Murder of William Horsfall by Luddites, 1812













Murdered by Luddites

Newspaper report on the murder of William Horsfall


30 April 1812

Published in a Leeds newspaper 



On Tuesday evening last, about half past six o’clock, as Mr. WILLIAM HORSFALL, a very extensive Woollen Manufacturer, at Marsden, about seven miles from Huddersfield, was returning from the market at that place, he was assassinated on the public road, on Crossland [sic] Moor.

The circumstances as stated to us by an eye-witness of this most barbarous Murder are these:-

Mr Horsfall and a Manufacturer of the name of Eastwood, had left Huddersfield together, and at a short distance before they came to the fatal spot, Mr Eastwood stopped to water his horse, while Mr. Horsfall rode leisurely along the road; soon after he had part the Warren Inn, a distance of about a mile and a half from Huddersfield, on the Manchester road, four men, each armed with a horse pistol, appeared in a small plantation, and placed the barrels of their pistols in appertures [sic] in the wall, apparently prepared for that purpose; the muzzle of two of these pieces Mr Horsfall distinctly saw, but before he had time to extricate himself from his perilous situation, they all four fired, and inflicted four wounds in the left side of their victim, who instantly fell from his horse, and the blood flowed from the wounds in torrents. A number of passengers, both horse and foot rushed almost instantly to the spot, and, after disentangling his foot from the stirrup, he was with some difficulty got to the Inn.

The Murderers, after they had perpetrated the sanguinary deed, walked to the distance of some yards, and soon after briskening their speed, they ran towards Dungeon Wood, and entirely escaped undiscovered, no pursuit or search having been made after them, till the arrival of a troop of the Queen’s Bays about three quarters of an hour afterwards. One of the Assassins is described to us as about 6 feet high, another as a low portly man, and the two others as about five feet six or seven inches high, and rather slender; they all wore dark coarse woollen cloth coats, and appeared to be working men.

From a professional Gentleman, who was called in to visit Mr. Horsfall, we learn, that three of the wounds, out of the four, were slight, and unattended with danger, but the fourth, which was made by a musket ball, proved fatal to him. The ball struck the lower part of the belly on the left side; but did not appear to have entered the cavity. It passed behind the integuments, on obliquely downwards towards the right groin; and then penetrating the thigh, passed behind the bone towards the skin, whence it was extracted. He was much exhausted at first, by the loss of blood but on the following day (Wednesday,) was so far recruited as to afford some slight hopes of his recovery. In the course of Wednesday night, however, a fresh bleeding seemed to have taken place, and saw the thigh become largely swoln [sic], with some appearance of incipient mortification. On Thursday morning, betwixt eight and nine o’clock, he expired, having retained, till within a short time of his death, the perfect possession of his faculties.

Mr Horsfall had a very large Woollen Manufactory at Marsden, wherein about 400 work people were employed; and in a part of his premises there are Shearing Machines, which have been erected about seven years and have attained considerable perfection; this circumstance, with the additional one of his unremitting activity in detecting, and bringing to justice the persons engaged in the attack at Rawfolds, and other Mills, had rendered him obnoxious in a high degree to the machine destroyers, who knowing his premises were too well defended to justify an attack on his property, committed a crime against his person, that will embitter every future day of their existence, and that will, in all probability, through the retributive justice of that Being, from whom no secrets are hid, bring the blood-stained perpetrators of this worst of crimes, to an ignominious end.

A reward of £2000 will, we understand, be offered immediately to any person who will give such information as will lead to the conviction of any one or more of the four men concerned in the murder of Mr. Horsfall.