Friday, 31 August 2012

31st August 1812: John Hinchliffe implicates John Schofield in his shooting

Since giving his initial deposition to West Riding magistrates on 23rd July, the day after he was shot, John Hinchliffe had now decided that he now knew who one of the men was.

The Stockport solicitor, John Lloyd, had 'persuaded him' to identify a man who was already suspected, John Schofield. Lloyd had essentially abducted Hinchliffe by removing him to a private residence, ostensibly 'for his own safety'. But since he was outside of legal custody, Lloyd could effectively do what he liked with him. There is no doubt that he subjected him to an interrogation, but it is not possible to know what went on beyond that. We do know that General Maitland had previously expressed his discomfort about Lloyd's methods, and that Lloyd's letters to the Home Office are full of dark hints.

On Sunday 30th August, Lloyd travelled to Holmfirth to talk to Constable Blythe. He found out from Blythe that Hinchliffe had connections to the Luddites: Blythe recounted a meeting between himself, Hinchliffe and two other men at his house on Sunday 19th July. One of the men, John Thulas, told Hinchliffe to 'give over following the Luddites' and pay attention to what the parson at the Church said in his sermons. Hinchliffe left, and Blythe then told the men that what Hincliffe had told him 'would hang both him and John Schofield'. The other man present, Abraham Battye, then left without saying anything.

Blythe now told Lloyd that he suspected Battye had gone more or less straight to relate the tale to Schofield, for the following morning at 6.00 a.m., Schofield visited Hinchliffe, asking him what he had said to Blythe. Two days later, Hinchliffe was shot.

On Monday 31st August, Schofield denied to Lloyd he had been involved, though in the same deposition, he did admit to meeting Hinchliffe on the 20th July, and asking him what he had said to Blythe.

Lloyd then presented his new knowledge to Hinchliffe. No doubt he laboured long and hard on him that he knew he was involved with the Luddites, and spelled out to him what that could mean for him. Despite saying previously that he did not recognise his assailants, that day, he signed the following deposition:
the former Examination he gave to Joseph Scott Esqr. on the 23d July and now read over is true and he further saith that from the observations which he made of one of the men whom he has alluded to in that Examination he has no doubt whatever of John Schofield the younger (the prisoner now in custody) being the man called him up and afterwards had hold of him at the Door and fled upon the hearing of the Horse for, he is very well acquainted with the Prisoner’s Voice having been much in his Company when the Prisoner has been learning to sing and he thought at the time he was called to that it was the voice of Schofield the Prisoner that did call — and when he came to see his person he thought it the person of Schofield — It was quite the shape of him — and he got a sight of part of his face & he thought it like the face of Schofield

The depositions and a note from Lloyd about his meeting with Blythe can be found at HO 42/126.

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