Thursday, 13 September 2012

13th September 1812: Arms raid & robbery on a tax collector at Sowerby

At 11.00 p.m. on Sunday 13th September, a 7 armed men broke into the house of a William Barker, a collector of Taxes, at Sowerby. They announced their arrival by firing 2 shots & when Barker was in front of them, demanded his guns, which were given to them. The men then demanded money and were given £20 in Halifax bank notes and valuables such as silver plate.

But the Luddites were not finished: Barker's house was ransacked, and his furniture destroyed. The men also made a pile on the floor from some of his clothing and set it on fire.

Before the men left, Barker was warned they would return again soon for more money.

This has been compiled from a report in the Leeds Mercury of 19th September 1812 plus Mr Barker's deposition of 15th September 1812, and a letter from Lieutenant-Colonel Russell to General Acland of the same date, both of which can be found at HO 40/2/3. The newspaper says the Luddites threatened the life of Sowerby and his family, but he does not mention this in his deposition (as you would expect him to) and neither does Russell, so I have excluded it.

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