Sunday, 17 July 2016

17th July 1816: Four jailed for destroying a Threshing Machine at Hockham, Norfolk

At the Norfolk County Session on Wednesday 17th July 1816, 4 prisoners were jailed for destroying a Threshing Machine at Hockham on 19th May.

The Norfolk Chronicle of 20th July 1816 carried a report about the trial:
John Abery, Jas. Bailey, the elder, Peter Palmer, the elder, and Peter Palmer, the younger, were indicted for having, together with other persons to the number of 100, routously and riotously assembled in the parish of Hockham, on the 19th of May last, and then and there destroyed a certain threshing machine, the property of William Burlingham.—The two latter prisoners pleaded guilty. On the part of the prosecution, it appeared, that the prosecutor, Wm. Burlingham, being nearly blind, was rendered unable to work for his livelihood, but having a little money, he had purchased a threshing machine for the price of 76l. which he used to let out to the neighbouring farmers, at a small profit to himself. That in May last, it had been to let out to a Mr. Wells, in the aforesaid parish, and that on the 19th of that month, being on a Sunday morning, the prisoners together with other evil disposed persons had dragged the machine from off Mr. Wells's premises into the high road, where they completely effected its demolition. The prisoners were proved to have taken an active part in the riot. 
Mr. Cooper, for the prisoners, contended that they had not been proved to have committed an unlawful act, and that none of the witnesses had sworn to their dragging the Machine off, the private property of Mr. Wells, but had all found them in the act of destroying it in the public road. It might therefore be presumed that a number of persons passing that way, had found this clumsy machine very much in their way upon the road, and deeming it a nuisance had destroyed it and removed the materials, which the learned Counsel stated they had a legal right to do. An alibi was attempted in favour of the prisoner Bailey, by calling two witnesses who had seen him six yards distant from the spot where the machine was destroyed, but it was not denied that at the time, Bailey was thus far off, the greater part of the mischief had been effected. 
Mr. Alderson, as Counsel for the Prosecution, strongly rebutted the position of law asserted by the Counsel for the Prisoners, the dangerous and fallacious tendency of which was strongly laid down from the Bench in the Chairman's charge to the jury. 
The prisoners were found Guilty; Abery and Bailey, were sentenced each to imprisonment for one year, in Wymondham Bridewell, and find sureties for their good behaviour for two years further; and Peter Palmer the elder, and Peter Palmer, the younger, who had pleaded guilty, were sentenced each, to three months imprisonment in Norwich Castle, and enter into security for their good behaviour, for one year more.

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