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

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

John Francis. Stone,Staffordshire


Now it's always nice, to come across a few crime reports, which pre-date some of the records that have survived. Even when the persons named as criminals didn't. Take this case from December, 1726.


Now even before the Postal Service was set up, there were men entrusted with the delivery of letters, from one Town, to another. Such a man was John Francis, a native of a little place called Stone, in Staffordshire. He must have been a very trusted man with carrying the mail, but like all flesh and blood, he had a few faults. His main one it seems, was women. During one of his many trips delivering his letters, he was arrested in Shropshire for attempted rape, and sent for trial in Shrewsbury. He had, it was stated, chased, battered, stabbed, and finally, after several hours, managed to tie his victim to a tree, but had been spotted by a passerby before he could complete his evil plan. I'm surprised after all that, he had the strength left to do anything. The Jury, unsure whether to believe the entire story, ordered him to be whipped and pilloried, and when he had recovered, he went back home to his job. He doesn't appear to have learned his lesson, for he was again before a Court, in April 1727, charged again with another offence, this time, actual rape. Elizabeth Harrison, a 53 year old spinster, was a far easier target he must have thought,  than the first one must have been, but still it took John Francis over three hours to subdue her. Even then he had to batter her into submission, and it was only the weakness from loss of blood, that permitted him to have his wicked way with her. This time there was no doubt about it, and Francis, trusted letterman or not, was convicted and sentenced to death, at Stafford Assizies. He wasn't to be alone on the execution day either, for one William Stokes was by his side, he, having been convicted of several Thefts and Burglaries, and also sentenced to death. The likely date being the 20th April, 1727. It's a fact, that nobody, even into the 19th century ever got away with several offences, and this early postman, like the one in the classic film, also never knocked twice.

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

September 15, 2013 at 4:00 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

For those that have asked, there doesn't appear to be any records of many other Hangings in the area's Towns. This doesn't mean that they never happened, they probably did, but no one appears to have recorded them. I did find however, find a triple execution for Staffordshire, that didn't take place at Stafford.


John Neve, James Richard Jackson, and William Weightman, were convicted in April 1810, of uttering Forged Banknotes. All of them came from either Willenhall, or Wolverhampton, and worked in the Lock trade. One of them was obviously a handy engraver, and they were all given a death sentence. Forging Banknotes was the top end of the scale of this crime, for it undermined the trust involved in using such notes. It also caused the early Banking system no end of problems. For some reason, and this may have been after an argument from the Town where the notes had been passed, the execution was delayed. When it did take place, it was conducted at Lichfield. I have no idea just where, but in 1810, there were many more large open spaces than there are today. If anyone has an inkling of the exact site, do let me know.

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

October 26, 2013 at 1:58 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

A very nice place is Uttoxeter, a Staffordshire market Town with an added actraction of a Racecourse. The sight of a few horses then, over the course of a couple of hundred years, wouldn't have alarmed the population greatly. That is of course, if the owner of the horses had been in attendance, and not just the thieving rogues who had nicked them from a neighbouring County. The problem with most horse stealers of the 1700s, was that once they had sold the stolen animals, it was a long walk back home. So the solution was to steal them from far away, ride them home, and sell them at the local fair or market. This what Joseph Foster, 40, born about 1755 in Bramshall near Uttoxeter, and his two partners in crime did. They were 22 year old Thomas Jones, also from Bramsall, and 21 year old William Nield, a native of the Town. It was just unfortunate, that at the sale, was a man carrying the discription of two horses, recently stolen from Derbyshire. For the two young lads, it was a first time offence, but Foster was a seasoned horse thief. There was however, no mercy shown at Staffordshire Assizes, for Horses were a valuable commodity. The three were penciled in for the days entertainment at Sandyford, and hanged in front of a large crowd on Saturday, the 11th April, 1795. Maybe due to all the excitement, and a bit of in-attention, four fine horses were stolen at the event.

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

October 27, 2013 at 5:01 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

There are no reasons to suppose, that more of the good folk of Staffordshire were sentenced to death, than in other parts of the Country. It just appears that way sometimes, for in truth, only a small number of those condemned, actually made the last walk to the waiting noose. The Lent, (April ) Assizes in the year 1821, saw the Judge sentence no less than 28 men, and 1 woman, to death for a capital crime. There was only one murder, among the many cases over the three days the Assize sat, the rest were a mixture of crimes, which today, would barely get your knuckles wrapped. Joseph Pickard, John Cox, Thomas Howes, Charles Foster and Robert Bunney, must have stood white faced as they were all handed the dreaded penalty for Sheep Stealing. Only one though, Robert Bunney, would eventually have to face the executioner. He came from Tamworth, Staffordshire,where he had been born around 1757, was a prolific sheep stealer, and although the record says he was 51, he was in fact 64. There were 12 men, and a woman, arreigned for Housebreaking, three of the victims having suffered a degree of violence that would have precluded any mercy. James and Jane Buckingham, William Bolton, William Smith, James Hume, Josiah Nock, Andrew Bate, and Joseph Furnival, all breathed a sigh of some relief, as their sentence's were later reduced to terms of between 7 years and transportation for life. The Judge concidered Nathaniel Bowes,16, Edward Thomas,17 and Peter Wilbraham,18, a bit too young for the hangman, and sent them to follow the others on a 7 year holiday. William Bolton, (above) faced another charge as well, Sacrilege, for along with John Whitehouse, the housebreaking involved a Church. In comparison, for stealing a Cow, Thomas Bagnall also got sentenced to death. ( restitution and a public flogging was his reward ) Now among those who would face the almighty in a few days hence, was one George Hodgetts, a native of Handsworth/ West Bromwich. Together with a young and stupid accomplice, John Cotterall, 17, they had robbed a poor old soul, Samuel Newbold, in his home, of £175. This was a great deal of money, and they were soon caught, but as the court entered it's second day, news arrived, that the long suffering Mr Newbold had been robbed a again, presumably by the members of Hodgetts gang who hadn't been caught, and everything of a portable nature had been nicked. Thus the second man destined for the heavenly choir was 28 year old George Hodgetts. John Garmstone, 23, doubtless a desperate criminal, had assaulted and tortured another old man into revealing where he kept his money. " The Fortune ", turned out to be a few shillings, and the violence ensured that he would make three on the Gallows outside Stafford Gaol. The fourth man who would make up the days entertainment was one Amos Drew, 24 years old and a native of Tipton, Staffordshire. This wasn't of course his first offence, housebreaking and burglary were long a way of earning a living, despite that he came from a very respectable family. Once again, in committing the offence, violence had been used on the half asleep householder in Rowley Regis. When confirming the sentence, the Judge said this; " Being of a nature so injurious to the public, so repungnant to the interests or even the safety of society, so destructive of the comforts and even of the existance of the poor classes, and some of them replete with such savage brutatlity, as to render them too highly dangerous to the general community to be permitted to entertain hope of the bountiful source of mercy being opened to them. "  From his point of view, and the many who had suffered such deprivations from the lawlessness displayed, I can understand why they all had to hang. In front of a very large crowd, who had stood all night outside the Gaol, at about 8.00am on Saturday the 7th April, the four were bought out and placed on the trap. At exactly 8.25am, the executioner pulled the bolt, and the good folk of Staffordshire could all go home, safe in the knowledge that the bad lads had been dealt with. All that is except poor Mr Newbold, who was probably sitting on an old box, back in Handsworth, contemplating where he would eat his dinner without his table.

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

January 17, 2014 at 11:47 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

There are sadly, many murders today, that appear to be absolutely pointless and without a motive of any kind. Well, at least one that we, the general public, could understand and comprehend. The human brain is a deep and complex organ, and when it short circuits, the effects can leave us wondering where it all went wrong. This is not a new thing, for there have been many times in the past where the explanation for extremes of violence have never surfaced. Take this one, A double murder from 1895, which left everyone involved baffled, and not a little shocked.


On the morning of 31st May, 1895, in the little hamlet of Orgreave, Alrewas, Staffordshire, farmer and grocer Frederick Bakewell, was sitting comfortably in his cottage. In the parlour with him, were his wife, Sarah, and his stepson, George Hackett, who was staying with them to help out around the place, for the pair were in their 60s, and not as agile as they used to be. Just after 9am, George heard a noise at the back door, and went to investigate. He wasn't gone long, for there was loud noise, the discharge of a firearm to be precise, and George ran screaming in agony back down the passage towards the front door. A man followed him, and fired a second shot at him, George collapsed, and the man immediately entered the parlour and fired two more shots, in quick succession, into the surprised and shocked Frederick Bakewell. He then fired a fifth shot at Sarah, and fled the building. Sarah thought he had missed, and as her son was the nearest, went to his aid. He was beyond help, and so was her husband, both died within minutes of help arriving. Nothing had been stolen, and the man had not said a word during this murderous rampage through the house. The man disappeared, but his discription was soon circulated, for any strangers in such a rural place never went unnoticed. Later that night, at her daughters house, exhuastion overtook Sarah, and while undressing, a spent bullet dropped from her clothes. The shot had grazed her chest, and lodged in the thick clothing. Either Bond had been sloppy at loading the gun, or he had simply run out of sufficient  blackpowder. She was a lucky woman.


A name was also quickly added to this mysterious stranger, Tommy (Thomas) Bond, a roaming farm labourer who had been born in Hixon, in 1866. What's more, he also had a long list of thefts and felonies behind him. He was later arrested near Nottingham, after being recognised by a Policeman, who had encountered him before, under his alias of Joseph Wright. Some of the late Frederick Bakewells nieghbours had also crossed paths with Bond some weeks and days before the double slaying, one of whom, after challenging him on his land, had been fired at twice. He had not of course reported this event, just the day before. Thomas Bond had actually called at the Bakewells farm the week before, asking for milk, which Sarah had given him, refusing the money offered for it, as Bond looked to be sleeping rough and she felt sorry for him. Why he had appeared at the back door of her home, with a fully loaded pistol, remains a mystery to this day. He said nothing at the first Magistrates hearing, which was adjourned, and only a few words at the second, where his relatives were also present. His defence seems to have centered on disputing his identification, by at least seven witneess'es, two of whom knew him, and had worked with him in various other places. The gun of course was never found, he had divested himself of it during his ramble of an escape, and, as I said, no motive for this senseless killing seems to be apparent. Was he mad ?. Well the Judge or Jury don't seem to have thought so, for he was duly sentenced to death, on the 16th August,1895, with no recommendation for mercy.


Just before 9am, on Tuesday the 20th August, Thomas Henry Scott, a rather dour man from Huddersfield, walked into the condemned mans cell at Stafford Prison. Thomas Bond had already partaken of his last breakfast, Cocoa and Milk, and, with the execution party complete, made his way to the scaffold shed. This was Scotts second "job" at Stafford, and he made no mistake's, quickly pinioning the prisoners arms and legs, he pushed the lever that released the bolts of the trap, and Thomas Bond plunged just 6 feet 8 inches into the pit below. He twitched a few times and was then still. He made no last minute confession, asked for no forgiveness, nor expressed any sorrow for the crime. Perhaps he was mad after all.

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

September 15, 2014 at 3:12 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

                            Mary Reiby. 1777 - 1855.


Now a postscript to the tale earlier in this topic about a "  man " James Burroughs ( Burrows, and other spellings ), who was sentenced to Transportation, but was in actual fact a woman. Her name in Court in 1791 was given as Mary Ettick, but in fact her real name was Molly (Mary) Haydock, and she was born in Bury, Lancashire, around 1777. Now it would appear that Molly, was a well educated young lady for the period, and had a fairly comfortable family life. How she came to be arrested for Horse theft, at the tender age of 15, ( transported for 7 years ) and dressed as a young lad to boot, is anyones guess. Once arrived in the new world, she seems to have  got married, settled down, and became a driving force within her her husbands shipping business.



Better known in Australia as Mary Reiby, she expanded it after his untimely death, and became a well known and respected business woman. So well respected, that her image now graces the back of the Australian $20 bill. There are two known images of her, the first when she was in her twenties, and the second in much later life. Dressed I should add, as the woman she undoubtly was.



A far cry from the dingy conditions of the condemned cell at Stafford Prison, ( briefly shared with 50 men ) and a million miles away from the poverty of a Lancashire Mill town. She came back to visit her home town in 1820, and, probably glad she had been transported, promptly went back home. She died in 1855.

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

May 15, 2015 at 3:50 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Vicki
Limited Member
Posts: 1

Alaska. at April 5, 2011 at 11:50 AM

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.




I am  researching my ancestory  I am interested to note that a Thomas Boulton ,47, August 1885, listed in Hangings at Stafford. Although the family spelling is Bolton , it often seems to be spelt Boulton also. can anyone please suggest where /how I could explore further this entry please? 

Also I see a William Bolton listed for crimes too, burglarly & sacrilege! His age would fit into my ancesory of family from this region.

I am a new to this amazing site, also a new searcher for family history from New Zealand. :)

March 15, 2018 at 12:07 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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