|Joseph Stell, Yorkshire Counterfeiter|
|Stell Connection Page|
Joseph Stell, Counterfeiter
I have information on Joseph Stell, son of Michael, because I was searching the Keighley parish records for my ancestor, also named Joseph Stell, who was born at approximately the same time. I found Joseph Stell, the counterfeiter, and was kind of hoping he was mine.
See Joseph Stell
Michael Stell, Yeoman farmer, of Wellhead and/or Dazy-well, Lord of the Manor Oakworth
Birth: Before 1677
Residence: Well head or Wol-head, Dazy-well
Marriage: Michael Stell married Mary Hayley in Bradford parish in 1697
Death: Michael Stell of Wol-head, yeoman of the Lord of the Manor was buried in February 5, 1723
Joseph Stell, the Counterfeiter
The Yorkshire Coiners
According to John March:
Counterfeiting was high treason.
David Hartley and his gang were hand loom weavers who lived on the desolate moors east of Halifax and "clipped" the Kings gold to supplement their income. A core group surrounding David Hartley with "hundreds" of hangers-on "eager to turn a quick guinea". Hartley and his gang eventually murdered a government official who was after them. Most of the members of Hartley's gang were captured, tried, and hung.
Records from the Mint show that counterfeiting and clipping were extremely common offenses, especially in the larger cities in the late 1600s and throughout the 1700s.
For a variety of reasons most of the coinage in circulation at the time was gold, some issued by the British Crown and some foreign coins that were in common use.
The "clippers" used a shears to cut off the edge of a coin and then refilled the edge. The clippings were collected and made into new coins using dies.Apparently counterfeiting was tolerated for a long time. In addition, many respectable individuals brought their coins to clippers. The "coiner" kept the clippings and paid the owner of the coin a percentage. The owner of the coin then re-circulated the coin that had been clipped. Many coins were found to have been clipped by as much a 9%.
Two local Yorkshire personalities took up the case to bring the counterfeiters "to book". Rewards were offered to informants who turned in coiners. The main focus of the hunt for the counterfeiters was the Hartley gang, but obviously others went down with them.
The counterfeiters in the area were sent to York prison to await trial. Mach quotes John Howard, "the great prison reformer of the eighteenth century" who had visited York prison at the time the coiners were imprisoned and found it
"a noisesome place with cells that were little more than unlighted dungeons, and, thanks to those who inhabited them, filth and fever-haunted dens of iniquity in which hundreds of people in festering masses were confined."The prisoners were given a 3 pound 2 ounce loaf every Tuesday and Friday. This was all they had to eat unless the had friends or relatives who brought them food. The cells were 7 ¸ feet, by 6 ¸ feet, by 8 ¸ feet high with straw on the floor for bedding. There was an open sewer running along the passages, but no water in the cells. Most cells contained three prisoners. The prisoners, however, were allowed to exercise in the courtyard. While doing so, they were able to talk to their friends and relations on the outside.
Many of the coiners were executed at Tyburn near York. Subsequently their bodies were "hung in chains". This extremely barbarous means of exhibiting the dead was meant to be a deterrent to the living so that they would not commit the same crimes. The body of the executed criminal was incased in iron and hung by chains on a pole in public view. The gibbet post was covered with hundreds of protruding nails to discourage anyone from climbing the post to release the body. The corpse took a long time to disintegrate even with the help of the carrion crows that pecked at it.
Locally the coiners were not looked on as felons, but as Robin Hood like heroes who were simply taking their due from what they believed to be a corrupt government. Several people who worked for the Mint had their own method of "clipping". March lists:
March listed several otherwise respectable citizens in the area who were know to "clip a golden guinea" and who did not appear to have been connected with the Hartley gang:
|If you have any suggestions, corrections, information, copies of documents, or photos that you would like to share with this page, please contact me at email@example.com|
|Joseph Stell, Keighley History|
|RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE|
|If you wish to use any of the images or information on this page please feel free to do so provided that you give proper acknowledgement to this web site and include the same acknowledgments that I have made to the provenience of the image or information. Thanks, Maggie|
|This page was created in 2004: Latest update, July 2010|