More trouble at Wrenthorpe WM Club

Yorkshire Evening Post
Friday 22 September 1905


To-day, at Wakefield, Eli Bateman, miner. Wrenthorpe, and Albert Moorby, also a miner, of Wrenthorpe, were summoned for withholding or misapplying the sums of £29. 10s. 2d. and £11. 14s. 6d. respectively, the moneys of the Wrenthorpe Working Men’s Club. The hearing of the case lasted some hours.

Mr J R Green prosecuted, and asked be allowed to withdraw the case against Moorby, who had repaid the money due from him as secretary the club.

The magistrates agreed.

Bateman was fined £1 and £1. 5s. 6d. costs, and an order made upon him to pay the deficiency, £31. 15s. 8d. in all, or two months’ imprisonment.

Jailed for dodging US Civil War draft

A great article from the Leeds Times: information on ‘Prophet’ John Wroe’s demise, the aftermath at Melbourne House and, most intriguingly of all, the latest troubles facing ‘Judge’ Daniel Milton.

As we’ve already heard, Brooklyn’s Daniel Milton spent much of the last 40 years of his life protesting against the Wroes, keeping the local police and courts busy, and even served time in Wakefield Prison. But on a trip home in the autumn of 1864, when he turns out to vote in the US general election, he lands up in jail for spending too much time in Wrenthorpe instead of enlisting to fight for the Union.

Leeds Times
Saturday 17 December 1864


John Wroe, the ignorant old man who falsely and wickedly designated himself a Prophet, died in Australia, in Feb, 1863, after falsifying his own prediction in this respect, for he had declared that he should return to England in the flesh, remain here for four years, and be then put to a violent death, only to re-appear at the Temple in West Ardsley for his permanent heavenly residence upon earth. We really thought that the imposture he propagated had long since exploded, and can only express our regret that such is not the case.

Our readers will remember that in March, 1864, we duly detailed the steps which had been taken by Daniel Milton – who calls himself “the Promised Shiloh” and “the Head of the Church” – to recover possession of the Saints’ Inheritance at Wrenthorpe, on the ground that it had been built with the money of the disciples, and was intended to be their home when the earthly Millennium comes to pass, and how Daniel soon found himself in the Lion’s Den – otherwise the Wakefield House of Correction – for obstructing the executors of John Wroe’s will in the execution of their duty. Since that period, the farms, farming stock, houses, and the elegant articles of furniture appertaining unto Melbourne Temple, have been disposed of by public auction, for the benefit of the kith and kin of the deceased “prophet”: and within the “hallowed walls” of the structure there is now nothing to testify to its departed glories except two faithful female adherents of Wroe’s, who wander about the tenement sorely distressed in mind owing to the trouble that has fallen upon Israel, but who still firmly believe that John will re-appear on February 4th, 1865. Whether his resuscitation is to be merely spiritual or of the flesh, fleshly, is not clear even to the mental vision of these sorely afflicted females. But they bide their time, holding loyally to their creed, and will be prepared to welcome Wroe even if he comes under the questionable shape of a spiritual medium, rather than in propria persona, and on board one of the excellent mail steamers via Point de Galle, Aden, and Southampton.

In the meantime the man who was the thorn in the side of the prophet and his adherents has got into trouble at New York. Daniel Milton, “the promised Shiloh”, unluckily took it into his head to go and visit his mother, east of the empire city, just at the time when the draft for the army was being conducted therein. For the moment he was not missed, inasmuch as he has latterly spent much of his time in England, and on the Atlantic; but he was discovered and “brought to book” when he turned up in his ward on the 8th November to vote for old Abe Lincoln. For this offence of evading the draft he was sent to the Bastile, Greenpoint, New York, where he remained at the date of the latest advices. But he requests us to state that he intends to lecture in the neighbourhood of “Israel’s mansion”, at Wrenthorpe, on Whit Sunday next [4 June 1865], on “the Law of Moses, English Law, and Lawyers”. We freely give Mr Milton the benefit of our columns for this announcement, and do not anticipate that he is likely to be disturbed by the reappearance of the “old familiar form of the man whose rest he had so much disquieted” – we mean the deceased “prophet”, John Wroe.

Farmer attacks woman over right of way

Leeds Mercury
Thursday 17 January 1856


At the Wakefield Court House, on Monday, William Ramsden, farmer, near Carr Gate, was charged with assaulting Eliza Willoughby, on the 2nd inst, under the following circumstances. On the day above named, the plaintiff was proceeding along a footpath leading from Beck Bottom to Lindal[e] Lane, for the purpose of fetching water from a well. At a foot-gate in the field she was stopped by the defendant, who struck her with a hay fork, inflicting a wound on her hand. Ramsden stated that his object was to stop the foot-road, as serious damage had been done to his property. He was ordered to pay £2, and was informed by the magistrates that if he wished to stop the road, he was to take legal measures for effecting his object.

The gunpowder clot

As we’ve already heard, Brooklyn’s Daniel Milton spent much of the last 40 years of his life protesting against the Wroe family, causing chaos for the Wakefield authorities to sort out. On 9 August 1861, he attempted to blow up one of the lodges at Melbourne House.

Leeds Mercury
Thursday 15 August 1861


On Friday night last, a mischievous attempt to blow up an empty lodge with gunpowder, took place at Wrenthorpe. The mansion of Mr John Wroe, commonly called “Prophet Wroe”, is in that township, and is a large building in the Grecian style, and at the four angles of the grounds are lodges, and one of these at the back is uninhabited. It seems that on the night in question some knave broke the window of the lodge, and then introduced a bag containing a quantity of gunpowder which was attached to a long string that had been saturated in a solution of saltpetre, and an explosion took place. The roof of the lodge was injured, and so were the walls, but the damage done is not material, only amounting to about £3.

Burglary at the Wroes: three transported to Australia

Here’s the well-known local story of the burglary at Brandy Carr House, Jerry Clay Lane, as reported by a couple of the papers at the time. A couple of points: it says Alverthorpe because Jerry Clay Lane was in the Alverthorpe-with-Thornes township; and, don’t you just love the term ‘burglariously’.

Yorkshire Gazette
Saturday 13 August 1842


Betwixt twelve and one o’clock, on Thursday morning last, the premises occupied by Mr John Wroe, the notorious Prophet, situate at Brandy Carr, Potovens, near Wakefield, were burglariously entered by six villains, who cut a pane of glass out of a window, and then opened the window and got into the house. Prophet Wroe was that night sleeping at his establishment in Thompson’s yard, Wakefield, and the only persons in the house were Mrs Wroe, Miss Wroe, and a servant girl. In an outhouse, however, there were sleeping B A [Benjamin Apperley] Wroe, the prophet’s son, and a servant man. The ladies heard a noise in the house, and got up to see what was the matter. The six men were proceeding upstairs, three lights their hands, and two armed with pistols and one with a gun. The ladies screamed aloud, and the thieves threatened to take their lives if they did not cease to cry out. One of the burglars, presented a pistol at Mrs and Miss Wroe, and demanded their money or their lives. One of them opened a drawer in Mrs Wroe’s room and took out a gold watch, to which was attached a gold chain and a key. The servant man in the outhouse heard the cries of the ladies and awoke B A Wroe, and they went into the house and encountered the six men coming down the stairs. B A Wroe threatened to shoot the men, but his gun was not loaded, and whilst he loaded it the thieves got off, taking the watch, &c, with them. B A Wroe fired alter them, but with no effect. The men’s faces were blackened, and they had on colliers’ working dresses. On Monday Benjamin Pickersgill, John Pickersgill, and James Ramsden, colliers, residing at Bragg Lane, near Potovens, were brought up by the police, at the Court House, Wakefield, charged with being of the party who committed the above burglary. They were committed for trial at the ensuing York Assizes.

The Gazette also produces the calendar for the upcoming Assizes.


Calendar of the Prisoners for trial at the ensuing assizes be holden this day, before the Right Hon Thomas Lord Denman, and the Hon Sir William Henry Maule, Knight.
William St Quintin, Esq, High-Sheriff

130 131, and 132. BENJAMIN PICKERSGILL (51), JOHN PICKERSGILL (25), and JAMES RAMSDEN (24), charged with having, at Alverthorpe, committed a burglary in the dwelling house of John Wroe.

The Bradford Observer is one of several titles that covered the trial in York.

Bradford Observer
Thursday 1 September 1842




Benjamin Pickersgill, (51), John Pickersgill (25), and James Ramsden (24) were indicted for having, on the 4th of August instant, at Alverthorpe, burglariously broken and entered the dwelling-house of John Wroe, and stolen therefrom one gold watch and one gold chain. Sir Gregory Lewin and Mr lngham appeared for the prosecution; Mr. Wilkins for the prisoners Pickersgill; and Mr Roebuck for the prisoner Ramsden.

This case excited some little interest in consequence of the peculiar notoriety of the prosecutor, who is the founder, we believe, of a sect of religionists professing very singular tenets, and who wear the distinctive badge of a beard. The prosecutor has been long known by the cognomen of “Prophet Wroe”, and his followers as “Wroeites”; but he himself at present carries on the secular occupation of a wool merchant at Wakefield. His residence, known as “Brandy Carr House”, is at Alverthorpe, a short distance from Wakefield ; but when the occurrence, out of which the charge arose, took place, he was not sleeping at home.

This was on the 4th of the present month, at about two or three o’clock in the morning, at which hour Mrs Wroe was alarmed by a whispering noise and footsteps, and soon after heard the door unbolted, and people walking in the passage. She rang the bell for her maid servant, who came up into her room, and soon after she saw six men in the house, three of them with lighted candles in their hands. One of them presented a pistol at her, and exclaimed, “Your money or your life”; to which she replied, “We have no money, we don’t keep it here”, and took refuge again in her bedroom, from which she screamed out loudly for assistance. Two men, of whom Ramsden she said was one, followed her into the bedroom, and threatened to blow out her brains. From a small box, one of the men took a gold watch, key, and chain.

At this juncture, Benjamin A Wroe, a youth about 16 years old, the son of the prophet, who is a master printer at Wakefield, and was sleeping in an adjoining outhouse with the groom, was alarmed by his mother’s outcries, and forcing his way into the kitchen window by breaking the glass, seized an unloaded gun, with which he confronted the six robbers whom he met in the passage, and presenting it at the breast of one of them, threatened to shoot him if he spoke or stirred. The men shrunk back, and three of them ran up the stairs, upon which young Wroe returned for the purpose of loading the gun, and the men seizing the opportunity decamped, carrying with them the watch, key, and chain. Young Wroe, who had just got his gun charged, fired after the fugitives.

Soon after the three prisoners were apprehended, and each of them was identified by Mrs Wroe, Miss Susannah Wroe, and Master Benjamin Wroe. All the prisoners were found guilty, to be transported for ten years.

But as we know, the prisoners’ ordeal didn’t end there…

Flippant approach to potential assault

Leeds Times
Saturday 1 June 1867


Late on Thursday night, a man named Quinn came running up Balne Lane, Wakefield, crying out in stentorian tones for the police. He happened to fall in with one of the supernumeraries of the West Riding constabulary, and to him detailed a strange story. At a wedding that day he had met with a young woman, whom he only knew by the name of Elizabeth, and he took her to a relative at Potovens, to endeavour to get her a situation. Whilst returning home across the fields they were set upon by a number of men with hedge-stakes, who seized the girl and carried her off, and the same fellows, he alleged, belaboured him until he got out of their clutches A force of policemen were despatched to scour the neighbourhood of the alleged outrage. They have ascertained enough to throw suspicion over Quinn’s story. The latter is a notoriously bad character, and the house to which he took the woman at Potovens is little better than a brothel. Returning home he attempted to abuse the girl, and some Alverthorpe men coming up at the time rescued her from his clutches, and one of them took her to his home. There is reason to believe that Quinn pumped up the charge in order to prevent another and more serious accusation being preferred against him.

Mill owner threatened with blunderbuss

Leeds Intelligencer
Thursday 13 November 1828


About half-past seven o’clock, on the evening of yesterday week, as Mr Joseph Rhodes, of Silcoates [the owner of Silcoates Woollen Mill], was returning home from Wakefield, he was attacked by three men, one of them armed with a blunderbuss, about half-way between Snow Hill bar and Potovens. They demanded his money and watch, the armed men exclaiming, that it was useless making any resistance or calling for aid: if he did, “they would blow him to pieces.” He fortunately had no money on his person, but he gave them some memorandums, of no use to any one, with which they decamped in a direction towards Wakefield, and have not since been heard of.

Beer scandal at Wrenthorpe WM Club

With the Temperance Movement at its height, cases like the following are hardly surprising. The authorities were keen to prosecute those who illegally sold beer. And, the tickets story just made matters worse. Wrenthorpe Working Men’s Club had only opened the previous year, it operated from premises in Trough Well Lane.

Yorkshire Evening Post
Monday 29 September 1902


Considerable interest was evinced at the West Riding Court, Wakefield, to-day, in the hearing of charge of perjury brought by the police against four members of the Wrenthorpe Working Men’s Club and defendant. Their names were Scott Clough, club steward; Isaac Brown, miner; Henry Hartley, miner; Alfred Hudson, club secretary; and Jane Wright, widow, all of Wrenthorpe. Mr E Lodge defended.

Superintendent Crow, in opening the case, said it was not often that a case of this character was brought into Court. There were often discrepancies in the evidence of witnesses, but even the police did not say that every discrepancy of evidence in court amounted to perjury. In this instance, however, it was not a case so finely drawn as mere discrepancy between the evidence for the prosecution and for the defence; and he thought, after hearing the witnesses, the Bench would come to the conclusion that the evidence given by these five defendants was a pure invention and pure concoction to defeat the ends of justice. He ventured to say, too, that by that evidence they did succeed in upsetting and defeating justice.

On 1st September charge was brought against Scott Clough, the steward and caretaker at the Wrenthorpe Working Men’s Club, the complaint being that on 16th August he sold beer without a licence to persons he was not entitled to sell to. Detective-officer Wagstaffe, in his evidence, stated that the evening 16th August he was watching the club, and saw number of women, including Mrs Wright, go there and come away with jugs containing beer. When the women got to their respective homes there were no men, who might have been members the club, to receive the beer. For the defence witnesses were called to prove that the beer was sent for members, and, as substantiating that, in the case of Jane Wright there was actually produced an order purporting to be filled up and signed by Isaac Brown, Mrs Wright’s son-in-law. The order was in this form: “Wrenthorpe Working Men’s Club – Please supply my mother with pint of beer, and charge to my account – I Brown.” Each witness spoke in one way or another to the ticket. Clough said the order was given to him at the time the beer was supplied; Isaac Brown said he wrote the ticket out in a fish shop; Jane Wright said she received it; Hartley said was handed to him by Mrs Wright at the door of the club; and Hudson said he was shown the ticket, and also stated that the tickets were in general use. As a matter of fact, however, he (Superintendent Crow) would call witness to prove that the ticket was not printed until after the alleged offence! On the day after the summons was served a ticket belonging to the Westgate Common Working Men’s Club was taken to a printer’s, and 1,000 similar tickets ordered, 100 of which were supplied next day.

Evidence bearing out Mr Crow’s statement was given.

Mr Lodge submitted that in the absence of any evidence to show that defendants or any of them were the parties who gave the order for the printing of the tickets in question, there was no case to go before a jury. Prisoners were committed for trial at the Assizes.

Coverage of the trial, which took place in early December that year, is taken up by the Sheffield Daily Telegraph.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph
Wednesday 17 December 1902

(Before Mr Justice CHANNELL.)

Perjury at Wakefield.

Scott Clough (30), club steward, was indicted for perjury at Wakefield, the 1st September last. Mr Harold Newell prosecuted, and Mr C Mellor appeared for the defendant.

Saturday, the 16th August, Police Constable Wagstaffe was on duty at Potovens, Wrenthorpe, where there was a working men’s club. He saw a woman named Wright go into the club, of which the defendant was steward, produce a jug, and get something in it. She handed to him something which sounded to him like money. Wagstaffe followed her home, and she told him that she often went to the club for beer, because it was nearer than the public house. He returned to the club, and charged the defendant with having sold beer without a licence. Defendant replied that it was all right; if there was anything wrong he would stand by it. On the hearing of the charge prisoner swore that on the night in question a man named Hartley, who was member of the club the time, brought a ticket to him, with a note. The note was headed “Wrenthorpe Working Men’s Club”, and said “Please supply my mother with a pint of beer, and charge my account.” It was suggested for the defence at the trial that the ticket had been given to Mrs Wright by her so-in-law, that she went to the club with the ticket, which was given for the beer, and that no money passed, the woman simply acting as his agent. Just prior to the licensing prosecution, and after the commission of the alleged offence an order for 1,000 tickets was given to Mr Mclnnes, printer, for the Wrenthorpe Club, the specimen given being one of the Westgate Club. This specimen had belonged to a man named Raby. No such tickets, it was stated, had previously been printed for the Wrenthorpe Club. Prisoner told the magistrate that Jane Wright gave her the ticket, and Ike Brown, her son-in-law, paid for the beer afterwards. Supt Crowe said that when the defendant was tried for selling drink without a licence he put in the ticket, and the case was dismissed.

Mr Mellor’s defence was that there was nothing to prove that the Club was not in possession of the tickets before the prosecution for selling without a licence, and that the order to Mr Mclnnes was for a fresh supply.

The jury, after a long absence, returned a verdict of Guilty.

Isaac Brown (31), miner; Jane Wright (60), widow; Henry Hartley (46), miner; and Alfred Hudson (30), miner, were indicted for having committed a similar offence in connection with the same case.

Mr Mellor said that after carefully considering the case he had advised the prisoners to plead guilty, with the exception of Mrs Wright, who could neither read nor write, and might have been misled over the ticket.

No evidence was offered against Mrs Wright and she was acquitted. The rest of the prisoners were each sentenced to six calendar months’ hard labour.

Desperate measures to thwart bailiffs

Leeds Mercury
Tuesday 19 February 1867


Yesterday, at the Wakefield Court House, a man named Wood was charged under the following circumstances:– He resided at Potovens, and, on Saturday, the bailiffs had possession of his premises, taking away a clock and some other property. He was away at the time, but at night he went into the house, and burnt the furniture that remained. In doing so, he set fire to the woodwork of the house, and might have set fire to adjoining property. The facts having been heard, the case was dismissed, the magistrates saying that the intent in destroying the furniture was not to burn the house.

AWOL from Napoleonic Supplementary Militia

Leeds Intelligencer
Monday 30 October 1797


WHEREAS ROBERT PHILIPS, of Potovens, near Wakefield, hired himself as a Substitute in the Supplementary Militia, for THOMAS HODGSON, of Walton. – The said Robert Philips took the Bounty, but never came at the Time appointed for the training and exercising the said Militia, and has not since been heard of – He is twenty-eight Years of Age, Five Feet Nine inches high, dark-coloured Hair, and has a fair Completion.

Whoever will bring the said Robert Philips, or give any Information so that that may be apprehended, shall receive a good Reward, with all reasonable Charges, from the Constable of Walton aforesaid.

October 30th, 1797.