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Old news detailing sports, crime, violence and suffering in Victorian Wigan. All stories taken from The Wigan Observer And District Advertiser, 1860. Material kindly loaned by Paul Byrne.


Friday, January 20, 1860.

PIGEON STEALING.
   John Booth and James McGrath were charged with stealing seven pigeons, value 10s., belonging to a lad named William Ince, of Wigan-lane, on Sunday last. - William Ince sworn, said he lived at 20, Wigan-lane, and was a drawer in a coalpit. He had a pigeon cote at the back of the house, with seven pigeons in it. The cote was locked on Sunday night, and the pigeons were then safe. On Monday morning, he found the staple of the door drawn and the pigeons gone. He then went to Ralph Marsden's, pigeon dealer, Scholes, and there found two of the missing pigeons. As he was going to Marsden's, he saw the two prisoners together in Boyswell-lane. He gave information to the police. On Sunday the prisoner Booth was in Grayson's Yard, about ten yards from the pigeon cote. - Ralph Marsden, pigeon-dealer, said the prisoner McGrath came to his house on Monday morning, and offered two pigeons in exhange for two of his. William Ince came soon after and picked out the two pigeons McGrath had left, and said they belonged to him. - Police-constable Lawson apprehended McGrath, and charged him with stealing seven pigeons from Ince's cote. He replied that he had not stolen them - he had bought six pigeons for 5s. from a lad from Lamberhead Green. - Police-constable Whalley apprehended the prisoner Booth in Lord-street. The coat he was wearing had a quantity of pigeons feathers in a large pocket at the side. - Prisoners pleaded not guilty, and were committed for trial at the sessions.



Saturday, January 21, 1860.

WIFE BEATING.
   James Atherton was charged with assaulting and beating his wife. at Pemberton. - Complainant said her husband came in about ten o'clock, on Wednesday morning, and seized her by the throat, threw her on the floor, and then kicked her. He frequently subjected her to ill-treatment, and neglected to provide for her and the children, and had been in prison once for neglect of family. He spent most of his wages in drink. - Complainant asked the Bench not to deal severely with her husband, as he would happen mend. - Sentenced to six months' imprisonment, with hard labour.



Saturday, January 21, 1860.

DRUNKENNESS.
   James Dandy, William Wilding, James Dowd, Thomas Stringfellow, and John Baxendale, all colliers, from Shevington, were charged with being drunk on the 4th instant. - Sergeant Barker, of Standish, said that between two and three o'clock on the day in question, he saw all the defendants on Shevington Moor - all unmistakeably drunk. Wilding had his head and face covered with treacle, over which a flour sack was emptied, and was lying helplessly drunk, at full length on a door, which the others were carrying shoulder high, in a sort of unsteady procession, and Dandy had his face blacked. - Blackledge, who was the only one who appeared - the rest being represented by their female friends - maintained that he was quite sober; and expressed his surprise that the police should interfere with a custom that had been in practice for so many years. - The Sergeant replied that just before he got up to them, they were so drunk that they all fell together in a heap into a ditch. He was obliged to take Wilding home. - Fined 5s. and costs.



Friday, January 27, 1860.

RAILWAY ACCIDENT.
   On Thursday morning last, Thomas Miller, night watchman at the goods station of the London and North Western Railway, was found dead under the following circumstances. The deceased entered upon his duties at nine o'clock the previous evening, and about three o'clock the following morning he was found, by a pointsman, named Leigh Broomley, quite dead, the body lying a short distance from the rails, and on that part of the line near the goods warehouse, Chapel-lane. The only bruise to be noticed was on the right side of the forehead; and it would appear from this that the unfortunate old man, whilst crossing the rails, has been overtaken by a passing train, the engine of which has struck him on the head, and at once killed him, at the same time throwing the body to the spot where it was found. - An inquest will be held this day.



Friday, January 27, 1860.

DEATH FROM DRINKING.
   An inquest was held on Wednesday last, before C. Driffield, Esq., coroner, at the house of Elizabeth Greenwood, Bay Horse, Ince, on the body of a man named William Charlton, a labourer, who died on the previous Sunday, under the following circumstances. - During the greater part of the day in question he had been drinking at the Railway Inn, in Ince Green Lane, and, as he was being taken home at night, to his residence in Broom street, he was seized with apoplexy. Mr. Foreman, surgeon, was at once sent for, but arrived too late to be of service. The verdict returned was, "Died from apoplexy, brought on by excessive drinking."



Friday, January 27, 1860.

FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT.
   On Wednesday afternoon, an inquest was held at the Buckley Arms Inn, before Thomas Grimshaw, Esq., coroner, touching on the death of James Eastham, who was found dead on the London and North Western railway, near the Swinley cross roads, on Tuesday morning. - Ellen Eastham, widow of the deceased, said her husband was a plate-layer, in the employ of the London and North Western railway company, and lived at Standish. He was 43 years of age, and had been in the employ of the company upwards of 14 years. He was a man of sober habits, and came home from his work on Monday night about 6 o'clock, in his usual health. On Tuesday morning he left home to go to work at half past 5 o'clock, and took his dinner with him. He always walked along the line to his work, to any place where his services were required. Deceased had left a family of four children. - Joshua Powis, of Queen-street, labourer, said he was in the employ of the Shevington and Standish coal company, and engaged on the branch line leading to the London and North Western main line. He found deceased on Tuesday morning, about 10 minutes past 7 o'clock, lying dead on the down line of the London and North Western railway. A train belonging to the latter company was proceeding on its journey north, when the engine-driver in charge of the train shouted out, "Men come here." Witness went, and found deceased as described, laid in a hollow place, which is made for carrying the water off the line, with his left hand mutilated and almost severed from the wrist, and one of his legs doubled under him. This train had not touched deceased; witness and three other men carried him to the Buckley House Inn. Deceased was lying a few yards within the Wigan boundary, near the Swinley cross roads. - John Boardman, engine-driver, in the employ of Lord Crawford and Balcarres, said there was a branch line in connection with his Lordship's collieries, running into the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway, and then on to the London and North Western. He (witness) was in charge of a coal train to Preston on Tuesday morning. He had not proceeded far on his journey from Wigan, before he found that the water in the engine boiler getting low, and he brought the train to a standstill, unhooked the engine from the waggons, and left the latter in the care of two guards, named Buller and Lonsdale, and went up with the engine to the Boar's Head for water. - Mr. Thompson attended the inquiry on behalf of the London and North Western railway company, and stated that the witness had violated the rules and regulations of the company, in as much as he had run the engine along the line to the Boar's Head, and returned again to the coal train, without having lights attached. The case would therefore come before the Board of Directors. - The witness Boardman denied that he ran the engine without lights, on the contrary, he had two. He did not see deceased on the line, or come in contact with anything that he knew of. - The coroner summed up the evidence, and the jury returned a verdict to the effect that "Deceased was found dead on the line of railway belonging to the London and North Western company, but by what means he came to his death there was no satisfactory evidence to prove."



Saturday, January 28, 1860.

GAROTTE ROBBERY IN SCHOLEFIELD-LANE.
   William Yates and James Cummerford were brought up on remand, charged with having attacked Lambert Hilton, and stolen from his person a parcel containing flannel and calico, on Saturday night, the 14th inst., in Scholefield-lane. - Mr. Ashton appeared for the prisoner Cummerford. - Lambert Hilton, carter, Ince, said he was returning home through Scholefield-lane, on the night in question, about twelve o'clock, accompanied by his wife, and Michael Hamer and his wife - four persons in all. They were walking on the road, and within a few yards of St. Catherine's School, when four or five men suddenly made an attack upon him. One seized him by the throat from behind, and also pressed his knee against his back; a second pinioned his arms; whilst a third took from him a parcel he had under his arm, folded in brown paper, containing six yards of white flannel, six yards of glazed calico, and two yards of grey calico. He was forced with his face to the wall, and held in the position described, but not hurt. Having obtained the parcel, the whole of the men decamped, two of them over the wall, and the others in opposite directions. He ran after them, but failed to catch any one of them; and he then gave information to the police. The flannel produced is similar to that he had in his parcel. He had no doubts about the prisoner Yates being one of the men; Cummerford he would not swear to. - Cross-examined by Mr. Ashton: He gave information to the police the same night, and directed a man named Fairclough to be taken into custody. The magistrates discharged Fairclough when brought before them, as he (the prosecutor) could not swear positively that he was one of the men who made the attack. - Michael Hamer, collier, Ince, said he was at Wigan on the night in question, with Lambert Hilton, and returned home with him, through Scholefield-lane. When near St. Catherine's School, he saw four men come out of Mr. Gobbin's, the Spotted Cow. They came towards them, and Yates collared him and said, "Don't thou know the father." He escaped from the grasp of Yates, and went on, leaving his friend Hilton surrounded by the four men. He was frightened, as he had been attacked and beaten before in the same locality. He had no doubt the prisoner Yates was the man who first attacked him, and afterwards Hilton. He could not speak to Cummerford. - Wm. Gobbin, landlord of the Spotted Cow, Scholefield-lane, said, on Saturday night, the 14th inst., about eleven o'clock, four men came into his house; Yates was one, but Cummerford was not one of the number. They left the house about twelve o'clock. His house adjoins St. Catherine's School. - Ellen Williams, Ince, wife of Robert Williams, collier, living near the Britannia Bridge, said she knew the prisoner Cummerford; he had been lodging at their house some months. On Tuesday night, the 17th inst., he came in about nine o'clock, and said he had seen a young man he knew, who wanted to sell some flannel. He said he had got six yards from a Scotchman, and he wanted to sell it. On Wednesday morning, she got up about seven o'clock, and found the prisoners Cummerford and Yates, in the kitchen below. Cummerford said, "This is the young man who has some flannel to sell. He wants to go off." She asked him (Yates) where he got it from, and he said, "From a Scotchman." She bought it for 4s. for the six yards. She gave Yates the money. Both the prisoners left the house together. Cummerford did not come home on Wednesday night, and had not been seen since. She had some conversation about the flannel with her husband, and she gave the flannel to police-constable Whalley that night. On the night of the robbery Cummerford came home about twelve o'clock. - Cross-examined by Mr. Ashton: Cummerford did not appear particularly anxious to sell the flannel. It was not unusual for her to see him in the house at the same time she did on Wednesday morning. - Police-constable Whalley said he received the flannel produced, on Wednesday night the 11th inst., from Ellen Williams, the last witness. It was measured in his presence, and was six yards long. He afterwards searched for Yates, and apprehended him about ten o'clock at night, coming out of a field at the back of Mount Pleasant, and charged him with the robbery. He replied, "What me, I think not." He took the prisoner Yates to Ellen William's house, to see if he was the man who had sold her the flannel. On the way, Yates looked him in the face and said, "Old mon, when they have a finger in the pie, they must suffer for it." - Police-constable Stickley said he apprehended the prisoner Cummerford. He was with Whalley when Yates was apprehended, and saw Cummerford in the field near to Mount Pleasant, but did not then know that he was the man "wanted." He afterwards took him at his father's house, in Belvoir-street, and charged him with selling stolen flannel. He replied, "We shall see about that to-morrow." There is a footpath in the field, but neither of the prisoners were near it. - Cummerford was discharged, and Yates committed for trial at the next Liverpool assizes.


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