Saturday, 12 January 2013

12th January 1813: The trial of James Hey, Joseph Crowther & Nathan Hoyle for a robbery at Fartown

On Tuesday 12th January 1813, the remaining trials of the York Special Commission were held.

The first case was against James Hey (aged 25, a woollen-spinner), Joseph Crowther (31, a cotton-spinner) & Nathan Hoyle (45, a weaver) for the robbery of James Brook at Fartown on 29th November 1812 & for stealing from him and placing him in fear. All three pleaded Not Guilty.

James Alan Park set out the case of the prosecution, stating that James Brook was himself a poor man, a coal-miner and went to describe the prisoners “men in an inferior station in life”. An accomplice, Joseph Carter, was again witness for the Crown.

Park went on to describe the circumstances leading up to the raid: that a witness, Edward Crowther, took part in a conversation with Nathan Hoyle and another man called Jonas Mitchell on the day of the robberies at Deighton and Fartown where the plans for that evening were laid out, and it was proposed to meet at 7.00 p.m. that evening. The two other men did not turn up, but they met Hoyle the next day at noon, and Hoyle said the group had done ‘exceedingly well’.

Park stated that, in the evidence he gave when he was examined on 16th December, Joseph Crowther admitted he had taken part in the robberies, but that he was led on by the others.

A description of the raid was given, and the case was summed up by Mr. Justice Le Blanc. After that, James Brook gave evidence and related the raid in detail. Throughout his evidence, Brook would not positively swear that James Hey was the leader of the group who spoke to him that night.

Next, the witness for the Crown, Joseph Carter, gave evidence. Carter had taken part in the raids at Deighton & Fartown that night. Carter’s account of the raid at James Brook’s differed in some respects from the evidence given by Brook himself, principally in that he did not witness the words spoken and also threats made against Brook’s children in the house. Carter admitted that he had given evidence against his accomplices in the hope that it would save him.

The men that had got cold feet, Jonas Mitchell & Edward Crowther, also gave detailed evidence. Both men had given evidence to the magistrate, Joseph Radcliffe, after they had heard what had happened or had been taken up respectively.

The Huddersfield solicitor, John Allison, gave evidence that Joseph Crowther had given evidence of what had happened before Joseph Radcliffe freely ‘without promises of threats’, and Crowther’s evidence was read out in Court.

Two employers of James Hey, Robert Thomas Bradbury of Copley Mill and a Stephen Broadbent spoke about the good character of Hey. No one spoke for the two other prisoners.

The Jury retired at 12.20 p.m. and returned five minutes later, finding all three men Guilty.

This is from Howell (1823, pp.1147-1159).

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