Monday, 5 March 2012

5th March 1812: Mutiple attacks on shearing frame owners at Linthwaite

On the evening of Thursday 5th March, Luddites gathered at their pre-arranged meeting place at Dry Clough Lane, Lockwood. A small party of 16 were met by others from Dalton, but a rainy night had left the Dalton men completely drenched by the time they turned up, and the decision was made that they should therefore return home.

The first to be visited by the group that night was Samuel Swallow of Linthwaite, in the early hours of 6th March. The Luddites demanded entry, knocking violently at his door, threatening to break it open. Swallow rushed out of bed and opened the door. Several men rushed past him, and soon started to search the property for candles. A man who had his face blacked ordered Swallow upstairs and onto his bed, where he held him at gun point. Another man joined him and stood at the foot of the bed, pointing another gun at him.

In Swallow's workshop, the Luddites were at work smashing his machinery and other items: the toll exacted that night included 2 shearing frames, along with a brushing machine and 4 pairs of hand cropping shears.

When it was over, the Luddites wished him goodnight before they left reminding him to lock his door, which he promptly did.

At Hoyle House in Linthwaite, Sarah Sykes was alone, her clothdresser husband being away from home. Just before 2.00 a.m. she was awoken by a great hammering at both the front and back door - someone was breaking in. She got up, and saw about 20 men with blackened faces coming through the door. They lit some candles them had with them and some of them made their way to the workshop where the soon set about smashing what was there - her husband's solitary shearing frame and 4 pairs of hand shears.

One of the men asked her where her husband was, but then another shouted from outside "call all your men down", and they turned and left. They moved outdoors into the night, and darkness soon swallowed them.

At the house of William Cotton, his servant John Sykes was alone when he heard a loud knocking at his master's door, someone shouting out to them them in. He opened the door and 30 men came in, all of them in disguise. They stood around him, firing questions at him, "where was his master?", "where did they keep the guns, pistols, ammunition?" Frightened half to death, Sykes explained Cotton was away and the Luddites moved to search the house, placing the other occupants present under guard. They took a pound of candles, and then set about destroying Cotton's machines and cloth dressing equipment - 2 pairs of hand shears and a brushing machine. A man who seemed to be in charge came over and made a clear threat - that if Cotton attempted to install any more machinery, they would return and blow up the whole premises.

At 2.30 a.m., John Swallow of Linthwaite was woken by a loud noise: hammering on his door, voices shouting & demanding to be let in. His wife got up and went downstairs, letting the men in. They lit a candle and demanded the keys to her husband's workshop. Having secured the keys, they opened the shop door and destroyed what was there - 2 shearing frames and 11 pairs of hand shears. Bringing the keys back they bade the shocked family good night and headed into the dark.

This has been compiled from a report in the Leeds Mercury of 14th March 1812, Brooke & Kipling (1993, pp.17-18) and Reid (1986, pp.75-76), as well as depositions of witnesses which can be found at HO 40/1/7.

No comments:

Post a Comment