6th January 1831
Reference Numbert18310106-117
SentenceMiscellaneous > fine; Imprisonment; Miscellaneous > sureties; Imprisonment

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Second London Jury, before Mr. Recorder.

389. RICHARD CARLILE was indicted for a libel . MESSRS. ADOLPHUS, WIGHTMAN and GURNEY, JUN. conducted the prosecution.

GEORGE BICKERTON BAMFORD . I am a clerk in the office of the solicitor of the Treasury. I purchased this pamphlet, (the Prompter,) on the 6th of December last, about four o'clock, at Mr. Carlile's shop, No. 62, Fleet-street - the name is on a tablet in each window; one, "R. Carlile, bookseller," and the other, "R. Carlile, publisher;" a female served me - I gave 3d. for it.

Defendant. Q. Did you receive instructions from the solicitor to purchase the pamphlet? A. I did, and from no other person.

JOHN HANCOCK WESTON . I am a collector of poor's-rates, of St. Dunstan in the West. I produce the rate-book; No. 62, Fleet-street, is in that parish - Richard Carlile is rated as the occupier of that house.

Defendant. I will save the time of the Court, by admitting the publication.

MR. BAMFORD re-examined. I knew of this proclamation being issued by His Majesty's Goverment, (looking at it) - it is dated 23rd of November; I have the Gazette in which it is annouced.

SIR RICHARD BIRNIE . I am chief Magistrate of Bow-street. In November last, applications were made to me at the office, respecting the agricultural labourers, the destruction of machinery, and other illegal practices, such as extorting more wages.

Q. Was there any report as to their being in a state of insurrection? A. I cannot say the word "Insurrection" was used, but I deem the destruction of property insurrection; there were reports of the destruction of property by burning, and it was supposed to be by agricultural labourers - these reports were generally believed.

Defendant. Q. Had any thing come before you officially respecting the agricultural labourers? A. None of them had been brought before me, because they were in other districts, Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire; but applications had been made to me to send men down there -I have no evidence of the agricultural labourers being in a state of insurrection.

JOHN RAWLINSON , ESQ. I am a Magistrate of Middlesex and Hampshire; I was in Hampshire from the 11th to the 23rd of November; and during the last seven days of that time, nearly the whole of the agricultural labourers in my immediate neighbourhood were in a state of insurrection - they were pulling down houses and manufactories, and destroying thrashing-machines principally; there

were burnings, but none that I myself witnessed - there were fires seen from my neighbourhood.

Defendant. Q. You saw no burnings? A. None; I saw a large mob myself - I saw them enter a blacksmith's shop and seize pledge hammers; I myself took a sledge hammer from the leader of the mob - they afterwards proceeded and destroyed machinery near my own house; the mob almost entirely consisted of agricultural labourers.

Q. Between the 11th and 23rd of November, did you see any copies of the paper entitled the Prompter? A. Certainly not; I never heard of it till to-day - there were daily meetings of Magistrates, and communications were made to Government, but not by me - to my knowledge, in consequence of a meeting at Alsford, Mr. Frederick Baring went up to town for the purpose of seeing the Secretary of State, and he met the Magistrates afterwards with the determination of the Government; that was about the 20th - the nature of his communication was, that there had been very serious outrages committed on his father's property - he went up on the subject; I was not present when he made the communication to the Secretary of State - I never heard of this publication in Hampshire.

COURT. Q. What number did the mob you saw consist of? A. That was not a very large mob, perhaps sixty or seventy persons - they rushed into the shop, and armed themselves with all the materials they could lay hold of; I was lame, and not able to go to where the large mobs were - the largest I saw consisted of, (I should think,) one hundred persons.

Defendant. Q. That was the largest mob you saw? A. I do not think I personally saw a larger - they were dispersed with the assistance of the marines; no great destruction of machinery had then taken place - it is not a very populous neighbourhood; there were a great number of different mobs, taking different directions.

Q. Was any means used to disperse the mob before they began to break the machines? A. Special constable were sworn in; some machines were broken the last Saturday I was there, which was the 20th; I can speak positively as to the 22nd, because they were close to my own house then - I took depositions, as a Magistrate, of their previous acts, on the Thursday and Friday, the 17th and 18th; I did not send a report of that to town - I was not in the Country in an official capacity.

Q. You have no knowledge of these facts being publicly stated in London till the 25th? A. I know Mr. Baring came up on Friday night, the 19th.

S - TWYFORD, ESQ. I am a Police Magistrate, and also a Magistrate of Sussex. I went down into Sussex on the 21st of November, in consequence of a letter from my brother, and from another quarter; I found the gentlemen in the neighbourhood in a state of great excitement, in consequence of mobs of labourers in different places, and I was met by a Magistrate of the County before I reached home, who invited me to his house, to consult on the state of the country - he told me he himself had been mobbed - that a mob collected to terrify him; no property had been destroyed about there - the only thrashing-machine in the part where I was Magistrate, had been openly destroyed in the town by the farmers, in consequence of threatening letters - there were reports that various parts of Sussex were in a state of excitement, called insurrection, and which it resembled; the labourers were assembled in great numbers: at that time the Duke of Richmond had met a large mob, and dispersed it, and two days after his thrashing-machines had been destroyed, in one day; it was understood they were destroyed by farming labourers; I met myself two mobs; and while I was at breakfast next morning we were all called out to attend to a mob of fifty or sixty agricultural labourers, among whom, Sir C. Taylor was surprised to see his own labourers - I heard of several fires while I was in Sussex; I was there three weeks - they were wilful fires; the parties have been tried since - it was reported that they were done by farmer's labourers.

Defendant. Q. Of course you were in Sussex, on the 22nd of November, in the character of a Magistrate? A. Not in the character of a Sussex Magistrate - I went down to protect my own property; I did not sit officially - the mob assaulted me; I got rid of one mob, by refusing to sign a paper which they tendered to me - that mob consisted of about fifty; the paper was a request to raise wages to 12s. a week, for married and unmarried, and a gallon of flour for every child above two; those who were employed by the parish were not to be kept out of work so long as they had been, but to be employed immediately - I do not know the price of food in the neighbourhood; I do not reside there - that mob were not armed; the paper they presented professed to be a humble petition - no violence was used by them; I cannot state the average rate of wages in that neighbourhood - the labourers in my employ are wood-cutters, they are paid by the work; I do not think the mob of fifty used improper language - this is the first day I ever heard of "the Prompter;" I have no complaint of the effects of that paper - I was three weeks either at Medhurst or Petworth, swearing in special constables, in conjunction with my brother Magistrates; I saw one mob of about one hundred and forty.

Q. Did you see any illegal act committed by that mob? A. I state the fact, it is illegal if circumstances are allowed to belong to it - about one hundred and forty labouring parishoners, who came a distance of six miles, and brought the farmers of the parish, as they told me, prisoners. I was then on my way to Petworth, and they told me they had brought the farmers prisoners, to ascertain from Mr. Pointz's steward, what reduction of rent he meant to make; Mr. Pointz is a gentleman of large landed property - the steward was in the midst of this mob; I cannot say on what date this was - I would not swear it was before the 25th of November.

COURT. Q. Were you the Chairman of the Quarter Session at Medhurst, at the time they were swearing in special constables? A. There was no Session then. I am the Chairman of the Quarter Sessions - I have just now returned from them, and have tried all the prisoners engaged in the riots below Chichester - there have been fifteen convicted for riots; eleven men were tried on one indictment, that was for acts arising out of the 17th to the 18th of November, assembling in large quantities and breaking machines in the night time - I tried several cases of riot.

His Majesty's proclamation of the 23rd of November, 1830, relative to illegal demands for increase of wages, the destruction of property, &c., in various parts of the Kingdom, offering a reward of 50l. on the conviction of persons guilty of the said offences, and 500l. upon the conviction of incendiaries, &c., was here put in and read: also the following paragraphs from the Prompter, charged as libels.

No. 1."- a Constitutional Monarchy is a most ridiculous state of government, more than mimicking absolute monarchy, and perpetsating all ancient follies and abuses. Every thing conspires against a king to tell him that he is something more than man; and all that sort of flattery is calculated to unman him, and to make him less than man. We want no mummeries and nonsense, wherewith to please savages and fools, in the present day."

No. 2." To the Insurgent Agricultural Labourers, - You are much to be admired for everything you are known to have done during the last month; for, as yet, there is no evidence before the public that you are incendiaries, or even political rebels. Much as every thoughtful man must lament the waste of property, much as the country must suffer by the burnings of farm produce now going on, were you proved to be the incendiaries, we should defend you by saying, that you have more just and moral cause for it than any king or faction, that ever made war, had for making war. In war, all destructions of property are counted lawful, upon the ground of that which is called the law of nations; yours is a state of warfare, and your ground of quarrel is the want of the necessaries of life in the midst of an abundance. You see boards of food, and you are starving; you see a government rioting in every sort of luxury and wasteful expenditure; and you, ever ready to labour, cannot find one of the comforts of life - neither your silence nor your patience has obtained for you the least respectful attention from that government. The more tame you have grown, the more you have been oppressed and despised, the more you have been trampled on; and it is only now, that you begin to display your physical as well as your moral strength, that your cruel tyrants treat with you and offer terms of pacification; your demands have been, so far, moderate and just; and any attempt to stifle them, by the threatened severity of the New Administration, will be so wicked as to justify your resistance even to death, and to life for life.

No. 3."Mr. Carlile justified the conduct of the agricultural labourers of the disturbed Counties, and alluding to Earl Grey's threatened severity, he trusted, that, if an effort were made to put down the just discontent of those starving labourers by any other means than that of redressing their grievances, they might be able to rise in their congregated strength, and put down the Earl."

The defendant, in his Defence, admitted the publication - and at very considerable length endeavoared to justify the at - and contended that the matter was not libelous.

GUILTY (on the 2nd and 3rd Counts,) which contained the paragraph marked No. 2.

To pay a fine to the King of 200l. , imprisoned Two Years , and to find sureties for his good behaviour for Ten Years then to come, himself in the sum 500l., and two sureties in 250l. each , and to be imprisoned till the fine be paid and the securities found .

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