TRIAL OF THOMAS COOPER
The Hanley police went to Leicester and arrested Cooper shortly after the riots. In the Northern Star, 3 Sept 1842, a letter from Thomas Cooper describes his arrest in Leicester and incarceration in Hanley lock-up and he writes
"The amiable wife of Jeremiah Yates the Chartist (O how my dear little wife will bless her!) came and brought some breakfast and the STAR"
The Staffs Examiner 3 Sept 1842 reports
Arrest of Cooper, the Leicester Chartist
Cooper was brought to Newcastle under Line (sic) and in the course of the examination said he "came to Hanley on the afternoon of Saturday having been at Birmingham, Bilston, Wednesbury and Wolverhampton He had been engaged to lecture to the Chartists, slept at Jeremiah Yates's that night
the meeting he saw at Yates's Preston Barker, an old acquaintance who invited hem to his house (The Royal Oak) Prisoner dined at Barker's and then went to Yates's where he remained all the afternoon."
According to the Staffordshire Advertiser 27 August 1842 Cooper said
"I found the people with whom I was associated, Mr. Yates and the rest of them, zealous for what is called the temperance movement. I was anxious to promote the spread of information among the working classes. I began to deal with Mr. Yates and that was the origin of my being a commercial traveller. I was dealing in stationery and it was likely that I should feel some sympathy for persons like those, whom I could not suspect of entertaining any violent designs."
He had arranged to address Chartists at the George and Dragon. "It was arranged that admittance should be one penny for Chartist lecturers cannot travel for nothing"
Cooper said that he had heard various reports of what was going on, but it was not for him to say whether it was true or not, for he had been at Jeremiah Yates's the Royal Oak and the George and Dragon during the day:
"I went to Jeremiah Yates's when the meeting was dispersed..."
"After I had dined at Mr. Preston Barker's (Landlord of the Royal Oak) I went again to Mr. Yates's
(Staffs Advertiser 3rd Sept 1842)
Cooper was committed for Trial at Stafford Assizes and, after 6 weeks in prison, appeared on Oct 11 1842. He was found 'not guilty' of a charge of arson (when he proved he was not there) but committed on a charge of Sedition. It took five further weeks to arrange bail.
He appeared, finally, in March 1843 charged with sedition. He conducted his own defence at extraordinary lengths and the almost verbatim reports of the ten day trial occupy many columns in The Northern Star and other local papers.
The opening speech for the prosecution (March 20 1843) mentioned Jeremiah Yates
N.S. 1 April 1843
"The mob who turned out the people at Mr Ridgway's manufactory was headed by Yates, in whose house Cooper had lodged
and later witnesses:
"I saw Jerry Yates on the morning of Monday 15 August I believe Cooper lodged with him"
N.S. Tuesday 21 March
Mary Fradley "I live at Hanley; my husband is a watchman there. I was at Yates's teetotal shop on the last Sunday in July. There were many colliers and potters there"
"Jerry Yates's house is about two hundred yards from the Royal Oak"
Samuel Fradley "I had seen (Cooper) ... going to Jerry Yates's I saw (Cooper) at Hanley watch-house in custody He said he should not have seen the fires if he had not had to wait for some money which Jeremiah Yates had to pay him"
Witness referred to Jeremiah "bringing Cooper his dinner" in the watch-house.
Evidence was called about Cooper's earlier visit to the Potteries in April.
Wm Beddington "I am a china painter at Shelton in the Potteries. I remember the 10th of April last year when I saw you (Cooper) ... also on the Saturday night preceding about ten o'clock at Jeremiah Yates's. He keeps a temperance coffee house and sold the Northern Star and Commonwealthsman and other publications... I saw you again at the George and Dragon room that was the Chartist room at the time ... I remained with you until the close of the discourse and went with you to Jeremiah Yates's house.
On Saturday evening 13th July and on the following day I saw you at Jeremiah Yates's.
(an error: it was on Sat 13th August)
Then another witness:
"On the 10th April last, I saw you about one o'clock at Mr. Yates's (after Cooper spoke at Crown Bank) "I never saw you again from April 1842 until I saw you in Hanley on Sunday last at Yates's."
The mentions of Jeremiah were concerned with his house as a centre rather than with his behaviour. He was already in prison but his Hanley colleagues were working hard in Cooper's defence.
The N. Staffs Mercury reported:
" It is stated that a Chartist Committee is now sitting in the Potteries collecting evidence and sending up witnesses. About 20 have arrived in Stafford this morning"
The 10 day trial caused the Judge to postpone an engagement at another Assizes but civilities were maintained & Cooper got his expected two years imprisonment.