Daylight Robbery - Task 2: Evaluating different sources of information
Daylight Robbery - How do we know what happened at George Stevens and William Cooper's house on 23rd May 1816?
Transcribing original documents (Task 1) is only the start of being able to use them. Once you have transcribed them into modern handwriting or type, you then have to evaluate and make sense of them. You have already transcribed the prosecution docuements outlining the events that happened at the homes of George Stevens and compared this to the events described at William Coopers. The next task is to look at the accuracy of these records and compare then to other accounts of the same events.
We have five main original documents relating to events that happened at Willam Cooper's house that provide us with the evidence and which need to be carefully compared. The original documents are listed below:
- Before reading the documents, download the frame for evaluating original documents. This gives you details of how the documents were produced and who the document was for. You must decide:
- How accurate you think they are likely to be about what happened.
- Which of the five original documents do you think is most likely to be accurate about events on May 23rd 1816?
Remember that we do not have any neutral court records of the trial that contain the details of what was said or any of the official papers for the Defence.
- Now click on the documents links below and read each one. Each document relates to the events of the morning of May 23rd 1816 at William Cooper's shop (the first two you have already ready as part of task 1 but read them again to refresh your memory).
Use the writing frame to help you make notes and compare each document.
- Now summarise what you think actually happened from your notes. Think about:
- Which details you will include or leave out
- How did you decide which document to trust, especially if they made different claims about the same detail?
You have now written your own interpretation of events based on the original documents.
- The Public Record Office in London also keep two letters in their records about Aaron Layton's escape and arrest. To complete you understanding of what happened you may want to read these.
Aaron Layton's letter to his wife. You will find a transcription of the original letter and below a simplification (with some modern spellings and grammar added) in case you find it difficult to read. Compare the simplification with the original letter to see if you agree with its accuracy.
The official letter from W. Hobhouse to J. Beckett at the Home Office, asking constables to arrest Layton. W. Hobhouse was a government lawyer working for the Treasury, also in London.
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