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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 4:16 pm 
Spider Lady
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Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:23 pm
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Location: Staffordshire
Burnley Express

Saturday 29 November 1890

Outlawry Half A Century Ago

The Career of Two Notorious Highwaymen

Mr. Tattersall Wilkinson, of Swinden, countributes the following interesting sketch of the depredations of two notorious highwaymen in this district some 50 years ago:- About the year 1830, when the rural police force was instituted throughout Lancashire, there resided in the neighourhood of Bolton-by-Bowland two notorious poachers named Briggs and Dickinson, whose depredations consisted of poaching and highway robbery. Briggs was a young man six feet two inches in height, with a splendid physique in proportion. He served an apprenticeship to the trade of a blacksmith in his native village. Dickinson, a man of low build, but very broad and muscular, was a farm labourer, who from his youth upwards had been a notorious poacher. When 18 years of age he received a sentence of 18 months' imprisonment for a brutal assault on a keeper during one of his nocturnal expeditions. Being detected poaching together, the men resisted apprehension, and after a desperate struggle they succeeded in escaping capture, a warrant being granted for their arrest. Leaving their native place, they commenced a career of brigandage in the wild moorland districts ranging from Hawes in North Yorkshire, as far as Bacup southwards, concealing themselves by day in barns and outhouses, and plundering indiscriminately during the night. Armed to the teeth, they carried on a kind of roystering life among the lonely farm houses, often regaling themselves at the expense of the farmers, who durst not divulge or report to the authorities for fear of retaliation. This state of affairs
EXTENDED OVER TWO YEARS.
Burglaries and highway robberies were often attended with the use of extreme violence. On a Hawes market day morning they met and attacked a Mr. Wignall, a butter factor, from Keighley. Being well mounted on horseback, he was proceeding on his journey, when Dickinson advanced across the road, pistol in hand, and demanded his money. Wignall suddenly dashed by at full speed, when the robber fired, narrowly missing his victim, who only escaped by the fleetness of his horse. Passing through Worsthorne on a Sunday afternoon, where they were recognised by a person who knew them well but durst not divulge the knowledge, they broke into the public-house at Deerpley, on the higway between Burnley and Bacup. The only inmates were the landlord, an old man of the name of Simpson, and hos grown up daughter. The robbers cruelly abused the old man and ransacked the house, but the daughter, unperceived, slipped out at the back door to alarm her brother, who lived at a farmhouse a couple of fields away. Rushing across the field with nothing on but his shirt, the brother arrived just as Briggs was in the act of throttling the old man as he lay on the floor. Being a very strong muscular fellow he instantly closed with the robber, dashing him on the floor, and Briggs, finding himself overmatched, cried out to Dickinson
"FIRE, OR HE WILL KILL ME."
The latter immediately fired, and the ball tore across the surface of the man's abdomen, inflicting a superficial wound, from which he ultimately recovered. Leaving Deerpley, they broke into Walker's, at Brigg End, a farm house near Holmes Chapel, the same night. They took a small sum of money and some eatables, decamping without disturbing the inmates. Shortly afterwards they entered the Moor Cock Inn, on the roadside leading from Barrowford to Gisburn, in borad daylight. Each placing a pistol on the table, they regaled themselves with liquor for over an hour, threatening to shoot any person who dared to interfere. This state of affairs continued until the authorities bestirred themselves. The situation became too hot for the robbers and Briggs was ultimately arrested at Stalybridge, was afterwards tried, and was sentenced to
20 YEARS' PENAL SERVITUDE
Dickinson finally escaped to America, where he continued his lawless proceedings. On one occasion he attacked a man in the highway in the neighbourhood of New York, committing an act of robbery and murder. Fleeing from justice he recrossed the Atlantic and returned to his old haunts in the vicinity of Clitheroe. Mr. James Clegg (a native of Worsthorne) was at that time police inspector of Clitheroe and held the original warrant for his arrest. He received information within an hour after the man's arrival, but Dickinson dodging about in places he knew so well kept the police on the qui vive for a fortnight, in one instance leaving his place of consealment only a few minutes before they found his hiding place. Finding the pursuit keen he again made for Liverpool, and finally succeeded in eluding his pursuers, the ship setting sail about two hours before their arrival. On the other side of the Atlantic he was detected in the act of breaking open a vault in a burial ground, and being recognised, suffered death upon the gallows for the crimes already narrated.

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Mel

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