Walmer, 31 August 1826

The following transcription of Edward Horn’s evidence relating to the events of 31 August 1826 was kindly provided by another generous researcher:

Edward Horn states that pm Thursday the 31st August, being at Ransley’s house, the latter told him that he should want him the next night and desired him to tell his brother he wanted to see him. Ransley further said that he (examinant) might ride in his brother’s cart, or on one of the horses. Examinant knew what he should want him for. William Smeed was present at Ransleys at this conversation and accompanied Examinant back to the latter’s house, and then they both went to John Horn’s & Examinant communicated to his brother Ransley’s message, to which John answered that he had already seen Ransley, and then it was arranged between him and his brother, in Smeed’s presence, how and when they should set off. On the following morning (Friday) William Smeed proceeded on one of John Horn’s horses for Sellinge. This was by John Horn’s directions, who also told Examinant to meet him there, which he accordingly did on foot between 9 & 10 o’clock in the forenoon. Examinant got to the place before then and waited at the Public House ‘till Smeed came up. While Examinant was waiting at this house John Horn passed in his cart.

When Smeed came up he got a pint of beer  and then rode on, accompanied by Examinant, ‘till they overtook John Horn when Smeed got into the cart & Examinant mounted Smeed’s horse and then all three drove onto Eltham, and put up at the Rose & Crown Public House where they got their dinners – he does not think the Landlord knew them. They stopped there nearly two hours and about two proceeded on to Lydden and there again put up at Mrs Hammond’s at Lydden, where Ransley had appointed to meet them. After waiting several hours Ransley came after dark, in his cart and his son with him. This lad is about 16 years of age. Before Ransley’s arrival Thomas Peaty of Ashford, came to the house in his cart bringing with him his son, and James Hogben of Bilsington, Peaty put said horse into the stable, and all three came into the house and waited with Examinant, his brother, and Smeed ‘till Ransley came – and then all of them proceeded on [?] Whitfield Gate – and on the road about a mile, where they were to meet the whole of the company – but only two or three, to the best of his recollection, had arrived, of these James Hogben of Ruckinge was one, & Ransley asked him where the company was, and how it happened that he had not got them there – Hogben answered, he had ordered them all there, and he did not know why they had not come, on which Ransley told Examinant to ride back on the road, and see if he could find any of them, which he accordingly did – but after being absent about a quarter of an hour he returned, and on his way he met Hogben of Ruckinge, to whom he related that he had not met with any one and he then took Examinant’s horse, saying he would ride on to Whitfield’s Gate, and Examinant rejoined Ransley.

In something less than an hour afterwards he returned, bringing with him the company, whom he had fallen in with under the palm trees at Casney Court, as he said, on his return. Samuel Bailey was amongst this company, and Bailey on his arrival told Ransley, in Examinant’s leaving, that the reason they were waiting under the Palm Trees was, that Hogben had ordered them to stop there, ‘till he called for them. The company was then drawn up in a field by the road and mustered by Samuel Bailey and Ransley, and to the best of his recollection they did not amount to about more than 40, for they were short of hands and there were only 10 scouts, or armed men – of the latter there were four from Dymchurch, two named Waddell and Brown. Thomas Gillham, William Smeed, Richard Wire and Examinant, and he does not recollect the name of the tenth. After the party had been mustered they proceeded on from Whittfield Gate over Sutton Common to near Ripple Court where they stopped and Samuel Bailey called out to Examinant to take his gun and go as a scout. The company assembled not amounting to the usual number of working men exa’. Not having a gun would have formed one of the party, had it not been for Bailey proposing to him to take his gun. The five carts were left in the road, near Ripple Court, which is within two miles of Walmer Castle, under the charge of Ransley’s boy, Thomas Piety, John Quested and another man, a stranger, who owned a cart from Canterbury, and who had joined them at Lydden nearly at the time Ransley did – and the company then made their way for Walmer Castle, John Horn going on as tub carrier. It was not until they had crossed the road from Walmer to Dover that he began to judge where the run would take place. Leaving the village of Walmer on their left they crossed the fields towards the Castle and there the company lay down by the Castle Wall and shrubbery while Ransley went down to the sea side to look out for the expected boat, and in about a quarter of one hour Ransley came running up and a blockage man after him – that Ransley called out to the man “don’t fire, nobody’s going to hurt you” – but the man fired, on which one of the company he does not recollect which, returned the fire, and thereupon Ransley said “that’s enough – we have let them know what we have got” and then the company, by Ransley’s directions, retreated without affecting their subject. That on crossing the road leaving from Walmser to Dover they got into a ploughed field and in the dark Examinant and Thomas Piety Junr lost their party and straggled along without knowing their way got back into the road leading from Walmer to Deal, and proceeding down that road when they got near the South Barracks Gate examinant seeing a man gave his gun to Piety desiring him to walk on the other side that the man might not observe what he had got, while Examinant enquired what place it was, and asking the man what they called the place he answered he would let him know, but perceiving him dressed in a blue jacket, with a [??], and finding he was a Blockade man, Examinant attempted to run – the man pursued him and took him prisoner – and Piety made his escape.

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