Ward's account continued.......
Religion and justice must be exhibited as public victims on the alter of Chartist divinity. Accordingly the parsonage of the Rev. R. E. Aitkens in Hanley, and Albion House in Shelton, the residences of William Parker, Esq., one of the county magistrates, were, with all their valuable furniture, burnt and destroyed. The offices of Earl Granville in Shelton shared the same fate. The morning of the 16th discovered their smoking ruins. The mob, after the excesses of the night, slowly congregated at their usual place of rendezvous, and were addressed in violent language by Ellis, a local Chartist, who encouraged them to proceed in their laudable career till the Charter was established as the law of the land. It appears the Chartist emissaries had made previous arrangements for a general inroad of their forces on the morning of this day in the town of Burslem. A large body from Macclesfield and Congleton bivouacked during the night in the streets of Leek, and pressed all they could lay hold of the accompany them. These were to form a junction at Burslem with the Hanley brigade. The latter entered Burslem at about nine o'clock in formidable numbers, and immediately forced the George Inn, rifled the money drawers, and being then driven out by a few soldiers, broke all the front windows of the house. This was the second serious injury of the kind which Mr. Barlow, the landlord, had sustained within a few days, his house having been one of the objects of attack on the morning of the 7th.
The town of Burslem was fortunately prepared for a proper reception of the Banditti. A small troop of the 2nd Dragoon Guards had arrived there from Newcastle, under the command of Major Trench, and a large body of volunteers, from among the friends of law and social order of all classes of society, had been hastily organized as special constables, by the praiseworthy exertions of Samuel Alcock, Esq., he chief constable of Burslem.
About the time of the arrival of the Hanley mob, Capt. Powys, an active magistrate, aware of their movements, rode into the town, and under his directions the troop of Dragoons were assembled, and the constables called out. The military as the proceeded to form were assailed by the populace, The riot act was then read by Captain Powys, and after an interval of about an hour , passed in preparing and skirmishing, the mob from Leek arrived with which the Hanley forces formed a junction on their approach. Their united phalanx numbered from 6000 to 8000 men, armed with cudgels, or furnished with stones, eager to repeat the scenes of spoliation and destruction which had been acted the preceding day in other parts of the Borough. The military were drawn up at the entrance into the market-place from Leek, opposite to "The Big House", with the special constables in their rear. The mob advanced upon them, brandishing their cudgels and discharging at them collies of stones; their fury and numbers could be checked only by the weapons of the soldiers. They were ordered to fire on the insurgents, when one man fell dead upon the spot, another received a wound all but mortal, and several others wounded less or more, ran or were carried away, some of whom are supposed to have afterwards died. A charge was made by the Dragoons and constables upon the rioters, who then dispersed in all directions, and thus the authority of the law vindicated, and anarchy subdued at Burslem on the memorable 16th of August, 1842.
Sturdy bands of the discomfited mob went about the country for some days afterwards, terrifying and plundering wherever they came, and robberies and burglaries were committed to a great extent. The slow, but no less sure, arm of the law however followed these proceedings, and the county jail was soon filled with prisoners. Cooper and Ellis were apprehended, the former in Leicester, the latter in Glasgow, and Ellis was committed on a charge of high treason (but which was finally relinquished, and he indicted and convicted of arson). A special commission was appointed for trial of the delinquents concerned in these outrages, with others of a less aggravated kind committed in the South of Staffordshire. The trials occupied three learned judges, sitting in three separate Courts, for the space of a fortnight (i.e. from the 1st to the 15th of October).
Sir W. Follett, Solicitor-General, with several auxiliary Counsel, conducted the prosecutions, which were carried on at the sole expense of the Government and superintended by the Solicitor to the Treasury. Many acquittals took place, rather from the humanity of the judges than from defect of evidence; but enough was done to satisfy the demands of justice, and the following Table contains the results of this special Gaol-delivery:-
Sentenced to transportation for life... 11 ditto ditto 21 years.. 13 ditto ditto 15 years.. 9 ditto ditto 10 years.. 18 ditto ditto 7 years.. 3 Total transported........... 54 Imprisonment to hard labour for various terms...... 146 ditto without hard labour.... 8 Acquitted..... 55 Discharged on bail..... 1 Traversed to next assizes..... 2 Discharged on recognizances.... 2 ditto by proclamation..... 6 Total...... 274
Of the 56 North Staffordshire men transported, 21 were potters and 19 miners (in far greater proportion than their numbers in the population, reflecting the importance of their industrial dispute in the troubles). Many of those who experienced punishment suffered severely and often took no further part in politics. John Richards was an exception. On his release from Stafford Gaol on 11 th May 1844, his journey home through Longton and Hanley was celebrated by thousands of spectators and two days later he recommenced his work with a lecture to the inhabitants of Hanley and Shelton.