Sunday, 6 November 2016

6th November 1816: West Riding Magistrates fear return to a 'Luddite System' following the murder of a gamekeeper

Kildwick Novr 6th 1816.

My Lord,

We the undersigned magistrates acting in & for the West Riding of Yorkshire beg leave to call your Lordship’s attention to the following statement of a most atrocious murder which took place on Friday Evening the 25th Octr last at Silsden a Village in this neighbourhood where the Earl of Thanet is Lord of the Manor & nearly sole Proprietor—a man of the name of Thomas Hanson who was employed to look after the Game within the manor & his whole crime appears to have been a zeal to do his Duty in that capacity by strictly looking after the Poachers (who are become very numerous in this part of the Country & a Terror to the peaceable Inhabitants) was diabolically assassinated by some villain or villains who fired at him thro’ the Kitchen Window of a Public House in the village where he had been about an hour in Company with some others of his Neighbours—the particulars will be laid before your Lordship in a Duplicate of the Depositions on the Coroners Inquest, which will be sent tomorrow—We are met for the purpose of further investigating this horrible plot, & we are unanimously of Opinion that if Government should think it is of sufficient importance to aid our exertions, by offering such a reward as they may think proper, together with a pardon to any accomplice, who would make discovery of the Offence except the Person who actually fired the Piece, it might have a powerful effect & we beg further to suggest that if an active & intelligent Bow Street Officer was sent down to the purpose for the purpose of Investigation, he would greatly assist our exertions for the People in general thro’ the whole neighbourhood are so panic struck with the apprehension of the return of the Luddite System, that they really dare not come forward in lending their assistance towards making any discoveries or taking any active part whatsoever in the business. We mean to adjourn from day to day & any communication, that your Lordship may be pleased to honour us with on this subject may be addressed to J.A. Busfield Esq:, Chairman of this Meeting at Cononley Hall near Skipton in Craven Yorkshire—

We have the honour to remain
Your Lordship’s most
obedt. humble Servts

J.A. Busfield
Matt: Wilson
Edwd Ferrand.
Walker Ferrand
Wm Rushcliffe
Anth: Lister

This letter can be found at HO 42/155.

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