Saturday, 16 June 2012

16th June 1812: A Merchant encounters armed men in Elland - arms raids follow

Joseph Woodhead was a merchant from Elland in West Yorkshire. He had encountered between 12-14 armed men on Elland Bridge at midnight on 5th June, who had passed him and then dispersed.

Ten nights later, at midnight on Tuesday 16th June 1812, he was in Elland again, on his way to Woodman House, accompanied by female companions. Alongside a field in the town, he was challenged by a man with a gun who said "advance friend and give the counter signs or damn your blood, I'll blow your Brains out". In a subsequent deposition, Woodhead said he had challenged the man and then became aware that a number of people were also present an armed: a voice said "let them pass". Woodhead and the women carried on, and having walked 100 yards heard around 6 gunshots - the first shot passed over their heads. Woodhead did not record what happened to him after that.

The next day, Woodhead was informed that shortly after the incident in Elland, the home of James Astley, an Excise Officer, was raided by 14 men. Astley suffered a few broken windows and his arms were demanded - he gave the men 3 pistols.

Another man called Smith had been similarly raided. he told the raiders he had got rid of his gun - they told him they expected him to get them one, and would call again in a fortnight. They demanded drink, and Smith gave them milk. They also asked if Smith knew of anyone else with arms in the vicinity: Smith told them that a Miss Cartledge at Woodman House had a gun, but this had been surrended to the military. The men pledged to 'make her pay' for this.

Woodhead later heard that lead was stolen from the house of this Miss Cartledge that night, including he leaden parts of a water pump, presumably for use in creating bullets.

Joseph Woodhead's deposition can be found at HO 40/1/1.

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