Monday, 30 April 2012

30th April 1812: "General Ludds" men conduct a raid for arms at Dungeon, near Huddersfield

On Thursday 30th April, Clement Dyson was up late. It was 1.00 a.m., and suddenly his blood froze as he heard a knock on his door. He had been on edge ever since the recent disturbances in the Huddersfield area had reminded him of the time in mid-March when his premises had been raided by Luddites. Even though he was away at the time, his wife's Hannah's stories about that night sent a chill down his spine.

He grabbed a gun he kept near the door, stood behind it and spoke:

"What do you want at this hour?"

A voice replied "General Ludd has sent us for your Gun and Pistol and we must have them immediately!"

His heart sank - Luddites again! - but he also felt defiance and said, "I have the gun in my hand and if any man enters my house he shall have the contents of it."

A reply came back "if you shoot at anyone, yourself and family shall be corpses in ten minutes."

By now Hannah stood at his side with his pistol, but as he turned to face her, she wrenched the weapon from his hand and before he could do anything, she opened a nearby window and dropped the guns through it. She had faced the Luddites the previous month and never wanted to face them again.

Dyson could hear many footsteps briskly moving away and he decided to get a better view. He ran upstairs and found the nearest window. Peering out into the night, the moonlight helped him to estimate that between 20 and 30 men were retreating from his property.

This is based upon the a deposition given by Dyson to Joseph Radcliffe on 30th April 1812. The Leeds Mercury of 2nd May 1812 carries a report of this raid, but dates it erroneously to Friday 1st May and also wrongly states that the men entered his house.

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