Tuesday 8 January 2013

8th January 1813: The trial of John Baines and others for administering an illegal oath

The last trial that took place on Friday 8th January was that of John Baines the elder (aged 66, a milliner), Charles Milnes (22, a cardmaker), John Baines the younger (34, a cobbler), William Blakeborough (22, a cobbler), George Duckworth (23, a cobbler) and Zachariah Baines (15, a labourer). John Baines the elder was charged with administering an illegal oath to John McDonald (an undercover agent) on 8th July 1812, whilst the others were charged with aiding & assisting him.

James Alan Park spoke first for the prosecution to attempt to differentiate the actions of the spy McDonald from incitement, in that the prisoners were not innocents led to criminal acts by the spy. Park went on to relate what had happened on July 8th. Baron Thomson then summed up the case.

After McDonald gave evidence, he was cross-examined. A constable from Manchester, he had once been a weaver and was originally from Ireland. He was currently serving time in prison after being convicted of an assault, and had been brought to York by Habeus Corpus to give evidence. McDonald’s fellow constable who had been present with him for some of the time, John Gossling, also gave evidence in support.

The prisoners all gave evidence that they were elsewhere at the time alleged by McDonald and Gossling on the evening of the 8th July. They also called witnesses to back this up: John Thomas a master shoemaker from Luddinden in Midgley, employed John Baines the younger, and stated that they were together working on that day until 10 at night, after which they drank beer, with Baines staying the night. Another cobbler, Thomas Cockcroft, stated that he saw John Baines the younger at John Thomas’s the following morning.

William Longbottom, another cobbler, spoke for George Duckworth, stating that Duckworth had come with him on the 8th July to Ovenden before returning to Halifax and working together. They dined and went for a walk later, before returning to Duckworth’s, where Longbottom slept that night.

William Duckworth, George’s father, also spoke for him and confirmed Longbottom’s evidence.

Thomas Helwell, John Baines the elder’s son-in-law and a soldier in the 33rd Regiment, stated that he was with Baines on the evening of the 8th, and remained there until 2.00 a.m. the following morning.

Hannah Crowther spoke for William Blakeborough to say that she had accompanied him on the 8th July to Saddleworth to meet his brother, where they stayed that night and the following 10 days. John Blakeborough, the brother, spoke to confirm the evidence she had given.

The case was summed up by the Judges, and the Jury retired at 8.15 p.m. They returned 5 minutes later to find all of the prisoners Guilty, save for Zachariah Baines, who was found Not Guilty.

This is from Howell (1823, pp.1074-1092).

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