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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, April 27, 1860.

CHILD BURNED TO DEATH.
   An inquest was held on Tuesday, the 24th instant, at the house of Mrs. Knowles, sign of the Geroge and Dragon, Billinge-Chapel-End, before C. E. Driffied, Esq., on the body of William Heyes, son of Jervis Heyes, collier, Billinge-Chapel-End. It appeared that about nine o'clock on Saturday morning last the mother went into a neighbour's house, and left the child, which was only eight weeks old, in the care of a girl about four years of age. Almost immediately she heard the child scream, and went to her own house and met the girl near to the door with the child in her arms, and both in flames. The girl was left sitting near the fire with the child on her knee, and it is supposed that a spark was thrown from the fire upon the child, which was so severely burnt about its legs and face that it died about two o'clock the following afternoon. The girl was not much injured. - Verdict, "Accidental death."



Friday, April 27, 1860.

SAVAGE ASSAULT ON A FEMALE.
   On Thursday, the 19th instant, a man named John Bates, a drawer in a coalpit at Ince, committed a most brutal outrage on a female named Ann Rawnsley, the wife of John Rawnsley, a stonemason, residing at Standish. A little before noon on the day in question Rawnsley's wife left her home at Standish for the purpose of taking her husband's dinner. He was working at the paper mills on the Chorley Road, and the way taken was a footpath across the fields. When nearing the North Union Railway, which had to be crossed, Bates, who had two dogs with him, stopped Mrs. Rawnsley near a style, and, after using some disgusting language, threw her down and assaulted her in a most brutal manner. She struggled with him violently for several minutes, but, being about a quarter of a mile from any residence, her cries were unheard and unheeded. As he found he could not succeed in his diabolical attempt, he threatened to set his dogs upon her, if further interrupted, which threat he afterwards carried out, the animals attacking the unprotected woman and tearing her clothes in a savage manner. She renewed her cries more loudly, and the villain at length made off, leaving Mrs. Rawnsley to pursue her journey. She shortly after met a man named James Bankes, and told him of the treatment she had received. Search was made for Bates, but he could not be found that day. The police of Standish being informed, and the villain described, a clue was soon obtained to his apprehension. On the day following, Sergeant Barker, accompanied by Mrs. Rawnsley, proceeded to Ince, where Bates was found, and being at once identified, he was taken into custody. On Saturday the charge was heard before E. Silvester, Esq., at North Hall, when, the above facts being sworn to, the prisoner was fully committed to take his trial at the next assizes for the northern division of the county.



Friday, April 27, 1860.

BEERHOUSE KEEPER FINED.
   Thomas Greenhaigh, of the Cloggers' Arms, Standishgate, was summoned for the breach of the Beer Act, by having persons in his house at a quarter-past twelve on Monday morning last. Police-constable Mays said he suspected there were persons in defendant's house on the morning in question, and he went and knocked on the door for the purpose of gaining admission. No one at first answered his knock, but after a lapse of five or six minutes he was let in, when, on going into one of the rooms, he found some ale on a table. On making a further search he found four men in one of the bedrooms. - Defendant pleaded guilty, but said two of the men had come in with a lodger of his. - Fined 10s. and costs.



Friday, April 27, 1860.

UNPROVOKED ASSAULT.
   Darby Walsh, a labourer, was charged with a brutal and unprovoked assault upon James Fairclough. Complainant said he was going into Scholes on Tuesday evening, and on getting near the bridge he saw defendant and another man coming in the contrary direction. Defendant's companion made some remark to him (complainant) and he was about to proceed on his way, when Darby raised a can which he had in his hand, and dealt him a most violent blow on the face, which stunned him. Recovering himself a little, he returned defendant's attack by hitting him in the face, but defendant dealt him another blow with the can, and the police coming up at the time he gave defendant into custody. No cause could be assigned for the attack, for complainant said he did not know the defendant, and had never seen him before. - The bench characterised the assault a most brutal one, and fined defendant 3 and costs, in default two months' imprisonment with hard labour.



Friday, April 27, 1860.

ANOTHER CHARGE OF ASSAULT.
   John Donnegan was charged with an assault upon Robert Foster. This case arose out of the previous one. Complainant partly witnessed the attack by Darby upon Fairclough, and went to the assistance of the latter, detaining Darby till the arrival of the police. Donnegan, who was in Darby's company, attempted to release that person from Foster's custody, but did not succeed; and when Darby was handed over to the police, Donnegan took to his heels, but Foster followed him, and coming up with him near Rodney-street, seized hold of him, but got a blow in the face from defendant. - He was fined 20s. and costs.



Friday, April 27, 1860.

FIGHTING TAILORS.
   Francis Findlay and Arthur Dunphey were charged with fighting in the Market-place. - Police-constable Kerfoot said he saw the defendants scuffling together near the fish-stones, and separated them. He had no sooner turned his back, however, before they renewed the fight, and he took both into custody. Findlay said he was going quietly along by the fish-stones, when Dunphey began to call him a "turn coat" and an "Orange b____;" he also seized hold of him and struck him, and instead of fighting he (Findlay) only attempted to wrest himself from Dunphey's grasp. - The bench discharged Findlay, and ordered Dunphey to find sureties to keep the peace, in default twenty-one days' imprisonment.



Friday, April 27, 1860.

UTTERING COUNTERFEIT COIN.
   Edwin Anson (24), smith, was charged with having, on the 5th instant, unlawfully uttered two counterfeit half-crowns, well-knowing the same to be false and counterfiet. The prisoner pleaded not guilty. - Mr. Corbett prosecuted. - The facts were that the prisoner, on the day in question, purchased some tobacco at the shop of Mr. Royle, Millgate, tendering half a sovereign in payment. Change was given him, amongst the money being two half-crowns, which he took up and pretended to put in his pocket, but he immediately withdrew his hand and placed some coins on the counter corresponding to the change which had been given him, and asked for the half sovereign which he had tendered to be returned to him, as he had found a small coin to pay for his purchase. The prosecutor, however, observed the peculiar appearance of the half-crowns which the prisoner wanted to return, and seized them, when he found they were base. The police were called in and prisoner was given in custody. - The Recorder directed the jury upon the nature of the case, and in a few minutes they returned a verdict of guilty. - Sentence, one year's imprisonment, with hard labour.



Friday, April 27, 1860.

INDICTMENT AGAINST A BROTHEL-KEEPER.
   Ann Taylor, alias Ann Leyland (52), was charged, on the indictment of the authorities of the town, with having unlawfully kept a certain common ill governed and disorderly house. - Mr. Higgin appeared in support of charge, and Mr. Cottingham for the prisoner, who pleaded guilty. - Mr. Cottingham addressed the Recorder in mitigation of punishment, and said that the woman had got rid of the persons who took up their abode with her, and had given notice to leave the house, it being her intention to pursue some other mode of life. - The Recorder said he should like to hear something from the authorities of the town as to the character of the woman and her house, and the Chief Constable entered the witness box and stated that although he had known her for many years, yet he did not remember that she had ever been before the magistrates on any charge, not did he recollect that any felony or other like act had been committed on her premises. - The learned Recorder, after a few remarks, sentenced her to three calendar months' imprisonment with hard labour.



Friday, April 27, 1860.

A BROTHEL-KEEPER BROUGHT UP FOR JUDGMENT.
   Alice Gorner was brought up under her recognizances charged with keeping a disorderly house. Mr. Higgin appeared in support of the case, and Mr. Cobbett for the prisoner. - This woman was convicted at the November sessions, 1858, but on her promising to remove from the locality where she then lived, judgment was respited, and she was bound over to appear when called upon. Since that conviction, however, she has been following her former mode of life, and she was now brought up to be dealt with as the Recorder might think fit. Mr. Higgin called Police-constable Whalley to prove the case, but the Recorder said his evidence did not establish the offence alleged against Gorner. Another constable was about to be examined, but Mr. Cobbett objected, as the prosecution had closed their case, and the Recorder accordingly refused to hear the second witness. He, however, sentenced the woman to one month's imprisonment, with hard labour, adding that if the case had been better proved he should have sent her to prison for twelve months.


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