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Colonial Cases


Public Ledger, 17 February 1761
  Mr. William Jackson, Surgeon, of Northampton, is chosen Coroner for the county, in the room of Mr. Richards, deceased.


Caftsman, 22 April 1775
Northampton, April 17. - Last Monday Henry Holme and John Newman, two labourers employed on the Oxford canal navigation, fought for 10s. at Boddington, in this county, when Holme received so violent a shock by being thrown to the ground, and Newman falling upon him, that he died the same day.  An inquest was taken upon the body on Wednesday, when the Jury bought in a verdict Manslaughter; and the Coroner's warrant was issued for the apprehending Newman.


London Chronicle, 6 April 1780
Northampton, April 3.
  Last Monday as John Crofts, of Oundle in this county, was digging gravel in a pit near that place, part of the bank fell in upon him, and killed him, on the spot.The Observer, 1 August 1802

   A horse-dealer, named Chapple, who attended at Fotheringay fair, drank so freely in Saturday, that he dell from his horse and expired immediately.


The Observer, 22 August 1802

   Mr. Rudd, late of Old-street, died at Duddington, near Stamford, on Thursday; a Coroner's Inquest was instituted, and on a view of the body, returned a verdict, "accidentally killed by a pistol shot."


Cambrian, 3 August 1805

Provincial News.

On Friday se'nnight, an inquest was held at Boddington, in Northamptonshire, on the body of Mrs. Haynes, the wife of an opulent farmer, when a verdict of wilful murder was found against her husband, as it appeared from evidence, that she died from poison administered by him.  Both the parties were young, and had been married about ten weeks. - Derby Mercury.


Cambrian, 31 August 1805

Provincial News.

A young clergyman, of Northampton, hanged himself on Wednesday.  He was the son of the unfortunate Capt. Donellan, who suffered some years ago for the murder of Sir T. Boughton.


Cambrian, 30 June 1810

A man while washing some sheep on Monday last, at Fotheringay, near Oundle, in attempting to extricate one which was in danger of being drowned, fell into a deep pit.  A person who happened to be there at the time immediately plunged in after him, and being seized by the man whom he was trying to save, both perished.


Cambrian, 6 November 1819

Inquests. - The following shameful transaction took place lately at Wellingborough, in Northamptonshire: three journeyman shoemakers in that town, for some trifling offence which a boy, named Chamberlain, had committed, set up a mock tribunal for the purpose of trying him.  One of them was appointed judge, and after the mockery of trial had been gone through, he proceeded to pass sentence on the poor boy, "That he should be put head-foremost into a sack, and kept there half an hour."  Proceeding to put the sentence into execution, they dashed the boy's head against the ground, and cut him dreadfully.  Unfortunately the sack contained a quantity of bran, which caused suffocation.  A Coroner's inquest sat upon the body; and, after seven hours' deliberation, they brought in a verdict of - Accidental Death!


Cambrian, 29 January 1820

   Shocking Suicide. - On Wednesday se'nnight an inquisition was taken at Tiffield, Northamptonshire, on view of the body of Catharine Cotton, who, on the preceding morning, stabbed herself with a carving knife, which caused her immediate death. - It appeared in evidence that the deceased w as a married woman, with four children, and had resided many tears at Coventry with her husband, who was a builder of respectability, but his circumstances becoming impaired, he was under the necessity of leaving Coventry, and went to Northampton, from which place his wife (the deceased) was recommended to the Rev. Mr. Fletcher, as a cook, and went there on liking.  She had not been at Mr. Fletcher's but about three weeks, when, on the morning previous to the inquest, the housemaid, who slept with her in the garrett, was awoke between five and six o'clock, by gearing the deceased down, and, on looking out of the bed to see what was the matter, she discovered her lying on the floor, and a torrent of blood gushing from her neck.  She immediately ran down to the bottom of the garrett stairs, and gave an alarm, when Mr. Fletcher and the footman went up, and found the deceased lying on her face, bathed in blood, and, after lifting her up and turning her round, they discovered about two inches of the handle of the knife (which was a foot long) sticking out on the right side of her throat, the blade and the remaining part of the handle being buried in the body to the heart.

   It is most probable that she went down stairs in the morning to fetch the knife from a cupboard in the kitchen, from the circumstance of the doors being found open, which were shut and bolted the previous night, besides her being half dressed.  From the situation she was found in, it appeared that she looked in a glass to commit the fatal act. - By the evidence of Mr. Fletcher and the servants, it appeared that the deceased acted during the time she was there in a very strange way, and frequently remarked that she had seen better days, and never expected to be obliged to go to service, which seemed to prey on her mind. - After a full investigation of the circumstances, the jury returned a verdict of - Insanity. - Coventry Mercury.


The Cambrian, 16 August 1823

   On Monday, as the Shamrock coach was proceeding between Coventry and London, in going down Castle Hill, between Towcester and Stony Stratford, two men crossing the road were knocked down b y the horses, and the coach passing over them, killed one upon the spot, and the other was so severely hurt that but slight hopes are entertained of his recovery.  A coroner's inquest has been impannelled, but it stands adjourned till Friday next, in order to procure the evidence of some passengers who were upon the coach and the attendance of the proprietors.  .  .  .  .  Coventry Herald.


Carmarthen Journal, 14 March 1828

SUFFOCATION FROM FOUL GAS. - A melancholy accident happened on Friday afternoon last at Totenhoe Lodge, near Oundle, whereby two men lost their lives under circumstances very distressing.  A labouring man of the parish of Benefield, named Redhead, was employed in sinking a well, and on the above day was let down as usual by means of a rope; three men were stationed, at the top of the well, one of whom, named Preston, was the farming man who lived at the Lodge.  After having continued at work for some time, Redhead shook the tope as a signal for those above to wind him up - they did so, and found his tools tied to the rope; they then let down the rope again, but Redhead took no hold of it; and the men above thought they heard him groan.  Preston then said he would go down and see what was the matter; his companions accordingly let him down; but unfortunately, instead of tying the rope round his body, he merely placed his foot in the noose, and as they were again winding up the rope, the unfortunate man fell from it.  The men above then became alarmed, and hastily procured all the assistance they could get.  A candle and lantern were then let down the well, but at a certain depth the light became extinguished; it then was evident that the unfortunate men had been killed by the nocuous vapour in the well.  Drags were sent for from Oundle, Redhead's body was immediately got out, but some time elapsed before the other body could be taken up, owing to the hook not taking sufficient hold.  Preston's body fell several times, when within a few yards of the top of the well, and when at length it as got out, it was dreadfully torn and mangled.  Redhead has left a widow and eight children; Preston, a widow and one child.  An inquest was held at Benefield on Sunday. - Verdict, Accidental Death.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 10 September 1831

   A labouring man, named Wm, Grant, has been charged with stabbing a young woman, named Mary Cheney, at Sibbertoft, near Welford, Northamptonshire, on Monday evening se'nnight.  The prisoner had been for some time acquainted with the unfortunate female, but the intimacy was objected to by the deceased, and the prisoner had recently understood that she encouraged the attentions of another man.  She as 24 years of age.  Grant was much intoxicated at the time, and affirms that he was perfectly unconscious of the act.  He is 41 years of age. The prisoner's mother died last week, and was buried on Sunday, and it should seem that the refusal of the deceased of the deceased  to walk with the prisoner in the funeral procession was one of the circumstances which rankled in his breast. The deceased was servant to Mrs. Manton, and on Tuesday evening last was sent by her mistress to Mr. Bates in the village for some barm, when she met the prisoner, who accompanied her on her way home, and when in a retired part of the lane lading to her mistress's, suddenly drew out a knife and stabbed her repeatedly in the neck and beast.  The screams of the poor girl brought a person named Holman to her assistance, who secured the prisoner as he was in the act of kneeling on the girl and repeating his blows.  The girl died the next day.

   A coroner's inquest was held on Tuesday last, at the Swan Inn, at Sibbertoft, when the jury without hesitation returned a verdict if willful murder against William Grant.  The prisoner was then committed to the county gaol.

DEATH FROM DRINKING. - A man named Blonfield was found dead in his bed on Wednesday se'nnight, from suffocation, produced by intoxication.


Carmarthen Journal, 24 September 1831

MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT. - On Friday morning the Rev. Mr. Wilson of Harrington, in Northamptonshire, went out to enjoy the sports of the field.  Having discovered a covey of patricides in an adjoining meadow, and being a keen sportsman, he determined to pass over it.  This he effected, leaving his gun in a situation for him to recover when on the opposite side, but, in the at o drawing it through, the trigger became entangled with some twigs,  and immediately went off, discharging the contents into the lungs of the Rev. gentleman, and, as is supposed, caused instantaneous death.  The body was discovered by the moans and lamentations of his faithful dog, who was found by the side of his lifeless and unfortunate master, bewailing his loss.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 10 March 1832
NORTHAMPTON. - William Grant, aged 41, was found guilty of the murder of Mary Heney, on the 20th of August last, about six o'clock in the evening, in the public street road of the parish of Sibbertoft.  The prisoner had kept company with the deceased for some time, and appeared to be remarkable fond of her.  They were seen talking together in the road by the mistress of the deceased, who called out to her to come home.  Prisoner then knocked her down, knelt upon her, and cut her throat.  On his trial he appeared deeply affected, and cried bitterly.

The Cambrian, 31 March 1832
  Several horrible cases of murder, we regret to find, have lately stained the records of our county.
  On Saturday night a barbarous and wilful murder was committed at Northampton by two soldiers belonging to the 18th Royal Irish regiment, stationed in that town.  Being St. Patrick's day, the soldiers were permitted to leave their barracks, and after having visited several public houses they became intoxicated, and in this state they ran after a man whom they met in the street, and struck at him with a drawn bayonet, which pierced his temple and penetrated the brain.  The unfortunate man was conveyed to the Infirmary, where he died on the following morning.


Cambrian, 9 February 1833
  An inquest was held on Thursday, at Abthorpe, within three miles of Towcester, on the body of a woman named Horn, who was murdered by her husband.  Evidence showed they lived on bad terms together, and were frequently quarrelling - they dined together on Tuesday, but fearing his violence and that her life was in danger from his threats, she sought shelter at a neighbour's, whither he proceeded on returning from work, and asked her to go home.  On her refusal, he drew her towards him, kissed her with apparent affection, and secretly drawing a razor from his pocket almost severed her head from her body.  The act was so unexpected and momentary that three persons present were paralyzed, and lost all power of attempting to save his victim.  He then fell on his knees, and drawing a razor across his own throat, inflicting a severe wound; and to prevent the final accomplishment of his dreadful purpose, they pinned him to the ground by a pitchfork passed over his neck, and with further assistance handcuffed him.  -  Verdict - Wilful Murder.

Glamorgan Gazette, 16 February 1833
Murder of a woman by her husband. - On Tuesday evening, the inhabitants of Towcester were thrown into the greatest alarm, by a report that a labourer, named John Horne, residing at Abthorpe, had inhumanly murdered his wife, and afterwards cut his own throat.  The deceased was in the habit of visiting a neighbor, which induced a jealousy on the part of her husband.  Frequent bickerings had of late been manifested between the deceased and her husband, and on the morning of the murder, while she was sweeping the hearth, the brush was accidentally burnt, and with a horrible oath the husband swore "she would ruin him."  In consequence of his threats, the unfortunate woman considered her life in danger, and leaving her home, sought refuge in a neighbour's house, where she remained during the day. Upon the husband leaving his work, in the afternoon, he visited his wife, and after endeavouring to persuade her once more to come home, which she refused, he put his arm around her neck and kissed her, which apparent token of affection was instantly followed by the perpetration of the horrid deed.  The wretched man drew forth a razor, and nearly severed her head from her body; after which he cut his own throat and the two, with an infant which had been sitting upon the lap of the wife, fell upon the floor together.  Mr. Parker, surgeon of Towcester, who was sent for to the deceased, found it impossible to afford her any assistance as the wounds had caused instant death.  The surgeon then turned his attention to the wounds of the husband, and, although for some timer it was believe he could not survive, in the course of Wednesday he rallied considerably, and at the termination of the inquest, which was held on that day, was able to hear the evidence which had been taken read over.  The coroner's jury returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against him. - Northampton Free Press.

Monmouthshire Merlin, 18 April 1840


Death from fright. - The Rev. R. Gardner and his wife were frightened out of their sleep on the night of Friday week by a loud crash against the door of their dwelling at Long Buckley.  Mr. Gardner got up and searched the place, but could find nothing to account for the noise, until, looking from the window, he saw the men running from the spot.  On his return to the bed-room he saw Mrs. Gardner insensible, and, thinking she had fainted, he bathed her face and applied other restoratives, but life had fled.  It appears that three shoemakers had been drinking in the neighbourhood, and had, as they were going home, thrown some heavy body with great force at the doors of the houses they passed.  On Monday an inquest was held on the body of the unfortunate lady, and a verdict of manslaughter returned against the shoemakers, who have been committed to the county gaol for trial upon the coroner's warrant. - Leamington Chronicle.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 17 October 1840


   On Tuesday last, one of the assistants of Mr. Longstaffe, game keeper to the Marquess of Northampton, named John Dunkley, left his home in pursuit of his calling, and did not return either that day or the next.  He was seen in Yardley Wood about six o'clock, but no tidings of him subsequently could be obtained, until Thursday, about two, when he was found in one of the woods, about a mile from the village of Yardley, murdered, and shockingly mutilated, his head being completely beaten in.  His gun, which had not been discharged, was found some yards from him, the lock shattered to pieces, and part of the stock sticking bin the wounded skull. .  .  .   Northampton Mercury.

   NORTHAMPTON, FRIDAY. - At two o'clock today an inquest was held upon the body at the Rose and Crown public-house, in the village already mentioned, before Mr. Abbey, the coroner for this division of the county.  A jury having been empannelled they proceeded to view the body, which was placed in a shell in Yardley church, and presented a most awful and distressing spectacle.  The head was literally dashed to pieces, so tremendous was the violence which had been resorted to: and as the deceased was a very powerful man, there is no doubt that his murderer was not accomplished without the combined assistance of several persons.

   From the appearance of the throat it would seem that, having exhausted his strength, they attempted to strangle him, for it bears a mark which could only have been inflicted by a very powerful grip.  Immediately above his right eye was a gash which extends the whole length of the eyebrow, and the left was swollen to a prodigious size.  The right ear was beaten almost to a pulp, and was dreadfully lacerated at the bottom.  At the back of the head was another dreadful gash, extending not less than three inches in length.  The skull was fractured, and presented a wound sufficiently large to admit a finger.  Several wounds of minor importance were observed on various parts of the head, and on a partial examination several shots were found in the skull. .  .  .  .  It is supposed that the inquiry would not terminate until Monday.


.  .  .  .  Deceased was a married man and 35 years of age;  .  .  .  .   and it would appear from the surgeon's evidence that the immediate cause of death was a blow with the butt-end of the gun at the lower part of the occiput, which detached the lock from the stock, and which penetrated the skull and lodged there.  Shots were also found in the neck, and from the circumstance of their having descended horizontally, it is connected he must have been fired upon from a tree or some rising ground.  The inquest finally terminated at a late hour last night, when a verdict of Wilful Murder was returned.

.  .  .  .   In consequence of certain information he obtained, Goddard was induced to suspect three men named Joseph Bedford, Wm. Downing, and James Underwood, .  .  .  .   and apprehended them. .  .  .  .   Bedford (who seemed anxious to tell what he knew about the matter), made a full disclosure of all the circumstances connected with the murder.

   On being brought before the magistrates on Saturday, they repeated what they had formerly stated; and when the depositions were completed, they were all fully committed to take their trial on the charge of wilful murder at the next assizes. - Morning Chronicle of Tuesday.  [Also The Cambrian, 17 October.]

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