Saturday 1 April 2017

1st April 1817: The trial of the remaining 'Loughborough Job' Luddites, at Leicester Assizes

Trial of Thomas Savidge, Joshua Mitchell, Wm. Withers, William Towle, John Amos, John Crowder, and James Watson, the firing a gun at John Asher.

On Tuesday morning, about eight o'clock, the above prisoners were put to the bar, along with Samuel Caldwell, otherwise Big Sam, the Jury were called and sworn, without any difficulty, consisting of the following gentleman:—

Humphrey Cartwright,
William Perceval,
John Eames,
William Flint,
Thomas Simms,
Saville Charles Hardy,
William Southernwood, 
William Cooper,
Alpheus King,
Henry Ogden,
Thomas Penford,
John Earpe.

The indictment was read over to the Jury, which charged the prisoners with having, on the 28th day of June last, unlawfully and maliciously shot at John Asher, with intent to kill and murder. Another count of the indcitment stated that John Blackborne shot Asher, and the prisoners were aiding, abetting, and assisting, and there were other variations.

Serjeant Vaughan addressed the Court at great length, and then called Mr. John Bowden, who gave evidence to the same purport as on the day before.

In the midst of his examination, the Court was told into some confusion, by Samuel Caldwell, one of the prisoners at the bar, falling down, in strong convulsions. He was carried out, and bled, and in about an hour, during which time the proceedings were staid, was again placed at the bar in a chair. About two minutes he appeared as though he was asleep, with his head inclined against Crowder, who sat next him. Some cordials were administered to him, and the opinion of Mr. Palmer and Dr. Frere taken, as to whether he was able to take his trial, and make his defence. The latter gentleman was sworn, and stated that the prisoner, Caldwell, had been in a state of convulsion, arising from agitation of mind, which had extended to a state of insensibility. It was probable that at intervals he might be able to attend to what was going forward, but the convulsions were likely to return, and be followed by a state of syncope. It was possible that he might not be able to take his trial any better at a future day, for the same circumstances might produce the same effect.

Caldwell was ordered to be taken away from the bar, and the trial of the other prisoners to be proceeded in.

The examination of Mr Boden was then concluded.

John Asher, the man who was shot at, and Mr. Palmer, the surgeon, gave in their evidence to the Court; this was necessarily the same as that detailed in the trial of Clarke on the previous day, and there is no necessity of a repetition of it.

John Blackborne, was examined by Mr. Serjeant Vaughan, as on the day before, and deposed much to the same purport.

William Burton deposed, that in June last he worked at Arnold. On Sunday the 23d of that month, he went to see his parents at Old Basford, where he saw William Towle, who asked him if he had any notion of making one in a bit of a job. Witness asked him what sort of a job it was, he told him it was the same as that done at Radford. Witness asked where it was to be, but Towle would not tell him; he asked him when it was to take place, and Towle said on the Friday following, about thirteen or fourteen miles from Nottingham. Witness said he had not money enough to take him so far and back again, but Towle told there would be 5l. a man and all expenses paid. Witness said as he had never been in any thing of the sort, he did not care if he did go. Towle asked him where he might get another, he answered he might take some of them that were at Radford with him, Diggle, or Barker, or Henfrey. He said he did not like to take Diggle or Henfrey, because they drank the money for the Radford job in the middle of the week, and that led to suspicion; and as to the other, he was apprentice, and his master and him might fall out if he were away so long. Just then witness saw Watson coming up, and said, there's Watson yonder, he has been a soldier, and perhaps he'll stand. When Watson came up to them, Towle asked him if he had any objection to make one in a bit of a job. Watson said no, and asked what it was, at the same time offering to find another man if he wanted him. Towle said he did not want another; it was not going to be a poaching, nor nothing of that kind. Witness told him no, it was a very serious job, and not to be laughed at. Towle added that it was using a bit of a hammer. Watson agreed to go and they parted, but they were to meet again on the Thursday night following. Witness got to Basford about dark hour on Thursday evening, and saw William Towle, and they appointed to meet the next morning in Damme’s meadow, between five and six o'clock. He went there accordingly, and saw Watson and Towle, when the latter informed them both that the job was to be done at Loughborough. The three went down the larkdale and met a man whom witness did not know, but he seemed to know Towle, and gave him four pistols. Witness does not know that he has ever seen the man since. They went to the Peach Tree public house, but it was not open. Hill, Mitchel, Amos, Crowder, and Slater joined them. They all went down Shaw’s-lane together. Soon after the Peach Tree was opened, and they all went in. Himself, Wm. Towle, Watson, Hill, Mitchel, Amos, Crowder, Slater, and C. Blackborne were present, and they had some ale and penny bread and bacon. The landlady, landlord, and servant waited. Witness, Towle, Watson, Mitchel, and C. Blackborne went out, intending to go by the coach to Loughborough. They went some place under the Long-row, he did not know what the place was called, the coach was just going, and none went by it. They then went to the White Lion, but that coach was just gone. They went back to the Peach Tree, and it was agreed that some of them should walk, and others go by the coach. Witness, W. Towle, C. Blackborne, and Watson were to walk. Witness and Watson went one way, and Blackborne and Towle another; they were to meet at the canal bridge. Those left at the Peach Tree, to come by the coach in the afternoon, were Slater, Hill, Amos, Crowder, and Mitchel. They joined together at the canal bridge, and after having passed the Trent, they went along the fields, when Towle produced two large pistols, which were loaded with black cartridges, and fired them off. C. Blackborne but on Towle’s great coat, for he had a blue waistcoat and sleeves on, and he was afraid without that was covered he might be suspected. Blackborne put the pistols into the inside pockets of the great coat. Towle had a corduroy jacket and pantaloons on. Witness had a velveteen jacket and corduroy breeches. Blackborne said it would not do to be altogether; he therefore gave witness and Watson 5s. and they divided two and two. Blackborne and Towle went first, and they were to join again at Bunny. He and Watson got there first, and called for some ale and cheese, and while there the other two came. When they left that place, Towle said he Blackborne were old hands, and the others were young ones, and therefore they would divide differently, Towle and he went together, and Blackborne took Watson. They were to join again at Hoton. They went to the Bell, at Hoton, he and Towle got there first, and called for something to drink; in about ten minutes the other two came. They did not claim acquaintance just then, but appeared to be strangers. Watson had a smock frock on. A man of the name of Spencer, a gardener, was there, and there was a disturbance between him and his wife; he had been out all week drinking, and she wanted him to go home. They all sung, but had not joined parties then. Towle sung a song, the chorus of which was—

"Damn such laws, and so say I."

A skinner came in, and had a biggish rough dog with him, which was taken a good deal of notice of. Towle complained that he had had nothing to eat that day, and he wanted something. The skinner replied, the landlord was a butcher, and they might have something he dare say. Some mutton chops were therefore ordered and cooked. Towle said to Blackborne and Watson, you may as well join us, we are all on the tramp, and we’ll go together. Upon this they all joined at the mutton chops. They staid four or five hours, and all went away together. This was about half past four o'clock, they went on the road to Loughborough. As they were going, a coach passed them, of which were Hill and Mitchell, coming from Nottingham. When the coach first appeared in sight, Blackborne and Towle went over a gate into a close, but when it was gone they came out again, and altogether went forwards to Loughborough. When they drew near, one person in a green coat met them, whom we did not know, but the man knew Towle and Blackborne, and turned back with them. Witness and Towle went to the Seven Stars, the man in a green coat went with them, drank once and then went away; several other persons were drinking in the room at the time. Blackborne and Watson came to the Seven Stars in about two hours; it was a hot day; they drank by themselves apart. C. Blackborne kept his top coat buttoned on purpose that persons might not see his pistols, for he said he was afraid the people of Hoton had seen them. They sung at this house, Towle sung the same song as at Hoton. It was about six o'clock when they got there, and they staid till ten, when the landlord wished them to go, as he made a common rule to shut up his house at that hour. They accordingly left the house, and strolled about the town, and loaded the pistols with powder and ball; there were four pistols, Towle loaded one, Blackborne another, and Watson another; did not know who loaded the fourth, but all four were loaded. None of them went to any other public house. C. Blackborne said they were to have gone to the Pack Horse, to have lighted on some more chaps there, but they did not go.—They met with a man who knew Blackborne, and took them up two or three streets, and shewed them the road to the factory. They went into a lane near the factory, and found some of the party, and were soon joined by more to the number of seventeen. The witness then went through the circumstances of the case from that period till they separated after crossing Aram’s ferry, nearly in the same words as on the day before.

And Woodward, Thomas Seymour, Ann Blatherwick, Mary Sanson, John Handford, appeared separately in the witness box. For their evidence, see Clarke’s trial.

John Keighley keeps the Peach Tree public-house at Nottingham. On the morning before the destruction of the frames in Heathcoate’s factory last Summer, a number of persons came to his house in company, about five or six o'clock. Slater was one of the party he has no doubt; believes he has never seen the man since. They had some penny bread and bacon, or cheese, perhaps they had both. They drank all out of one tankard.

John Allsopp lives at Hoton, is a butcher now, but at the time of the breaking of the frames at Heathcoate’s factory, he kept the sign of the Bell. About half past two o'clock in the afternoon of that day, two men came into his house, and called for a cup of ale, one of them had a pair of trowers on, and a sleeve waistcoat or fustain, or what they call velveteen; the other had a corduroy jacket on. In about ten minutes, two more men came in, one had a blue smock frock and a furred hat, the other had a big coat on. They drank separately, and he did not think they knew each other at first. In a little time they joined company. They asked for a mutton chop, it was cooked for them and they ate it. Young, a felllmonger or skinner was in the house, as well as Spencer, a gardener, Spencer's wife came in, and jarred with her husband, because he been drinking. Witness asked the men where they were going, and they said they were stocking-makers seeking work. In consequence of something said to him by Young, he went to one side of the house, and looked at the man with the big coat, and he had a pistol in his pocket: he went on the contrary side of the room, and saw another pistol in the other inside pocket; soon after he buttoned up his coat, so that witness could not see the pistols. The two men that came in first ordered the mutton chop; they all partook of it. The Sunday after Leicester assizes, which ended on a Saturday night, he saw two of those men coming along the road. It was Towle and Watson; he asked them how they did, and enquired of W. Towle whether he had been to Leicester, and how they have gone on at the assizes: he did not know Towle’s name then Towle said he heard that a man of the name of Towle was to suffer, but he seemed to wish to avoid the conversation; they walked on sharpish, saying they wanted to get to Nottingham by six o'clock. These two men did not come into his house the night the frames were broken, together; they came in separately. Towle had a corduroy jacket and trowsers on.—Burton was shewn to witness, and he declared that he was one of the four men who came to his house that afternoon.

_____ Young, a fellmonger, remembers the frame-breaking at Loughborough, and was at the Blue Bell, it Hoton, the afternoon previous thereto. Four men were there, and a gardener, who had an altercation with his wife. This witness pointed out Towle and Watson from amongst the prisoners, as being two of the four men. They sat in different parts of the house, and appeared to be strangers to each other. Watson had a blue smock frock on, and one of them, whom he did not see amongst the prisoners, had a large great coat, which was unbuttoned and he observed a pistol in each inside pocket. One pistol was with the muzzle upwards, the other downwards. Witness pointed this circumstance out to the landlord, and after he had been into the room to view them, the man buttoned up his coat. This witness identified Burton as having been Towle’s companion at that time. He had a large dog within which was much noticed. Towle sung a song, and some part of it was in these words "Damn such laws, and so say I."

Henry Staples kept the Seven Stars, at Loughborough, in June last. About half past five o'clock on the night when Heathcoat’s factory was demolished, four strangers came into his house. One had a light coloured top coat on; another a velveteen jacket and corded small clothes, the third had a smock frock on, and the fourth and jacket and trowsers. The man with the great coat on, kept it buttoned all the time, though it was a hot day. They sung, and one of their songs had a chorus "Damn such laws, and so say I." They went away about half past nine, in consequence of his telling them that he made a point of closing his house at ten o'clock.

Jane Tyler, whose husband keeps the White Lion, in Loughborough, proved the same circumstances as on Clarke’s trial.

Richard Woolley is a soldier in the 3d or King’s Dragoons. He saw Hudson and Disney together in Loughborough, on Thursday. Hudson goes by the name of Aaron Daykin, but Hudson is his proper name. Witness spoke to him in the street, but as he did not answer, supposed he did not hear him. The same afternoon about three o'clock, he saw these two, and another man (Blackborne) at Tyler’s. In the course of an hour, some man brought some beef-steaks on a scewer, and desired they might be cooked, there was about six pounds of them, and Mrs. Tyler cooked a part. Witness assisted in cooking and taking in the things, and was invited to partake, he did so; there were four men present, Sheepshead Jack, Hudson, Blackborne, and another. Some of them went out without eating any of the meat, none of them slept there that night, but next morning, about six o'clock, Disney and Hudson came, and they along with witness, finished them.

George Wilson, was employed by Mr. Hadderley, who occupies a small quarry at Mountsorrel. On the night previous to the breaking of Messrs Heathcoat and Boden’s frames, he lost some tools from the quarry; three hammers, one 30lb. one about ten, and the other smaller; an iron bar, four feet long, was also missing.

Thomas Phipps was a labourer employed on the road between Loughborough and Mountsorrel. On Friday he found the above tools in a ditch amongst some nettles and weeds; he lodged them at the turnpike house, where they were afterwards claimed by Mr. Hadderley.

George Hutchinson, the landlord of the Duke of York, in Loughborough, proved that Savidge, Mitchell, and Blackborne frequently came to his house during the few days previous to the breaking of his Heathcoat’s frames.

Isaac Beeby, Charles Young, and John North, gave a testimony the same in substance as that on Clarke’s trial.

Ann Mackay lived in Mill-street, in Loughborough, near the factory at the time the machines were broken; the house in which she lived joins the factory. Hearing a noise and the talking of men, she was induced to go out of her house to see what was the matter; her husband was employed at the factory. As she was proceeding to the factory, one man came up, and clapped a pistol to her head, and then another man with a pistol on the other side; they soon delivered her into the custody of somebody else, whom she swore to as being Savidge.—He had an handkerchief on his face but it fell off several times; she was in fear for her life every moment. Mitchell and Crowder were there; they came up to shake hands with her before she was set at liberty.

On cross-examination she said she did not see Mitchell and Crowder above a minute; she cannot tell whether it was a moon light night or not, but yet she can swear to them.

Benjamin Silvester, William Walton, and Thomas Foreman, gave the same evidence concerning the musket as on the former trial.

Joseph Shepherd was also placed in the witness box to repeat his testimony.

John Bowering was in the service of Wethering and Co. at Derby, and proved that Withers purchased a pair of pistols of him, the 30s. on the 25th of June last.

James Lawson, a constable of Nottingham, saw Crowder on the morning after the attack on the factory, asleep, and apparently very dirty and fatigued, at the Goat in the Meadow-platts.

Benjamin Barns met Cordwell on Lenton sands a little after seven o'clock on Saturday morning. Soon after he met Mitchell, and in a while after met James Towle.

This closed the case for the prosecution, and

Mr. Balguy renewed his legal objection, and stated it at considerable length, Mr. Denman followed on the same side.

Serjeant Vaughan was going to reply, but the Learned Judge over-ruled it.

The prisoners were then called upon for their defence.

Thomas Savidge addressed the Court, but did not attempt to deny his participation in this transaction. He particularly urged on the attention of the jury the characters of Blackborne and Barker; and told them he had a wife and six children. If they decided according to their consciences, and in the sight of God, he should be satisfied.

William Towle said he was not capable of saying any thing.

John Crowder dwelt on the characters of the two men brought as evidences against them; he had a wife and five children.

John Amos—"I have nothing to say, my Lord."

William Withers, have you anything to say your defence? "No, my Lord."

James Watson—"I have nothing to say, my Lord."

A number of witnesses were called, who bore testimony to the general good character of the prisoners.

His Lordship employed full two hours in summing up the evidence and giving his charge to the Jury, who without hesitation, returned a verdict of guilty against all the prisoners.

John Clarke was brought up and placed beside them, and Sir Richard passed the awful sentence of death upon the eight prisoners, in very impressive terms.

John Slater was then put to the bar, and pleaded guilty to an indictment for framebreaking. There was an indictment for a capital offence, to which he pleaded not guilty, and the Counsel for the Crown declined offering any evidence, and of course he was acquitted of that charge. For the crime of framebreaking, his Lordship ordered him to be transported for life.

Samuel Caldwell was once more brought to the bar, but Dr. Frere pronounced that he was absolutely insensible, and the Jury were discharged without giving any verdict in his case. He is remanded to prison till the next assizes.

Before Sir Richard Richards left the town, he was pleased to reprieve two of the unhappy men, Clarke and Watson; the other six, Savidge, Withers, Mitchell, Towle, Amos, and Crowder, are left execution, on the 14th instant.

This is from the Nottingham Review of 4th April 1817.

The Nottingham Journal's coverage of the trial revealed that the trial lasted some 13 hours 'until after 11 o'clock at night'.

The Journal also gave the men's ages:

James Watson, 21
William Towle, 22
John Clarke, 28
Samuel Caldwell, 29
Joshua Mitchell, 29
John Amos, 30
William Withers, 33
Thomas Savage, 39
John Crowther, 40

Finally, the Journal quoted in full Thomas Savage's remarks in his defence:

My Lord and Gentlemen of the Jury, 

I am truly sorry that any of the Jury were challenged yesterday, and that in consequence, you, my Lord and the Jury have been detained another day; but the cause of it rested with ourselves, having met together in the Prison yard and consulted, our joint opinion was, that it would be an advantage to challenge each a certain member of the Jury. I am sorry we did so, as we might have well been tried yesterday as to day; but it was out own act, and not the advice of our Counsel or Attorney; and I trust having done so, will not prejudice our cause. Gentlemen of the Jury, neither myself or fellow Prisoners know any of the Jury or any thing against any of them in any respect, and we are fully satisfied you will do justice between God and your conscience. As to what Ann Mackie swore was wrong, as I never saw her before, (but as to other parts of her testimony the Prisoner mainly admitted the same.) I hope Gentlemen you will take notice that this woman saw me in the lane, and that I was not in the Factory, and I hope you will notice the characters of Blackburn and Burton who have sworn against us. Our lives are in your hands, and I hope you will take it into consideration, as I have a wife as six children, and my wife is now pregnant again.

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