site is intended to be an online resource for people wishing to learn about the
coiners and their activities. Because of the extent of the gang, many people who
can trace their ancestry back to residents of the Cragg Vale area at the time will find that
their ancestors also had a part to play in the story of the Coiners.
The web site
is set out to answer the following questions: Where -
did the Yorkshire Coiners operate? What -
did the Coiners do? Why-
did they do what they did? Who -
was in the gang and who brought the gang to justice? When -
did all this take place?
This updated web site is the result of over
years of research during which I have also been writing a book on the subject of the
Coiners. The project started out by placing the existing published material into
chronological order to assist with the development of the feature film "The Last
Coiner" by Peter Kershaw of Duchy Parade Films.
In researching my book, I found that a great
deal of archive information existed which had never been published before and in
some cases actually proved that some of the existing publications (from which
this website had previously relied upon for information) did in fact contain
inaccuracies. It is the
result of that research that has enabled me to update this web site and correct
some of those inaccuracies.
This web site covers the
18th century events surrounding a
gang of criminals operating in the area to the west of Halifax, whose effect on
the coin in the Kingdom was acknowledged at the highest levels in Government.
This resulted in the House’s of Parliament being drawn into debate over the
affairs of the gang, and officers of the Royal Mint being despatched to
apprehend its members.
Less than ten miles due south of Haworth in
West Yorkshire, where Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte grew up in the
early 19th century, the same rugged landscape that inspired Wuthering Heights
played host to a sinister story of organised social crime, High Treason
and ultimately murder, some forty years before the Bronte sisters were born.
This particular gang of Yorkshire Coiners are
perhaps more accurately referred to as the Cragg Vale or Turvin Coiners due to
their base being in an area just off the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire
The Cragg Vale Coiners clipped and filed the
edges of gold coins and return the clipped coins to circulation. The Coiners used
the gold collected from several coins to cast blanks and stamp new coins using
skilfully made dies. These new
coins, usually Portuguese Moidores or Spanish Pistoles were then put into
circulation and as a result the Coiners made a healthy profit.
photograph on the left (click for full size image) shows the ruins of St
Thomas a Beckett Church in Heptonstall with the two graves of my ancestors visible
in the foreground on the right of the picture.
Beneath the two long gravestones
lie the remains of "King" David Hartley (from whom I am descended) and Isaac Hartley, known as the "Duke of
Edinburgh" as well as other family members. Their 'royal' titles were given to them by the members of the
gang as a reflection of their status at the
head of the Cragg Vale Coiners gang.
David Hartley bas buried here in
1770 after being executed by hanging at York Tyburn for the part he played in
leading the Cragg Vale Coiners, though the only charges he actually faced were
for clipping a Guinea with another man.
Despite being acknowledged in many
documents of the time as the man that organised the murder of the man who was
instrumental in David Hartley's arrest, Isaac Hartley was never prosecuted
and died an old man in 1815 and was buried in the grave next to his brother.
Yorkshire Coiners Chronology
indicated elsewhere on this page, I have been writing a book to describe the
activities of the Yorkshire Coiners. The working title of this book is the Yorkshire Coiners Chronology.
sets out the story of the Coiners using transcriptions
of the actual newspaper reports, witness statements, letters and other
relating to the Coiners can be found in the National Archives in Kew; West
Yorkshire Archive Service in Halifax; the Sheffield City Archives; Leeds Central Library;
and in the Borthwick Institute at the University of York. Over the past four
years I have been visiting all of these archive facilities and locating all of
the documents I can relating to the story of the Coiners. All of the
original documents held in the archives have been painstakingly examined,
checked, transcribed and recreated as faithfully and accurately as possible
in the book and relate to all members of the gang, not just the members of my
If you have an
ancestor who was possibly in the gang, or are interested in the activities of
the Yorkshire Coiners or the history of the area in which they lived, the book
will hopefully be of interest to you. I hope to have
the book published shortly, so if you are
interested in receiving details of the book as and when it is available you can
register your interest by clicking
The Hartley Family
'King' David Hartley is my great,
great, great, great, great grandfather. A separate section of this web site
describes my own links to the leader of the Cragg Vale Coiners and the history of my family to the present day,
including their presence in the local area after the coiners were gone.
A copy of my
family tree, together with details of census records, probate records, memorial
inscriptions and family bible records indicate the direct male link between
David Hartley and me, which to my knowledge is the only direct male link