Sunday 3 April 2016

3rd April 1816: The execution of the Luddite, John Dann

On Wednesday 3rd April 1816 the Luddite, John Dann (aka John Simpson), was executed in Nottingham. Dann had been convicted of Highway Robbery, and his alleged involvement in Luddism had not been disclosed. The local authority believed he was deeply implicated in Luddism, but because they had based their case on the word of an informer, we cannot be sure about the veracity of their case. The Town Clerk of Nottingham, Henry Enfield, had suggested that the Assizes Judge be directed to order execution without remission for Dann, although it's not clear if this intervention led to his death sentence.

The Nottingham Date Book (containing extracts from the Nottingham Review) contains an interesting passage about Dann:

April 3.—Execution of John Simpson, alias Daniel Simpson, for committing several highway robberies. 
The offences in particular for which he suffered, were, robbing Mr. Thomas Needham, of Lambley, of 29s. and a bundle of cotton, and Mr. Joseph Bowes, of Eastwood, of a silver watch and a £1 note.   
This malefactor was a native of Ashton-under-Lyne, and after being taught something of the stocking-making business at Lancaster, came to Nottingham in 1799, at the age of 16. He had worked at Melbourne, Mansfield, Sutton, and Arnold, as well as in this town, and had assumed a great variety of names. He was married twice, and his second wife was a native of Arnold.  
At his own request, Simpson was attended to the place of execution, by two gentlemen of the Particular Baptist persuasion. He was penitent, and freely acknowledged his guilt.

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