Documents relating to Sutcliffe Sutcliffe

The following documents mention Sutcliffe Sutcliffe

Yorkshire Assizes – Crown Court, Saturday March 1843.

Before Mr Justice Coltman.

Sutcliffe Sutcliffe (27), was charged with having on the 24th of September last, at Langfield, near Halifax, maliciously and feloniously attempted to fire a certain mill in Langfield in the parish of Halifax, the property of Abraham Uttley and others.

This may be Jumb Mill, Langfield

Sir Gregory Lewin and Mr Pashley were for the prosecution; Mr Wilkins defended the prisoner.

Sir G. Lewin stated the case. The prosecutors are the proprietors of the cotton mill near Halifax, and the prisoner, up to within a short time of this transaction, had been in their employ. In the month in question, September 1842, in consequence of material improvements in the machinery, a number of the hands in the mill, nine or ten, were discharged, of which the prisoner was one. As had been the case before in other parts, so it was on the present occasion, the introduction of this machinery caused a good deal of dissatisfaction – not by any means an unnatural result; but, however, that was not a matter (observed the Learned Counsel); for the consideration of the jury.

The prisoner left the service of the prosecutors on the 21st of September, after which he hung a good deal about the premises, and was in the habit of going to the mill to see the workmen. On the 24th of September, the prisoner was at the mill about four or five o'clock in the afternoon. At the latter hour, one of the men, Joseph Greenwood, who was the overseer, left the mill, but it was not an unusual practice for any of the men, when the machinery wanted repair, to stop after the general working hours to repair it, and in that case the party who stopped received instructions to take the key out of the door of the building, either to the overlooker or to some other place which he might appoint when he had completed the work.

On the day in question, another of the men also called Greenwood requested he might be allowed to remain at the mill to make some necessary alterations or repairs in that part of the machinery he was using. Joseph Greenwood gave him permission and requested him to leave the key at the house of a person named Cryer.

At about seven o'clock, Joseph Greenwood called again at the mill and he found that William Greenwood had left, and that all was safe and he proceeded to Todmorden market it being Saturday night. With regard to the prisoner, he was seen at the mill at five o'clock and at eight he was at a cottage in the neighbourhood. He was also seen at Cryer's where he remained some time and other places near the mill, under circumstances of considerable suspicion. At the mill, there are three rooms which are severally called the Willey room, the Reeling room and the Warehouse – to each of which there is a key which hung up against the wall in the mill, and the fourth key which belonged to the out door of the premises was disposed of as described. In the afternoon, the prisoner was in the card room talking to one of the workmen who had occasion to go into another of the rooms. Whilst there, he heard a noise in the willow room, and on retiring he saw the prisoner with the three keys to the above rooms in his hand. The doors of the several rooms were supposed, on the mill being left, to be fastened; but it was found on the fire being discovered not to have been, and that a quantity of stuff had been placed for the purpose of rendering access easy to that part of the mill in which the fire originated.

Mr Abraham Uttley, who is the senior partner of the mill resides a short distance, in a house which has a commanding view of the building. About half-past ten on Saturday evening, he was standing outside his house when he discovered a light in the building and was doubting from what it arose, when Joseph Greenwood, the overseer came up. Mr Uttley drew his attention to the light, sent him down to the mill and shortly afterwards followed himself. The outer door was found to be open and a train of cotton about a foot wide was communicated with a large heap and found on fire in the Willey room. It so happened that the fire had not spread rapidly and had not reached the heap when it was discovered; otherwise the whole of the building would have been destroyed.

The fire was rapidly got out. When the fact of the mill being on fire was communicated to Mr A. Uttley's brother, his wife ran to Cryer's for the key, and on her road she came up to a man cowering under a wall near the mill. She spoke to him – the night was light – she saw his face and discovered that it was the prisoner, she passed him and in a short time she saw him again when she clapped him on the back and said

Aye, Sutcliffe t'mills a fire

He laughed and replied

Aye, it is

and added that he thought it was Greenwood that was blowing the steam fire.

In conclusion, the Learned Counsel recapitulated different periods at which the prisoner had been seen on or near the premises, and, in addition to those already named, he observed that the prisoner had also been seen approaching the mill with a large key in his hand.

Some short time after the fire, suspicion fell on the prisoner and it appeared that he had declared

All such holes as these want burning up


I'll try to do it if I can

Mr Wilkins addressed the jury for the prisoner, contending that there was no evidence to fix guilt upon him, and that it was highly improbable he would have indulged in such expressions as had been proved if he had any intentions of committing such an offence.

The jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty


© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 12:32 / 17th May 2021 / 8029

Page Ref: X434

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