Friday 23 March 2012

23rd March 1812: Luddites are charged and sentenced at Leicester Lent Assizes

The Assizes at Leicester opened on Monday 23rd March, with the presiding Judge being Sir John Bayley once again.

A number of cases involving alleged Luddites were tried at these Assizes, although detailed records of the proceedings are hard to come by. Even the local newspaper, the Leicester Journal of 27th March 1812, chose not to use many column inches covering the trials: indeed, greater space was given over to the Derby Assizes in the same issue.

William Quenby and Joseph Smith were charged with frame-breaking, although we don't know on what date and at what location. Quenby was sentenced to 14 years transportation, whilst Smith's punishment was 'to enter into his Majesty's army'.

The other offences yield a more recognisable name: Thomas Maton Harris was charged with using a threatening letter 'purporting to be sent by Ned Lud' to extort money in aid of the frame-breakers. Charged alongside him were David Walker, William Plant and Thomas Thorn. Their cases were traversed until the next Assizes.

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