Monday, 28 May 2012

28th May 1812: The trial of Manchester & Middleton rioters at Lancaster Special Commission

At 8.00 a.m. on Thursday 28th May 1812, rioters alleged to be present in Manchester & Middleton in April stood trial at the Lancaster Special Commission.

Six prisoners were accused of riotously assembling at the shop of John Holland on Deansgate on 20th April 1812 & stealing provisions.

John Lee (aged 46) was said to have admonished Holland to open the door to his shop, when the crowd initially approached. When Holland refused, Lee was said to have kicked at it. Thomas Hoyle (aged 27) was said to have then said to have brought a piece of wood to join Lee in battering down the door. When the crowd gained entry and began to throw the provisions out into the street, John Howarth (aged 30) was said to have joined in.

Howarth, Lee and Hoyle all contended that on the day they had left work to go home, travelling past Holland's shop, but that they did not join in with the crowd.

The Jury disagreed, and Howarth, Lee and Hoyle were found guilty. The others accused - Henry Ashton, Richard Southern & Phoebe Smith - being acquitted.

On the same day, 6 prisoners were accused of having set fire to the mansion of Emanuel Burton and also of extorting meat and liquor from Daniel Burton at Middleton on 21st April 1812.

Before proceeding to the evidence, Mr J.A. Park for the prosecution stated that in a riotous assembly, where the riot proceeded to arson, all of those present would be guilty of arson - even if they had been there out of idle curiosity.

It was alleged that John Kenyon (aged 40) had been seen outside Burton's factory on 20th April, beckoning to the crowd to attack it, and was said to be present at Emanuel Burton's mansion the next day, taking part in throwing stones through the windows. Abraham Ogden (aged 21) was similarly alleged to be present amongst the crowd at the house.

A single witness attested that he had met John Scholes (aka Wragg, aged 19), James Taylor (aged 25) and Paul Greenwood (aged 26) amongst the crowd on the way to Emanuel Burton's house. He attested that Scholes had been eager to drink beer. At the house, the same witness saw all three, plus Robert Ogden (aged 24) in the yard before the house was set alight. All four were also seen by the witness at Daniel Burton's house later.

Ogden, Scholes and Taylor denied being present, and Kenyon said he had been in Middleton to collect some cloth for dyeing, which he had collected and then returned back home. Several witnesses attested to the good character of the accused.

After deliberating for an hour, the Jury found the 6 men not guilty. However, Park introduced an indictment against the men for rioting, and their cases were traversed until the next Assizes. Bail of £200 each had to be paid, plus 2 sureties of £100 each, sums which they had no chance of meeting, meaning they would be detained until then.

As reported in the Lancaster Gazette of 30th May and 13th June 1812.

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