Tuesday 31 July 2012

31st July 1812: A would-be Luddite assassin is found dead in Newton, Cheshire

In his memoirs, Captain Francis Raynes related an incident that took place in the evening of Friday 31st July 1812 at Newton, near Hyde, Cheshire. The Cooper referred to is William Cooper, Raynes' informer, who had been uncovered by Luddites and whose life had been threatened previously. Raynes had taken him under the protection of the military:
About five o’clock in the Saturday morning ... Ashworth, my special constable, came to inform me, a man had been murdered in Newton, at a short distance from the back of Cooper’s house, and his body horribly burnt and disfigured. I immediately hastened to Newton, accompanied by some soldiers and the special constable, and found there a spectacle too shocking to describe. On examining the body and the place where it was found, I had no doubt in my own mind, but the deluded men, bent on the horrid purpose of murdering Cooper, had assembled at the back of his house, with determined resolution of executing it. But it appeared to me, that Samuel Crabtree, the young man found shot, after loading his pistol, had put it into his pocket, where it had accidentally gone off, several bullets having entered his back, and the fire communicating with a quantity of powder he had about him, produced the dreadful appearance the body assumed: a powder flask burst, and a leathern bag, containing upwards of sixty bullets, some of which were melted, were found with the body.
Raynes went on to state that there was no formal inquest into the death. The incident was later related in the press, although there was no mention of Cooper. Crabtree was 18 years old.

Monday 30 July 2012

30th July 1812: General Maitland writes to the Home Office about enforcing the Peace Preservation Act

Buxton 30th July

My dear Sir

I received the Bill last night, & will write you what is done under it.

We have a sad Practise of being extremely ready to apply, for an extension of Authority, and great remissness when it comes of carrying it into effect.

My own view of the Subject, which I shall enforce as much as I can is, to carry into effect the Provisions of the 2nd Clause generally, and mildly, & to reserve the 1st Clause for particular Cases, of strong suspicion or positive Information and my Opinion is, that the carrying the 2nd into general effect, will go a great Way to preclude the necessity of acting in the first.

General Acland received a letter yesterday, from Major of Brigade Chamberlain who has been collecting Information at Chelmsford, he has sent down the General Heads but not the particulars, Pray be good enough to forward them.

I have no particular Information to give you, and still think, the thing will be got under. They now are cloaking their Meetings under the Colour of Peace and Parliamentary Reform, and are levying Subscriptions to pay the Expence of the Trials of the ensuing Assizes at Lancaster.

They have all a long shewn great solicitude, about the 37 men that were seized at one Meeting, as you may recollect at Manchester, and I am much afraid, unless new Evidence can be procured, most of these will be acquitted, which would be a thing infinitely to be regretted, for though we might not be able to get legal Proof I have no doubt of their Guilt.

T Maitland

[To] John Beckett Esqr
Under Secretary of State
&c &c &c

30th July 1812: The Stockport solicitor John Lloyd tells the Home Office of 'strangers of suspicious appearance'


30 July 1812


I have the honor of your private Commands on my return out of Yorkshire yesterday – and have taken the steps you cou’d desire—but have not discovered any persons at present There are strangers in the Town of suspicious appearance I can perceive on walking out & two strangers which I do not think prudent, as being contrary to your injunctions with respect to one certain House, to make any enquiries about, have been with the person we know to be a Delegate at the Britannia Inn in this Town kept by a loyal man – & they may the rather chuse to resort to it to prevent suspicion attaching to them. One of the expressions made use of by them, as reported to me, was “let not your right hand know what your left doeth.”

Unfortunately I am obliged to go from home on particular business tomorrow morning for a day or two (southwards this time)

I suppose you have had reported to you an intended meeting on Sunday at a place called the Car Meadow near Hayfield, Derbyshire, about addressing the Prince for Peace & Reform It is a printed Paper the time & place filled up with writing – It originally stood in Print Blando the Sir Sid. Smith Port Street Manchester – It is delivered to such only as are twisted in – I fear this wou’d not be considered an unlawful assembly unless indeed they refused to allow others to be present on their Debate — I shall see Genl. Maitland tomorrow & will advise with him—

I shall want to know from Mr. Hobhouse as to what is to be done at Chester & at Lancaster the ensuing Assizes—I will write to him –

I hope Mr. Justice Bayley will not think of returning from Lancaster to York to deliver the Gaol of the men we have sent as I before informed you — This you cou’d prevent. I wish them to be where they are till we can make ourselves more certain of fixing them

My Clerk has instructions to forward the Copies of such Examinations as have already been taken—

I have the honor to be Sir
Your very obt Servt

J Lloyd

[To] J Beckett Esq under Sy &c

Sunday 29 July 2012

29th July 1812: The Reverend Becher writes to the Home Office about the death of both Renshaw & the Framework Bill

July 29. 1812

Dear Sir

I beg leave to request that you will have the goodness to communicate to Lord Sidmouth the high sense which I entertain of the honor conferred upon me by the favorable opinion of his Lordship, accompanied with an assurance of my best endeavors to assist in the investigation of those complaints which have been urged against the gaoler of Lincoln by the Prisoners under his care.—In prosecuting such an enquiry, it scarcely seems possible to secure the full approbation of either party; but since the question must depend upon a minute statement of facts and thus consistency with our established laws, I trust there is no reason to apprehend any breach of friendship.

I have just returned from Nottingham and you will be gratified to hear the tranquillity appears to be completely restored.—Renshaw was executed this morning for arson & sheep stealing. The spectators amounted to ten thousand; yet, altho’ the only guards were six bailiffs & two constables, the slightest tendency to insubordination or tumult was not manifested. This testimony of good order appears doubly satisfactory after the recent failure of that singular bill which the Frame work knitters proposed to Parliament.

I have [etc]
J.T. Becher

[To] J. Becket Esq.

29th July 1812: The execution of Benjamin Renshaw

On Wednesday 29th July, Benjamin Renshaw was executed in Nottingham. An account of his execution, confession, and final moments with his family from the Leeds Mercury of 8th August 1812 is below. This can be contrasted with a smaller article from the Leicester Journal of 31st July 1812. There is a complete contrast.

When one reads the accounts of executions, one has to bear in mind context and the intended message: the accounts generally paint a portrait of individuals expressing remorse, often admonishing others not do as they have done. For the authorities and the media, this was an important part of the legal and judicial process - punishment as an awful spectacle and as a warning. It is very hard to take these accounts at all seriously.
Leeds Mercury:


On Wednesday week pursuant his sentence, was executed on the gallows near Nottingham, Benjamin Renshaw, for setting fire to a hay stack belonging to Mr. Charles Stanton, and slaughtering a ram belonging to Mr. Isaac Dodsley, both of Mansfield. About eleven o'clock he left the prison, and was placed in a cart, accompanied by the executioner and a respectable gentleman who had daily visited him during his condemnation. The concourse of spectators was unusually great to witness the awful catastrophe. When arrived at the fatal tree, and some time been spent in singing and prayer, Renshaw himself prayed with an audible voice and afterwards addressed the multitude for the space of 15 or 20 minutes, exhorting them, and especially youth, to avoid evil company, and this he did in a manner which excited the astonishment of every beholder: such fortitude, unshaken confidence, and composure, were scarcely ever witnessed, expressing at the same time, as he had done before, his assurance of the mercy of God. After he was turned off, the noose of the rope moved under his chin, and it was deemed proper to pin him into the cart that the rope might be adjusted afresh, after which he was turned off again. This circumstance occasioned a considerable sensation among the spectators, who generally expressed their abhorrence at the executioner, to whose carelessness they attributed the accident. After hanging the usual time, his body was given to his friends for interment at Mansfield. The following is the confession made by Renshaw, and signed with his own hand:—

“I was born at Mansfield Nottinghamshire, in 1778, of honest and industrious parents. At the age 15, I was visited with serious impressions, and joined a religious community, with whom I walked in the fear of God for the space of five years or upwards, but unfortunately for myself, I left that community in 1797, from which period I have ever since dated the beginning of my ruin and misery. The restraints of religion being thrown off, I commenced a life of wickedness, and a sin is like the letting out of water, I yielded to such temptations as presented themselves, till at length I was led to commit those horrid and diabolical crimes, to which I am justly sentenced to forfeit my life. Notwithstanding this, the Lord was pleased to visit me with a powerful convictions of the evil of my ways, insomuch, that my guilty conscience has in some instances deprived me of rest, and hindered me in my lawful employment. Under these visitations of God’s most Holy Spirit, I have been led to hate myself, and abhor my situation; and God is my witness, that I have often prayed to him to deliver me of my sins, or by some means or other, stop me in my wickedness. I have also reflected how awful must be my state in setting such a vile example before the eyes of my poor children, who should soon be capable of understanding the difference between right and wrong. I was apprehended, and constrained to make a full confession of my crimes, this I did to ease my burdened mind, and in the hope that my life would be spared, as I was informed, that if I confessed, mercy would be shewn to me; but my case has turned out otherwise, and I am content to suffer the penalty of the law, as God has had compassion on my soul.”

After committing his wife and children to the protection of the humane and charitable, he states that on the night when the hay-stack was fired, Revell, one of his associates, and himself were engaged in stealing poultry and robbing gardens, and that from the impulse of the moment, they came to the resolution of setting fire to the stack which they jointly effected. His narrative then proceeds loss:—

“After my commitment, the dreadful apprehensions of a future state, induced me frequently to weep. I sought for a retired corner that I might there offer my supplications to the Searcher of Hearts, but my devotions were so frequently interrupted by my fellow prisoners, but I could not keep my mind fixed as I wished to; at length I asked leave to be locked up in my cell alone, which was readily granted; and on the turnkey opening the door to admit me, such were the overwhelmings of my grief on account of my sins, that I cast myself prostrate on the floor, beseeching the Lord Jesus Christ to permit a poor miserable wretch to be at his feet; and after groaning some time under the weight of my iniquity, I obtained mercy, and have since been enabled to declare, that Jesus Christ has power on earth to forgive sin. This circumstance took place on the 30th of last April, and ever since that time I have been clear as to my acceptance with God; and having had the privilege of being in my cell alone five or six hours a day, I have often enjoyed the presence of God in such a manner, that strange as it may seem to some, my prison has been to me a paradise, I have frequently prayed for a thankful heart, reflecting, that had I been suddenly cut off in my sins, I should have been lost; or had I been tried at the Lent Assizes, before I obtained the mercy of God, my state must have been deplorable. I have again considered, that had I been permitted to go on in my sins for some time longer, my heart might have become so far hardened, as to render me incapable of repentance; but, blessed be God, it is otherwise with me, the nearer my end approaches, the more precious is Christ to my soul, and I am fully persuaded he will never leave me nor forsake me.

To the Rev. Dr. Wood, the Chaplain, I beg to express my gratitude for his very great attention and kindness to me.


On the Sunday morning before his execution, his wife and children came to the Castle to take a long farewell of the husband and father. The meeting was extremely affecting. He asked forgiveness of his wife, and told her he had received forgiveness of God: “That is enough,” she said, “it is what I and my children have been praying for day and night.” After a short time he called his children around him, and putting his hand in his pocket, took out three-pence, which was all the money he had, and gave each child a half-penny, desiring them they would keep them as a token of his love as long as they lived. Having placed his children before him, with weeping eyes and throbbing breast, his wife at his right hand, with an infant at the breast only 18 days old, he addressed them in nearly the following language:

“My dear Children—You now see your poor father hath brought himself to an untimely end; but the cause of this has been the giving way to sin, and the three of you are now old enough to know the difference between good and evil, I entreat you never to do any thing which you believe to be wrong. I beg also, my dear children, that you will shun bad company; this in a great measure is that which has proved your father's ruin. Always remember to speak the truth, and never take any thing which is not your own; and, as it is probable you will soon be put to some employment, take care that you keep close to work, and never give way to idleness; and above all, I beg, (now, mind what I say,) that you will, at least, twice every day, bow your knees before you Maker, and pray that he may preserve and keep you in all your ways. You may live in the world 40 or 50 years or longer—but life will soon be over, and you must die, and I charge you to meet me in heaven, for I shall again know you, if you meet me there.” He then beginning at the eldest, and called her and the others severally by name, asked “if they could attend to the advice of their dying father,” to which, each, with a gushing tear, replied “Yes.”

He then addressed himself to his disconsolate wife.—“My dear,” said he, “although I have brought thee to this disgrace, yet never suffer any degree of poverty or distress to lead thee to do any thing that is wrong, but, remember, that God hath promised to be a farther to the fatherless, and a husband to the widow, and I should sin if I did not believe in his word of promise; only do thou trust in him, and he will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”

After a short exhortation to his afflicted brother, the parting kiss took place; and on embracing a fine boy only six years of age, the father said, “Farewell, my dear, I shall never see thee any more,”—“Yes, Father,” replied the child, “we shall meet again in heaven!”

This was a cutting stroke to the father, which he named to his visitants afterwards. From that time his mind seemed to be at ease respecting his family, and ever after he would talk about them with pleasure, observing, “I have committed them into the hands of my heavenly Father, who I know will provide for them.”
Leicester Journal:

Benjamin Renshaw convicted at the Nottingham Assizes of having entered the dwelling house of James Finch, of Mansfield, framework-knitter, and feloniously stolen and carried away a box containing upwards of £30 and also implicated in firing of a hay stack, the property of Mr. Fielding, of Mansfield, and some corn stacks in the neighbourhood, was executed on Wednesday last pursuant to his sentence: he was 34 years of age, and after condemnation conducted himself in a manner suitable to his unhappy situation. He transmitted the following letter to the Judge previous to receiving sentence of death.


“I am sorry to say that I am guilty of the crime laid to my charge, and I hope your Lordship will consider the distressed state of my family, my wife lies in of the eighth child, the oldest a cripple, should I find mercy at your hands, I hope by the help of God to amend my life, the great uneasiness I had since I have been in prison will make it a warning to me as long as I live.

Your humble servant,

Saturday 28 July 2012

28th July 1812: Captain Francis Raynes expresses concerns about his informer

Kersal Moor Camp
28th July 1812


I had the Honor to state to you in my last Letter that there would be a meeting on Castle Hill last Sunday, it did take place, but was disturbed by two of the Scotch Greys appearing, and one of the men in my employ being declared an informer — I am at a loss what to do with him, for I cannot allow him to return there as I know he will be murdered. His name is Cooper, by Trade a Collier, but goes by the name of Strapper. I shall take care of him till I have the Honor to receive your answer, he may be useful man else where. Thinking this a matter of some importance I took a ride over to manchester in the expectation of having the Honor of seeing you, at the same time to shew you, one of the Notices of the Ludds, for assembling their people. There is to be another meeting on Sunday next at the Carr Meddows betwixt Marple Bridge and Glossop. I would enclose the Printed Notice, but am under the necessity of returning it, to Braddock the man who is to distribute them.

I shall have the Honor of writing to you Sir more particularly tomorrow

I have [etc]
Francis Raynes Capt
Stirling Militia

Major General Ackland
&c &c &c

28th July 1812: The Home Secretary receives information from a source at Mansfield

Mansfield Nottm. July 28th 1812

My Lord

The enclosed Circular I got possession of last night and have thought proper to transmit to your Lordship — [surmising] that it imply’s more than is expressed — I have likewise this past week got some few papers belonging to the Arnold Committee and could their Secretary (whose name is Emmerson late an Excise Officer) be laid hold of I have no doubt but some informative discussions would be made, as the Luddites were first organized by this Committee — The man who is to suffer at Nottingham tomorrow for Stack Firing has made a full confession and altho there is no doubt but he broke the first Frame in this County yet being a very humble agent in the late disturbances, his confession has not disclosed any fresh circumstances—

I have the Honor to be your Lordship's
very humb Servant

[L.I.] Stevens.

Friday 27 July 2012

27th July 1812: General Maitland sets out his plans for the West Riding

Buxton 27th July

My dear Lord

I have the honor to receive two days ago, Your Lordship's very kind and flattering letter.

It gives me great Satisfaction to be able to state, that I am perfectly convinced if the Provisions of the present Bill, and particularly of the Second Clause, are carried into effect by the Magistracy, that the Country will in a short time regain its tranquility.

Lancashire is perfectly quiet, Cheshire infinitely more so, than it has been for a length of time, but I apprehend there is still a good deal to be done in Yorkshire.

My own feeling upon this subject is, that it will be advisable unless it assumes a very different appearance, to add considerably to the number of Troops in the West Riding, and it is my intuition, with your Lordship's permission to purpose this measure to Lord Fitzwilliam whenever Genl. Grey goes away.

I intend too, to go myself either to Wakefield or Leeds, to station a General Officer at Huddersfield.

By increasing the number of Troops we adopt the only measure that will give additional confidence to the Magistracy and Peace Officers, without which we can never expect tranquility.

By employing Officers of High Rank, I have no hesitation in stating to Your Lordship, we take the best means of inducing the Magistrates to be more active, than they otherwise would, and with the two Measures combined, I have not a doubt, we will in a very short time, get the West Riding into a similar State of tranquility with the other disturbed parts of the Country.

I have [etc]
T Maitland

[To] Lord Viscount Sidmouth
&c &c &c

27th July 1812: The Peace Preservation Bill becomes Law

On Monday 27th July 1812, the Peace Preservation Bill was read for the third time in the House of Lords. The Bill, the contents of which had been publicly advertised in the Northern Counties some days before (almost certainly at the behest of General Maitland), would become law 2 days later when Parliament was prorogued. Amongst other provisions, it gave magistrates wide powers to confiscate arms, prohibited drilling and made acting as a delegate between workers organisations in different areas a felony.

The legislation was, however, a temporary measure, and it expired on the 25th March 1813.

Thursday 26 July 2012

26th July 1812: Arms raid at Elland, West Yorkshire

In the early hours of Sunday 26th July 1812, a group of 30 Luddites conducted an audacious arms raid in Elland. Robert Burley lives near to the guardroom of the regular military patrol, but the group of Luddites nevertheless turned up to demand his gun, which he duly gave them, and carried it away without the alarm being raised.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

25th July 1812: Captain Francis Raynes informs General Maitland of a Luddite meeting near Stockport

The Arden Arms on Ashton Road, Bredbury - photo copyright David Dixon

Roe cross near Mottram
25th July 1812


I think it necessary to inform you a meeting of the Luddites, is to take place tomorrow afternoon about 4 o'clock in the Ardens Arms Castle Hill two miles from Stockport

The Meeting as far as I can learn is for the purpose of collecting money for the Prisoners in Lancaster Jail—

I request Sir, to be informed of the result, tomorrow night, by two or three persons I know will be there.

I have [etc]
Francis Raynes Capt
Stirlingshire &c Militia

Lieutenant General Maitland
&c &c &c

25th July 1812: The Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding doubts the significance of Luddism in a letter to the Home Secretary

[25th July 1812]

... Having yesterday had occasion to converse with different persons, I have the satisfaction of reporting that I am very confident the country is not in that alarming state it has been supposed to be. That there is combinations for mischievous purposes, there can be no doubt: most recent events corroborate that belief - the sweeping off every gun at Clifton proves a system of enquiry, and means of information: the manner in which the business was done, proves also a great degree of tactic in execution: but it goes no further than in the execution of robbery: it shews no symptom of preparation for resisting men in arms, military bodies - the very means they seem desirous of obtaining, that is guns, will never render them formidable against firelocks — moreover, the reports of nocturnal training and drilling, when one comes to close quarters on the subject, and to enquire for evidence of fact, dwindles down to nothing; they are the offspring of fear, quite imaginary, and mere invention.

I do not mean to say, that parties of Luddites have not been met travelling from place to place, and perhaps marshalled in some degree of order, but that there is no evidence whatever, that any one person has yet established the fact of their having been assembled and drilling in a military way - as far as negative evidence can go, I think, the contrary seems established.

Nevertheless combination indisputably exists, very formidable to property and persons: most probably entered into originally for the destruction of that species of property, machinery in manufacture, and afterwards directed against the persons of the proprietors of that species of property as one means of its destruction, through the medium of intimidation. This is a very serious evil, and one, to which we must direct all our attention, the best mode of meeting it I believe to be, by anti-combination, if I may so express myself i.e. by associations, as recommended by Mr. Ryder - this system has not beensufficiently pursued: in great towns it has been, with complete effect, but the lesser ones have not felt the ability of establishing the system, and moreover have not always recognized the necessity - they don’t give credit to the danger, till they feel the evil. It is in the contemplation of the Lieutenancy to go out by committees into the different districts, in the hopes of spiriting up the people to put themselves into this sort of defensive array-more can hardly be done.

I took the liberty of recommending to your Lordship the case of Mr. Cartwright, who three months ago defended his mills with such laudable resolution: it would be a very acceptable thing in this country, if this man was noticed by Government, in the way the letter I put into your Lordship’s hand pointing out, or in any other, that can be found for him: he is a man of ability, activity, and would be an useful servant to the public in many situations. His present circumstances are grievous to him: his property the object of daily destruction, his person the butt of assassination. He is anxious to remove from such a situation. What the danger of assassination is your Lordship will readily collect from the readiness with which this abominable banditti fires on every occasion. Though no resistance was made to them at Clifton, though every inhabitant yielded instant obedience to the demand of his gun, they fired into several houses. Again a party of them passing lately late at night through a village, upon a man saying they were Luddites, instantly a ball was fired at his head - your Lordship has just now before you the sad case of Hinchliffe - his murder attempted most premeditatedly, for having presumed to mention an attempt to swear him in as a Luddite. Depositions having been made to the fact, and particulars sworn to, it is hoped by the Lieutenancy that Government will offer a reward for the apprehension of the parties, but one of the two originally present having run away before the pistol was fired, it is also hoped, a pardon will be offered to the accomplice.

[From: Earl Fitzwilliam - Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding]

[To: Viscount Sidmouth]

25th July 1812: The Huddersfield solicitor John Allison writes to the Stockport solicitor John Lloyd about Joseph Barrowclough

Dear Sir

I am extremely sorry that a Cause of importance will prevent me from giving you the meeting at W. Radcliffe's as I promised—. I trust you will be able to do some good with Barraclough—I can say this, that (whatever may be sayd with regard to his Insanity, which I understand will be attempted) he is no more Insane or deranged and I am—I have known him many years – indeed he has been many years one of my Corporals, & altho’ he never was a good Soldier, yet I look upon him as being at the bottom of that System which has caused so much confusion & terror in the neighbourhood of Holmfirth, and I am sure he is more Rogue than Fool!—I would recommend you to hold out every inducement to George Beaumont (Chester) for I look upon him as are most likely Man to be concerned in Horsfall’s business—& if he be not, he is the most likely Man I know, to be employed in worming himself into the Secrets of the Luddites—He is the more likely to be employed in case he gets his discharge as knowing nothing; but if he does know any thing, the best way is for him to give his information which you may promised to keep an entire secret & let him be committed to take his Trial as the others, by way of protection to him! But if he would enter into your views & into the pay of Government I would go home & give me every secret Information, unknown to every Soul on Earth but our two selves, it strikes me he would be most likely & a most useful person, because he could worm himself into every Secret!—.

I fear I shall be detained here till next Wednesday — If you should succeed in doing any good on Monday, it will rejoice me greatly to be honoured with a line from you here – Secrecy ought to be, & must be, the Order of the Day, else no good will be done!

Yours truly
Jno. Allison

George Inn Pavement
York 25th July ‘12

[To] J.Lloyd Esqr.

25th July 1812: The Leeds Mercury classifies the Luddites

An editorial of the Saturday 25th July 1812 edition of the Leeds Mercury attempted to place the Luddites into three categories:
The persons called Luddites it is said, may be divided into three classes—Robbers, men who wish to live by plunder, and avail themselves of the disturbed state of the country to carry on their villainous purposes. Anti-Machinists, persons who impute a difficiency of labour to the use of Machinery in shearing cloth, weaving cotton, and weaving hosiery; and Spies, men that have introduced themselves amongst the depredators to worm out information, and whose employment must cease with the disturbances. We should be glad to know to which of these classes the persons at present engaged in stealing arms belong; we have our suspicions; and cannot forget, that a man of the name of Watt, a spy, was executed at Edinburgh, about the year 1794, for an act of High Treason in which he had engaged while labouring in his vocation, in order to draw others into his snares. The history of this man is curious, and we will take an early opportunity of recalling it to public recollection.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

24th July 1812: The convicted prisoners are sentenced at York Summer Assizes

On Friday 24th July, Judge Bayley sentenced the prisoners convicted at the York Summer Assizes.

Patrick Doring, was found guilty of threatening Mary & Joseph Culpin with death for giving evidence against the Luddite James Haigh. The Leeds Mercury of 1st August 1812 recorded Judge Bayley's verdict:
“You been found guilty, on evidence which satisfies the Jury and the Court, of endeavouring, by threats, to obstruct the regular course of justice; an offence of a very serious nature, and which, in this case, is much increased by the consideration of the aggravated nature of the crime you were endeavouring to screen and protect. The attack on Mr. Cartwright’s mill was of so atrocious and savage a nature, and struck so directly at the root of civil society, that it might have been expected that every man would have been anxious to bring the persons concerned in so daring an outrage to justice; but instead of being disposed to contribute, by the information of which you might be possessed; to this end you did all in your power to prevent those who were disposed to perform their duty, giving their evidence. This attack was of so savage and cowardly a nature, that I should have thought there were few persons in this country of minds of so depraved a character as to be capable of joining a transaction of so dark a complexion. It is evident from your conduct, that you are either in some respects connected with the persons concerned in this transaction, or at least that you are a well wisher to their cause. But it is quite certain that it is a cause which cannot succeed; the persons concerned in it will probably in this world be brought to justice; but there will a time come when this attack, made in the darkness of the night, will be brought to light, and when all those concerned in it will stand unveiled, and when they must answer for their conduct at a tribunal from which nothing can be concealed.”

The prisoner was sentenced to be confined two years in York Castle.
Thomas Wilson was found guilty of rioting in Sheffield on 14th April. The Leeds Mercury of 8th August 1812 carried the Judge's words:
His Lordship, on passing sentence upon the Prisoner, some days after, said, “in addition to the recommendation of the Jury of you to mercy, on account of your general good character, a circumstance has been stated to me, and which, upon enquiry I believe to be correct, but you have, by your industry, been the principal means of maintaining your widowed mother and eight children. This instance of filial piety has made a strong impression upon my mind, and has induced me to go as far as my duty to the public would permit in mitigating your punishment; and I am persuaded that it will form no inconsiderable part of your sufferings, that you have, by your folly, deprived her for so long a period of that support, and I regret to say, that your separation must be continued some time longer. If those who engage in excesses of which you have been convicted, or in other more aggravated species of guilt, would consider the anguish, disgrace and sufferings they occasion to near and dear relations, they would not, I am persuaded, engage in such destructive courses. I trust you will, in your future life, be warned and instructed by the error you have committed, and atone for it by continuing the same course of laudable industry has distinguished your conduct previous to this unguarded moment.” His Lordship then ordered him to be imprisoned three months, and find security for his good conduct for one year.
William Groom, charged with entering a cellar to steal potatoes during the same riot, was sentenced to 12 months in Wakefield House of Correction.

Mary Gibbon & William Rodgers, who had both been found guilty of taking part in the raid on the military depot at Sheffield on 14th April, were respectively sentenced to 1 year and to 6 months imprisonment in York Castle.

Though William Shirtcliffe was also found guilty of rioting at Sheffield, the Mercury does not record his sentence.

Of the two cases of assaulting soldiers that may or may not have been linked with the disturbances, both Ann Gardner & Robert Dick were acquitted

Finally, the Grand Jury had heeded Judge Bayley's comments about James Haigh at the start of the Assizes, when he had warned them that to proceed with the case on the evidence that existed could mean an acquittal and thereby no chance of bringing Haigh before a court again for the same offence. No true Bill (i.e. no indictment) was found against him on this occasion, meaning that he would return to custody to stand trial again at a future Assizes, provided more evidence was found and a proper indictment brought. With the sympathiser and witness intimidator in the shape of Patrick Doring now ensconced in York Castle, the authorities could work on the Culpins and amass other evidence and witnesses to try Haigh again at a future Assizes.

24th July 1812: The Framework-knitters Bill is rejected by the House of Lords

 On Friday 24th July 1812, after more than 5 months of extensive lobbying by Gravenor Henson and the United Committee of Framework-knitters, the Framework-knitters Bill was roundly rejected by the House of Lords in one afternoon:
The Earl of Lauderdale, in adverting to this Bill, contended that it was founded upon most mischievous principles of legislation. A part of the Bill went to interfere in the bargains made between the master manufacturer and his workmen, upon a principle which could not fail to produce the most mischievous consequences; and he could not help observing, with relation to this point, that the idea of some persons, that a minimum of wages would be beneficial to the workmen employed, was the most mistaken notion that had ever been conceived, for the inevitable consequence of the minimum must be, that in the case of the slackness of work, the masters would discharge their workmen altogether, rather than employ them at the minimum wages. The other part of the Bill was equally mischievous; it went to prohibit an article of manufacture, on the alleged ground of it not being a good article, although that article was in great demand, not only in the interior, but also for exportation. He could not conceive a more monstrous principle of legislation. What would the people of Nottingham say, if an act were to be passed to prohibit the manufacture of worsted and thread stockings, upon the supposition that all persons would wear silk stockings; and yet this was precisely the principle on which the present Bill proceeded: an article of low price was to be prohibited, in order to give place to an article of high price, instead of allowing the only just and proper principle to operate, namely, for the demand to regulate the supply. He trusted that no similar legislative measure would again be attempted to be introduced, and that this Bill would be unanimously rejected. His lordship concluded by moving, that the Bill be read a second time that day three months.

The Earl of Liverpool entirely concurred with the noble lord, although he was satisfied of the goodness of the motives which actuated the very respectable individual who introduced this Bill in the other House, and the well-intentioned, though certainly most mistaken views of those whose instance it was introduced. He, however, thought there could not be a more mischievous principle of legislation than that on which this Bill rested. It had been well said in a foreign country, when it was asked what should be done to make manufactures and commerce prosper? the answer was, laisser faire; and it was undoubtably true, that the less commerce and manufactures were meddled with by legislation the more they were likely to prosper. Were they once to entangle themselves in the principle which this Bill sought to establish, he knew not where they were to stop until the commerce and manufactures of the country were utterly ruined. It was to machinery that we owed our superiority in commerce and manufactures amongst the nations of the world.

Lord Holland entirely agreed in the sentiments uttered by the noble earl and his noble friend, and also in doing justice to the excellence of the motives of those by whom this Bill had been introduced and promoted. The principle, however, of the Bill was a most mistaken and mischievous one. Accident had carried him to countries where machinery had once been used, and manufactures prosperously carried on, but which had been wholly destroyed by the meddling policy of legislation, those employed in them reduced to the utmost distress, and the country devastated. These circumstances, he trusted, would be a warning to the legislature of this country, against introducing so dangerous a principle of legislation as that upon which the present Bill was founded.

Viscount Sidmouth also entirely concurred in these sentiments. The Bill had been introduced in the other House from the purest motives, but he felt himself compelled, by his public duty, to give his direct negative to the principle which it sought to establish, which he conceived to be most mischievous in its tendency and consequences; and he trusted in God, that no such principle would be again attempted to be introduced in any Bill brought up to that House.

The consideration the Bill was accordingly deferred for three months.

Monday 23 July 2012

23rd July 1812: An ill-omen for the Framework-knitters Bill in the House of Lords

On Thursday 23rd July 1812, the Framework-knitters Bill was brought up in the House of Lords:
The Earl of Lauderdale called the attention of the House to this Bill, which he thought a most obnoxious measure; the object of it being to prohibit certain articles of manufacture, because they were not so well made as other articles of higher price. If once they were to legislate in this manner, instead of leaving to the consumer to find out what were good articles and what were bad, he knew not where they were to stop, and they would introduce a principle of the most dangerous consequence. To pass this Bill would be immediately to destroy a valuable branch of export trade, to throw a great number of persons out of employment, and to produce considerable distress in the manufacture to which it applied.

Viscount Sidmouth said he had not read the Bill, but would read it before the meeting of the House to-morrow, and form his opinion from the contents of it.

23rd July 1812: The result of the Derby and Nottingham Summer Assizes

The Derby Mercury of Thursday 23rd July 1812 carried the outcomes of both the Derby & Nottingham Summer Assizes. The Nottingham Assizes are of particular interest because they contain a case which resulted in a sentence of transportation, a case never remarked upon by historians in any of the significant works about Luddism. The following is extracted from the Derby Mercury report:
At [Derby] Assizes, Andrew Scott, alias Thomas Purday, charged with being an accomplice in the burglary committed at the dwelling house of Mr. Hunt, at Ockbrook, in December last, pleaded guilty, and received sentence of death, but was afterwards reprieved.

At Nottingham Assizes, Benjamin Renshaw, for setting fire to a stack of hay at Mansfield, the property of Mr. Charles Stanton, and for feloniously killing and carrying away a sheep, the property of Isaac Dodsley, of Mansfield … received sentence of death … [and] is left for execution.

George Spray, for destroying a stocking frame at Sutton in Ashfield, the property of Francis Betts … to be transported 14 years; John Stanley for inciting soldiers to break a frame at Basford, to be imprisoned three years.

In earlier reports about his arrest, the John Stanley mentioned here was called Slaney, which was his actual name. His trial had been left over from the Lent Assizes in March

In the report about Nottingham, there is no mention of the other 3 suspected Luddites the we know the Nottingham magistrates wanted to prosecute - William Fell, Joseph Falconbridge & John Clarke. It may be that they were acquitted or that no indictment was found against. In the case of Falconbridge, we know that his indictment rested upon the evidence of a witness that had absconded, so we can assume the witness never appeared.

23rd July 1812: The trial of Thomas Wilson at York Summer Assizes

The Leeds Mercury of 25th July 1812, carried the details of the trial of Thomas Wilson, accused of rioting in Sheffield on 14th April 1812. It is not clear on what day the trial took place, although it was likely to be before sentencing on 24th July.
THOMAS WILSON was charged with a riot in the streets at Sheffield, and also with assaulting Archibald Stuart Wortley, Esq. and Hugh Parker, Esq. and discharge of their duty as Magistrates.

Archibald Stuart Wortley, Esq. M.P. stated that he was an acting magistrate for the West-Riding of this county, as was also Hugh Parker Esq. Witness resides about eight miles from Sheffield; was there on the 14th of April; got there about one o'clock. There were a great number of people collected in the market place. The Witness and Constables went to induce them to disperse; the mob at first surrounded, and shewed a disposition to press upon him; the young boys were nearest him, and appeared to be pushed forwards by the people behind. With the assistance of the constables he got them to retreat to some distance; Witness then addressed the mob, to persuade them to disperse, but without effect. In a little time the great body of the mob appeared to have removed to another place; not knowing where the mob were gone, they thought it right to go round the market-place; found the mob at the head of the market-place, and finding the riot continue, Mr. Parker read the riot act. Being informed that the rioters had proceeded to acts of violence in another part of the town, (in Church-lane) they proceeded thither: when they arrived there they found the mob had begun to break the windows of a dwelling-house; they there read the right act again. Both before and after the reading of the riot act, they (the Magistrates) were assailed by potatoes and other missiles which the mob could lay hold of. Did not then attempt to apprehend any of the rioters. Very shortly after there was a kind of cheer given by the mob, when they immediately retreated. The Magistrates followed them to a potatoe-shop, which they were informed had been broken open; but the mob had then removed to another part. The Magistrates then returned to the market-place, and finding all their efforts to suppress the tumult ineffectual, they thought it high time to call in the aid of the military; but before the arrival of the military, the mob had moved off to the military depot. Thos. Smith, the constable seized a woman who had her apron full of potatoes; Witness directed her to be carried into the Town-Hall-Prison; two constables went with her, attended by the magistrates; the populace cried out “rescue,”and immediately a man rushed out of the crowd, and laid hold of the constable; Witness seeng this, darted forward and seized him by the collar, a great body of the mob followed, and endeavoured to separate him from the mob, there was then a considerable scuffle, and in the end the mob released the man. There was then a sort of huzza set up by the rioters. Witness mounted his horse and proceeded to meet the military, and went with them to disperse the mob. Witness remained at Sheffield four days.

Mr. Pointer and Mr. Wm. Smith, constables, both stated to have seen the Prisoner at the riot, in the act of throwing potatoes.

Several respectable Witnesses give the Prisoner an exceeding good character.

His Lordship, after recapitulating the evidence, made some very pointed observations on the folly of destroying provisions, and intimidating the sellers from bringing them to the market, which no man in his senses would suppose would have the effect of diminishing the scarcity complained of. He was aware there had been a great pressure upon the lower classes of society, which excited his most lively commiseration; but he could also add, that at no period had the higher ranks of society shewn themselves more alive to the distresses of the poor, or more disposed to make greater sacrifices to relieve them. He himself knew a nobleman who had, for several months past, never eaten either bread or pastry at his own table, solely with a view to lessen the consumption of those articles of necessity, and diminish the pressure upon the poor. It was to be hoped, when those exertions and sacrifices on the part of the higher classes society were known, they would produce in the minds of the poor spirit of grateful feeling towards them.

The Jury found the Prisoner Guilty, but recommended him to mercy on account of his good character.

23rd July 1812: A badly-injured John Hinchliffe gives evidence to West Riding magistrates

At 11.30 a.m. on Thursday 23rd July 1812, two West Riding magistrates - Sir George Armitage and Joseph Scott - visited the badly wounded John Hinchliffe, who had been shot outside his house the night before.

He had been taken to the home of Constable Blythe at Holmfirth, and lay there in bed, in what was later described as a "dangerous state" - unsurprising since the shot from the pistol had destroyed his left eye and part of his face.

Hinchliffe was examined by the two magistrates, who took a deposition about what had occurred the night before . They also took further information from him which, unlike the deposition about the events, described events prior to the 22nd July. Hinchliffe stated that he had met a man called John Schofield junior some 9 or 10 weeks ago who tried to recruit him into a 'Society of Luds', and expounded upon plans for a rising in future. Hinchliffe had afterwards mentioned this meeting to the vicar of Holmfirth, William Keeling, and had next met Schofield at 6.00 a.m. on the 20th July when Schofield came to his house asking him who he had told: Schofield said Constable Blythe knew. Hinchliffe told him who he had talked to, which by now included 2 other men as well as Keeling. Schofield stated his fears about what would happen to him and asked Hinchliffe if he would repeat what he had told Keeling - Hinchliffe said that he would.

Lying in a gravely ill state, Hinchliffe believed that what had happened to him was a consequence of his speaking to the vicar of Holmfirth.

23rd July 1812: The trial of Robert Grymshaw at York Summer Assizes

The Leeds Mercury of 25th July 1812, carried the details of the trial of Robert Grymshaw, accused of arson at Armisteads Mill at Clapham on 20th May 1812. It is not clear on what day the trial took place, although it was likely to be before sentencing on 24th July.

ROBERT GRYMSHAW was charged with setting fire to a Cotton Mil at Clapham, in the West Riding, on the 20th of May last.

This was a very singular case. About 11 o'clock at night on the 20th of May, a light was observed in the Cotton-Mill occupied by Messrs. Armisteads, which, on enquiry, proved to have been occasioned by a fire, which was clearly proved to have been wilfully occasion; a considerable quantity of burnt straw was found on the spot where the fire originated, and which, though it had communicated to the floor and part of the machinery, was extinguished, without doing any material damage. No great suspicion fell upon the prisoner until some days after, when declaration was made by the son of the prisoner, a boy about 14 years of age, to one of his fellow work-people employed in the same mill; this led to the apprehension of the prisoner, and the testimony of this boy was the only actual material evidence against the prisoner.

Robert Grymshaw stated, that he was the son of the prisoner, and was near 15 years of age; lived with his father at Clapham in May last, and worked at Mr. Armistead’s mill; remembers the fire. On the night before it happened, his father said Jonathan and Fell had wrought him out of work at the mill, but he would go that night to the mill; this was said before the witness went to bed, which was about seven o'clock. His father called the witness up about ten o'clock at night, and they set off to go to the mill; when they had got a few yards from the house, his father desired him to go to Mr. Armistead’s stable and get some straw. Witness, before he left home, saw a great fire in the house, and a large stick. Witness got as much straw as he could carry in his arms, which he took to his father, who was at the back of the mill. His father tried to open the back window with his knife, but not being able to do it he took a spade and forced it open. His father then put the witness through the window into the mill, and gave him the straw, and told him to carry it into a dark place in the spinning-room. Witness took it into the spinning-room but it in a dark place near the frame; witness then went back to his father, who was in the inside of the window, he had a fiery stick in his hand, covered with a little brat, (a child’s apron); his father gave him the brat, which he told him to put into the engine cylinder, which he did; it was on fire. His father then asked him where he had put the straw; witness told him in the spinning-room; his father then went into the spinning-room, and took up two oil tins; he went to the place where the witness had placed the straw and gave him the fiery stick, and said he was to hold it until he poured a little oil upon it, which he did; his father then took the fiery stick from the witness, and put it under the straw; his father then took the stick and oil cans and put them in the window, near the clock; the straw was then on fire. His father then poured some oil upon the straw, and put two spinning handles upon it; his father then told him he might go home; in going he was afraid of some noise he heard, which he thought proceeded from Mr. Armistead’s house; witness went out by the window he had entered; he left his father in the mill. He came home in about five or six minutes; when he returned, he told him if he (the witness) told any person what they had been doing, he would flea him to the skin. Witness said he told Mary Wildman, a girl who worked in the mill with him, the same story he had been relating to the Court. Witness could not say at what time he told her this, but it was after there had been some talk about the Bow-street Officers coming down to find out the persons who had set the mill on fire.

The burnt stick and the child’s brat, were found in the mill in the place stated by the witness, and were produced in Court.

The Prisoner had no Counsel, but the Judge examined the Witness at great length, with the view of ascertaining whether there was any motive in the mind of the boy which could have induced him to fabricate this charge against his father. Witness, in answer to a number of questions put by the Judge, said, his father treated him unkindly, was very crabbed to him, beat him much, and did not let him have as much food as he could have wished to have; he treated him more harshly than he did his brothers and sisters.—His mother was very kind to him. Witness said he was treated kindly at the mill, and liked his employment. His Lordship also questioned him as to his capacity of understanding the obligation of an oath, to which he gave satisfactory answers.

The Judge, in his charge to the Jury, said, if they could place full confidence in the testimony of the son, they must find the Prisoner guilty; if they thought they could not safely rely upon it, they must acquit him, as his testimony was not materially corroborated by any other evidence; and in cases of real doubt, it was better that a guilty person should escape, than that a man, who might possibly be innocent, should suffer.

The Jury retired for about half an hour, and returned with a verdict of—NOT GUILTY.

23rd July 1812: The trial of Patrick Doring at York Summer Assizes

The Leeds Mercury of 25th July 1812, carried the details of the trial of Patrick Doring, who was accused of threatening the lives of Mary and Joseph Culpin after they had given evidence against the Luddite James Haigh. Again, William Cartwright gave evidence. It is not clear on what day the trial took place, although it was likely to be before sentencing on 24th July. NB - the article refers to Martha Culpin, rather than her actual name Mary - her relative contacted us to point this error out on a previous occasion.
was charged with endeavouring to prevent Martha Culpin from appearing to give evidence against James Haigh, charged with being concerned on the attack in the attack on Rawfolds Mill, by threatening, that if she appeared against him she would be shot.

Mr. Cartwright proved the riot, and the attack upon his mill on the 11th of April last.

Mr. Allison, attorney at law, Huddersfield, stated, that Martha Culpin had been examined on the charge against James Haigh, before Mr. Radcliffe, at Milnes-Bridge.

Mr. Staveley produced the warrant of the committal of James Haigh to the Castle, on the charge of being concerned in the riot and attack on Mr. Cartwright’s Mill.

Martha Culpin stated, that she lived at Penistone Green; has known the Prisoner two or three years. Witness has heard of the attack on Rawfolds Mill, and has been examined before Mr. Radcliffe, at Milnes Bridge, respecting James Haigh. About sunset of the same day she saw the Prisoner; he came to her house, and said, “Why, you have been at Milnes Bridge; you must know what you have been for; if you go again you will be obliged to go to York to give evidence; and if you do, take notice what I tell you—I know that the bullet is made with which you will be shot.” Prisoner said he had risked his life in telling her this. He further said, if she and her husband would go away, he would find a place where they would be safe. In consequence of what the Prisoner had said to her, she and husband went into Derbyshire, where they remained about a week; on their return home, which was on Tuesday, they received a summons to attend Mr. Radcliffe, at Milnes-Bridge, where they went and were examined. On the evening of their return, the Prisoner came to their house, and said, “What! you have been again, but you will catch it.” Prisoner, on the occasion, told her, that he had come near her house, with an intention of dressing James Haigh’s wound, but there were so many persons about the house that he durst not come in.

Joseph Culpin, the husband of the last Witness, stated, that on the day of their first examination before Mr. Radcliffe, he saw the Prisoner going towards his (the Witness’s) house, but did not see him go in; had no conversation with him. In consequence of some communication from his wife, they went into Derbyshire, where they remained a week; this was in the month of July. After their return, they were examined a second time before Mr. Radcliffe, and entered into a recognizance to appear at the Assizes in York. The Prisoner came to his house the same evening, and said to them, “What! you have been again; but you shall catch it.” Witness told the Prisoner it was no business of his, and desired him to go about his business. Prisoner then went away, swearing at them. Witness said James Haigh was part of a day at his house; he appeared to be unwell, but Witness did not know that he had been wounded.

The Prisoner had no Counsel, nor did he call any Witnesses. He addressed the Jury in his defence; he stated that he had attended Martha Culpin as a Medical Man three weeks, during which time he had furnished her medicines, and made a cure of her; but when he carried in his bill, she had not money to pay it, and gave him only a small part of it. He had several times requested payment of the remainder, but could not obtain it; one time in particular he pressed her closely for the payment, and which she said if he asked her for the money again she would swear his life away. Witness, upon this threat, went to Mr. Allison, attorney at law, Huddersfield, and desired him to write a letter to Culpin to demand payment. Prisoner proceeded to state, that as soon as he had taken this step, they preferred this charge against him, which, he said, was entirely without foundation, as he never had any conversation with on the subject, nor did even so much as know James Haigh; and that he delivered himself up as soon as he knew that a warrant was issued against him. The prisoner concluded his defence by saying, that there was no man or subject more dispose than himself to stand true to his King and Country.

The Witnesses on the part of the Prosecution were examined in support of the Prisoner’s defence. The note was proved to have been delivered to Martha Culpin, and the demand made by Mr. Allison, before the Culpins preferred any charge against the prisoner.

After his Lordship had recapitulated the evidence, the Jury, without retiring, found the prisoner—Guilty.

23rd July 1812: The trial of the Horbury food rioters at York Summer Assizes

The Leeds Mercury of 25th July 1812, carried the details of the trial 3 women, accused of rioting in Horbury on 17th June 1812. The trial took place on Thursday 23rd July 1812.
BETTY WOOD (aged 60), MARY ELLIS (aged 24), and MARY WRIGHT (aged 20) were charged with Highway Robbery, in putting in bodily fear, and stealing by force and violence from the person of Benjamin Byrom, a quantity of potatoes and onions. This case may be stated in a few words.

On the 17th of June, Benjamin Byrom, a hawker of potatoes, went with his cart to Horbury, where a number of women and children made an assault upon him, and threw his potatoes into the street; some of the rabble run away with a few of them—but nothing of this kind was proved against the Prisoners. The law in this case, as stated by the Judge, ought to be known. If the intention of the mob is to steal, or to convert to their own use, any part of the property, every person in the mob is answerable for the acts of that mob; and if property is taken away, every individual in the riot may be prosecuted for the robbery, and may be capitally convicted, as the case may be, though such individual may have taken no part of the property. But if the intention of the mob is to destroy the property, and a few in the mob deviate from such intention, and steal part of it, their acts affects only themselves, and does not implicate any other person. The Jury, without hesitation acquitted all the Prisoners.

23rd July 1812: The trial of William Sykes at York Summer Assizes

The Leeds Mercury of 25th July 1812, carried the details of the trial of William Sykes, who was accused of raiding for arms in Meltham on 9th May 1812. The trial took place on Thursday 23rd July 1812.

The Counsel for the Crown called William Wady, a private in the West Kent Militia, to prove a conversation in which the prisoner admitted that he was free, able, and willing to serve General Ludd. But the Learned Judge said, he could not admit such irrelevant matter to be given in evidence.

James Kershaw knows the prisoner; saw him on the night of Saturday, the 9th of May, about eleven o'clock—he had a gun in his hand, and his face blacked. Prisoner said to him, “Well, my lad, will you go with me a little journey?” Witness said, “No.” But he followed him at a short distance, to see what he was about. He went to the house of John Marsh, of Meltham, about a quarter of a mile, and having roused them by knocking at the door, said, “I am informed you have a gun here; General Ludd has sent me for it, and if you do not deliver it up I will blow the door open.” Witness heard the gun fired. The Prisoner was much intoxicated, and staggered in his walk.

Thomas Whiteley stated, that the Prisoner made the same proposal to him as to the last Witness, and said, he was going to get John Marsh and Jonas Beardsley’s guns. Witness went about forty yards with him, and turn back on the Prisoner, saying, “Luddites never speak.” Witness in a short time heard the report of a gun, which appeared to be in the direction of Mr. Marsh's house. Witness did not observe that the Prisoner was intoxicated; did not think he was.

John Creaser, apprentice to Mr. Marsh, stated, that he was awaked by the report of a gun; he got up, and having received the gun which his master had given to him from the lodger, he delivered it to the person at the door. Being asked the reason of his readily giving it up, he said, there were so many reports about the Luddites, and he had been informed that they would not be denied. The firing of the gun had also made him afraid. When he delivered the gun, he said, “It has no lock;” on which the person at the door said, “It is well; it shall be well repaired, and brought back in open day.” Witness said the gun was brought back on the Monday following, but it was not repaired.

Mr. John Marsh, the master of the house, stated more precisely the terms in which the gun was demanded. After he had answered to the knocking at the door, a person from without said, “We are informed you have a gun, and we are come for it.”—Witness told them (for he supposed there were a number, though he heard only one voice) he had not a gun, and called to his apprentice not to give it up; but he supposes the boy did not hear him, as he gave them the gun. The gun was brought back on Monday night, by Joseph Whiteley. During the time the person was at the door, he heard him call out two numbers, as if calling to somebody, but the witness only heard the voice of one person.

Philip Earnshaw lent the prisoner a gun belonging to his master, on the night in question; he told them it was for a bit of fun, and wished the Witness to go with him. Witness went a short distance with him, but he left him, because he had some mischief in his head, he laughed so. Witness then went to the Prisoner’s house, who returned in about half an hour, and brought back another gun with him. Witness did not examine the gun of his master, to see whether it had been recently discharged.

Joseph Whiteley stated, that he carried the gun back to Mr. Marsh, on Monday, the 11th of May.

This finished the case on the part of the Prosecution.

His Lordship said, he thought it unnecessary to call upon the Prisoner for his defence. There did not appear to have been any design to steal the gun—no bad use had been made of it—and it was returned to its owner before any search been made for arms in the house of the Prisoner. It appeared to have been an idle, but most dangerous frolic, and for which he had been deservedly imprisoned. The Jury concurring in this opinion, found the Prisoner—Not Guilty.

Sunday 22 July 2012

22nd July 1812: John Hinchliffe shot and badly wounded at Upper Thong

Around 11.30 p.m. on Wednesday 23rd July 1812, John Hinchliffe - a professional singer and the parish clerk of Holmfirth - was asleep in bed at his home in Wickens, near Upper Thong. He was awoken by a great din, someone was banging on his door - someone shouted "does John Hinchliffe live here?". He sat up and said, loudly, "yes, what do you want?" - a voice called back "we want to speak to you".

Hinchliffe got up and went directly downstairs and opened the door. Two men were there and each raised a pistol to point right at him. He noticed that the face of one of the men was covered.They grabbed him, saying they would not hurt him, but wanted him to show them where someone lived, but wouldn't say who. Hinchliffe refused to go, and then noticed a horse trotting up the lane - the masked man let go of him and ran after it. The other man still had hold of him and said "what have you been doing?" - Hinchliffe said "nothing" - the man said "you're a liar, you've been giving information against someone at Thong!".

At this point, Hinchliffe broke free of the man's grip - as he was turning, the man raised his pistol and fired straight at Hinchliffe's head: Hinchliffe screamed out, and the man ran away.

Hinchliffe's neighbour - another Hinchliffe called Thomas - heard the shot and got up. He went to his door and heard Hinchliffe calling out "Tom! Tom! Tom, there's a man, he's shot my eye out!" and moaning. It was only when he opened the door on the moonlit night and let John in that he could see Hinchliffe's head around his left eye was a bloody mess - but he was still alive.

22nd July 1812: Gravenor Henson writes to Nottingham about the progress of his Bill through Parliament

1812. July 22



I have received yours and am extremely happy to find that you have adjusted all your animosities. The Bill was read a third time last Night and will be read a first time in the Lords on Friday Night You will perceive from the Inclosed Report that we have had a strong opposition I do not expect any in the Lords if we can keep an American Merchant back of the Name of Jaffery who we have recd. some information means to oppose the Bill on the Ground that he can sell Plenty of Single Press and Two course hole in America; But I believe the Lords have determined to hear no Petitions against Bills nor to have any further Debates I paid Mr Harrison this Morning our Counsel 33" 18" 0" I have Mr Ellis to pay yet, Write To Mr Toplis, they have been to me in London about the 52£ Latham will inform you what it means, Mr Coke desired me when I came from the House last Night 1/2 past 12 oClock to stay a few Days to get it through the Lords, He requests I would meet him on Friday Morning at Mr Smiths bank to arrange for the Bill passing through the Lords, Mr Mansfield is very inattentive, he went away from the House last Night before the Bill was read, I have not seen him to Day: Latham, Large, Bowler and Roper left Town by the Manchester Defiance yesterday for Leicester you may expect them by the time you receive this. Take the Reports of the Speeches to the Review, they are pretty long they are in none of the London Papers, Give my Respects to all Friends

I am Sir
Your most Obt Servt
G Henson

PS. If there is any disatisfaction at my staying here send me word immediately I shall come thro Hinkley send me Word how I shall act as it concerns going thro Banbury and forming a Union of the Trade The Reports will be printed to morrow I have been once to Day Sir T Tyrwhit was not at home

The Ministers were for the Bill only 12 in the House when it Passed all the Patriots went away as usual.

[Addressed to:]

Mr Fell
Newtons Head

22nd July 1812: Thomas Allsop is acquitted of writing a threatening letter at Leicester Summer Assizes

On Wednesday 22nd July 1812, the Secretary of the Leicester Committee of Framework-knitters, Thomas Allsop, was acquitted of sending a threatening letter to Henry Wood at Leicester Summer Assizes.

There appears to be no record of the trial, other than the outcome. The Home Office papers do have some records which are of interest. In June, the under-secretary of State for the Home Office had sent a note to persons unknown, pointing out the potential problems with the prosecution:
The evidence against Allsop, tho’ such as leaves no doubt in the minds of the Magistrates as to his guilt, is certainly not sufficient to convict him. It consists of evidence arising out of a comparison of his hand-writing in several letters acknowledged to have been written by him with the threatening letter. There are many characters in these letters so exactly similar to those in the threatening letter as to leave no doubt of them all being written by the same hand – This added to a few collateral circumstances is the evidence on which he is committed — but in order to convict him before a Jury it will be necessary to have witnesses, who have seen him frequently write, to swear that they have no doubt the threatening letter is the Prisoner’s hand-writing — Such evidence, is during the existence of the present system of terror & intimidation is difficult to obtain There are however strong hopes of procuring it between this & the Assizes.

The Prisoner is a bad character — & from his abilities (for he is a very clever fellow) a dangerous man; as well calculated to be a General Ludd as any man can be — & from some letters of his which had been produced he is evidently a rank Ludd.

I am in possession of additional evidence which has been given to me confidentially, & with a most sacred promise not disclose it, which, however, I hope I shall be able to prevail upon the parties to permit me to bring forward.

Please to keep this very secret.

The failed prosecution was expensive: in November,  the Deputy Town Clerk of Leicester, Thomas Burbridge, sent a letter to the Home Office requesting they meet the surplus costs - £112, 5 shillings & 8 pence - to the £53 they had already agreed to pay.

What could have been an explosive and powerful precedent had turned into a costly mistake for the Leicester magistrates.

22nd July 1812: Troop movements

On Wednesday 22nd July 1812, the Horse Artillery arrived in Huddersfield and were later inspected on nearby Lindley Moor. The Leeds Mercury commented that the inspection took place 'in the presence of a great concourse of spectators'.

22nd July 1812: The trial of James Oldroyd at York Summer Assizes

The Leeds Mercury of 25th July 1812, carried the details of the trial of James Oldroyd, who was accused of being present at the attack on Rawfolds Mill, after he was alleged to have been overheard boasting about it in Mirfield on 22nd June. William Cartwright gave evidence. The trial took place on Wednesday 22nd July 1812.
JAMES OLDROYD was charged with assembling, with divers other persons on the night of the 11th April, and there making an attack on the Mill of Mr. Cartwright, of Rawfolds, and with beginning to demolish the same.

This prosecution was founded on an Act passed in the 9th of Geo.III which makes it a capital felony for any person riotously to assemble and demolish any Mill, or to begin to demolish any Mill.

Mr. Park, Mr. Topping, and Mr. Richardson, were Counsel for the Prosecutor, Mr. Raine to the Defendant.

Mr. Park stated the case to the Jury, in which he laid it down as the law of the case, that the violent breaking of windows, when evidently done with such instruments, and under such circumstances as shows the intent to be to demolish the building, is such a beginning to demolish as comes within the meaning of the Act. And that every person so present with the rioters giving them his countenance and aid, is as guilty law though no individual act of violence can be personally proved against him.

[We shall, conformable to our usual custom, state the case from the evidence of the Witnesses.]

Mr. Cartwright, the proprietor of the Mill, was called to the purpose of proving the riot and the nature of the attack upon the Mill. A circumstantial narrative of this having already appeared before the public, it may be sufficient merely here to add, that the attack was made about 20 minutes after 12 o'clock at night on the 11th April, by a considerable number of persons, but how many the darkness of the night did not give him the means of forming an opinion, the attack was made by fire-arms, hammers, mauls, and hatchets; all the windows on the side of the attack were broke in almost instantaneously, the lower windows by the instruments before mentioned, and the upper stories by discharges of ball and slugs. The firing continued incessantly for about 20 minutes, it was accompanied by cries of “bang-up—damn you are you in—in with you—kill them every one.” The party on the inside, of which the witness was one, repelled the charge by keeping up a constant fire on the assailants, but the darkness of the night was such that the only guide they had in directing their fire was the flash from the discharge of the fire-arms of the assailants. Witness supposes about 120 shots would discharged from the building, and about the same number from without. The attack continued about 20 minutes, when the assailants retired. As soon as the Witness thought it prudent to open the door, he found that two wounded men had been left behind, (who afterwards died) and near the premises, in the direction in which the party had returned, a number of mauls, hatchets, picklocks, masks, and bullet-moulds, were found, and which were produced in court. The wood work of the door, which was partially lined with iron, was was entirely destroyed. The Witness said, he had no means of forming judgement whether the Prisoner was there or not, but he had no reasons to believe he was there. The Prisoner was a person of good character, and had no grounds for animosity against him.

Mr. Cartledge, of Brow-bridge, near Elland, said, he was returning from Wakefield, on the 22d June, accompanied by Mr. Ashworth and Mr. Woodhead, they called at the Black Bull, Mirfield, for refreshment, and sat in the Bar, it was about eight o'clock in the evening, the room was separated from another room by a thin wood partition, in which there was a small window, the glass of which was partly broken, heard a person say in a loud tone of voice, “I was at Rawfolds on the night of the attack, I was engaged there, I was close by the two men that fell,” the same voice said, that he never was in any association but one, and that was Ned or General Ludd's, (believes he used both expressions) had been any service three years, that he had been faithful to him and would ever remain so. Witness said he spoke in a loud and boisterous tone of voice. Mr. Ashworth, one of the party, went for a Constable, the Witness went into the Room and enquired which of the party had used that language. There were eight or ten persons in the room, he was pointed out to him by William Clarkson, and on the return of Mr. Ashworth, they prevailed on him to go with them into another room, where he denied having used the words imputed to him.—On his cross-examination he said the man appeared to have had liquor, but was not drunk, and appeared to understand what he said and what was said to him; he said Mr Cartwright knew him, and if they disputed his character he would get a letter of recommendation from him. Witness first heard of Gen. Ludd about a year ago. Witness said the Prisoner spoke so loud that he might have been heard by every person in the low part of the house.

Mr. Ashworth stated the conversation at the Black Bull in these terms:—I heard a voice say, as if in answer to some persons who had been contradicted him, “but I was at Rawfolds Mill that night, and I was engaged in the attack, and I saw the man fall,” or the men. Witness believes both expressions were used at different times. The same voice further said, “I was never engaged in any association or society in my life but that of General or Ned Ludd, I have ever been true to it, and I have been in it three years.” Witness said these words were not used uninterruptedly as he has stated them, it was an interrupted conversation, and many of the expressions were repeated several times. After a consultation as to the course which it became their characters to pursue, it was determined to send for a Constable, and Witness went for one, but did not succeed, on his return, the Prisoner was pointed out to him, and when he spoke he recognized the same voice, but lower and softened. Witness proceeded to state what he heard of the conversation in the room to which they retired, which was the same in substance as stated by Mr. Cartledge; the Prisoner denied having used the expressions imputed to him; the Witness said he had no reason to believe that the Prisoner did not understand what he did or said; his spirits appeared to be elevated by the liquor he had taken. Nothing material occurred in his cross-examination, except that the Witness judging from the boisterous tone and manner in which the words were used, should have thought them the words of a crazy person.

Wm. Clarkson (the person referred to by Mr. Cartledge) stated that he was in the Black Bull public house on the night in question, and heard the conversation, heard the prisoner say he was at Rawfolds Mill the night it was attacked, that he was engaged in the attack, and that he was near to his fellow creatures when they fell; he never had entered into any society, but he would abide by it as long as he lived. Witness said he considered the Prisoners as drunk from first to last.

Joseph Senior was also present, heard part of the conversation, but did not much attend to it. Remembers the Prisoner saying he was at Rawfolds Mill the night it was attacked, and was engaged in the attack; did not hear him say any thing more; was not in the room when the conversation was begun, but the Prisoner and another person appeared to be talking one against the other. The Prisoner appear to have two partners, (that is persons who are drinking with him) and one of them said to him, “hold thy peace, if there be a good trade and meal come down, Ned Ludd will die.”—(A laugh.)

This finished the case on the part of the Prosecution.

Mr. Joseph Savage stated that he was a surgeon at Dewsbury, and attended the Prisoner, who was very subject to attacks of fever; he attended him up to the time of Pontefract Sessions, but was then under the necessity of being absent from the 6th to the 11th of April; left him medicines; he was in a debilitated state, and not able to endure much fatigue. Judging from what he saw the Prisoner, it would have been dangerous for him to have been out on the night of the 11th of April. Witness saw him on the morning of the 12th, and, from his appearance, he should have supposed he had had his usual rest the preceding night.

Mary Ward sleeps in the house of the Prisoner, who is married, and has two children. She went to bed at ten o'clock on the 11th of April, at which time the prisoner was in bed. He sleeps in the room they usually live in. Her child being unwell and restless, she got up again about eleven o'clock, and came down stairs to the fire; the Prisoner was still in bed, and spoke to her, and complained that he could get no rest.—Witness soon after went to bed again, but her child continuing restless, she was under the necessity of getting up again. The clock then struck one. She remained up until near three o'clock, during which time the Prisoner frequent spoke to her, and, at the request of his wife, she gave him his medicine. The child being quiet, Prisoner advised her to go to bed, asking her what o'clock it was; she looked at the clock, and said it wanted a few minutes to three.—Witness got up at six o'clock in the morning, and went to her father's house; Prisoner was still in bed.

The Counsel for the Prosecution cross-examined her at considerable length, but she did not vary her testimony. She accounted for sleeping at the Prisoners, by stating that her father had six children, and only two beds, and had not room for her and her child to sleep.

His Lordship summoned up the evidence with great particularity, and observed that the riot and the beginning to demolish the mill had been clearly proved, but the material question remain, which was, whether the Prisoner was present at the attack. It he was present he was guilty. That he was present there was the evidence of his own declaration. The Jury would consider, whether under all the circumstances of the case they could be fully convinced that these declarations were founded in truth; they would examine the manner and the circumstances under which they were made; and from a careful consideration of them, determine the degree of credit to which they were intitled. But it was right to state that these declarations, though fully proved, were not confirmed by any corroborating circumstances. On the part of the defence, there was evidence of Mr. Savage, who appeared to be a respectable man, and the amount of whose testimony might fairly be stated as rendering it improbable that the Prisoner should be there. If the evidence of Mary Ward had full credit given to it, and there was nothing improbable or inconsistent in the account she gave, and her evidence had not been shaken by the cross-examination. If her testimony was believed, they must of necessity acquit the prisoner, as it was impossible he could have been there. The Jury would weigh all the circumstances of the case, and if upon the whole, they were convinced that the Prisoner’s declaration at the public house was true, they would find him guilty; but if they believed it was not true, or had a reasonable doubt upon the subject, they would acquit him.

The Jury, without leaving the box, found the prisoner—NOT GUILTY.

The verdict was received in perfect silence.

It may be proper here to add, that the most perfect order and decorum prevailed in the Court during the whole of the trials for rioting; and there is in the city no military parade, nor any thing to indicate that the County is not in a state of the most profound tranquility and security.

22nd July 1812: Soldiers clothing and a butcher's knife found near Wakefield

The 25th July 1812 edition of the Leeds Mercury reported a strange discovery made near Wakefield on the morning of Wednesday 22nd July 1812:
On Wednesday morning in the plantation, adjoining the house of Mr. Tootal of Wakefield, were found an hussar jacket and pantaloons, and a butcher's knife, the former of which had been stolen from the White Hart, and the latter from the common slaughter house in the course of the night. The purpose for which these were taken is yet to us a mystery, but we cannot help surmising that it must have been a very bad one
 Tootal had had 300 panes of glass in one of his buildings smashed two months earlier.

Saturday 21 July 2012

21st July 1812: A Mason from Manchester informs the Home Secretary that a Luddite has infiltrated a local lodge

Manchester 21st July 1812

My Lord

I have just come to the knowledge of a circumstance, which, I deem of too great importance in regard of our safety, to keep concealed, for a moment, from his Majesty's Government: for, when I consider the introduction of Illuminism into the Lodges of Germany and France, and reflect upon its disastrous consequences to Europe generally, and to France in particular — any attempt, of the people termed Luddites, to disseminate their doctrines with their Oath, into the Masonic institutions of this country, overwhelm the mind with alarm, and seems to demand your Lordship's earliest attentions.—Yesterday, a deputation arrived, at the Lodge of Integrity here, from Eccles, (about four miles distant), to give information to Mr Lynch, (Deputy-Provincial-Grand-Master,) of the suspension of one of their members, on account of an attempt made by him, to twist-in several of the Brethren; and, for his having been, himself+, twisted-in.

All that the deputation wanted was Mr. Lynch's authority to destroy the certificate of the suspended Member, and to request that, the necessary precautions might be, immediately, used to prevent his again ever entering that, or any other Lodge, in the province.

As this was a mere proforma business, I was unwilling that it should here terminate.—I took an opportunity of explaining to Mr. Lynch the facility which the secrecy of masonic meetings afforded to the promotion of seditious plans, and at the same time mentioned the advantage which the Diciples of Weishaupt had taken of this secrecy in promoting the views of the Illuminati.—Concurring exactly with myself in opinion, I proposed to make your Lordship acquainted with the circumstance, and, (if we were fortunate enough to meet your Lordship's approbation,) to search all the Lodges of the county minutely: and, further, to send to every Lodge in our province a list of the names of those men tried and condemned at Chester and Lancaster, with the names of those who have since been taken into custody, the purpose of ascertaining, whether any considerable proportion of these infatuated men were are Masons.—From the tenor of the enclosed oath, we are inclined to believe that, it has been drawn up by disaffected Mason; as, the Oath itself is by no means dissimilar from that one of those, administered to the candidates for one of the degrees of Masonry—

Determined to preserve the strictest silence on the subject, until I have the honor of being made acquainted with your Lordship's pleasure

I am [etc]

Henry Hardie M.D.

To the Right Hon:le Lord Sidmouth

Dr. Hardie

+ He is to be tried, at the next New Bailey Sessions, on the above charge.

21st July 1812: The trial of the Sheffield rioters, at York Summer Assizes

The Leeds Mercury of 25th July 1812 covered the trial of some of the Sheffield rioters at the York Summer Assizes, which took place on Tuesday, 21st July.
JOSEPH WOLSTENHOLME (aged 17), JOHN ROWAN (aged 15), WILLIAM RODGERS (aged 16), and MARY GIBBONS (aged 48), were charged with a misdemeanour, in riotously assembling, and breaking into the depot of the Local Militia, at Sheffield.

Mr. PARK stated the case to the Jury. He observed that the Prisoners had been leniently dealt with by Government, as they might have been indicted for an offence, the consequence of which would have been much more penal.

We shall state, in as few words as possible, from the evidence of the witnesses, all the material facts developed in the course of the trial.

Thomas Flathes, a serjeant in the Sheffield Local Militia, and he lived near the depot, stated, that about three o'clock in the afternoon of the 14th of April last, he saw about five or six men, and about forty or fifty boys, coming towards the depot, which is a short distance from the town of Sheffield; when they got to the turnpike-bar, within about thirty yards of the building, they halted, and were joined by an immense mob, four or five thousand persons; after a silence of a few minutes, he observed a number of hands held up, and pointing to the arms in the depot; the signal was answered by a general discharge of stones at the windows of the depot, which were almost instantly demolished. The rioters, emboldened by this success, entered the court of the depot, and renewed the attack, throwing stones into the interior of the building; a shout was then set up by some few voices in the crowd, “all in a mind to enter;” the door of the depot was then forced, by means of a very large stone taken from the wall, and one of the rioters attempted to enter; the Witness, who had a musket, with his bayonet fixed, now came out of the depot, where he had been with Captain Best, and presented his peace, threatening to run him through if he did not desist; the rioters, upon this retreated, and the Witness stood for some time on the steps in front of the depot, but being assailed by stones, he thought it prudent to retire into his own house, which adjoins the depot, and where he had a wife and three young children. Having taken his family into an upper room, he looked at the rioters from the window; they were throwing arms out of the store-rooms, and breaking them; he observed one man break twelve pieces against the wall.—Witness saw the prisoner Wolstenholme amongst the crowd, but did not see him do any mischief; he was standing still. About twenty minutes elapsed from the attack upon the depot to the arrival of the dragoons; on the arrival of which the mob instantly dispersed. The number of arms destroyed was about three hundred. The depot contain 900 stand of arms, and 900 suits of clothing.

This was the general evidence as to the riot, and was the only evidence against Wolstenholme, which Mr. Park admitted to be insufficient, and consented that he should be acquitted.

The evidence against John Rowan was this. He was seen, after the rioters were dispersed, coming out of the depot; and a boy of the name of Savage stated, that he had seen Rowan during the riot with a musket in his hand, and, that he had asked him, the Witness, to assist in breaking them; but it appeared, on his cross-examination, that the Witness, previous to is making this charge, had been accused by Rowan of being active in the riot.—Rowan had a most excellent character given him by a number of most respectable Witnesses; and Mr. Park remarked, that the countenance of the boy corroborated their testimony; and his Lordship, or remarking on this case, said, no person, in or out of Court, could desire a better character.—The Jury, after a short consultation, acquitted him.

William Rodgers was found lying under a hedge, with a military sword near him, concealed bu his apron, at the time when the rioters were flying in all directions from the military.

Mary Gibbons, a few minutes after the arrival of the military, was seen by the constable running from the depot with a parcel, which she dropped on seeing the constable. On examining this parcel, it was found to consist of two pair of military pantaloons, and a pair of gaiters, which were proved to have been taken away from the depot.

His Lordship, in his observations on this case, said, as the prisoner had given no account how she came to be possessed of these articles, and as she had them in her possession a very short time after the depot was broken into, and from which place she appeared to be running, it raised the presumption that she was present at the riot. His Lordship again repeated the sentiment contained in his charge, that no person could be innocently present at a riot, unless he was endeavouring to quell it.

The Jury acquitted Joseph Wolstenholme and John Rowan; and found William Rodgers and Mary Gibbons—Guilty.