'Sacheverell' riots, Wrexham, 1710

NLW Great Sessions gaolfiles
Examinations of witnesses (unfoliated file)

[31 March 1710, before J K Kyle]

[Elizabeth wife of John Evans of Wrexham, tailor, says]... that she being on Monday last ye 27th instant in the shop of one John Berrington of Wrexham aforesd mercer she then heard one Edward Hughes alias Francis a cooper (whom this deponent had heard was concern'd in ye late tumult) discoursing with severall other persons then present who then declared yt if any warrant was served upon him wee (meaning (as this deponent tooke it) himselfe and his accomplices yn present) will pull down ye meeting house and be the death of some of them for that he had done nothing but carry ye fire or words to yt effect. [mark]

[Joseph Nicholas, Wrexham, shoemaker, says]... that he this deponent sitting in his house in Wrexham aforesaid on Fryday night last being ye 24th of March instant about eleven of ye clock at night this deponent heard a great noise or shout of people in the street and soon after saw severall stones cast in thro' the windows of this deponents said house which together with the glass broke thereby came in soe fast that this deponent was forced to remove into another roome for his own safety and the noise in some little time abating this deponent adventured to ye doore of his said house to see who had broke his said window where this deponent saw about two or three hundred persons passing along ye streets with a drum beating and musick playing who soon after returning back by this deponents said doore the ringleaders of them being armed with staves threatned this deponent and one of them with a stone struck this deponent on ye breast insomuch yt this deponent was forced to fly into his said house for shelter whereupon the said rioters again broke this deponents windows with sticks and stones and this deponent being the next morning in his said house heard Edward Hughes alias Francis a cooper Richard Gerrard a glazier John Shefton alias Chetwood a shoemaker and John Manuel a bodycemaker (all of Wrexham aforesaid and whom this deponent had ye night before seen leading the said rioters) discoursing together about the said riot who then engaged ymselves mutually each to ye other to stand by each other in further carrying on ye worke they had the night before begun and then declared they would meet again in a few dayes to doe more mischiefe or to that effect the said Edward Hughes at that time declareing himselfe sorry he had not done more and encouraging the rest by promising to stand by them. And this deponent further maketh oath yt dureing ye time of the said tumult on Fryday night aforesaid this deponent saw one John ap Arthur of Wrexham aforesd skinner among ye leaders of ye said rioters and that one William Howell haveing then in this deponents hearing reproved the said rioters for such their proceedings the said John ap Arthur threatned to beat ye said William Howell in case he watched ye said rioters any longer giving him a great deale of opprobrious and abusive language for the same. [mark]

[Daniel Humphreyes, Wrexham, feltmaker, says]... that he this deponent being in this deponetns house in ye beast markett in Wrexham aforesd on Fryday last being the 24th instant at ten of ye clock at night heard a great shout of people in ye street upon which this deponent repaired to ye doore of his said house and there saw a great number of people comeing up the said street with a drum beating and musick playing and this deponent then saw one Edward Hughes alias Francis a cooper in the said town of Wrexham then carrying a barrell or firkin advanced upon a pole with burning fire blazing thereing along the streets over the heads of the said rioters and this deponent then also saw Thomas Pritchard Henry Hughes and John Shefton alias Chelwood of Wrexham aforesd shoemakers advanceing at the head of the said rioters armed with great sticks and comeing to ye house of one Joseph Buttall being opposite to this deponents said house with their said sticks did breake the windows of the said Joseph Buttall in severall places and upon the rest of the said rioters comeing up towards the said house they ran in among them one of them then declaring in this deponents hearing that thereby they should not be known or words to that effect [autograph]

[Hugh Roberts and Richard Jones, both of Wrexham, shoemakers, say]... that they ye sd deponents hearing that great numbers of people were gott together in the said towne of Wrexham on Fryday ye 24th of March instant about nine a clock at night in a riotous and tumultuous manner and these deponents fearing they had some designe to pull downe or doe some damage to the meeting house where these deponents with others were wont to meet for divine worship these deponents came out of their respective houses to use their endeavours to prevent the same and being come to the said meeting house these deponents saw great numbers of people (to the number of five hundred as near as they could guess) convened together in a riotous manner passing along the streets with beat of drum and musick playing who haveing broke such of ye windows of the said meeting house as they could come att passed on further upon which these deponents returned to their respective houses where these deponents were again after ten of ye clock ye same night alaramed with the noise of the said rioters returning again towards the said meeting house (as these deponents apprehended) upon which they again went to see what ye rioters would doe and being come to the lower end of ye Beast Markett Street at the signe of the Plume of Feathers they severally heard a cry or shrieke of a woman affrighted (as they severally apprehended) at ye house of ye widdow Barnett being then but a small distance from them to which place they imediately repaired and then found one John Roberts a gardiner in Wrexham aforesaid one of ye sd rioters and in their company endeavouring to force open a halfe doore that leads into the shop of the said Mrs Barnett one of ye daughters of ye sd Mrs Barnett endeavouring to hinder him and that they the said deponents asking him what business he had in ye said shop he replyed with an oath that he would goe in and the deponents or one of ym pulling him back from the said door found a pistoll in his hand and yt they ye said deponents goeing into ye sd house found the windows of ye kitching of ye sd house and also some of ye barrs of ye sd windows broken by ye sd rioters as they verily believe and also found a great number of large stones which appeared to have been cast in thro' ye same... [autographs]

[3 April 1710, before J K Kyle]

[John Clubb, Wrexham, mason, says]... that on Fryday night the twenty fourth of March last past this deponent hearing between nine & ten of ye clock at night that great numbers of people were gathered together in a riotous manner and passed with beat of drum along the streets towards the new meeting house in Wrexham aforesd this deponent went to ye school yard near ye same to see what they would doe and then saw one Robert Cecill of Wrexham aforesaid labourer (being amongst ye sd rioters) cast stones at the windows of the said meeting house wch struck ye shutters yt covered the same and this deponent then heard the noise of glass breaking or falling down on the inside of the said shutters... [autograph]

[John Jones, Wrexham, glover, says]... that on Fryday last being the thirty first day of March aforesaid he this deponent saw great numbers of persons mett together armed wth staves in Wrexham aforesaid in a riotous & tumultuous manner and that among others of the said rioters this deponent then saw ye sd Robert Cecill armed wth a great stick & marching along among the said rioters and this deponent then also saw one Edward Hughes alias Francis a cooper in Wrexham aforesd (agt whom this deponent had heard a warrant was issued from ye right honourable the chiefe justice of Chester &c for being concerned in ye riot above mencioned to have been comitted on ye 24th of ye same month of March) att the head of the said rioters armed with a great stick and this deponent believes he comanded or influenced ye rest for yt this deponent heard him give an answer to ye high sherriffe of ye sd county of Denbigh as speaking not onely for himselfe but for all ye rest of ye sd rioters and declaring they stood up in ye defence of ye Church or words to yt effect... [autograph]

[It seems that none of the rioters was subsequently prosecuted - or, at least, not in the county's courts - as there are no indictments in the Denbighshire Great Sessions files.]

The National Archives, SP 34/12/34
Letter from Sir Joseph Jekyll (Chief Justice of Chester) to ? (London government), at Wrexham, 4 April 1710

... I find myselfe under a further obligation of acquainting your lopp that on Fryday the 24th past, a great rabble of this town got together to rejoice as they said for the mild sentence against Dr Sacheverell. The news of the sentence that day coming by the post; they made bon-fires and went with a drum before 'em to severall of the dissenters houses, & broke their windows, and allso those of the meeting house, & offered to break into one house, but in that was prevented; This was before I came to this place, when I came latter I found there had been some warrants issued by the neighbouring justices of the peace, but none of the offenders were in custody; I therefore issued my warrt to apprehend all those, of whom I could get any information (who were eight persons) which the high constable, the officer that received the warrt was no sooner endeavouring to execute, but a rabble rose again, excited by some of those mentioned in the warrant, upon which I ordered the sheriffe with what power of the county he could presently get together to goe and suppress this insurreccon, and endeavour to apprehend the leaders of it. The sheriffe tho' very unwillingly went, and upon his appearing they imediately ran away and dispersed, but about an hour after got together again, whereupon I sent again to the sheriffe and ordered him to goe a second time which he did and again disperst them but brought no prisoners along with him. This was upon Fryday last and ever since they have been very quiet; tho but one of the offenders only is in custody the rest being fled, and he for ought appears not concerned in these latter tumults. I have taken a great many affidts which when I come to town I beg leave I may lay before your lopp. I have likewise examined as many persons as I could, and if I could have gained any information that any of the offenders were seen to offer violence to more then one house which might have been an evidence of a generall design the offence might have been high treason, but none could prove that. I am very sorry I have so much reason to attribute these outrages on the fomenting them at least to some of the clergy in these parts I have heard but one sermon since I came into the circuit which had not in it broad hints of the hardships the clergy lay under or in other words of the dangers of the church: but Mr Jones the curate of this place came up almost to Mr Cornwall tho' he took care to soften or intricate his expressions so as to screen himselfe from a tryall prosecution; this I thought my selfe obliged to take publick notice of, especially for that this was at a time when in contempt of the royall authority administred by judges of assize these unexampled disorders had been comitted; this had so good an effect that some of the principals of the grand jury came to my lodgings and in the name of the grand jury expresst their dislike of this sermon, which I mentioned afterwards in court when the grand jury was present, tho I can't say they intended I should make it publick, and at the same time I took notice of the good temper of the vicar of the parish who had endeavoured to prevent those rejoicings which had given rise to these tumults, and upon my sending for him had expresst a great concern for the ill behavior of his curate In what manner the persons concerned in these disorders shall be prosecuted is most humbly submitted to her maties wisdom, and when insolence joyned with a hypocritical zeal has arrived to this pitch all the care imaginable seems to be required to put a stop to it, In the mean time nothing on my part shall be wanting to prevent or oppose these practices ...