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Stealing Arms 13-06-1812

13th June 1812

We are greatly concerned to state, that this highly dangerous and most alarming species of depredation continues to be pursued with increased audacity and success. In our last we stated, generally, that several person at Netherton, near Horbury, had been robbed of their five-arms ; but one instance (the particulars of which have since come to our knowledge,) is of so daring and atrocious a nature, as to require being stated somewhat in detail. Mr. Abraham Lees, an inoffensive old man, who lives at a lone house in Netherton, about two miles from Wakefield, was visited by a party of those nocturnal depredators about twelve o'clock on the night of Wednesday the 3d instant. Incapable of making any resistance, he delivered up his fire-arms; they then demanded his money, and threatened him with instant death if he hesitated; upon this threat he gave them a guinea note and some silver, which was all the money he had in the house ; they then insisted upon having the keys of his drawers delivered to them, which he was under the necessity of complying with. They then ransacked his drawers but not finding the treasure they expected, they behaved in so violent a manner as to excite an apprehension that murder was intended, and Mr. Lees, on his knees, begged for the life of himself and his sister. The intimidation created by this outrage was so strong, that Mr. Lees has left his house and gone to reside in a neighbouring town for security.

On Thursday these depredators visited a number of houses at Osset, where they got from eight to ten guns ; they also demanded, and in some cases obtained ammunition. Some delay having occurred at one house, they fired several balls through the door.

On Saturday night, about ten o'clock, a number of men, with muskets, were seen performing the military exercise, at the skirts of Soothill-Wood, in the parish of West-Ardsley ; and about two o'clock on Sunday morning, 47 of them, all armed, passed through the village of Gawthorp, near Osset, where they obtained some guns, and several sums Of money, which they are now in the habit of demanding. About half past twelve o'clock the same night, a number of these people knocked at the door of Mr. Israel Rhodes, of Lee-Fair, and demanded his gun, which he was obliged to surrender into their hands. They then proceeded to another house in the neighbourhood, and took from the family a gun ; and afterwards to the house of Mr. Leathley, of the same place, and extorted from him two muskets, a pistol, and a guinea.

Several parties of the same description of persons have also been active in collecting arms in the neighbourhood of Holmfirth, almost every night since our last; but they have not demanded money as in the neighbourhood of Horbury and Osset. Much has been said about the prompt protection afforded by the British Government to the Portuguese, but, surely, it is full as necessary that protection should be afforded to British subjects, whose property and lives are daily outraged and endangered with impunity. This is a subject which, above all others, demands the prompt attention of Government.

On Saturday last, the inhabitants of Horbury were much alarmed in consequence of a musket, loaded with ball, having been discharged, about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, near Mr. Foster, of that place, whose Mill was destroyed some time ago. Mr. Foster conceiving that this was done intentionally, applied to a Magistrate, who issued a warrant to apprehend the person who fired the piece, Joshua Naylor, of Horbury, tailor; but it appeared, on examination before the Rev. Mr. Taylor, that though Naylor had fired a double-barrelled gun loaded with ball, yet his situation was such, that he could not have seen Mr. Foster, he was discharged, with a reprimand for his want of caution. One of the balls passed very near Mr. Foster's person.

From Huddersfield, under the date of the 11th inst. our correspondent writes:-
" The Arms-stealing system still prevails- several stand have been stolen this week.—- The Luddites are likewise very active in stealing lead- pipes, and some dying-vessels, made of lead, have been cut in pieces and carried away. In consequence of the Voluntary Association for watching and patrolling, this town is kept very quiet ; but out of the limits of the patrol, depredations are committed every night."

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