The Cragg Vale Coiners - Famous Fakes and Frauds
The Cragg Vale Coiners (sometimes the Yorkshire
Coiners) were a band of counterfeiters based in Cragg
Vale, near Halifax, West Yorkshire. They produced fake gold
coins in the late 18th century to supplement small incomes
Led by 'King' David Hartley, the Coiners attained real
coins from publicans and other sources. They removed the
coins' genuine edges and milled them again. The coins were
only slightly smaller.
The Coiners collected the shavings from the real coins
and melted them down to produce counterfeits. Designs were
punched into the blank 'coins' with a hammer. The Coiners
then had their accomplices place the fakes into circulation.
Most of the counterfeit coins had French, Spanish, or
The Cragg Coiners were so successful because the region
of England they operated in was very rural.
In 1769, William Dighton (or Deighton), a public
official, investigated the possibilities of a counterfeiting
gang in Cragg Vale. A Coiner by the name of James Broadbent
betrayed the gang revealed its existence and operations to
authorities. Dighton had Hartley arrested.
The arrest made the Coiners vengeful. Isaac Hartley,
'King' David's brother, engineered a plan to have Dighton
killed. On November 10, two Coiners, Matthew Normanton (or
Normington) and Robert Thomas, ambushed Dighton near
Halifax, West Yorkshire, and shot him.
Charles Watson-Wentworth, the Marquess of Rockingham, was
recruited to hunt down the killers. He had 30 Coiners
arrested by Christmas Day. David Hartley was hanged at
Tyburn near York on April 28, 1770 and buried in the village
of Heptonstall, W Yorks. His brother, Isaac, escaped the
authorities and lived until 1815. As for Dighton's
murderers, Normanton was hanged on April 15, 1775 and Thomas
was hanged on August 6, 1774.
- David Hartley, who lived at a farm called Bell
House, was the leader of the gang.
- Thomas Sunderland, Joseph Shaw, and a Mr.
Lightoulers were engravers for the Coiners.
- Other Coiners include John Wilcock, Thomas Clayton,
Matthew Normanton, Thomas Spencer, and James Oldfield.
- James Broadbent, the confessor.