The Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Monday, November 3, 1856
British Newspaper Archive BL_0000250_18561103_010_0003.pdf

The following case was partly heard on Saturday at the town hall, before T. Dunn, W. Fisher, and R. N. Philipps, Esqs.:–

John Harris, file grinder, was charged with having committed wilful [sic] and deliberate perjury in evidence given by him before a bench of magistrates on the 18th and 19th August inst.  The facts of the case were these:–Harris was a member of the file-grinders’ union, but he ceased to pay to its funds, alleging that he could not afford, as work had fallen off.  Joseph Rolley, the prosecutor in this case, was secretary to the file-grinders’ union, and in the discharge of the duties of his office he waited upon Harris for his “natty” money on several occasions prior to August, and was told by that party that he could not pay, whereupon Rolley, it was alleged, told him on the 4th of August that if he did not pay, he (Rolley) should be like to give an order to have him stopped.  Harris said that he replied to this:  “If thou does, I shall look to thee for it if my things go.”  No if Rolley did day that “he should be like to give and order to have Harris stopped,” the law holds that that is a threat punishable by imprisonment, inasmuch as it would be construable to mean to force the man threatened to contribute to a common fund.  So Rolley was up before the bench on the 18th of August for having made use of this threat; besides which it was alleged in that case that a few days after the treat was used by Rolley, Harris’s bands, nuts, and screws were taken away, thereby “stopping” Harris most effectually from working.  The perjury now alleged was that what Harris swore as to the threat was untrue, and that no threat could have been used, inasmuch as Rolley never spoke to Harris on the 4th of August.  But, however, in that case the bench considered the charge against Rolley proved, and ordered his imprisonment for one month.  Against that conviction an appeal was made, and that appeal ought to have been heard at the late Doncaster quarter sessions, but when the case was called Harris did not appear, and the conviction was quashed.  then came this information for perjury.

Mr. Chambers was for the prosecution, and Mr. C. Branson for the defendant.

Mr. Chambers, in opening the case, said that the perjury of the defendant had perilled the liberty and reputation of his client, Rolley.  After stating the facts of the case (which are substantially given above), Mr. Chambers proceeded to read what took place on the first hearing of the case, on the 18th of August.  These were the short-hand notes of Mr. Earle, reporter of the Daily Telegraph, and whom he should call to prove their accuracy. After stating the result of that inquiry, the appeal, &c., Mr. Chambers said he should call evidence to show that no threat was made use of to Harris by Rolley; and if he proved that he should have made out his case.

The first witness called was Mr. Earle, of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, who read his short-hand notes of what took place before the bench on the 18th of August.  On that day Harris said–“Some twelve or fourteen weeks ago I was joined to the file-grinders’ club, and paid 6s. per week.  Since then work fell off suddenly, and I could not pay.  Rolley came to me about six or eight weeks back, and asked me to pay up.  he is secretary.  A fortnight to day he came to my place where I work: he has come every week.  the last time he came I said it was not use his coming any more, for i could not pay.  I have not seen  him since.  He came about a fortnight ago, and asked me if I had any money for him?  I said, “no; I could not pay the way we were going on now.’   A fortnight ago he said he should give an order for having me stopped if I could not pay.  he meant to say that he would have my things taken, so that I could not work–that he would have me rattened.  When i went to the warehouse next morning he had been to M. Wing to see if he could not have me turned away, and another man put on in my place.  Mr. Wing’s manager told me that.  Since then my bands have gone, and my nuts and screws have gone off the axeltrees.  They were taken last Thursday night.  They were there on Thursday night when I left work at seven o’clock.  On Friday morning they were gone.  I did not go to see any one about them.  I took out this warrant instead.”–The witness was cross-examined at some length, and an attempt was made to invalidate the accuracy of his short-hand notes by comparison with the report of the case as it appeared in the Independent, but the attempt failed.

Joseph Rolley said, I am a file-grinder, and reside in Duke-street, Harvest-lane.  I am collector of contributions for the File Grinders’ Society.  John Harris was a member of that society.  He gave over paying in the course of last year.   I called at the place where he works every week until the 22nd of July.  On that day he said, “Thou has no occasion to call any more, for I shall not pay any more until things is altered.”–Did you ever call upon him again?  I called at the wheel where other persons work, and asked the others but never asked him.  I generally called on a Monday at their wheel.  I went to the Soho wheel on Monday, the 4th of August.  I saw John Harris, John Mappin, Adam Walton, William Brown, and Richard Otley.  They were all standing together.  I passed them and went into Otley’s hull, expecting to find Benj. Wood there; but there was no one in but the boys.  I came out again and asked Walton for his contribution.  He paid me.  Whilst I was talking [to Walton] Harris went away to his own hull door.  I talked a few minutes with Walton.  Otley and I left the yard together.  I went home.  I left Otley in the other wheel yard.  I did not speak to John Harris at all that day.–Did you say to him, “unless thou pays I shall have to stop thee?”  No.–Did you say to him, “I shall give an order for having thee stopped if thou cannot pay,” or words to that effect?  No.–Did you ever apply to Messrs. Wing, or either of them, to have Harris turned away and another man put in his place?  No, I did not.–Did you ever say anything to Messrs. Wing about Harris?  Yes; I went to Messrs. Wings in May, and saw Mr. Wing and his manager.  I asked what the earnings of Harris had been for the last month.  The manager said if I wanted to know anything about Harris I must bring him with me.  I then went away.  I never applied to either Mr. Wing or his manager to get Harris turned away.–Did you ever say that if he did not pay his contributions he should be stopped?  No–Did you ever say that if he didn’t pay his “natty” money he should be stopped, or words to that effect?  No.–Were you directly or indirectly instrumental in his tools being removed?  No.

After some argument it was arranged that Mr. Branson should have the right to reserve his cross-examination of this or of any subsequent witness.

John Mappin, file grinder, Crookes-moor, said: I worked at Crofts wheel in August for Adam Walton. On Monday, the 4th of August, I was at Crofts wheel.  Walton’s is the next hull but one to Harris’s.  On that day I saw Walton, Brown, Harris, and Otley talking together in Crofts wheel yard.  We were all talking together when I saw Rolley come into the yard and walk past us. Rolley spoke to no one as he went past.  He looked into Adam Walton’s hull, and when he came out John Harris walked away from us and went to his own hull door.  Rolley spoke to Walton about his contribution, and he gave it him.  Otley and Rolley then walked out of the yard together.  When they had gone Harris came back and began his conversation with me, Walton, and Brown.  I was present when Rolley came in and went out of the yard.  He came about half-past eleven, and was not in the yard more than five or ten minutes.  Rolley never spoke to Harris at all.  I can swear most positively that he never spoke to Harris.  If he had spoken to him I must have heard him.–By Mr. Branson:  I never heard Rolley make a threat to anybody.–Mr. Branson: Of course not; he wasn’t going to let you hear him make a threat.–Witness: He never did make a threat at all.–By Mr. Chambers: Did Rolley, when he first came up, ask for contributions from any party?  No; we were all talking together, and did not take much notice.  We were all very comfortable.–If a threat had been used should you have heard it?  Yes.  He never spoke to Harris at all.–By Mr. Dunn: He never spoke to any of us with reference to Harris’s affairs.–By Mr. Philipps: When Joseph Rolley passed us to go to the hull door we might be one yard off him.  Harris then went away to his own hull door.  Rolley never spoke to us about any money.–Did he speak to Walton about it?  I don’t know.  We always know what he comes for.–By Mr. Chambers: I was not here at the hearing of the case.  I refused to come unless compelled to do so.

Adam Walton, file grinder, said: I work at Crofts wheel.  I remember Monday, the 4th of August.  I was talking in the yard to Mappin, Otley, Brown, and Harris.  It was about twenty-five minutes to twelve.  We were talking beside my hull door.  Whilst we were talking Joseph Rolley came in.  He came straight to my hull door and asked me for my “natty” money.  He had first looked into the hull door.  I have him 4s. Harris was standing near to us when Rolley came into the yard.  As soon as Rolley came in, Harris turned round and walked away to his own hull door, and he stood there until Rolley went out of the yard.  Rolley was in the yard from ten minutes to a quarter hour. I saw him both come in and go out.  I saw him the whole time he was in the yard.  I did not see him speak to Harris.  He never alluded to Harris’ name to us.–If Rolley had said anything to Harris must you have heard it?  Yes.–By Mr. Branson: Did Harris ever tell you that Rolley had threatened him?  He one told me that Rolley said, “if he did not pay his “natty” money he would have him stopped.”–By Mr. Philipps: When was that?  I cannot tell.  It was some time before this occurred.  Harris said “If Rolley did [have him stopped] he would pinch him; for he knew d—well t’owd—hadn’t pluck to have any one stopped; and he would have him pinched to get out of him what he could.”–By Mr. Branson: I told what I have now said last time I was here. All the court laughed at it.  (Laughter.)–By Mr. Philipps: Rolley never mentioned such a thing to us as having our things taken if we did not pay.–By Mr. Branson: Rolley had a book with him.  He entered into it what I paid him.–By Mr. Dunn: I saw him book it.

Richard Otley, file grinder, Crofts wheel, said: I remember the 4th of August, when Joseph Rolley came in.   Rolley never shifted away from us until he went out of the yard.  We were standing about three yards from Adam Walton’s hull door.  Rolley was standing “gainest” to Walton’s hull door.  He was nearest of any us to Walton’s door.  he could see right into Walton’s hull.  Harris went away and stood against his own hull door.  I saw Rolley go out of the yard. He was walking away round the yard towards the gates in Corporation-street when I left him.

Adam Brown, file grinder, said: I was present at the hearing before the magistrates.  Saw Rolley come into the yard.  He spoke to Otley and Walton.  Harris went away to his own hull door.  he never spoke a word to Harris.  If he had done so I must have heard him.  Rolley went out with Otley.  I followed them out and went to my dinner.  I saw Rolley leave the yard and go towards Harvest-lane, where he lives.–By Mr. Dunn: We left Harris in the yard.

William Clayton said: I am manager for Messrs. Wing, of Jericho.  In April last Harris was in our employment as an outworker.  On the Monday previous to the 19th of April, I gave John some work and had to send for it undone on the Thursday following.  On the following day, Friday, he came and asked me why I had sent for that work before it was done.  I told him I had sent for it as he had sent me word that he was not well, and I could not wait for it because it had to go off the following day.  Harris used some abusive language, and I told him that if he used that language we should have to part.  He said he was not going to be humbugged by me, and that if we did part he would take d–good care that we hadn’t another grinder, for he was not going to pay 6s. per week and not be protected by the trade.  A man named Hussey was then set on.  In the beginning of May Harris came back and begged pardon for what he had done.  He said it was not his intention to pay to the trade any more, and that everything would go on smoothly if we would give him his situation back.  We did so, and have no cause to complain since.  The wee after that, I told him that Rolley had been to our place.  I said “John, I have had Rolley here about you.”  He said “I expected he would come, for he has been to other places.”  I said, “he wanted to have the average of your earnings.” He said, “Did you give it him?”  I said, “No.  I should do no such thing unless you came for it yourself.”–Mr Chambers: Did you tell Harris that Rolley had been to try to get him discharged, or words to that effect?  No.–Did you tell Harris that Rolley had been to try to get him stopped, or words to that effect?  No, I never did.  A week or two after that I asked him how he was getting on with the trade.  He said, “Oh, they had never been near him since; they dare not.

At this stage of the proceedings the case was adjourned until Saturday next.

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