Account of the riots and routes taken by the marchers on 1st and 2nd February 1821 taken from the contemporary newspaper accounts of Cinderloo

Extract of map drawn by Robert Dawson in 1814 showing Coalpit Bank, Old Park and Bridge crossing the Shropshire Canal below Sneads Hill courtsey of British Library

Shrewsbury Chronicle 9/2/21

1/Large body of men marched to Madeley Wood, Dawley, etc (between 27 Jan & 1 Feb)

2/ On Saturday 2nd Feb. the Wellington Yeomanry cavalry were called out to around 3000 rioters near Old Park Works and the riot act read.

After the events reported by Salopian Journal (7/2) additional cavalry were brought in, which stopped further attacks on ironworks, but men were begging (due to lack of payment and works being shut down?) and ‘plundering’ persons and ‘depredating’ property. By Monday 5 feb no pits working nor ironworks and people hiding from view, except to see the military.

Salopian Journal 7/2/21

2a//Rioters between Dawley and Malinslee.                                                       

Rioters retreated to area between 2 cinder hills.

Some prisoners escaped, and rioters fired upon;  1 killed outright, several injured of which one died  of his wound later that day. 6 prisoners taken to Wellington, and then committed to county goal.

– Shrewsbury Chronicle 9/2/21

A further rioter died of injuries 8 feb.     

A rumour was reported that on Sunday 3 feb  small arms and cannon were held by the rioters in case the military came back — This was dismissed by the Shrewsbury Chronicle’s report around 16 feb reported 22 feb by the Worcester Journal:

We are happy to learn that the disturbances in the Collieries in Shropshire have ceased. The Shrewsbury Chronicle contains the following intelligence on the subject. – “The colliers in the vicinity of Wellington have quietly returned to their duty; and the military (except the company of the Shropshire Militia under Captain Mortimer) have taken their departure. Warrants have been issued against those men who were most active during the late tumults, and three have been committed to our goal, viz. J. Amis, J. Wilcox, and T. Palin, for tumultuously assembling and doing damage at the Old Park Works, &c. The cordial thanks of the Magistrates and inhabitants were communicated to the Wellington, Shrewsbury, Hales Owen, &c. troops of cavalry, for their promptitude, temper, and firmness. 

“We are requested to correct the statement that the late rioters possessed any cannon; they had fowling-pieces only.”

Salopian journal 28/3/21

2/ On Saturday the 2nd of February at 8.30am about 500 colliers came from the direction of Donnington Wood Works towards Botfields Old Park Iron Works, armed with sticks, some of whom entered the works for about an hour (Palin with the help of Thomas Banks damaged the patches on one boiler to let out the water, because they could not drive the plug inside the boiler- witness Samuel Peers); after which they all headed towards the Stirchley Colliery or via the Ranlea Works to  Stirchley. The plugs had all been forced out of the 3 boilers, and the steam engines had, in consequence, stopped. All 4 furnaces were stopped (causing a 12 hour delay before ironmaking could resume). They then headed to Dawley Castle Works; again, they attempted to force the plugs into the boilers, but only appeared to succeed with one. (However, the damage was such that the works, for safety, were stopped until Monday night) A larger part went towards Lightmoor, reaching there about noon and plugging 6 boilers) and the others towards Coalbrookdale, but regrouped at the Horsehay works (around 2000) before heading towards Lawley Bank where they saw the first cavalry. The men in advance fell back, and the rioters returned towards Old Park between 2 and 3pm, in greater numbers (between 2000-3000) with numbers of women and children who had joined with them.
2a/ They headed towards the mounds (Cinder Hills) at Old Park. The 2 Tonks and Palin seemed to be ringleaders.

About 2.20pm, the crowd was urged to disperse, then at around 2.35pm they called for silence and the riot act was read. After a very noisy hour, the magistrates directed that the most active who were armed with sticks should be taken into custody; Hayward, who had a large stake in his hand, Hassall and others were taken into custody by the constables, but as they were being taken in the direction of Wellington, surrounded by cavalry, the crowd was roused, and heading up the mounds either side of the road, started to throw heavy stones down upon the constables and cavalry, after which the cavalry opened fire, wounding and dispersing them. The prisoners started to escape, but most were rounded up quickly. “Most of the crowd had large sticks; the women were as violent as the men, and the language they used was indeed worse than that of the men” -Simon Barber, high constable of the Wellington division of the Hundred of Bradford.

Palin was seen by John Bayley, constable of Malinslee, when he attempted to release Hassall as he was being handcuffed – he did not appear at that time to be wounded, but on taking him into custody the following Sunday week (10th feb) he had a wounded arm. – Uriel Cooper (Cowper according to BMD records), a surgeon, had been asked to dress the wound where a ball had passed through Palin’s arm in his Donnington shop on the 3rd.

A precursor to the riot of 2nd February was the preceding riot on Friday 1st when John Wilcox with more than 200 people went from Ketley Iron works to the New Hadley or Ragfield works, which they stopped, thence to Wombridge, and finally heading to Donnington Wood, stopped the foundry, damaged a fire engine, a blast engine, and other engines and buildings at the Donnington Wood works of the Lilleshall company around 3pm.

(information from the trial witnesses)

Shrewsbury Chronicle 30/3/21

2/  Their numbers were increased to between two and three thousand.  They had collected upon some cinder hills near to the Old Park works.  The hills were of great extent and composed of pieces of iron and iron stone, which had been thrown out from the pit mouths and might have been accumulating for the past thirty years.  There might have been 100 tons of these pieces, of various sizes, some very large and heavy…..The mob had taken possession of the tops of all the surrounding hills, were armed with sticks, a behaving in a riotous manner.

Thomas Bailey (note spelling change), witness, took Palin into custody ( 10th feb).  He had a ball shot in his left shoulder, and could use his arm but little, though he could use it well when he came to the rescue of Hassall.  Mr Cooper Surgeon, at Tong, in the midst of the Iron-works.  Witness knows Palin, the prisoner.  On Saturday, 31st Feb(!). he came to his shop, and said he had been wounded. His arm was carried in a sling under a flannel shirt.  On looking at the wound, he found a ball had entered his left shoulder, and it appeared to have been done the day before.

3/ Trial testimony:  Robt. Wright was called on behalf of the prisoner Hayward, who, deposed to the prisoner being at his house on the 2nd February, at Potters Bank, half a mile from Cinder Hill, from ten or eleven o’clock in the morning till three in the afternoon. On cross-examination –  Witness said he remembers the time because he happened to look at the clock; Hayward and he are company keepers and frequently spent the day together at Witness’s house:  Prisoner asked Witness if he would go with him along the Bank.  The Counsel asked the witness if that was not one way to Cinder Hill?  Witness said he believed it was.  Counsel “rather sharp work you found there, did you not?”  The Prisoner was about to prevaricate when the Counsel again addressed him:  “Remember  young man, a person may say in THAT place (pointing to the witness’s box)  what may soon lead him into THAT (pointing to the prisoner’s bar).  “Now tell me sir, were you not going to Cinder Hill?”  Witness replied they were going that road.

[This may have been the reason Hayward did not, in fact,  end up facing the death penalty – because he had a witness to say that he was not part of the riots up until he joined at the cinder hills, even though he there stood out in the crowd.]

John Wilcox was charged with riotous assembly at Donnington Wood Iron Works, destroying the works, and compelling the men to leave their work.  This prisoner was capitally indicted under an Act made for the protection of Mines, and property belonging to Mines; but in course of the evidence it appeared, that the property which the prisoner, in company with numerous other persons had destroyed, could not be proved to be connected at all with the working of the Mines, and consequently not coming under the Act.  The boilers which they plugged were the means by which the steam was created which worked the blast engines.  These were not used in the working of the mines, but in the manufacture or iron, the blast engines working the furnaces which fuse the iron-stone.  The Judge addressing the Jury said, the prisoner was indicted under an Act which made it felony to destroy or injure any mines, or property used in the working of mines; and it was his duty to inform them, that they were not to put a liberal construction upon such statute, but to stick to the pure letter of the law; and it they did so, they could not convict the prisoner upon the present charge, the property destroyed having been proved not such as the Act intended. – The prisoner was accordingly acquitted, and on being arraigned on the lesser indictment for rioting, pleaded guilty.

John Amies this was a similar case to the above.  The prisoner pleaded guilty to the riot.  They were severally sentenced to 9 month’s imprisonment.

JOSEPH ECCLESHALL, JOHN GRAINGER, CHRISTOPHER NORTH, JOHN PAYNE, ROBERT WHEELER together with Palin and Hayward , were arraigned on an indictment charging them with having together with a number of other persons riotously and tumultuously assembled in the parish of Dawley on the 2nd of Feb last, and with having remained one hour after the Riot Act had been read.  There were several counts, charging the prisoners with damaging engineers, reasoning persons taken into custody by the constables, etc.

Hayward and Palin were afterwards arraigned on a separate indictment, the capital charge of illegally, riotously and tumultuously assembling, &c together with upwards of 500 other persons, and remaining so assembled one hour after the Riot Act had been read.

Judge’s summing up –

.  The prisoners were indicted under an Act which had been passed about 100 years ago against the riotously assembling of large bodies of people to the injury of their neighbours, and if such persons being warned by proclamation to disperse, continue still to remain for the space of one hour, they are declared guilty of felony.  It was thought a wise and necessary law at the time it was passed.  The prisoners stand charged specifically with the crime of remaining on the ground in the manner named in the indictment after the close of the time appointed by law, and notwithstanding all the remonstrance’s and entreaties of the Magistrates for them to disperse.  so that the whole of the evidence which had been laid before them was merely to point out to them the nature of the disturbances, which were the immediate cause of the commission of the crime for which the prisoners now stood upon their trial.  The material points for the Jury to be satisfied upon were, whether the persons had assembled together in a tumultuous manner and remained upon the spot one hour after the reading of the Riot Act.  Whether they heard it read or not is of no consequence.  It that were necessary, nothing could be more easy than to evade the infringement of such a law…….  He would not say but the men had a right humbly and respectfully to state to their masters that their wages were too low, and that if they were not raised they must quit their employment, but not to assemble together in a riotous and tumultuous manner to demand an increase.  Such proceedings must have quite a contrary effect to what it was intended to produce.  The Proprietors of the Works could only give wages according to the quantity of work done; and if the works were destroyed, instead of increasing their wages they give none at all.  His Lordship recapitulated the evidence , which, he said, was decisive as to the fact of a riotous assemblage, and observed that it could only be ascribed to the good Providence of God that no deaths were occasioned by the Cinders and Stones, hurled by the Rioters.  His Lordship concluded by saying if the Jury were satisfied, from the evidence, that the prisoners were at the assembly and actively engaged, they would do their duty to their country by pronouncing them Guilty; but if any doubts existed in their minds, they would give them the benefit of such doubts by acquitting them. 

In a few minutes the Jury declared both the Prisoners – GUILTY.

After hearing the evidence, The Council for the prosecution now rose and said, that the prosecutors thinking the ends of justice had been sufficiently obtained by the conviction of two of the offenders, were unwilling to pursue the trials any further.  The remainder of the prisoners, Christopher North, John Grainger, Joseph Eccleshall, John Payne, and Robert Wheeler, were then acquitted of the capital charge, and pleaded guilty to the riot; when they received sentence of 9 month’s imprisonment.

Hayward received a reprieve on 2 April (Shrewsbury Chronicle fri 6th  April, also Chester Courant 10 April 1821) – “The reprieve of S. Hayward, under sentence of Death for riot &c. at Wellington, was received on Monday*.  T. Palin remains for execution, and manifests great contrition.  We are requested to contradict a published report which has made a painful impression upon the mind of this unfortunate man and his friends, viz ”that his grand-father was executed for a similar offence.”  The grand father of Palin is now living with a son, at Lilleshall-hill, near Newport, and the grandfather of Mrs Palin, (T. Adderley) resides at Madeley Wood.”

With thanks to Joy Stocks from the Cinderloo 1821 genealogy project for the research

One thought on “Account of the riots and routes taken by the marchers on 1st and 2nd February 1821 taken from the contemporary newspaper accounts of Cinderloo

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  1. Early in this account a man by the name of Hassall is mentioned two or three times. My grandmother’s name before marriage, was Harriet Hassall, and I know my Great Grandfather was Henry Hassall born to Thomas Hassall and Anne January 1851 at Whitchurch, Shropshire. Henry came to Manchester for work I take it and married my great grandmother Martha in 1871. I have had very little success getting any further in tracing my Hassall ancestors, would be grateful for any info about the man mentioned in the account, as he may have been Henry’s grandfather. Thank you anyone who may throw some light on this Hassall.


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