Sunday, 15 April 2012

15th April 1812: Attempted assassination of a Deputy Constable, George Whitehead, of Huddersfield

George Whitehead was a Deputy Constable who lived at the Paddock, near Huddersfield. With a career in the Horse Guards behind him, he owned a shop in the area as well as his own home.

On the evening of Wednesday the 15th April 1812, he was tired and ready for bed. It had been a long day, and it was nearly midnight. Having put the other lights in his house out, Whitehead took the remaining candle and started to ascend the staircase.

As he was part way up the stairs, he was startled by a load bang and the sound of breaking glass next to him. He only realised he was unhurt when he found himself at the top of the stairs having bolted there there in panic after hearing the noise. He waited there for some time, partly through fear, but also partly because to see if any other moves would be made by whoever was out to shoot him. After some time, he decided it was safe, and his anxiety having eased somewhat, he went to bed.

The next morning, having woken Whitehead descended the stairs to survey the damage. In the window next to the staircase, three panes of glass were broken. On the stairs were two lead pistol balls, a piece of lead or solder and a piece of bone, which he presumed had been loaded into the gun fired at him.

He went to look at the window from the outside. He could see marks on the wall, which he thought had been made by other pistol balls that had missed the windows.

Two days later, and still shaken, he made his way to the magistrate, Joseph Radcliffe and told him all about what had happened.

This is based upon the deposition of George Whitehead, which can be found at HO 40/1/1. The short of this incident in the Leeds Mercury of 25th April 1812 says it took place on Friday 17th April, but Whitehead is clear about the day in his deposition.

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