Tuesday, 19 January 2016

19th January 1816: 19 men imprisoned for machine-breaking in Suffolk in 1815

On Friday 19th January 1816, the Cambridge Chronicle carried reports from two recent Quarter Sessions in the county, where cases of machine breaking that had taken place in Suffolk in 1815 were dealt with.

At the Ipswich Quarter Sessions 12 men (4 more than were initially charged) were tried for destroying a threshing machine at Holbrook, Suffolk the previous August:
At Ipswich sessions, Daniel Grimwood, Thomas Seager, Joseph Cook, Martin Gosling, ____ Sells, John Driver, Jerry Lucas, ____ Bayley, Robert Payne, Samuel Page, Robert Page, and S. Turner, were indicted for appearing in a riotous manner in the parish of Holbrook, on the 3d of August last, and there breaking and destroying a threshing machine, the property of John Roper, of Wilby.—Mr. Stocks, for the prosecutions, insisted upon the urgent necessity of supporting the laws, and after the evidence, which was full and conclusive, had been gone through, the prisoners were called upon for their defence, but they had little to urge except the difficulty of gaining employment, which they attributed to the use of machines.—Several persons were called, who gave them excellent characters. The Jury brought in the whole Guilty, and the sentence of the Court was,  that Grimwood, Seager, Cook, and Gosling should be imprisoned for twelve calendar months; Sells and two others, for nine months, and the remainder of the prisoners for six months.
At Woodbridge Quarter Sessions, a total of 7 men were tried for destroying 3 threshing machines in disturbances that had involved a total of 100 people the previous November:
At the quarter sessions at Woodbridge, Edmund Prime, Wm. Garnham, Wm. Bannister, John Abbott, Wm. Barker, and Thos, Stevens, charged with breaking machines in the parishes of Kenton and [Monk]-soham, and also for subsequent riot and misdemeanour, were found Guilty, and ordered to be imprisoned twelve months in the county gaol.—John Brunwin, for the like offence, was sentenced to be imprisoned six months in the same gaol.—It is much to be hoped that these necessary examples will have the effect of preventing such excesses for the future—excesses not only disastrous to the objects of them, but ruinous to the perpetrators.

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