Apr 16th – Denaby Main Riots – Conclusion of Proceedings

April 1877

April 16th, Sheffield Telegraph

The Denaby Main Riots.

Conclusion of proceedings before the magistrates

on Saturday morning, at the Rotherham Police Court, before Mr G.W Chambers and H.Jubb, the hearing was resumed of the 122 cases for “unlawfully following” and intimidation at Denaby on the 20th and 21st of March. It will be readily recollected that at the last sitting of the court 47 other summonses for “unlawfully following” on Tuesday, March 20, were disposed of, and that 19 summonses for intimidation on the same day, were withdrawn. When the Court rose on the last occasion a large number of witnesses had been called for the prosecution in the 42 charges for “unlawfully following” Isaac Gregory on March 21. On that day a crowd of between 1500 and 2000 persons assembled at Denaby, and when the men employed at the colliery left their work for the day a riot took place.

Mr F Parker Rhodes again prosecuted, and Mr Clegg appeared on behalf of the defendants.

Matthew Goulding, miner, living at Denaby, remembered Isaac Gregory and the other men leaving the Denaby Main Colliery on Wednesday, March 21. When they got a little distance from the pit there was a crowd of people, amongst them being Thomas Gregory, who was dressed in a soldier’s uniform. Thomas Gregory threw a stone at him and not the use out of one of his hands.

By Mr Clegg: he was “scared” by the conduct of the crowd.

George Wilson, a miner, residing at Denaby, was assaulted by George Burgess, John Birks, and John Whelan as he and Isaac Gregory, were returning home from work at Denaby Main Colliery, on Wednesday, March 21.

Mr Rhodes called one or two other witnesses, and said their evidence concluded his case. So far as the person who took an active part in the proceedings were concerned, he was bound to press the charges against them and asked for a committal. His clients had had representations made to them, asking for as much leniency as possible, and as far as those persons who merely follow in the crowd and shouted were concerned he would like to assess their worships to allow the charges against them to be withdrawn.

The chairman said that was their own feeling. There was plenty of persons against whom active measures were proof, and they thought it would be sufficient if those defendants were sent for trial; Bert, at the same time it was very possible that the real instigators of the proceedings had not been identified as taking any active part in them, and that some of those were merely shouted and incited others were more deserving punishment and those poor ignorant people whom they had urged to commit those offences. At the same time they did not think that those were merely shouted followers ought to be committed for trial.

Mr Rowe said he should ask that those who did not take any active part in the proceeding should enter into their own recognisances not to take part in proceedings of that kind again.

The chairman said he understood that most of the men had gone to work again, that all was now perfectly quiet, and no one could say that they felt in any danger; consequently it was not necessary to accede to Mr Rhodes request.

Mr Clegg said he believed that the great majority of the defendants were actually working for the company, and it seemed to me great pity that those proceeding should be continued, and that the ends of justice would be answered if all the defendants entered into their own recognisances to keep the peace.

Mr Rhodes: I cannot think of that.

The chairman: there has been a most serious breach of the peace, committed, and I do not think we can allow it.

The chairman asked Mr Clegg If he wished to go to trial, and Mr Clegg replied that he would leave the cases in their worships hands.

The chairman desire Mr Clegg to confine his witnesses to evidence on BR for the following defendant: Thomas Gregory, George Burgess, Alfred Jones or Whelan, Thomas Potts, Williams’s Stocks, Thomas Stocks, John Birks, James Birks, Martin Birks, German Bacon, John Rushton, Frederick Turton, Samuel Hopkinson, George Roberts and Mary Anne Godfrey.

Mr Clegg being called a number of witnesses to prove an alibi on behalf of James Birks and Frederick Turton.

And the conclusion of the evidence for the defence, their worships retired to consider their decision and were absent from the court about half an hour. On their return, the chairman said they would much prefer that the cases should have been dealt with at the Sessions. It had been a disagreeable thing to have to fine the defendants such heavy penalties as they felt themselves compelled to impose upon them. The fires would include costs.

They should fine Thomas Gregory £10 or two months imprisonment; George Burgess who had already been fined 40 shillings, £8 or two months imprisonment; Alfred Jones £10 or two months; Thomas Potts and William Stokes each 40 shillings, or one month; Thomas Stokes had been fined £10 the previous charge, and they should consider that sufficient punishment; John Birks, Martin Birks and German Bacon, were each fined 40 shillings or one month; George Rushton was fined five pounds or one month; Samuel Hopkinson had been fined £10 and was also bound over to appear at the sessions on the charge of assaulting a witness **, and they should not inflict any further penalty upon him; John Robinson and Mary Ann Godfrey were each fined £5 pounds or one month. The other defendants were discharged. The bench hoped no further disagreeable occurrences will take place at Denaby, and if they found the sentences that pass were not sufficient to stop such proceedings, they should certainly send any future cases to the sessions.

Mr Rhodes here referred to the charge against a defendant named Walton, which had been adjourned until Monday, and said that the prosecutors would be satisfied if he would attend and enter into his own recognisances, and find one surety to keep the peace.

Mr Clegg asked the bench to give the defendants time to pay the fines.

The chairman said there being out of work, and the usual custom was to give a fortnight, but in these cases they would give the defendants a month, on condition that those web been fined five pounds and was entered into their own recognisances for the amount and found one surety for the payment of the fine, and that they would surrender themselves to the police officials at the expiration of the month.

Mr Rhodes then withdrew the summonses for intimidation on March 21, and said that he the defendants would go home, behave themselves, and let things go on as they ought to do.

The court then rose after sitting for about 2 1/2 hours.

** Samuel Hopkinson received a 9 month sentence

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