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Forum Home > The Ultimate Crime. > Walsall Murders 1841,1914,1932, and 1953.

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Crime, Murder, Hangings, Walsall,


Walsall at this time was divided into two very distinctive areas, The Borough,  and Walsall Foreign, this being parts that were only affiliated to it. Fullbrook, and the Delves, were just two of these areas, and it was in the latter, on 30th November, 1841, that a crime was committed, which shocked the otherwise hardened citizens. The crime itself was a fairly common one, but the story has a somewhat ironic twist at the end, as you will see.


Matthew Adams, 1841.


Matthew Adams, who was a native of the area, was born in 1771. He was now 70 years old, and of independent means. Having spent a large part of his life in the leather trade, he had become the owner of a small business, but was now happily retired. When news reached him, that a favourite grandaughter was getting married, he did not hesitate, and promised her a £100 dowery. This was an awful lot of money at the time, and his generousity was soon the talk of the little area. It was of specific interest to one inhabitant, who passed it on, possibly in the way of gossip, to three of his friends, who, decided that such wealth could be put to better use, funding their drunken and thuggish lifestyle's. They set out to rob the defenceless old man. Breaking into his cottage, they found nothing, but woke up Matthew in the process of their clumsy search. Arming himself with a Pike, he went downstairs to seek out the source of the noise. Boswell, hearing the old man approach, quickly ran to the Cottage's front door, and confronted Adams as he vainly tried to cry for help. The young Joseph Wilkes, hammer in hand, came up behind the old man , and struck him several blows on his head. Despite his injuries, Matthew Adams managed to get his tenant. in the next cottage, to hear his desperate cry for help. She in turn, raised her husband, and called for help from the other occupants of the cottages. Their pockets empty, for they had found nothing, all four fled the scene, unrecognised as it turns out. The only clue left behind, was a fully loaded pistol, belonging, as was subsequently proved, to Thomas Boswell. This was to be the gangs undoing, for there was a very bright and alert copper in the area, and it didn't take him long to round up this motley crew. Some few days later, from house's in the area, the purpetrators of the crime were rounded up, charged with Wilful Murder, and sent off to Stafford Prison to await trial.


Facing the Judge, in early March,1842, were James Wilkes, aged 40, a Labourer, from near Deadman Lane/Blue Lane, Walsall.  He was a widower with two teenage children, and the uncle of Joseph Wilkes, aged 17. Joseph was just 16 when he was arrested and charged, and the alleged maniacal assailent of Matthew Adams. He was the eldest of 7 children, and lived in Goscote, near the Lodge, which was almost in Bloxwich. The third man was Thomas Boswell, aged 21, a Saddler, living with his widowed sister, Jane Johns, in Townsend Bank, just off Stafford Street, Walsall. The last of this motley crew, George Giles, was the passer of the information that led to the crime, for he lived in Full Brook, close to where the victim resided. Like his father, he was a Stirrup Filer, and lived with his parents and twin brother John Giles. When the verdicts were announced, three of this gang of thugs were lucky, for they were found guilty of the lesser charge of Manslaughter. Not so lucky was young Joseph Wilkes, found guilty of Murder, he was sentenced to Death, the order being carried out a few days later, on 2nd April, 1842. Wilkes, Boswell, and Giles, were ordered to be transported for 15 years, and a few days after the hanging, were sent down to Sheerness, in Kent, to await a suitable ship. Their quarters for the wait, was an old three decked Hulk, one of the old " Wooden Walls of England ".


They did not have to wait long, 1841/42/43 were very busy periods for the trip out to Australia, and the trio were bound for Van Diemens Land. On the 28th May, 1842, a ship, The Waterloo, tied up alongside the old hulk, and the prisoners, some 200, were transfered to her holds. Built in 1815, this was to be the eighth round trip for the Waterloo, and she already had on board, guards from the 99th Regiment of foot, some wives, and at least 14 children. She cast off at high tide on the 1st June, and the long haul to Tasmania began. Now comes the little twist in the tale. The Cape of Good Hope, was not it's original name, it was known by most mariners as the " Cape of Storms ", and on this voyage, it lived up to it's name. As the ship approached, a fierce storm blew up, and it was soon on serious trouble. Driven by the high winds, dismasted, and forced into Table Bay, she foundered sometime between 12th and 27th of August. ( Survivors recollections couldn't pin point the exact date ) There were only 72 that reached shore alive. 143 convicts, 14 crew members, 15 Soldiers, 4 of their wives, and 14 children all drowned. James Wilkes, Thomas Boswell, and George Giles were amongst those who lost their lives. I don't suppose there were many in Walsall, apart from the families, who shed many tears when the news finally got back. I would have joined in the cheers, were it not for the fact that so many others died. So there we have it, the bones of the three men, are still being washed back and forth on the tides of time, and still, they remain tainted, with the stains of a horrible murder.



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

October 12, 2011 at 11:38 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Crime, Murder, Walsall.


Matthew Adams,1841.


Adding a bit more " meat " on the bare bones of a tale, is of course what we all aspire too, so here's a bit more. Matthew Adams, actually owned the small row of cottages at The Delves, and lived in the end one of four. Like most at the time they had only two roms, one up one down. on his own though, he had added a pantry, a structure with a sloping roof that came almost to ground level. ( picture in the Gallery )

 

Through this roof it was then, that three of the robbers entered, James and Joseph Wilkes, and Thomas Boswell, the other one George Giles, had been left on guard in the lane. Just why the young Wilkes used a hammer, is a mystery, as Boswell was carrying a fully loaded Pistol. ( It was left behind in the rush to escape, and later traced back to Boswell, via a repair carried out on it ) Adams tenant next door was Sarah Rollason, who, woken by the noise, witnessed the attack on the old man, and raised the alarm. The next Cottage was empty, but in the fourth was Alexandra Brown, who was quickly on the scene, together with his 4 lodgers. John Adams, the son was soon at the Cottage as well, having been summoned from his public house The Bulls Head, at Tame Bridge. Medical aid was slow to arrive, and when Surgeon Thomas Pitt turned up later that day, he could do nothing to save the old man. A double fracture of the skull was beyond the doctors of the time anyway, and Matthew Adams was already a doomed man. Samuel Heatherley, who appears to have been a Town busybody, put in an appearance, hastening to the scene from his Bakery Shop, and as the only one with a horse, hurried into Walsall, taking the pistol to Superintendant John Raymond. This man was the head of the fledgling police force, and for his day, a bit of a bright button. He recognised the work of Thomas Boswell in all this, and soon had him in custody. He also located the man who had repaired the pistol, Walter Baggott, who had fitted a new mainspring. All four were remanded to Stafford Gaol, on a charge of Wilful Murder, and the case was heard on Wednesday 9th March before Mr Justice Creswell. Boswell and Giles were defended by a Mr Yardley, but the Wilkes, unable to afford council, had to trust to luck. In the event, The young Wilkes was found guilty as charged, but the jury, ignoring the Judge's directions, actually aquitted the other three of Wilful murder. They did not however walk free, on the next day, 10th March, they were bought back to face a charge of " Burglariously breaking and entering the house of Matthew Adams, with intent to commit a felony ". The older Wilkes and Boswell, found guilty, were sentenced  to transportation for life, Giles for 7 years of the same. Rumour has it that James Wilkes didn't drown when the ship went under the waves, but the records list him as amongst the victims. There's no record of him ever getting to Van Diemans land. A fitting end for Thomas Boswell, the real villian of the piece, who arranged the robbery in the first place. He should have swung from the end of a rope at the same time as young Joseph Wilkes, whom records now suggest, was just 16 when hanged.

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

March 4, 2012 at 4:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Crime, Murder, Walsall.


Charles Longmore,1914.


While there is no doubt about the motive for the 1841 murder, its a bit harder to find one for this next gruesome tale. Charles Longmore, possibly born in Holtshill Lane, Walsall,  in 1862 was an industrious man. Instead of pursuing a career in the Leather, Iron, or Mining trades, he became a Chimney Sweep. Although not the highest paid employment around, at least he became his own boss, and could pick and choose where and when he worked. In 1881, he married, ( in something of hurry it appears.) Sarah Ann Wolfe, a year older than him, and from the nearby, Paddock Lane. It was to be a rather sad start to married life, for this first child, believed to be named Grace, died in 1881. The second child, possibly a boy they called Fred, also died, in 1883. In total, they were to have 10 children, of which 3 more died very young. In 1886, they moved to 63, Ball Street, which was a narrow and mean little place, in a row of houses we would call tenements. It was just behind Ablewell Street, with Warewell Street at one end, and Paddock Lane at the other. The area was known as the poorest in Walsall, most of the properties being in a run down and delapidated state. These were some of the last genuine " Back to Backs " left in Walsall, and as I said, being a Sweep didn't pay all that much, but they seemed happy enough, and were still there, 28 years later in 1914. The tragedy began, when Charles's wife, Sarah Ann, returned from a trip to the theatre, ( or so it was said at the inquest ) about 8.30pm. In the small house was her brother, Bert Wolfe, who, incidently, lived in another " Back To Back " at 104, Paddock Lane,  her son, Mark Longmore, and of course, her husband Charles. They had been drinking beer prior to Sarah's return, although there is no suggestion that anyone was drunk. She sat down on a old sofa by the fire, next her husband, with her son sitting at the other end. Without any warning, Charles Longmore, put his arm around his wife's neck, and stabbed her on the left side with a small but sharp and pointed table knife. She rose rapidly from the sofa, tried to speak, but as her Jugular Vein had been severed, no sounds came, and she collapsed.  She was dead before Doctor Dixon arrived a few minutes later. " Look what father's done to mother! ", said young Mark, and Charles promptly left the house. It was all a mystery, for the couple had exchanged no harsh words during the few minutes she had been in the house.


Meanwhile Charles hadn't gone far, just down the road to the nearest Public House, where he was heard to say he was going to the Police Station in Goodall Street, to give himself up. He next went to his married daughters house in Merrimens Yard, High Street, but she wasn't in, so off he went to his brother, Mark Longmore, in Wednesbury Road Pleck. By now the Police were on the lookout for Charles, and one Officer, Detective Constable Ayres, detailed to go to this house, spotted him through the window. He entered and arrested him for inflicting grievous bodily harm, not knowing that Mrs Longmore was already dead. Taken back to Goodall Street, he was charged by Chief Inspector Ballance, with the wilful muder of his wife, and where he made several rambling statements, non of which threw any light on why he had commited such a foul deed. One thing I do know, he was not sentenced to death for the crime, for there is no record of his hanging.  He must have been sentenced to either penal servitude for a number of years, or sent off to the nearest Lunatic Asylum, for, given the period, its highly unlkely that he was set free. If anyone has a report of the Court appearence, and subsquent sentence, do let me know and I will add it to my case review section.

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

January 21, 2013 at 3:05 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Karen
Member
Posts: 2

Hi

Have found report in Manchester evening news which states that although Charles was sentened to death (on 17 feb?) , on 6 march 1914 he was reprieved by the home office- in the newspaper reports it states they had an unhappy marriage and Sarah Ann was a drinker. Hope that helps!!!

March 7, 2013 at 12:56 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Walsall Murder, Harold Hayward Wilkins, 1932.


Harold Hayward Wilkins, lived with his parents, well his mother and stepfather actually, in Longwood Cottages, Mellish Road, Walsall. In 1932 he was 16 years old, maybe a bit on the strange side, but then again, you could say that of most teenagers. He had a job at  a place called Brinton Kennels, in Aldridge Road, Little Aston, Streetly, which consisted of a series of Kennels, and a house, the home of the owner. There was a head Kennel Maid, Ethel Corely, aged 32, who also lived at the house. She was a kindley and good natured young woman, and it was a great shock when one morning, she was found dead in the bathroom of the house. At first, because the house had been ransacked, and Ethel had been bound and gagged, it looked like a burglary gone wrong. It was soon apparent that this was not the case, and the Police attention swung Harold Wilkins way. Confronted with the evidence, he didn't take him long in telling them his side of the story. A story that of course, didn't fit the facts.


He told the Court at his trial, that he was a bit of a practical joker, and so when Ethel Corely had confided in him that she was un-afraid of burglers, he decided to play a trick on her. He went into the house, he said, to sneek up on the kennel maid, and leap out to scare her, but realised when he got upstairs, that she was undressed, and in the Bathroom. Instend of the prank he had planned, he now decided to have just a little peep at the woman in the bath. Unfortunately for him, as he moved to look, he stumbled into a chest of drawers, and Ethel heard him. That she was annoyed, is understandable, and he told the court, that all he did, after being discovered at his peeping tom act, was to touch her on her shoulder. To his amazement, he said, she went all limp, and collapsed on the floor. In a total panic, he went around the house opening drwers and flinging stuff about, and then tied up the young woman, then gagging her, before quietly leaving and going home. Called as a witness, his mother, Mrs Emily Hill, who must have been horrified at what had occured, had no wish to see her son hanged, so varified that he was indeed a practical joker, who had, on one occassion, nearly frightened his Aunt to death. His stepfather, bewildered by the lads actions, and to be honest, completely out of his depth, said he had given the boy a " sound thrashing " over the incident. It was an attempt of course, by desperate parents to save their son from what was enevitably going to transpire, for the evidence was about to show that Harolds story had a few holes in it.


He had not, it transpired,stayed in the bedroom, but had actually gone un-invited into the bathroom. He soon found out he wasn't at all welcome, and to prevent her screaming, he had grabbed hold of her, and had possibly held her under the water. Whether he had meant to kill her, is another matter, for the court then heard that he had lifted her out of the bath, and took her into the bedroom, to bind her up. He then put her back on the bathroom floor, but forgot, that a wet body, laid on a bed, leaves a wet mark, as the evidence showed. It was the deliberate actions he took, that ensured the sentence he received, on the 16th November, 1933, was one of Death by Hanging. You won't of course find this execution in the list, his age at the time precludes such a terrible sentence being carried out on one so young. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. It is highly likely, that he was released from Prison in 1943, after serving 11 years of the sentence. Not much justice there you may think for a young womans life, but a high price to pay for a peeping tom who panicked. The file on the case, in the National Archives, is closed to the public until 2043, he would today, be a little over 97 years old.

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

November 21, 2013 at 2:54 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

There's a fine line between Murder and Manslaughter, although the maximum sentence for either offence remains the same, Life Imprisonment. This next case hasn't recieved as much attention as some others, for it occurred in 1953, and the person responsible, to the best of my knowledge, may still be alive. The reporting was a bit sparse, for 1953 was a year full of far bigger events. At the end of January, Derek Bentley was executed at Wandsworth, a controversial decision. A great storm saw 133 drowned in the Irish Sea after a Car ferry sank, and many lives were lost in the East Coast Floods. On the 24th March, John Reginald Christie was arrested after 8 bodies were found at 10 Rillington Place, London, and the sensational find filled the Newspapers for many weeks. ( He was hanged on 15th July )  Then of course there was the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on 2nd June, and the news of the conquest of Mount Everest. The event in question though, happened in April, and involved the needless death of a young woman.


Rosemary Gough, aged 17, was an attractive and lively teenager, who lived with her parents in Goscote Lodge Cresent, Coal Pool, Walsall. Not where others would have chosen to live, for at the end of the Cresent was the Goscote Sewage Farm. She was a Tailors Presser in a Walsall factory, and she had caught the eye of a fellow worker, who asked one of his friends to introduce him. Trevor Aubrey Passy, also 17, was a despatch clerk, and lived about 3 miles from Rosemary, in Weston Street, Caldmore. They began to " walk out ", as the old expression has it, and they seemed to quite like each other. There wasn't all that much to do of a weekend in 1953, and it was a custom, to take a Sunday stroll. ( I have done it many times ) On Sunday, April the 19th, Trevor appears to have called for her, and off then went for the walk. He seems to have arrived home for his tea, but Rosemary failed to turn up. She had never stayed out late, and when she failed to appear, the family raised the alarm. A frantic search revealed nothing, and non of her friends knew where she was, but most knew who she had been with. Questioned by the Police, Passey was adoment that she had gone home, and there the matter rested; until the next morning. Rosemary Gough's body was found in a water filled culvert, on some waste ground, not far from where she lived, she had been strangled with her own scarf, so tightly, that it had to be cut off. Her clothing was not as it should be, and her skirt and leather belt were missing. A Murder enquiry began.


Traced to a Cinema, Trevor Passey denied knowing anything about her death, but a search of his parents house revealed the leather belt, but not the skirt. He changed his story, and declared it had all been an unfortunate accident. He had he said, been playing around, they had been kissing, and her scarf fell around her neck. Just for a joke, he pulled it tight, and the next thing he knew was that she had stopped breathing. I will refrain from making any comments at this stage, for it's plain from the records, that the Police did not believe his explanation, and he was charged with Murder. He was committed for trial at Stafford Assizes, pleaded not Guilty, and reserved his defence.


Juries can do strange things at times, maybe it was his age, maybe the hanging of 19 year old Derek Bentley had unsettled them, whatever it was they found him not guilty of Murder, but Guilty of Manslaughter. I suspect, that the 4 years imprisonment handed down by the Judge, did not in anyway satisfy the distraught family of Rosemay Gough. Which of course will come as no surprise to anyone.


Just a last few words in answer to questions I may get asked for including this sad event. Yes, I am aware it happened a long time ago, but it is still a matter of public record. Being upset about my using the story is a natural reaction, but again, It's in the public domain for anyone who cares to conduct a search. Readers can make up their own minds about the case, and I would refer them to my first question, whats the difference between Murder and Manslaughter.

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

March 12, 2015 at 12:57 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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