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Human Rights

glossary document index

A complete list of all the supporting documents for the time periods between 1215 and 1945.

1815 - 1848

Letter from anonymous labourers to the gentlemen of Ashill, Norfolk

Date: May 1816. Catalogue reference: HO 42/150, folio 130v-131

Words in bold are approximations. If any word is missing or smudged beyond recognition it is marked [XXXX].

To the Gentlemen of the parish of Ashill, Norfolk.

This is to inform you that you have by this time brought us under the heaviest burden & into the hardest yoke be ever knowed, it is too hard for us to bear; you have oftentimes heeded us saying the fault was all in the Place - men of Parliament; but now you have opened our eyes, we know they have a great power, but they have nothing to do with the regulation of their Parish.

You do as you like, you rob the poor of their Common right, plough the grass up that God sent to grow, that a poor man may not feed a Cow, Pig, Horse, nor Ass, lay muck and stones on the Road to prevent grass growing.

If a poor man is out of work, and wants a day or two's work, you will give him 6 per week, and then a little [XXXX] that does not employ a labourer at all, must help to pay for your work doing, which will bring them chargeable to the Parish. There is 5 or 6 of you have gotten all the whole of the Land in this Parish in your own hands & you should wish to be sick & starve all the other part of the poor of the Parish: If any poor man [XXXX] any thing, there you will call a Town meeting, to hear which could continue to help him the most, which have caused us to have a County meeting, to see if we cannot gain some Redress.

Gentlemen these few lines are to inform you that forthrightly have brought our blood to a proper circulation, that have been in a very bad state a long time, and now without an alteration of the foresaid, we mean to circulate your blood with the leave of God. And we do not intend to give you but a very short time to consider about it, as we have gotten one or two of the Lead, on our side. There was 2 cows and an ass feeding on the road last Saturday & there was 2 farmers went to the keepers & said they would pound them if they did not drive them away; one of them candidly beat him, got a plough & horses and ploughed the grass up, that passed on the road. We deem the killer to be full as big a [XXXX] as your farmers for if the wheat raise I [XXXX], then I will raise 2 [XXXX]. So we shall drive the whole [XXXX] & knock down the hill, set fire to ill beggars legs [XXXX] houses & thanks us he for a day, we shall begin at night.

And the first man that refuse to join the Combination shall suffer death in a moment, or the first person that is catched saying anything against the same, shall suffer death. He have had private ambushers round us for some time, and by this time you will find it is coming to a point.

Take notice that this is a private letter wrote at this time, but [XXXX] fear its too public for your profits, so we wish to prepare yourselves ready for action; for we intend to have things as we like, you have had a good long turn. We have counted up that we have gotten about 60 of us to 1 of you. Therefore, should you go seek so many to 1. No. We will fight for it, and if you gain the day, so be it.

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