Saturday, 2 March 2013

2nd March 1813: Arms raid & burglary at Tong, near Middleton, Lancashire

At 8.00 p.m. on Tuesday 2nd March 1813, seven men entered the house of Philip Bury, of Tong, near Middleton in Lancashire. Their heads were covered with napkins, and they were wearing aprons over their regular clothes.

They demanded firearms, and went on seize a gun. Some of the men went through the house looking for items, whilst others kept guard at the door. When Bury tried to follow one upstairs, a pistol was levelled at his head and threats were issued to him. The men identified each other by numbers, so as not to reveal any name or nickname.

After being present in the house for an hour, they made off with a flask of gunpowder (leaving the firearm they had seized behind), some silver spoons, tea-tongs, a 5s 6d silver piece and other money the sum of £26, as well as other items. Threats were made to the family not to follow them or raise the alarm, and they locked the door to the house from the outside using the key. They levelled threats at people in a nearby house as they escaped.

The same night, another house near Middleton was robbed.

As reported in the Derby Mercury of 11th March 1813.

Many historians are reluctant to include burglaries that took place around the time of Luddism as part of the movement. They are perhaps unaware that expropriation is a feature of radical and revolutionary movements - or otherwise unsympathetic. Nevertheless, where there is a willingness to discuss burglaries that took place up to the time of the York Special Commission in early January 1813, there is typically no mention of anything that took place afterwards. This burglary, and at least one other arund this time, have clear features in common with other robberies conducted earlier in the Luddite period.

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