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Memoirs of Henry Hunt, Esq. Volume 3 by Henry Hunt

Part 8 out of 8

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subscriptions would be misapplied; all of which predictions have been
verified to the very letter. Mr. Harmer did not arrive till after we
had undergone the final hearing before the Magistrates, till they had
abandoned the charge of High Treason, till we had been sentenced to
Lancaster Castle, after having undergone an imprisonment of eleven days'
solitary confinement; he did not arrive till all this had taken place,
and we had been bailed and returned from Lancaster; all this had
occurred, and we might have all been committed to Lancaster Castle
for High Treason, several days before Mr. Harmer, the Attorney of the
Trinitarian Rump Committee, reached Manchester, if it had not been for
the assistance of Mr. Pearson and my own personal exertions.

Bills of Indictment were preferred before the Grand Jury at Lancaster,
against Owen, Platt, and Derbyshire, for perjury. The first was found a
true bill, although bills against the two others were ignored upon the
very same evidence. Bills were also preferred against several of the
Yeomanry Cavalry, for cutting and maiming men, women, and children, in
the most wanton, cruel, and murderous way, on the 16th of August, not
only at the meeting on St. Peter's Plain, but likewise in various parts
of Manchester; and, in one or two instances, for cutting and maiming
those who had never been at the meeting at all, and who were merely
standing at their own doors, looking at the military, who were hunting,
driving, cutting and slaying in all directions, regardless of age or
sex. All the bills, notwithstanding they were supported by the most
unquestionable testimony, and all the parties were identified, ALL, ALL
of them were ignored and thrown out by a Lancashire Grand Jury, the
foreman of which was Lord Stanley, the great Whig Member for that
County. Lord Stanley is the eldest son of Lord Derby, who is a regular
supporter of the Whigs in the House of Lords, and Lord Stanley is a
regular supporter of all Whig measures in the House of Commons.
This Whig, Lord Stanley, was also one of the most violent against a
parliamentary inquiry into the transaction, when the question was
brought before the House of Commons.--The Lord deliver us from the
tender mercies of the Whigs, I say!

The bill that was preferred by the Crown, against myself and others, for
attending the Manchester meeting, was found immediately, and bail to a
heavy amount was required for the appearance of all the parties at the
Assizes; which bail could never have been obtained for many of the
party, who were very poor men, had it not been for the magnanimous and
truly generous conduct of Sir Charles Wolseley. He not only, in the
first instance, came to Manchester to bail me, but he remained at
Manchester, assisting in causing the bloody Yeomanry to be indicted, and
he went to Lancaster, and attended the whole time, and at length became
the voluntary bail for every one that could not procure it otherwise.
This was really acting a true, noble, manly, and patriotic part! Sir
Charles actually saved several of those who were indicted with me from
remaining in prison from September to the following March. By
his magnanimous behaviour he proved himself to be in reality, an
independent, upright Radical, a real friend to justice and humanity. In
this affair, Sir Charles Wolseley did more to serve the cause of Liberty
and the People, than was done by all the Aristocracy and all the Country
Gentlemen in England put together.

Sixteen persons had been murdered, and upwards of Six Hundred had been
badly wounded, on the Sixteenth of August. Coroners' Inquests had been
held, without effect, upon several of the bodies! "They all died a
Natural Death!" till, at last, an Inquest was held at Oldham, on the
body of John Lees. This Inquest was attended by Mr. Harmer, and, at the
end of the third or fourth day, the evidence was so conclusive, that the
Jury were prepared to have returned their verdict of Wilful Murder! but,
by some extraordinary fatality, by some unaccountable cause, Mr. Harmer
kept calling fresh witnesses, and the Inquest was adjourned from day
to day, and from place to place, for a month, and after the last
adjournment, they never met again. As the Petition of Robert Lees, the
father of the murdered man, speaks fully for itself, and will explain
this very curious circumstance better than any thing that I can say, I
shall conclude the subject by inserting it at full length, as follows:--

"TO TO THE HONOURABLE THE COMMONS OF THE UNITED
KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, IN PARLIAMENT
ASSEMBLED.

The HUMBLE PETITION of ROBERT LEES,
Of OLDHAM, in the County Palatine of LANCASTER,
Cotton-spinner,

SHEWETH, That your Petitioner's son, John Lees, a
youth twenty-two years of age, having attended the
meeting held at Manchester on the 16th of August last,
was, as your Petitioner is led to believe, without any just
cause or provocation, most inhumanly attacked and cut by
Yeomanry Cavalry, and afterwards most unmercifully
beaten with the clubs or batons of Police and Special Constables,
and also trampled upon by the horses of the Cavalry,
whereby he was so much injured, that he was, from
that time, incapable of attending to his ordinary employment,
and lingered in pain and debility until the night of
the 6th of September following, when he died.

That the Surgeon who attended your Petitioner's
son having certified that his death was occasioned by violence,
several householders in Oldham and the neighbouring
townships were served, late in the evening of the
7th of September, with summonses from the Coroner of
the district, to attend the next morning at half-past ten
o'clock, to serve as Jurors on an inquest to be held on the
body of your said Petitioner's son. At the time appointed
the said Jurors assembled, and were met by a person
named BATTYE, who attended as Deputy for the said Coroner,
for the purpose of inquiring into the cause of the
death of your Petitioner's son; and, having sworn the
Jury, he went with them to take a view of the body. But,
finding that several witnesses had arrived from Manchester,
to give evidence upon the said inquiry, he refused to proceed
in the inquest; and having adjourned the same for
three hours, he, at the expiration of that time, further
adjourned until the 10th day of the same month, when the
said BATTYE promised, that either Mr. FERRAND, his employer,
or Mr. MILNE, a neighbouring Coroner, should
certainly attend and proceed in the investigation.

"That, on the next day, a Surgeon attended, by the direction
of the said Mr. BATTYE, to open and examine the
body of your Petitioner's son; and he was then allowed
to be interred.

"That, on the 10th day of September, the Jury again
assembled; but, although Mr. MILNE attended, he refused
to interfere in the business, as he said it did not belong to his
district; and the inquest was further adjourned until the 25th
day of the same month. And, during this interval, some of
the Manchester newspapers inserted the vilest falsehoods,
to depreciate the reputation of the deceased, with a view,
as your Petitioner believes, to extinguish every feeling of
sympathy for his fate.

"That, on the said 25th day of September, Mr. FERRAND
attended; and, after swearing the Jury, and ascertaining
from them that they had all seen the body, he proceeded to
examine witnesses; but, in the course of the investigation,
he adjourned several times for days together, without any
reasonable or probable cause, and merely, as your Petitioner
believes, to harass and tire out the witnesses, who
came day after day a considerable distance to give
testimony.

"That, in detailing his complaint to your Honourable
House, your Petitioner exceedingly regrets he should be
Please note

All known copies of volume 3 are "imperfect" and are "wanting
after page 640".

It is possible that these pages were suppressed as they were
"written by himself in H'.M's Jail at Ilchester".

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