HC Deb 22 July 1856 vol 143 cc1218-9

said, he rose to put the following question to the Secretary of State for the Home Department:—Whether, under the recent Act of Amnesty granted by Her Majesty to all political exiles, orders had been given for the liberation of the ten following prisoners, convicted of high treason at the York assizes of September, 1820, and transported to Van Diemen's Land by the ship Lady Ridley in 1821:—William Comstive, William Rice, Richard Addy, Joseph Frith, Charles Stanfield, John Birkenshaw, Benjamin Rogers, Joseph Chapel, Benjamin Hanson, and Michael Downing? No record of the conviction of those individuals was to be found at the Home Office. They together with thirteen other persons—making in all twenty-three—had been tried at York in 1820, when Lord Sid-mouth was at the head of the Home Department, and had been induced to plead guilty to a charge of high treason, upon the condition that their lives should be spared. Out of the twenty-three who had been placed upon trial thirteen had been sentenced to only short periods of imprisonment or transportation, and when the recent amnesty to political exiles had been proclaimed, he had made a communication to the Home Office as to whether indulgence would not be extended to the other ten whose names were comprised in his question. The answer to that communication had been, that there was no record of their conviction at the Home Office, or of their present whereabouts, and his object in calling the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the subject now was, that the knowledge that they had received Her Majesty's pardon might, by means of the press, be conveyed to those individuals, wherever they might happen to be. The charge made against them had arisen out of a seditious meeting which had been held at Grange Moor, near Barnsley.


said, that it was not remarkable that no record of the conviction of these men was to be found in the Home Office, because it occurred some thirty-six years ago, and these ten persons were in the following year transported either to Van Diemen's Land or New South Wales—he believed to the latter colony. From other sources of information he had ascertained that the offence of which they were convicted was similar in character to those for which pardons had recently been granted. It was right that if any of these persons were living they should be included in the amnesty, and instructions had been sent to the colonies that they should be set at liberty.