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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, March 9, 1860.

A WIFE BEATER.
   Robert Breakell was charged with assaulting his wife. - Complainant said her husband came home on Monday night, and without any provocation gave her a violent kick. He was in the habit of abusing her when he was in drink, and frequently she was compelled to leave his house at ten o'clock at night, and seek shelter with her neighbours. Defendant was ordered to find sureties for his future good behaviour, or twenty-one days' imprisonment in default.



Friday, March 9, 1860.

DRUNK AND INCAPABLE.
   Daniel Hartley was charged with being drunk and incapable. - Police-constable Hudson said he found defendant lying in the street, in Millgate, at half-past one this morning. He was so drunk that he could not stand, and had to be carried to the lockups. When placed in the dock he had only very slightly got rid of the effects of his potations, and presented a most wretched appearance. He had scarcely a rag to his back, and his face was covered with soot and bruised all over, his eyes almost starting from their sockets. He seemed to have a strong affection for gaol, for the Chief-constable stated that if they refused to give him a cell when he had committed no offence, he would leave the office and pick up a stone which he would throw at the windows. - The bench remanded the poor wretch for forty-eight hours, hoping by that time he would be sober, when they would deal with him.



Saturday, March 10, 1860.

RIVAL HAWKERS.
   George Holcroft and Aaron Meldon (a man of colour) were charged with obstructing the footpath. Defendants are vendors of some of the many nostrums which are to be found in all markets, and according to Holcroft he paid for a position in which to stand and expose his wares, and having, on Saturday last, cleared out what stock he brought into the market, he went to his lodgings for another supply. In the meantime, probably having become convinced of the superior position of Holcroft's stand, Meldon took possession of it, and when Holcroft returned a dispute arose between them as to which had a right to be there. Being more noisy than discreet in their disputation, a police-officer interfered, when both defendants were walked off to gaol. Meldon, on being asked what he sold and where he came from, replied, with all the suavity it is possible to imagine, "I sells coconut oil for de hair. I runned away from New Orleans, from slavery. I hab a wife and two children in Manchester, and hab nebber been in court before." - The bench discharged defendants with a caution, and Sambo, raising his right hand to his forehead, with a respectful bow to the magistrates left the dock grinning and chuckling in the manner so peculiar to the sable race.



Friday, March 16, 1860.

LARK SINGING.
   A lark singing match took place on Monday last, at the Horse Shoe Inn, Millgate, for a number of prizes, of which a copper kettle and a teapot were the principal. The prizes were awarded to the following persons:- John Carberry, bird sang 28 minutes; P. Carberry, 27 min. 6 sec.; J. Melling, 26 min. 40 sec.; John Garvin, 26 min.; John Catterall, 26 min.; J. Brummet, 25 min. 30 sec.; J. Greenall, 25 min.; S. Melling, 24 min. 25 sec.; W. Fairhurst, 21 min. 15 sec.; P. Carberry, 23 min. 54 sec.; R. Haslden, 23 min. 2 sec.



Friday, March 16, 1860.

BREAKING INTO A SHOP AT ORRELL.
   On Monday last, before G. Daglish, Esq., at the office of T. F. Taylor, Esq., William Shaw was charged with entering by means of a false key, the shop of Thomas Pigot, shoemaker, Orrell. It appeared that Pigot occupied a lock-up shop at Orrell, and on Friday last, after transacting his usual business, he locked up his premises and returned home, which is some distance from his shop. About a quarter-past one, however, on Saturday morning, according to the evidence of a witness who was returning home, he saw a light in Pigot's shop, and knowing that Pigot did not live on the premises he suspected there was something wrong. Accordingly he went to the door with the intention of going in the shop, but on trying to open the door he found there was some person pushing on the inside, and he heard a voice say, "Let him alone, and we'll 'fettle' him in a bit." Thinking, from this, that there was more than one person in the shop, witness drew back with the intention of going away, and immediately after the prisoner came out and took to his heels. Witness followed, captured the prisoner, and took him to the police station. He then went to Pigot's house, and they returned together to the shop to make an inspection, but Pigot found nothing missing. Witness was sure prisoner was the man, for he had known him twenty years. - The magistrates, however, thinking there was some doubt as to the identity discharged him.



Friday, March 16, 1860.

ASSAULT.
   Sarah Hunter was charged with assaulting Elizabeth Rudd. Both parties appeared to be 60 years of age, and Rudd alleged that on Friday last Hunter came into her house and abused her, eventually striking her over the eye with a poker. - Hunter, in defence, said Rudd had been harbouring her son, and she went in to speak to her about it, when she was turned upon by Rudd, and knocked upon the floor. She never struck Rudd with the poker. - The bench, believing the assault proved, fined defendant 5s. and costs.



Saturday, March 17, 1860.

ASSAULT.
   Thomas Benson was charged with assaulting Margaret Farnworth, at Upholland, on Tuesday last. - Complainant said she was in the house of a neighbour named Woods, when the defendant came in, and after a few words, took hold of her by the shoulder, tore her dress, and knocked her on the floor. Complainant called this Mrs. Woods as a witness, but her evidence clearly showed that one party was quite as bad as the other, and that if anyone had suffered damage, it was witness, for in the squabble the complainant took up a chair to strike defendant, and in doing so knocked down a bird cage, thereby liberating a lark which was much prized, and which flew away; other damage was also done, and at last the quarrellers were put out of the house, when complainant was heard, to challenge the defendant to fight. The bench dismissed the case.



Friday, March 23, 1860.

SINGULAR.
   A hen has for some time past been sitting on a number of eggs at the bottom of the deep cannel pit of Messrs. Case and Morris, at Ince, and last week a brood of twelve chickens were hatched. They are doing well, and are apparently perfectly contented, though 300 yards below their fellow-fowls.



Friday, March 23, 1860.

FATAL ACCIDENT.
   On Monday afternoon an accident took place near Clarington Brook, Ince, by which a lad named Andrew Brown, the son of George Brown, engine-tenter, of Ince, received injuries so severe as to cause his death a short time after its occurrence. The lad, it appears, was between eight and nine years of age, and about half-past one o'clock in the afternoon of the day above-mentioned he was proceeding from his home in Ince to St. Catherine's School, Scholefield-lane. Near Clarington Brook he left the present highway and walked along the old road, which, as most of our readers will be aware, gradually descends till it reaches a tram road used by Messrs. Wright and Mercer for the conveyance of coals from their works to the canal basin, and there re-ascends till it joins the highway. The boy proceeded along the old road will he reached the tram-way where the accident occurred which deprived him of his existence. A train of waggons filled with coal was passing down to the canal as the lad approached. These he did not notice, and by one of the waggons he was knocked down. Unfortunately his clothes became entangled in the wheel of one of the waggons, or in some portion of the framework, and he consequently was dragged along the line a distance of nearly eighty yards before the fact was observed, and he could be extricated. When the train was stopped and the boy taken up, his left leg was found to be literally cut to pieces and his stomach also much lacerated. A surgeon was sent for to Wigan, but his services were of little avail, as the poor boy expired about a quarter-past three the same day. On the 21st instant the inquest was held on the body at the Bay Horse Inn, kept by Alice and Jane Greenwood. Evidence having been adduced to prove the above facts, the jury, after deliberating some time, returned an open verdict.


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