Report from John Blackwell, Constable of the Ward of Cheapside in London, to the authorities, 20 June 1715 (SP 41/5 f24).
This report describes how a London constable found out about a plan in May 1715 to put the ‘Old Pretender’, Charles Francis Edward on the throne. Key judges were to be murdered and the Bank of England seized. There were also plans to spread the disruption outside the city. The report says that Constable John Blackwell used his own money to pay for additional men to stop the London mobs from joining together and the spread of the riot.
The Information of John Blackwell Constable of the Ward of Cheapside in the City of
That he this Informant had certain Inteligence on the 29th May 1715, that there was a design laid to raise three Mobbs in the City of London that Night; one in Cheapside, one in White Chapple, and another in Smithfields. That the Mobb in Cheapside was to join that in White Chapple and both to come back and join that in Smithfield, and there to proclaim the Pretender and that there Persons of distinction were to appear at the Head of them to direct them what they should further do (which since that day be this Informant hath had certain Inteligence, was to secure, or sieze on the Bank of England or set it on Fire: Also to Assassinate & Murder such Magistrates of this City as had appeared Zealous for his Majesty King George, or to set their Houses and Habitations on Fire, particularly The Right Honorable Sir William Humfrey K, Lord Mayor, Sir Gilbert Heathcote and Sir Charles Peers. That [there] were Men and Horses planted in all parts round this City to go immediately into the Country to give Notice that the Pretender was [proclaimed] in the City of London; and to raise Mobbs in all places in the Country to [?] Same as was designed to have been done in the City of London in Order a General Insurection, to pave the way for an open Rebellion, and to give an opportunity and Encouragement to the Pretender and his Adherents, [to] land with a Foreigne Force who was said) Lay ready, for that Purpose. This Informant, further saith, That upon [that] former Inteligence, be this Informant did conclude from the Short Notice he had, that privacy would be one step towards the suppressing of it, and that the Trained Bands (four Companys of which were out on Guard) were not to be depended upon, and that if he could suppress it, in its rise, and prevent the Mobb in Cheapside of joining that in White chapple, it would be the most likely way to prevent their designs, and the greatest Service he was capable of doing in this Affair. And therefore be this Informant did at his own charge and expense hire or procure Twenty men to his assistance, whom he knew were Person Zealous for his Majesties Service & Government, and gave them such Directions, and put his Intentions into such a Method, as by the Blessing of God, wholly frustrated their Wicked Design- For when the Mobb in Cheapside was raised and armed with Clubbs and Sticks, crying out High Chase
[document damaged]… And that by their Leaders they were directed to go for White Chapple. That then this Informant did appear in Cheapside with his Constable Staff, attended by his foresaid Assistants, and Commanded the Peace in His Majesties Name, and that everyone should immediately depart peaceably to their own Habitations upon Pain of Imprisonment which being refused, and the Mobb pressing forward, towards him this Informant, he this Informant Ordered two of his assistants to lay hold on and secure a Person that appeared as their Leader (or Captain), but the Mobb making Resistance and assaulting those, this Informant was obliged in his Majesty’s Name to assist him, to secure such of them as appeared armed as a force at the head of the Mobb.
This Informant further saith that this Mobb did Resist, Rally, and Assault him this informant and those he had for his Assistance, nine or ten times that Night: And that he this Informant did take, and Secure about Twenty eight of them in the Poultry Compter, [district] and at last Wholly dispersed the said Mobb or Riot. Further this Informant saith, that he this Informant maintained a presentation against many of them at the Sessions House in the Old Bailey, as will appear by a paper signed by the Honorable Sir William Humpreys Kt then Lord Mayor and the Honourable Sir Charles Peers Kt [Knight] and Alderman.
Further, this Informant saith not.
21 June 1715.