The confession of James Hey

In 1812, James Hey was one of a number of men arrested under suspicion of being involved in a series of crimes, including robberies at Deighton & Fartown, Huddersfield.

On 14th December 1812, Major Hankin of the 2nd Dragoons took Hey's confession

He admitted being involved in the robberies with 3 others only.

He deposed that after the robberies had taken place they had planned to divide the cash and goods at the house of Holroyd, but decided against it when Holroyd said his mother was living with him. Instead they went to Hey's house. Two watches were seized and were sold for 40 shillings and this money was divided equally.

Hey went on to discuss how the group of Luddites he said he belonged to was organised in groups (classes) of ten men with one head man over them and that his head man is Job Hey. Although they belonged to a larger group of 200 Luddites, the head man never communicated particulars to the ten men only when they were needed, and what for, and what role they would play on that occasion. Despite describing himself as a Luddite, Hey stated that he had never sworn an illegal oath nor been assigned a number.

A day later, Hey added to his confession stating that the gunpowder found at the head man Job Hey's house was for use by his class of ten men.

Aspects of Hey's evidence contradicted that given by those robbed on 29th November, in particular, Joshua Thornton who was certain that 6 men entered his home that night, although John had deposed that 9 men had been involved and that afterwards each of the Luddites had given their number when the roll had been called.

We do not know what pressure was brought to bear on Hey


In 1813, he, Joseph Crowther, Joseph Holroyd alias Carter and Nathan Hoyle, were convicted of robbing a dwelling house, and putting the persons therein in great fear.

Holroyd later turned King's Evidence against the other 3 men, who were then executed [16th January 1813].

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 15:24 / 24th May 2021 / 4536

Page Ref: X256

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