After deserting from the Royal Navy, Michael made his way home to Yorkshire and befriended a man named Benjamin Kay, possibly a deserter also. The two tried their hand at highway robbery and on the 4th of February 1811, attempted to rob William Jackson, a miller from Newhill.
It was alleged that Michael stopped William Jackson on the King’s Highway leading from Rotherham to Rawmarsh, fired a pistol at him and struck him upon the head with the butt end of his pistol. A few weeks later Michael and Benjamin were arrested and put in York Castle to await trial, which wouldn’t be heard until the 31st of July.
The conditions inside the prison were terrible, with each cell holding between twelve to fifteen prisoners, with the overcrowding causing “nauseous smells and violent sicknesses”. Often, prisoners lived on nothing but bread and water, slept on bare boards, and wore nothing but rags in the unheated cells.
Source of Michael’s crime and arrest comes from The York Herald and County Advertiser, March 24, 1811.
Artwork of York Castle is from York 360