Monday, 9 November 2015

9th November 1815: Simon Orgill case is brought before the Court of King's Bench

On Thursday 9th November 1815, the appeal of the Hundred of Westgoscote against the awarding of damages to Simon Orgill, whose lace frames had been destroyed in a Luddite attack in 1814, was heard at the Court of King's Bench in London. The Nottingham Review of Friday 17th November 1815 carried a report about the hearing:

Court of King's Bench, November 9. 
Mr. Clarke moved for a rule to shew cause why the verdict for the Plaintiff in this case should not be set aside, and a non-suit entered. It was an action brought on the statute of the 52d of the King, chap 130, and was tried before Mr. Baron Graham, at Leicester. The action was brought against the Hundred, and the declaration stated, "that certain persons had riotously and in a disorderly manner assembled, and unlawfully demolished and destroyed twelve frames, the property of the Plaintiff, and some frames being ENGINES employed in carrying on his manufactory of framework lace." The objection which he (Mr. Clarke) made at the time, was, that these frames did not come within the meaning of the statute under which the action was brought. The Learned Judge however, directed the Jury otherwise, but gave him leave to move the Court upon the subject. In consequence of which permission, he now addressed their Lordships. It was proved that a number of persons had entered the shop of the Plaintiff, and had destroyed the frames in question. 
Sir S. Le Blanc—"There was no doubt as to the manner in which these frames were destroyed!" 
Mr. Clarke—"None, my Lord; the only doubt is, whether the frames come within the meaning of the Statute." 
The Learned Counsel then proceeded to read the Statute in question, which, after reciting various Acts, which had been previously passed, enacted, that any person destroying or demolishing engines, &c. should be guilty of felony, and upon conviction thereof, the person whose engines, &c. had been destroyed, would be entitled to a remuneration for his loss, from the hundred or county in which he resided. He now had to contend, that the frames, which formed the subject of the present action, were mere movable machines, six or seven of which might stand in one shop, and be removed from room to room at pleasure, and therefore not such engines as contemplated by the Act, which he considered ought to be fixtures. 
Lord Ellenborough—Is there nothing to steady them? 
Mr. Clarke—They are heavy enough to steady themselves. They are not fixed to the floor. 
Lord Ellenborough—With reference to the subject of this Act of Parliament, you consend that an engine must be fixed. Now I think ex vi termini, an engine not be fixed. The engine one is best acquainted with, namely a fire-engine, is movable very rapidly. It is said this particular frame is fixed by its own weight. I remember an incident of an ingenious engineer who proposed to erect a bridge at Hexham without piles. He succeeded in his plan, but the very first flood that occurred, carried his bridge away. This, to be sure, proves the necessity of fixing some engines. 
Mr. J. Dampier—Mangles are seldom fixed. 
Lord Ellenborough—I think the point deserves some consideration, but if you can agree upon the facts, with the assistance of the Learned Judge's notes, it had better be turned into a case. 
Mr. Clarke acquiesced in this suggestion, but for the present took a Rule to shew cause why the verdict should not be set aside and a Non-suit entered.
It would be another 18 months before this case would return to the Court.

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