Wednesday 31 October 2012

31st October 1812: The Huddersfield Solicitor, John Allison, denies George Mellor has confessed & tells Acland of more arrests

Dear General

I have not heard of Mellors having made any confession of guilt, nor do I think it at all likely as I believe he will die as hardened a Villain as ever disgraced a Gallows

Eight were committed last night and are gone off to York this morning — Three will be remanded for further Examination — and two more are taken up — Two have fled & I think they are gone to Dublin — Can you Sir or General Maitland assist me in having sought for and secured in Dublin, or  must I send to Government?

I have the honor to remain General
Yours most faithfully

Jno. Allison
Huddersfield Saturday Morning [31st October 1812]

[To] M. General Acland &c. &c.

31st October 1812: Poem 'The Apparition or the Dæmon of Luddism to his Son'

The DÆMON of LUDDISM to his SON.

OH SON! oh Son! alack! alack!
What woeful days are come!
My children which thou rear’dſt so well,
Are forced to leave their home.

But oh! of all miſchievous things,
Write down the True Blue clubs;
For truth and virtue there will join,
To give us deadly rubs.

Thy cauſe and mine thou knoweſt full well,
Connected were and one,
But oh!—that Truth!—I hate its fight,
It ſhows our ugly form.

It makes me ſkulk, it makes thee wince,
It fills my mouth with foam,
Ne’er mind my lad—thy work is done,
Come to thy father home.

October 31, 1812.                    PEEP BOH.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

30th October 1812: Pwllheli Magistrates ask the Home Office for help after the enclosure of the Commons in resisted

My Lord

We whose names are hereunto subscribed being his Majesty's Justices of the peace for the County of Carnarvon and also Proprietors of Land Interested in the Commons and Waste Lands directed to be divided and inclosed under the Nevin Inclosure Act Beg to inform your Lordship that several attempts have been made to Survey the Commons in the Parish of Pistill But the Commissioners hath been opposed and prevented in doing so by the Cottagers who have encroached on the Commons Assembling together in great Numbers and in a riotous manner pelting those employed and forcing them to quit the Commons. And that in particular on 29th of October Instant the Commissioner attended by two Magistrates and Constables together with several Proprietors and their Tenants, went to the said Commons, where about Eighty of the Cottagers were assembled, and on enquiring their Business there Be declared they were so assembled to prevent the Commons being measured and would never suffer them to be Surveyed and being requested to disperse they refused, whereupon the Riot Act was read and Proclamation made and the purport and Consequences explained to them But they continued together for upwards of an Hour, during which time they were very riotous and threw sods frequently at the magistrates, the Commissioner, His Clerk and the Constables and Ultimately obliged them to leave the Commons.

Warrants are in the Hands of the Constables to apprehend the most forward and violent of the rioters, but they cannot Execute them, the rioters immediately assembling and threatening the lives of the Constables if they dare approach them. The rioters meet at the Sound of Horns which are placed at different stations, so that great Numbers, can be collected in a short time—

We have therefore to request your Lordship will be pleased to apply immediately to his Majesty's Government for a Detachment of Cavalry to be sent here to assist the Civil Power in preserving the Peace, and the Commissioners in carrying the Act into Execution, without whose Aid the one or the other can be Effected—

We have [etc]

Richard Edwards
William Roberts
Hugh Rowlands

Pwllheli 30th
October 1812

Monday 29 October 2012

29th October 1812: The Huddersfield Solicitor, John Allison, explains how the authorities got Benjamin Walker to confess


In compliance with your Letter of this morning I have the Honor to inclose you a Copy of Walkers Examination.

There were certainly Inducement held out to Walker both by myself and Mr. Radcliffe through the medium of Walker's own relations to make the Confession and he assuredly made it upon the Faith of those Inducements, he did this too at a time when we had no evidence against either himself or Thorpe or Smith and when he had been several days in confinement for examination. It was thought at that time both by Mr. Radcliffe and myself and Mr. Lloyd who was there with me as well as by General Acland that it was the most adviseable method. Mr. Lloyd has since taken and placed Walker in a place of perfect Safety and no doubt he will have reported to you thereon. The person to whom Mr. Lloyd alludes as having been properly examined is Joseph Sowden a Copy of whose Examination I have already transmitted to Lord Sidmouth. I shall I have no Doubt confirm Walker in a very many leading circumstances and am doing my endeavours so to do and have no Doubt of succeeding. William Hall will confirm Sowden’s Testimony as to the Oath and Sowden’s Confession was quite voluntary on his part and without the least Inducement or Threat indeed the Circumstance which Sowden revealed was never dreamt of till he disclosed it.

I have the honour also to transmit Copy of the Examination of Robert Robinson a Publican at whose House Smith called soon after the murder and which is confirmatory of Walker in that Circumstance.

I shall be glad to know whether it is likely an Assize will be held prior to the 6th of January and to be favoured with an answer to my former letters relative to Mr. Radcliffes converting part of his Outhousing into a temporary prison. We have now eleven under Examination.

I have &c
(signed) John Allison:
Huddersfield 29th Oct. 1812—

29th October 1812: Letter from "Secretary to the Brotherhood" to Joseph Radcliffe, Milnsbridge near Huddersfield

Joseph Radcliffe Esq
Milns Bridge House
near Huddersfield

J. Radcliffe Esq

Unjust Judge

This is to inform thee that thy life will be taken from thee the very first oppertunity which will take place before the 2 of January 1813 for we will watch thee Both Day and But we will fulfill our promise to the Committee this is the last warning that thou will have from us thou wicked tyrant who persicuteth the Good and Righteous allso we are determined to murder 2 of thy wicked Servants Before the Expiration of this year I am ordered to give them this last warning But ther lives is determined on, I mean Ferraby & Whitehead for ther dilligence in hunting after our distrest Brotherhood both night and day for they are Both in there Glory which dragging our poor Brothers before the thou wicked man But though Meller be in York Castle we have thousands in this neibourhood left that shal much Glory to Rid the world 3 monsters and as sure as I have spoken the words thou with them will be destroyed Before the time they are in our poor Every week and thou will be watched closer than even Mr. Horsfall was is will be down if in thy own Grounds and the persons sufler instant death for it for we shall Emortalise our reasons to further ages to Rid the world of such a monster as thou art till then I Remain thy mortal Enimey yrs Secretary to the


October 29th 1812

29th October 1812: Anonymous letters begin to circulate again in the Midlands

The Thursday 29th October edition of the Derby Mercury carried an article which reported that anonymous letters were once again appearing across the region:
We are sorry to find that anonymous letters are again in circulation. A Gentleman who has been noticed in this way both last winter, and very lately, begs to reply in the words of the poet:—"Merses profundo pulchrior evenit;" which (for the information of all anonymous letter writers) he will translate thus:—"Plunge men or women, into the Gulph of Tartarus for the sake of making Devils of them, and they will come out from thence adorn'd with the brightness of Angels."

Saturday 27 October 2012

27th October 1812: The Home Office Under Secretary, John Beckett, seeks assurances that Walker & Sowden's evidence was given voluntarily

Whitehall 27th Octr 1812—


I am directed by Lord Sidmouth to acknowledge the Receipt of your Letter of the 24th Instant with its several Inclosures.

There seems to be a fair prospect from what is stated in the Examinations transmitted by you of obtaining a Conviction against some of the persons who murdered Mr. Horsfall. It would be desireable however that Lord Sidmouth should have before him in considering the Case against these parties all the Documents connected with it and I have therefore to request that you would send up a Copy of Walker’s Confession which you state to have been taken at a time when you had no Evidence against him and you will be so good as to inform me whether his Confession when taken was purely voluntary or made under any Inducement held out by yourself or any other person on your behalf. This Information is necessary in order to decide whether Walker must of necessity be admitted as Evidence for the Crown. For the present you will be so good as represent Mr. Radcliffe the expediency of Walker being kept in safe Custody and apart from persons who are likely to tamper with him.

I have a letter from Mr. Lloyd by the same Post which conveyed yours stating that a Man whose name Mr. L. does not mention has been privately examined before Mr. Radcliffe and that his Testimony goes to confirm the Statements contained in the Depositions you have sent up throughout. A copy of this Examination Lord Sidmouth is also desirous of receiving and it should also be known how far the same was voluntary if it is in the nature of a Confession tending to implicate the Party making it in the murder.

You will see the propriety of forbearing to hold out to Walker any expectations of money if the same has not been done already till the whole of the Case against the persons committed has undergone a full Consideration.

I am &c
(signed) J. Beckett

[To] Allison Esqr

Friday 26 October 2012

26th October 1812: A Nottingham Hosier expresses conerns about threatening letters to the Home Office

Stoney Street Nottingham 26 Octr 1812


Having received enclose threatening letter I think it my duty to lay it before you on account of the peculiar circumstances of this Manufacturing Town, as well as on account of the unlawfulness of such letters, and the destructive consequences to the Stocking Manufactory in general, if the Frame-Work-Knitters thus commence in the approaching winter with impunity to the Writers who it is the opinion of other Hosiers, besides myself, whom I have consulted, will execute secretly what they threaten when the pressure of the season is felt.

My Partners will add One Hundred Pounds willingly to that sum which his Majesty's Government may think fit to offer the discovery of the Offenders, or add it to any private reward if that should be judged more effectual than public advertisement, which indeed might bring down some personal serious injury upon myself or property.

I have [etc]
Joshua Beardmore

To the Right Hon the Secretary of State

[Contemporary Home Office note written on reverse instructing clerk to reply as follows:]


Ld Sidmo: is Sorry to find from his letter and Inclosure that so mischievous a Spirit prevails in the town of Nottm—His Ld cannot with propriety offer a Reward on the part of Govt. in this [particular] Case—but he hopes that the Reward as is proposed to be offered by Mr. Beardmore & his partners may have the lead to a discovery of the Authors

26th October 1812: Troop movements

On Monday 26th October 1812, the 1st Division of the 15th Hussars left the West Riding of Yorkshire for Manchester. The following day, the 2nd Division left for the same destination. They were to be relieved by the notorious Scotch Greys.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

24th October 1812: Attack on watchmen at Lindley, near Huddersfield

Between 11.00 p.m. & 12.00 p.m. on Saturday 24th October 1812, a party of watchmen at Lindley, near Huddersfield came under attack from at least 6 men.

A party of three, led by a Special Constable John Cockshut, was attacked with stones and a brawl ensued. One of the men, John Jagger a cropper, seems to have been singled out for the worst treatment and was knocked unconscious by a blow to the head from a stone, although he later recovered.

The following day, the three men (which including a John Wilkinson) gave statements to Joseph Radcliffe, and named the following men as being the attackers: James Smithies (labourer); James Broom (cropper); David Dyson, Thomas Dyson, James Wood and Jonas Wood (all Masons). All three mentioned Smithies.

Radcliffe wanted to take the case to the next York Assizes, and sought assurances that the government would underwrite the costs, but in their response the Attorney General Thomas Plumer and the Solicitor General William Garrow wanted more details about what had happened and why before agreeing to Radcliffe's suggestion. The case did not subsequently appear at the following York Assizes.

24th October 1812: The Huddersfield solicitor, John Allison, sends information about various cases to the Home Secretary

My Lord,

By the direction of Mr Radcliffe I have the Honor and pleasure to inclose to your Lordship Copies of various Examinations taken before him relative to the Murder of Mr. Horsfall and the very daring attack made upon Mr. Cartwrights Mill as well as on the premises of some others where shearing Frames were used. The persons named in the margin have already been committed and the commitment of others will of course follow. The case of the Murder will be most completely made out; and I lament that Sowden’s Examination which I have the Honor to inclose was not given sooner, as if that had been the case I think we should have brought the matter home to all the four who were concerned in the Murder. Walker had given his Confession of it at a time when we had no Evidence against him – As such I presume we must take care of him; and I look upon him as of sufficient consequence to be put under the care of some one who is in obedience to your Lordship in your Official Situation and your Lordship will please to notify what you wish to be done with regard to him. In the Interim I will see that he is properly secured.

I remain [etc]
Jno Allison

Huddersfield 24th. Oct. 1812.

[To] Lord Sidmouth &c &c

[Written in margin:

George Mellor }
Wm Thorpe }
Thos Smith } Murder

James Haigh }
Jonathan Dean }
George Rigg }
Mark Hill }
Joseph Thornton } Felony

24th October 1812: General Acland informs General Maitland there is more evidence against Mellor, Thorpe & Smith

Huddersfield 24th October 1812.

My dear Sir,

More strong Evidence has come out against Mellor, Thorpe & Smith, & I may venture to say without appearing too sanguine, that this case is now complete.

Lloyd had made out a commitment to the House of correction at Wakefield for Walker (the Kings Evidence for this case) & asked if I approved it, to which I replied it was impossible for me to give an opinion about it—& I declin’d doing so—on this he spoke to Mr. Ratcliffe, & said he should wave it, & now write to the Secretary of State for instructions as to disposing of Walker.

I hope you will think that I have [done] right.

I knowing your opinion respecting Barrowclough's commitment I concluded of course you would not approve Walkers, & in fact from Lloyds giving up the point, it shews he only wanted my sanction to hear him out—

Three men are this day committed to York — William Thornton, Mark Hills, and Rigge for being present at Cartwright’s Mill & the breaking of Vickerman's shearing frames.

Wroth: P: Acland

[To] Lt General
The Rt Honble
T. Maitland

24th October 1812: The Stockport solicitor, John Lloyd, informs the Home Office that the Horsfall case is going well

The former cropping workshop of John Wood, at Longroyd Bridge, where John Lloyd interviewed staff on the evening of 23rd October 1812 (date of photo unknown, but taken prior to demolition in 1891)

Milnsbridge near Huddersfield
24 Oct 1812


When I wrote from home I did myself the honor to acquaint you that things were going on very well with respect to the discovery of the murderers of Mr. Horsfall and apprized you of my having apprehended Walker was likely to impeach; and most happily that has taken place. Mr. Allison will send you such copies of Examinations as cou’d be got ready. We last night went amongst the workmen in the Shops where the murderers worked, and I straight examined every man to prevent their proving alibi which I had reason to apprehend they wou’d attempt – but now that is entirely out of the question — for their Examinations are now before me or rather minutes of what they stated and from which they cant here after alter. One man called Allison aside & his Examination has been taken before Mr. Radcliffe privately this day before Mr. Ra very important indeed! for he confirms the whole — and we can have no doubt of being able to convict all three, for as to one he must be admitted Evidence for the Crown

Numbers of ring-Leaders of the Luds are now discovered and some already sent off—Mr. Radcliffe has been very attentive & much of his time taken up, which he chearfully submits to

I have [etc]

J Lloyd

[To] The Under Sec.y of State
&c &c

24th October 1812: The authorities leak information to the press about the Horsfall arrests

On Thursday 24th October 1812, a letter was sent to the Courier newspaper about the arrests made for the shooting of William Horsfall, and which was subsequently published on 29th October. It took a further 9 days for it to appear in any local press, eventually surfacing on 7th November in the Leeds Mercury.

The letter, which is featured below, was clearly written by some person or persons very familiar with the cases of George Mellor, William Thorpe, Thomas Smith and Benjamin Walker. It contains information present in the statement of Benjamin Walker, which must have been known to only a handful of people. The most likely suspect behind the letter must be the Stockport solicitor, John Lloyd. He had been known to publish items in the press in the past, which had greatly annoyed General Maitland.

There seems to have been an effort to prejudice the case by placing information in the public domain, especially as it contains errors, which I will illustrate below. The names are redacted in the original, but I have added them (in square brackets) where it is obvious from the relevant statements obtained by the authorities who they are meant to be:
To the Editor of the Courier.
Huddersfield, Oct. 24.

SIR.—A very important event happened here on Thursday last, of which as the Leeds Mercury of to day does not appear to have any information, I hasten to communicate the intelligence through the medium of your paper.

A man has been taken up and examined before that indefatigable Magistrate Joseph Radcliffe, Esq. and has at length received the offer of his Majesty's pardon, and given the most complete and satisfactory evidence of the horrible murder of Mr. W. Horsfall. In consequence of this, the whole of the wretches concerned in that dreadful transaction, have been taken committed to York Castle, to take their trial at the ensuing Commission of Assize.—He was with the party (four in number) when Mr. Horsfall was shot.

They were furnished with loaded pistols by [George Mellor] who ordered them to take their stand in the Plantation on Crosland Moor. Two others soon after joined them, and took their station about twenty yards below them. When the unfortunate Gentleman came up, two fired. They then all fled across the fields, and [George Mellor & William Thorpe] damned them all the way for not firing their pieces. Two ran forwards to Honley, four miles off, and two more stopped at a place called Dungeon Wood, and hid their pistols at [Joseph Mellor]’s house there, in some flocks—left their great coats, and ran immediately in their jackets to Huddersfield, where the news of the murder had but just arrived. The next morning they all four met at the work-shop of their employer (a cropper) and [William Thorpe] produced a Bible, and made them all swear not to betray each other.

The villains have frequently been examined before, but have always been discharged for want of sufficient evidence. One behaved with the greatest effrontery till he saw —, and then he changed colour and gasped for breath! When he came out, he said, “Damn that ______, he has done me.”

It appears [George Mellor] and [William Thorpe] have been Chiefs in all the disgraceful transactions that have occurred in this part of the country the last twelve months, especially at Rawfolds, where the former was Captain of the gun-division, and the latter of the pistol. ______ has thus made discoveries which will lead to the detection of a great number of these offenders, and, it is hoped, ultimately restore the West-Riding to its former tranquillity.
Most the information is clearly from Benjamin Walker's statement, although the information about the pistols being hid at Joseph Mellor's house is from the statements given by him and his household.

The fourth paragraph - about the confrontation between the informer [Walker] and his former comrade appears nowhere else in any evidence. Brooke & Kipling (1993, p.48) point out that it cannot be George Mellor, as he had already been committed to York Castle before Walker was arrested. There is a possibility that it is William Thorpe, but it seems unlikely because of the strong denials Thorpe had given in his statement and subsequently at his trial. It seems unlikely then, that if such a confrontation had taken place, that it would not have been brought up at trial, which it wasn't.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

23rd October 1812: The solicitors Lloyd & Allison visit John Wood's cropping shop, and a new informer emerges

John Wood's cropping shop, in a photorgaph before demolition in 1891.
In the evening of Friday 23rd October 1812, the two solicitors at the heart of the opposition to the Luddites in West Yorkshire took the bold step of visiting the workshop that was fast becoming, at least in their minds, the headquarters of Luddism around Huddersfield.

John Lloyd from Stockport and John Allison from Huddersfield visited the workshop of John Wood, the step-father and employer of George Mellor, to question all the others who worked there. Before they left one of the croppers, Joseph Sowden, took Allison to one side: it is not known what was said, but Sowden subsequently swore a statement the following day before Joseph Radcliffe at Milnsbridge House.

Sowden deposed that at 5.00 p.m. on the day of William Horsfall's shooting, James Varley had told him that George Mellor, William Thorpe, Thomas Smith & Benjamin Walker had gone to lie in wait for Horsfall in order to shoot him. He went on to say the he learned of the shooting at 7.00 p.m. from a colleague, William Walker, and that 30 minutes later, he saw George Mellor in Wood's kitchen. A couple of mornings afterwards, Sowden said that William Thorpe had come to him in the workshop and made him swear an oath of secrecy on a Bible:
The purport of it was that if I revealed any thing concerning the Murder of Mr Horsfall that I should be put out of existence and should be pursued with unceasing vengeance to the verge of nature or something to that effect
Sowden said George Mellor came in at the end, and that afterwards, Thorpe brought in Thomas Smith, Benjamin Walker, John Walker, William Walker, William Hall and James Varley - Sowden said that Thorpe made him administer the oath to all of the others on pain of death.

Sowden went on to say that all of those accused of shooting Horsfall had 'related to me the circumstances attending it with a degree of exultation'. His statement does not contain any of those details that he said were related - Lloyd and Radcliffe were clearly satisfied that they had another witness and that was enough.

Monday 22 October 2012

22nd October 1812: General Acland tells General Maitland he is 'pretty sure of hanging' Mellor, Thorpe & Smith

Huddersfield 22nd Octr 1812.

My dear Sir,

I send you a copy of Walker's Examination & also of William Hall's The first is full & conclusive against Mellor, Thorpe & Smith, & with the collected Evidence before we are pretty sure of hanging them—

Smith & Thorpe will be sent to York Castle to-morrow—

I sincerely congratulate you on the development of this business & also that we shall get into that of Cartwrights Mill, which you will see by the Evidence we are in a fair way of doing—

Colonel Clay writes that he takes it for granted the troops in Barracks at Manchester are to be consider’d on the footing as hitherto with request to Camp allowances — In reply I have told him, I was not prepared to give a decided answer, but would communicate with you—

In the mean time I have strongly recommended him not to [illegible] to be done, as I was confident it would not be allowed at the Horse Guards for the Camps having broken up there can be neither reason or necessity for doing so—

I have also desir’d to Hamilton to write to Captn Mackay on the subject.

In my anxiety to anticipate your wishes, I trust I have not err’d & that you will not disapprove what I have done.

Clay fears the late bad weather will be severely felt by the Berks & Louth on getting into quarters, but if their Commanding officers are attentive to the men I think we have nothing to apprehend

The Liverpool men return’d this day, after having been through the whole country from hence to Halifax, Rochdale, Manchester Stockport Ashton &c — every where they state people are not only shy of them as strangers, but of each other; they have gain’d no information of any consequence & every thing appears quiet as far as they can ascertain—

In consequence of this I have paid them up, with their expenses to Liverpool, & sent them back, as it is a very unnecessary expense detaining them—

I have now no one with me, for Richardson I hope will soon arrive, & then a communication will be open with the men here & at Wakefield. I have also desir’d the Guinea a week to Smith & Downes to be discontinued—notwithstanding this the charges will be heavy this Month, as there were many arrears to pay up—after this they will be scarce any thing

Wroth: P: Acland

[To] Lt General
The Rt Honble
T. Maitland

22nd October 1812: A new informer appears & Jonathan Dean confesses to being at the 'Rawfolds Fight'

By Thursday 22nd October 1812, two more statements were sworn before Joseph Radcliffe at Milnsbridge House.

The first was from William Hall, a cropper from Yews near Lockwood. Like Benjamin Walker, he had decided to turn King's Evidence and become an informer for the State. He gave a long statement of his involvement in many of the West Yorkshire Luddites activities, including the attack on Francis Vickerman's and William Cartwright's premises. He also gave evidence about George Mellor and William Thorpe, implicating them in the assassination of Horsfall. Other names of Luddites were provided by Hall, many of whom were subsequently taken up by the authorities.

One  of those already in custody, for the second time, who was trapped by Hall's evidence was Jonathan Dean. Dean was suspected of being involved at the 'Rawfolds Fight', and had fled into Lancashire on the 12th April, only returning home some months later when he thought he was safer. By June 26th, he had been arrested and swore a statement before Joseph Radcliffe that an injury to his hand had been caused by an accident in his workplace: two of his colleagues, Richard Brook & John Priestley, supported his story of an injury at work.

But following William Hall's evidence that he had been involved with the Luddites at Rawfolds Mill, and other raids, Dean crumbled. The best he could do now was to blame his involvement at Rawfolds on Hall - his short statement said it was Hall that had ordered him on Friday 10th April to be at the Dumb Steeple the following night. In one sentence, he admitted to being at Rawfolds on that Saturday night and receiving an injury to his hand, and subsequently fleeing.

22nd October 1812: General Acland asks Captain Raynes to provide security for a Banker at Mirfield

Huddersfield, 22d Oct. 1812.


Mr. Wilson, of Mirfield, a banker, is apprehensive that an attack may be made on his house. This was in agitation some time ago; but I do not now think it likely to happen. He wishes to have two men to sleep in his house. This measure I have dissuaded him from, as it strikes me it will be more for his interest not to have them. But if you have no men in Mirfield, send a Serjeant and six to be billeted in the nearest public-houses to Mr. Wilson, who will send whenever an attack is made, and they are instantly to give him every assistance in their power. Arrange this with the bearer, Mr. Aitkin, for it certainly is desireable to avoid sending any men into his house: but, if absolutely necessary, I can no objection to give it where there is so much as stake.

Your’s faithfully.

[To] Capt. Raynes.     


22nd October 1812: The military camp on Kersal Moor, Salford, is disbanded

By Thursday 22nd October 1812, in an indication of how pacified the North West of England had become, the large military camp that had occupied Kersal Moor in Salford for several months was broken up.

Sunday 21 October 2012

21st October 1812: The cropper, Benjamin Walker, turns informer & implicates Mellor, Thorpe & Smith in the William Horsfall shooting

By the evening of Wednesday 21st October 1812, Benjamin Walker, the cropper who had been arrested 4 days before, had reached his limit and agreed to turn King's Evidence for the State against his former comrades and fellow croppers.

Only 24 hours before, he had proved to be unyielding for the past 3 days: General Acland had reported to General Maitland in a letter of the 20th that Walker had "been examined, but nothing has come out".

Something had made him capitulate. He was being interrogated by the Stockport solicitor, John Lloyd, a loyalist zealot who was renowned for his interrogation techniques and practice of abducting witnesses. In a letter Lloyd wrote to Acland the day before,  he indicated that he had an informer (a 'respectable merchant in Huddersfield') who told him that prior to her son's arrest, Walker's mother had unwittingly approached the informer with concerns that those in custody may impeach those at large. Lloyd had persuaded this merchant to turn informer when he had Walker's mother watched and followed to his home. Lloyd had then acted to apprehend Walker, followed by William Thorpe after 'intimations' from Walker's mother he was also somehow involved. Lloyd then apprehended Walker's mother herself, and subjected her to a rigorous 'examination', but she would not tell him what she had told the informer. Lloyd got the informer to give him an undertaking that he would get Walker's mother to relent, so that he would not have to appear himself to give evidence. Finally, Lloyd then abducted Walker's mother to his home in Stockport "where she will more fully and freely give her Examination".

By the Thursday 22nd October, Walker had placed a mark next to his name (because he was illiterate) at the bottom of a lengthy confession which implicated many of his comrades. Radcliffe, Lloyd & the others intended to use him as King's Evidence, which would save him from the hangman.

The statement began with a description of how Walker became involved in the raid on Rawfolds Mill: hearing about the plan at his workplace in John Wood's cropping shop: Walker said George Mellor had teased him, asking him if he could 'keep a secret', before revealing the plans to attack Rawfolds. A good deal of what we know about the raid comes from this statement. Walker stated that Mellor and William Thorpe were the ringleaders, and company commanders on the night, and also stated that he and others from John Wood's shop felt obliged to be involved because, as well as being their employer, Wood was Mellor's step-father. Walker also implicated others he said were wounded - James Haigh and a man called Jonathan Dean - and also a man called Mark Hill who had been involved in collecting money for those wounded in the raid.

Walker then went on to state his involvement in the assassination of William Horsfall. He alleged that the shooting was solely the idea of Mellor & Thorpe, a plan they presented to him and Thomas Smith only 30 minutes prior to putting it into execution. This is perhaps the weakest past of Walker's whole testimony: all that subsequently followed is supposed to have occurred in only 30 minutes, something which stretches credibility beyond any reasonable point, but which the Crown subsequently based its case on. Walker said he and Smith 'refused for some time' the idea of the execution, hard to believe as they would have needed to have moved fast to make it to Crosland Moor and lie in wait for Horsfall, who would have been well on his way to the Warren House even by then. Walker then said that Mellor provided both he and Smith with pistols and directed them to make their way to the plantation on Crosland Moor and wait for him and Thorpe who would take a different route to arrive there. According to Walker, they did this and waited 10 minutes before the two others arrived, meaning that only 20 minutes had elapsed from Mellor broaching the idea to them reaching this point.When Mellor & Thorpe arrived, they agreed that Walker and Smith would fire only if they missed, and that they should lie in wait 20 yards behind Mellor & Thorpe. Walker then says, rather bizarrely, that they all waited a further 30 minutes before Horsfall arrived, which contradicts his statement earlier that he only knew of the plan to kill Horsfall 30 minutes before it happened.

Walker went on to say that when Horsfall drew level with the plantation, he heard two shots, and assumed both Mellor & Thorpe had fired, although he did not see what happened. In this statement, he is clear that neither he nor Smith fired a shot, something which he said annoyed Mellor as they fled. The four split in Dungeon Wood, with Walker & Smith taking a different route. He and Smith then headed on to a public house at Honley, where they drank and ate.

The following day at John Wood's workshop, Walker said that William Thorpe made he and Smith swear on a Bible to keep the matter secret. The day after that, Walker said Mellor told him to be careful and say nothing, as some people from Dungeon had already been questioned.

Walker was keen to exonerate his master, John Wood, saying that he knew nothing of his step-son's plan.

At the end of the statement, more detail was added: Walker said that after he and Smith had parted with Mellor and Thorpe in Dungeon Wood, they had hidden their loaded pistols in an anthill, but never returned to retrieve them. He also talked about the Russian pistol belonging to George Mellor, and how Thorpe had hurt his cheek running through Dungeon Wood, and Mellor one of his fingers because he had loaded his pistol full of musket balls. He also described the coats Thorpe and Mellor were wearing. All of these details had appeared as questions put to Joseph Mellor's household 10 days before, and appear to corroborate them.

Radcliffe and Lloyd now had what they wanted: an accomplice to corroborate the story that had been concocted. Despite the seemingly insurmountable issues with the timings given by Walker, his confession would prove to be the framework for the Crown's case.

21st October 1812: General Acland informs General Maitland of troop movements & of information from a 'man from Lockwood'

Huddersfield 21st October 1812.

My dear Sir,

The Troops begin to move to-morrow, & will arrive at their destinations on the 30th excepting the Berks & Louth, with the Regt from the North.

The Carlow will be at Derbyshire on the 29th & 30th and as soon as the Forfar has commenced its March the Berks will move from Manchester I have left the Louth at Stockport Ashton, Oldham &c till the Edinburgh is near Manchester, as we have have nothing otherwise for the out Quarters—

We are perfectly quiet & nothing particular has occasion’d since I wrote Yesterday

Wroth P: Acland

[To] Lt General
The Rt Honble
T. Maitland

I have your letter of the 19th Inst. A man from Lockwood has just been with me & given some information that may lead to a corroboration of what we already have about some of the depredations committed. He is more respectable in his appearance than any I have yet had with me — he says now they are not afraid to speak out, but he dared not have opened his lips sometime ago — but things are changed the well affected may now open — & the Luds are afraid to speak—


I am going to Wakefield to get the papers for Mr Addington

21st October 1812: Letter from "Enemie Anonimous" to "RatcIif", Huddersfield

Huddersfield 21 October 1812



I drop you this as a warning that I have for some time Eyed you as your Publick character act with so much injustice to almost every individual that has had the misfortune to come before you that I and my two Assocites is this hour your sworn Enimes and all his Magistes forces will not save you, for I dow not regard my own life if I can have reveang of you which I mos ashuredly will make myself another Jhn Bellingham and I have the Pellit mad that shall be wet in you Harts Life Blood if I should dow it in the hous of God

I with hatered your sworn

Enemie Anonimous

Add. Joseph Ratclif Esqr

Millns Bridge

Saturday 20 October 2012

20th October 1812: John Lloyd tells the Home Office that his policy of informers & abduction is having results

Stockport 20 Oct 1812


I was yesterday detained the whole of the day with Mr. Radcliffe at Milnes bridge and prevented writing to you by examinations engaging me. The hint I gave in my last was relating to a circumstance that had been commend to me by a respectable merchant in Huddersfield, just before I wrote, that he had been applied to for advise in consequence of a woman of the name of Walker wishing to know what was best to be done to save some of the murderers of Horsfall for she was apprehensive that the persons in custody under that charge might impeach those at large, & it was from that inferred, that she was interesting herself for her own Son Benjamin Walker who had been in custody under suspicion. As the woman did not act up to a promise she made I apprehended her Son in the night, since which sufficient intimation was given, as coming from her, that a Wm. Thorpe was anor. he had been also in custody — & yesterday I had him apprehended again This woman has declared to her friend with whom she advised that Mellor & Varley already at York, and said Walker and Thorpe were the four murderers but that Mellor alone fired both pistols. I apprehended the woman & strictly examined her but she denies all knowledge & denies ever having said so. I have not been put at liberty at present to produce my Informant her friend; but he has consented after certain arrangements — and he made himself certain almost that he cou’d produce the effect upon the woman's mind this very night & then he will not have to appear at all. In the mean time I have run away with one of the Witnesses to prevent her being tampered with and have placed her in my own House where she will more fully and freely give her Examination —If any thing very material occurs before I return to Huddersfield Mr. Alison will communicate it to you.

I found out the person to whom the Information had been from time to time given by watching Mrs. Walker to his House – & I have in consequence brought him forward – but cannot at present publicly.

I have [etc]
J. Lloyd

[To] J. H. Addington Esqr

Friday 19 October 2012

19th October 1812: The cropper, William Thorpe, is examined by Joseph Radcliffe

On Monday 19th October 1812, another West Riding cropper swore a statement before Joseph Radcliffe.

William Thorpe had already been put into the frame as being involved in the assassination of William Horsfall at least 9 days ago, when some of Joseph Mellor's household were clearly being asked questions about him, and whether or not he was the 'stranger' who accompanied George Mellor to the house. The only statements sworn that day that mention Thorpe are those of the apprentice John Kinder - who said he 'does not know William Thorpe' - and Joseph Mellor - who says that the cropper James Varley had called on 29th April and asked for a Blue Jacket which 'belonged to Thorpe', which Mellor said he gave him. This suggests that Thorpe's name was being put forward by someone else, but who is not clear. We do know that Thorpe's name appears in Francis Vickerman's first letter to General Acland on 28th August, and Thorpe's own statement reveals that he had been taken up for questioning before on at least one occasion.

Thorpe began his statement by making it clear that he remembered the day Horsfall was shot: he worked at the time for a Mr Fisher of Longroyd Bridge, and said he remained at work that day until 8 or 9 p.m. in the evening before going home. He had been in the dressing shop at work when someone came in and told him the news about Horsfall. Thorpe said that the men he was working with thought the news 'shocking and sudden'.

Thorpe admitted to owning a Blue Jacket, but only in June, several weeks after the assassination. His father had bought the cloth, and he used a Tailor to make it for him. He also denied seeing James Varley on the day of the assassination - in his statement, Joseph Mellor had said Varley had called at his house the day after the assassination to retrieve Thorpe's Blue Jacket, whereas Varley's statement never mentioned Thorpe or the Blue Jacket at all. Thorpe said he received the bill for the Jacket 2 months after it was made, and the statement suggests he produced it as proof at the examination (having looked for and found it 'since I was last in custody', indicating he had been asked about this on a previous occasion). He sold the Jacket in the same week as the York Summer Assizes, saying it did not fit him properly: a man called Samuel Booth of Huddersfield bought it from him for £1, 1s. Thorpe also denied lending the Jacket to anyone else at any time.

Names were then mentioned to Thorpe: he said he knew Benjamin Walker, but counted him as 'no particular acquaintance' and said the last time he was in company with him was 'last week when we were in custody together'. He also admitted to knowing Thomas Smith, a former apprentice to John Wood, for whom George Mellor worked. Thorpe also said he knew George & Joseph Mellor, & James Varley. He denied being in their company in the days surrounding the assassination of Horsfall. He went on to say he had met Joseph Mellor with a fellow cropper William Brooke the Sunday after Horsfall was shot (3rd May 1812), but they did not talk about the assassination and Thorpe was adamant he had not borrowed 'either gun or pistol' from Joseph. Thorpe & Brooke had walked that day to the house of a man called Luke Bradley, by whom Thorpe had been promised some Butter. Bradley was not in and they called at Mellor's on the way back. This revelation could only have made Radcliffe more suspicious, for Bradley had been named by Francis Vickerman as being a 'leading man' among the local Luddites.

The statement is relatively mundane, as it deals exclusively with such domestic details, and is an effort by Thorpe to prove he was elsewhere at the time of Horsfall's shooting and deny parts of the statements put forward by others.

Unlike with William Thorpe, there is no evidence that either Thomas Smith or George Mellor even so much as opened their mouths to say one word to either Radcliffe, Lloyd, Acland or Allison. Unlike Thorpe, they did not even seek to deny the claims put to them: for them the Luddites Oath was, as they had sworn, inviolate - this Omertà was absolute.

Thursday 18 October 2012

18th October 1812: Joseph Mellor's servant, Mary Dyson, is examined by Joseph Radcliffe

Mary Dyson, a 17 year-old servant working in the household of Joseph Mellor, had been a witness to what had occurred at the house on the evening that William Horsfall was shot. Although she had already been brought in and questioned by Joseph Radcliffe, along with the rest of the household on 10th October, a longer and more substantive statement she gave 8 days later, on Sunday 18th October 1812, appears in the records of the Treasury Solicitor. Mary was the niece of Clement Dyson, one of the early targets of the West Yorkshire Luddites.

In her statement, the most striking thing is the different timings Dyson gave compared to the others in the household: she stated that George Mellor and the 'stranger' arrived at 5 o'clock, and stayed for only 15 minutes. I have already pointed out that Martha Mellor's statement fixed their arrival at 6.15 p.m., within 5 minutes of the time Horsfall was shot, making impossible the two men could have been there. Dyson's statement is equally problematic: given that it was to be the prosecution's case that George Mellor had brought the weapons used to shoot William Horsfall to Joseph Mellor's house after the incident, this would not have been possible either, as the assassination actually took place over an hour later than Dyson deposed they arrived.

In the statement, Dyson is clearly being asked if the 'stranger' was William Thorpe, whom she says she had seen stood before Radcliffe, but she is reluctant to identify him. She is also clear that this man had his coat on when he left, although she intimates that having to leave through the workshop would mean he could have taken it off.

Dyson was also adamant that the visitors did not wash themselves, as had been originally claimed by Francis Vickerman in his interview with John Lloyd, although she later said she 'would not swear to it' as Martha Mellor had said they had, and had asked her if she had been asked about it at her first examination.

Dyson was also vague about the 'stranger' having a cut or scar, again being reluctant to 'swear to it', but she was perfectly clear that George Mellor did not have an injured finger.

Dyson said she spoke to Frank Vickerman (the nephew of Francis Vickerman, and an apprentice of Joseph Mellor) about what had happened at around 7.00 p.m. that evening, as they were both in a outbuilding, he cleaning Joseph Mellor's horse. Vickerman wanted to know what the visitors had wanted, and Dyson said she thought they wanted work.

Mary went on to relate what else had occurred later that evening, the timings corroborating what the others had stated before Radcliffe. Crucially, she said that was not aware of the pistols being hidden until 11th October, when the apprentice Joseph Oldham had returned from giving a statement to Radcliffe.

Dyson then revealed the contact she had had with George Mellor more recently. She had given a statement about the whole affair before Joseph Radcliffe on Saturday 10th October, and had met George Mellor at a Sale at the premises of Joseph Hirst later that day. Mellor had asked her where she had been, and she told him, and also what for: Mellor told her she must "tell the truth". Later, on the way home, George Mellor had caught her up, and as they both walked past Clement Dyson talking to another man at the side of the road, Mellor asked her if it was her uncle that had sent her to Radcliffe - she confirmed to him that it was. When they arrived at Joseph Mellor's, George asked Joseph "what Clement Dyson had begun the stir for?" - Joseph said he did not know, and declared he would have a talk with him, and left to do just that.

Mary told George Mellor what she had said to Radcliffe - Mellor emphasised to her that the reason he and the 'other man' had called at Joseph's that night was because the man had wanted work.

As Brooke & Kipling point out (1993, p.110) Dyson was part of the web that trapped George Mellor, along with Francis Vickerman's nephew Frank. Parts of the information they gave - and not the whole, since it would contradict the Crown's case - were used to build a case against him and the other alleged accomplices. All that was needed was someone else to corroborate the case they had constructed, and two people in particular were soon to 'fit the bill' in that respect.

One last mystery is what happened to Mary Dyson after she gave evidence. Brooke & Kipling reveal (1993, p.45) that Joseph Mellor subsequently explained to the magistrate John Walker how a constable had 'taken her away' a few days after she gave her statement. She did not subsequently appear at the trial of George Mellor, and we know nothing else of her fate, or how & why this happened.

18th October 1812: The Stockport solicitor, John Lloyd, tells the Home Office that informants are coming forward

Huddersfield 18 ‘Oct 1812


I think I did not make you acquainted with the steps taken previous to the apprehending of George Mellor for the murder of Mr. Horsfall — altho’ I did advise as to the expediency (under the particular circumstances of the people being in dread) of taking a witness away to some distance — However, it seems confirmation or the influence of friends or both have produced a disposition in some of the witnesses to come forward and declare what they before concealed of their knowledge leading to certain Characters concerned in the murder, as was their opinion from the first.

The commitment of Mellor has produced a sensation which may ultimately turn out pretty favorably, for, we have just got information that a woman of the name of Walker has been asking advice how those concerned shod act to save themselves and we expect this night, but not in time for the post, to obtain important information upon this ground — which shall be communicated to you by the next post.

With respect to the guilt of Joshua Haigh in that murder I am now, as I was before aware it wou’d be removed, and I can only account for his aunt’s mistake by supposing that she had fixed that offence to him from his saying he had been concerned with the Luds and obliged to fly, and that her fancy must have added the particular instance subsequently — and that all the rest is true statement, but will not have credit of course after such a mistake.

I am sorry to say Depredations have recently been committed in the neighbourhood of Halifax — I am sending to a woman that knows the persons of two of the men in one of the Houses robbed.

I have [etc]
J. Lloyd

[To] J. Beckett Esq
&c &c

Wednesday 17 October 2012

17th October 1812: Benjamin Walker arrested for suspicion of being involved in the assassination of William Horsfall

In the evening of Saturday 17th October 1812, another person was arrested under suspicion of being involved in the assassination of William Horsfall. In a letter to General Maitland written the next day, General Acland explained what had happened:
Benjamin Walker was apprehended last night at the suggestion of Mr. Lloyd on suspicion of being implicated in the murder of Mr. Horsfall — he was to be examined by Lloyd this evening, & you shall have the result as soon as I know it—
 It is not clear why suspicion fell on Walker, although we do know that the manufacturer, Francis  Vickerman, had named him as a 'rebel' in his first letter to General Acland on 28th August, so it is possible that Lloyd was simply combing through all the suspects. His arrest was to prove highly significant in the coming days.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

16th October 1812: John Lloyd informs General Acland of a report from the Luddite turned spy, Yarwood


The Information which Yarwood gave to me and, which I have now the honor to communicate was that Wm. Parry of the Higher Hillgate in Stockport remained a Delegate yet employed for the Weavers

That Joseph Nixon a lame man living in Holme Street Stockport told him (Yarwood) on Thursday the 8th Oct that he (Nixon) & 4 or 5 more were sworn to be faithful to the old concern, and the oath was administered at the Boars Head in Stockport — That there was to be a meeting at Offerton as last night (I sent out & have not yet got any report)—

Persons of the names of Leech Bancroft Schofield & David Nichols whose residence he describes are, he says, implicated in this newly formed confederacy

Yarwood says he has reason to know that the Dinner given upon the discharge of the 38 from Lancaster was paid for by Major Cartwright on Mr Brougham — and he also gave me Information of minor consequence — not that I think any thing important about the new society being formed—

I have the honor to be
Your very obedient
humble Servant

J. Lloyd

Huddersfield 16 Oct 1812

[To: General Acland]

Monday 15 October 2012

15th October 1812: The Huddersfield Solicitor, John Allison, informs the Home Secretary about Luddites collecting money for those wounded at Rawfolds Mill

My Lord

By the direction of Mr. Radcliffe I am to inform your Lordship that John Bates whose original Examination has already been transmitted informs that when the sum of £10..6..6 mentioned in that Examination was paid over to Mark Hill it was paid to him for the purpose of being distributed amongst the Families of the Men who were wounded at Rawfolds mill that is at Mr. Cartwrighs Fight that Benjamin Hinchliffe the Drawer at Holmfirth paid 8..14..6 of that money — John Schofield now a prisoner in York Castle for shootg at John Hinchliffe paid 11 [shillings] and John Bates our Informer paid [£]1..1[s] [Total] £10..6..6

This money was paid over to Mark Hill on the Sunday following the attack on Mr. Cartwright and Hill has been examined before Mr. Radcliffe as to the application of that money but he gives so very vague and unsatisfactory account of it that Mr. Radcliffe has remanded him for further Examination in order to give an opportunity to ask your Lordships Opinion as to the propriety of committing or releasing the Man—It appears that the money was evidently collected and applied for the purposes of comforting and assisting men who had been guilty of Felony in attacking Mr. Cartwrights mill! Benjamin Hinchliffe who paid the £8..14..6 appears to be equally implicated with Mark Hill for he must have been aware for what purposes it was collected and was to be applied—Bates to whose first Examination I beg leave to refer your Lordship states that the subscription was for the wounded men and that it was paid over to Mark Hill who was to dispose of it as he thought proper but that it was perfectly understood to be for the Men so wounded — Mr. Radcliffe request that your Lordship will please to favor him with the opinion of some of His Majesty's Law Advisers for his Government in this matter as it is by no means the wish of Mr. Ratcliffe to deprive any of his Majesty's Subjects of a moments liberty unnecessarily however zealous he may be to detect the Disturbers of the public peace

I have the honor to remain my Lord
your Lordships most faithful and obt Servt

John Allison
Huddersfield 15th October ’12.

[To] Lord Viscount Sidmouth &c &c

15th October 1812: A government legal advisor expresses concerns to the Home Secretary about the prisoners at York Castle

15 Octr. 1812

My Lord

During my late Attendance upon Lieutenant General Maitland at Wakefield he mentioned to me — and desired I would communicate your Lordship — his Apprehension that sufficient caution was not exercised respecting the Commitment of Offenders in that Neighbourhood to the County Gaol — In consequence of which he would probably be found that the Prosecutions against several so committed, must fail — And imputations would be thrown out against Government to which they ought not to be exposed—

The only Remedy for this which suggested itself to the General was — That some Person of Experience in such Matters should be appointed on the Part of Government to consider the case of every Person apprehended in that Neighbourhood for any Offence which was properly an Object of public Prosecution and the Nature of the Evidence against him – previous to commitment — And that it should be distinctly understood that no Prosecution would be carried on at the publick Expence. but against such prisoners as should be committed with the Approbation of the Person so appointed—

I thought I should bring this Matter will distinctly under your Lordship’s Notice by Letter than by a verbal communication — I hope therefore that You will excuse this Trouble from, my Lord—

Your Lordship's very obedient
and very humble Servant
Hen Dealtry

[To: Lord Sidmouth]

15th October 1812: Lieutenant Cooper tells General Acland about a new informer

Elland 15th October 1812


I have the Honor to send you a Man who has given me the following information which appears to me capable of being turn’d to good account. Joshua Gibson declares this 14th day of October that Joseph Hanson of Elland and John Robinson of the same place came to him on 28th of September to Navigation Bridge and the first of them offer’d him five Shillings a day if he would be employ’d by him to do what he wanted and on the Deponent’s enquiring what that was he said to kill who he pleased nothing further pass’d on Joshua Gibson refusing the offer.

I put Gibson in the Guard Room after my conference within hoping he would tell me more this morning but he seems unwilling as what further information he could give would be on Suspicion or hearsay. but I should think we might employ Gibson on the information he has already given to the conviction of Hanson. I therefore send them over to Huddersfield as a Prisoner to avoid Suspicion on the part of the Luddites and on his return, if it meets your approbation, he can give out that he has been before Mr Radcliffe who has bound him over to keep the peace and he could then offer himself to be employ’d by Hanson alledging that he is stimulated by the desire of revenge.

I have question’d the man closely he seems willing to be so employ’d and from what I can learn the man bears an honest character.

I have [etc]
Alf. Cooper Lieut
West Suffolk Militia

[To] M. General Acland,
&c. &c. &c.

Saturday 13 October 2012

13th October 1812: General Acland tells General Maitland that the evidence against George Mellor is 'very circumstantial'

Huddersfield 13th October 1812.

My dear Sir.

In reference to my letter of the 10th Inst respecting the arms stolen from the 15th Hussars at Leeds, Colonel Campbell on enquiring finds they were taken from the Men's bed room by some persons who enter’d it during the night while they were asleep—

The Two Carbines were found the following morning concealed under some Hay grass in a Field near a huge manufactory, the place was watch’d for two nights but no person came—The Pistols have not been found & all search & enquiry has failed.—

George Mellor is committed to York Castle on suspicion of being concerned in the Murder of Mr. Horsfall, I questioned [him] Mr. Allison respecting the Evidence which is he says very circumstantial & that he thinks there is already sufficient to convict him, if there by any judge but Bailey—more he says however may possibly come out—

John Varley is committed also for Stealing arms, Mr. Ratcliffe thought it better not to commit him on the other charge of being an accomplice in Mr. Horsfall business of which he must know a great deal though he certainly was not one of the four—

Benjamin Strickland  is likewise committed for a burglary at Kirk — Heaton

Wroth P Acland

[To] Lt General
The Rt. Honble
T. Maitland.

Friday 12 October 2012

12th October 1812: The prisoner, Thomas Holden, writes from the prison hulk, HMS Portland at Portsmouth

On Monday 12th October 1812, the convicted Luddite prisoner Thomas Holden wrote to his family from aboard the prison hulk HMS Portland, at Langstone near Portsmouth:
An opportunity at last offers itself of sending you a faint description of the place I am in.

In the first place we are ironed on both legs, which irons we must wear for five or six years, and then we will have a lighter iron on one leg until our time is out.

As to our living, it is very bad. We have nothing but oatmeal and barley boiled for our breakfast and supper night and morning for our whole time; and we have about half a pound of very bad beef and a pound and a quarter of brown bread four days a week for dinner, and the other three days we have the same bread and seven ounces of very bad cheese. This is our living. I can buy an allowance of bread for three-halfpence from a fellow prisoner, but we are not allowed the least communication with free people.

12th October 1812: George Mellor, James Varley & Joseph Brook committed to York Castle

On Monday 12th October 1812, the West Riding Magistrates, Joseph Radcliffe committed 3 more prisoners to York Castle.

Joseph Brook, a Tailor from Rastrick, was charged with a burglary at the home of Benjamin Strickland on 5th October 1812.

George Mellor, a clothdresser from Longroyd Bridge, was charged upon the oath of his cousin, Joseph, and others with being strongly suspected of shooting William Horsfall on 28th April 1812.

James Varley, a clothdresser from Lockwood, was charged with unlawful assembly and an arms raid on William Newton of Hagswood Hill on Whitsun monday.

Thursday 11 October 2012

11th October 1812: Arms raid at Balm Mill, Cleckheaton

At 8.30 p.m. on Sunday 11th October, 3 men entered the home of John Briggs, the miller at Balm Mill near Cleckheaton and demanded his gun. Briggs was not at home, and his brother who was present was unable to give the men a gun, so they proceeded to rob the house, obtaining 63 Guineas in gold, and £10 in silver coins. Other property to the value of between £80-90 was also taken. Briggs' brother was beaten up.

11th October 1812: General Acland updates General Maitland about the Horsfall suspects

Huddersfield 11 October 1812

My dear Sir

Enclosed I send you the Substance of the report of the robberies committed in the neighbourhood of Halifax on the night of the 7th Inst

I think we are now getting close to the murder of Mr. Horsfall & there is great reason to believe that George Mellor who I mentioned in my letter this morning, & ____ Thorpe were two of them – as far as Depositions of Joseph Mellor (who lives under Dungeon Wood) his wife & two apprentices go, the Evidence is very circumstantial, but nothing sufficiently direct to convict – but more is likely to come out in the examination of a man by name Varley, who will be brought up again to-morrow, he is very reluctant, though he certainly knows a great deal about it, & there is sufficient to commit him as an accessory after the fact, if he will not speak out — I hope to be able to make a favorable report to you tomorrow, but you are well aware how extremely difficult it is to extract any thing like good evidence from the people who are brought forward as witnesses.

Mr. Ratcliffe has issued three Warrants this Evening for the apprehension of three men at Holmfirth for felonies arising I believe out of Bates’s information, but I have nothing more at present—

Captn McDougal is now placed at Stayley bridge, & writes that the country thereabouts has not been so quiet for a long time as at present. He further says he hears a number have untwisted during the last week at Stockport, but has Lloyd is not returned, I am not prepared to state it as authentic—

M-General Dirom writes that he should proceed to Scotland as this day—

M. General Dirom has forwarded for Colonel Clay some papers relative to a complaint of the [illegible] Master Serjeant against & a Captain of the Carlow, but as Colonel Clay does not appear to have sufficiently investigated the nature of the Complaint, I mean to return them as in their present state, they will not be sufficiently satisfactory to you to take any steps in the business

Clay has also forwarded some others about Recruits of the Louth but in so slovenly a way, that they cannot be sent up, & I must return them — I trust you will not [that] I can taking too much on myself in your absence by doing so, I am certain you would do the same, & I wish to save you trouble on your return by the circulation of papers which if sent in a regular [post] I can as well forward to the Horse Guards during your absence

Wroth P Acland

[To] Lt General
The Rt Honble
T. Maitland

11th October 1812: Joseph Radcliffe questions the household of Joseph Mellor about suspects in the assassination of William Horsfall

A Caucasian Horse Pistol, likely to be similar to the one George Mellor reputedly brought back from Russia
Joseph Mellor, a master clothdresser from Dungeon Wood, and almost all those who lived with him and worked for him were brought before the West Riding magistrate Joseph Radcliffe by Sunday 11th October 1812. It is possible they were brought in the day before, since information they yielded to Radcliffe could have led to the issuing of warrants for the arrests of four suspects the evening before. Their statements however, were sworn on the Sunday.

The largest statement was given by Joseph Mellor, the owner of the cropping shop. Statements were also given by his wife, Martha Mellor, and two apprentices, Thomas Durrance and John Kinder. A cropper who worked for the master clothdresser John Wood, called James Varley, also gave a statement. No statement was taken from another apprentice, Frank Vickerman (the nephew of the manufacturer, Luddite target and informer Francis Vickerman) either at this time or in future.

In looking at the statements alongside each other, I have highlighted points of interest or apparent contradictions.

In his statement, Thomas Durrance, an apprentice, said that the cropper George Mellor had arrived at the workshop declaring it to be a hot day, and promptly took off his dark-coloured topcoat and placed it on the brushing stone in the workshop. Durrance said he saw ‘no other man’ with Mellor. He said that George Mellor then asked for his help to hide 2 pistols, which they did upstairs in the house. Durrance said that he didn’t know who Mellor was until his fellow apprentice John Kinder saw them coming down the stairs and told him. Durrance later told another apprentice, Joseph Oldham about the pistols and what had happened.

John Kinder’s statement says that he was in the workshop with George Mellor for 5 minutes only. Like Durrance, Kinder at first says that no other man was there, but later mentions ‘the other man’ in the same statement. Kinder doesn’t mention what Durrance had said, about his only seeing Mellor when he came downstairs after hiding the pistols. He stresses – presumably because he was asked – that George Mellor had no blood on his hand, the only statement to mention this, and seemingly as a denial to a question. Kinder also says he ‘does not know William Thorpe’, as if the name was put to him: along with that of Joseph Mellor, this is the only statement that mentions Thorpe’s name. It’s not clear where the information about injuries to Mellor or the stranger has come from.

In her statement, Martha Mellor said George Mellor arrived with another man she didn’t know and enquired if there was any work for the stranger there. He had asked permission for the stranger to wash himself, and she had agreed. George asked if he could lend a coat and a silk handkerchief, and that she provided them with a black silk handkerchief, and George took a drab topcoat. John Kinder said that Martha had given George his black silk handkerchief, and that Joseph Mellor gave it him back 2 weeks later. Martha also pointed out that the two men had come into the house through the workshop and left the house back into that room again.

In his statement, Joseph Mellor said that on the evening Horsfall was shot, he had been at Huddersfield market, and had returned about 7.00 p.m. He said that when he arrived, his wife Martha told him that his cousin George Mellor had only left 15 minutes ago; that he had brought a stranger with him who wanted work; that the stranger had hurt his cheek (In her statement, Martha does not mention any apparent injury to the stranger’s cheek). He said Martha told him George Mellor had asked if the stranger could wash himself, which he did and she had given him a black handkerchief to cover his wounded cheek. Joseph also said that Martha told him that George and the stranger appeared to be in a hurry (which is not repeated by Martha in her statement), and that the stranger wore a drab topcoat.

The timings in Martha Mellor’s statement are interesting. She said that George Mellor and the stranger stayed for half an hour in total. Joseph said that Martha had told him when he arrived at 7.00 p.m., that the pair had left 15 minutes ago. With precise timings, this means they would have come to the house at 6.15 p.m. – which, according to the trial report, is within 5 minutes of the time that the Crown said that Horsfall was shot a mile away. The Crown relied on these timings given by the household at Dungeon, and the witnesses to the shooting to make their case. But more than anything else, these very timings prove that it was impossible that George Mellor & the stranger could have been involved in the shooting of Horsfall: Kipling & Hall (1984, p.43) estimate the route from the site of the shooting to Joseph’s house was a 20 minute journey. If George Mellor & the stranger were in the plantation on Crosland Moor, they would have had to have set off for Joseph’s 10 minutes before Horsfall left the Warren House to meet his doom in order for them to get to Joseph’s house in time. Essentially, the Crown were to claim that George Mellor had been in two different places a mile apart at the same time.

Joseph stated that later, whilst he was eating his supper, his apprentice Thomas Durrance asked him if they could speak in the workshop. Durrance told him how George Mellor and another man had called and had left two pistols which they had hidden in the presence of two other apprentices, Joseph Oldham & John Kinder. Durrance showed him the pistols' hiding place - Joseph was shocked, and he recognised one of the weapons, a brass-mounted horse pistol with a wide bore and a foot-long barrel. He remembered that his cousin George had told him that he had brought a pistol such as this from Russia. Inspecting the weapons, Joseph could see they were not loaded. He went back to finish his supper.

Joseph stated that afterwards he called on his neighbour, William Spencer, feeling uneasy about the pistols in his house. Spencer told him that William Horsfall had been shot that day and that soldiers had been searching for a young man they had come across in Dungeon Wood. Despite the risk of running into the patrol, Joseph left to go home, and did meet some mounted soldiers in the Wood who asked him if he had seen strangers - he told them he was returning from market. When Joseph got home, he told everyone present the news. They all felt uneasy, and decided to hide the two pistols somewhere else. In his statement, Thomas Durrance said this took place at 8.00 p.m., only an hour after Joseph said he had arrived home from Huddersfield. Martha Mellor stated that Joseph brought the news about Horsfall back from Spencer’s house an hour after he had arrived home from Huddersfield.

Joseph Mellor stated that they all sat up in the house, waiting for George Mellor and the stranger to return, as they had promised, but they never came that night.

According to Joseph Mellor, at 4.00 a.m. the next morning, Joseph was awoken by a fellow cropper, James Varley from Lockwood. In his statement taken the same day, Varley says it was actually between 5 and 6.00 a.m. Joseph said Varley asked if George Mellor and another man had called and left two topcoats. He also asked if a blue jacket belonging to a cropper called William Thorpe was there. In his statement, Varley denies enquiring about the coats, saying he had been sent to Joseph’s by his master, John Wood, to borrow Joseph’s horse. Joseph said he fetched all the coats from about the house and workshop, informing Varley that the coat in the workshop had 2 ball cartridges in the pocket. Varley asked Joseph to check the bottle-green coat that had been hung up behind his door in the house, and he wanted to know if there was blood on the cuffs - Joseph said there was none, and Varley asked him to keep the coat there. In his statement, Varley says the coat he retrieved was a brown Duffield coat that he had left behind the door on a visit a fortnight before. Joseph stated that he had never seen the green coat since, and didn't know when it had left the house. Joseph said Varley asked after the two pistols left by George Mellor and the stranger: Joseph admitted to hiding them, but Varley didn't want to take them there and then. Joseph said that Varley could return at any time to fetch them, but wanted them out of his house as soon as possible. In his statement, Varley denied enquiring after any pistols. Joseph stated that he had gone to the hiding place a week later to look for the pistols, but they had gone: his wife told him that Varley had called the day before when he was not in, and assumed Varley had taken them then.

Joseph stated that some time afterwards a man called William told him that he had bought a Russian pistol from George Mellor, with George telling him it had 'done execution'. The man said the pistol had been sent to Leeds in order to 'boast' about this.

Joseph ends his statement by saying that a month after the day he had last seen him, James Varley returned to Joseph's house and asked him if he would help him to find two loaded pistols that had been hidden in an anthill in Dungeon Wood. They both went to look, but could not find them. Joseph said that Varley later told him that one of the pistols was lost, but the other had turned up, and that one of them belonged to a cropper called Ben of Bucks (aka Benjamin Walker, a person named by Vickerman in his first letter to General Acland) and that the other belonged to a man called Tom, who was an apprentice to the master clothdresser John Wood of Longroyd Bridge. In his statement, James Varley said they had searched for pistols in the Wood, but that this was Joseph’s idea.

11th October 1812: The Deputy Constable of Manchester, Joseph Nadin, writes to Acland about matters in Manchester


I am obliged by yours of the 10th instant of inform you that Randle Judson was one of the 37 I apprehended at the prince Regents Arms he is a handsome looking man 22 years of age 5-11 high slender made, fresh looking, lightish Hair, lives at Audenshaw 5 miles from Manchester, is by Trade a warper and works of Messrs Bentley & Wilkinson — I shall always be happy to give you every Information in my power. I am happy to inform you that I am upon the look out after a Gang of Rascals and the apprehension will not take place of a Fortnight of which I will inform you, they are not Luddites, I think General Ludd has left this neighbourhood we are very quiet only I often get a delightful Letter threatening to blow out my Brains – you will recollect that I always told you that the Sir Sidney Smith in port Street and the Wheat Sheaf High Street were Twisting in Shops, their Licences are suspended till next Wednesday Morning when I hear that Mr. Farrington intends to give the Landlord of the Wheat Sheaf his Licence. I hope you will write to him to prevent it as it is a notorious Shop for twisting in – it was a worse House than the prince Regents Arms.

I am [etc]
Josh Nadin

Police Office
Octr 11th, 1812

[To: General Acland]

Wednesday 10 October 2012

10th October 1812: Attempted robbery of a clothier at Lepton, near Huddersfield

In the evening of Saturday 10th October 1812, 4 men tried to break into the home of Joseph Hirst, a clothier, at Lepton, near Huddersfield. They were confronted by Hirst's son, Richard, who was fired on when he tried to intervene, the ball from the gun grazing his head.

The men left. Several attempts had already been made to break into the house on previous occasions.

10th October 1812: Joseph Radcliffe issues warrants for suspects in the assassination of William Horsfall, and others

After receiving information from Francis Vickerman & Joseph Oldham about possible suspects in the assassination of William Horsfall, the authorities in Huddersfield acted on Saturday 10th October 1812. The sequence of events is not clear to this day, but we know from a letter from General Acland to General Maitland that in the evening, Joseph Radcliffe had issued warrants for the arrest of the croppers George Mellor, Benjamin Armitage, Thomas Smith & one other not named by Acland. They were taken up either that evening or in the early hours of the 11th October.

Also brought before Joseph Radcliffe for questioning were almost the entire household of the master clothdresser Joseph Mellor, also named by Vickerman: Joseph's wife Martha, the apprentices John Kinder & Thomas Durrance (though not the apprentice Francis Vickerman junior), and James Varley, a cropper who worked for Mellor. Whether or not the information they volunteered in their initial examinations led to the arrest of Mellor et al is unclear, but likely, given that Joseph Oldham had only named George Mellor.

10th October 1812: A young apprentice to Joseph Mellor gives information to Joseph Radcliffe, which leads to arrests

After receiving information from Francis Vickerman via John Lloyd, that possible suspects in the assassination of William Horsfall had been at the house and workshop of the master cropper, Joseph Mellor, on Saturday 10th October 1812, the magistrate Joseph Radcliffe first acted to summon and question one of Mellor's apprentices, a boy called Joseph Oldham.

Oldham told Radcliffe that on the day Horsfall was shot, another apprentice called Thomas Durrance showed him 2 pistols brought to the house by 2 men that evening. Later on, a man he did not know called upon the house to ask if he could wash himself, accompanied by another man, called George Mellor - a cropper and his master's cousin. Oldham said that Mellor had walked about the workshop while the other man washed himself. He described the unknown man as stout and tall, with light-coloured hair, wearing a dark or drab-coloured coat, but with no marks of blood upon him. He said that George Mellor also wore a drab-coloured coat.

After the vague description that Vickerman had given Lloyd of the suspects, he now had a definite name: George Mellor.

10th October 1812: The Huddersfield manufacturer Francis Vickerman gives information to the Stockport solicitor, John Lloyd

By Saturday 10th October Francis Vickerman, the Huddersfield manufacturer who lived at Taylor Hill, had already sent 2 letters to General Acland (here and here), offering information about and making suggestions on how to deal with the Luddites in the area.

Some time before this date, he had spoken to the authorities, most likely the Stockport solicitor, John Lloyd. Notes taken either at or after that interview survive in the Home Office archives. We cannot be sure of the date, since the notes are not dated, but they are in the distinctive handwriting of Lloyd. The fact that Lloyd wrote from Congleton on the 9th October, where he stated he planned to return to Stockport the same evening, means that the interview may have taken place the next day - or that Vickerman visited Lloyd whilst he was in Cheshire: Brooke & Kipling (1993, p.30) note that he had done so earlier in the year when he had spoken to Lloyd at Chester, and was anxious to avoid anyone knowing he had done so.

It's strange then that no other documents in the Home Office archive seem to corroborate that any such meeting took place: be it a letter from Lloyd, Joseph Radcliffe, General Acland or the Huddersfield solicitor John Allison, there is nothing which confirms or acknowledge the important contribution the interview made to cracking open the Huddersfield Luddites. However, the information in these notes does appear, alongside much other information, in a notebook kept by General Acland, suggesting he had read the notes.

Vickerman is referred to in the notes as 'Mr V', the same term used to denote the authorship of his second letter to General Acland, from which the signature has been removed. Robert Reid has perversely decided that 'Mr V' was James Varley, a cropper, although Brooke & Kipling confirm it is Vickerman because he refers to a family member: this is further confirmed by a discovery made in our trawling of the Home Office papers.

Vickerman started by suggesting to Lloyd that planting informers would be the best way to pursue the Luddites, in particular at 3 public houses in Lockwood (The White Horse, The Red Lion and one belonging to William Haslem) and others in Huddersfield and at Longroyd Bridge.

Vickerman told Lloyd that a master cropper at Longroyd Bridge named John Wood had a house and workshop where meetings were held. He also suggested that Wood was a 'leading man' amongst the Luddites. The notes mention that Wood's name had already been suggested by a woman at Edgeley, and that cyphers had been found at Wood's house.

Most importantly, Vickerman went on to reveal information about people he believed were connected with the assassination of William Horsfall (having already tried to tempt Acland to meet him by promising information about this in his first letter to him). He stated that his own nephew, also called Francis Vickerman, was an apprentice to a clothdresser called Joseph Mellor, who had a home and workshop at Dungeon Wood, a mile from where Horsfall was shot. A servant girl at Mellor's had told Vickerman junior that on the evening of Horsfall's assassination, two men came to the workshop and undressed themselves, putting on fresh clothes and leaving for an hour before returning and then putting their own clothes back on. An apprentice at Mellor's - John Kinder - could not subsequently find his black handkerchief, and Joseph Mellor had offered him his.

Vickerman went on to say that 2 of those who shot Horsfall were the brother of Joseph Mellor, a cropper from Huddersfield, and another 'young man' who lived with the aforementioned 'leading man' John Wood, Wood being married to the young man's mother. Although names are not mentioned, either Vickerman or the note-taker seem to have confused the same person as 2 different people: a cropper called George Mellor was the cousin of Joseph Mellor, and the same George worked at John Wood's cropping shop, Wood being married to his mother, Mary Greenwood, who had previously been married to George's father William Mellor. However, Brooke & Kipling (1993, p.49) point out that Joseph Mellor did have a brother called John, who was around a year younger than George, and could have been involved in Luddism, although if he did, nothing is known about him.

Vickerman went on to name several 'principal people' among the Luddites: Joseph Beaumont & William Hargreaves, both master clothdressers from Lockwood. Also Thomas Shaw, Joseph Shaw and Luke Bradley of Taylor Hill.

At the end of the notes, Vickerman outlines his views on those amongst the authorities and manufacturers who could be 'depended upon': Thomas and Joseph Atkinson of Bradley Mills; Abraham and John Horsfall, the father and brother of the late William; Thomas Allen & Joseph Hague; Joseph Radcliffe 'the life of all'. Vickerman felt that Sir George Armitage was 'not to be depended upon owing to his timidity'.

Robert Reid has mistakenly called these notes an anonymous letter, despite the fact they contain neither a date, salutation nor a signature and are written very much as notes, and not in flowing paragraphs. The fact he attributed them to Varley indicates sloppy research: as pointed out Brooke & Kipling, this theory falls down on the fact that Varley did not have a nephew who was an apprentice to Joseph Mellor, like Vickerman did (1993, p.104 fn54). He also seems to have missed the fact that the handwriting is John Lloyd's. But a new discovery of ours indicates beyond doubt that Vickerman was the man being interviewed, and that Lloyd was the interviewer. In a separate division of the Home Office archives is a stray page in the same handwriting which begins 'Mr V says'. In it, Vickerman states that the Luddites had continuity with the jacobinical United Britons - a 'gentleman' had told him that 'the system has existed from the time of Colonel Despard' and that he himself had found cards 'about his shear frames' marked with the words 'Liberty Equality & Humanity' and '1st West York' printed in red ink on the reverse. The emblem of the United Britons contained the phrase 'Liberty Justice & Humanity', an error on the part of either Vickerman or Lloyd, but proof of the continuity of the revolutionary designs amongst the West Riding Luddites. Also proof that 'Mr V' was a manufacturer who owned shearing-frames, as was Vickerman.

Any final doubts about who the interviewer and interviewee are is removed by what is written on the reverse of this page: 'Lloyd & V.—Informations'. Frustratingly, there is no date.

The events that were to follow over the next 2 days are inextricably linked to the information provided by Vickerman.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

9th October 1812: John Lloyd tells the Home Office he is holding John Hinchliffe in Cheshire and is concerned about a convicts plea for clemency

9th October 1812


I came to this place from the Cheshire quarter Sessions, held at Knutsford, partly to see John Hinchliffe, whom I placed here in retirement under the Inspection of Mr. Watson, a county Magistrate, who is my relation; and, consequently, to be trusted with such a business; for I conceive Hinchliffe yet to be danger shod he be found by the friends of Schofield or any of the Yorkshire Luddites; & I shall be very glad if I have not been going too far in removing him & giving him protection—It is what I understood from the Law Officers to be recommended upon a former occasion, It has not however been absolutely instructed in this particular instance – but adopted on my own discretion—

When at Home on Monday the 5th, a man of the name of John Cooper was brought in by the military; apprehended by them at New Mills in Derbyshire for heading some of the violent & desperate mobs in April last at Tintwistle, in Cheshire, & the neighbourhd where machinery was broken—As he was particularly identified as such Leader, and as he had returned to near to the scene of action, it was right to have him committed the Offences & he was sent to Chester & the witness bound over to appear at the Assizes to prosecute & give Evidence—

My Clerk, disengaged from the Sessions, will now make copies of the Examinations to transmit to you.

Thomas Whitaker late of Brinksway near Stockport transported for administering an unlawful oath to J. Parnell & now on board Retribution Hulk at Woolwich had written a long Letter to his Wife full of contrition and repentance—& with very proper feelings reprobates the Characters of those he has formerly been connected with—The object of the Letter is to get some persons of respectability to interpose on his behalf with Government, which he thinks wou’d be disposed to listen to a petition in his favor – for that he has communicated the utmost of his knowledge do it. Will you do me the honor to place so much confidence in me as to give me the Information whether there is such an inclination – I can assure you there is a very happy change in the dispositions of the people in & about Stockport.

I have [etc]
J Lloyd

[To] J. H. Addington Esq
Undersecy &c &c

Lloyd needn't have worried - Whittaker was eventually transported to Australia.