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Colonial Cases


Whitehall Evening Post, 5 August 1750
  A Letter from High Wycomb, Bucls, says, Last Week as one Turner, Coachman to the Rev, Dr. Clark of High Wycomb in Buckinghamshire, was driving his Lady down a bye Place, called Tadpole-Lane, on a sudden he stopt the Carriage, violently pulled the Lady by the hair out of her Place, and with a Snick-a-snee stabbed her several times in the body.  The Lady was carried to Farmer Westfield's, where, notwithstanding all possible Care, after languishing three days in great Agony, she expired.  This Affair must have been premeditated, for Turner (who always behaved remarkably well in his Station till this horrid Act) was provided with a loaded Pistol, which he discharged at Farmer Westfield's Wife and one Mrs. Walker, whom he met in his Flight, but did them no harm.: Farmers Westfield and Walker who were Haymaking in a Field near the Road, pursued him with their Prongs as far as Wycomb; he got in at the back Door of one Mr. Squire's for protection, but was discovered, and by the Mayor of that Place committed to receive his just Deserts.


Craftsman, 22 April 1775
Reading, April 15.
  Sunday an inquisition was taken at Dorney, near Windsor, on the body of a male bastard child, murdered by its mother; in the course of her examination it appeared, that she had mangled her child by cutting off its hinder parts, and taking out the entrails, which she concealed in a hog-tub; she afterwards cleft the child's head asunder, and took out the brains, which she likewise hid in the same place; the remaining part of the body she conveyed into a gulley-hole, and is supposed to have been devoured by the dogs in the yard, as it could not be found.  The Jury brought in their verdict, Wilful Murder; and she was committed to Aylesbury gaol, in order to take her trial.


Cambrian, 28 October 1809


A Gentleman of the name of Steaning, who resided in Brook's-buildings, Portland-road, put an end to his life on Thursday morning by discharging the contents of a horse pistol through his head.  The deceased formerly resided at Aylsham, Bucks, and he had often exhibited symptoms of derangement.  The report of the pistol alarmed the family of the house where he lodged, none of whom were stirring, and on going into the privy a shocking spectacle presented itself, the head of the deceased having been blown to atoms.


Cambrian, 15 May 1819

On Sunday last four men at Hartwell, near Aylesbury, sat down in a field, with the express purpose of drinking two gallons of Hollands, which it is said they actually accomplished; at the same time amusing themselves with singing the most wicked and abominable songs.  After a time they all fell into a profound sleep; only three of them awoke, and left their companion, as they thought, still sleeping.  The next morning, however, he was found quite dead, and a shocking spectacle, his face being almost black, and he having died apparently in great agony.  He has left a wife and several young children.


Cambrian, 14 September 1822

DIED. Lamentable Suicide and its Effects. - Aug. 9, by his own hand, Mansel Dawkin Mansel, Esq. of Lathbury, near Newport-Pagnel, Bucks.  He had served the office of Sheriff, and was an active and respected magistrate for that county; his affairs were embarrassed, and on the Coroner's Inquest, the Jury returned a verdict of "Temporary Derangement."  On Saturday, the 24th, Mrs. Mansel, wife of the above, died through grief.  We are informed that they have left a family of five children. - Oxford Journal.


Cambrian, 30 November 1822

BARBAROUS MURDER OF A TOLL-GATE KEEPER AND HIS WIFE. - Information was on Thursday received at Bow-street Office of two of the most horrid and cruel murders that ever were committed, on the persons of R. Needle and his wife, the Western Turnpike-Gate Keepers, near Aylesbury, Bucks. ... Mrs. Needle was lying on her back, dressed, her skull beaten in, and her brains out; Mr. Needle was undressed, in bed, murdered in a similar manner, his hands in a position as if he was trying to parry off blows. ... and two men, under very suspicious circumstances, have been apprehended.  Their names are Thomas Randall and James Croker.   A woman was taken with them, whose evidence is very important. ... On Friday an Inquest was held at the White Hart, Aylesbury, on the bodies, when the above circumstances having been proved in evidence, the Jury, after a short consideration, returned a verdict of - Wilful Murder against Randall and Croker.


The Cambrian, 15 March 1823

MURDER. - James Croker, 27, and Thos. Randall, 24, were put to the bar, charged with the wilful murder of Edward Needle and Rebecca his wife, at the parish of Weston Turville, on the night of the 12th of November last.  The particulars of this horrid murder are so well-known to our readers, that we deem it unnecessary to repeat them.   .  .  .  .  [Execution.]


North Wales Gazette (Bangor), 6 November 1823

A poor woman gored to death last week by a bull, the property of Mr. Inwood, of Aston Abbotts, Bucks.


The Cambrian, 15 January 1825

INHUMAN MURDER. - We lay before our readers the following particulars of a most horrid murder, committed on Thursday  last between Shenley and Whaddon, in the county of Buckingham.  The event has excited astonishing interest for miles about.  The spot chosen for the theatre of this horrid tragedy is a part of a very extensive chase, containing, we believe, about 4,400 acres.  It is,. Altogether, a dreary and unfrequented spot, well adapted to all appearance, to the dire scene enacted thereon.

   The name if the deceased was Abraham Hogg, that of the murderer, John Lynn.  It would seem that prisoner and deceased arrived at Brickhill on Wednesday evening, by the "Express" Liverpool-coach; deceased was to sleep in the town, and prisoner at the White Lion public-house; they were both there in the evening; but the landlord (Mr. Newman) expressed his surprise at their departure on the conversation turning to murder and robberies.  Prisoner did not return to the White lion as he had said he would. The next day (Thursday), both men got on the "Eclipse" Birmingham coach, and said they were going the whole distanced; the guard informed them they could book their places when the coach arrived at Stoney-Stratford.

   They had not gone more than six miles when, arriving at Shelley, they bilked the guard and got clear away, leaving, however, sundry articles of clothing behind them in a bundle and band-box.  The guard observed that prisoner and deceased were constantly looking round, as if to ascertain whether or not there were any persons in pursuit.

   From Shenley the proceeded to the chase, where the scene was observed by a labourer, who was working in a ditch.  Her  heard the cry of "murder," and immediately left the ditch, and from an adjoining gate (being concealed by a large oak tree) observed the prisoner, at about the distance of 200 yards, striking some person on the ground several times, with great violence.  The cries of deceased were very faint, and soon afterwards ceased.  The prisoner was seen to go across the chase towards a ride, and on his way thither stop at a ditch, where he changed his clothes, and then proceeded into the ride.  The labourer ran in another direction to the house of a farmer of the name of Clark, whom he acquainted with the circumstances above narrated; the farmer with his three sons and one of his labourers then accompanied him in pursuit, and they proceeded together across Shenley common towards  the ride, for which had been seen the prisoner making: as they approached the latter, the prisoner entered the common from the gate of the ride immediately before them, upon which the labourer running towards him considerably outstripped his companions; when he was yet about twenty yards from the prisoner, the latter cried out, "Well, how much is your bounty ?"  The labourer rushed upon him, and with the assistance of the Clarks and their labourer, secured him and conveyed him to Whaddon.  When asked if the unfortunate deceased yet lived, he replied, "I hope not, for he would have sold me."

   During the night, he said he wished to write to his mother, which was allowed him: he began the letter with "My dear mother, - I have murdered a man," and after pausing a little in seeming agitation, he tore off the top of the paper, throwing what he had written into the fire, and observing, "I can't write any more; it will be too much for my poor mother to bear up against." When the handcuffs were again put on him (they had been taken off to give the prisoner greater facility in writing), he cried out, "Now, indeed, I am done for !"  He appeared in great agitation, and it was in vain that those in the room attempted to calm him; both then and up to the time of the inquest prisoner made several attempts to dash his head against the wall, and on Friday evening especially, he endeavoured to put an end to his existence by suddenly jumping on a table in the room, and plunging head foremost to the floor; his forehead was much cut, and a quantity of blood and hair remained on the floor.  On that night, however, he requested one of his keepers to write for him, by his dictation, to his mother, observing that he was ashamed to write himself.  The following is a copy of the letter:-

Dear mother, - am sorry to inform you, I have had the misfortune to get into trouble, and am now in the custody of the Constables of Whaddon, for killing Abraham Hogg, for a grudge and a few words, because he was going to inform against me.

Your unfortunate son, C. LYNN.

Mrs. Lynn, confectioner, 4, Moore-hall-place, Vauxhall.

   On his removal to Aylesbury gaol, he renewed his attempts at self-destruction, and to effect these objects, he descended to the most frivolous excuses, with the hope of blinding his keepers; he had, however, taught them wisdom by his previous conduct, and all his efforts proved fruitless.  On Saturday night four men sat up with the prisoner, but even the vigilance of these he evaded; for during the night, having, or pretending to have, occasion to leave the bed, he rushed violently against the wall, and by the concussion lacerated the scalp very considerably.

   Sunday he appeared quite an altered man.  Mr. Sheriff, the humane Governor of the gaol, made a point of seeing him and conversing with him, principally with a view to convince him of the folly and sinfulness of his suicidal efforts.  The prisoner appeared affected, and said, "I will tell you every thing, Sir, when we are alone." Mr. Sheriff offered to send the men away for such a purpose, but Lynn observed that an opportunity would soon occur without the necessity of such a step.

   On Saturday evening a Coroner's inquest was held on the body of the deceased, when after hearing evidence, confirmatory of the above recital, the Jury returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against Lynn, who has been fully committed to take his trial.  Editorial comment and background to story.]

[See also North Wales Gazette (Bangor) 20 January  for a full account.]


The Cambrian, 5 February 1825

ROBBERY, WITH EXTRAORDINARY OUTRAGE. - Scarcely had subsided the sensation caused by the murder on Whaddon Chase, when a robbery took place, not five miles from the scene of that occurrence.  The object of the robbers was the plunder of the toll-house at Padbury Gate, about a mile on this side of Buckingham.  It is but two years since the robbery of the toll-house, and the murder of the venerable couple, who were the keepers at Aston Clinton gate.  .  .  . 


The Cambrian, 14 May 1825

EXTRAORDINARY OCCURRENCE. - A coroner's inquest was on Thursday held at Amersham, on the body of Charles Hollis, aged 15, who came to his death under the following extraordinary circumstances:-  The lad, it appeared, was employed in the business of a weaver, at his father's house, and having neglected the work in the beginning of the week, and appearing idly inclined on Wednesday, his mother locked him in a room about nine o'clock, and ordered him to weave seven yards in the course of the day.  At ten o'clock he had woven one yard, and complained of being locked up, and kicked and threatened to break open the door.  At eleven, his mother went up to him, and asked him if he had got any bobbins, when he said he would not work; and she told him that if he did not weave another yard he should have no dinner.  At half-past twelve, his brother came home to dine, and having gone up stairs, looked through the key-hole, and saw the lad smiling, and at work.  After the brother had dined, he went up stairs with his sister; she went into the room, and saw the lad apparently sitting by his loom, but thought he looked ill. She then went to his brother to make him see what was the matter with him, when the brother, on approaching, saw a cord round his neck.  He lifted him up, and took off the cord; medical assistance was immediately obtained, but the poor lad was a corpse, and every means to restore animation was without effect.  From the evidence of the witnesses who consisted of his own family, there appeared no reason to suspect his sanity; the attempt was believed to have been made only for the purpose of exciting alarm. - Verdict - Accidental Death.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 6 March 1830                

   Three men have been fully committed at Aylesbury for the murder of Mr. William Eden, of Thame.  The murder was committed in October, 1828.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 13 March 1830


AYLESBURY. - Benjamin Tyler and Solomon Sewell were tried on Ftiday last for the murder if William Edden, at Haddingham, on the 25th day of October last.  The indictmen charged Tyle as the principal, in having struck the decased on the side with a road hammer, of which wound he died; and he latter, as an accessory to he fact.  The evidence was entirely circumstantial, a great part of it consisting of statements made by the prisobners in conversations between themselves and others, which had been overheard, but altogether forming a chain so complete, that it could not be controverted.

   Shorly before elevemn o'clock at night the jury found a verdiuct f Guilty against both he prisoners, and the judge pronounced the awful s enence odf dath, ordering rhem fo execution on Monday.

   While the judge was summing up the evidnce, Sewell stoon in the mostr insolent manner with his back owards him, and looking up to an acquaintance in the gallery, pointed to his neck, indicating hat he would be hanged.


Carmarthen Journal, 11 June 1830

FATAL EFFECTS OF PRIZE FIGHTING. - We have to record another instance of the fatal effects of the system of prize fighting.  A great fight took place on Wednesday, near the village of Hanslope, Bucks. for 200 Pounds a side, between Simon Byrne, an Irishman, and Alex. Mackay, a Scotchman, which lasted nearly an hour.  The latter, which lost the fight, was most cruelly beaten. .  .  . 


Monmouthshire Merlin, 12 June 1830

CORONER'S INQUEST ON M'KAY. - A respectable jury was assembled at the Watt's Arms, Hanlope, under the summons of the coroner for the county of Bucks, to inquire into the circumstances of this melancholy case .  .  .  and Mr. Heygate, the surgeon, by whom he was attended - he latter of whom described death to have been occasioned by an effusion of blood upon the brain, which might have been produced by blows or falls. .  .  .  the jury returned a verdict of Manslaughter against Simon Byrne in particular, and generally against all persons aiding, abetting, and encouraging the contest, .  .  . 



Monmouthshire Merlin, 26 June 1830

   On Saturday evening last, as the Regulator Gloucester coach was on its way to London, and had arrived within about 20 yards of the Redhill Turnpike, near Gerard's Cross, the diver, Mr. John Biggs, suddenly fell backwards among the passengers, and expired without speaking a word.  He had mounted the box in his usual good health and spirits only a few minutes before the sudden termination of his existence.  He has left a widow and six children to deplore the melancholy event.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 26 June 1830

   King, the man who killed Kitchener while fighting with him in Buckinghamshire, has died in gaol, in consequence of the injuries he sustained.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 6 July 1833
  A shocking catastrophe, which has occasioned a strong sensation in the neighbourhood, occurred last week at Chesham.  Wm. Miles, a young man of respectable appearance and connexions, a native of Deptford, had formed an illicit connexion with Mary Gomme Lewis, a native of the former place, with whom he had lived several months.  A short time since she left him, and returned home to her friends.  About a fortnight ago he came to Chesham, and wished her to go back with him, and on Tuesday afternoon he pulled out a pistol, and told her that if she would not return with him he would shoot himself; she, however, refused.  The following morning he carried his threat into execution, by shooting himself through the head in a public path in the Park. An inquest was held on the body, and a verdict of Felo de se returned.  The body was put in a shell with his clothes, and interred about ten the same night, in the churchyard, without ceremony.  Some letters were found in his pocket, one of which was addressed to the female above mentioned, whom he styled his "dear wife," and in which he expressed a wish that his ghost might haunt her as holing as she lived. - Bucks Gazette.


Cambrian, 28 March 1840  


   On the night of Wednesday last, a melancholy occurrence, which has plunged several noble families into a state of poignant distress and grief, took place at Denham-parks, Bucks, about two miles from Uxbridge, the newly opened private asylum for lunatics, belonging to Mr. Benjamin Rotch, the late chairman at the Middlesex sessions.  Every endeavour has been made to keep the matter as secret as possible; but our informant, from the inquiries he has made in the neighbourhood, has obtained the following particulars, which we believed may be relied on.  For the last five or six months the Hon. Edward Percival, one of the sons of Lord Arden, a gentleman, 45 years of age, has been an inmate of the above establishment, and partakes of every convenience of a private residence.  On the night in question the unfortunate gentleman managed, during the temporary absence of his keeper from the room, which was at the top of the house, to breach the window, raise it up, and cast himself therefrom, a height of about forty feet.  His fall was heard by the domestics of the establishment, who instantly ran out, and raised hymn in an almost lifeless state from the frightful injuries he had received, and conveyed him into the house, where he expired shortly afterwards.  Information of the melancholy occurrence was on Thursday forwarded to Mr. Wm. Charlsey, of Beaconsfield, the coroner for the eastern division of Bucks, who immediately issued his warrant for the holding of an inquest that day.  The inquest was held in the establishment, and a verdict of "Insanity" returned.

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