HC Deb 12 June 1820 vol 1 cc1042-3
Mr. Creevey

presented a petition from certain inhabitants of the city of Coventry, sellers of Roasted Wheat; setting forth,

"That the petitioners are poor manufacturers, inhabitants of the city of Coventry; that they and their families have long been suffering from want, approaching frequently nearly to starvation; that for some time past they have used roasted wheat instead of coffee and tea, the wheat being not only much less expensive than the coffee and tea, but being, as the humble petitioners have fully ascertained, much more nutritious and wholesome, and roasted wheat is become an article of very general consumption; that it 19 not at all times convenient to every family to roast and grind the wheat for their own use; that the humble petitioners, therefore, have for some time past roasted wheat, ground it, and sold it, ready for use, in retail to their neighbours; that this afforded some employment to the humble petitioners, and gave a small additional portion of food to themselves and their distressed families; that, to the great surprise and alarm of the poor and humble petitioners, they were in April last served at the suit of the attorney general, with writs in the king's name, and witnessed by the chief baron of the Exchequer, commanding them to appear before the barons of the exchequer at Westminster, on the 15th day of May last; that they did so appear in person; that they were told by the said barons that they must employ lawyers to appear for them; that the humble petitioners answered that they had no money to employ lawyers; that the barons then retired and left the petitioners; that the petitioners served the clerk of the court with a notice to record their appearance; that the said clerk refused to do this, and that the humble petitioners are now threatened by the supervisor of the excise at Coventry, that unless they employ lawyers to put in appearances for them, their persons will be taken in custody, and that they will be sent to prison; that the humble petitioners being wholly destitute of money, cannot employ lawyers, and that they are in constant fear of being taken away from their homes, while their helpless families I will be left to starve, or to be put in the; poor house; that the humble petitioners have never sold the wheat as being any thing other or more than wheat; that they are well assured that there is no law in England forbidding the sale of roasted wheat; that, so far from thinking that they were committing a crime, they thought that they were doing a praiseworthy thing in promoting the use of a nutritious and wholesome beverage, consisting solely of the produce of the land of their own native country; that they believe, that if roasted wheat were used in all families instead of coffee and tea, the consumption of the whole kingdom, at a quarter of a pint a day in each family, would amount in a year to upwards of four millions of bushels of wheat, requiring upwards of two hundred thousand acres of land to grow it on, giving employment to forty or fifty thousand of the now unemployed j and distressed agricultural labourers, and yielding to the owners and cultivators of the land more than two millions of pounds; and that, in using their feeble endeavours in promoting such an object, while they added a little to the food of their almost starving families, they little thought that they were committing a crime against his majesty, for which his attorney general would prosecute them; that the humble petitioners therefore pray the House to be pleased to take their sufferings into their compassionate consideration, and to relieve them from the perils that surround them and their miserable families, by passing an act to remove all doubts respecting their Tight to sell roasted wheat, or to adopt such other measure as shall seem fit to the House."

The petition was ordered to he on the table, and to be printed.