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Alaska.
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Unsolved Murders, Esther Baggott, Moses Baggott.


We are all familiar with modern policing methods, the ever growing use of forensic science, and the successful apprehension of offenders. We can marvel, at the solving of a case, 25 or more years old, but go back in time, and things were very much different.

Esther Baggott, 1867.

You could never have described the area around Darlaston and Wednesbury, as anything other than " Industrial ". Full of Brickyards, Mines, and Iron Works, providing employment for a population as hard as the products they turned out. On a junction of the road that went to Wolverhampton, lay a little place called Moxley. In 1867, it was just a small village, home to the many miners and Iron workers, who, were no different to others in the region, hard working, quarrelsome, and usually drunk. Friday nights saw most of the inhabitants enjoying  themselves, in the many Taverns and Beer Houses, that were to be found along most main roads, Hollyhead Road being no exception. Out early, on a cold Saturday in November 1867, John Church, and Samuel Church his brother, together with Thomas Price, were heading across a field, towards Hollyhead Road, when they spotted what looked like a bundle of old clothes. Realisation soon dawned on the three lads, that they had found the mortal remains of a woman. Shocked at the sight, they ran towards the road, and the first man they saw was Moses Baggott Snr. Strange to tell, old Moses turned out to be the father-in-law of the unfortunate victim, Esther Baggott.  He had, he explained to the Police, who arrived at some speed from Bilston, been out since it got light, searching for her. Superintendent Holland had the body taken to the " George Inn ", Hollyhead road, and examined by a police surgeon. There was a great deal of blood on Esthers face, several abrasions on her jaw, and her mouth and nose had been compressed. Esther Baggott had been beaten and strangled. Even at this early stage, there were already suspects, but the question was, which one had committed the crime.


Esther Baggott, who was 35, lived near Heathfield Bridge, and was married, ( not happily it should be added ) to Moses Baggott Jnr, a violent, drunken, and womanising creature, who was a furnaceman at a local Ironworks, Marshalls, in Portway Road, Wednesbury. Her husband was at the time, having "relations" with an old flame, Elizabeth Turner. Esther had discovered this some time previous, and 6 months before, had been bound over by the Magistrates after attacking her rival. Old Moses, according to two of Esthers friends, Martha Longmore, and Mary Buckley, apprently didn't like Esther, and did much to encourage his son's co-habitation with this woman. Esther went back to her mother, and only returned to young Moses, three weeks before her tragic and violent death. She should have stayed at her mothers. It was revealed at the inquest, that the situation was not all one sided, Esther herself was involved with a boat builder, Edward Caudwell. He was described as a nasty piece of work, with or without any drink in him, and he lodged not far away. at a pub called " The Packet ". He had, on one occasion, when Esther failed to meet him, threatened to " do her in ", and on the very day she died, had called on her mother, saying he wanted to speak to her in secret. As I said, no shortage of suspects, but for the police, things now became a little more complicated.


Esther Baggott had been neither robbed, or interfered with. A watch she collected from Bilston, for Old Moses son-in-law, was still around her neck. The last time she was seen alive, was just before 9pm, not far from where her body was found the next day. She had called in to Moses son-in-laws beerhouse, about 7pm, (according to Edward Caudwell's statement ) to collect a Jug of of beer for her husband, who was on the late shift, and wouldn't finish until 2am Saturday morning. A question arises at this point, why did she not drop off the watch at the same time? She then walked to Portway Road, where, according to a apprentice, he took the beer from her at about 8pm, and took it to Moses Baggott Jnr. She called in at James Whitehouse's beer house in Portway Road, had a quick drink with Martha Longmore, and, so as not to upset the grumpy old Moses Snr, with whom they lived, set off back home. William Evans, a collier, was waiting to go down the shaft at a nearby pit, when he heard a series of screams just after 9pm. Thinking it was the women who worked the pit bank, having some fun, he took no notice. He wasn't to know that Esther Baggott was being attacked, and dragged into the field from which she would never leave alive. Meanwhile, Edward Caudwell was now saying that he left the beerhouse shortly after Esther, went to his boat for a wash, returned about 8pm, and never left until several hours later. So again, which one did it, for the police were a bit baffled.


Moses Baggott Jnr, for all his violence and womanising, really didn't have a motive to kill Esther. She was back with him, he had stopped, ( if only for a short while ) seeing his lady friend, and he had deffinatly not left his work before his shift ended. That left just his father and Caudwell. The oldman, who may very well have detested Esther, and despite him being on the spot when the body was found, also doesn't appear to have a motive. Maybe a guilty concience, about his treatment of her, made him begin a search when she failed to return home. As for Edward Caudwell, the police never seemed to have seriously tested his statements. Not many pubs had reliable clocks in those days, why would they, the longer the men drank, the more profits they made. Friday night would have seen most pubs fairly packed anyway, and a gamble on how many could actually read the time would have been a good bet. To slip away would have been easy, he knew exactly where Esther was going, and roughly what time she would arrive home. I think the Police missed their chance to nail him, but then again, others may have a different opinion. In any case, it remained unsolved, as it still does today, and so there's one less hanging to count at Stafford, and one less"victim", for George Smith.


Postscript.  16th June. 2012.


I am indebted to Alan Baggott, an Australian, who resides in Canberra, for the following information. Moses Baggot junior, shortly after the murder of his wife, left the area, with his long-time mistress, Elizabeth Turner. At this stage, they both now had something else in common, they had both been widowed. They headed for Sheffield, where he had no difficulty in finding a similar job. On the 18th May,1869, they were married. ( Now as a matter of interest, this may have been to keep the former Miss Elizabeth Mansfield quiet, about what she knew ot the circumstances of the foul murder.  Moses, who was well known for having a violent temper, may have found it all not to his liking, and may have given the second Mrs Baggot a few digs. She did not suffer in silence, but upped sticks and left him.) In 1871, he was recorded as " lodging ", with a  Harriet L Loveday, at 79,Carlisle Street East, Brightside, Sheffield. He listed himself as a widower. ( Now that was a strange thing to do, as his wife was still very much alive, perhaps he had laid plans to get rid of her. If he had, they all came to nothing, for Elizabeth Baggott got clear away, and was recorded as arriving in New York, on the 15th May,1871. She had spent some time there before, with her previous husband, Stephan Turner, before his death. There are no records of her ever coming back. ) Moses, who, at least according to the records, had no children, now aquired two, John Baggott Loveday, 1871, and Lucy Baggott Loveday, 1873. They later moved to Rotherham, where in 1878, they finally got married. Maybe he had heard that his former wife had now died, or maybe he just took a chance, and indulged in a bit of wishful thinking. Moses Baggott, died on 5th September,1890, taking with him to the grave, the answer to the mystery surrounding the death of his first wife, Esther Baggott, nee Davies. If he ever told his third ' wife ' , about it all, she stayed silent as well, right up to her own death in 1925. Once again Alan, thank you, it all helps to tidy up a few points.


Post Postscript, 20th June,2012.


Once again, my thanks to Alan Baggott, for a truly outstanding piece of research, and an insight into the character of  Moses Baggott.


Moxley Murder. --- Serious Assault upon a Witness.  ( undated chronicle report )

At the Police Court, in front of Isaac Spooner, Stipendiary Magistrate, some days after the Inquest on the body of Esther Baggott, the deceased's husband, Moses Baggott, a Forgeman of Moxley, stood charged with violent assault. Edward Cauldwell, a boat builder residing at Baggotts Bridge, Darlaston, had been a witness at the Inquest. Cauldwell said, that on the 9th December, after the inquest at the George Inn, Moxley, he had stayed behind with a few friends to have a quiet drink. ( In case you may be wondering, this was how it was in 1867, and it's a wonder the bar hadn't been open during the actual proceedings ) Baggott was also having a few drinks, and it would appear, " had a few words with Cauldwell ", as you might expect, they wern't very friendly words. Cauldwell, apparently fearing violence, left, and then proceeded to visit other Beer Houses, having a little tipple in each one. One can assume, that by the time he reached Messers Groucotts Moxley Colliery, he had consumed quite a few " tipples ", and possibly didn't see Baggott approach, who then pounced on him. A man called Jones, who accompanied Baggott, stood by while he began to punch and kick at Cauldwell, shouting " You B****** , I've got you now ". Under this brutal assault, Cauldwell went down, and baggott leapt on him and tried to strangle him. " You B******, will you confess " Baggott yelled, to which Cauldwell replied, " Moses, I've nothing to confess about ", and then yelled out for assistance. This incensed Baggott, who resumed the assault, once again throwing the injured Cauldwell to the ground, and again attempted to choke the life out of him. Maybe Jones at this stage actually said something because Baggott ceased, and together they walked away, leaving the by now badly injured Cauldwell, in a pool of blood. He managed to crawl back to his little cabin, and a friend summoned Doctor Hancox, who spent some time attending the injured man. Cauldwell, had recieved internal injuries, two blackeyes, and several nasty cuts. Several witnesses, for both sides, were called, and after carefully listening to the evidence, the Magistrate sentenced Moses Baggott, to Two months Hard labour. This may not have proved who killed Esther Baggott, but it did show that her husband was handy with his fists, and possessed a violent temper. It showed something else too, poor Esther had been beaten, and then a hand had been pressed over her nose and mouth to smother her, amazingly similar, to what had happened to Edward Cauldwell. You will need to make your own mind up, about who you think did it.



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

June 17, 2011 at 4:32 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Unsolved Murders.Samuel Bowater, Old Hill, Black Waggon Colliery.


The  New British Iron Company, owned several mines around Old Hill, one of which was "The Black Wagon Pit", in Wrights Lane. Liked most of their breed, the miners who worked the dark and dangerous coal faces were a rough and tough lot. Some came from the infamous Tory Street, as did the victim of this murder, Samuel Bowater. After spending many years hacking away underground, he had become, at 67, just a little to old for the work, and he must have breathed a sigh of relief, when he was offered the job as the pits nightwatchman. Bowater was well known in the area, being a breeder and flyer of Pigeons. He also kept Pigs in his backyard, and just before Christmas, 1877, he sold two of them for £12-17s-0d. He didn't have long to enjoy the money however, for on the night of 8th January 1878, someone crept into the little shack he used, and viciously beat his brains out. His battered body was found at 4.15am, by the Pits Engine Winder, Moses Round, who quickly raised the alarm and summoned medical help. The Police arrived, but Samuel Bowater had taken his last breath, and so the hunt for the murderer began.


Edwin Hooper, the Coroner, opened the Inquest at " The Beech Tree ", Blackheath, two days later, when it was announced that Superintendent Wollaston, from the Brierley Hill force, had been given charge of the case. Moses Round, said that the last time he seen Bowater was at 11pm, as the nightwatchman made his rounds. As usual, he was carrying the Pick-axe handle that always accompanied him on these inspections. He had not seen nor heard anything unusual during his shift, in the time before discovering the body. Police investigations suggested, that the crime was the work of a single individual, and the likely motive was robbery. That was strange thing to say really, as old Samuel still had 6s.10d in his pockets, and the only other thing of value missing, was his Pocket Watch. The mine owners then put up a reward of £50, for information leading to the culprits arrest. Just a week later, Joseph Sidaway, a local man, was caught red handed doing a burglary, and it was assumed by some, that he was also reponsible for the murder as well. He wasn't, and the hunt went on. Samuel Bowater was laid to rest in Rowley Churchyard, as the police struggled to break the almost inpenetrable barrier of the miners silence. Despite the reward money, they had made no headway in the enquiry, and it was fast becoming a local mystery. Another man, on a burglary charge, was also questioned about the incident, as he was in the area at the time, but this again proved to be a red herring. It was indeed a mystery, but it needn't have been, as some of the regulars at a local pub, "The Three Furnaces ", possessed some vital information. It appeared that Bowater was a man who liked a little gamble at cards. During one of the many games in the back room of the pub, the same watch that had been stolen, had been used to cover a bet. The owner of said watch lost the game, and Bowater became it's next, and, as it turned out, last but one owner. The last one being the murderer, for the time piece was never seen again. Now, you may ask, why kill someone for a fairly cheap pocket watch, but it wasn't just the watch, it may have been for what was engraved on the case. The watch, one of several, given by the Earl of Dudley, to those involved in the Nine Locks Pit rescue, in 1869, and of course was of great sentimental value. It was rumoured that several attempts had been made to buy the article back, but Bowater had turned all the offers down. If all thats true, then most of the miners knew who the killer was, and stood silent, thus allowing a murderer to walk free.  Samuel Bowater and his family deserved better than that. Justice for all, is what our ancesters fought for, there was non in this case though, just a dusty file marked " Unsolved ".

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

June 18, 2011 at 3:14 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Unsolved Murders, Bilston, Eliza Cartwright, 1884.


There have been, over many years, some appalling crimes committed in the Black Country. Not surprising really, when you concider the living and working conditions of the inhabitants. The area around Bilston, has had it's fair share, being described at one time as, " the most squalid spot on gods earth ". Drink, violence, poverty, deprivation, and desease have all visited the place, and from the records, have left an indelible mark. As postman Thomas Lewis was about to find out, on a cold morning in January of 1884, one of these marks was about to be stamped on him.


I don't suppose he was thinking of much that morning, as he made his way on his rounds, except getting finished, and the hot meal thst would come when went home. Walking carefully among the many spoil heaps that dotted the area between Daisy Bank, and  his next port of call, Deepfields, he paused, as he thought he could hear a faint cry. It took a few moments, to make out the direction of the sound, and then he made his way through the dark and gloom until he located the source. Down at the bottom of one of the many holes, he could make out what looked like the inert figure of a woman. From where he stood, it was clear she was badly injured, there was a pool of blood visible, but more to the point, she was still alive. Leaving his bag, he raced for help to the Deepfields Cement Works, and after gasping out his story, and sending for medical help and the Police, Joseph Rollason and his brother hurried to the spot. Being simple souls, their first thoughts were to get the poor woman to Hospital, and just as she had been loaded onto a cart. the Coseley Surgeon, Mr Glendinnen arrived. He didn't think that she would survive the trip, so he ordered her taken to the nearby Anchor Inn, where he could start treatment. The Police, in the shape of P.C. Jackson, soon identified her as Eliza Cartwright, 21 years old, a brickmaker, who lived at No.11, Chell Street, Bradley. Brickyard wenches tended to bo the tough side, and so it proved, Eliza clung to life until 11pm that night, but never regained consciousness. It was clear from an investigation at the site the postman had found her, that a terrific struggle had taken place. She had been battered with a large piece of furnace waste, known locally as a cinder. A full scale murder hunt began the next day, but if anyone was expecting a quick result, they were going to be disappointed.


For a start, young Eliza, a clay carrier at Whitehouse's brickyard in Deepfields, appeared to live a blameless life. Mrs Mary Gladders, who lived next door to Eliza parents at No 9, described her as a friendly good natured girl, and indeed, on the day she was attacked, they had together been cleaning, at the Daisy Bank Board School, and from which they had departed, about 11pm. This was to prove, the last time Eliza was ever seen alive again. Now somewhere in the records, lurks the correct name of Mary Gladders, because she doesn't appear in the Census for 1881. She went on to say, that she also gave Eliza a pair of boots, on the evening the poor girl was killed. The next morning, when she heard about the murder, she rushed to the scene, where Eliza was still clinging onto life. Mrs Gladders them made a point of telling all, that Eliza was wearing the very boots she had so kindly given her. How very generous of her, one would have thought, and no mention of any payment charged either. Eliza had been niether robbed, nor molested, just savagely battered, in what was begining to look like a motiveless attack. Or was it. There comes a stage in some murders, when the local community, would rather not have to think it had a killer in it's midst. Enter the stranger danger. Eliza's mother started it off, relating how her daughter had been frightened some weeks before, by a man who was scampering along on hands and knees. This unfolded, so she said, in a field near the " Black Horse ", which, if you need a guess, was indeed a pub. This was followed by the news, that for some weeks, women had been " molested " in the area. This bit was true, as a Mrs Aston reported, she had been followed by a man when on the way to catch a Train, and when she turned round, he had committed an indecent act. When this pervert was caught, she was asked to identify him, but failed. She was obviously not looking at his face, while this " indecent act ", was being performed. It's a long way though, from a one handed trouser snake salute, to a brutal murder, and he was simple locked up for 12 months. Two vagrants were also arrested in Stoke-on-Trent, they had been in the area at the time, but were released due to a total lack of any credible evidence. One theory, although quickly brushed aside by the police, was that Eliza was involved with a local married man. The rumour persisted, and even a £100 reward failed to gain any further information. So who had killed Eliza Cartwright.


One things for sure, it was not a planned murder. Whoever committed it, did not take a weapon to the scene. The murderer and the victim knew each other, because there were no screams, or cry of alarm. Poor Eliza, a well built young brickyard worker, was struck down by someone she viewed as a friend, with a piece of furnace slag that just happened to be handy. A crime of passion and hatred, possibly following a plea to leave the others man alone, and yes. more than likely committed by a woman. The only small crumb of comfort that Eliza's parents had, was a collection made for the family, raised £12.17s,1d, more than enough to pay for the Funeral. Generous to a fault, Black Country folk, a great pity the fault is staying tight lipped.

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

June 19, 2011 at 11:57 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Unsolved Murders, Oldbury, Hannah Southall,1878.


Some seven months after someone beat out Samuel Bowaters brains,  ( see posts above ) the area had another mysterious death to contemplate. Hannah Southall, a domestic servant who lived in Oldbury, accepted an offer, on Sunday 20th June, 1878, to go for a walk with her youngman. The man in question, Richard James Stanley, who lived at 17, Birmingham Street, Oldbury, may have had other things on his mind than just a walk, as he proposed they take the excercise alongside the Canal. Not a local born lad was young Richard, his birth was registered in Coventry, Warwickshire, in November 1854. He had worked as a Moulder in a local iron foundry from a young age, and so knew the area well. Some time later, the lifeless body of the hapless servant girl was pulled from the Birmingham Canal. It soon became apparent, that there was a bit more to what was, at first glance, a tragic accident. A witness stated that he had heard screams coming from the direction of the Canal, and then he was passed by a running figure, who bore a strong resemblance to Richard Stanley. The Police quickly arrested the iron moulder, and the Magistrates remanded him in custody for 8 days, while enquires continued. There are any number of reasons why he would have pushed, or thrown, the poor woman into a deep part of the canal. The obvious one doesn't appear in any records I can find, nor have I found an inquest verdict. He strongly denied the charge, and claimed it could not have been him, as he was with another woman at the time of the incident. It's a matter of pure speculation, as to whether this other woman, Hannah Binns, lied to the Police, but, due to the lack of any other eye witness'es, Stanley appears to have not been tried on a charge of Wilful Murder.


After his " narrow escape ", he was to be found living with the said Hannah, and describing her as his "wife ", at 31, West Bromwich Street . In late 1880, she became pregnant, but the child, also called Richard, died in early 1881. At this stage, Hannah appears to have left the scene, and in April, 1883 he was sentenced at a Birmingham Court, to six months imprisonment for Larceny. He then seems to have taken up with another woman, Mary Ann Ockold, and they moved into House  6, Court Number 1, Inkerman Street, Oldbury. Stealing from an employer was viewed as a very serious offence at the time, and for the second time, he faced a Birmingham Court. This time, 8th January 1885, he got 12 months for being convicted twice for Larceny. Finally, after his release, and still under Police supervision, he married Mary in 1896. Maybe he had already confided in her about the incident in 1878, and this was a way of protecting himself. He died in 1911, taking with him to the grave just what happened on that canal towpath so many years before. Any other information will be gratefully received, but from what brief records there are, I think Richard James Stanley, was a very lucky man indeed.



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

December 15, 2011 at 3:50 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Unsolved Murders, Old Hill, Samuel Perry, 1838.


Back to the problem of the lack any forsenic science, especially in 1838, although tests for poison had been developed a few years before. Police incompetance sometimes made a difference between Hanging the right person, or failing to hang anyone for thr crime. Samuel Perry, at 45, was a hardworking Nailmaker, who resided with his wife and 3 children in Garratt's Lane, Old Hill, Staffordshire.  He had been born in 1793, but his wife, Susanna, ( whose maiden name may be Bedworth )  was somewhat younger, having been born around 1803. It was said, that Susanna had been seen around the area, with another man on her arm, one James Smith. On the 11th July, 1838, Samuel came down ill, with horrible pains in his stomach, after a bad day previously, when he made a fraction of the nails he would normally. Susanna gave him some Gin and Brandy, but despite her asking, would not allow a Doctor to be sent for. They couldn't afford such a luxury anyway. 2 days later, Samuel was dead, stiff as a plank, and, as tongues were bigging to wag, an inquest was called for. Susanna was not in favour of this, but could do nothing about it. Sure enough, a white powder was found in Samuels stomach, a powder that turned out to Arsenic. They did not, at this stage, arrest Samuels wife, but let her go back to the little house to look after the children. For the next 11 days, the Police waited for the results of the inquest, and only when Mrs Perry was charged by the court with Wilful Murder, did they actually bother to search the house. Not surprisingly, they found an opened packet of Arsenic. Enquiries by the Police turned up a Chemist, who had sold the packet, which he stated was one of his. He picked out the woman customer as Mrs Perry, but failed to recognise the hat that was worn by the woman, as the accused's. Circumstances favoured Susanna Perry at the trial, in 1839.( She had to wait for the next Assizes )  She had, the jury were told, readily agreed to the house search, and had asked her husband several times if he wanted a Doctor. The crucial bit though, was the incompetant delay in searching the house in the first place. it allowed the defence to suggest that the packet of Arsenic had been planted, and Susanna was therefore not the culprit. Not wishing to send an innocent mother of 3 to the gallows, the jury aquitted her of Wilful Murder. Susanna Perry, a women who professed not to be able to read or write, walked from the court a free woman. She was a very lucky woman, not everyone has the chance to remove all the evidence, for, lets face it, she undoubtly poisoned her husband. It's down in the file though as un-solved. Unless someone see's the agonised, shady figure, of the ghost of Samuel Perry, staggering down Garratt's Lane and asks him who did it, it will remain a closed case forever.

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

January 18, 2012 at 4:42 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Unsolved Murders, Walsall, Mary Swinbourne,1903.


Mary Swinbourne, was born in Ireland, around 1839. Her maiden name may have been Mary Ann Bennett, and her father was a serving Soldier. The family arrived back in England in 1840. When she grew up, she became, due to lack of any skills, a Hawker. How it came about, I have no idea, but in 1856, she married a man from Walsall, whose name was George Swinbourne. He had been born in the town in 1836, and by the time he reached 15, had taken up the trade of a Locksmith. In the 1860s, they were living in Rushall, with two small children, George and Charles. According to the 1871 Census, George, now with 4 children, left the family home, and went to live with Joseph Barber and his family in Wednesfield. He must have gone back after a short while, because by 1881, Mary had given birth to a further 6 children, making 10 in all. It would appear, that George Swinbourne had somewhat of a violent disposition, which culminated sometime between 1892 and 1900, in him facing a Court charged with Domestic Violence. Not by any means an uncommon thing to hear about at the time, but unusual for such a thing to end up at Stafford Assizes. Judging by what happened next, it broke up the marriage, which must have been a relief to the devoutly Catholic Mary. Left without visable means of support though, in 1901, she was forced to seek shelter in the local Workhouse. It's supposed, that having been forced to change his name due to the Court case, ( at which I assume he was found guilty ) he was also in the same Workhouse. (There is a record of a Robert Swinbourne, in the workhouse list for that year.)


Now it's a fact, that a great many of the folk of the Black Country, in need of a bit of fresh air, took to going Hop Picking. It was a way of making a bit of extra money, while having a break from the normal endless toil of the factories, or dingey home workshops. Mary Swinbourne, may have gone on such a venture in 1902, she certainly did in 1903, and it was the last journey she would ever make. Towards the end of October, almost at the end of the season, a farm cowman, early in the morning, was on the way to attend to his stock. He worked at Ugborough Farm, on the Bewdley side of Kidderminster. About halfway down the trackway leading to the Farm, he spotted what looked like a bundle of clothes near to the fence. It wasn't, it was the horribly mutilated body of a woman. The Police were soon on the scene, and noting that there were signs of a struggle, and a small wrapped bundle, they had the corpse removed for further examination. The bundle contained a Catholic Bible, and some Tickets, which were used by the Hop Pickers for accounting for the work they had done. It took several days for the woman to be identified, Mary Swinbourne from Walsall. In the meantime, the Doctor had been busy with the body, and it made gruesome reading, The woman, said the report had recieved many slashing wounds, one of which had almost severed her left breast. There were puncture wounds to her head and hands, and her Jugular Vein had been cut clean through. One policeman said he had not seen such mutilation since the time of Jack the Ripper, some 15 years before. Some of the Hop Pickers, were under the impression that she was on the way to meet someone she knew well. I wonder who could have born such malice, towards a 65 year old woman, that he would virtually slice her into mince meat. Now I know which direction I would gone, if I had been a policeman on the case. I don't have any more information on the case, so if anyone can help me out, I would be grateful. I do know that George Swinbourne's name does not appear in either the 1891, 1901, or the 1911 Census. There isn't a listing for his death either, which could be 1916, 1919, or even earlier. He certainly didn't swing for the death of his wife, in fact nobody appears to have been held accountable. Unless someone out there knows better.

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

January 22, 2012 at 4:19 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Unsolved Murders. Wolverhampton, Willenhall, Walsall.

Martha Giles, 1959.

Resham Kaur Dhillon, 1979.

Sarah Bowdler, 1991.


This next piece is just a reminder that there are still a fair few unsolved Murders in the region. Here are just 3, all within the last 53 years, which means that the killer, or killers, may well still be alive.

Wolverhampton. 1959.

A nurse, on her way to the New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, failed to report for night duty. Not very unusual, she may have been taken ill. No one reported anything untoward, until the next morning, when her brutally battered and stabbed body was found on the Hospital's Bowling Green. Martha Giles hadn't, it would seem at first glance, an enemy in the whole world. She was well liked, and well respected, as a committed member of the Hospital's staff. She had not, it appeared, been robbed or molested, leaving the Police to unravel the motive for this vicious crime. A Doctor at the Hospital was arrested and charged with the murder, but at his trial, he was aquitted. So who killed nurse Giles? As far as the records go, no one else has ever been sought, or charged for the deed. If anyone knows anything, it's never too late to call the Police, the case is still open.


Willenhall, Staffordshire, 1979.

It,s a quiet area around Fisher Street, and the whole community was shocked, when the strangled body of Resham Kaur Dhillon was discovered in her home. She was a kindly soul, and had many friends, from all parts of the neighbourhood. There seems to be no apparent motive for this crime either, as no attempt at forced entry had been made. Whoever killed Mrs Dhillon, was possibly known to her, or someone conned their way into the house. Typically, the Police were frustrated in their efforts, as many people refused to offer information which could prove vital to solving the murder. Once again, it's never to late to pick up a phone and offer information.


Walsall. 1991.

68 years old, as nice as they come, Sarah Bowdler was a volunteer at the Spastic Society Shop, Wednesbury. Well known in the area in which she had lived for many years, 68, Somers Road, Pleck, she hadn't an enemy in the world, and may have let someone into the house in an effort to help them. For her trouble, she was both, badly battered, and then stabbed by her killer. It's not known exactly what was stolen, she wasn't after all, a rich woman. Someone out there, has the key to unlock this mystery, and remember, whoever he,or she is, they are still roaming around free, and even after the passing of 20 years, they are still capable of doing it again.

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

February 26, 2012 at 3:32 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Unsolved Murders, West Bromwich, Dorothy Mills,1961.


Several requests about this one from West Bromwich, in 1961, so here goes. Dorothy Mills, adopted as a child, was 32 years old when she was killed in the grounds of the Wesley Tennis Club, on 21 January,1961. She had received 8 blows to the back of the head, with a type of hammer used by Carpenters, or Boiler Scalers, and most likely died at once. Her watch was broken and stopped, at 8.45pm. She had left her home about 6.00pm, telling her parents she was going to the Cinema. Her body was found at 6.00am the next morning by two Police Officers, partly hidden under the Tennis Clubs broken gate. She had been reported missing by her family the previous night, when she failed to return home.


Dorothy Mills was a secretive person, no one at her place of employment, the local Authority, knew much about her social life, except she was quite a star at the Tennis Club, and went regulary to Church. Dorothy however, was not all she seemed, she would use her friends name when out meeting men in some of the many Pubs in the area, a fact her parents knew nothing of. Neither did they know, at the time of her death, she was 3 months pregnant. She obviously hadn't gone to the pictures, and whoever she did meet, battered her to death in the allyway which led to the Club. Dorothy Mills, it turned out, had many men friends, most of whom never came forward, making the job of the Police almost impossible. No one has ever been charged, or seriously questioned about her death, and for over 50 years, it has remained unsolved. There have been a number of wild speculations over the years, one included the blaming of Frederick Jeffs, a shopkeeper from Smethwick. Sadly someone didn't do much research, as Jeffs, indeed a shopkeeper, but from Stanley Road in Quinton, was battered to death in 1957, his body being dumped in Forge Lane, on the West Bromwich side of the border with Handsworth. Another rather unbelievable tale, claims that they were told in confidence, who the killer was, and actually met him. They further claimed to know all the family very well at the time of the murder.  The claimant at the time was barely 4 years old, as a bit of research soon uncovered. The culprit is probably long dead by now, but if he isn't, you never know, he may still own up as to why he killed her. There are a couple of pictures in the Criminal Intent Album in the Gallery.

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

March 29, 2012 at 4:42 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Unsolved Murders, Tipton, Cannock, Dudley.

Eliza Warton, 1936.

Elsie May Taylor, 1957.

Louis Cassell, 1959.


All of the next three unsolved cases are within living memory, so if anyone has come across any clues, give Crime Stoppers a call with the details.


Two young lads, on the 16th February,1936, saw a man behaving oddly, near the Canal in Tipton, Staffordshire. Shortly afterwards, the body of Eliza Warton, the wife of a serving Sailor, was recovered from the murky waters. The man, as described by the boys, wore a typical lorry drivers cap, with a very shiny peak. A man was soon identified as being in the area at the time, one William Oakley, who just happened to be a Lorry driver. Things looked really black for Oakley, until during his trial, his Barrister, Norman Birkett QC, produced a battered old cap, which Oakleys workmates testified, he had regulary used. Needless to say, it did not have a nice shiny peak. The Jury were impressed, and found William Oakley not guilty. Now I can't get my head round the fact that he appears to have only had the one battered old hat. Haulage companies were proud of the service they provided, and would have diciplined anyone turning up for work in such a scruffy hat, which anyway, doesn't sound like part of the uniform a great many drivers wore. No one else, was ever charged with Eliza Wortons murder.


Over in Longford Road, Bridgetown, Cannock, on the 15th April,1957, a woman was found strangled and battered about the head, on her kitchen floor. The unfortunate victim was Mrs Elsie May Taylor. She had been bound hand and foot with the clothes line, nothing had been stolen, and there were no signs of any sexual activity. The police did have one clue however, a single clear finger print on the back of a door. It was decided to take the fingerprints of an estimated 15,000 men in the district, although why, isn't exactly clear. The print on the door was matched, after just a 1,000 had been checked, and then, as it was found to be of someone who had a very good reason for it being there, the search was called off. It was obviously the print of Mrs Taylors husband, ( who else could have a sufficient reason for being in the house? ) and what is surprising, it was the only finger print found in the kitchen area. No one was ever charged with the murder, and the mystery remains, who killed Elsie May Taylor ?


You would have thought, that at 87 years old, Louis Cassell, a Birmingham born Dudley Moneylender, would have long given the business up. He certainly did on the 2nd October,1959, when he was found in his office, at 32, Wolverhampton Street, beaten to death with a Tyre Lever. Missing, were some £5 notes totaling £20, but found, was a fingerprint on the receipt book. The print belonged to a certain Robert Townsend, an un-employed convicted thief and local man. He had also been seen around the town spending money, and was in possesion of one of the missing notes. He claimed, as he had to because of the print, that he had called in for a loan from the old man. He had spun a line to Mr Cassell, that he was employed, and further claimed the old man had simply lent him the money. ( There was no name in the receipt book for the £20.)  " He was alive when I left the Office ", was his claim to the jury, and faced with no other evidence, he was aquitted of the crime. He had certainly had plenty of time to change his clothes, clean up, and was aware of not leaving any fingerprints on the weapon. He wasn't aware that paper could also carry and hold prints though. Once again, no one else was ever charged with the old mans cowardly murder, all for just £20.


Just a little note.  Louis Cassell lived at flat in Cropthorne Court, Egbaston, Birmingham. As I said above, why he was still at this work, at his age we may never know, for when his Will was published, his estate came to the total of £42,002. 4shillings.

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

August 17, 2012 at 4:00 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Unsolved Murders, Walsall, Birmingham, Cheadle.

Margaret Reynolds.

Diana Tift.

Raymond Morris.


Now you will find in a post on " More Nasty Murders ", the name Raymond Leslie Morris. You will also see the names, Margaret Reynolds, and Diana Tift.  Raymond Morris was not arrested, or charged with these murders, dispite the very strongly held suspicions that he did. Apart from the similar grey car, there is no direct  evidence that he committed these two brutal murders. Certainly, he has never mentioned them, and, it is suspected, is unlikely to ever admit that he did. Mind you, he is now 83, knows he will most likely die in prison, and has no incentive to say anything. The murders of the two young girls then, are still, two unsolved cases. As indeed was the the disappearence of Jane Taylor, aged 10, who vanished from her street in the village of Mobberly, just south of Cheadle, Staffordshire, while riding her bike in 1966. Morris was suggested as a possible suspect but in the 1970s, the right man was found. William Copeland, a 39 year old Gardener, from Arundel in Sussex, was convicted in 1975 for her murder, following information from a fellow prison. Copeland had confessed, while imprisoned, to Peter Blythin, or more likely bragged about it, and he told the Police. William Copeland had thrown a rope around young Jane's neck while she was riding her bike, and driven off after putting her in his car. He claimed she was already dead, due to him " accidently " pulling too hard on the rope. Her remains were found 80 miles from her home, in North Wales. It would be nice to know, just who did kill those two young girls, for a re-opening of the case failed to lead to a conviction. Raymond Leslie Morris, thank heavens for small mercies, will now die in prison, having lived a much longer life than his victims, for there are few doubts among the local population, that he committed the offences.


Postscript. added 1st March, 2015.

                        Raymond Morris, died in HMP Preston, on the 11th March, 2014, after serving 45 years behind bars. He was 84. He never confessed to the other two killings, although there is very little doubt that he did. His Funeral was paid for by the Prison Service, and cost, including a Wreath, £2,686.00. It would have cost far less back in 1968, but Capital punishment had been banished into the archives of history. One of the few serial killers in the Midlands, he was unmourned, and wished an afterlife of torment in the fires of hell. I will drink a toast to that, on the anniversary of his death next week.

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

September 17, 2012 at 2:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Unsolved Murders. John Jeavons, John Howell, John Davis, John Kempson.


Off to Bilston, now for an intriging tale of not one, but three suspicious deaths. On the morning of the 30th January, 1863, three men made there way to work at about 5.30am. Two of the men were Doggies, at the Paget Croft Colliery, Bilston, and there first job was check that all the supporting timber was in place prior to the day shift starting work. The third man was a Labourer, whose job it was to fetch any timber needed for replacements. John Howell, John Davis, and John Kempson, had worked together for some time, trusted each other, and were competant miners. Arriving at the Pit, they observered the safety test on the rope that would be in use that day, on the skip that had to get into to descend the 85 yards, ( 255 feet ) to the bottom of the shaft. The man in charge of the operation of lowering the skip, and the winding Engine, was 19 year old engineer John Jeavons. He had been born in the old Parish of Sedgeley, in 1844, and this included all of Coseley, and most of Bradley and Bilston. He was at the time living with his stepfather, in Highfield Road. Having declared it safe, the three men entered the skip and Jeavons set it in motion down the shaft. 45 feet down and the rope parted, the  skip, and the three terrified men, were hurled down the shaft to certain doom. Two died instantaneously, the other, just as he reached the surface, after the alarm had been raised. Any death at this stage in the history of mining, required investigating, and an inspection of the rope was made. Some disturbing information came to light.


The rope had, a short time before the incident, been sliced by an expert, as required by law, so no blame was attached to Mr Wright, the mine's owner. The rope itself consisted, as did others, of three thick strands all wound into one, and although other mines had changed over to the safer chains, this mine was quite small, and this type of rope was concidered to be suitable for the smaller loads lifted. So what did the inspectors find? Two of the three strands, at the point where the splice had taken place, could be seperated from the other, and while this was normal, the deliberate cutting of them was not. It was perfectly clear, that a sharp implement had been used, and that they were not looking at an accident, but at a wicked and brutal Murder. The only one with access to the Engine house, where the rope was kept overnight, was John Jeavons, the one man in charge of the rope, and reponsible for inspection and testing was.... John Jeavons. It was clear that the early test, before the three men got into the skip would be easily passed, as the single strand would have supported it while empty.  John Jeavons was arrested, taken before a Magistrate, charged with Wilful Murder, and consigned to Stafford Gaol to await a trial,which began on 12th March, but was adjourned until the 21st. This was maybe to allow questioning of a witness, who quite possible could have thrown some light on just why the rope was cut. In the end it came to nothing, and as there was only circumstancial evidence, and no one had actually seen Jeavons cut the rope, the Jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty. Someone though, had cut the rope, of that there was no doubt, and the only man who could answer why, had walked from Stafford Assizes a blameless man. And, as is the way of things, never again to be trusted in the mining industry, and most likely shunned by most of the inhabitants. John Jeavons, as a report says, married in 1864, and not surprisingly, went to live in Birmingham, changing his trade to that of an Iron Moulder. A very lucky man was John Jeavons, a master, or so it seems, of a few rope tricks.

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

November 16, 2013 at 3:56 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Walter Piper, was born near Hagley, Worcestershire, about 1798. For most of his life, a hard working and honest boatman, unmarried, he had lived, and worked, in many locations around the Black Country. In 1861, he was lodging with George Wooten, a shoemaker, in Coseley, Staffordshire. Early on the morning of the 25th March,1861, he set off from the wharf, near Darkhouse Lane, with orders from the owner, Samuel Wilcox, to take a cargo to Birchills, Walsall. ( Boundry changes later, put a large part of the area under Bilston )  It was his custom, after work finished for the day, for Walter to go to Bilston Market, and buy a few supplies, in this instance, lIb of Bacon, llb of Cheese, two Loaves, and some Meat. He also had in his possesion, 3 shillings and 6 pence, which he kept in an old brass Tobacco box. He failed to appear at his lodgings, and he was such a reliable man, a search for him was made. A short distance away, he was discovered at the house of a neighbour, having collapsed almost on the doorstep. He had a severe wound on his forehead, and he had clearly been assaulted and robbed. When the medical assistance called for, failed to appear, George Wooten took him home, and managed to get him a Doctor. In a statement, he said he had been attacked near Blue Button Bridge, by two men, who had leapt out of a hedge, struck him a violent blow, and rifled his pockets. Both of the men were young, and he described one as being very tall. This was of interest to the Police, as such a man was already well known to them. Walter Piper died on the 15th April, 1861, and the Inquest, the next day, produced a verdict of Wilful Murder. Through lack of sufficient evidence, the main suspect remained free, and the case went cold, only to resurface the next year in a most surprising way. ( see Murder Case Reviews )

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

October 9, 2014 at 3:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Now here are two more, possibly three, who got away with Murder. Not from want of some very strong circumstancial  evidence, but from the Judge's direction to the Jury. John Orchard, was a hardworking man, a Publican in the town of Stourbridge, and the landlord of the Woolstaplers' Arms. He had been married a long time, and had a grown up daughter, although the relationship between the three was a little on the fraught side. John Orchard did not like to spend money, well certainly not on the frivolities of life, much loved by the females of the species. There were many arguments, some of them concerning his wife's habit of frequenting the same space as a certain Mr Smith.


On the evening of the 3rd August,1837, John Orchard took the short walk up his yard, to the Brewhouse and storeroom. He was followed by the two women, and Mr Smith. He returned back to the pub a a few minutes later, but the women remained for some time. John Orchard was not seen alive again. The daughter, upon being asked where the landlord was, told the customers that she feared her father was very ill, and likely to die. In truth, he was already dead. A Doctor was called, and when he arrived, he found the wife, in the kitchen, supporting her husbands head in her hands. She was quick to point out that he had a small wound in his chest, caused she said, by him falling on a nail, although there was no hole or tear in his shirt. It was also noted, that the Brewhouse, Barrels, Tubs, and the yard, had been recently washed down. Suspicion was aroused and the Police were summoned. The wound, about four and a half inches deep, and made by a very narrow intrument, had penetrated John Orchards heart, and killed him almost instantly. Nothing was found on the premises to account for the injury, and the Coroner, taking into account the numerous quarrels, delared it to be " Wilful Murder by parties unknown ".  As the body was being prepared for burial, one of the women who frequented the Pub, made an accusation that the deceased landlord had been murdered with a meat skewer, which had then been thrown into the River Stour. A search revealed a skewer, and the two women and Smith were arrested, put up before the Magistrates, and committed for trial at the next Worcester Assizes.


Lord Abinger, the trial Judge, after listening to all the evidence, faced a difficult summing up. It was perfectly clear from, what had been said, that there was only one possible answer to who had killed John Orchard, but sadly, not one solid fact to back it all up. " You must not " said the Judge to the Jury, " convict the prisoners on suspicion alone ".  And so they didn't, and the undoubted killers of John Orchard, walked free from the Court. And free of course, to at last spend all the deceased mans money.

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

October 15, 2016 at 10:28 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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