heard his name is Crowther. I also remember Amos and shall many more when I see them but do not know their names. I believe I shall know most of them. I do not know Slater but have heard the party talk of his being there—when Jem: Towle was to be tried at Leicester Bill Towle came to where I live to see for me as he had told me to get me to go with him to Leicester I was not at home—Bill has told me he and Watson & Chris: Blackburn & a many more came to Leicester with Pistols to try to set him at Liberty. I have heard Watson say the same—William Withers & Little Sam and another came to Leicester to rescue Jem: Towle—they had ten shillings a piece before they left Nottingham and a pound note each at Leicester to try to shoot the Judge on the Road. I heard Withers say there was three Carriages and so many people they dared not do it—

signed William Burton
before me C.G. Mundy

Saturday, 21 January 2017

21st January 1817: London Committee of Trades suggests the 'suppression or suspension of machinery' to the Home Secretary

Jan 21st=1817. —

My Lord—

we the undersigned are appointed by the committee of Trades, to attend your Lordship with a petition, relative to the Suppression or the Suspension of Machinery.

we humbly entreat your Lordship to receive the same Personally, as it is the wish of those who have deputed us for this Business.—

we wait your Lordships Pleasure
& remain,
Your Lordships,
HumblB & Obedt Servants

Wm Booth
Jno Sawyer
[illegible] Clark

To the Right Honble
Lord Viscount Sidmouth
Secretary of State
for the
Home department—

['Petition' is below]


The working of machinery throws 800 Men entirely out of employ out of 2000 besides depriving half of those who are in employ of a regular supply making the aggregate quantity of [illegible] Labour not more than employment 600 out of 2000 Men

Calico Printers

One machine will print 250 Pieces 24 yards each Piece in 12 Hours by the employment of 2 Men [and] 1 Woman

The same quantity in the same given time would employ manual labour 40 Men 40 [and] 40 Women & Boys

Surface machine —
One machine will print 250 pieces 24 yards each in 12 hours by the employment of 2 Men [and] one Woman

The same quantity in the same given time would employ my manual labour 40 Men [and] 40 Women

Copperplate or flat Presses—

One machine prints 18 Pieces 24 yds 12 hours & employs 2 Men

The same quantity in the same time by manual labour would employ 30 Men [and] 30 Boys

London Trade has 13 Roll Machines
—108 Flat presses

When the above Machines are workd by Steam or Water they take one man less to each machine


Bensley & Sons Patent Mahcine workd by 15 Men [and] 2 Women Will do as much in any given Period as Another machine now erecting on the same plan—
The Times Office Machine—workd by 4 Men [and] 2 Boys
Will do as much in any Period as 12 Men [and] 5 boys
In the latter the reduction of manual labour is even 2/3ds

Rope Makers

—Making of Cables—

A 13 Inch cable made by Machinery throws out of employ 52 Men

A 20 Inch cable made by Machinery throws out of employ 107 Men

Added to this the purchaser is deceivd in the quality of the article, as the cable cannot be made its regular & proper weight in proportion to its size, without being put upon the stretch by manual labour—How extensive this evil if, we calculate the many thousands of lives which are thus endangered.—

The Spinning Jennys

One end of a thread Spun by the Jenny will not draw the other 50 Fathoms without breaking
Whereas a thread workd by hand Labour is stretchd out by the tackle will bear its regular strain without breaking 200 [Fathoms]

Public suffer a deception in the yarn spun by these Jennys, as the external part (to cover the defect of the internal part of the strand) must be workd by hand Labour—

a 6 Inch shroud throws out of employ 16 Men
a 11 Inch shroud throws out of employ 41 Men

[on reverse] From the Artizans &c of London & Westminster

21st January 1817: Jeffrey Lockett writes to the Home Office about the arrested Luddites

Holker Hall Jany 21st, 1817


I find from letters, which I have received here, that, contrary to the arrangement which Mr Mundy & Mr Enfield had made with me, it has been found necessary to proceed without delay, upon Blackburn’s information, and ‘ere now, probably, Mr Enfield has informed you, that Mitchell, Mitchell, Savage, W. Towle, Crowther, Coldwell, & other leading Luddites are in custody, under a charge of being concerned in the outrage at Messrs Heathcoat & Bodens factory, in Loughbro’ in June last. It was intended, that it should have been ascertained, how far Blackburns account [could] be supported by other evidence, before the warrants were issued, but Mr Mundy informs me, that Mitchell was aware of what was going on,—and that it had therefore been determined to act immediately. I shall leave this place as soon as I possibly can,—and have appointed to meet the magistrates on Monday next, to assist them in taking the examinations.

Mr Heathcoat now resides at Tiverton, & his partner Mr Boden in King St Cheapside. I am sure that they will immediately obey my summons, and come to Loughbro’, & use their utmost exertions to bring these villains to punishment. But I know that their affairs are very critical, & that they cannot bear any part of the expence of the investigation of the charges against the prisoners, or the prosecution of them. Lord Sidmouth, I hope, will think it right, that they [should] be fully indemnified;—& it will be highly gratifying to me to find a letter from you with this assurance, when I reach Derby. I hope also to have the further satisfaction of being informed by you, that the 500 [guineas] reward, offered for the apprehension & conviction of Towle, will be repaid by the Treasury. At the present crisis the distribution of it may be of the utmost importance—

I am Sir
Your most obedt Servt
Wm Jeffrey Lockett

[Written underneath in a different hand] The 500 Gs reward has been ordered, and the Parties should be directed to apply to the Mr Lichfield & Hobhouse—before any actual pledge can be given respecting the other Expences the amount must be specified.

Friday, 20 January 2017

20th January 1817: Charles Mundy reports that the suspected Luddite have arrived at Leicester Gaol

Burton January 20th 1817
near Loughborough

My Lord

I have the Honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordships letter enclosing a copy of the Statement given by James Towle to the High Sheriff for this County for which I beg leave to return my most grateful acknowledgements. It arrived at the same time with the Nottingham Police Officers, who brought Savage, Mitchell, Slater, Amos, Crowther, Withers & Burton taken very directly & quietly in the course of the preceding night at Nottingham, they are all now in the Gaol for this County for further examination.—Coldwell, discribed in Towles narrative as having been a Dragoon, is taken at Tewkesbury, I suppose I may expect him tomorrow or next day. Burton is a very young man, much agitated, & will I doubt not soon confess. I have ordered him to be kept separate from his companions & alone & shall visit him tomorrow. Another confession may be of service as the manifestations of the Luddite system are so various it is not to be expected one person should be able to lay open the whole. Of course I shall take care to make no promises.—Your Lordship may rely on my omitting no opportunity of obtaining information & immediately having the Honour of transmitting it to your Lordship either from the quarter from whence my former information was derived or from any other that seems worthy of credit.—I am sorry to say that the aspect of affairs in this part of the Kingdom wears a very serious appearance & the immense number of persons out of employment & of course in the utmost distress affords an opportunity to the evil disposed which your Lordship is well aware they will not fail to avail themselves of.—

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

[To] The Rt Honble the Secretary of State for the Home Department

20th January 1817: Lord Middleton updates the Home Office about the arrest of suspected Luddites

My Lord

Your Lordship has been already apprized by Mr Rolleston, a Respectable magistrate of this County, that Blackburn (the man a few days since apprehended as a Poacher in a daring attack upon one of my Game keepers) has given information of the most important nature, respecting the System & various outrages of the Luddites, who have spread terror & destruction thro’ this, & the adjoining Counties, for a period of full five years.

The Verity of this information has since been fully proved by the apprehension of nine or more of the persons described by him, as the most desperate characters.

Having obtained these means, which if managed with the ability & power of Government may totally overthrow this barbarous combination, & restore confidence & industry to this County, I consider it a Duty from me, (& I request you will believe it is with infinite respect to your Lordship that I venture) to express my own implicit belief of the important information already obtained, & that it will now be highly satisfactory to Mr Rolleston, who altho a young magistrate has certainly on this, & every other occasion shewn great intelligence & resolution, if your Lordship should be pleased to aid him with particular instructions, How further to proceed under these difficult circumstances. —

Blackburn has repeatedly express’d his confident opinion, that in consequence of the apprehension of several of those whom he has impeached, there will be a powerful & desperate attempt at Rescue, He is now confined in the House of Correction in Nottingham.—

Should this actually take place, which perhaps is not impossible, I should feel a sort of self accusation, were I not to make your Lordship acquainted with his opinion in good time, & likewise to state, that the County Jail in Nottingham is extremely insecure, & that the military in Nottingham consist merely of two Hundred & Forty infantry, & Twenty Dragoons.—

I have the Honor to remain

My Lord [etc]


Wollaton House
20th Jany

[To] The Viscount Sidmouth

Thursday, 19 January 2017

19th January 1817: Henry Enfield reports to the Home Office that suspected Luddites have been arrested

Nottingham Sunday Eveng, 19 Jany


Lord Sidmouth that has been apprized, by a Communication from Mr. Rolleston, of the Hope entertained that material Disclosures relative to the Framebreakers would be made by John Blackburn, a prisoner, under charge of an Attack upon Lord Middleton's Gamekeeper.

J Blackburn’s Examination has occupied principal part of the last week—& his Disclosures have been very satisfactory—so much so that it was determined at Thursday night, by Mr Rolleston & Mr. Mundy that warrants should be issued by the Latter (as a magistrate of Leicestershire) for the apprehension of all Towle’s surviving Co-actors in the outrage at Loughborough—I received from Mr Mundy yesterday Evening thirteen warrants & in the course of last night Seven of the men were taken—the remainder I hope soon, I have no doubt, have a good Account of—Those taken are Joshua Mitchell, Jack Slater, Thos. Savage (these 3 most dreadful fellows you will at once remember) Amos, Crowther, Withers & Burton—They were sent off in Chaises this morning to Mr. Mundy—& I have this moment received a letter from him, saying that they have been before him, & are sent to Leicester—"that his old friend Slater Scowled black at him & that Burton was inclining to confess"—Slater is still open to Indictment for Framebreaking

The greatest Exertions will be made to obtain Confirmatory Evidence—& we are full of hope & expectation of ultimate success—

I have [etc]
H. Enfield

[To] J. Beckett Esqr

19th January 1817: Lancelot Rolleston reports the arrest of 8 suspected Luddites to the Home Office

My Lord

I have the honor to acquaint your Lordship, that the confession of John Blackburn has led to the apprehension of those individuals, who have for so many years infested this county. In the course of last night, Josiah Mitchell, Tho. Savage, John Amos, John Slater, John Crowther, and Wm. Withers of the town of Nottingham were taken into custody; John Plumb, & Saml. Cordwell alias the Dragoon have also been apprehended;

The constables are now in pursuit of William Towle, Aron Daykin John Hill & John Disney alias Sheepshead Jack, & I have every reason to hope they will be successful. With the names of many of these individuals I believe your Lordship acquainted, especially those who broke Messrs Heathcote & Boden's frames at Loughbro’; but I find many of them so deeply implicated in almost every atrocity perpetrated since the system of Luddism commenced, that I beg leave to submit to your Lordship whether his Majestys Government may think proper to interfere in their prosecution.

I have [etc]
Lanct. Rolleston

Jany 19th

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

18th January 1817: Charles Mundy informs the Home Office that he has issued 14 arrest warrants for Nottinghamshire Luddites

Burton January 18th, [1817]
near Loughborough

My Lord

I take the liberty of applying to your Lordship in consequence of being informed by Mr. Pochin the High Sheriff of this County that the statements made by James Towle to him respecting the destruction of the Lace manufactory at Loughborough in June last were transmitted by him your Lordship. I understand from Mr. Pochin that there were several particulars of importance containd in that statement which Towle omitted in the conversation I had with him in the night previous to his execution, the only interview I had with him after his trial.—This statement may now be of great importance in furnishing circumstances from whence information, may be produced. The evidence of John Blackburn the person now in custody at Nottingham in consequence of whose confessions & of a letter which Mr. Rolleston a Nottinghamshire magistrate, informd me he had the honour of receiving from your Lordship on the subject, I have issued a number of warrants for the apprehending of a number of the Gang amounting to fourteen & am in Hourly expectation of the arrival of the Nottingham Police Officers with some, at least, of them in custody.

The nature of my application which I now take the liberty of making to your Lordship is, that you would be pleasd to order copies of the statement of James Towle transmitted to your Lordship by Mr. Pochin to be furnishd either to Mr. Rolleston or myself, or to Mr. Enfield the Town Clerk of Nottingham who officiates on behalf of Messrs Heathcote & Boden, the prosecutors, in the absence of their attorney Mr. Lockett of Derby.—

In addition to the information I thought it my duty to have the Honour of laying before your Lordship some days since I have now to add that another numerous Club, a branch of the Hampden Club establishd at Loughborough, is now found at Wimeswold a manufacturing Village in this County on the borders of Nottinghamshire.—

Wimeswold contains about two thousand inhabitants for the most part stocking makers out of employment, & of course dissatisfied.—

I have [etc]

Charles. G. Mundy

[To] The Rt Honble the Secretary of State
for the Home Department

Monday, 16 January 2017

16th January 1817: James Large & Joseph Allen sentenced to 14 years transportation for frame-breaking at Leicester

On Thursday 16th January 1817, Joseph Allen & James Large were convicted of frame-breaking at Leicester Quarter Sessions and sentenced to 14 years transportation.

Their case had come to court after Allen had voluntarily confessed the previous December.  The frame-breaking incident took place on 17th June 1815. It is not clear when James Large had become involved, since the previous press article mentions only a man named John Ross as an accomplice at that stage, and he was not charged due to lack of evidence.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

15th January 1817: Jeffrey Lockett informs the Home Office that the Luddite, John Blackburn, will confess tomorrow


In my last letter, I informed you, that one of the Blackburns was in custody, under a charge of being concerned in the attack upon the house, and person of Lord Middletons gamekeeper,—and that he was inclined to make discoveries. I have this moment received a letter from Mr Enfield, who tells me, that Blackburn will make a full confession of every thing, which he knows relative to the outrage at Loughbro’,—and the general proceedings of the Luddites. Mr Mundy is to meet Mr Rolleston (a Nottmshire magistrate) at Nottingham to take the confession, tomorrow morning. Enfield informs me that he is in correspondence with Lord Sidmouth on the subject, but it has occurred to me that possibly neither he nor the magistrates are in possession of a copy of the Towle’s narrative to Mr Pochin, [prior] to that of the night before his execution. It may be of use to the magistrates in their examination of Blackburn—and if Mr Enfield or the Magistrates are not in possession of a copy already, but you will probably think it right to send him one. Mr Mundy, I know, had only a verbal account from Mr Pochin of what passed between him & Towle.

There is now I think a very fair prospect of bringing most of the principal Luddites to punishment. Blackburns information will not be acted upon hastily or until some confirmatory evidence is got.

I am Sir your most obedt Servt
Wm Jeffery Lockett
Derby January 15th: 1817

15th January 1817: 3 more committals for the attack on William Cooke are reported in the press

The Derby Mercury of 30th January 1817 carried a report about further arrests regarding the attack on William Cooke on 2nd January:
On the 15th inst. Joseph Mellors, Nathan Diggle, and Daniel Diggle, were committed to the county gaol, at Nottingham, for trial at the next assizes, charged with shooting at William Cooke and Francis Thorley, at Trowell, Nottinghamshire.
Other information coming to light would, however, lead to different charges being eventually laid upon one of those arrested.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

12th January 1817: Jeffrey Lockett informs Lord Sidmouth that 'the Luddites are now principally engaged in politics, and poaching'

[Home Office note] This is for Lord Sth [illegible]—no promise was given—but the hope was expressed on a former occasion

Derby Jany 12th: 1817

I intrude upon you must reluctantly.—But indeed something must be determined upon, respecting the payment of the reward of 500 gs offered in the names of Messrs Heathcoat & Boden for the apprehension & conviction of Towle & his confederates,—or an action will be brought, and other unpleasant consequences result from the delay. Upon the consideration of the statement which I made in my last letter to you, I confidently that Lord Sidmouth will think it right, that the reward should be paid by the Treasury.

The name of S Fletcher appears in a list of the Luddites, mentioned by Towle in his confession to Mr. Pochin,—which I received from Mr. Lichfield.—He is disposed to become useful to me,—& I wish to know how far he has the power of being so. I have written to Mr. Lichfield for such information on this point, as may be disclosed in Towle’s confession.

One of the [Pownalls] is in custody upon a charge of being concerned in the late atrocious outrage, at the house of Lord Middletons gamekeeper—this rascal was very forward in the affair at Loughbro’. Mr. Mundy will visit him tomorrow.

The Luddites are now principally engaged in politics, and poaching. They are the principal bodies in the Hampden clubs, which are now formed in almost every village in the angle between Leicester, Derby, and Newark.—They are expanding into North Derbyshire. A meeting is to be held tomorrow at Chesterfield, which will be numerously attended by the Sheffield reformers. It is understood that petitions from every Club throughout the Kingdom are to be taken to town by deputies, soon after the meeting of parliament. The petitions are printed on paper to ensure their rejection, and there is to be a simultaneous movement in the country about the second of March.

I presume you have seen the political catechism—and litany, and other seditious publications issued from the Hampden Clubs.

There is nothing to apprehend here, except from our Nottinghamshire neighbours;—and hitherto their attempts to fraternize with the workmen of this place have been disappointed.

You will most particularly oblige me by your early successful attention to the first part of this note.

I am Sir your must obed Servt W. J. Lockett

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

11th January 1817: A Nottingham magistrates reports that a Luddite has been arrested & intends to turn informer

My Lord

I beg leave to acquaint your Lordship that some circumstances have occurred in this neighbourhood within the last few days, which I have every reason to hope will lead to the detection of those persons, most deeply conquered in that system of outrage, which has so long prevailed in this county. John Blackburn of the Town of Nottingham Framework knitter was apprehended on Friday Morng the 3rd of this month being one of a gang of ten men, who armed & disguised, were attacking the house of William Cook Gamekeeper to Lord Middleton. As the nearest magistrate I was called upon to investigate the business, & soon found the prisoner to be one of the principal Luddites, which I gave him to understand I was aware of; when convinced his character was known, he appeared very anxious to be allowed to impeach persons with him at Cooks, especially if his own life might be spared; he soon made a voluntary confession, & gave information against them all; upon finding they were not the persons most deeply implicated in the practice of Framebreaking I impressed him with the idea, that nothing would save his life, but a full disclosure of all he knew against those with whom he had been so long & so closely connected; this at first he positively refused, but subsequently complied with, & will undertake to appear against the most desperate gang we have to contend with, conditionally; that in the mean time his family be placed in safety, & an assurance given him from his Majestys Government that his life will be saved. From a long conversation I had yesterday with this man, I feel convinced in my own mind, he not only is willing, but able to bring these persons to justice, as he admits himself to have been generally present when any thing desperate was perpetrated, especially at Loughborough & New Radford. As these particulars appeared to me of the utmost importance I have not hesitated in laying them before your Lordship more especially as Blackburn expresses his opinion, that should we happily succeed in bringing these men to the punishment they have so long deserved, it will be the means, if not of entirely suppressing, at least greatly checking the system of Luddism. Waiting your Lordships commands,

I am [etc]
Lanct. Rolleston

Watnall Nottinghamshire
Jany 11th, 1817

No individual but myself is acquainted with these circumstances, as I am convinced the desired result cannot be obtained, except by the greatest caution & secrecy.

Friday, 6 January 2017

6th January 1817: Charles Wylde reports magistrates cannot afford to raise a reward for the Kerry suspects

My Lord

I have laid your Lordship’s Letter before many of the County magistrates in this neighbourhood, in which your lordship recommends their coming forward to offer a Reward for the apprehension of the man who shot at Curry: but they wish me to inform your Lordship, that they are at this time subscribing so very largely through the County to the relief of the poor who are almost all out of employ & in the utmost distress, that under present circumstances they are not able to answer any other calls that may be made upon them.

I remain your Lordships
most Obedt Servt

Charles Wylde

Jany: 6th, 1817

Monday, 2 January 2017

2nd January 1817: Poaching raid on Lord Middleton's estate turns into a gun battle, prisoner taken

In the evening of 2nd January 1817, a raid on the estate of Lord Middleton, near Wollaton in Nottinghamshire, set off a chain of events that would have huge significance in the battle against the midlands Luddites.

There are several contemporary newspaper accounts of the raid. One of the most detailed was in the Stamford Mercury of Friday 17th January 1817:
On Thursday night the 2d instant, a numerous gang of poachers made their appearance at Broxtow Notts, where they took a man, who was some-time employed as an under-keeper for Lord Middleton, into close custody, in order to prevent his giving any alarm; they then proceeded to the house occupied by Mr. Cooke, one of his Lordship's keepers at Shortwood, which a part of them surrounded, while another part went in pursuit of the game. The under-keeper whom they had with them was compelled to lie down on the ground, and a man armed with a pistol sat upon him. Mr. Cooke's dog, however, having given an alarm, was instantly shot. Mr. Cooke was awakened by the report, and fired out of the window. The fire was returned on both sides several times, and an attempt was made to get into the house, but without success. The noise of the firing soon brought the watch and ward to Mr. Cooke's assistance, together with some other persons, when the poachers decamped, and attempted to make their escape: but one of them was soon discovered and secured; and three more have since been taken into custody, and committed to Nottingham county gaol.