This web 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 four 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.
The 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
As 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.
My book sets out the story of the Coiners using transcriptions of the actual newspaper reports, witness statements, letters and other documents.
Material 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 own family.
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 here.
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 remaining.