Northumberland Poachers, 1833


"For some years past nearly all the moors in Northumberland had been taken possession of by large bodies of poachers from the adjoining counties, who not only carried away immense quantities of game, but even plundered the industrious farmers of their sheep and did wilful damage to their property. The overbearing insolence of those lawless intruders so intimidated the peaceable inhabitants that they almost might be said to have lost their right over and control of their own property. The 12th of August (the commencement of the shooting season) was again marked by the arrival of large bodies of these intruders, upon which the gentlemen and farmers then shooting on the moors determined no longer to be annoyed by them. Accordingly, on the above day, they divided themselves into two parties, and having ascertained that a body of the poachers would commence shooting at a place called Whitelee, near Carter Bar, the first party, consisting of about forty persons, on horseback, set out from Woodburn about three o'clock on the morning of the 20th, the second party also setting out for another suspected place of rendezvous. On the arrival of the first party at Whitelee, they discovered about 20 poachers ranging the moors, each armed with a gun, and attended with a dog. Immediately on being discovered, the poachers formed themselves into a military position on the ascent of a hill, threw off their coats, and, presenting their guns, threatened to fire on the first who came near them. A young gentleman present remonstrated with the poachers on their illegal conduct, but in vain ; they declared they would not be taken, and would shoot the first man who approached them. Upon this the gentleman alluded to rode over a small burn which divided the parties, instantly followed by his friends, and after considerable struggling, in the course of which the young gentleman's horse was felled to the ground, and he himself severely wounded, the poachers were completely overpowered and brought before two magistrates, who committed them to Morpeth gaol under the game act. " 19th August 1833

From: T Fordyce, J. Sykes. Local records; or, Historical register of remarkable events which have occurred in Northumberland and Durham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Berwick-upon-Tweed..., published 1867

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