The Yorkshire Coiners
The True Story of the Cragg Vale Gang
- Steve Hartley
15th April 2023
In late eighteenth-century Yorkshire a powerful gang of counterfeiters held the local community in its spell. In a remote valley near Halifax called Cragg Vale, gold coins of the realm were clipped and filed, then returned to circulation, while the extra metal collected was melted down to produce new counterfeit currency. The crime was punishable by death, and violence and vengeance, even murder, was meted out against those who got in their way. The Cragg Vale Coiners were highly organised, enlisting the help of many in the local community, and local authorities were powerless to stop them. The threat posed by the gang was debated in Parliament and the government had to do something to prevent the Exchequer being defrauded of millions of pounds and the nation’s currency being debased, so it was forced to despatch high-ranking officials of the Royal Mint in an attempt to bring the gang to justice and the ringleaders to the gibbet. The ensuing hunt for the gang members was bitter and the story of the outcome has become the stuff of legends.
Steve Hartley has been researching the true story of the Cragg Vale Coiners for many years. His interest in the story was sparked by the knowledge that he is a direct descendant of the gang leader ‘King David’ Hartley. In this book he presents the facts of the sensational reign of the Cragg Vale gang in a corner of Yorkshire that has fascinated people through the centuries since, inspiring folk songs, novels, plays and poetry as well as plans for a TV series and documentary, some of which Steve has assisted with his unparalleled knowledge of the true story of the Yorkshire Coiners.