Saturday, 16 January 2016

16th January 1816: The Leeds Cloth Dressers Union case comes to court

On Tuesday 16th January 1816, the case of the Union Officers arrested and charged with aiding and abetting an illegal combination (i.e. Trade Union) by Leeds Magistrates in December was heard at Leeds Borough Quarter Sessions. The Leeds Mercury of 20th January 1816 gave a good summary of the proceedings:

TILLOTSON, SUNDERLAND, & OTHERS, Appellants, REX, Respondent
The Appellants, who are cloth-dressers, were convicted on Tuesday, the 19th of December last, by Whittell York, Esq. Mayor, and Thomas Ikin, Esq. on a charge of combining to hinder Messrs. Oates and Hardisty, cloth-merchants, of this town, from employing Thomas Marshall, as a cloth-dresser. Mr. Williams, who came from Preston for the purpose of sustaining the appeal, had been especially retained by the Appellants at a very considerable expence. His assistance, however, turned out to be unnecessary, as Mr. Maud, who was Counsel in support of the Conviction, stated to the bench that it was impossible the conviction could be legally sustained, as the Magistrates before whom the the conviction had taken place had no jurisdiction in the case, the act having especially provided, "that no Justice, being a master in any trade or manufacture, concerning which any offence is charged to have been committed should act in execution thereof." On this ground Mr. Maud said, the conviction must necessarily be quashed, for if that Court should affirm it, the Court of King's Bench would, would, under the circumstances of the case set such conviction aside. He concluded with moving that the conviction be quashed, to which the Court of course assented.—Conviction quashed.

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