Friday, 11 January 2013

11th January 1813: Henry Hobhouse reports concerns about security at York Castle to the Home Office

Private &

Jan. 11. 1813.

Dear Sir,

Having learnt last night Mr. Cartwright that four of the Prisoners convicted on Saturday could probably give Information respecting the Places where arms are concealed near Huddersfield, I have considered it very important that they should be kept separate from the other Prisoners & from each other, & have therefore applied to the magistrates for that purpose, who have promised that as soon as the Gaol is cleared of the great Number of Prisoners now there my Application shall be complied with.

The other Point I yesterday alluded to respecting the Gaol was the Facility of Communication between the Felons & the Debtors & all persons who enter the Castle for the purpose or under the pretence of visiting the Debtors, the Fact being that the Court, in which the Felons walk, is only separated from the Area of the Castle, in which the Felons what, by two sets of iron Railing a few Feet from each other, through which not only any Conversation may be held in a low Voice, but any Articles of small Bulk may be conveyed either in or out with the greatest Facility. In illustration of this Position I beg leave to inclose a Copy of a Letter lately written by George Mellor the Murderer, which I think I may assume that no Gaoler would suffer knowingly to come out of his Gaol. I have received a Promise from the magistrates that these means of Communication shall be speedily prevented.

I sent for Cartwright last Night after I wrote to you, & told him that if he thought that his Interference on behalf of the Prisoners would be serviceable to him, I saw no Objection to any Application from them passing through him, although his Recommendation would be received as that of an individual & not of a Prosecutor. He very manfully said he had no Wish to do any Thing that should appear to curry Favour with the his Enemies.

I understand that Blackburn the Attorney saw his Clients yesterday, but that none of them were then inclined to make any Disclosures.

Baron Thomson sent his Clerk to Mr. Park this morning to say that the Judges did not mean to receive any Applications from mercy, but to leave the Discretion entirely with the Secretary of State.

To day we have tried two Cases, viz. one Indictment agt.

Joseph Brook

for Burglary at the dwelling House of Benjn Strickland; & another against

Job Hey
John Hill, &
Wm. Hartley

for the like offensive Geo. Haigh’s at Skircoat. In the former Case the Evidence was rather weak as to the Identity of the Prisoner, but his Counsel did not think fit to rely on that Weakness, but set up an Alibi which was completely blown up. The Judge however (Baron Thomson) summed up for an Acquittal, & the Jury found a Verdict accordingly, although they disbelieved the Alibi.

The second Case was one of stealing Arms, in which we obtained a Verdict against all the Prisoners.

We mean to try only one more case, & shall finish about noon tomorrow; after wch I propose leaving York as soon as I find I can be of no further use here.

I recd your letter this morning, & am happy to find that Lord Sidmouth approves of the course pursued with regard to the Bulk of the Prisoners.

I am
Dear Sir
Yrs most faithfully
H. Hobhouse

I send you a York Paper of this day. The Sentence of the Murderers, the Paragraph respecting Joshua Haigh & others, & the Extracts from Mr. J. LeBlanc’s summing up in Rex v. Haigh were inserted by my Directions.

[To] J Beckett Esq

This letter can be found at HO 42/132.

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