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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 23, 1860.

A DANGEROUS CHARACTER.
   Patrick Hanlon, a tall young man, a labourer, was charged with assaulting William Haselden, butcher. - Haselden said defendant came into his shop on Saturday night, in company with another man, and asked for a pound of beefsteaks. On being served, defendant threw down 6d. as payment, but Haselden told him that was not the money for what he had purchased, and he knew it. The other man then threw down 6d.; upon which defendant picked up his money and the beefsteak, but let a portion of the latter fall upon the floor. He stooped down to pick it up, and then holding up the meat and a sheep's eye which he had taken from the floor, asked the butcher if he called those beefsteaks, saying at the same time that the sheep's eye had been weighed with the beef. This Haselden denied, when the defendant called him a liar. Haselden upon this got irritated, and said he would strike defendant, and a few more angry words passing, defendant seized a cleaver which was on the butcher's stall, and held it up, saying he would split his (butcher's) skull. A struggle then ensued, and outside the butcher's shop the cleaver was wrested from the defendant's hand. - A woman named Elizabeth Whittle, who was in the shop at the time, confirmed Haselden's story. - Defendant said the butcher was the first to assault him, for he threw the sheep's eye at his (defendant's) own eye. He called a witness named John Kelly to prove this, but Kelly said he did not see the sheep's eye thrown, nor did he see the cleaver. - The bench ordered defendant to find sureties to keep the peace for six months, in default to go to prison for twenty-one days.



Friday, March 23, 1860.

AN IRISHMAN'S EXCUSE.
   John Regan was charged with being drunk on Sunday, in Scholes. Defendant, in the richest brogue, said to the bench that he was drunk, "for a glass of ale made him so ever since the workhouse fell on him and 'kilt' him; and when he had no drink at all, a change in the weather made him drunk." - This excuse not being satisfactory to the bench, defendant was fined 5s. and costs.



Friday, March 23, 1860.

A WIFE BEATER.
   Joseph Berry, engine-tenter, was charged with assaulting his wife on Saturday night. Complainant said her husband came home on Saturday night, when she asked him to have his tea. He got it, and afterwards said it was time to go to his club, at the same time asking for a shilling in addition to his club money. She asked him what he wanted another shilling for, when he refused to tell, but said he should have it, and thereupon struck her on the face and kicked her on the head. After this he went out, and returned again between one and two in the morning. After being in bed a while he prepared to go out again, and asked for some more money, saying he wanted 4s. She refused to give it to him, but he forcibly took it from her and went out, not returning before late at night. She had been abused before frequently, but had never had her husband summoned for it. - Defendant said in answer to the bench, that if his wife had given him the shilling there would not have been any bother. The four shillins he took from her on Sunday he did not spend, but returned them to his wife. He gave her 29s. per fortnight on an average. - The bench said they thought the case was a very bad one, and committed defendant for twenty-one days' hard labour.



Friday, March 23, 1860.

ANOTHER WIFE BEATER.
   Thomas Goulding was charged with beating his wife on Saturday night. Complainant said her husband came home on Saturday night and commenced to abuse her, striking her on the head and hands. She suffered repeatedly from his violence, and had him before the magistrates in November last. She could scarcely get any money from him to keep the family, and all she cared about was having enough to feed the children. - The bench said this case was a far worse one than the other, and they should send defendant to gaol for two months. - Hearing this, the wife begged hard of the bench to let her husband go this time, as she did not know what she would do. - The bench, however, were inexorable.



Friday, March 23, 1860.

RIOTOUS AND DISORDERLY.
   William Hilton was charged with riotous and disorderly conduct in Sunday. The police officer on duty in Miry-lane heard a woman screaming, and proceeding in the direction of the noise found defendant's wife on the floor, and being beaten by her husband. - Defendant (who appeared before the bench drunk) said, as clearly as he could under the circumstances, that his wife had brought it upon herself. - The wife was in court, and admitted that she had pulled him by the hair of his head out of a public-house. Except when he was in drink he was very harmless. - The bench sent defendant to gaol for six hours to make him sober, and after that he was to find sureties to keep the peace.



Friday, March 23, 1860.

A COUPLE OF PICKPOCKETS.
   A man and woman who had evident marks of being "on the road," and who gave the names of James and Mary Ann Tierney, were charged with picking the pockets of Mary Ann Dyson and Nancy Atherton, in Hallgate and Wallgate, on the previous evening. Mrs. Dyson, who was the first witness, stated that she was in Hallgate the previous night, between seven and eight o'clock, with some money in her pocket. She was accosted by the female prisoner, who asked the way to Fish-lane, her companion standing at about four yards' distance. Shortly after she left the prisoners she felt in her pocket, when she found her money was gone. - Nancy Atherton gave evidence proving that a similar plan had been adopted with her, the locality being the Wallgate, near Messrs. Royle and Rawson's. She had a purse containing 4s. in her pocket a few minutes before she was spoken to, but on looking for it shortly afterwards it was gone. - The prisoners, who were apprehended the same evening by police-constable Lowe, were sentenced to one month's imprisonment.



Friday, March 23, 1860.

UNLAWFULLY DISCHARGING FIRE-ARMS.
   William Millard was charged with discharging fire-arms the previous evening in the Wallgate, and with having in his possession two loaded pistols. - Police-constable Whalley deposed that he heard a loud report the previous evening when in the Wallgate, and shortly afterwards he was told that Millard had been discharging a pistol and that he had two others loaded in his possession. It appeared that he (Millard) had entered Mr. Coate's shop in the Wallgate, and had there discharged one pistol into the fire. He was seen in the Wallgate a short time afterwards and was taken to the lock-ups, but admitted out on bail. - Discharged with a caution.



Saturday, March 24, 1860.

A SLEEPY CARTER.
   John Hart was charged with riding through Ashton, on Saturday last, in his cart, while asleep, and leaving his horse without a sufficient guide. - Defendant said he was asleep, but the horse was in charge of a boy. - The policeman, however, said both the boy and the defendant were asleep, and he awoke them. - Fined 5s. and costs, or fourteen days in default.



Saturday, March 24, 1860.

FIRE IN WIGAN LANE.
   Shortly after noon yesterday a fire was discovered in a barn in Wigan-lane, in the joint occupation of Mr. M. Leyland and Mr. J. Woods, and situated in the yard at the rear of the premises occupied by Mr. Freckleton. Mrs. Woods was the first person to whom the existance of the fire was made known, and no doubt, had sufficient assistance then been obtainable, the fire would soon have been subdued, as water in any quantity was obtainable from a pond not fifty yards distant. Information having been conveyed to the police office, the fire-bell was immediately rung, and by twenty minutes to one the "Water Witch" was on its way up Standishgate, drawn by a couple of horses which had been obtained from the Royal Hotel. The building was, as we have stated, jointly occupied by Messrs. Leyland and Wood, the former being the tenant of the barn in which the fire broke out, and the latter of a small stable, loft, and room adjoining. In the barn was stored a considerable quantity of hay, together with several barrels of oil, and in Mr. Wood's portion were in the stable a pony, in the room a gig, and in the loft also a small quantity of hay. The exertions of those who were alarmed by the cries of those near, and by the smoke of the burning material, were first directed to the removal of the gig and the pony, and the loft was also entered and its contents placed in safety. The barn none dare enter, as the rapidly-spreading flames rendered this very dangerous. Water being carried from the pond mentioned, several parties mounted upon the roof, and thus endeavoured to check the fire, but their exertions were of little avail, and it was not until the engine reached the spot, under the directions of the Chief Constable and Sergeants Swallow and Burton, that the progress of the flames was stayed. The engine was placed near the pond at the farther end of the field, and hose laid thence to the barn. A copious stream of water was soon obtained, by which the flames were gradually subdued. The pressure of the water was very great, and in a quarter of an hour little was left to play upon but the smouldering mass of material in the interior of the building. The engine continued on the spot till two o'clock, when, no further danger being apprehended, it returned home. The origin of the fire is a complete mystery. There was, however, at the time a fire in the gig-house, the chimney to which is rather low, and it is supposed that a spark from this has been blown into the barn, and has been the cause of the disaster. The whole of the contents of the barn have been rendered useless.


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