Wednesday, 9 January 2013

9th January 1813: Henry Hobhouse updates the Home Office about various trials at the York Special Commission


York, Jan. 9. 1813.

Dear Sir,

I am very happy to inform you of the great Change that has been wrought in the Feelings of the disaffected by the Conviction & subsequent Execution of the Murderers. This Alteration has been observable not only within the Gaol, but also among the numerous Adherents of the Prisoners are now at York. I trust that this is the Forerunner of Peace & good order in the South-western Parts of this County.

In the two last Days we have only tried three more Indictments. We yesterday proceeded on the Cases of ulawful Oaths. The first Case taken was that of

John Eadon

from Barnsley, as being the strongest; & in this week easily obtained a Verdict notwithstanding an Alibi set up by the Prisoner. Having convicted Eadon, it was deemed inexpedient to try another Indictment against him jointly with Craven Cookson, which was a much weaker Case; & Mr. Park therefore gave no Evidence, but consented to an Acquittal. We then proceeded with the only other Prosecution of this Nature,viz. against

John Baines senr.
John Baines junr.
Chas. Milnes
Wm. Blakeborough
George Duckworth, &
Zachary Baines

for administering an Oath to John McDonald at Halifax. McDonald was a spy employed by Nadin of Manchester, & we expected this case to be much weakened by McDonald's cross-examination. In this point however we were agreeably disappointed, & the Prisoners relied entirely on four distinct Alibis, wch were disbelieved by the Jury, & be convicted all the Prisoners except the last named. He was a Boy of only 15, who by his Father's orders held the Door while the Oath was administered. Mr Baron Thomson therefore left it to the Jury to say whether they believed that the Boy was conscious of the Offence he was abetting, & it is impossible to quarrel with the Verdict which they returned.

In pursuance of the Resolution I mentioned in my last Letter Mr. Park privately hinted to Mr Hullock (the leading Counsel for the Prisoners) yesterday that after executing the principal Ringleaders it was not his Wish to convict many more Individuals of those Gangs that acted under their Influence, & that therefore after trying Cartwright’s Indictment he should be ready to release the rest of Mellor & Thorpe's Associates upon their giving good Bail for their Appearance to plead when required. The Depression created in the Prisoner’s minds by the Convictions which have taken place made their Counsel very ready to accept this Proposal, & I hope it will take Effect & meet Lord Sidmouth’s Approbation.

The whole of this day has been occupied in the Trial of Cartwright’s Indictment, in which there are 8 Prisoners included besides those who have been executed, viz.

James Haigh
Jonathan Dean
John Ogden
James Brook
John Brook
Thomas Brook
John Walker, &
John Hirst

Four of them have set up distinct Alibis, but three of them & all of which have been negatived by the Jury, who have convicted Haigh, Dean, Ogden, Thomas Brook, & Walker, & acquitted the other three. There were some slight Distinctions in favour of these three; & therefore, although there was sufficient Evidence to convict all, yet the Determination was such as certainly shewed that the Jury had not been inattentive to the case, nor entirely mis-spent the Hour they passed in Deliberation.

I am
Dr. Sr.
Yrs. most faithfully
H. Hobhouse

[To] J Beckett Esq

This letter can be found at HO 42/132.

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