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The Stealing Of A Gun 25-07-1812

25th July 1812

WILLIAM SYKES was changed with stealing a gun in the dwelling house of John Marsh, of Meltham, on the night of the 9th of May.

 The Counsel for the Crown called William Wady, a private in the West Kent Militia, to prove a conversation in which the prisoner admitted that he was free, able, and willing to serve General Ludd. But the learned Judge said, he could not admit such irrelevant matter to be given in evidence.

James Kershaw knows the prisoner; saw him on the night of Saturday, the 9th of May, about eleven o'clock—  he had a gun in his hand, and his face black- ed. Prisoner said to him, " Well my lad will you go with me a little journey ?" Witness said, " No," But he followed him at a short distance, to see what he was about. He went to the house of John Marsh, of Meltham, about a quarter of a mile, and having roused them by knocking' at the door, said, " I am informed you have a gun here; General Ludd has sent me for it, and if yon do not deliver it up I will blow the door open." Witness heard the gun fired? The Prisoner was such intoxicated, and staggered in his walk.

 Thomas Whitley stated, that the Prisoner made the same proposal to him as to the last Witness, and said, he was going to get John Marsh and Jonas Beardsley's gun. Witness went about forty yard a with him, and turned back on the Prisoner, saying, " Ludders never speak " Witness in a short, time heard the report of a gun, which appeared to be in the direction of Mr. Marsh's house. Witness did not observe that the Prisoner was intoxicated; did not think he was John Creaser, apprentice to Mr. Marsh, stated, that he was awaked by the report of a gun; he got up, and having received the gun which his master had given to him from the lodger, he delivered it to the person at the door. Bring asked the reason of his readily giving it up, he said, there were so many reports about the Luddites, and he had been informed that they would not be denied. The firing of the gun had also made him afraid. When he delivered the gun, he said, " It has no lock;" oh which the person at the door said, "It is well; it shall be well repaired, and brought back in open day." Witness said the gun was brought back on the Monday following, but it was not repaired.
Mr. John Marsh, the master of the house, stated more precisely the terms in which; the gun was de- mended. After he had answered to the knocking at the door,, a person from without said," We are in- formed you have a gun, and we are come for it." Witness told them (for he supposed there were a number, though he only heard one voice) he had not a gun, and called to his apprentice not to give it up; but he supposes the boy did not hear him, as he gave them the gun. The gun was brought back on Monday night, by Joseph Whittley. During the time the person was at the door, he heard him call out two numbers, as if calling to somebody, but the witness only, heard the voice of one person.

Phillip Earnshaw lent the prisoner a gun belonging to his master, on the night in question; he told him it was for a bit of fun, and wished the Witness to go with him. Witness went a short distance with him, but he left him, because he had some mischief in his head, he laughed so. Witness then went to the Prisoner's house, who returned in about half an hour, and brought back another gun with him. Witness did not examine the gun of his master, to see whether it had been recently discharged.

Joseph Whittley stated, that he carried the gun back to Mr. Marsh, on Monday, the 11th of May.
This finished the case on the part of the Prosecution.
His Lordship said, he thought it unnecessary to call upon the Prisoner for his defence. There did not appear to have been any design, to steal the gun nore had use had been made of it— and it was returned to its owner before any search had been made for arms in the house of the Prisoner.  It appeared to have been an idle, but a most dangerous frolic, and for which he had been deservedly imprisoned.
The Jury concurring in this opinion, found the Prisoner- Not Guilty.

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