A tragic outcome of the fear caused by the Swing Riots was revealed at an inquest at North Walsham, reported in the
Norwich Mercury in December 1830.
The hearing, before the coroner William Bell, at the George Inn, St Stephen's, on December 16, 1830, was told that John Moss, a stable boy working for Thomas Tuck of Strumpshaw, had died in the local hospital the day before, after being wounded by a man guarding Mr Tuck's hay stacks during the riots.
Richard Tuck, the farmer's son, said that he had gone to the stacks on the evening of December 6, to send one of the guards home.
They decided to check out the watchmen's vigilance and began by slamming the field gate and striking the butts of their guns on some stones. As they approached the barley stack from opposite ends they were challenged but still did not reply. Then Richard Tuck saw that Thomas Gymer, one of the watchmen, had struck John Moss.
Mr Tuck identified himself and he, Gymer and the other watchman, Richard Ward, took the stableboy to the farmhouse. He was then taken to hospital.
Mr Tuck said Gymer was of good character, a mild humane man, and bore no malice to the deceased.
Mr Norgate, a surgeon at the hospital, and Mr Eade (possibly father to Sir Peter Eade later mayor of Norwich), a surgeon of Blofield, said the wound was sufficient to cause death.
Richard Ward said he and Gymer, armed only with cudgels, had heard the noises and went to opposite ends of the stack. He said that if Mr Tuck had not spoken then he would have struck him down.
Thomas Gymer also descirbed hearing noises and said he thought someone was going to set fire to the stack; he saw a man with a gun pointed towards him. He called out, got no answer and then struck the man. He said it was too dark he could not tell who it was.
The coroner recommended a verdict of chance medley but after a two hour recess the jury came back with a verdict of manslaughter and the coroner had to commit Gymer to the city gaol to await assizes.
Just over three weeks later the Mercury reported:-
"On Saturday, Thomas Gymer, the man who so blamelessly but unfortunately killed his fellow servant in the protection of Mr Tuck's stack was admitted to bail by the Court of the King's Bench."
So what did happen to Thomas Gymer? Did he stand trial and was he acquitted or did the jury decide something more sinister happened that night?
Also reported in the Newcastle Courant 1st January 1831