Wednesday 3 August 2016

3rd August 1816: The trial of Thomas Glover & John Chettle for frame-breaking, at Nottingham Assizes

On Saturday 3rd August 1816, one of the most extraordinary but-lesser-known trials in British legal history took place at Nottingham Assizes. John Chettle & Thomas Glover were accused of taking part in frame-breaking at New Radford in June. The 12-hour trial was covered in an article in the Leicester Chronicle of 10th August (probably taken from the Nottingham Review coverage).



About half-past one o'clock this day, THOMAS GLOVER and JOHN CHETTLE, were put to the bar. These two men had been arraigned in the morning, and pleaded not guilty to the three indictments preferred against them. The first indictment charged them with having, on the night of the 8th day of June last, at the Parish of Radford, in the county of Nottingham, together with divers persons yet unknown, with force and arms, entered the dwelling-house of William Wright, wilfully and maliciously broken and destroyed therein four lace frames, the property of the said William Wright, and eight other frames in the same dwelling-house then and there being, without consent of the said William Wright. The second indictment charged them with stealing two piece of lace, the property of the said William Wright. And the third, couched in nearly the same terms as the first, charged them with breaking seven frames in the house of Thomas Mullen, all on the night of the 8th day of June last. The prisoners were now put to the bar on the first of these charges; and after the jury had been resworn, and the witnesses for the prisoners ordered out of court,

Mr. Clarke leading counsel for the prosecution, then called the witnesses.

Eliza Wright (examined by Mr. Reader) is the daughter of William Wright, lace manufacturer, in New Radford—her father was not at home in the evening of the 8th of June—the family consisted of her mother, herself, her sister Ann, a sister Keziah, three young children, and an apprentice girl, Hannah Lane—about a quarter before one was alarmed by hearing many persons before the door, and passing by; her mother, sister, servant, and the children were in bed; she alone was left up in the house; the door and windows were all fast. Witness went up stairs, and immediately heard a loud knock at the door, as if with a large stick or hammer; she shrieked out and called her mother—heard many folks go upstairs, into the workshops over the room where she slept—her mother slept up another pair of stairs, though it was on the same floor as the room in which she slept—there were three shops upstairs, all connected or communicating together. Witness soon afterwards heard the breaking of the frames—believed the men staid in the house about twenty minutes—while the men were in the room her sister went up to and looked out at the window of the chamber in which they were—heard no voice call that she can recollect—it was not until three or four o'clock that she went up to the shops, when she found all the frames broken, but does not recollect how many frames were in the shop—was greatly alarmed during the time the men were in the house.

Cross-examined by Mr. Denman, counsel for the business there was an aunt in the family; does not know her name, though her own aunt and lives with them; she is generally called aunt Kitty; was in the house at the time, and was extremely frightened, but did not go into fits, though she was very near it, and her aunt's extreme distresses took up much of their attention — there was only one step between her room and her mother's — her aunt Kitty slept with her mother – when she came downstairs, the clock face was bashed, and the glass broken; it did not go them, for it had been stopped by some violence done to it.

William Wright, (examined by Mr. Clarke) is a lace manufacturer, and carried on his business, on the 8th day of June last, at New Radford; he had twelve frames in his house; four of them were his own, three belonging to William Wayman, of Nottingham, three to Benjamin Topham, of Pentridge, one to Mrs. Platts, a widow woman, and one to Mr. Cole—they were all frames to make point net lace on; seven of them were at work, and five stood still—the house in which he lived was built for and formerly had been three houses, and the frame stood in the three workshops over the three houses—the workshops communicated one with another—witness went from home on Saturday, and returned on Monday the 10th of June—the frames were all safe and perfect when he went from home; when he came back, all the twelve were demolished, apparently with an axe, or something of that description—a person came over to Grantham to let him know of the destruction of his property—the jack-wires of the frames were drawn out, and some of them broken and thrown about the room—the frames were quite incapable of being again used—knows the two prisoners very well; Chettle lived on the right hand side of Chapel-street, witness lived on the left—does not know how long Chettle may have lived there, but above two years: ever since witness went to reside in that street—has known Glover four years—Glover lived fronting the gardens, about five hundred yards from witness’s house.

Ann Wright was the daughter of the last witness, went to bed at a quarter before one by their clock, but their clock was half an hour too fast, leaving her sister Eliza and Hannah Lane up in the house—went to bed without a light, thinking her sister would follow her—soon went to sleep, but was awoke by a chopping at the door, and her sister shrieking—by the sound she conceived it was an hatchet with which the door was struck—jumped out of bed, and heard blows at the dooe for two or three minutes; ran to the chamber door and shrieked out "murder"—heard her mother's voice on the stairs, her mother said "Eliza," or "lasses," she could not distinguish which, "what's the matter"—witness stood still with the chamber door open some time—her mother went away, and the dog and the men made such a noise, that she did not hear what her mother said further—her mother was below—"I heard men speaking but did not hear what they said but I heard after some of them say, ‘men, there are two of you forgetting your voices,’ this voice appeared to come from the street, from the street door; my chamber faced the street—my sister Eliza said ‘that's Chettle, never mind,’ I said it was Chettle and all" (a very common phrase for also)—witness thought then she knew the voice; had known Chettle eight or nine years, and was well acquainted with his voice—witness then went to the window, turned the curtain aside, and opened the sash five or six inches—she saw Thomas Glover, one of the prisoners at the bar, walking about; appeared to be walking to Wayman’s yard end, about twenty yards off—he walked backwards and forwards before the door, and had on a light great-coat, with the collar tied up to his chin by a handkerchief—she then saw John Chettle go up to him from her father's door—Chettle was in a cloth great-coat, tied up to the chin in the same manner as Glover’s—she had a good opportunity of seeing their faces, three separate times—cannot say whether there was a light, she saw no light—"it was a dark moonlight night, as though it was going to rain," Chettle and Glover talked together a few minutes—Chettle returned towards their door, and shouted "don't you break the globes, you've done enough," at this time John Chettle and Thomas Glover, the two prisoners at the bar, looked up, and she had a good opportunity of seeing their faces—at that period there appeared to her a sound from above like the smashing of iron, as if the frames were breaking—witness had known both Glover Chettle eight or nine years; she dare say she knew them as well as her own father; has no doubt at all of their identity; is sure it was them. To Chettle's call respecting the globes, the men above replied, "O [damn] them, we have not done half enough yet," and there was a smashing of glass, as if the globes were breaking, in an instant—witness then went to the chamber door, and heard a sound as though a man was coming up stairs, she directly crept under the bed, and her sister Eliza blowed out the candle, and dropped the candlestick on the floor—when she thought the man was gone down, she got from under the bed, and went to the chamber window again. Thomas Glover was still walking about; in a few minutes he returned again towards their door, and when about half way, he met Chettle coming from the door—they talked together a few minutes—there was a light in the shops above her, a reflection against the wall opposite, by which he saw their faces—both put their hands before their mouths, and shouted, "Ned, Bill, and Joe, you're in danger;" the men in the shops replied, "who dare face us while we’ve pistol and shot"—the men seemed to her as if they immediately proceeded to the third shop—the middle shop is over her room—Glover and Chettle shouted again, and said, "Ned, you're in danger"—she heard a smashing in the third shop before this was shouted—the men above called out that they had had ale, and would have more yet—the men staid in the shop two or three minutes longer, and then came down stairs; when they were in the street heard them fire two pieces, she saw about twenty men go down the street. Witness went up stairs into the shop about a quarter of an hour after, and saw that the twelve frames were broken, the carrying bars, and other parts of the frames were lying about the room—is quite sure that she was not mistaken about the persons of the prisoners.

Hannah Lane was the next witness sworn on the part of the prosecution. Was apprenticed to William Wright; when she had been in bed about a quarter of an hour on the night in question, she was awake by a noise like that of iron falling—she slept over the shops, and goes up a ladder to the room; when she heard the men breaking the frames, she came down five steps of the ladder, and saw the light of a small candle, and three men in the first shop, one of the men perceiving her, pointed a pistol to her, and said, if she did not go back, he would blow her brains out; saw something like coal hammer in one of the other's hands; the light went out soon after, and one of them went down stairs; they told him he might [poke] for a light; but shortly called to him, and said, they had got a lamp, and could do without it. When the men were gone, she went into the shops, and saw all the frames broken; she saw a bunch of matches lying on the floor but did not pick them up.

Mr. Denman decline cross-examining this witness.

Mary Wright, wife of William Wright stated that she left her daughter Eliza and Hannah Lane below when she went to bed: a little time afterwards heard persons at the door, and a great noise, she thought at first it was her daughter and went and called her: when the men had got into the house set, came up the stairs, close to her room door; she heard the breaking of the iron when the men had got into the rooms above; her window looked into the turnpike-road, the Alfreton Turnpike-road; her daughter's window looked into Chapel-street; their’s was a corner house; plainly heard a noise at Mullen’s door. Witness was on the stairs when the men forced an entrance, but instantly went into her room, shut the door, threw up the sash of the window, and called out "Murder!" intending to alarm Mullens, who lived at the next-door; when she had opened the window, she saw twelve men, a pistol was snapped at her, it only flashed in the pan, it did not go off; one of the men [damned] her, and bid her shut the window, but before she had time to obey the command, a number of stones were thrown, which broke five panes of glass. She heard a voice proceeding from the workshops, "Ned, bring a light." three separate times; and from the bottom of the stairs there was a call "Ned, you're in danger!" the men did not [illegible] then [illegible] into the third shop [illegible section] called again, they came down immediately; when the men had got into the street, she distinctly heard two pieces fired, and saw the flashes; she thought she saw another flash, but is not quite certain.—When she went down stairs, she found two pannels of the door, and the lock broken. Witness produced, in court, a quantity of the lace which was on the frames at the time they were broken; the lace was full of holes. The damage done to their own property, in lace and frames, was computed at 260l. 10s, independent of the damage done to the frames which did not belong to them.

Here the case for the prosecution ended.

Baron Graham having called upon the prisoners for their defence,

John Chettle declared, in a very emphatic manner, that he was an innocent man, and never did any one a "halfpeth" of injury in his life. He left his defence to his counsel.

Thomas Glover also said he was innocent of the crime laid to his charge, and he left his defence to his counsel.

The Learned Judge informed them that their counsel could not speak for them, he could only call and examine the witnesses; if they had any thing to say, they must say it for themselves.

The prisoner having declined saying any thing further.

Mr. Denman proceeded to call the witnesses, and the first witness that was sworn, was

Mary Ann Wakerley, who lives in Lamb’s-buildings, Broad-lane, and occupies a room there, which is the next room to Jemima Hague’s. Witness saw the prisoner Chettle in the course of the evening of the 8th of July; he came to her room at eight o'clock, and remained there about three quarters of an hour; he then went away, and returned about eleven o'clock; witness was not then in her own room, but Jemima Hague’s room; and did not return to her own room till two o'clock in the morning; had no supper; there was a bit of a merrymaking, and a little ale; there was nothing else. The merrymaking was on account of her son having lately come from soldiering. Her son was there that night, as well as William Ash, Francis Poyner, and Ann Jervis; these were all present at the merrymaking—Chettle drank some ale with them, and after a little time fell asleep, and remained in that state the whole of the night till two o'clock; she let him sleep, as long as she conveniently could, on account of his lameness, he had a little time before, broken his leg; she heard the clock strike two on going to her own room; colour, and came in and waked him herself; being very fresh at the time, had something to do to make him sensible, he went home; this was about a quarter after two; is quite positive he never left the room from eleven till two; is sure the clock struck two before she awoke him; recollects the day very well, for she heard of the frame-breaking the day after, being Sunday.

Re-examined by Mr. Denman.—Chettle pays for the three children he has by her; they were on the Saturday night and Jemima Hague’s room—she could trust Chettle more safely by himself at two o'clock that she could before, because it then began to get light.

WILLIAM BARROWS knows Chettle very well; did not hear the frame-breaking till Monday. Witness is a publican, and keeps the Cross Keys, in Nottingham—Chettle came to his house about nine o'clock or a little after, and staid there till about eleven.

Wm. Ash, Jemima Hague, Frederick Wakerley, Ann Jervis, Francis Poyner, Ann Dry, and Wm. Price, corroborated the evidence of the last witness, particularly as to seeing Chettle about two o'clock in Wakerley’s room.

Catherine Shaw lives in Back-lane, in the way from Lamb’s buildings to New Radford; her residence is about a quarter of a mile from Wright’s house; saw the prisoner Chettle on Sunday morning; she was washing the children's things, in order that they might be ready to go to the Sunday School in the morning; had occasion to empty the suds into the street; it was then getting daylight; saw a person come up the lane, as far off as she could see; he was coming up the lane towards New Radford; when he got towards her, she knew it to be John Chettle; she talked to him five or six minutes; he was very tipsy; he went, when she parted with him towards New Radford; she heard the quarter jacks of one of the town’s clocks strike, just before Chettle came, it went a quarter past two; she went to look, and found it a little faster. Witness knows Ann Wright, believes Ann Wright is not to be believed on her oath.

Richard Parker knows the odd Fellows Arms public house, at New Radford; he was there on the evening in question; the house is kept by Mr. Cooper; witness was in the tap-room, and there were about half a dozen people present; three countrymen sat on the right hand side of the room—there was a party the parlour, as he understood, a party of waterman (water-carriers.)—saw Thomas Glover come into the kitchen about nine o'clock; he sat in front of the kitchen; went out in about an hour, and came in again in twenty minutes; brought some stakes in his hand, which were ordered to be cooked; they were cooked accordingly, and brought on the table, and eaten—the persons who partook were Glover, himself, Langton, Booth, Husband, Elliott, Gamble, and Wheatley;—every one paid for his bread. Witness had Glover in view most the night—Glover never was absent while he stood there, more than a minute when he went out—when witness got home, it wanted about a quarter to two; went straight home—lives only about 200 yards, from the public-house, and the same distance from Wright’s; the reason he knows it was about a quarter to two is, he has a clock in his shop, which he always draws up on Saturday night, he drew it up as soon as he got home—the waiter at the public-house wanted them to go at 12 o'clock, but the company did not then depart.

Mary Cooper is the landlady of the Odd Fellows Arms public-house—Glover was in the tap-room on the night of the 8th of June.—Mr. Cooper, her husband, was unwell, and sent early to bed—she refused either to serve their party or the watermen, after 12 o'clock, and had seen him at 10, witness was not constantly in the room—after two o'clock they departed. She cannot say that Glover never went out after 11 till two; but she never saw him go out.

Mary Goddard was a servant in the house, and was waiting that night on the tap-room company—saw Glover there; she was employed taking liquor in all the night;—Glover came in with the stakes about ten o'clock, and never left the tap-room, only to go to the door; he was never absent above two or three minutes—in the course of the night she went out the back way for water, and heard a great noise and pistol go off; she came back immediately, and the company were all in the house—her mistress was frequently urging both companies to go, but could not get them to go in a reasonable time, not till two o'clock, in the morning, by their clock

Cross-examined—Witness went out for the water about one o'clock, into the brewhouse—did not mention what she had heard to the company in the house, though she was so frightened as to run in without the water—some of the company went to the door, but of course she did not follow them—Glover went to the door, but never was out more than two or three minutes, cannot say exactly how often nor how long; once in the course of the [illegible] [illegible] she went to the door, a man came by [sentence illegible] but slouched, as though he wished to hide his face; she heard a great smash, like the smashing of slates, but never mentioned it that night. Glover might go out three or four times—three of four minutes was the longest time Glover could be absent she believes.

Cross-examined—Glover was dressed as usual; the bar is next to the street, and she had no noises.

Joshua Wheatley is a framework-knitter; he was present; a treat was given that night by Glover, on account of his going to work in a twist machine of Mr. Kirkland's—witness never lost sight of Glover, nor saw him go to the door; he sat within three or four persons of Glover, and is sure Glover was present when the party broke up a few minutes before two o'clock.

Cross-examined by Mr. Clarke.—Witness will swear that Glover never went to the door—neither did he. Witness and Glover sat near together, and he never lost sight of him—he sat near the window; heard no noise except some like the shake of the window.

James Oakley was invited by Glover that night to his treat—sat next to Glover nearly the whole of the time.— Glover never left the room, he will swear that—he left the house near upon two o'clock— Glover was then present.

Thomas Amatt was at Cooper's house that night; Glover never left the house from the time witness joined the party, till he departed; had Glover gone out, he must have passed by, and disturbed witness.

Simeon Barrett, Samuel Husband and George Green, were also at Cooper's, and saw Glover there about two o'clock.

Thomas Gibson knows Ann Wright,; saw her at a quarter before two on Sunday afternoon, at the corner of her own house; she took him into the shop, and he asked her if she knew any of the offenders; she said no she did not; her sister Eliza was unlacing her boots in the house when they came to the door.

Ann Wright was again called, and declared she never said her sister was unlacing her boots in the house.

Thomas Gibson will positively swear that Ann Wright told him her sister Eliza was unlacing her boots in the house when the men came to the door; she mentioned to him that she and her sister Eliza go up stairs; she did not know any of them, for she was under the bed all the time.

William Leighton, a cordwainer, remembers seeing Ann Wright on Sunday about eight in the morning. He said to her, "What! Ann, you have had Ned Ludd at your house?" She answered, "Aye, that we have." He said "Do you know any of them;" and she answered, "No! I was [illegible] [damned] frightened for that, by God!" Witness has known her for more than seven years, and does not believe she is to be believed on her oath.

Q. Is not Mr. Smith one of the gang, one of the committee?
A. I do not know what you mean, Sir. 
Q. Will you swear that you don't know what is meant by the committee? 
A. Yes, I will.—(Hisses from the spectators in the hall.)

Adam Nelson, framework knitter, Benjamin Moore, Nathanial Longmire, a lace manufacturer, [illegible] Bostock, Francis Tealhy, grocer, Wm. Willoughby, Thos. Smith, Joseph Harper, James Fisher, John Dufty, Samuel Rowland and William Hazeldine, gave Chettle and Glover good characters, as peaceable, honest and industrious men.

At about twelve o'clock, the Learned Judge proceeded to give his charge to the Jury, and recapitulated most of the evidence from memory, regretting that he could not well see by candle-light to read the notes that he had taken. Some of the most particular parts of the evidence he read, and [after] a few remarks, committed the case to the Jury; recommending pointedly and indeed commending the numerous spectators not to make any sign of approbation or disapprobation, let the verdict be whatever it might.

The Jury, after a consultation of about twenty minutes, said they had not sufficient evidence of the guilt of the prisoners, and therefore in a formal manner gave in their verdict.—Thomas Glover not guilty—John Chettle not guilty.

On the verdict being announced, the spectator gave three times three huzza’s and paraded the [Town] shouting and rejoicing for some hours. The Court did not break up till about two o'clock on Sunday morning.

The Morning Post of 19th August 1816 carried an article from a 'Lincoln Paper, August 16' which gave a colourful description of the temper of the proceedings thus:

We are sorry to learn that the demoniacal spirit of a part of the population of the town and neighbourhood of Nottingham was again manifested at the trial of the Luddites there at the late assizes, all of whom were acquitted. Many of the Member of the Court were insulted, and the Learned Judge (GRAHAM) who tried the prisoners, had the most scandalous language addressed to him in going and returning from the Court. A more humane and amiable man, or one of  more urbane manners, and in whom the desire to acquit himself as becomes his difficult and high station more clearly appears, does not exist; and it makes us burn with indignation to hear that such a man should have been insultingly mouthed by the scum of England's population. We understand that a fine of 5000l. has been set on the county, for the injurious example it has afforded in the excesses by which it has been distinguished.

The Stamford Mercury of 23rd August 1816 carried a brief article which gave a different view of proceedings, which perhaps explained why Baron Graham had difficulty seeing by candle-light:

The late trial at Nottingham of the Luddites lasted till half-past two o'clock on the Sunday morning! As the evening advanced the conduct of the audience, particularly in the outer hall, became very tumultuous: the lights were put out by the crowd, who called out "No lights here!!" Every thing in favor of the prisoners was applauded by clapping of hands; and when the prisoners were declared Not Guilty, the verdict was received with three cheers within the hall, and three times three without. Upwards of two thousand men were collected, the major part of whom had sticks, and some are supposed to have had pistols concealed. What the effect would have been had a verdict of Guilty been pronounced against the prisoners, it is shocking to think!

No comments:

Post a Comment