Sunday, 3 March 2013

3rd March 1813: Thomas Shillitoe visits the families of Joseph Crowther, William Hartley, John Hill & Job Hey

On Wednesday 3rd March 1813, the Quaker missionary Thomas Shillitoe continued with his visits to the families of executed Luddites, accompanied by Joseph Wood:
Fourth-day we went to Sowerby-bridge. Our first visit was to the widow of Joseph [Crowther], who suffered for robbery: he had left three children, and his widow nearly being confined with her fourth. We were enabled to labour with her, to persevere in an endeavour after a steady reliance for help on that Divine power, which alone would be found all-sufficient to support her mind in her future tossings and temptations: we were ready to hope the opportunity with her would be remembered at a future day, to her comfort. We next proceeded to the cottage of the parents of William Hartley, who suffered for robbery: with them resided his eight children, bereft of both parents, the mother having been deceased about three weeks. The neighbours observing us go into their cottage, followed us, quietly taking their seats: the opportunity proved to many, especially some of the children, a heart-tendering season—one, I believe, that will long be remembered by some present.

Our next visit was to North-dean, in Elland township, to the widow of John Hill, who left one infant—he suffered for robbery. His widow presented us with an interesting letter, received from him the day before his execution, manifesting the peaceful state of mind he had been favoured to attain to, under the evidence of his having been enabled to forgive all mankind, and himself experiencing Divine forgiveness for all his sins. She informed us, the night he was taken, he was forced out of his bed by the Gang; that she ran after him half-a-mile without any of her upper garments upon her, until they obliged her to return, threatening to blow her brains out if she followed them. We sat with the widow, the sufferer's mother, aunt, &c.: it proved a solid opportunity. A brother of the sufferer was also by the same means implicated in these riotous proceedings that night; his neighbours say, not from inclination, but overcome by threats, he being always considered a religiously-disposed young man, and was much esteemed; but he escaped being taken with the rest. His mother was maintained by the produce of a small farm, and he was her sole dependence in the management of it. The loss of the other son, by such an untimely end, with the continued fearful apprehensions she laboured under, of her other son being taken—there being a warrant out against, and search making for him, appeared almost to drive her to despair. We endeavoured to console her all in our power. Before we left her, I felt it laid upon me to assure her, on account of the general good character we had received of the young man, and the manner of his being led away, we would lay his case before the magistrate who granted the warrant, and use our influence to obtain permission for him to return home with safety.

Our next visit was to the widow of [Job] Hey, and her seven fatherless children: we found her in a state of mind bordering on despair. As ability was afforded, we endeavoured to turn her mind to seek after that quietude and submission to the dispensation permitted to be her lot, in which God is to be known, and his power experienced, to stay, comfort, console her, and which would carry her through the accumulated afflictions she was struggling with; but, after all, her poor mind was so overcharged with the prospect of her great poverty, her numerous fatherless children, without any visible means for their support, we were ready to fear that what we had to offer, obtained but little entrance. Leaving this cottage of woe and misery, we bent our course to Halifax.

This is from Shillitoe (1839, pp.187-189). Although Shillitoe says that William Hartley's wife had died 3 weeks prior to his visit, this is incorrect. She had actually died several months before Hartley was executed.

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