JOHN M'CANNELLY AND LUKE MORGAN
A Daring Burglary committed in the House of Mr Porter, of the Raike Farmhouse, near Chester, by M'Cannelly, Morgan, Stanley, Boyd and Neill, Irish Haymakers, for which the first two were executed on the 25th of May, 1752
AS harvest approaches, numbers of the lowest class of Irish come over to the nearest counties in England, to be hired, as thy receive better wages, and live better than in their own country, and a wild, ferocious, and knavish set generally mix among the industrious and honest, for the purpose of plundering their employers.
Mr Porter, a wealthy farmer of Cheshire, had engaged a number of these people, in the year 1752, in his harvest-fields. One evening his house was beset by a gang of them, who forcibly broke open his doors, advanced to him while at his supper-table, seized and bound him with cords, at the same time, with horrid threats, demanding his money.
They also seized his eldest daughter, pinioned her, and obliged her to show them where her father's money and plate were deposited. In the confusion the youngest daughter, a heroic little girl of thirteen years of age, made her escape, ran into the stable and got astride the bare back of a horse only haltered; but not daring to ride past the house beset by the rogues she galloped over the fields, leaping hedges and ditches, to Pulford, to inform her eldest brother of the danger they were in at the village. He and a friend, named Craven, determined on attacking the villains, and for that purpose set off at full speed, the little girl accompanying them.
On entering his paternal roof the son found one of the villains on guard, whom he killed so instantaneously that it caused no alarm. Proceeding to the parlour, they found the other four in the very act of setting his father on the fire, after robbing him of fourteen guineas, in order to extort more. They had stripped down his breeches to his feet, and his eldest daughter was on her knees, supplicating for his life.
What a sight was this for a son! Like an enraged lion, and backed by his brave friend, he flew upon them. They fired two pistols and wounded both the father and the son, and a servant-boy whom they had also bound, but not so as to disable them, for the son wrested a hanger from one of them, cleft the villain to the ground, and cut the others.
The eldest daughter having unbound her father the old man united his utmost efforts by the side of his son and friend, and so hard did they press that the thieves jumped through a window and ran off.
The young men pursued and seized two more on Chester Bridge, who dropped a silver tankard. The fifth got on board a vessel at Liverpool, of which his brother was the cook, bound for the West Indies; which sailed, but was driven back by adverse winds.
The account of the robbery, with the escape of the remaining villain, having reached Liverpool, a King's boat searched every vessel, and at length found the robber, by the wounds he had received, and sent him in fetters to Chester jail.
Mr Porter had a servant-man in the house at the time, a countryman of the robbers, who remained an unconcerned spectator, and, afterwards running away, he was also sent to prison, charged with being an accomplice. They were brought to trial at Chester Assizes, in March, 1752, and condemned.
Boyd, on account of his youth, and his having endeavoured to prevail upon the others not to murder Mr Porter, had his sentence of death remitted for transportation. The hired servant of Mr Porter was not prosecuted.
On the Thursday previous to the day fixed for execution Stanley slipped off his irons and, changing his dress, escaped out of jail, and got clear off. On the 25th of May, 1752, M'Cannelly and Morgan were brought out of prison in order to be hanged. Their behaviour was as decent as could be expected from such low-bred men. They both declared that Stanley, who escaped, was the sole contriver of the robbery.
They died in the Catholic faith, and were attended by a priest.