Apr 10th – Riot at Denaby Main – Heavy Fines – Witness Assaulted

April 1877

Sheffield Telegraph, April 10th

The Riotous proceedings at Denaby Main Colliery
Heavy fines – A witness assaulted

At Rotherham Police Court, on Saturday morning, before Mr G.W.Chambers and H.Job, the hearing was resumed of the 47 charges of “unlawfully following,” George Wilson, Isaac Gregory, John Goulding, Joseph Irwin, and others at Denaby, on March 20.

The proceedings were instituted by Mr Parker, manager of the Denaby Main Colliery.

Mr F Parker Rhodes appeared for the owners of the colliery, and Mr Clegg for the defendant’s.

The case for the prosecution was concluded on Friday, Mr Clegg on Saturday proceeded with his defence. He commenced by asking their worships to strike out the name of James Burke’s on the ground that he had not been sufficiently identified.

The magistrates declined to sit back seat to this request, the chairman alluded to the evidence given by Joseph Irwin, and hoped that he would not be called before them again, as if he came there uncorroborated, he would not be disposed to place much faith in what he said.

Mr Rhodes said it was not his intention to call him again.

The chairman said that Irwin and acted as as a consummate coward or as a consummate perjurer..

Mr Clegg denied most positively that there had been any strike at the Denaby Main Colliery. If there had been anything of the sort. The Masters and block out the men after, of course, giving them notice.

The chairman: it is nonsense calling it either a strike or a lockout. The men can go in at any time they please.

Mr Clegg: if they will go to work for less than they ought to have. The men are quite willing to go to work if the Masters will pay them what they ought to have, and the same as others are being paid.

The chairman: I think the less said about it being a strike or a lockout the better.

Mr Clegg said he quite agreed with the chairman. The act under which these proceedings were being taken was the 38th and 39th Victoria, chapter 86, and if the charges were proved each of the defendants would be liable to a penalty of £20 or three months imprisonment with hard labour. He submitted that there was no evidence that any of the defendants did anything with a view of compelling the complainant to abstain from working. He took it that “hurrahing” was considered as an approval of what a person had been doing, and that there was no evidence of any threats having been used by any of the defendants. He thought that he had great cause of complaint in the fact that Henry Walters, the gentleman who laid information is, had not been put into the box. 16 of the summonses had been dismissed because there was no evidence of against the person summoned. Mr Walters swore that he had good grounds for believing that those people and done the things for which they had been summoned.

The chairman said it was an absurdity to imply that Mr Walters and perjured himself.

Mr Clegg repeated that Walters ought to have been put into the box as the complainant. “Web been called out of the four persons were said to have been followed. The purpose of being compelled to leave their work? Wilson and not being called. Surely he knew something about it. Surely he was a person who could have told what had taken place, and who could have given them some very good information. Gregory had been called, but he did not identify a single person, nor did he tell them what had taken place. Goulding had not been called, and their worships were good enough to say that they did not believe a single word of what Urwin had said. They had, however, done the best they could to deprive him of his work, and he may be locked out for not swearing up to the mark.

Mr Rhodes said that Irwin had already been deprived of his work for very good reasons which are presented themselves to his clients on the previous night.

Mr Clegg said that three of the person summoned never had any existence, 16, had been dismissed, and 16 were spoken to by police Constable Midgley. There was no evidence of any threats, and one defendant was not liable for the acts of another. That being so he asked their worships to weigh well what each person I’m done, and to lay their fingers on any evidence showing that the person summoned an attempt to use compulsion towards any of the workmen. Unless the magistrates were able to do so, he submitted that they had no alternative but to dismiss the summonses. That was with reference to a number of the defendants. With reference to the others he should show positively that they were not present, and if he did this their worships would dismiss the summons with respect to them. Mr Clegg then called witnesses to provide an alibi for a number of the defendants.

At the conclusion of the case the court adjourned for half an hour.

On resuming the chairman said they had gone carefully through all the evidence that had been given, and I decided to dismiss three more of the case. The decision in the other cases was reserved.

Mr Clegg asks the Bench to give their decision before hearing the other cases.

The chairman said they thought it better, that they should not do so. They consider the cases as one, though laid in a different way, and it was possible that they might consider the punishment to be awarded in the two cases as though it had only been for one offence.

Mr Clegg here intimated that he should elect that the other cases should be tried before a jury.

The magistrates then held a consultation with a clerk, after which the Chairman said the thought that as the other cases were to go to the Sessions, they had better decide upon the sentences in the first cases. They then retired, and were absent about a quarter of an hour.

On their return, the Chairman said that in the cases of Samuel Hopkinson and Thomas Stokes, words and been proved against them, and their cases were very much worse than the others. They would be fined £10 each and 7s 6d course, or two months at the House of Correction. The other men were each fined 40 shillings and 7s 6d costs, or one months imprisonment, and the women were each fined 20 shillings and costs 7s 6d for 10 days in the House of Correction.

The result of thewhole of the cases was as follows:

Out of the 47 summonses, two of the defendants were each fined £10 and costs; 13 men were each fined 40 shillings and costs; 16 women were each fined 20 shillings and costs; 13 of the summonses were dismissed, two were withdrawn, and one was adjourned.

The following are the names of the men, George Burgess, Thomas Gregory, James Massey, Thomas Potts, James Ryder, William Stokes, Edward Smith, senior, Edward Smith, Jr, Alfred Stevenson, James Taylor, William Venables, senior, William Venables, Jr and John Williams.

The names of the women are: Martha Burgess, Fanny Beach,Bridget Clarke, Emma Collins, Hannah Dunn,Ann Edwards, Elizabeth Gregory, Carolyn Hall, Lydia Heath, Elizabeth Henshaw, Carolyn Otley, Elizabeth Snape, MaryAnn Smith, Emma Taylor,Emma Venables, and Mary Ann Vaux.

Mr Clegg said that the magistrates, had already given him a case for a Superior Court. Of course, he should take it, and this decision was as and he anticipated, then the affair would fall to the ground. If some of those people could not pay the fine, and had to go to prison, they would have to do so before the appeal could be heard. He suggested that they worship should take bail for the appearance of the defendants, or payment of the fines after the decision was obtained. If the defendants had to go to prison now, it would be no use going on with the appeal.

The chairman: Mr Clegg objects to the summons, inasmuch, as it contains the names of four persons, and those four persons were not altogether, but came out of the pit at short intervals. He demands that the prosecutor should elect to take one of the four, or that the summons should be dismissed.

Mr Rhodes said his friend represented persons who were well able to pay the money.

Mr Clegg, they say that he appeared for the defendants, and that they would have to pay the fines, and if they could not pay them they would have to go to prison. The majority of the men worked for the company at that moment, and would have been at work on Friday. Division not been for the summonses.

The chairman: there seems to be to rich people – one on either side. In one case they need of the proprietor of the colliery, and in the other, there is the union, whose union is strength, and it is wealthy.

Mr Clegg; but is is not a union to pay fines.

The chairman said they had seriously considered whether they should not commit Hopkinson and Stokes to prison without the option of paying a fine.

Subsequently, it was agreed that, pending the decision of the Superior Court, each of the defendant should find sureties for double the amount of the fine.

Mr Clegg applied for costs in those cases, which had been dismissed but the magistrates declined to grant them.

Mr Rhodes then withdrew the 19 cases for intimidation on March 20

the 42 cases for unlawfully following on March 21 were then taken. On the names being called one of the summonses was withdrawn, and another case was adjourned in consequence on the defendant having been injured.

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