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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 30, 1860.

STABBING AT ABRAM.
   Thomas Grayson, 50, was charged with cutting and wounding James Hosker, at Abram, on the 12th of February, with intent to do him grievous bodily harm. The prosecutor and the prisoner lodged together, and on the night in question they quarrelled over supper, and a scuffle took place, in the course of which the prisoner wounded the prosecutor above the right eye with a penknife. He was found guilty of unlawfully wounding, and sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment with hard labour.



Saturday, April 7, 1860.

A MAN FOUND DROWNED AT HAIGH.
   On Tuesday last, in inquest was held before C. E. Driffield, Esq., at the house of Mr. John Sumner, Balcarres Arms, Haigh, on the body of Thomas Rigby, who was found in a pit in Haigh township on the Sunday previous. It appeared that the deceased was a labourer in the employ of the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, and on Saturday, the 11th of February last, he drew the sum of 1 11s., as his wages, with which he proceeded on his way home, calling, however, at the Springs public-house, where he stayed a few minutes and left about half-past six, at which time he was last seen alive. Not reaching home his friends became alarmed, and many conjectures were afloat as to what had become of him, but the general supposition was that deceased had got drunk, and then, on endeavouring to reach his home, had fallen into the canal or some of the old pits in the neighbourhood. Under this impression, the canal was dragged, and the neighbourhood closely searched, but to no purpose, as no clue to the missing man could be found. On Sunday last, however, Mr. Henry Rawcliffe was taking a walk in the fields between Haighlands and his own house, and on coming near a pit called the "Mother Pit," situate about midway between the above-mentioned places, he saw something in the water which attracted his attention, and on examination it was found to be the head of a man. Assistance was obtained, and the body drawn out of the pit, when it was discovered to be that of the missing man Rigby. It was afterwards conveyed to the Balcarres Arms, and placed in an outhouse to await the coroner's inquiry. From the evidence given there seems to have been no foundation for the supposition that Rigby was drunk, for the money found upon his dead body amounted to 1 10s. 8d., only 3d. less than the sum he received as his wages. The night of the 11th of February was a very stormy one, and the probability is that the deceased strayed from the footpath in the field through which he would pass on his way home to the pit in which his body was found, and which is in the same field, though 400 yards from the road. It is a singular fact, that the body was only in the slightest degree decomposed, though it had been in the water seven weeks; but this probably arises from the severely-cold weather which has prevailed. Deceased was married, and leaves a wife and family. The jury returned a verdict of "Found drowned."



Saturday, April 7, 1860.

COWARDLY ATTACK UPON A BUTCHER.
   On Tuesday, at the Preston borough police-court, William Bully, Henry Barton, and John Mill, all butchers, of Wigan, were brought up charged with having maliciously assaulted Robert Chadwick, also a butcher, of the same town. The complainant's statement was to the effect that he and his assailants had all come to Preston to the cattle fair last Tuesday. After the fair he was proceeding to the railway station, in charge of six cows which he had purchased, and on his arrival there he encountered the three defendants, who were the worse for drink at the time, and who set upon him, one after the other, all the while aiding and encouraging each other in the assault. - Mr. Ambler defended the case, and in the cross examination of Chadwick elicited that he had previously been in the company of his fellow tradesmen at a public-house on the same day, and in reply to their abuse had said that "he and his brother had never had to run their country," referring to some previous delinquency of one of the defendants. At this offence was taken, and the assault was the consequence. Chadwick brought witnesses to prove that he had not struck a single blow himself, but had done his utmost to escape from his assailants. The bench remarked that the conduct of the defendants was very brutal, and applauded the forbearance evinced by the complainant. - The cowardly trio were each fined 40s. and costs, or in default to be imprisoned for two months.



Saturday, April 7, 1860.

CHARGE OF ASSAULT WITH INTENT TO ROB AT WIGAN.
   John Lowe, 19, and Francis Pitchford, 25, were charged with having, at Wigan, on the 24th of Febraury last, feloniously assaulted Thomas Tickle, with intent to rob him. - Mr. Fitzadam prodecuted and Mr. Scott appeared on behalf of the prisoner Pitchford; Lowe was undefended. - The prosecutor, who is a farmer living at Ashton-in-Mackerfield, stated that on the night in question he was walking along the Millgate, in Wigan, when the prisoners, whom he had seen in a public-house called the Mitre, where he had been drinking, came up to him and knocked him down. He thrust his hand into his pocket and secured his purse, and one of the prisoners seized hold of his hand and attempted to withdraw it from the pocket, whilst the other put his hand over his mouth to prevent him from calling out. He pushed the hand from his mouth and cried out "Police!" and both the prisoners ran away. - The prisoners were found guilty and sentenced, Lowe to twelve months' imprisonment and Pitchford to eighteen months' imprisonment, with hard labour.



Friday, April 13, 1860.

CRUELTY TO A HORSE.
   At the county police court, on Saturday last, before W. Lamb and W. G. Gunning, Esqs., and the Rev. H. St. George, John Litherland was charged with cruelly ill-treating a horse of which he had the charge, on the Saturday night previous. Defendant was found in a gig on the highway at Lowe Green, driving at a most furious rate, and lashing the horse in a most inhuman manner; indeed the police officer said the animal was being driven at the rate of thirty miles an hour. When remonstrated with he became abusive, and attempted to strike the officer. - The bench inflicted a fine of 10s. and costs.



Friday, April 13, 1860.

ALLEGED LARCENY.
   On Saturday last, before the county magistrates, at the Moot Hall, Thomas Halliwell, a carter in the employ of Mr. Gidlow, of Ince, was charged with appropriating to his own use certain moneys given to him for payment of tolls at the bars which he had to pass on his way from Ince to Lostock. - Mr. Darlington appeared in support of the charge, and it was stated that the prisoner had made four journeys, and had told the toll-keeper at Horwich gate that the tolls were to be booked, and would be paid when the journeys were finished. It happened that another carter was sent to Lostock on a particular day, when it was discovered that the toll for the four previous journeys had not been paid. Information was given of this, and defendant was taken into custody. Mr. Mayhew appeared for the defence, and urged that there was no felonious intention on the part of the prisoner, as he had gone to the toll-keeper himself to pay the tolls, when he discovered they had been paid by Mr. Gidlow. - The bench gave prisoner the benefit of the doubt, and discharged him with a strong caution.



Friday, April 13, 1860.

STEALING EGGS.
   Elizabeth Halsall, who had been twice remanded on the charge of stealing eggs, was once again placed in the dock. It appeared that the prisoner was seen to take eight eggs from a stall in the Market-place kept by a man named Foster, and when charged with stealing them she said she had paid for four, and would pay for the others in a short time. This not being satisfactory, she was given into custody. - Several witnesses were examined, but the case was abruptly closed by the man who had charge of the stall on the day of the robbery admitting that the prisoner had been in the habit, as she herself alleged at the time, of getting eggs without paying when she got them. The bench accordingly discharged the prisoner, and Mr. Mayhew, who appeared for the woman, was about to address some observations on her behalf, when he was interrupted by being told he was not to take up the time of the bench after the case had been dismissed. He therefore desisted, but made a second attempt directly afterwards with no better success, the bench proceeding with the next case.



Friday, April 13, 1860.

PITCH AND TOSS.
   John Pilkington was brought up charged with playing at pitch and toss, on Sunday. The defendant was in company with two other boys, but they ran away, and could not be caught. - The bench expressed their determination to put down this growing evil of pitch and toss playing on Sundays, but as defendant had never been before the court before they would this time discharge him.



Friday, April 13, 1860.

EARLY SUNDAY MORNING TRADING.
   James May was charged with obstructing the footpath on Sunday morning last, at ten minutes past twelve. Defendant is a tripe seller, and after clearing his stall from the market on Saturday night he is in the habit of fixing it in Wallgate, in order to secure the custom of persons passing in that direction on their way home. On the morning in question he had his stall near Adelaide-street, where a number of intoxicated men were assembled, and his wife was seen in the act of selling tripe. - The bench, after a caution, discharged defendant on payment of costs.


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