Monday, 23 July 2012

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.

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