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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, October 26, 1860.

A LUNATIC RAILWAY TRAVELLER.
   Hamlet Wood, a young man about twenty-six years of age, was charged with riding from Crewe to Wigan, on the London and North Western Railway, without having paid his fare. From the evidence it appeared that the prisoner got out at the Wigan station on Saturday afternoon, and went up to the ticket-collector, who held out his hand for the prisoner's ticket. The prisoner, however, neither offered nor produced any, and without further introduction asked the collector what age he was. Without waiting for a reply, and to the astonishment of the collector, the prisoner said that he himself should be 22 years old, but an uncle of his had taken a year off, and according to the Times newspaper, which he produced from his pocket, he was only 21. The collector looked at the man, and became convinced that he was dealing with an insane person, when assistance was called and the poor fellow detained until the arrival of a police officer, when he was taken to the police station. On being questioned he gave his name and that of his father, and stated that he came from Stoke to Wigan. He appeared to labour under some extraordinary delusions, and said that the daughter of the coroner for Stafford wanted him to be her husband, and she continually haunted him. He had come to Wigan to see about being appointed station-master, and he was going on to Liverpool. - The Chief Constable wrote to the prisoner's father, who attended and informed the Bench that his son, who was an engraver by trade, had been confined in the Stafford Lunatic Asylum, but had recently been liberated as being fit to be at large. He did not know that his son had come to Wigan, and considered him as not responsible for his actions. - Under these circumstances the Bench discharged the prisoner, and he left the court with his father.



Friday, October 26, 1860.

THE ORGAN-GIRL TRADE.
   John Linkman was charged with an assault upon Elizabeth Badenkoff. - The complainant, who is sister-in-law to the defendant, stated that she engaged with him as organ girl for two years, he promising to pay her 3 7s. per year, in addition to finding her with food and clothing. Her time of servitude would expire in two weeks, but up to this time she had not received a farthing of her wages. On Monday evening, on going to her lodgings, defendant assaulted her, as he had done on many previous occasions. - In answer to the bench complainant said she sometimes took 4s. per day, and at other times scarcely anything. - Defendant denied the assault, and alleged that the complainant was very irregular in her conduct, for which he scolded her. He expressed himself tired of her services, and said he was willing to pay her her wages. - The bench believed an assault had been committed, and fined defendant 10s. and costs, in default 14 days.



Friday, October 26, 1860.

DEAR OYSTERS.
   William Mertha and Catherine Mertha, husband and wife, were charged with assaulting James Worthington, a youth about 14, who stated that last evening he went up to the defendants' stall and had some oysters, for which he tendered in payment what he thought were three half-penny pieces. He retired behind the stall, and overheard the male defendant say that he could like a few more customers like him (the complainant), as he had given a half-crown for a halfpenny. Complainant hereupon examined his money, and discovered that he had paid a half-crown. Accordingly he asked the defendants for his change, but they denied that they had received any half-crown, and set upon the lad and assaulted him. - Complainant's story as to the assault was corroborated by Henry Hodson, a man who was passing at the time, and who gave information to the police, when the male defendant was apprehended. - The Bench discharged the female, and fined the male defendant 20s. and costs.



Friday, October 26, 1860.

ROBBING A FELLOW-LODGER.
   Susannah Pemberton, a middle-aged woman, a factory operative, was charged with stealing a purse containing 3s. and a ring, the property of Elizabeth Horrocks. - The prosecutrix stated that a week ago she went to lodge at the house of John Tyrer, in Pitt-street. The prisoner, whom she did not previously know, lodged there also, and slept with her. On Monday morning the prisoner got up to go to her work, and called the prosecutrix, the prisoner immediately afterwards leaving the house. The prosecutrix went to her work, and on returning in the evening looked into her box for the purse and money she had placed there in the morning, but they were gone. She gave information to the police, and Detective Whalley apprehended the prisoner at Irving's beerhouse with the purse and ring in her possession; the money she had spent. The prisoner pleaded guilty, but said she intended to repay the money to the prosecutrix on the first opportunity. - The Bench committed her to hard labour for one month.



Saturday, November 3, 1860.

FATAL RESULT OF A FOOLISH WAGER.
   On Wednesday, an inquest was held before the borough coroner, at the Free Trade Tavern, Scholes, on the body of John Barlow, who met with his death under the following circumstances:- Deceased, who was a tailor by trade, was in the habit of working for butchers and stall-keepers in the market. On Tuesday afternoon, about two o'clock, some persons by whom he was occasionally employed made a wager that he could eat a penny bun in a given period. The bun was bought and given to him, when he broke it into three pieces, one of which he crammed into his mouth, and then ran away down the Fleece yard. He came out into the Hallgate, and on coming towards the market again he dropped down suddenly by the shop of Mr. Jolley, tinner. A number of persons collected round him, by some of whom he was raised up and found to be dead, his face being being perfectly livid. It is supposed that the deceased while running got the piece of bun in his throat, and, not being able to remove it, was suffocated. The jury returned a verdict of "Died by the visitation of God, from natural causes."



Saturday, November 3, 1860.

RAILWAY COLLISION AT INCE, LAST NIGHT.
   Last night a railway collision, which it is feared will result fatally to at least one person, occurred on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, at Ince. It appears, from the few facts we have been able to gather, that the driver of a coal-train, which was near the Ince Hall Coal Company's siding at the time the 5-45 train from Manchester to Southport was due, was in the act of shunting his wagons on to the siding when the passenger train suddenly came upon him. The wagons were safe upon the up line, but the engine was still upon the down line, and with this the engine of the passenger train came into collision. The driver of the coal engine was thrown violently to the ground, by which he sustained a fracture of the skull; and the stoker had also one of his thighs and one leg broken. The driver and stoker of the passenger engine escaped without injury, as did also the passengers, with the exception of one lady who was bruised in the face. The passenger train on its arrival at the Wigan station was shunted on a siding, and a new train prepared for the conveyance of the passengers to Southport. This was ready in about an hour, and by it all the passengers were able to proceed. The driver and stoker so severely injured were attended by Messrs. Fisher and Leyland, surgeons. The injuries of the first, who is named Thomas Howarth, were so serious that his recovery is considered impossible; those of the second, though not such as are likely to result fatally, are still very serious. The engines were both slightly damaged.



Saturday, November 3, 1860.

SUSPICIOUS CHARACTERS.
   William and Mary Roberts were placed in the dock as suspicious characters. Detective Whalley stated that on Saturday night he observed the female accost several men in Wallgate, the male prisoner standing a short distance off and appearing to act in concert with her. No one, however, listened to the syren's voice, and the pair proceeded together, followed by Whalley, through the Market-place to Standishgate, when the female again accosted several men, but again without success. They continued their walk to the top of Standishgate, and Whalley, believing their object to be to entrap some person for the purpose of robbing him, still kept close upon their heels. On getting to the top of Standishgate the two prisoners went into the Folly entry, when Whalley overheard the female upbraiding the man for not coming to her assistance when she was in conversation with the men she stopped, and telling him that he did not care whether she got any breakfast or not so long as he got his ale. Being convinced of their intentions, Whalley interrupted the tete-a-tete and marched them off to gaol, the female loudly protesting her respectability. - The Bench were satisfied as to their character, and sent them to Kirkdale for three months' hard labour.



Saturday, November 3, 1860.

ASSAULTING A PENNY SANDWICH DEALER.
   John Harkin was charged with an assault upon John Blenkinsop Bagley. Complainant is a caterer to the hungry stomachs of tavern frequenters, and supplies what he calls sandwiches at the rate of one penny each. On Monday evening he went to the Bay Horse, where he saw the defendant, who said he would have a sandwich, and asked five of his companions to have one each. They were supplied, and defendant said he would have another, and would pay complainant for the whole in the morning. Complainant said he wanted his money then, and seized the defendant's cap, which he said he should retain till the money was paid. Defendant hereupon set upon the complainant, tore his shirt into shreds, and kicked him upon the arms and legs. Defendant's mother then made her appearance and offered the complainant sixpence for the seven sandwiches, which sum he was willing to receive, but the defendant prevented him from taking the money, and again assaulted him. - The bench inflicted a penalty of 20s. and costs, in default one month's imprisonment.



Saturday, November 3, 1860.

SUNDAY STREET LOUNGERS.
   John Simpkin, Louis Rowe, William Bentley, Henry Holden, and James Stopforth, were charged with obstructing the footpath, in Scholes, on Sunday morning last, at a quarter past eleven. - Police-constable Warwick proved the case, and said the defendants, with a number of others, were in the constant habit, although having been previously warned, of blocking up the footpath, and sometimes the crowd was so great as to extend to the middle of the highway. - After a caution, the bench ordered them to pay costs, and discharged them.


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