Manslaughter of Robert Holdsworth

Robert Holdsworth, John Kitson and John Swallow worked for Messrs Holmes, dyers of Cross Hill Mills, Halifax.

On 16th June 1849, they and 4 other men were carrying out the annual job of cleaning out the well of the engine.

At the end of the work, the men were more or less intoxicated, and a wager concerning wrestling match was placed.

Kitson and Swallow, demanded that Holdsworth hand over one shilling, which they said had been

deposited in his hands as a stake

otherwise they would kill him.

Holdsworth denied having the money, and offered to let them search him. They refused to do this, but continued their threat to kill him.

The dispute continued and Kitson and Swallow seized Holdsworth and threw him out of the engine-room, 26 ft from the ground.

A Mrs Briggs, who lived nearby, heard Kitson run out of the mill crying

Oh, the man is killed!

and found Holdsworth's body and suggested that he be taken to the nearby Blue Bell Inn, Halifax. Whilst there, he said he did not know whether anyone had thrown him out of the window or not.

The following day he was taken to the Infirmary, where he died [19th June 1849] from rupture of the bladder and fracture of the pelvis.

At York Assizes, on 11th July 1849, witnesses for the Defence said that Holdsworth had run across the room and deliberately thrown himself out of the window.

The Prosecution, said that the room was full of machinery, so it would have been impossible to reach the window without going through several turnings and windings.

The Jury returned a verdict of Guilty against Kitson and Swallow, and the men were sentenced, each to be transported for 18 years.

They were amongst the 209 convicts who left England for Western Australia on the Mermaid [30th December 1850]

This & associated entries use material contributed by Derrick Habergham

© Malcolm Bull 2024
Revised 17:43 / 3rd May 2024 / 4041

Page Ref: X323

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