Kamis, 06 September 2018

A handwritten copy of the last letter of Thomas Hilliker - Copyright ?Trowbridge Museum

A figure who became a political martyr for opposition to developments in industrial technologyIn the early nineteenth century Trowbridge was the centre of wool production for the whole country. Trowbridge shearmen were a highly organized group who violently opposed the introduction of mechanization to the shearing process. On the July 22 1802 Littleton Mill near Semington was burned down as shearing frames had been installed.

A nineteen year old apprentice shearman called Thomas Hilliker was arrested and admitted to being a member of the Shearman's Club but not to arson. It was alleged that Hilliker's voice was recognized as one of those who had been involved in the crime. As a result Hilliker was imprisoned in Wilton jail throughout the winter of 1802-1803 until his trial in March. 

Hilliker was hanged in front of Fisherton jail on March 22 1803. Trowbridge shearmen carried his body across Salisbury Plain to Trowbridge where he is buried in the churchyard of St James' Church.

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