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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, May 11, 1860.

ASSAULTING A WIFE.
   Richard Fairhurst was charged with assaulting his wife. Complainant said her husband came home last Thursday morning a little after three o'clock, and commenced to abuse her, striking her in the stomach. She threatened to have him punished, when he followed her upstairs with a pocket-knife, and threatened to "stick" both her and her brother. She had been married fifteen years, and during the whole of that period had been subjected to her husband's ill-treatment. She worked for her own living, and she wished him to keep away from her. - The Chief Constable said he believed the defendant had been before the Bench once in every year at least of the fifteen he had been married. - The Bench committed him to four months' hard labour.



Friday, May 11, 1860.

THEFT FROM A TIMBER YARD.
   Richard Humphreys, a forgeman, was charged with stealing a piece of timber from the yard of John Cooke, Scholes bridge. Police-constable Richardson met the prisoner on Thursday night last, coming along the banks of the Douglas from the direction of Cooke's yard. He had a piece of timber about ten feet long in his possession, and on the officer asking him where he had got it, he said from the foundry, and that his master knew of it. This was not satisfactory to the police officer, and he told the prisoner he would have to go with him to the police station. The prisoner begged not to be taken, and said he would make all right, and as they passed the timber yard he wanted to put the stolen timber over the rails again, but the officer would not let him, and took him into custody. - John Cooke, the alleged owner of the timber, was examined, and said he had timber like that which had been stolen, but would not swear that the piece produced was his property; he had, however, never given the prisoner any timber. The value of the piece was about threepence. - Mr. Ashton appeared for the prisoner, and submitted that as the timber had not been identified, nor the police officer's evidence corroborated, his client must be acquitted. - The Bench, however, said they thought there was a clear case of larceny, but the offence would be properly punished by an imprisonment of three days which they should inflict upon him.



Friday, May 11, 1860.

DASTARDLY ASSAULT UPON A MARRIED WOMAN.
   Jonathan Austin, a collier, not unknown to the police, was charged with an assault upon Ellen Reece. On Tuesday night last, complainant went to a newly-opened beerhouse, at the corner of Swinley-lane, kept by Thomas Worthington, to look for her husband, whom she found there in company with some not very respectable characters. She asked him to come home, when one of the company rose and hit her on the face; and on asking the reason of this, Austin got up and ran at her with a kick, catching her on the thigh. Complainant stated that she was enciente. - The Bench characterised the assault as a most brutal and dastardly one, and inflicted a penalty of 40s. and costs, and in default two months' imprisonment.



Saturday, May 12, 1860.

BELL'S CIRCUS.
   This establishment visited Wigan on Tuesday last, and gave two performances to very large audiences. The grand procession through the town took place at one o'clock, when the streets were lined with spectators, most of whom were anxious to catch a glimpse of the elephant who had figured so extensively during the past week or two on the walls of the town. Of the performances themselves we can speak in favourable terms. The chief attractions were of course the trained bull, "Don Juan" and the elephant, "Delhi," both of whom acquitted themselves very creditably, the feats of the latter unwieldly animal exciting much astonishment.



Saturday, May 12, 1860.

COLLIERY ACCIDENT.
   On Saturday an inquest was held before Mr. Myres, coroner, respecting the death of Thomas Turner, a boy employed at the Bradley Hall Colliery, at Standish, under the circumstances described in our last. It appears that a defective rope broke, and in its descent down the pit struck the deceased, who was standing upon a scaffold, and knocked him off. He fell about 130 yards, and was of course taken up dead. - Nathan Norris, of Coppull, stated: I was sent about a week before the accident by Mr. Benjamin Bishop to examine the rope, and I reported that it was bad all through, and not safe for working. I did not hear any answer, and the rope was used after that. John Darbyshire, the underlooker, was present. - Thomas Kershaw, of Standish, collier, said: A fortnight ago we complained to Darbyshire that the rope was not safe to go down the pit with, and we gave over work for two days in consequence. Darbyshire said we might as well work as play, as he did not know when there would be another rope. After being out two days, we went to work again, and had to go down by another rope. After that the defective rope was never used to take the men down or bring them up, but was used for hoisting coals. - Robert Walton, of Standish, browman at the pit, said that for the last four or five months he had complained of the insecure condition of the rope. He was told by both the underlooker and the engineman that they expected a new one every day. - The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death."



Friday, May 18, 1860.

WILFUL DAMAGE.
   George Strong, a collier, was charged with doing wilful damage at the George Inn, Hardybutts, kept by Isaac Kenyon. Defendant was drinking at the house in question on Friday last, but getting noisy he had to be forcibly ejected from the premises, and in revenge he smashed the windows, doing damage to the extent of 3s. He was ordered to repair the damage and pay costs.



Friday, May 18, 1860.

KEEPING A NON-REGISTERED LODGING HOUSE.
   Mary Devany, of Dandyshop-yard, Queen-street, was charged with keeping a lodging-house, such house not being registered in accordance with the provisions of the bye-laws of the borough. - Inspector Coates said that from information he received he visited the defendant's house between two and three o'clock on Saturday morning last. In the lower room he found the defendant and another woman and child; in one room upstairs he found two men, and in another seven men and one woman. - The Bench fined defendant 2s. 6d. and costs, and told her to get her house registered.



Friday, May 18, 1860.

ANOTHER IRISH SQUABBLE.
   Patrick Lea and Michael Hagan, two young men who figured before the court last week, made another appearance upon a charge of being riotous and disorderly, and annoying Peter Clune, in Princess-street, on Sunday. Clune stated that he was standing at his own door when the defendants came up and asked him to come out and fight, and they would thrash him as they thrashed his brother Terence. He declined to accede to their request, and they commenced to abuse him by calling him names. - A witness was called who corroborated what Clune had stated. - The defendants, who seem to grow more impudent every time they appear in court, denied they were the aggressors, and began to give their version of the affair in a very noisy manner, and could with difficulty be stopped. - The bench eventually said they thought they were all alike, and ordered the costs to be divided between the three.



Friday, May 18, 1860.

ASSAULTING A GIRL.
   Elizabeth Halliwell, a young woman about 24, was charged with an assault upon Margaret Woodcock. Complainant said she was fetching water from a well at Birkett Bank yesterday week, when she saw defendant abusing a girl much younger than herself. Complainant asked defendant to let the girl alone, but defendant turned round and gave her (complainant) three kicks on the knee which had been lame more than a year. - Defendant was ordered to pay costs.


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