Sunday 22 July 2012

22nd July 1812: John Hinchliffe shot and badly wounded at Upper Thong

Around 11.30 p.m. on Wednesday 23rd July 1812, John Hinchliffe - a professional singer and the parish clerk of Holmfirth - was asleep in bed at his home in Wickens, near Upper Thong. He was awoken by a great din, someone was banging on his door - someone shouted "does John Hinchliffe live here?". He sat up and said, loudly, "yes, what do you want?" - a voice called back "we want to speak to you".

Hinchliffe got up and went directly downstairs and opened the door. Two men were there and each raised a pistol to point right at him. He noticed that the face of one of the men was covered.They grabbed him, saying they would not hurt him, but wanted him to show them where someone lived, but wouldn't say who. Hinchliffe refused to go, and then noticed a horse trotting up the lane - the masked man let go of him and ran after it. The other man still had hold of him and said "what have you been doing?" - Hinchliffe said "nothing" - the man said "you're a liar, you've been giving information against someone at Thong!".

At this point, Hinchliffe broke free of the man's grip - as he was turning, the man raised his pistol and fired straight at Hinchliffe's head: Hinchliffe screamed out, and the man ran away.

Hinchliffe's neighbour - another Hinchliffe called Thomas - heard the shot and got up. He went to his door and heard Hinchliffe calling out "Tom! Tom! Tom, there's a man, he's shot my eye out!" and moaning. It was only when he opened the door on the moonlit night and let John in that he could see Hinchliffe's head around his left eye was a bloody mess - but he was still alive.

This is taken from the deposition of John Hinchliffe, sworn on 23rd July 1812, which can be found at HO 42/126 and Howell (1823, pp.1035-1054).

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