Coiner, David Hartley was hanged at York and was buried in the churchyard at Heptonstall where a stone marks his grave.
Mytholmroyd is about 5 miles from Halifax on the A646 through Calderdale in West Yorkshire and in the centre of the village there is an ancient hostelry, The Dusty Miller Inn, just opposite the A6138 which passes through the delightful rural valley of Cragg Vale.
An apt name for this pub would have been ‘The Coiners Den’ for this is where a gang of men, known as The Cragg Vale Coiners, used to meet back in the 18th century. ‘Coining’ was the art of making counterfeit coins and this gang used a method of clipping or filing bits off coin of the realm and melting down the accumulated gold or silver, which was then moulded and struck on a ‘die’ to produce a passable coin. Coining, which had been a problem for centuries, carried the ultimate penalty and the expert Cragg Valer’s were well aware of this fact. Their leader was a man called David Hartley, or ‘King David’ as he was known and he lived at Bell House high up in Cragg Vale, where much of the coining was carried out. The dies had to be made by a skilled craftsman and there were ways and means of bringing this about, and then all that was required was an expert ‘hammer man’ – he who could strike the die well enough to produce an accurate impression on the coin – and ‘ King David’ was Cragg Vale’s hammer man.
Things came abruptly to a head in 1769 when ‘King David’ and some of the gang were arrested at The Old Cock Inn in the centre of Halifax, by a government excise man, William Dighton, who had been sent to the area to investigate the gang. Foolishly, some of the remaining members of the gang lay in wait for Dighton and shot him dead. The upshot of the whole episode was that David Hartley and most of his gang were executed.
Hartley was buried in the old churchyard at Heptonstall where a simple gravestone marks his grave, and the original dies used by the gang can be seen in the little museum there.
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Photo taken in Heptonstall, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire HX7, UK
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