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Colonial Cases


London Chronicle, 18 April 1780
Whitehaven, April 11.  Early on Sunday morning one Walker, a pivate in the Durham militia, who had been placed as sentry at the end of the Quay-street, was found dead between th Old Tongue and the Quay, at a very few yards from the ferry box, in which his arms were standing.  The Coroner's Inquest, after sitting a long tme, brought in their verdict Accidental Death.


The Observer, 17 June 1801

   Last week the body of a male infant, which not only appeared to have been strangled, but was covered with wounds, was found on a burning lime-kiln near Egrement, where it had been placed with the design of being consumed, to prevent search after its inhuman mother.


Carmarthen Journal, 31 August 1811

   An inquest was held before R. Mullender, Esq. Coroner, on Saturday last, upon the body of a woman named Moffat, who was found dead that day, at a place which generally goes by the name of the half-way House, on the road leading from Brampton to Longtown.  It appeared in evidence, that the mother of the deceased died lately a trifle in debt, leaving behind her a clock, and some other household articles.  Anxious to preserve some  remembrance of her mother, and consequently unwilling to part with what she had probably conceived a kind of heirloom, - she travelled to Morpeth, in order, if possible, to procure from her brother, who resided in that town, a sum of money sufficient to discharge the debt.  Disappointed in her expectations, she commenced her journey homeward, but a scanty pittance, which she had borrowed on the road soon failed her.  In this forlorn situation, she was permitted by some carriers to ride upon one of their carts; and on their way they met with a cart loaden with brandy, of which they were invited to partake by the carrier who attended it.  Having broached the cask, they all, including the deceased, partook.  The effect of so potent a liquor on a frame debilitated by two days' fasting, and two nights' want of rest, may easily be conceived.  In this situation she was inhumanly abandoned; for being taken from the cart, she was laid upon the bare ground in an excessively damp passage.  There being none but children in the house, she remained in this situation for several hours before the people of the house arrived from their work in the fields, when it was discovered, that the spark of life had for ever fled!  After a very long and minute investigation, the Jury returned a verdict of:- Found Dead.


The Cambrian, 26 July 1823

LOW WOOD POWDER MILLS. - - The neighbourhood of Low Wood, in Cartmel, near Windermere Lake, has been thrown into the utmost confusion by the blowing up of the Corning Mill, on Monday evening last, about a quarter before six. - Immediately after the explosion the neighbourhood assembled to ascertain the extent of the injury done.  A man named James Percy was found among the rubbish, but so dreadfully mangled that he only survived about an hour.  Another man named Edward Bathorpe was found in the Mill-race, at some distance from the Mill, bruised, burned, and dead.

   John Bathorpe, brother to the latter, was standing near the Mill-door at the time of the explosion, and is slightly scorched, but now way dangerously.  Bathorpe has left three children, and his wife in a state of pregnancy.  Percy is also the father of twelve children, many of whom depended solely upon him for their support.


The Cambrian, 13 December 1823

   On the night of the 29th ult., a most shocking accident happened in Workington harbour.  The sloop Jane, of Annan, on coming in, ran her bowsprit against the North Wall, and the foot rope giving way, the heel of the bowsprit entered Captain Beattie's thigh and jammed him against the mast.  It was some time before he could be extricated from his dreadful situation; and so great was the injury he sustained, that he died in consequence the next morning.  He has left a wife and six children to lament his untimely fate.


The Cambrian, 20 November 1824

   The Kendal Gazette of Saturday last days, The neighbourhood has for this week past been thrown into confusion by one of the most inhuman murders that has been recently heard of.  The person murdered was a single man advanced in years, named jams Wilson, by trade a cooper.  He was found on Saturday last in his room, with his skull fractured in a most shocking manner, and beat almost to pieces, a quantity of blood was upon the wall, and the print of a bloody hand.  It seems, after the murder, to conceal it, the villain or villains had set fire to the bed, in which the murdered man lay.  The fire, however, had made small progress, yet his feet and legs were burned too shocking to describe.  It was this fire that led the neighbours to break into the house, when the awful spectacle presented itself of one of their acquaintances lying with his head crushed, and his lower extremities in the very act of roasting.  Every exertion is making to discover the murderer or murderers, to being them to justice.  The Inquest, after sitting from day to day, returned a verdict of - Wilful Murder against some person unknown.


The Cambrian, 26 February 1825

MIDDLETON COLLIERY. - The melancholy sequel to the tragedy at Gosforth Pit has now been performed.  Soon after midnight last Sunday, Mr. Blenkinsop and Mr. Bedford repaired to the Pit, attended by a number of the work-people, and prepared to open it.  The shaft had been fastened up with boards, covered with earth, in which a tube six inches diameter, with a cover, was at the same time fixed.  On removing the cover of the tube, the carburetted hydrogen gas rushed out with so much force, that the persons in the tunnel were obliged to retreat for nearly 150 yards towards the mouth to find a breathable atmosphere.  They then quitted the pit, leaving the process of ventilation to go on till Tuesday evening, when they still further promoted it by such means as they judged necessary.  On Wednesday morning, the air was sufficiently pure to enable them to remove the covering, and to commence the search for the two bodies that were missing.

   The body of Joseph Haigh was found almost immediately, with his hands over his face as if attempting to prevent suffocation; but that of John Ramsden was sought for a long time in vain; at length it was discovered by the accidental removal of a piece of timber; his death had no daunt been instantaneous, and his body could scarcely have been more dislocated if he had been shot out of a mortar.  The first care of those engaged in the search was to take the remains out of the pit, but so rapid had been the process of putrefaction, that it was only by their clothes that they could be recognized by their friends.

   The same day the coroner held an inquest upon them, and after the examination of Moses Roberts, the only witness examined on the occasion, the jury, without hesitation, returned a verdict - Died in consequence of an explosion of carburetted hydrogen gas in Gosforth coal-pit, on Wednesday, the 12th of January, 1825. - Leeds Mercury.


The Cambrian, 11 January 1826

   Nine persons perished on Tuesday in the William coal-pit, at Whitehaven, from the coal round the furnace igniting - two were suffocated, and the other seven gaping to search for them, unfortunately shared the same fate.


The Cambrian, 7 October 1826

   Robert Fox was fully committed to Carlisle Gaol on Saturday, charged with the murder of his wife, by administering some arsenic in coffee.


Carmarthen Journal, 22 August 1828

A STAGE COACH STRUCK BY LIGHTNING. - The Invincible coach had journeyed about a mile from Burton-in-Kendal, on its road to Kendal, Westmoreland, when it was struck by lightning.  One of the passengers describes the scene as most awful - the thunder the loudest he ever heard.  He was sitting on the hind part of the coach opposite to a lady, whom he had desired the moment previous to the visitation to drop her umbrella (probity the object of attraction).  On recovering from the shock, which threw him from his seat, the first object that presented itself to his view was the lady hanging backwards, her countenance livid, without the appearance of animation, and her bonnet, cap, gown, &c. burnt, and the umbrella shivered to atoms. On examination the flesh was literally torn from both her thighs, and she was conveyed back to Burton without any hopes of recovery.  Her name is Harmer, and she has been only recently married. .  .  .  .   The driver and guard escaped unhurt.


The Cambrian, 15 November 1828

EFFECTS OF FANATICISM. - A few days ago, a woman, of the name of Grace Moore, in Penrith, aged 70, deliberately cut herself across the abdomen, to the length of about seven inches.  She was soon afterwards discovered lying on the bed with her face downwards, and the floor covered with blood.  She did not immediately say what she had done.  A surgeon, who was sent for, found the wound, which he sewed up; he interrogated her as to the cause of the rash act, when she told him it was done by her own hands, as she was tired of life.  She lingered until the next day.  It appears she was connected with a set of Ranters, who persuaded her she was possessed with devils, and she adopted this as the only way of expelling them. - Verdict - Insanity. - Carlisle Journal.


Monmouhshire Merlin, 26 September 1829


   A shocking occurrence took place at  Knock-hill, near Ecclefechan, the seat of Capt. Dabuz, on Monday night last.  Soon after the family had retired to bed, an alarm was given that robbers were in the house.  The servants immediately ran down stairs to see what was the matter.  Charles Rawsan, the footman (a native of this city), was the first to enter the parlor, having a lantern in his hand, and saw a man attempting to make his escape by the window; he butler followed him into the room with a gun in his hand, and called to the man to speak and say who he was, or he would fire upon him.  The man made no answer, but continued his exertions to escape; the butler fired, and shot the man in the belly, who fell and expired in less than a quarter of an hour.  On investigation, it appeared that the unfortunate man was a neighbour of Bell, who had been courting one of the servant girls.  An examination into the circumstances took place before the proper authorities, and, we understand, the butler was committed for trial, but was afterwards admitted to bail.  The affair caused a great sensation in Ecclefechan and the neighbourhood. - Carlisle Journal.


The Cambrian, 12 March 1830

   On Monday last, Mr. J. S. Bnnet, of Appleby, near Brigg, was showing to two clergymen, the improvements which have recently been made in the parish church there; he ascended the steeply, and took his station upon the parapet, supporting himself by one of the pinnacles; the frail embellishment gave way, and he was precipitated to the bottom, and expired Instantly.


Glamorgan Gazette, 5 October 1833
.  .  .   The inquest, before W. Bragg, Esq., coroner, and a highly respectable jury, was held at the Green Dragon Inn, on Monday last, at 10 in the morning, when after the examination of several witnesses, which lasted nearly twelve hours, a verdict of accidental death was returned. .  .  .   - Carlisle Patriot.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 9 May 1840


   A fatal accident occurred at the shaft of the pit now sinking, on the shore, near the harbour, Whitehaven, on Sunday last, by a bucket falling on the head of Peter Glasson, while he was engaged at the bottom.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 9 May 1840


DREADFUL CATASTROPHE. - Mr. James Kendal, of Standish Coat, who was a short time since foreman of the iron mines in Lindale-more, but who, in consequence of ill-health, had resigned the situation to his son, was tempted by the beauty if the day to take a walk down to his old companions.  As was natural to expect, they all flocked around him, and a form was placed upon the sunny side of the hill for his use, but upon which many others were sitting besides himself; amongst others an old friend named William Thompson, formerly a respectable farmer at Ireleth, but who had been lately somewhat reduced in circumstances.  About twelve more individuals were on the spot.  This was but a short distance from the mouth of one of the pits then working, when instantaneously the earth sunk, or shuddered, as it is familiarly termed, from the spot where they were sitting, and Mr. Kendal and Mr. Thompson were immediately precipitated into the abyss, and, in the most horrible sense of the word, buried alive.  Another young man, named Lyley, also was sinking, but, by the gigantic exertions of despair, succeeded in clambering on the solid ground.  The others likewise escaped.  All the strength of the works were summoned, and the men dug for upwards of two hours, at the end of which period the bodies were discovered, but perfectly lifeless; Mr. Kendal with his head down, and the other erect. - Westmoreland Gazette.

   A fatal accident occurred at the shaft of the pit now sinking, on the shore, near the harbour, Whitehaven, on Sunday last, by a bucket falling on the head of Peter Glasson, while he was engaged at the bottom.

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