Convicted, at Lancaster, of a Riot and setting fire to the Prison, June, 1808
JOHN SHEPHERD was indicted with John Turner for having, with divers persons unknown, riotously assembled at Rochdale, and burned the prison, on the 1st of July, 1808.
Mr Park observed that it was no merit in the prisoners that they escaped a capital offence, but as no person resided in the prison it was not a dwelling-house. Circumstances had come to his knowledge, and those entrusted with the management of those trials for the Crown, respecting John Turner, they having it from undoubted authority that he had not gone among the mob with any improper motive, but had remained in company with some of them from mere idle curiosity; and as he was not a weaver they had agreed to admit him an evidence.
John Kershaw, an inhabitant of Rochdale, deposed that at noon, on the 1st of June, the town was extremely agitated by the entrance of a mob, to the number of about two hundred, which increased in the course of the day to about one thousand. Soon after they entered the town, one of them mounted on a large stone and harangued the mob; he could not hear what he said, but it appeared to please the mob in general, as they huzzaed several times. Dr Drake and Mr Entwistle, the magistrates, who in general conducted the business of that part of the county, came into the town and addressed the mob, who behaved very civilly and respectfully to the magistrates, but refused to disperse. The magistrates, in consequence, went to the house where they usually transacted their business, and swore in the witness, and about two hundred others, special constables. Two-thirds of them were, in the course of the day and night, maimed or bruised, by stones being thrown at them, and other violence exercised towards them. The rioters entered the peaceable weavers' houses and forcibly took away their shuttles. The special constables succeeded in securing some shuttles from the rioters, and deposited them, in the prison for safety, and they took five or six of the rioters before the magistrates. However, as they were conveying them to the prison they were rescued.
The windows of the room where the magistrates were sitting were broken with large stones, the stones being intended to injure the manufacturers of the town and neighbourhood, who had all resorted to the magistrates' room for safety, and not intended for the magistrates. The magistrates remained in the town till seven o'clock: at their departure the prisoners and others of the mob pulled off their hats to them, and behaved very respectfully. Soon after the magistrates were gone they behaved in a very outrageous manner. They attacked the prison -- in consequence of a number of shuttles being deposited in it for safety -- the doors of which had been supposed to be impenetrable, and set it on fire, which was understood to be also impossible, so much of it being stone. They, however, contrived to demolish it so much that it was now merely ruinous walls. After they had set the prison on fire they said they would go to the New Hall, the residence of Mr James Royds, one of the principal manufacturers, if he did not give them some money.
John Whitehead, who resides not two miles off Rochdale, said the prisoners called at his house at four o'clock the following morning, much intoxicated, and said they had got money at Rochdale, and wanted him to help them to spend it; they told him how things were going on there, and said the prison was on fire. The witness told them they would all be hanged. Shepherd said his hands had set it on fire, and showed a piece of lead, which he said was part of it.
Turner, who was admitted an evidence, said he was standing with Shepherd, opposite the prison, when it was on fire, where he observed that if any man put the fire out he would endanger his life. Shepherd told him he had got five pounds from Mr Royds; they went to Mr Deardon's for money, where a guinea was thrown out to them. At one time Shepherd asked if any man would go with him to set Charles Trot's manufactory on fire.
The jury found Shepherd guilty. He was imprisoned.