Joseph Harding was a shopkeeper at Henbury, near Macclesfield. On Wednesday 28th April 1813, he had gone to bed early at 9.00 p.m. He awoke at 2.00 a.m. to find two men standing over him - both had blackened faces and pointed pistols at him, warning him that they would shoot if he stirred or made a sound. Other men downstairs were going through the house for valuables. This continued for some time, but Harding was at some point left unguarded, and used the opportunity to climb through a window and make an escape.
He ran to his neighbours and raised the alarm. Four of them - Peter Gaskell, a farmer, Thomas Atkinson, a labourer, John Ellam, a bricklayer and John Oldham, another bricklayer - accompanied Harding back to his house, to find that the burglars had left. The group of five then set off to try to track the robbers down, using footsteps left in the early morning dew. By 6.00 a.m., at Butley Ash, five miles from Henbury, they came across three men in the turnpike road: Joseph Wood, a hay-dealer, Isaac Woodford, another hay-dealer and Isaac Woodhall a joiner. Woodhall said he had seen two men sitting under a hedge in a field, with a bundle.
The group went to the spot and confronted the two men - the men responded by pulling out pistols, which misfired. A struggle ensued and the two men were overpowered by the group. One of the group went to fetch a Constable from Butley Ash and the prisoners were then conducted to the home of a magistrate, Mr Downes of Shrigley. Downes decided to commit the two men - James Renshaw, a weaver from Meg Lane, Sutton, and Simeon Beeston, another weaver, from Ringway - to Chester Castle to stand trial at the next Assizes.
This is from an account in the Chester Courant of 11th May 1813.