Saturday, 18 March 2017

18th March 1817: The trial of Joseph Mellors, Nathan Diggle & Jonathan Austin, for attacking William Cook, at Nottingham Assizes

On the same day that the Luddite Daniel Diggle was tried and sentenced to death for his part in an abortive attack in Nottingham, his accomplices in a later attack on Lord Middleton's gamekeeper - William Cook - were put on trial at Nottingham Assizes:
JOSEPH MELLORS, NATHAN DIGGLE, and JONATHAN AUSTIN were put to the bar, charged with having in the night between the 2d and 3d of January last, in company with Daniel Diggle, the prisoner on whom sentence had just been passed, and four others, who have absconded, among whom were Henfrey, Woolley, and Shaw,) beset the house of Mr. William Cook, of Shortwood, near Trowell (gamekeeper to the Right Hon. Lord Middleton) and firing at him several times, through his chamber window, and also firing at Francis Woolley, his neighbour, who came to Cook’s assistance. 
In this prosecution Lord Middleton addressed the Learned Judge a very feeling and impressive manner, stating, that as a dreadful example to the country was about to be made in the execution of Daniel Diggle, who was the principal person concerned in the outrage upon the person, family, and dwelling of one of his gamekeepers, his Lordship did not wish any sanguinary or vindictive proceedings against the three others in custody, and the more especially, as he had reason to believe, they were the least guilty of any of the gang: for as to one of them, when Daniel Diggle proposed to break into Cook’s house and murder him, that one prevented Daniel Diggle from so doing: and therefore, with the learned Judge's permission, he (Lord Middleton) would withdraw all further proceedings against them—his Lordship declaring that all proper means should be taken to apprehend Henfrey, Woolley, Shaw, and others, who, it appeared, had been concerned in the attack upon the house of Kerry, but who were equally guilty with Daniel Diggle, in the outrage in the middle of the night at Cook’s. His Lordship declared that his motive was only public justice, and he thought, as to the four in custody, that end had been obtained. 
The Learned Judge very pointedly complimented Lord Middleton upon the propriety of his conduct on the occasion, and in the most solemn and impressive manner addressed the three prisoners at the bar, informing them, that they owed their lives to his Lordships interference in their favor; for it appeared from documents in the Learned Judge's possession that they were guilty, and might have been convicted if the prosecution had been proceeded in. The Learned Judge exhorted them to go home and break off from the gang of depredators with which they had been heretofore connected—to amend their lives—and, in future, to endeavour to live by honest industry; and to beware of ever being brought to the bar of a Court of Justice again.

This is from the Nottingham Review of 28th March 1817.

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