Friday 5 August 2016

5th August 1816: John Chettle & Thomas Glover are acquitted of the remaining charges at Nottingham Assizes & the Judge issues a warning to them

Following their acquittal on the first charge against them the previous Saturday, on Monday 5th August 1816, John Chettle & Thomas Glover were again brought before Nottingham Assizes to face the remaining charges against them. After the predictable result, the Judge proceeded to issue a warning to them and other Luddites (from the Leicester Chronicle of 10th August 1816):

On Monday morning, at nine o'clock, the court again assembled, when the prisoners were put to the bar on the other two indictments, but Mr. Reader declined to call any evidence on either of the charges, the Jury of course under the direction of the Baron Graham returned a verdict of Not Guilty.

The Learned Judge made an eloquent and sensible address to the two men who had thus been pronounced not guilty. He told them that as they were discharged by the verdict of their country, he did not deign to deprive them of any benefit which that verdict conferred upon them. Nevertheless, he must say, there was, for it had been undoubtedly proved on this trial, there was something of a system in this great and populous town, of attacking the property of those persons who may in any manner have offended the lower orders; there was a conspiracy the foulest of all conspiracies, he did not mean to say it was so in this case, but such conspiracies led to perjury of the blackest die. The Learned Judge wished to impress their minds, and the minds of all who were present, with the danger of such conspiracies—it could not be endured in a land of law, in a land of liberty that property should be destroyed in such a manner; the law must have its course, for there could be no liberty if men could not be safe at their own homes, if the law could not protect their own firesides. He would say, not only to the prisoners, but to all who heard him, be cautious of engaging in such things; certainly offenders might for a time evade the vigilance of the law, but he would have them recollect that the law was founded on wisdom, and supported by a force which could not be overcome; the only way for men to be happy, was, to be peaceable and honest, and without these, there could be no happiness. He did not wish to be the instrument of their destruction, but while he filled the situation in which he was placed, he must and would be, the strenuous supporter of the law. He trusted this would be a lesson for them and for their children, and that walking in the paths of justice and honesty, they would secure to themselves happiness both in this world and that which is to come.

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