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Colonial Cases


The Cambrian, 27 May 1826 

      As some men were digging at Etchelhampton, near Devizes, a few days since, they discovered a skeleton within four feet of the surface.  It is recollected that, about 40 years since, a servant girl discovered a pot, containing some money, in a field; she made known her discovery to her master, was shortly afterwards missing, and has never since been heard of.  There appears not the smallest doubt that the person, of whom the above skeleton is now the only remains, was murdered; it has been examined by an eminent surgeon of Devizes, who states that the front teeth have been knocked out by force, and that there are two sever fractures on the skull.


Public Ledger, 17 February 1761
Salisbury, Feb, 16. - Friday Morning a melancholy accident happened at the house of Mr. Tredeagle, at Milchet Park, near White Parish, viz. a lad, about fourteen years of age, taking up a fowling piece that stood charged in the brewhouse, and going out with it on his shoulder, it unfortunately went off by some accident, and shot the maid servant, a young woman about twenty years of age, that stood by, and killed her on the spot.


Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, 30 August 1765
By a fall from a narrow bridge into a river near Marlborough, Mr. Rudman, farmer at Middenhall.


The Observer, 7 May 1797

Last week a young man who had been playing Fives, at Wilton, near Salisbury, in climbing up the side of an old building, supported himself by a stone that projected from the wall, which giving way, he unfortunately fell, and the stone falling on his stomach, bruised him so terribly that he died next morning.


The Observer, 10 March 1799

   A woman and her daughter, residents of Wooten Basset, have been committed to prison, charged with the murder of the illegitimate child of the latter; the body of the infant was found buried five miles from the place much mangled.


The  Observer,  22 February 1801

   A man named Brown, a few days since, went to the house of his brother, at Church Yatton, Wilts., and taking up a hatchet, without the least provocation, beat his sister-in-law's head to pieces.  The Coroner's Jury have found a verdict of wilful murder, and he has been committed to gaol for the offence.


Cambrian, 2 February 1805

Friday an inquest was taken at Calne, Wilts, on the body of a man unknown (apparently about 45 years of age) who was drowned on the preceding Monday in the Wilts and Berks canal.  The deceased called at the Catherine Wheel about six o'clock in the evening, and after staying there an hour, left the house perfectly sober; but it being dark, it is supposed he mistook the canal.  He was seen to step into the c anal by a girl, who immediately gave the alarm; and although every exertion was used, his body was not found for more than half an hour, when the endeavours of the medical gentlemen to restore animation proved ineffectual.  The jury returned their verdict, accidental death.  - The only account that has been yet obtained off this unfortunate man is, that he was a Welshman, by name Charles Williams; that he had been in the service of different gentlemen; that he worked as a labourer during the harvest of 1802, for Mr. Bristow, a farmer at Beddington, near Croydon, in Surry, and has since been in some office in London.  He had some property about him when the fatal accident happened, which is left with Mr. Trevethick, at the Catherine Wheel inn, until it shall be claimed by his nearest relation.


Cambrian, 26 October 1805

Last week, a man was brought into court, at the sessions at Marlborough, to take his trial on the charge of being the father of a child by his own daughter.  He was suddenly seized with a fit, and immediately expired.


Cambrian, 27 March 1819

   Dreadful Calamity by Fire. - An accident of the most appalling nature has occurred at the village of Winterbourne Stoke, about eight miles from Salisbury, originating in carelessness, and causing the sudden destruction by fire of no less than seven human beings.  The fire broke out between one and two o'clock on Thursday morning, in the house of Mr. G. Kellow; in one end of the house a shopkeeper and his family resided; in the other two families, consisting of nine poor persons, seven of whom were burnt to death.  The fire was not discovered till the whole of the latter part was in  flames, and it appears that it was occasioned by Mary Adlem (one of the sufferers) having, previously to going to bed, placed some ashes near to a bundle of heath, in a buttery not far from the fire-place.  The names of the unfortunate sufferers were, Christiana Adlem, aged 80 years; Mary Adlem, aged 40, and her daughter Jane, aged three years; Jane Target, aged 63; Ann Davis, aged 22, and her infant daughter Jane, aged ten months; and Elizabeth Wilkins, aged 17 years. - J. Davis (the husband of Ann Davis) escaped with great difficulty, saving one of his children three years old.  This man leapt from the window to the ground; but recollecting his wife and children, he re-entered, and ascended into the chamber; at that time the woman of both apartments were running about in despair; he caught his eldest child with his left hand, and with his right dragged the mother, clasping her infant to her bosom, down the staircase; but by some means the wife became disengaged from his grasp, and was lost with her infant in the flames which surrounded them.  The father bursting through the door, which was on fire, again reached the outside with his child, but both were dreadfully burnt.  The roof at this moment fell in, burying, in addition to the mother and her infant, the four women and the child who remained.  The family of the shopkeeper, occupying the other part of the house, and consisting of seven persons, escaped unhurt.  The fire then communicated with a barn, stable, and granary, and outhouse, the whole of which were consumed, together with about 330 fleeces of wool, and a few sacks of vetches.  The scorched and mutilated bodies of the unfortunate victims were removed from the ruins in the course of the day, to a barn, where the Coroner held an inquest on them. Verdict - Accidentally Burnt.


Cambrian, 22 January 1820

Deaths from Excessive Cold.

A poor woman, outside passenger on one of the coaches from London to Exeter, died on Thursday morning from the inclemency of the weather, to which she had been exposed during the night.  On the coachman perceiving that she was benumbed by the frost, on the arrival of the coach at the next stage below Salisbury, he had her conveyed in doors, and taken care of; but assistance was too late to prolong her existence more than half an hour. 


Cambrian, 27 October 1821

   On Friday evening, as the Bristol mail-coach was leaving Marlborough, the horses took fright and overturned it, by which accident the coachman's skull was fractured, and he died the next evening.  The guard was much hurt in one of his arms, but is in a fair way of recovery. ... The passengers affirm, that not the least blame can be attached to the coachman, who was one of the most sober, steady drivers on the road.


Cambrian, 26 January 1822

Sudden Deaths.

   Mrs. Patient, relict of Mr. J. Patient, of Wyly, Wilts. What renders her death most remarkable is the singular fact, that she had frequently expressed her hope "to live long enough to see her daughter married, and then she should die cheerfully:" her wish has been literally accomplished; her daughter was married on Tuesday; the anxiously affectionate parent took a small piece of the bride-cake, drank the health of the bride and bridegroom in a glass of wine, and instantly expired!


Cambrian, 21 September 1822


   It is with feelings of the utmost horror and indignation that we record an occurrence that would parallel in magnitude of atrocity, some of the most savage acts of the wildest, uncultivated peasantry in the sister country.  It appears that at a revel held at Kington-Langley, a few weeks ago, some offence was given to the villagers by a party of young men from Chippenham.  Since that period, several meetings have been held at Langley, for the purpose of planning revenge; and it was ultimately resolved, that a grand, desperate attempt should be made on Saturday.  Accordingly, in the course of that evening, about 30 or 40 men assembled in Chippenham, and several fruitless attempts to create quarrels were observed to take place; but no idea being formed of their base intentions, no means were taken to check their petty broils.  About half-past ten, however, the assailants commenced their brutal outrages, by appearing in the streets armed with terrific bludgeons, duly prepared for their fatal purpose; and with desperate, unrelenting fury, they attacked all who came  in their way - without regard to age or sex! men, women, and children, were alike objects of their ferocity. 

   Mr. Joseph Hull,  saddler, hearing cries of murder, hastened from his bed; and without waiting to put on his stockings or his hat, he went out almost naked, to  render, as he thought, a fellow-creature assistance; but, poor man, little did he expect to what he was doomed!  Within an hour and a half after he went out, he was found near the Ivy-house in a most deplorable state, bleeding to death - scarcely an inch of his head free from cut or bruises.  He was taken home, and expired within four hours.  His remains were on Wednesday interred in the church-yard at Chippenham.

   Miss Waste field, who keeps a ladies' boarding-school near the bridge, hearing a great noise, opened her bed-room window to ascertain the cause, when a large stone was immediately thrown at her, and she was knocked backwards.

   Mr. Reynolds, a brazier, was carried home, soon after 12 o'clock, bruised from head to foot.  He was heard praying most piteously for his life.  "Don't kill me! Don't kill me, Mountjoy! (he said) and I'll give thee a guinea!" but no mercy was shewn him - he died on Tuesday evening. Unfortunately, he was insensible from the time he was wounded to the moment of his death; so that his deposition, which might have been important, could not be taken.

   Mr. Blanchard, the constable, was knocked down during the affray, and received a sever contusion on his head, and a blow on one of his eyes.  James Ruby was cut in a shocking manner about the mouth and eyes - one eye is closed.  Mr. Moore, of the Duke of Cumberland, (the respectable high constable), and Mr. Whittick, hastening with a view to appease the strife, were knocked down, before they could well speak, with half a score besides.  Mr. Moore now lies in a distressing state, one eye being nearly beat out, besides his having other bruises.  The wife of Pound, a carrier, in Timber-street, hearing her husband knocked down at the door, ran out, and was instantly felled, and her blow, and the shock and alarm for her husband, who was scarcely risen before he was beat down again, has had such an effect on her (she being pregnant) that serious apprehensions are entertained for her life.  In short, there are one-and-thirty men, women, and children, more or less, wounded!

   The Magistrates have been indefatigable in their exertions to ascertain the perpetrators of the murders.  Mr. Clare, the Coroner, on the 9th inst. Proceeded to hold  an inquest on the bodies of Joseph Hull and James Reynolds: after a week's labour, the proceedings were on Tuesday evening closed, with a verdict of "wilful murder and riot" against Henry Knight and John Matthews (two respectable farmers), John Thomas, George Thomas, Thomas Pierce, Benjamin Salter, William Tanner, John Woodman, James Isaacs, and William Bryant, (all of whom, except Tanner, are in custody), and against other persons unknown: Fourteen persons are also in custody, charged with being implicated in the riot.


The Cambrian, 15 March 1823


   On the 27th ult. Dr. Charles Talbot, the Very Rev. the Dean of Salisbury.  After amusing himself in the garden on the preceding Thursday, he retired to his drawing-room, and seated himself on a sofa, when one of his children inquired if him if he had finished? - "Yes," replied the Dean, "I have done my work," and immediately dell back in a fit of apoplexy, from which he never sufficiently recovered to speak again.


The Cambrian, 7 January 1826

   Wednesday an old woman at Trowbridge, named Pitman, in a state of intoxication, accidentally set herself on fire, and only survived about ten minutes after she was discovered.


The Cambrian, 27 May 1826 

   Monday se'nnight Mr. Bowes, Schoolmaster, of Chippenham, with several of his pupils, went to bathe in the Avon, at Wetsmead.  After the boys had bathed, Mr. Bowes himself went into the river, but had not been long in the water before one of the boys, named Peacock, accidentally fell in; when Mr. B. swam towards him and sunk to rise no more !  Medical assistance was soon rendered, but without effect.  Mr. Bowles had been lately married to a Miss Gould.  The boy Peacock was rescued by a schoolfellow.

   As some men were digging at Etchelhampton, near Devizes, a few days since, they discovered a skeleton within four feet of the surface.  It is recollected that, about 40 years since, a servant girl discovered a pot, containing some money, in a field; she made known her discovery to her master, was shortly afterwards missing, and has never since been heard of.  There appears not the smallest doubt that the person, of whom the above skeleton is now the only remains, was murdered; it has been examined by an eminent surgeon of Devizes, who states that the front teeth have been knocked out by force, and that there are two sever fractures on the skull.


Carmarthen Journal, 18 April 1828

DREADFUL AND FATAL AFFRAY. - On Friday evening about seven o'clock, the inhabitants of the village of Littleton Drew, Wiltshire, were thrown into dreadful state of commotion, by a murder commuted in a house occupied by a man and his family, of the name of Browne.  It appears that Robt. Browne had lived in the house for more than nine years, during which time he had paid his landlord only six pounds towards the rent per annum. The landlord, with whose name we are not acquainted, after finding it impossible to obtain payment from his tenant, naturally enough wished to get him out of the house, and therefore told him if he would pay one year's rent and leave the house, he would give him the remainder of what was due.  Browne would not agree to this, and he then offered to cancel the whole of the debt if he would quit the house within a week; even this liberal offer he rejected, and the landlord then took to legal measures to eject him, and after proceedings were instituted, the constable of the parish was called to assist in the execution of ejectment, but the constable knowing what sort of man he had to contend with, considered it necessary to have the aid of others, and he took with him 2 men named Shears and Thomas; and, dreadful to relate, when they entered the premises to take Browne & his family out, Browne met them with a dagger, with which he stabbed Shears just below the heart, from which wound he died in less than half an hour.  Thomas, the other person in assistance, he likewise stabbed in three different parts of his body.  Medical assistance was immediately brought to the sufferers, but Shears was dead before its arrival, and little hopes can be entertained of the recovery of Thomas. Browne is in custody, waiting the Coroner's inquest. It appears that Browner had been expecting these visitors, and had, no doubt, prepared the weapon for the purpose.


Carmarthen Journal, 23 October 1829

FATAL AND DISTRESSING OCCURRENCE. - On Tuesday last, Mr. Moses Breach, a respectable yeoman, of Melksham, Wilts., went to join a party of friends, among whom were his father and brother-in-law, non an occasion of sporting at Dauntsey; when, wishing to have another shot before he went in for dinner (most of the party having retired for that purpose), he fired, and marked a hare.  He then began loading the barrel of his piece that had been discharged, having previously placed a percussion cap on it, and put the ramrod in the other barrel.  Having loaded the discharged barrel, he was in the act of returning the remaining shot to his pocket, when it is supposed, from his being particularly tall, that he stooped, & his knee in the action operated on the hammers; the consequence was, that both barrels went off, and he received the principal part of the contents in his head.  He was immediately carried into the house of his brother-in-law, and medical aid promptly procured; but it was of no avail, as he died about 6 o'clock the next morning, after much suffering.  The ramrod entered his face under the nose, and came out partly (having been broken) in his forehead.  A piece of it was afterwards extracted, nearly six inches long.  The deceased was a robust healthy man, in the 28th year of his age; was held in much respect; and has left a wife and two infant children to lament his loss.


The Cambrian, 10 April 1830

CHILD MURDER. - An inquest was held at Trowbridge, by Mr. Adye, on Tuesday, on the body of a female illegitimate child of a young woman named Willis, which was found concealed in a box in her room.  It appearing, by the examination of the medical men, that various injuries had been inflicted on the head and other parts which were not naturally to be accounted for, the jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against the mother, who was forthwith to be committed.  The reputed father is a married man with several children.


The Cambrian, 8 May 1830

HOUSE ROBBERY AND SUICIDE. - On Thursday, the 22d ult. A person, who described himself as William Stockdale, from Monmouthshire, entered the Sun public-house, Marlborough, and being rather of respectable appearance, was shewn by the landlady, Mrs. Hawkins, into a private room, where, during her absence, he picked the lock of a cupboard, and stole thereout a quantity of halfpence, to the amount of nearly 3l. He was afterwards apprehended, and taken before the magistrates, who remanded him for further examination till the following Monday, when he was again brought up, and committed to Salisbury gaol for trial at the next assizes.

   A few hours after his committal, while in the Bridewell (as he as not to have been removed till the following day), he contrived to hang himself over the door of one of the apartments, by means of his handkerchief and a piece of ribbon, which h fastened to the latch, and throwing the same over the top, suspended himself on the other side.  When discovered, life as not totally extinct, and the door being low, his feet reached the ground; but, though medical assistance was immediately procured, he expired shortly afterwards.  An inquest was held on the body on Tuesday, when a verdict of Felo-de-se was returned; he was accordingly buried at ten o'clock he same evening, without the performance of ay service, agreeably to Act of Parliament.  On searching him after his apprehension, 15 keys of various sizes were found on him.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 12 June 1830


The Rev. Marcus A. Parker, Curate of Wansborough, near Swindon, Wilts: he was preparing to attend the Vicar to Church, in the morning, when he was seized with a paralytic stoke, and in half an hour became a corpse.


Carmarthen Journal, 20 August 1830

   On Sunday, the first of august, an inquest was held at Warminster, by W. Adye, Esq. on the body of John Langridge, aged 19, who met his death by going into the water, when much heated, after a hearty meal.  On swimming a few yards, he felt so unwell, that it was with difficulty he got to land; he was seized with sickness, chills, &c.; the blood flew to the lungs and heart; his head became affected, the circulation ceased, and he was a corpse in less than an hour; verdict accordingly.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 1 October 1831

   On the night of Thursday se'nnight, John Sims, a carter to Mr. Biggs, of the Bustard-inn, on the Salisbury Plain, was returning from Devizes market with a wagon laden with beans, accompanied by a lad named Waite.  About four miles from his master's house, and at about ten o'clock at night, he fell from the sacks upon which he had been riding, and the wheels of the wagon passing over his right leg, shattered it in the most shocking manner.  Not being able to rise, the boy proceeded with the wagon, promising to send assistance; but, revolting to relate ! the poor man was suffered to lie weltering in his blood, on the exposed plain, from the time the accident occurred until between nine and ten 'clock the following morning !  About this time he was found by two surgeons who were crossing the down, they administered every possible relief, and forwarded the unhappy man to the Salisbury Infirmary, where he arrived at four o'clock.  His leg was immediately amputated above the knee; but by nine o'clock on the following morning he was a corpse. 

   We have heard of some circumstances attending this case so opposed to every feeling o humanity, that we can scarcely credit them, and for the present must decline giving them publicity.  The poor man contrived to crawl upon his elbows from the middle of the road, where he fell, to a bank by the side of it. - Devizes Gazette.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 17 March 1832
  A girl of loose character, named Matthews, was on Monday night burnt to death at a house at the bottom of Canes-hill, on the Bath road, a short distance from Devizes.  For want of a bed she lay before the fire in company with several dissolute companions, who were so alarmed when she awoke them, owing to her being enveloped in flames, that they ran away instead of rendering assistance.  She survived (it may be said in torments) a short time, and her last words were uttered in prayers for forgiveness, and that her companions might be led to give up their wicked ways.

Glamorgan Gazette, 29 December 1832
ELECTION MURDER. - An inquest was held before William Adye, Esq. one of the coroners for Wilts, on Monday the 17th instant (by adjournment from the previous Thursday), at the Black Inn, Standerwick, on the body of Thomas  Ford, of Short-street, Chapmanslane, Wilts, weaver, who fell a victim to the outrageous attack made upon the unarmed supporters of Mr. Thomas Sheppard, by the bludgeon men who enforced the claims of Sir Thomas Champneys, at the nomination of candidates for Frome, on Monday, the 10th instant.  It appeared in evidence that the unfortunate man, being wholly unarmed, as all Mr. Sheppard's supporters were, was, in the forenoon of the day of nomination, in the market-place of Frome, beat and kicked in the lower part of he bowels, and, to use the words he uttered in the immediate prospect of death, he ruffians "then put their sticks between my legs, and tossed me up and down."  He was removed to his house, and attended by medical men both from Frome and Westbury.  He lingered in great suffering until Thursday morning last, when he died, having previously requested his medical attendant to open his body after his death.  The result of the post mortem examination was, of course, laid before the Jury, when it appeared that one of the smaller intestines was burst, and had mortified.  The Jury returned a unanimous verdict of Wilful Murder by some person or persons unknown. - Devizes Gazette.


Cambrian, 12 January 1833
  MURDER. - At seven o'clock on the morning of Saturday week, in a field near Keynsham, was discovered a woman, apparently about 60 years of age, lying upon the ground,  and by the side of her was a large bloody stone, and the earth bore evident marks of a struggler.  She was removed to the poor-house, where she remained some hours, when the overseer put her into a donkey cart, and about half-past six in the evening she was taken to the Bristol Infirmary. She was immediately attended by Mr. Richard Smith, the surgeon of the week, who found her forehead beaten in, and another very extensive fracture above the left ear.  Although the poor woman was so dreadfully mangled she was not entirely deprived of her senses.  She said that her name was Nelly Poole, that she had been nine weeks in England, that her husband was in Ireland, and that she had been robbed of three half-sovereigns and three shillings. Being asked who had robbed her, she said "John Brooks," or some such name; and, being asked who he was, she answered "very bad always."  She gave the bystanders to understand, by signs, that her money was in a purse toed round her waist, and that it was torn away. She said that Mr. Jones, of Kilbrook, near Keynsham, had been very good to her, and that she worked for him.  She repeated the substance of the above several times, and conversed also in Irish with a young woman who happened to be a patient.  When some questions were pit to her she seemed to be recollecting herself, and answered, "when I can remember."  Mr. Smith apprised the Mayor of the circumstance, and he very humanely went to visit her, as also Alderman Fripp and Goldney.  Officers have been sent several times to Keynsham, to collect information.  There appears at present every reason to believe that the poor woman has been thus cruelly treated by some villain, and we have been thus minute in the hope that something may lead to a clue by which justice may overtake him.  She was lying all Thursday and Friday in a state of stupor, and quite incapable of understanding anything that was said to her, although she swallowed anything put into her mouth.  Inquiries have been made in Marsh-street and at other resorts of the Irish, but nothing of any importance has been elicited.  The poor woman died on Friday at twelve o'clock. - At the inquest held on the body nothing was adduced to lead to the discovery of the murderer, but it appeared that there was a shameful waste of time in procuring medical aid for the poor creature.  Verdict, Found with her skull fractured, and died thereof in the Bristol Infirmary.


The Monmouthshire Merlin, 25 January 1840

An atrocious murder was perpetrated near Devizes on Thursday, by a man named Freeme, who was under-gardener to Mr. Bruges, and who stabbed a young man named heritage, which caused his immediate death.  The murderer is in custody.

The Cambrian, 25 January 1840

 MURDER. - On the evening of Thursday se'nnight, an unfortunate man, named James Heritage, a labourer, of Seend, near Devizes, about 22 years of age, was murdered by Isaac Freeme.  The deceased was a very peaceable, well-conducted and industrious young man, generally beloved.  He and Freeme were first-cousins, and, it is d=said, never before had a quarrel with each other.  The met at the Bell Inn, at Seend, on the evening in question; but, though sitting in the same room did not drink together, and conversed little with each other.  Freeme left the house first (at half-past nine), and is said to have been in liquor.  He began to quarrel with different persons outside the inn, and challenged some of them to fight.  Freeme then went towards his home on the Trowbridge road; and at nearly the same time Heritage left the Bell, and proceeded in the same direction towards his house.  They came up with each other in the middle of Seend hill, and some words ensued between them.  Heritage, (as he declared on his death0bed), "dubious what Freeme would do to him," got over a stile into a field.  Freeme got into the field almost as soon as Heritage, through a gate which was open, and, going up to him, knocked him down, and stabbed him in the neck !  Freeme affirms that heritage struck him first; but Heritage, in dying, declared he never struck him at all.  As soon as the deadly blow was given, Freeme called the assistance of a neighbour; and in answer to a question from that person said, "It was I that did it - I killed him as dead as a nit."  He afterwards assisted Heritage to a stable, and then went home with his wife.  Next morning he went to his work as usual, and observed to a coachman that he had fought with and killed a man on the night before, end expected to be taken up for it; and he was apprehended that day.

   Heritage lingered until Saturday evening.  It is remarkable that heritage wore a smock-frock when he left the bell; and when first seen after he had been stabbed he had neither hat nor smock frock on, but was lying on the ground in his shirt sleeves.  The smock-frock was subsequently found on the stile, and his hat on the ground.  Had the frock been taken from the deceased after he had been wounded, there must have been marks of blood upon it, as he bled profusely, and his shirt and waistcoat were covered with blood; but it bore no stain.  This would raise the presumption that the deceased had taken it off to fight with Freeme - especially as Freeme's smock-frock was also lying in the road. - An Inquest was held before Mr. Whitmarsh, Coroner, on Tuesday last, when the Jury,  after the examination of several witnesses, returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against Freeme; and he stands committed on the Coroner's warrant.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 18 July 1840

MURDER AND ATTEMPTED SUICIDE. - A man named James Taylor has been committed under the coroner's warrant, to the New Prison Devizes, charged with the wilful murder of his wife.  The prisoner latterly lived in the parish of Tockenham, about two miles from Wooton Bassett, and near the line of the Great Western railway.  He has principally relied for a maintenance upon taking in, as lodgers, some of the labourers on the railway.  His wife, it appeared, had for some time attracted the attention of one of the lodgers, known by the name of "Jack," and on the evening of Monday se'nnight, this Jack prevailed upon her to go off with him.  The prisoner pursued the fugitives, and discovered them at Stratton, near Swindon, and brought his wife back.  His first impulse was to drown her on the road in the cut at Wooton Bassett; but he had afterwards fixedly determined to shoot her on the following morning, and then to shoot himself.

   On the Friday forenoon, a neighbour told the prisoner that the railroad man, with whom his wife had eloped, was about the premises.  He loaded his gun, went behind his wife, and deliberately discharged the whole of its contents into her back, exclaiming at the time, "That's thy fault !"  The poor woman died in a moment.  The gun was so heavily charged that it burst into several pieces.  The intention of the prisoner, but for this accident, was to have reloaded the gun, and to have shot himself.  He at one time thought of killing his child, but his heart would not allow him.  He afterwards went to the drawer, and taking out a knife, endeavoured to cut his throat.  The wound he inflicted upon himself was very slight.  He then ran out of the house, and to the first person he saw observed that he had killed his dear wife, and that he should have cut his own throat, but the knife would not let him.  He was immediately taken into custody.

   An inquest was held on the body on Saturday morning before Mr. Whitmarsh.  The facts above narrated were deposed to by Ann Gough, the mother of the deceased, Jane Gough, her sister, Jane Newman, Mr. Hooper, surgeon, of Wooton Bassett, and Matthias Heathcote.  The prisoner upon being asked if he had any observation to make, very deliberately  said,

"T'was I that killed my wife, and no one else - and I am glad of it.  I could not kill myself, because the gun bursted.  I tried all I could to cut my throat; but the knife would not cut.  I thought, two or three days before I found my wife, that I would kill my child also, because it should not come to any hurt.  When I found my wife, however, it "oddst" my mind not to do it.  I then aimed to kill my wife, the man, and myself.  If I did not find my wife, I meant to have killed myself at Mr. Hathway's gate, just here," pointing to his stomach.

The manner in which the prisoner uttered these words struck every one present with horror; he alone appeared unmoved, and there was a death-like silence for a moment afterwards.  The jury, without a moment's hesitation, returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against James Taylor, and he was soon afterwards committed to the New Prison, Devizes, for trial at the ensuing assizes.

   The prisoner, overhearing a remark from the coroner, exclaimed - "Never fear ! I don't repent it, Sir, - I shall be happy to be hanged."  In consequence of the cut in his neck, he has been confined in the Infirmary at the New Prison; but, we regret to say, that not the slightest change has taken place in his mind.  On the road from Wooton Bassett to the New Prison, he secretly took a pistol from the pocket of one of the policemen who accompanied him; but he was detected in a moment, and the pistol was wrested from him. - Bristol Gazette. [Also The Cambrian, 18th July.]

FATAL ACCIDENT. - It is our painful duty to record another accident, which happened on the works of the Great Western railway, at the Seven Locks, near Wooton Basset, on Tuesday last; the men were employed in excavating, when a portion of earth gave way, and completely buried two of them.  The poor fellows, when dug out, were quite dead, mutilated and bruised in a dreadful manner.

   Last week two little boys, playing together at Trowbridge, hid themselves in a privy, the door of which they shut; and, unfortunately, when they wanted to get out, they could not open it.  Strict search appears to have been made for tem during the night, but without effect.  In the morning, one of the little fellows was found cooped up in a corner of the privy: his companion had, in the night, fallen into the vault, and was suffocated.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 19 September 1840

DISGRACEFUL SCENE. - A MAN BEATEN TO DEATH ! - On Thursday, September 3rd, Mr. Whitmarsh held an inquest at Hannington, Near Highworth, on the body of a labourer, named Thomas Draper.  Deceased had, it appeared, challenged a fellow-labourer, named Skinner, to fight, and the challenge being accepted, they met in a field in the parish on the evening of the 31st of August, and fought in the presence of a large concourse of persons, for nearly two hours !  To use the language of one of the witnesses, deceased "was pretty well blind a long time before the last round."  He was also so beaten and bruised that he could scarcely stand !  Yet, in this state - scarcely able to stand or see - he was again and again presented to be knocked down.  At length Skinner tripped him up, and fell upon him.  Unable to rise, he was carried to his second's knee, again to be encouraged to continue the combat.  "Time was called," but it was all over.  He was beyond his second's care, he fell senseless to the ground, and was in a moment a corpse.  The head and body of the unfortunate man were covered with bruises, and presented a shocking appearance, and Skinner was so beaten that he has kept his bed ever since.  The jury after a short address from the coroner, in which he explained the law, returned a verdict of Manslaughter against Skinner and the two seconds, upon which the coroner immediately issued his warrant for their committal to Marlborough Bridewell.  A certificate was, however, put in from the surgeon stating that Skinner was so unwell that he could not, without great danger, be removed from his bed. - Salisbury Journal.



The inquest on the body of Francis Saville Kent, aged four years, who was so barbarously murdered on Saturday morning, at a village called Road, four miles from Frome, was held on Monday, at the Temperance hall, Road, before Mr. Sylvester, coroner for Wilts. The hall was crammed to excess.  Mr. Rodway, of Trowbridge, solicitor, attended to watch the case on behalf of Mr. Kent.  The nursemaid out of whose room deceased was abstracted; the housemaid who examined the drawing-room fastenings the night before the murder and found them undone; and the person who discovered the dead body of the child in the water-closet were examined, but no fresh facts of any kind were elicited, and the barbarous affair still remains an inexplicable mystery.  Constance and William Kent, a half brother and half-sister of the deceased, were also examined, but no new information was gained.  The superintendents of police from Frome, Trowbridge and Devizes, and the chief constable of the Wilts force were in attendance.  After a five hours' inquiry, the jury returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against some person or persons unknown. [See Guardian 4 July; Observer 8 & 9 July; Observer 29 July; Guardian 4 August; Observer 5 August.]


Supplement to Bell's Life in London, 22 February 1863

THE ROAD MURDER. - We hear, on what may be considered reliable authority, that the circumstances connected with the mysterious murder of Francis Saville Kent of Road on the 29th of June, 1860, are likely ere long again to become the subject of juridical investigation.

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