Black Country Muse

Subtitle

Forums

Post Reply
Forum Home > Other Crimes and Punishments. > Staffordshire. Hangings and Punishments.

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

When dealing with subjects like this, one should remember, that up to the 1820s, the County was mainly rural. This fact is starkly bought to mind, when looking at court records. In 1833, there were no less than 222 offences, which would have carried a death penalty, should you have been found guilty of one. To illustrate the point, at the Worcester Assizes, in 1736, William Bithall and William Morgan, were sentenced to death for cutting down the Ledbury Turnpike Gate.  In 1740, in Staffordshire, a man called " Blackmore Billy ",  was hanged for Highway Robbery. (Mind you, with a name like that, he must have had a fearsome reputation as a highwayman.)  Elizabeth Morton, found guilty at Worcester of Petty Treason, ( Killing her husband with poison ) was taken back to where the crime was committed, in this case,Evesham, and burnt at the stake. She was only 22. Gibbeting, or hanging in chains, was carried out, as an example to others, not to follow the same path. The authorities way of punishment,  for crimes against the more well off  gentlemen of the area. Did it have any effect ? Well in 1767, John Scott, was taken from Shrewsbury, and was hanged, and put in chains at Bridgenorth, for burglary at one of the towns merchants house. Walter Kidson, found guilty in 1773, was hanged on Stourbridge Common, in front of a large crowd, for the murder of Obediah Rollinson, and then hung in chains, and ten years later, the same fate befell Thomas Wardle, this time, put in chains at Bromsgrove lock. Concidering that alternative sentences were available, from 1718, and up to 1775, transportation to the  American colonies, I can't help but wonder, why the system wasn't used in some of these cases. Perhaps they were all desperate criminals. Staffordshire was no better, although there doesn't appear to be a burning in the records.



Between 1800, and 1827, at Stafford, there were 43 hangings. The offences varied, but amongst them, there are only 8 for the crime of murder. It would have to be a guess, just how many were sent to Australia, but at least it saved some from a necktie party. Now I don't know, except for a few of the more familiar names, if any of them came from what is termed as, " the Black Country ", but do let me know if you recognise any. Benjamin Perry and Thomas Smith were hanged in 1800 for ' Uttering ', a term used for passing dud coins and fake banknotes.. An interesting aside to this case are the attempts to escape the Gallows, by Thomas Smith. He first removed the bricks from his cell wall, tore up his blankets to make a rope, but was caught, and banged up in a more secure cell. Next, he tried to escape from the Prison Chapel on the day of his execution, jumped 25 feet down into the courtyard, but was stopped by the Prison Governor, just as he reached the Lodge gates. Thomas Spittle, John Harper, and John Smith, were all hanged, in 1801, for Horse theft. During the many upheavals and riots, stemming from the introduction of machinery, John Waltho, was hanged for Rick burning, in 1805. George Allen, was hanged in 1807, for the murder of his 3 children, and this maybe one from our region. It must have been a lonely life, as a farm labourer, as Thomas James was hanged, in 1811, for Bestiality. The famous Staffordshire forger, William Booth, was hanged in 1812, after being caught redhanded at his farm in Perry Barr. ( then part of Staffordshire ) The only man, who was Tried Twice, Hanged Twice, and finally Buried Twice. Something of a record it seems. The outrage at Kinver, the robbery and subsequent death from shooting of Benjamin Robins, saw his killer, William Howe, hanged and then gibbeted in March 1813. The list goes on, all for similar offences, and in 1817, Ann Statham met her doom for the killing of her months old Child, by drowning it. In 1819, we come across John Duffield, who was hanged for High Treason. Not what you and I would call it, because the offence  was forging Coins of the realm. John Walklate, William Toft, and Daniel Collier, were executed in 1820 for the Rape of Hannah Bowers. Followed later in the year, by the infamous Abel Hill, from Bilston, who drowned pregnant Mary Malton, and her son Thomas, in the Canal at Bradley.  For the crime of Cutting and Maiming, ( knife crime, 1820s style ) Bejamin Hodges paid the full price. The full list of Capital offences continued until the Law changed, in 1836, when the list was shortened to just 16, and from that date, only Murderers were executed



One Murder, that stands out, was that of Christina Collins, in 1839, brutally killed by two drunken Boatmen while taking passage on their flyboat. George Thomas and James Owen were not caught until the next year, but got their just desserts in 1840. Another from the region, Charles Higginson, was hanged in 1843, for the appalling murder of his 5 year old son,  There's Sarah Westwood in 1844, ( Killed her Husband )  Paul Downing and Charles Poweys in 1845, 19 and 17 years old respectively, the infamous William Palmer, in 1856. George Bentley had the bright idea of putting a large stone in his handkerchief, and bludgening an old man, for his money. The old man died, and the district of Eccleshall breathed a sigh of relief when they strung him up in March 1866. Christopher Robinson, just 18, and from Wolverhampton, was hanged the same year for Cutting his girlfriend's throat with a razor, and then failing to cut his own properly.  William Collier, in August 1868, became, The last person in Staffordshire to be publicly hanged.  By now, the Capital offences had been reduced to just 4, following a review in 1861, and a further review, put paid to the mobs enjoyment, and a day out, by making all future hangings private.

Hanging of course wasn't the only form of punishment available. From 1718, right up to the War of Independence in 1775, wrong do'ers had been transported to the American Colonies. Some went for 5, 7 years, or, even in exchange for not being hanged, life. Some came back, some died there, and some couldn't, even if they had the means. There were other alternatives also used, Flogging was a favourite, being compelled to spend years mending roads was another. In times of conflict, those found guilty of offences could be drafted into the various Regiments or Militia, or what would have terrified many, sent to make up crew numbers in the Navy. Many never survived this experience, not a healthy place a lower deck. Some however, went on to carve out a career in the services, and gave stirling and unstinting service, sometimes, they gave their lives. From 1776, to 1867, another alternative form of punishment was presented to the nations courts. The Transportation to Australia, and Van Demans Land. Quite a few Staffordshire men, and women, found themselves being taken to the Hulks moored in the Harbours of the south coast, or the filthy conditions of the Fleet Prison. They would be on the way to 5, 7, 10,12, or 15 years incarceration, or again, in exchange for their lives, they would never return. Hundreds were sent out in the Fleets, but these figures dropped in 1853, when the Penal Servitude Act was passed. We then begin to see, a prison service emerge, which, although much harsher than today, was a viable alternative.


To reflect this growing change, the records of Hangings at Stafford, tell a story. Between 1872, and the time the system changed, 1914, only 17 men were executed at the Prison. Once again, I don't know how many came from the Black Country area, but I've listed them anyway.   Christopher Edwards, 34, Aug 1872, for killing his wife, Robert Taylor, 21, Dec 1874, for killing Mary Kidd. John Stanton, 22, Mar 1875, for killing his Uncle. Henry Rogers, 27, Jul 1877, for killing his wife. James Williams, 24, Feb 1881, for killing Elizabeth Bagnall. ( see Murder Case Reviews.) Thomas Boulton, 47, Aug 1885, for killing his Niece. ( A typical " wicked Uncle story, he had impregnated her.) Thomas Clews, 27, Jan 1889, for killing his wife. John Hewitt, 19, Aug 1893, for killing William Masfen. ( See " More Nasty Murders ") Thomas Bond, 29, Aug 1895, for killing Frederick Bakewell. both of these executions were carried out by Thomas Henry Scott, from Huddersfield, who shortly afterwards, was dismissed for consorting with prostitutes. ( And being robbed by one ) Joseph Shufflebothan, 38, Apr 1900, for killing his wife Elizabeth. William Lane, 47, Aug 1902, for killing Elizabeth Dyson. Henry Jones, 50, Mar 1904, for killing Mary Elizabeth Gilbert. Frederick Edge, 23, Dec 1905, for killing Frances Walter Evans. Joseph Jones, 60, Mar 1907, for killing his son-in-law, Edmund Clarke. ( see Foul murders.) Joseph Edwin Jones, 39, who resided in Bilston, shot and killed his wife and then legged it. Taking a lesson from a similar crime, he then strongly denied doing anything wrong, and even if he had, he said, he couldn't remember it. He was still protesting on 14th April 1909, when he was despatched from this life, for killing his wife, Charlotte. George Loake, 64, Dec 1911, for killing his wife, Elizabeth. Finally, Joshiah Davies, 58, Mar 1914, for killing Martha Hodgekins. This was the last time that anyone was hanged at Stafford.


We do of course, live in different times now, but Murder, Crime, and the Punishment, hold a facination, hard to get away from. If any of this helps with your search for your relatives, or puts you on the right path, then it was worth the effort of putting it all on. Again, if you wish to comment, please feel free, and do have a look at the other subjects covered, as some of the above names and cases have been included.




--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 5, 2011 at 11:50 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404



When Penal Servitude was introduced, it bought with it a slight problem. What to do with all the prisoners. To counter the so called " idleness ", a work program was introduced, well, they called it work. Most prisons were equiped with a Mill, some of them ground Corn into flour, others were not conected to anything at all. We are of course in the era, which, unlike today, firmly viewed prison as a punishment, not a holiday camp. These Mills were powered by Water wheels, or more likely," The Treadmill ". The contraptions that were constructed, were up to 30 feet long, with treads set about 9 inches apart. This ensured, that each convict had to keep moving quite fast, or take a fall, which risked being crushed by the mill wheel. Seperated from each other by a wooden screen, no talking was allowed, otherwise, another form of  ' work ' was applied. The prisoners worked for sixteen minutes, with a break of eight minutes, and then the cycle was repeated. The only means of support during the process, was a small chain, equiped with an even smaller handle. Falls and injuries were common place. The only escape, was a recommendation from the prison Doctor, that the man was unfit.  At least a broken leg was required. Even the hardest criminal, after a few weeks of this treatment, would have been obliged, to alter his ways. The other punishment was what was called " The Crank ". This was simply a handle, fixed to a cell wall, and a mechcanical device on the other side of the wall, that determined how hard it was to turn the handle. In some ways, this may have been worse than the treadmill, as no breaks were allowed. The punishment went on all day, every day, until the Govenor decided, that the ' crime ' had been atoned for. This punishment was handed out for the most trivial of reasons. The older prisoners, were very adapt at this system, knowing just how fast to turn the handle, to clock up the required number of revolutions. The new ones turned very fast, and their punishment took longer. It was of course possilbe to screw the handle down tight, which made the task almost herculean in nature. It's no wonder, that some prisoners died, or committed suicide while in prison. 10 hours a day of that, for any length of time, would have made hanging a blessed release, and Iv'e no doubt, that a lot of them thought the same.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 22, 2011 at 10:59 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Part of the duties of the old time Hangmen, was a system of varoius punishment's, which bought in a few extra fee's. Most of them were fairly expert in the old art of Flogging, men or women, made no difference, all the same price. Through the Streets, or in the market place, it was pretty standard for minor offences, the only variation, being the number of lashes given. Following reforms, along with Hanging, this practice was confined to inside the prison, and only then applied for breaking the rules. A Cat o' Ninetails, is a fearsome looking implement, nine or more whips, over 3 feet long, lashed together to make the whole. Each 'cat', was almost a quarter of an inch thick, and caused blood to flow from the first stroke. The standard for most prisons, was 36 lashes, and the unfortunate man, ( or in some cases women ) were secured to a " T " shaped flogging post. Watched, usually by all the prisoners, it would have been a strong man who did not cry out, or faint from the pain. There was always a Doctor standing by, not, as you might think, to admininster aid, but to agree to the fitness of the individual to return to work. ( Very few got excused )  Now if that wasn't enough, how about living on just bread and water for the next 3 days. Like most of the countries prisons, Stafford believed in a " Kill or cure " approach.



The cost of keeping prisoners, was as much an issue then, as it would appear to be today. The rations for the convicted, were set at 158 ounces per week, of solid food. ( quality not specified ) Bear in mind, that a normal working man, required at least 160 ounces a day, and these prisoners worked 6 days a week, 10 hours a day. They were very near starvation rations. Most people would rather go to prison for committing crime, than for the other dreaded offence, Debt. Most prisons had a small wing, set aside for Debters, where they were subject to even further punishment. The food ration was reduced to just 127 ounces a week in this wing, barely enough just to keep a man alive. Indeed, some of them never recovered from this appalling treatment. Some said it was better than starving outside the prison, but as this next bit shows, it was a balancing act. A 16 year old young man, like his family, all out of work, no food on the table, steals a Codfish. Not a big deal really, but this is 1869, and punishment was swift, and harsh. Sentenced to 7 years Penal Servitude, for the theft of a Fish, his first 6 months in Stafford Prison read like your worst nightmare. He was forced to sleep on a wooden board, with a wooden pillow for company. He suffered the agonies of the awful Treadmill, but avoided the fate of several other inmates, who fell, were crushed, and had legs broken. He avoided breaking any rules, and thereby was never put into Solitary Confinement. This consisted of being put in chains, being fed the Debtors diet, and flung into a dark cell or hole. Now I know, that there will be people reading this, who have strong views, on prison conditions today. We may all sometimes be shocked, at what we see as soft treatment, but would we really like to take a backward step in time?

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 26, 2011 at 4:12 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

From early times, it was the case, that if you fled beyond the Parish boundries, a criminal had a excellent chance of getting away with it. The representatives of the law at the time, had neither the resources nor the man power, or indeed, much help in apprehending a felon from the neighbouring county. There was simply no system of exchanging information, or co-operation. By the early 1800s however, things began to improve, and we begin to see a distinct improvement. As in this ilustration demonstrates.


The Black Country may have spawned quite a few lucky individuals, who made a fortune, but for the majority of the population, it was desperate grinding poverty. Bilston seems to have been, at one time, a virtual den of thieves, with gangs of men and boys, up to 40 strong. Robbery Burglary, and all manner of petty theft were carried out by these gangs, and not just in the area where they lived. These gangs were, for the time, more mobile that most moden people think. In March, 1810, six men, all from the Black Country, raided the property of one W.C. Norcop, at Belton, near Market Drayton, in Shropshire. Mr Norcop was a very wealthy man, and information as how to accomplish the burglary, had been supplied by a gang member, who had, at one time, been employed as Mr Norcops coachman. Knowing his way around the house, he knew all it's weak spots, and it was a simple matter to break in, and then let the gang in when the house retired for the night. Alas, they couldn't find Mr Norcops money, so they went to his bedroom, and at pistol point, took the keys to his desk and strong box, and got away with over £140 pounds. This was a large sum of money in 1811, and Mr Norcop was not going to let them get away with it. Information supplied, and paid for by by Mr Norcop, was circulated to the neighbouring Counties. Within a week, it had produced some good results. John Taylor, 43, and from Bilston, was caught hidding in a celler in Birmingham. Samuel Sheldon, 36, from Tipton, was arrested at the Public House he ran, in Owen Street.  Abraham Whitehouse, and James Baker, both 19, went 120 yards down a mine shaft in their native Bilston to escape, but were swiftly captured. Isaac Hickman, 23, from Bradley, and William Turner, 33, from Wednesbury, went on the run. The pursuit however continued, and the pair were apprehended after an attempted armed robbery at Kenilworth. Firearms were used to evade capture, but they finished up with the rest, in Shrewsbury Gaol. Not a bad result for the time, and things were to get better with the arrival of Sir Robert Peel later in the century, who bought in some much needed reforms, to the fledgling Police service. And what of the fate of the 6 men. Samuel Sheldon confessed all, turned states evidence, and was discharged at the trial in August 1811. He may have gone back  to serving beer, although I somehow don't think he would have been very popular in Tipton. The other 5 were all found guilty, and despite 2 of them showing great remorse, they were all hanged on Saturday, 24th August, in front of Shrewsbury Gaol. It attracted a vast crowd, as did the procession of the corpse's back to Staffordshire. It was concidered to be lucky, to have a piece of clothing from a hanged man. Perhaps thats why, each body was attended, by at least 6 of their relatives. From now on though, flight would no longer ensure escape, the arm of the law, was getting very much longer.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 29, 2011 at 4:28 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Following the successful aprehension of the Bilston gang, there was another similar one the next year, although this tale is much wider known. The details of the Murder that led to this criminal being caught, are in a surviving wanted poster, itself, a bit of a rarity. The deed was carried out on 18th December,1812, on the Stourbridge to Kinver Road. A Mr Benjamin Robins, returning from Market, was accosted by a man who walked some way with Mr Robins. Coming to Dunsley Hill, the man shot Mr Robins in the back, then robbed him of £21. 8s, and a Silver watch. When the wanted poster was produced, Mr Robins was still alive, but died some days later. The culprit, William Howe, ( alias John Wood ) went on the run, knowing that the description would fit him, and the reward of £100 would be too tempting for his aquaintances. He left the region with all haste and went to London, no doubt hoping to hide among the large population. The eagle eyes of the Bow Street Runners however, sharpened I suspect by the big fat reward, were soon on to him. He was captured on January 13th,1813, and swiftly bought back to Stafford. The jury at his trial in March wasted no time in finding him guilty, and later the same month he got his just desserts. Howe was also suspected of a previous murder, near Bridgenorth, in November of 1812, just 3 weeks before that of Mr Robins, but he would never admit to it, as no money had been stolen, he being disturbed by other travellers. The discription in the poster, was said at the time, to match William Howe perfectly. It certainly pays to advertise.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 1, 2011 at 4:49 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

To continue the theme, and almost 40 years later, we not only have better Police detection work, but a more humane sentencing regime. On a dark October night in 1851, two men were observed hanging around on the road near Home Farm, Portway, Rowley Regis. The area was classed as being in Oldbury, but most people would have said it was Whiteheath. It was not Home Farm though, that was to be the target of the two mens plan that night, but the place called Portway Croft. This was the Home of an elderly spinster, Sarah Nicklin. who owned, several small Farms and houses in the area. The quarterly rents had recently been collected, and there was a fair amount of money in the house. It was apparent to the occupiers, Sarah Nicklin, Jane Richards, Sarahs niece, and David Nicklin, her cousin, that the two masked intruders who had broken in, knew this very well. Offering some resistance, David Nicklin was knocked to the ground, and when that failed, he was shot in the head. The first bullet smashed his cheek, took out many teeth, and part of his Jaw, the second hit him inthe arm, and the third in the side. He was left for dead, and the two continued to search the house. Sarah Nicklim was made of stern stuff, and she calmly told them where to find her money, but not the bulk of it. They escaped into the night with two £5 notes from the Dudley and West Bromwich Bank, two £5 notes drawn on the Bank of England, and a quantity of Gold Sovereigns. Sarahs neice rasied the alarm, and when the Oldbury Police and Surgeon arrived, that found David Nicklin still alive. He eventually recovered. The two men got clean away, so Sarah Nicklin had a poster and a reward of £50 circulated. Nothing was forthcoming, so the detectives from Birmingham were put on the case. They were quickly informed of a similar robbery in Cornwall, a village in Oxfordshire, in which money and clothes were taken. One item in perticular, a pony- skin Hat, was to prove vital to what happened later. The next outrage was at Burford near to the Town of Tenbury, in Worcestershire. Because it was a famous place for Spa-Waters, the place was served by an excellent Stage Coach service, and escape was easy. The robberies continued, until on 5th November, a sharp eyed Policeman spotted a man wearing a distinctive pony-skin Hat in Ludlow high street. There followed a small gunfight, in which the police showed great bravery, and both men were apprehended. One, wounded in the stomach, gave his name as George Hanks, the other, as George Jones. When they appeared at Leominster, charged with armed robbery, a Police officer from Oxfordshire identified the men as two escaped convicts, their names being Joseph Moss, and Charles Rock. This turned out be false in the case of  Rock, who had previously given the name Hanks. This was in fact his real name, and he had been born in Oldbury, where prior to tuurning to armed robbery, he had worked for a local Printer, Josiah Law, in Eel Street, Oldbury. He also knew Sarah Nicklin, and just how much the Portway woman was worth. Taken to Oxford, they were formally charged with armed robbery at Cornwall, Chipping Norton, and committed to Oxford Assizes. It was widely held that the sentence would be a a light one, and that they would be then sent to Oldbury, and committed to the Worcester Assizes. There then followed an extrodinary legal wrangle, and the result was that both men were transferred to Oxford to await their fate.on the 28th February.1852, they were found guilty as charged and a death sentence was passed on them both. This was reduced to Transportation for life. There was a strong appeal by a Lawyer from Halesowen, Mr Haynes, to have them taken back to Worcester, and face the more serious charges there., where it was widely believed, they would swing on the end of a rope. It failed, and the two duly found themselves outward bound to the sunny climes of Australia. An interesting little postscript, is that the Reward Posters were Printed by the same man, Josiah Law, who George Hanks had previous worked for, and which played such a large part in their capture. Strange old world sometimes, isn't it ?

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 5, 2011 at 4:49 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Looking through the figures, it's sometimes hard, not to come to the conclusion, that someone had set a target for the total hanging in the Country. The stark choice in the early 1800s was death or transportation, and large batches of the convicted, had the death sentence reduced, to transportation for life. It looks like there was a balancing act, between finding settlers for Australia, or adding a few more to the heavenly choir.



Take 1821 for example, there were 95 hangings in this year, but almost double that, were banished from our shores, never to return. Six rogues from Rowley Regis, well known to the Vicar, Rev George Barrs, hatched a plot that eventualy, much to his relief, saw them leave the Parish in chains. On 13th April, 1821, in a dark corner of  " The Swan Inn ",  in Rowley Village, two brothers, Benjamin and Samuel Perry, together with John Priest, John Buff, Israel Jennings, and Ephriam Rollason, were deep in conversation, planning a robbery. The subjects of the robbery, were an elderly couple, Mr and Mrs Downing, who lived on Turners Hill, and were reputed to worth a tidy sum. The demon drink of course, played a large part in this scheme, but when Bejamin Perry said, that if the old man put up a struggle, he would " finish the old miser off ", two of the group refused to take part. Jennings and Buff, fearful of being implecated in the drunken plan, hurried to see the Parish Constabe, Samuel Hadley, who was at this time, together with others, guarding a property, Portway Hall, from a similar threat. They all rushed off into the night, in the direction of the Downings  house, just in time to catch Rollason and Priest, making off with some of the stolen booty. Constable Hadley, who knew the Perry brothers well, waited awhile, then at 4am he raided their house in Waterfall Lane. All four of them were still in a very drunken state, and it was not long before Hadley had recovered the stolen items from a hedge, not far from the house they had recently robbed. Instead of the rich pickings promised by Benjamin Perry, the haul consisted of, 2 bed sheets, a pair of specs, a Pistol,a pat of butter, a loaf, a bag of flour, some new-laid eggs, and a small joint of beef. ( presumable they were going to make a few good sandwiches ) They were all put into the Lunatics Cell, at Rowley Workhouse, where no doubt, as their brains cleared, they realised it was small reward for what was then, a hanging offence. The local gentry were in no doubt, that an example must be made. Speaking for the others, Benjamin Perry, claimed that he had come across the Pistol, after being in a card game, and knowing that it belonged to Mr Downing, he was merely returning it. Which of course implies, that Perry was at the scene of a previous robbery at the house, and knew full well whose pistol it was. As for the reason they were there at the time, no, the Magistrates didn't believe it either, and finding them guilty, sent them off for trial at the next Staffordshire Assizes. The Rev George Barrs, even managed to get in a quick sermon, as they were being taken away, which must have pleased him greatly. Mr Justice Garrow, and the jury at the Assizes were no more impressed than the Magistrates had been with Perry's explanation, and wasting no time, found them guilty, donned the black cap, and pronounced the death sentence. They were just 4, out of 20 others that day, September 1st, 1821, who received the same fate. Surprisingly, all 20 were later reprieved, and sent off to Australia instead. Obviously, the need for increasing the population of the vast new lands, was of far greater importance. So, if  in your records, you have a name that matches those mentioned, you know where they went, and why they didn't come back.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 7, 2011 at 11:56 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Now here's a little tale of stupidity and arrogance, from the northern part of Staffordshire, Hanley near Stoke-on-Trent. The year is 1820, it's February, cold, and the weather has not put off some young men, on a Saturday night , from celebrating. The 5 who made up this little party, had enjoyed an evening at " The Lamb Inn", Sneyd Green, and  were in company with a woman, known locally as "Tanner Hannah".  I don't think I need to describe why do I ? Once down the dark lanes of the countryside, things got just a bit out of hand, and 3 of them, in spite of all the beer, had what was known in 1820, as a " connection " with her. Being a very professional young woman, she did what she saw as right in the circumstances, and demanded payment. All she got for her trouble, was a load of insults, and called  " The Sneyd Green Strumpet ". Next morning, still feeling hard done by, ( oh dear, sorry about that ) she reported the rape to the Parish Constable, and the cogs of justice began to turn. At first, her reputation was against her, as witnessed by the Police suggesting to the young men, that they should club together, and pay Hannah Bowers a few pounds, as compensation. They point blank refused, This was what the bit I term, as an act of sheer stupidity. To their surprise, but no one else's, they were all banged up in Stafford Gaol to await trial. Feelings against Hannah Bower were running high, and armed with this knowledge, when asked again to pay up, they refused. This is the bit I class as sheer arrogance, and they were to pay for it dearly. Before Mr Justice Richardson, the case unfolded, and to their surprise, the prosecution prevailed. Putting on his black triangle, he sentenced all 5 to death, to be carried out on April15th. Dispite all the protests and petitions, the Law would not budge, and so that stupidity, and arrogance, had as good as carved their names on their gravestones. 2 of the 5, who had not had " connection ", were reprieved, but the other 3, William Walklate, Daniel Collier, and William Toft, were duly hanged, outside the Prison in front of a large, and rowdy crowd. Well there was very little public entertainment in 1820 after all. After being hung for an hour, they were cut down and loaded on a cart, which then proceded back to Hanley, for the burial. The cart was followed by what the carter took to be almost the whole population of Hanley, which was hell bent on a little more fun. They caused enormous damaged to every village they went through, so by the time the cart got to Stone, the poor carter was terrified. Glancing at the dead occupants, he was even more horrified to see Daniel Collier's limbs move, and croaking sounds coming from his damaged throat. Whipping up his horse, he outdistanced the mob to have a closer look. Yes, it appeared that the young man had survived the hanging, and with the mob now getting close again, he took up the whip. Thankfully, well thats what he must have felt, by the time he got to Hanley all signs of life had long gone, and Daniel was as stiff as the rest. There were several cases of such happenings, but if you think that Daniel Collier would have gone on to lead a useful life, forget it. When the authorities found out about such survivals, they simply re-hung them. The Law is the Law, as they say, and it certainly wasn't stupid.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 15, 2011 at 5:01 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

There must be something in the air of Rowley, that induces people to do silly things. Not only there either, for in the Parish of Sedgley, in 1787, a wicked plot was being conceived. James Haden, his father and another family member, together with the main character in this tale, Mary Taylor, had a fairly complicated, but simple plan in mind. The complicated bit, was obtaining a forged document, to wit, a glowing reference for the 17 year old Mary. As a domestic servant, Mary had worked around the area, and selecting a family she had briefly worked for, The Claytons of Wroxeter, a forgery, via a crooked Sedgley lawyer was obtained. The next step was to find a suitably rich household, and to this end Mary Taylor, using the alias of Smith, was interviewed by Thomas Lawrence, who resided, with his wife and family, just on the edge of Rowley Village. Accepting the forgery as the real thing, they took on " Mary Smith ". She was a hard worker was Mary, well at least in the 4 days she was there, as on the 5th, she disappeared. She didn't of course leave empty handed. A large amount of clothing and Dresses, 4 Crown peices, a Dollar, a new Shilling, and a new Sixpence, all in solid silver went with her. She would have needed help with all this of course, and James Haden and Co, were close at hand. Word of the robbery quickly spread, as did the discription of the stolen items. Mary was spotted wearing one of Mrs Lawrence's dresses, in a shop at Oldbury, and she was speedily apprehended. The Magistrates found she had a case to answer, and promptly sent her to Shrewsbury for trial. Now it's not clear if the Hadens had anything to do with what happened next, for the enterprising Mary, actually escaped. She was quite a small young women, only 5 foot 2 inches, and rather on the slim side, as the records say. Squeezing out of her cell, she then dropped 13 feet onto an adjoining roof, and as they say, legged it. Rumours were also circulating in Sedgley, that the Hadens had come into a fair bit of money recently, so a few weeks after Mary's escape, a visit was paid to the house. James Hadens father, who may not have been all that bright, was found in possesion of some of the stolen items, but of Mary, there was no sign. James claimed he had not seen the girl for some time, but the lawmen suspected that he, or his relatives, were hiding her. To be sure, they arrested all of the suspects, and under a warrant obtained by Thomas Lawrence, transported them all to Shrewsbury Gaol. Thomas Lawrence offered a reward of 5 guineas, for information leading to her recapture, a sum that would have been more than a tad welcome to some in the district. There is a suggestion that she was indeed caught, and as there's no record of a hanging of any of the culprits, I am assuming that their fate was transportaion, and if anyone in Sedgley, or Tipton, can provide the missing information, I would be grateful.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 14, 2011 at 4:59 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Benjamin Perry,  who is mentioned in the first post in this topic, was born in Sedgley. His stated trade was a Locksmith, but from the records, such as they are, he spent more time actually picking them, than making them. He was caught in the act in 1795, and although he didn't. on this occasion, steal anything, the Court sentenced him to six months hard labour. There was speculation, unconfirmed  by the gentleman whose house he had entered, that he had made the lock he picked. In his 50s, Perry was not a very bright man, and was, to a great extent, dominated by his brother, Farmer Perry. This brother had many friends of a dubious character, amongst them, a forger of banknotes, not a brilliant one it has to be said, but just passable. On the 23rd December, 1800, Benjamin, presumable on instructions from his brother, was in Darlaston, passing dud notes drawn on the Dudley Bank, owned by Messers Dixon and Amphlett,  which were dated 2nd December, 1800, and signed by Joseph Amphlett. Going from shop to shop, Benjamin found himself, about 2pm, outside the Butchers shop of George Bradley. His daughter-in-law, Hannah Simpkin was behind the counter, when he asked for a piece of beef priced at 2s 11p. She was bit surprised, because the man she had not seen before, was rather tattily dressed, and looked like he hadn't got 2 farthings to rub together. Presented with the one pound note, Hannah, who wasn't stupid, noticed that one end was narrower than the other. Satisfied with his answer of thats how they were sometimes cut, she handed over the beef, and 17s 1p in change. This next bit, is what gives rise to the fact of Benjamin Perry not being very bright. Completely lossing track of which shops he actually been in, he stupidly returned two hours latter, and again ordered a piece of beef. Once again he offered the same kind of note he had done before, which Hannah found odd, and wondered why he hadn't used the more common Bank of England notes. The reason was simple, these notes were much harder to forge. Going into the back of the shop, ( to get a better piece of beef she said ) she hastily compared the notes with others and came to the conclusion they were both forged. Clever girl our Hannah, for she next sent a neighbour in search of Mr Blakemore, the local Constable. Perry was still in the shop when he arrived, and despite all kinds of excuses, he was taken into custody. He told the local Magistrates that the notes came from his brother, who, throwing aside the old saying, " blood is thicker than water ", promptly denied that he'd ever seen such notes. This contradicted a previous statement he had made and resulted in Benjamin being committed to Stafford prison to await trial. Such a serious crime carried only one sentence, and it was duly passed on the 11th A\pril 1800, Death by Hanging.  The man from Sedgley, who was reported to be half dead already when dragged from his cell, would have been better off keeping a note of which shops he had been to, except for the fact he couldn't write.


--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 16, 2011 at 12:01 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

One man from Lower Gornal, Charles Hartland, a carpenter, and respected Church member, had a very lucky escape from the Hangman in 1879. After long harbouring a grudge, finally, on 8th August that year, he shot the local Vicar, Rev James Yates Rooker, three times in the head.Well known for his good works around the area, he had been the vicar for over 32 years, and was concidered by most of the inhabitants as a family friend. He had seen his flock suffer, through various Nail and Mining strikes, always on hand to do what he could. One of his pride and joys was the Church Choir, of which Charles Hartland was a member.


The Rev Rooker was, at 65 it seems, a tough old bird, he survived the attack. He had spoken to his assailant, just a short while before entering the gocery store of Jabez Addenbrooke. Inside was the lone figure of Charles Hartland, and as Mrs Addenbrooke didn't seem to be around The Rev turned to leave. All he remembered of what followed, was the sound of an explosion, and that when he turned to face Hartland, who still had the pistol pointed at him, blood gushed from his mouth and nose. Hartland calmly walked out of the shop, and down Ruiton Street, towards his home. The sound of shots meanwhile, bought passers by to the grocery shop, and medical aid was quickly sought, for the old vicar was gravely wounded. This prompt action undoubtedly saved his life. Chales Hartland was soon apprehended, taken to the Police Court in Bilston, charged with attempted murder, and sent to Stafford prison to wait his day of judgement.


The Trial, in November 1880, ( delayed while the Rev Rooker recovered ) produced a big surprise for the parishoners of Lower Gornal. The outward appearence of respectability, that followed Charles Hartland, was shattered. In 1877, when he was the vicars choirmaster, he had been summoned, and been found guilty of indecently exposing himself to young girls. Sent to prison, for there was no fine for this type of offence, Hartland had blamed the vicar for his punishment, and indeed, had threatened to kill him. This was ignored by the Rev Rooker, who also kept the matter very quiet, and when Hartland was released, allowed him to rejoin the choir. Now, I don't about anyone else's thoughts on the matter, but that was a stupid thing to do. Charles Hartland it would appear, never forgave the Vicar, although he never let it show until money worries and his private life began to implode. He was a bomb waiting to go off, and on that August day, he did. He was sentenced to 12 years penal servitude, which under the circumstances, was a bit on the lenient side. The Rev Rooker, a forgiving soul to the end, even signed a petition to have this sentence reduced, but the law would have no part in it, and Hartland went down for the full term. In August 1880, the Rev James Yates Rooker, just a year later, was made a Magistrate, and sat on the Sedgley Bench, for the next 7 years until his death. As I said before, a tough old man was the Rev Rooker.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 16, 2011 at 4:42 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

At the Staffordshire Summer Assizes, in 1819, two men, were both sentenced to die by hanging. John Speate, who came from Wombourne, was struggling to put food on the table for his family, so, in the dead of night, he stole a Sheep. The owner of said sheep, Thomas Higgins Burne, who farmed at Penn, was not well pleased when he found out next day, and instructed his gamekeeper, William Cliff, to try and track down the culprit. Cliff duly obliged, and after tracking the signs for some milles, found the entrails and skin of the sheep. It didn't take him long to find where the rest had been taken too either, and he hurried off to tell his employer. Burne quickly arranged a party of men, and they raided the house. Obligingly, on the fire was a large pot which contained a shank side of mutton. The rest of the stolen animal was found in a tub in the yard being prepared for future preservation. Speate, unable to state from where or whom the meat had come, was arrested. Niether he, or his family, had tasted so much as a single chop from the mutton. The sentence was as expected, possibly designed as a warning to others, as there had been a spate of such thefts in the district. Thomas Stokes was just as unlucky. He stole a Sheep from the flock of Squire Evans, who resided at Pendeford, and carried most of it back to his cottage in Chillington. The Squire's regular shepherd was ill, and he had instructed David Craig, the estate clerk, to mind the flock. Before retiring for the night, Craig had actually counted the sheep, the total being 177. Early next morning, he did the same thing, only 176 this time, so a message was sent to the Squire. The squire's normal shepherd  was totally illiterate, so Stokes was a bit unlucky. Craig found the remains of the sheep before his employer arrived, in a far corner of the field. Only the fore quarters though, the rest had been carried away. The Brewood Constable, John Rea, had an idea who the culprit was, and when he recieved confirmation from a witness two days later, he searched the suspects house. Sure enough, they uncovered two legs, two loins, and other pieces of mutton. All very fresh. Stokes took flight just before the discovery, and fled the scene. He did not get far, this serial sheep stealer, pursued by the Squire on horse back he was soon under arrest and on his way to Stafford prison. The witness was Stokes own sister Winifred Stokes, who, by way of a reward, was given by the Squire, yes you guessed it, a fresh neck of mutton. At least she didn't go hungry. The Judge at the Assizes refused to reduce the sentence, so, like John Speate, Thomas Stokes was condemned to death. Lady luck must have been in a good mood that year, for neither of them felt the tightening of the noose around their necks, the sentence being reduced to transportation. Seven years later, and this time in Tipton, conditions for the working man had not apparently improved. John Giles, a collier, being out of work, had the same problem of getting food on the table. He did not though, appear to be broke enough, that he could not afford to get drunk in a pub called the Old Church Tavern. The Landlord, Moses Caddick, listened to what Giles was saying about his starving condition, but never believed he would act the way he did. Almost next door to the pub, were the Stables of John Butler, who was a well known breeder of quality trotting ponies. One highly valued animal, named " Butlers Pride ", was kept in a small paddock next to the stables, and that night, the pony disappeared. Butler was absolutely livid with rage, and offered  £5 reward for information. In 1826, this was a conciderable sum to a working man. It worked, as one Jeremiah Paskin, quickly " grassed " up Giles, having seen him riding the pony away from the stables. Gathering his friends, Butler made haste to Princes End, and burst in upon Giles and his family partaking of a bit of light refreshment. Oh yes, Butler was too late, his prize trotter, roasted to perfection, would trot no more. The rest of the animal was found hanging up in the celler, already salted for the next feast. At his trial, despite pleading that he was so drunk he couldn't tell the difference between a Cow or Horse, he was sentenced to death. There's a tale, that his last request was for a meal of prime beef and spuds, it's not true. John Giles was not hanged, his sentence, on appeal, was reduced, again to what is believed to have been transportation. Now, if anyone reading this, has any information, either from the area's they lived in, or from Australia/Tasmania, please get in touch, I would love to know how they ended up.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

September 1, 2011 at 3:39 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Now I've been asked where can one find reports of some these crimes. The first port of call, is any local newspaper of course, but what if it happened over a 100 years ago? Some papers are still in existance, others have long since gone to the great press in the sky, but a trawl through the local authority archives can be very rewarding. As I will now demonstrate. Take one of the case's from above, the robbery of William C Norcop, in Betton, Shropshire, in 1811. The Shrewsbury Chronicle, followed the story for it's readers, from beginning to end.


March 29th, 1811.

On Monday last the dwelling house of W.C.Norcop esquire at Betton was entered by three men wearing smock-frocks. They entered Mr Norcop's bedroom with a candle, stood over him and demanded his money and keys. One held a pistol whilst the others rifled the pockets of his breeches which lay near the bed, finding a small key with which they unsuccessfully tried to open a small desk in the bedroom. Unable to do, so they wrenched it open, and plundered from it, cash and post-bills to the value of £140 before decamping.


There followed a brief discription of the rogues, a promise of a reward, and news that the Counties best police officers were hot on the trail.


April 5th, 1811.

Four persons, viz, John Taylor ( alias George Smith ), James Baker, Isaac Hickman, and Samuel Sheldon have been committed to Shrewsbury gaol on a charge of robbing the house of W.C.Norcop esquire at Betton - as reported in our last Chronicle. Taylor (aged 43) was taken in a cellar at Birmingham. Sheldon (aged36) was arrested at his public-house in Tipton, Staffordshire, whilst Hickman and Baker (both aged 19) in close pursuit, slid down the rope of a coalpit near Bilston ( Staffs) to the depth of 120 yards where they were both captured. tt appears that that the robbers were let into the house by means of an accomplice who had formerly been a coachman with the family, who got into the house before the family retired to bed and unbolted the the parlour window shutters, A footman in the family and another man, not yet taken, are supposed to have been concerned in the plot.


The chase went on, and it was not long before the two missing men, Isaac Hickman and William Turner, both from Wednesbury, were decorating the inside of a cell in Shrewsbury gaol. They had made it known, that they would be making for Liverpool, with the intention of getting to America, but this failed to shake of the relentless police search and they were apprehended after a failed armed robbery at Kenilworth, Warwickshire. The Chronicle's intrepid reporter was also stationed at a good vantage point, on the day that 5 of the men paid the price for their foolhardy actions.


August 26th,1811.

John Taylor, James Baker, Isaac Hickman, William Turner, and Abraham Whitehouse were executed on Saturday ( 24th August) on the front of our gaol (Shrewsbury) in conformity with their sentence at our Assize for the burglary and robbery of Mr Norcop at Betton. On the fatal morning they very devoutly joined the chaplain in prayer and recieved the sacrement. On the scaffold, Baker and Hickman ( both 19 years of age ) fell upon their knees and, in audible voice, engaged in prayer. Taylor and Turner spoke a few words in very low tones that Sabbath-breaking was their first step to a vicious course of life. Whitehouse was silent the whole time. After their bodies were taken down, they were given to their respective friends except that of Taylor who was interred in Saint Mary's churchyard.


There were no burials within the prison at Shrewsbury. The bodies of the two young men, were taken away by Hickmans sister Mary, back to Wednesbury. Followed by our intrepid reporter. The part of the story thats of more interest though, is John Taylors sad end, told in a letter to a friend in West Bromwich, after he was disowned by his family.


Dear Friend,

I take the liberty of writing to you concerning the robbery that was committed by me and four more who now lie under sentence of death, at Shrewsbury, and when you recieve this I hope you will forgive us all and pity our unfortunate situation and blindness of heart for so doing. I, John Taylor, mean to make you all the satisfaction that lies in my power, for what I have done amiss. I will give you all the clothes I have in the world, but money I have none and I freely give you them from my heart and I hope God will never let you want, nor your poor family. The rest of my fellow sufferers are all poor and have nothing to give you but their blessings and they hope you will forgive them. I understand that there was some man taken up for the same  and I hope you will be so good as to beg his pardon and that he will be all he will desire to let the world see that he is innocent of what was laid to his charge. Many a good man loses his character undeservingly which injures him in his nieghbourhood. But I freely forgive all who have trespassed against me and wuth good will offer them my pardon, as I most heartily desire you and God Almighty will. If it pleases God to take my soul it is the best thing that ever came to to me. I must conclude with my blessing to you and all the world. I here do send you, 3 shirts, 3 coats, 2 waisrtcoats, 1 pair of breeches, 1 pair of shoes, 1 hat, 1 pair of stockings, 1 pound note and God bless you with them all, and I hope you forgive me.


The man who almost swung with them was John Pedley, who came from Willenhall. But for Taylors letter, he would have made the number hanged 6, instead of 5.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

October 22, 2011 at 11:53 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

About 170 years ago, they had a similar problem with the youngsters, as would appear to be the case today. Vandalism and petty theft are, after all, nothing new. No matter what some modern folk may wish, the way they were dealt with then, would be best left alone. At the Stafford Assizes, in January 1839, there were 18 young persons arraigned, all for petty larceny, the ages ranging from 15, down to 10. Some of them had been caught before, and a couple of them, well known for stealing, actually sported alias's. They came of course from all over the County, and their home town or village has not been listed, but if you recognise a name, good luck with the reasearch.


First up came William Lear, 11 years old and this was his second offence. I dont suppose he could see much over the top of dock, as the Judge gave him 3 months, and ordered that he should Whipped for good measure. His sister, Harriet Lear, wasn't far behind him either, also with a previous conviction, she, at 14 years old, got a similar 3 months, but with 1 day added, to make up for not being whipped. Then came what could be described as the terrible trio, James Hide, aged 10, Henry Davis, alias Green, also just 10, and William Stokes, alias Johnson, 12 years old. It's possible they didn't nick as much as the previous pair, for they were given only 2 months, but all three were soundly whipped. A fourth would be member of this budding gang, Edmund Lewis,12, was a little better educated than the others, so he got the benefit of the doubt, and was only sent down for the 2 months. His younger brother Richard Lewis, 11, was found not guilty and aquitted. ( At the next Assizes in March though, their older brother, John Lewis, was Transported for 7 years.) James Dunnough, 13, along with his brother Thomas Dunnough,11, both persistant little thieves, were next up. The older one got 2 months and a whipping, the youngster walked away scot free. Thomas Kendrick, the oldest of the three at 15, got the same treatment as James, a good old fashioned whipping. Now for the squemish, I should point out that the whip used on the young men was not the same implement used on the grown ups. It still had nine tails, but it was bit lighter. I bet that was a relief for the Counties Executioner, who earned extra money for all this beating. Mind you, I suppose this sort of work would appeal to certain individuals, even today. We know appear to be in the naughty boy section, Scrumping by the sound of it. Thomas Harvey 11, Samuel Harrison 12, Richard Bruton 12, Joseph Stokes 13, and William Wells 14, were all sentenced to just 3 days in Prison. Not wishing to deprive the prison staff of their sport though, they were all ordered to be soundly whipped. It would seem that the ringleader, George Wilson, 10 years old, was singled out for special treatment, he got sent down for 1 month. One young man though, George Adams 14, was wise in the ways of the courts. He admitted, that all the evidence against him was true, and earned a discharge for his honesty. Now, just to prove, that the courts could be as harsh on the older members of society, it was William Mellors turn next. It was the duty of all who could afford it, to contribute towards the upkeep of the poor. Mellor had refused to pay, so he was summoned by the Assistant Poor Law Commissioner, and still refusing to cough up, the Judge fined him £10. That was an awful lot of money in 1839, but he escaped the traditional whipping, he was after all, 69 years old.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

January 18, 2012 at 3:41 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Now here's a man who should have been well and truly hanged at Stafford, but wasn't. Born near to Ludlow, Shropshire around 1700, he was, from an early age, an out an out rogue and thief. If it wasn't nailed down tight, he would take it, and he roamed over both counties, mainly stealling and selling horses. Using his head, and nipping over the border when persuit was close, he outwitted the authorities for years. He was finally caught at Rugeley, Staffordshire, in 1735, selling a few horses he had " picked up " from some Shropshire farms. Just as they were going to send him to Stafford, for trial, some men arrived, with a letter from the High Sheriff, at Shrewsbury. It suggested, that instead of Staffordshire having the expense of a hanging, they would be more than happy to arrange it all in Shrewsbury. And so it was, that after a trial on Monday 28th July, 1735, this man was hanged on the gatehouse roof at Shrewsbury Gaol, in early August, for Horse Stealing. Oh, I almost forgot, his name was John Wayne.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 23, 2012 at 4:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

I seem to have omitted a bit of information at the start of the Topic. My apologies to all, and here is a bit of Staffordshire History. The Assizies for the county, were held in Staffords Guildhall, and not having a proper Prison, prisoners were held in a nearby House of Correction. Stafford isn't, like some other county seats, well suited for the inhabitants to gather for the purpose of witnessing punishments. The major industrial part, was, in the 18th century, in the north, around Stoke-on-Trent, so, from at least the early 1600s, executions were held at Sandyford, just outside Stafford.  This area was flat and open heathland, and afforded a good view of the action,  for the many thousands that gathered. Some of the earlier records have vanished, but enough remains to compile a list from 1735, to 1793. The last great crowd puller was in March, 1793, when three men, John Riddle, John Bettley, and Richard Ellis, were hanged for the brutal killing of Thomas Ward. The last single execution at Sandyford, was on Saturday, the 6th April,1793, when Samuel Capewell, a prolific burglar, entertained a good crowd. The reason for this being the last one, was that a new prison was under construction in Stafford, which opened in May of that year, and on the same site as the current prison. During the whole 58 years of recorded executions, only 4 women were hanged at Sandyford. Elizabeth Woodward, and Jane Turner, in April 1742, the latter for killing her child. Mary Saunders in March 1763 for a similar offence, and Mary Killicks, in September 1780, for burglary. Just for the records, the first man executed at the new Prison, was Ebenezer Coulson, on Monday 5th August, 1793, who met his maker on the top of the new Prison Lodge House. ( see More Ghastley Murders ) Well someone has to be first, otherwise we would never get anything done, would we.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 14, 2012 at 2:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

The first half of the 19th century, were some of the worst for public disorder in our history. Machines had started to be introduced in factories and on the land, and the south, being more agricultural, bore the brunt of most of the anger. Barn's, hay ricks, carts, and even some farmhouses went up in flames, as the injustice felt by the workers, heated up. ( sorry about that ) In a few unexpected places, it could also be a problem, like the tiny village of Swindon, near Wombourne, Staffordshire. On the evening of 14th January, 1831, farmer James Perry sat down at his table to eat his evening meal, and then put his feet up for a quite rest. At 8.30pm he was hurriedly pulling on his boots, as a cry of " Fire " echoed across the yard. A large rick of Wheat, was well ablaze by the time he gathered his men and some neighbours to tackle the fire. They were lucky, for their efforts soon put it out, limiting the damage to an estimated £30. Amongst those who helped, was a neighbouring farmer, Richard Powell Williams, and at 11.30pm, shortly after he arrived back home, his own rick of Barley, went up in flames. Despite the efforts of those who had fought the first fire, this time, all was lost. Only the timely arrival of the Himley Fire Engine, ( which had been called to the previous fire, arrived when it had been put out, and was in fact on the way back ) saved the outbuildings and the farmhouse from a similar fate. Two rick fires, both in one night, and so close together, raised immediate suspicions, and the long nose of the Law began sniffing around.


Now nobody was surprised, when less than a week later, it was reported that 4 of Richard Williams men had been arrested. Thomas Timmins, 19, Thomas Wilcox, aged about 12, who was released when it was proved he was at home with his parents, John Watkins, 22, and Thomas Lloyd, 53. Watkins actually resided on Williams farm. Even before anyone had been charged, the Vicar of Dudley, the Rev Luke Booker, was raising his voice in condemnation of the men. " A rick burner, commits an injury which is justly punishable by death ", he wrote, so theres no doubting whose side he was on then. Public opinion though was on the other side of the argument as they all knew just what terrible conditions the agricultural labourers had been reduced too. William Cobbett, an outspoken defender of the poor, pointed out, at a meeting at the Bush Inn, Dudley, that they exsisted on bread or potatoes, eating dead animals, which killed some, and even stealing food meant for the pigs. A great many had no work at all, the machinery having taken their jobs. Wages were so low when they did find work, that many were reduced to sleeping in hedges and ditches. ( this was a bit of an exageration, as events at the later trial were to show ) All three were then charged with Arson, and sent of for their day in Court.


The trial began on 23rd March, when witnesses stated that all three men worked for Richard Williams, two of them living on his farm, and the other, Thomas Lloyd in the village. They had, it appeared, spent most of the morning in an Ale House, owned by a man called Hobson, gambling and drinking. ( so much for the poor agricultural labourer then ) The Farm Bailiff, William Davies, said he had put them to work in the morning, stacking turnips, but when he went back about noon, they were nowhere to be seen. ( they were in fact, back in the pub ) There had been some heated debate about returning to work, and eventually, Thomas Lloyd did so. Witnesses also said, that many times they had heard the men say that all Threshing Machines should be burnt. John Watkins had been seen coming from the direction of the first fire, hiding an unlit lantern, and at the second, with a lighted candle and the same lantern, shortly before the second blaze broke out. Thomas Lloyd had, a witness said, locked the brewhouse door which prevented them from reaching the pails with which to carry water. All three were obviously drunk, indeed they never denied this, and when young Thomas Timmins, when found not to have left the kitchen of Williams farm, prior to the second fire, he was aquitted. That left just the two, and the jury lost no time in finding both guilty as charged. It merely remained for the Judge to pronounce sentence, and for the price to be paid, which it was, on 16th April,1831. The hangman was William Calcraft, enjoying another trip on what was becoming his favourite mode of transport. A snorting spitting fire eating machine called a Railway Locomotive.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

February 5, 2013 at 3:43 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Going back to the first Public Hanging at the new Stafford Gaol, there has always been a bit of confusion about the name of this new customer, Ebenezer Coulson according to some, but far more likly to actually be Ebenezer Coltson, who was christened in Swanland, Yorkshire, in January, 1739. Trial records for Stafford Assizies only go back to 1802, and it's impossible to state with 100% accuracy, whether it's the right spelling. For those with an interest though, there's no doubt who the unfortunate murder victim was. His name was Henry Yates, and he was the popular Landlord of The Barley Mow Tavern, in busy Wolverhampton. Like most landlords, Yates had a second job as a Carpenter, and he knew his assailent quite well, for Coltson, also doing a second job, helped him in his work. Coltson's main job was as a Soldier, he being Corporal Coltson, a recruiter, with the 31st Regiment of Foot. ( later, The East Kent Regiment ) On the 24th March, Yates wife went to his workshop to fetch him for breakfast, and found him with a battered head, and his throat cut so deeply, his head was almost off. It didn't take them long to find the by now drunken soldier, complete with Yates pocket watch, in a beer house near the new prison. His reason for the murder he said, was that he just had the impulse to do it, nothing to do with robbing the blood soaked corpse then. He appeared at the Guildhall for his trial on the 31st July, and was paraded onto the new drop on Monday the 5th August, 1793. My, he must have thought, how time flies.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 9, 2013 at 3:49 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Now here's a strange tale from the mists of time. On the 18th August, 1791, one James Burrough, was put up for trial at Stafford Assizies. He had been caught in possession of a few Horses, non of which he could produce a bill of sale for, Not surprising really, they had all been stolen from farms along the border with Shropshire. The sentence, should he be found guilty of the offense, was Death by Hanging, and he duly was. Thrown into a dark and damp dungeon in the old prison, together with about 50 others, he could only resign himself to his fate. Lady luck smiled on him that week, for within a few days, he was reprieved, but still faced an uncertain future, as his alternative punishment was 7 years transportation. Then, on the 4th September, sensational news hit the broadsheets of the day, " James Burrough ", had been found to be a woman. How she had escaped detection, during the time she had spent in prison prior to her trial, or even after she had been locked up with 50 men, isn't known. She must have been a singulary unattractive woman. " James ", now gave her name as Mary Etticks, but concidering the suburfuge she had already carried out, this may also not have been her real name. There is no report of any re-trial, and it has to be assumed, that she was indeed transported, for whether a man or a woman, the crime remained, he/she was a convicted horse thief. Mind you, I have a sneaking feeling, that the men in that cell knew full well that she was woman, non of them after all had been gelded.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 19, 2013 at 11:47 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Here is one of the earliest accounts of a murder, and the subsequent execution, from the Staffordshire Records. The year is 1731, and the man in the dock facing the death penalty, was one John Naden, who was a servent in the town of Leek. He was accused of brutally murdering his employer, a Mr Brough, and found guilty on 16th September, 1731. On the 30th August, he was transported to Leek, the scene of the dastardly act, bound and cuffed to a horse. The delay in his execution had been because he was to be first hanged, and then Gibbeted, and the equipment had to be made. Interestingly, the chains for the purpose had been designed, and made, in Birmingham. Care had been taken, so that the body, as it rotted, wouldn't fall apart while in the Gibbet cage. The next morning, along with many thousands of spectators, he was taken to the highest point near Leek, Gun Heath, which was not more than a quarter of a mile from where he had worked, and slain his master. In front of this huge crowd, he confessed to the crime, and implored the assembly to repent their ways, else they would suffer a similar fate. After his twitching body had been still for about 30 minutes, he was taken down and his body transferred to the Gibbet. This was to be a lesson for the inhabitants, and so the structure had been constructed to be 21 feet high, and reportedly, was visible for nearly 5 miles, in all directions. The Chains had been made to last, as the Court had directed, " until the very bones have turned to dust ", but given the state of ironmaking at the time, I doubt whether they lasted that long. Never mind, John Naden, for a good many years, had a wonderful view over a lovely part of North Staffordshire.

--

A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

September 8, 2013 at 3:39 PM Flag Quote & Reply

You must login to post.