The Littleport Riots
compiled for Ely OnLine by Bob Wrightson



Here lye interned in one grave the Bodies of: William Beamiss, George Crow, John Dennis, Isaac Harley, and Thomas South, who were all executed at Ely on the 28th Day of June 1816 having been convicted at the special Assizes holden there of diverse Robberies during the Riots at Ely and Littleport in the Month of May in that year. May their awful Fate be a warning to others."

At the trial 24 people were condemned to death but the sentence was commuted in all but 5 cases. Of the 19 remaining, 5 were transported to Australia for life, 1 for 14 years and 11 were sent to prison for 12 months. A boy of 13 was fined 1 shilling.
Those condemned to death were: John Dennis, W Beamis, Thomas South, George Crow and Isaac Harley. Following the trial the unhappy rioters were to be hanged at St Marys Church, Ely.


They were lead to the scaffold, where John Dennis addressed the crowd as follows: "All you who are witness in this, my disgraceful end, I exhort you, in the name of God, that God before whom I must shortly appear, to avoid drunkenness, Sabbath-breaking, whoremongery, and bad company : oh! beware of these sins. I pray you also to avoid rioting! and in every respect refrain from breaking the laws of your country! - Remember the words of the Judge, that tried us for the crime, for which, we are now going to suffer, who said 'The law of the land will always be to strong for its assailants, and those who defy the law, will, in the end, be subdued by the law, and be compelled to submit to its justice or its mercy.' - We stand here a melancholy example of the power and justice of the law. I freely forgive those who gave their evidence against me, and may the God of mercy forgive me, and have mercy on my soul!"

(And mine too - Another Editors Quip)

Harley and Beamiss also spoke to the crowd. Harley said he "died the death he expected"; South confessed that he was "indeed guilty"; Crow denied any intention of murdering William Martin. They then prayed again for some time,
when, at a signal, they fell, and they were launched into eternity almost without a struggle.

(Hard Men to the END - Last Editors Quip)

After hanging the usual time, the bodies were put into coffins, and given to their respective friends interment in St. Mary's Church-yard on Saturday. The following is an authentic copy of their voluntary confession:-

"We your poor unfortunate suffering fellow creatures, beg leave to present the public with this our dying acknowledgement of the justice of that sentence, which has condemned us to die for the violent outrages we have committed, and hope it will be a warning to all, who may see, or hear of us, to avoid the like course.
We acknowledge and confess our sins in general, and we must sincerely beg of God to pardon our sins fervently hoping and trusting that God Almighty will, for the sake of the all-atoning merits of the Redeemer, receive our precious and immortal souls into his favour, though we have delayed their interests to this late hour; most earnestly entreating that the Almighty may grant us all our sufferings in this world, and none in the next.
We most sincerely warn you all to avoid those sins, which have been the cause of bringing us here. By all means, avoid irreligion and vice of every kind, particularly that of swearing, drunkenness, Sabbath breaking, and that of shameful neglect of the means of grace, the only means through the merit of Christ, of our soul's salvation.
We sincerely recommend to you, that you attend the public worship of God, particularly on the Lord's day, and most sincerely pray that all our friends and relations will not put off their repentance to a death bed, lest that God, whom they have neglected to serve while in health and strength, should say unto them at last, as he does to every neglector of salvation -
'Because I have called, and ye refused: I have stretched out my hands and no man regarded: but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and none of my reproof. I also will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh.'"

(What? (I Lied) Ed)

The marks of
JOHN DENNIS X
W BEAMIS X
THOMAS SOUTH. X
GEORGE CROW. X
ISAAC HARLEY. X

BEN.J.BARLOW, Gaoler. X

A true copy, In the presence of (Hall, Enion & Youngs) Acting Magistrates for the Isle of Ely

Many Thanks to Researcher & Author Bob Wrightson -
bobwrightson@yahoo.com

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