Letter – Henry Richmond to Walter Blackett – 5 Apr 1768

Document Type: Letter
Date: 5 Apr 1768
Correspondent: Henry Richmond
Recipient: Walter Blackett
Archive Source: NRO 672/E/1E/3
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To Sir Walter Blackett Bt at Wallington                                                Newca[stle] 5th April 1768

Hon[ou]r[e]d Sir

Yesterday the Sailors broke loose again at Shields and a few Stragglers behaved audaciously here in carrying a flag about and threatening that they wo[ul]d pay us a visit in the afternoon from Shields & make the Mayor & every body sign the paper, containing the terms some Masters at Shields had come to with them to advance their wages. The Mayor thought it adviseable upon these Threats to order Softly towards Shields to reconnoiter then; who returned abo[u]t four o’Clock with an Acco[un]t that they were marching hither in a Body. Immediately Col. Maddison, who had doubled the guard before, ordered them by the Mayors desire to the Sand hill & gathered the rest thither by beat of Drum in half an hour. By an accident that happened in loading the pieces a Granadier was shot dead in his rank – whether this particularly, or the apparent preparation that was making for them intimidated the Mob is not certain but they halted a considerable Time near Byker gate & struck their Colour & came quietly into Town but being observed to be in great Numbers upon the Sandhill & Keyside some of them were asked what they came for & told if they wanted any thing with the Mayor he wo[ul]d hear them if ten or a dozen of them came in an orderly manner to him – presently nine of them appeared as Deputys from the rest who said they wanted their paper signed but the Mayor told them he had nothing to do with it & would not sign it & advised them to take Care of their behaviour & depart peaceably – just as this was over, between 20 & 30 of them came boldly near the Soldiers but by an unexpected movement found themselves surrounded & one of them being observed to have a Boatswains whistle slung about his neck with a red Ribbon was laid hold of & sent to prison where he still continues, as he is since found be a principal ringleader of them – about 3 or 4 more who were heard to use seditious expressions were also comitted. The Soldiers were under Arms most of the Night, and the rest of it in the Town Court. Proclamation was made for people to keep within Doors after ten o’Clock & by these & other regulations the peace was preserved and the Sailors obliged to return to Shields from whence there is no Acco[un]t yet of their committing any further disorders; tho’ the Shields Masters of Ships who have been up to day are not without apprehensions I find – it is said confidently that about 20 Sail got to sea this morning & supposed that if the wind had continued fair all that were loaden wo[ul]d have gone & so there would have been an End of this disturbance but even as it is these people can now have nothing to do …. for here, except their ringLeader (whom the Mayor is determined to keep till all is subsided) because at a Meeting this Morning of the owners and Masters of Ships at the Trinity house the paper advancing their wages from 40s to 50s a voyage with other particulars demanded by the Sailors has been signed not from the reasonableness of the demand but thro’ fear their ships may be damaged & with an intention as is acknowledged by the Masters to deviate from what they have signed as soon as opportunity serves. I have not heard that Mr Ridley or Mr Bell were in Town last Night. The rest of the Aldermen were all assisting to the Mayor who has conducted matters very much to the satisfaction of all the inhabitants. I do not apprehend there is the least occasion for your coming to Town, as there is an expectation that all will now remain in quietness.

The Dragoons that are at Durham will be here to morrow in their rout[e] to Scotland & the Mayor expects orders, by the return of the express that was sent to the War Office last week, to detain them here awhile.

P.S. George Leafe Slater, who was an Elector, is dead & Ralph Smith has applied for your Business in his Stead. I am etc    HR

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The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467