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Colonial Cases


London Chronicle, 22 April 1780
  Reading, April 22.  Thursday was committed to our gaol one Martin, a private soldier in the train of artillery, for the murder of John Reburn, his comrade, at Thatcham Fair, on Tuesday last.  It appears they had some words, and that Martin struck the deceased so violent a blow on the head with the hilt of his sword as to fracture his skull'; he languished two days.


The Observer, 9 September 1798

HUNGERFORD. - The murder of Mr. and Mrs. Cheney, of this place, in the year 1762, remains unrevealed to this day; but by the laudable endeavours of an honest tradesman, who had very meritoriously distinguished himself on several public occasions, there is now some prospect of that diabolical transaction being brought to light.


Cambrian, 6 September 1806

Thursday a Coroner's inquest was held at the Red-Lion-inn, Maidenhead, on the body of John Alsop, found dead in his bed the preceding morning.  It appeared that the deceased, who was a butler to a gentleman at Maidenhead, after a courtship of nineteen years to a female, named Cook, came up to London to be married on Monday.  On Tuesday they returned to Maidenhead, where the wife has a house; during their journey the deceased was frequently heard to express a wish that he might die suddenly; and on their arrival at the house, the deceased had a dispute with a lodger of his wife, respecting the room he should occupy; after which he went out in a passion, swearing he would never enter the house again; he then went to bed.  The next morning his wife went to call him to breakfast, and he was found dead, with his hand under his head.  He had shewn no symptoms of illness previously, and the jury found a verdict - Died by the visitation of God.


Cambrian, 15 April 1809

Horrid Murder

Thursday morning, at ten o'clock, ---- Richards, Esq., Coroner for the county of Berks, held an inquest at the Jolly Gardeners, Windsor, in the parish of Cluver, on the body of Sarah Newton, a woman of the town, who was found dead ,lying on her bed, with her cloaths on, between five and six o'clock on Wednesday morning, by her son, a youth about fifteen years of age, who was going to his daily employment as a brick-layer's labourer; he, not being well, called on his mother for some half-pumice to get him some peppermint drops.  When he came to her apartment, he found the front and back door open, she ,living on the ground floor in Cluver-Lane, Windsor, and his mother a corpse on the bed, beat and bruised in a cruel manner; the lad immediately alarmed the house and neighbourhood, who sent for Mr. O'Riley, a surgeon of Windsor, and by the account of the other lodgers in the house and neighbourhood, they heard her call murder several times about the hours of two or three in the morning, which they frequently did at all hours, suspicion fell upon one Brumhall, a rough-rider in the Royal Horse Guards (Blues), who lived with her, and had cohabited with her for five years; she has been a married woman, and has left behind her several children.  Upon the evidence before the Coroner they proved his frequently b eating and ill treating her, therefore they paid no attention to her cries at the time this happened; but it came out in evidence, that Brumhall was left with her at two o'clock on Wednesday morning, and upon this corroborating evidence, an d that of Mr. O'Riley, Mr. Dent, and Mr. Thomas, surgeons, who opened and examined the deceased, the jury found a verdict of Wilful murder against ---- Brumhall! And yesterday morning he was sent off to Reading gaol, to take his trial at the next Assizes.  The Coroner's inquest sat from ten o'clock in the morning till one the next morning, before they could go through the evidence and determine on their verdict.  The deceased was kicked and bruised from the top of her head all over her body to her feet, and some of her ribs broken.


North Wales Gazette (Bangor), 18 March 1824

   At Reading Assizes, Daniel Grimshire, a shepherd, was convicted of the murder of his infant child by pouring boiling water into its mouth., in the temporary absence of its mother.  On being taken back to prison after conviction, the prisoner persisted in adhering to the defence he had made before the Jury, that it had occurred by accident.  The next morning, when the chaplain visited him, the prisoner made a full confession of his guilt, with all the circumstances attending its perpetration; from which period he thrice attempted to carry it into execution, but his courage had as often failed him.  On the evening this horrid crime was committee, he availed himself of the absence of his wife, and taking the kettle of hot water from the side of the fire, poured the liquor into the moth of the infant in its cradle. 

   The motive for this diabolical act appears to have been a desire of separating from his wife, with whom he had had some quarrels, and returning to his employment as a shepherd.  Immense numbers assembled to witness the execution of this wretched malefactor, and many of the spectators appeared much affected by the awful spectacle.


The Cambrian, 5 March 1825

MELANCHOLY EVENT. - On Sunday last, about two o'clock, two young gentlemen, Collegians of Eton, the Hon. F. A. Cooper (son of the Earl of Shaftesbury) and Mr. Wood (son of Col. Wood, M.P. for Breconshire), were in the play ground, when some words arose between them, and they pushed each other.  Who gave the first assault, is differently stated; but from words they proceeded to blows, and had fought for several minutes, when the captain came up and separated them.  It was subsequently determined by the belligerents, that they should meet on the following afternoon and terminate their differences by a pugilistic contest, a custom prevalent among the scholars of Eton, and indeed of all other Public Schools; and the conqueror always tenders the hand of friendship to his defeated adversary    In this instance the majority of the scholars were present to witness the battle; and the combatants stripped to their buff, at four o'clock on Monday afternoon, and commenced fighting.

   Mr. Cooper was smaller in stature than his opponent, his age was under 15 years, and his opponent, who was half a head taller, was near 17.  Mr.  Wood had the advantage in point of strength, but the quickness and precision of Mr. Cooper was remarkable for one so young, and he declared that he would never give in.  In the 8th, 9th, and 10th rounds, he became weak and exhausted, and it was then evident he was not a match for Mr. Wood, and he ought to have been taken away.  Some of the "backers" had brought a quantity of brandy in bottles into the field, and the second of Mr. Cooper, in the eleventh round, poured a considerable quantity down Mr. C.'s throat, and he recovered his wind and strength.

   The young men commenced fighting from four o'clock till nearly six o'clock, and when they were in a state of exhaustion, they were constantly plied between the rounds with neat brandy.  It is stated that Mr. Cooper drank during the fight considerably above half a pint of the spirit. They fought about sixty rounds, and at the end of the last round, Mr. Cooper fell very heavily upon his head, and never spoke afterwards.  He was carried to bed; but no medical assistance was sent for till four hours afterwards, a short time before he expired.

   As soon as his death was known, expresses were sent off to the earl of Shaftesbury, and other relations of the deceased, to inform them of the lamentable catastrophe.  Yesterday morning the Secretary of the Noble Earl arrived at Eton, and took away the deceased's two brothers.  About none o'clock yesterday, Colonel Wood arrived at Eton and evinced much sorrow at the event which had taken place.

   The Coroner, who received intelligence of the death of the deceased by an express messenger, arrived at the Christopher Inn, at Eton, at two o'clock yesterday, and a jury (which had been previously summoned) assembled to hold an inquest.  A number of waitresses were examined; and it appeared in evidence, that the deceased had struck the first blow on Sunday.  At a late hour yesterday evening, the jury returned - Manslaughter against Mr. Wood, the principal; and Mr. Leith, the second; upon which the Coroner issued his warrant for the apprehension of both.


North Wales Gazette (Bangor), 17 March 1825


Aylesbury, March 9.


.  .  .  .   Mr. Justice Gaseless then addressed the Jury - Gentlemen of the jury, from the indictment which has just been read to you by the officer of the court, you learn the offence therein described to be that of manslaughter, committed on the body of the Hon. Francis Ashley Cooper. The witnesses who have been already examined before the Coroner not being in attendance, although due notice had been given them, therefore there being no evidence whatever against the prisoners, it is my duty to tell you you must say they are Not Guilty. [Statement by Leith follows, not given in Court.]


Carmarthen Journal, 30 May 1828

BARBAROUS TREATMENT OF A BOY. - On Tuesday week an inquest was held in the vestry-room of the poor-house, in Faringdon, Berks, before Edward Coucher, Esq., Coroner, on the body of Wm. Georg, alias Ingram, a little boy about 12 years of age, who came by his death in consequence of a kick from a horse.  The deceased was a plough-boy, in the employ of Edward James, of Wadley Farm,; and it appeared that about nine o'clock on the evening of Saturday week, as he was attending his master's horses, whilst they were grazing in a field near the house, one of the horses kicked him in the lower part of the abdomen, and struck him to the ground. On hearing his shrieks, the two carters, Isaac Smith and Wm. Rouse, who were cutting grass in another part of the field, came to the spot, and Rouse cut a stick out of the hedge, whilst Smith procured a halter, and both beat the poor child because he could not get up !!!

   Urge by this conduct, the boy reached the stable with the horses, and afterwards laid down under the manger till past ten o'clock.  he then left the stable, and proceeded towards some of the fields on his way homeward; but unable, from the agony he endured, to proceed more than half-way across the Wadley ground, he laid himself down under a bush, and passed the night three. About five in the morning, dreading, according to his own statement, additional punishment, should he be from work after his usual time, he, by some means or other contrived to reach the stabled, for the purpose of attending to the horses; but finding himself unequal to the task, he laid down upon some straw, and shortly afterward when Rouse and Smith came to the stables, Rouse beat him again with a halter, until Smith said he had had enough.  These men then left the stable, went to their master's house for breakfast, and afterwards proceeded to Faringdon church.  Soon after their departure the  boy left the stable for the last time, and staggered to the bush, where he had passed the night, and where he was found by his master as he was going to church about eleven o'clock.

   James assisted him to rise, and attempted to lead him to the house, which was within two hundred yards of the spot, and to which place, had James been a kind master, this child of misery would, in all probability, have applied immediately after the accident and beating, in order to have made known his misfortune, and to have sought protection and redress.  On  finding that the poor little victim could not walk, James left him in the field, returned to his house, and sent two female servants to bring him in, and again set out for church.  The girls brought the boy to the farm-house, where he was laid on some sacks in the brew-house, and some  warm milk given him. - he was then placed on a horse by order of James's wife & carried to the Faringdon poor-house, where he was placed in the hospital, & surgical attendance immediately procured.

   He was perfectly sensible, but seemed rapidly sinking, so much so, that it was supposed he could not live many hours, and under these circumstances Dr. Bowles attended the bedside of the boy, and received from him q clear account of the accident, and the subsequent treatment he had received.  Towards evening he rallied a little, and passed the night apparently without suffering much pain.  The next morning his deposition was taken in a more formal manner by John Hughes, Esq. and warrants were issued for the apprehension of Smith and Rouse; a separate deposition was also taken to a severe flogging which he stated his master had inflicted on him on the previous Thursday.  The boy died about seven o'clock on Monday evening, and on Tuesday morning the Coroner and the Gentlemen of the Jury met in the vestry-room at the poorhouse, and after a minute inspection of the body (which had been opened,) and a careful examination of all the witnesses, returned the following verdict - "We find that the deceased came by his death in consequence of mortification produced by the kick of a horse; and we are also of opinion that his chance of recovery was very much diminished by the flogging he received from Isaac Smith and Wm. Rouse (servants to Edward James, of Wadley,) and by their conduct in having left the deceased exposed to the night air and without medical attention.  Deodand on the house five pounds."

   The parish have determined on prosecuting the two men, and Rouse is committed to take his trial for the assaults.  Smith has absconded, but the officers of  justice are in pursuit of him.  The visitor and guardians of the parish have removed the other parish boys, who were in the employment of Edward James, from his service.


The Cambrian, 20 June 1829

FATAL COACH ACCIDENT. -  On Wednesday night as the Bristol mail was changing horses at Newbury, on its road to London, and as the coachman was in the act of mounting the box, the horses suddenly set off in consequence of another coach coming up at the time, when Mr. G. S. Eslin, a clerk in the bank of Messrs. Stuckey & Co. jumped out of the coach, and is head coming in contact with the curb-stone, his scull was dreadfully fractured, and he died shortly afterwards.  The horses after running some distance got into a drain, and one of the leaders falling, the coach stopped.  The guard and outside passengers escaped from behind with little injury.  The deceased had with him a very large sum of money belonging to the bank at Bristol, amounting to 15,000l., which was taken charge of at the coach-office until the next night, when a gentleman from the house of Stuckey & C. arrived, and took possession of it.  [Carmarthen Journal, 26 June:  at Speenhamland; George Stuckey Eslin, aged 19.]


The Cambrian, 20 November 1830

   Much excitement occasioned in the vicinity of Mortimer End, near Basingstoke, by the murder of Charlotte Bilmore, an orphan eight years old.  She went to school on Monday, and not returning, every enquiry was made, but all attempts to discover her paved fruitless.  The body was found in a wood on Thursday, stripped and horribly mangled.


Carmarthen Journal, 26 November 1830

DIABOLICAL MURDER. - On Monday last, a murder was committed at Mortimer, West End, Berks., about nine miles from Reading, which for the cruelty used in perpetrating it, is almost without parallel.  Th fact s of the case, as far as we have been able to lean, are these:-

   Charlotte Billmore, an orphan child, about eight years o age, (and who was under the protection of a person named Ford, residing in a cottage at a small distance from the spot,) was on her return from school; she was in company with two other children till she arrived on a hill, where they left her to go home, and she was shortly after met by a woman which was the last time she was seen alive.  The cottagers with whom she lived bam alarmed at her absence so long after school hours, and were out all that evening and the next day searching for her; but to no purpose, for they could not hear the least tidings of her. On Thursday, however, a young man, looking for a sow that had strayed away, went into a hedgerow, and in a pit there, filled with underwood, and thick bushes, found he copse of the child, mutilated in the most horrid manner it is possible to describe.

   The head was split open, and scalped; the body was cleft from the throat downwards, the bowels taken out, and laid on the ground; one leg was actual cut off, he thigh dislocated, and the other leg broken in two places ! - presenting altogether a spectacle that makes the human frame shudder with horror.

   The pit is close to a field through which the child had to pass and it is supposed the fiendish wretch laid in wait for his innocent victim, and sized her as she approached the fatal spot.  A Coroner's inquest has been held on the body, and a verdict of Wilful murder against some person o persons unknown, returned.

   It has since been stated that a maniac committed the deed.


Carmarthen Journal, 20 May 1831

THE MORTIMER MURDER. - Thursday, Thomas Miles was committed to Winchester Jail for the murder of Charlotte Bellimore, at Mortimer, on the 13th November last.  Our readers will recollect the mutilated state in which the body was found.  Thomas Miles is a half idiot, and was always suspected, though no evidence could be procured against him.  He has since confessed that he met the poor child in the evening on her return from school, and that a sudden thought came into his mind to murder her; that he seized her by the throat and strangled her, he fell on the body and broke her leg off, and then cut the body to pieces. - Reading Mercury.


Carmarthen Journal, 24 September 1831

DATJ OF MARQUIS D'HARCOURT. - An inquest was held on Friday week, at Windsor, on the remains of the Marquis d'Harcourt.  It appeared from the evidence adduced, that the Marquis was riding on the preceding day, near Saint Leonard's-dale, his lady walking by his side, when his horse suddenly took fright, and threw him on the ground with such violence, that he was killed instantaneously.  A verdict of accidental death was given, with a deodand of 10s. on the horse.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 12 November 1831


   On Monday se'nnight Sir J. Carmichael Anstruther, a young Scotch baronet about thirteen years of age, a student of Eton College, was accidentally shot by a fellow collegiate as they were out sporting together near Windsor.  The deceased was the  heir to an immense fortune. [The Cambrian, 12 November.]


Monmouthshire Merlin, 7 September 1833
MOST HORRIBLE MURDER. - WANTAGE, SEPT. 1. - Yesterday morning, between six and seven o'clock, a murder of the most horrid kind was discovered the White Hart public-house, in this town.  A little boy, son0in-law of Ann Pullin, landlady of the White Hart, came down stairs, and was about to open the window-shutters, when he discovered his mother lying on the floor, with her head severed from her body. The head was lying near the feet, opposite the fire-place, and the shoulders towards the door.  An alarm was given, and some constables were despatched to Letcombe, a village about two miles distant, and a young man, named George King, of Cumner, who was employed in bean-cutting, was arrested.  An inquest was held the same day, and, after a very patient and persevering investigation by a most respectable jury, the coroner committed the prisoner to the custody of the constable for the night, and was about to adjourn the court till the morrow morning, when the constable brought back the prisoner, saying he was willing to confess who it was that committed the dreadful deed; that he was not the person, but that he knew who was the murderer.  The coroner said he would take the confession in private, and the court was adjourned.  The substance of the prisoner's confession was, that on his way from Harmy to Wantage he met with a man called Ned Grant, and went with him to the White Hart; that Grant went in and called for a pint of beer, and he (prisoner) stood at the door; and after being there about five minutes, he heard something fall, and went in and saw the head was struck from the body, and the blood spouting about in the walls; that Grant pushed him back and gave him the murdered woman's purse and five shillings and sixpence, and swore that if he split, he would murder him the first time he met with him; that Grant then left for the village of Sparsholt,.  The country had been scoured for miles round, and no such person as Grant has been found or heard of.  The inquest is still holding.  The murdered woman was a poor defenceless widow.  The head s severed from the body at one stroke with a large bean-hook.  The bone of the neck was cut through.

Cambrian, 14 September 1833
  ATROCIOUS MURDER AT WANTAGE. - On Saturday morning the town of Wantage, was thrown into the greatest state of confusion in consequence of the body of Ann Pullin, a  widow, who kept the White Hart public-house in Newbury-street, having been discovered lying in the kitchen, her head being completely severed from the body.  Suspicion falling on two men, George King, a farmer's labourer, of Cumner, Berks., and Charles Merriott, a labourer, of Wantage, who had slept together in a hay loft in Back-street, they were taken into custody, and kept apart.  From the evidence of Merriott, taken before the Coroner, it soon appeared that he was not a particeps crimins; he was therefore admitted as a witness.  A very patient investigation took place, which lasted until Monday about three, when the Jury returned a unanimous verdict of Wilful Murder against George King, who was committed to Reading gaol, to take his trial at the next Assizes.  As the constables were conveying the prisoner to gaol, he made a full confession of his guilt, and that he alone committed the horrid deed with a bean-hook, which severed the head from the body at one blow.  It appears that after the head had been struck off, the fiend who committed the horrid act tore off the pocket of the deceased, which contained purse and money.  A purse and a crooked sixpence were found upon the prisoner, which several witnesses identified as being similar to a purse and sixpence which belonged to the deceased.  There were spots of fresh blood upon the prisoner, who is only 18 years of age.  The deceased was 40, and has left two orphan children.

Glamorgan Gazette, 14 September 1833
MYSTERIOUS DISCOVERY. - At Chilton, on Tuesday, the 6th ult., Mrs. Wm. Goddard, with her servant girl, were looking for a lost chicken, and supposing it had got under the tiles, they lighted a candle and went into a dark lumber garret at the top of the house, when, on looking round, the girl took up something, which she thought was a dead cat, but on bringing it down stairs, it was clearly discovered to be the body of a child, quite dry, and about the size as when first born; being busy at wheat cart, it was put aside, but on the following Friday, not being so busy, and the girl having said that she thought there was something else up there, she lighted a candle, and with her mistress again went into the lumber garret, when, on looking to the place where the first body was discovered, which was beside a chimney, and between it and the tiles, found that it was another infant, wrapped in a little frock, apparently about the same age as the other; but not quite so far decomposed.  From their appearance the bodies must have been there five or six years.  It is hoped the little frock in which one of the children was wrapped may, on some future day, lead to a discovery of the unnatural parent.  The jury returned a verdict of Found Dead, and the frock remains in the possession of Mr. William Goddard. - Reading Mercury.

Glamorgan Gazette, 14 September 1833

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School