Source 1

Pages from a letter from Hadlow in Kent to the Home Office about a suspicious fire, 1830. Catalogue ref: HO 52/8 folios 87& 88


An incendiary was a person who deliberately sets fire to property or a person who stirs up political quarrels.


My Lord,


I regret much, that, after the report which was directed to be sent to your Lordship from the bench [magistrate or judge in a law court] at Tonbridge on Wednesday last stating that this part of the country was perfectly quiet, I am obliged to inform you that about 3 o’clock this morning a fire (supposed to have been the work of an incendiary) was discovered in a barn at North Firth in this parish, on the property of Mr. Idle and in the occupation of Mr. George Barton, which together with a coach house and lodge, was entirely consumed. The loss to Mr. Barton in corn &c is computed [valued] at about £300. He is however insured to a larger amount. I have been on the spot and I cannot discover the least suspicion attaching to any individual.


I am happy to inform your Lordship that Mr. Barton speaks in very high terms of the assistance afforded by the labouring chaps on the occasion, by whose active exertions, in some instances at great personal risk, the fire was prevented becoming much more destructive.



« Return to What caused the ‘Swing Riots’ in the 1830s?
  • What was reported in this letter to the Home Office?
  • Why do you think some agricultural labourers decided to set farms on fire?
  • How did local labourers react to the fire?
  • Why do you think this letter is a Home Office record?