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