Sunday, 2 September 2012

2nd September 1812: The lesser-known cases at Lancaster Summer Assizes

On Wednesday 2nd September 1812, sentencing took place at Lancaster Summer Assizes. A number of cases were decided there which do not usually feature in any of the histories of Luddism, but which nevertheless deserve to be recognised and/or highlighted.

Six prisoners were on trial for rioting at Middleton during the 2-day disturbances in April: they had all been tried for arson at the Lancaster Special Commission in May, but were acquitted, and then immediately charged with rioting to be tried at the next Assizes. Robert Ogden and James Taylor were imprisoned for 18 months, with Paul Greenwood, John Scholes, Abraham Ogden & John Kenyon being imprisoned for 2 years.

Six women who were arrested after the Lancaster Special Commission for taking part in rioting at Barton-upon-Irwell in April were also brought before the Court: whilst Elizabeth Birch, Mary Clare, Mary Dunn were acquitted, Mary Barlow, Elizabeth Benyon & Sarah Parkinson were found guilty and imprisoned for 1 month.

Solomon Low - someone taken up by Captain Francis Raynes during his stay in the area of Mottram - was convicted convicted of having stolen three loads of meal at Ashton-under-Lyne, during rioting in April and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment.

John Brown, the landlord of the Prince Regent's Arms in Manchester, taken up along with Humphrey Yarwood by John Lloyd in June, was not prosecuted for being present at the administration of an illegal oath.

Messrs Rowe & Duncough, the owners of factory at Westhoughton which was destroyed by Luddites in April, brought an action for recovery of their losses against the Hundred of Salford, no doubt because the military failed to act at the time, even though they were alerted. The verdict was given in their favour, and they received 'upwards' of £7000 in damages, and enormous sum of money.

Lastly Edmund Newton, one of the 'Manchester 38', who had been acquitted 5 days before was re-arrested at the end of the trial, charged with administering an illegal oath in Tintwistle and re-committed to Lancaster Castle to stand at the next Assizes.

Details of the outcome and sentences of the Assizes appear in the Manchester Mercury of 1st & 8th September 1812.

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