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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, June 22, 1860.

AN IMPUDENT FELLOW.
   Edward Hogan, a man about 30 years of age, was charged with being drunk and annoying persons whom he passed in the Mesnes yesterday, and also assaulting the police. - Police-constable Mayes said he saw defendant, along with three other men not in custody, in the Mesnes yesterday, drunk, and annoying every person he met by stopping them and asking for money for drink, and if his demand was not complied with he threatened with an oath to knock their heads off. Mayes went up to him, when defendant struck him and kicked him on the leg, and became very violent, but he was eventually taken to the police-office. - A witness who had been importuned by the defendant confirmed the officer's statement, and the bench inflicted a fine of 20s. and costs.



Friday, June 22, 1860.

THE ROBBERY OF 40 AT THE BOWLING GREEN INN.
   The ten men charged, on Friday last, with stealing nearly 40 from the person of Robert Hackless, at the Bowling Green Inn, Wigan-lane, on Thursday night, were again placed in the dock. - An eleventh prisoner, named Oliver Jolley, surrendered in the court this morning, and was put alongside the others. - Mr. Mayhew appeared for the prisoners. - When the case was called on, shortly before eleven o'clock, the prosecutor had not made his appearance, but as the Chief Constable said that he had to come from Warrington, to which town he went to look after a horse and cart, the Mayor adjourned the court till half-past twelve, to see if he would come by the train due from Warrington at that time. Half-past twelve, however, came, but no prosecutor was forthcoming, and the Mayor said it was the unanimous opinion of the bench that sufficient time and opportunity had been given for the prosecutor to put in an appearance, but as he had not done so, they had no alternative but to discharge the prisoners. - Mr. Mayhew said he had one observation to make, and that was with reference to the half-sovereign found upon the prisoner John Frost. The explanation he had to offer about it was that Frost had placed it in his boot to prevent his wife coming into possession of it, as he intended to go to Newton races on Friday. - The prisoners were then discharged, and as soon as this fact was communicated to the spectators in the court and the dense crowd which had assembled outside a tremendous shout broke forth, followed by other noisy demonstrations of delight at the result which had occurred.



Friday, June 22, 1860.

A NEGLIGENT POLICEMAN.
   The Chief Constable preferred a charge of neglect of duty against a policeman named Patrick Smith, who was appointed an officer of the borough force on the 10th May last. At the meeting of the Watch Committee last Thursday Smith was reported for negligence on three different occasions, but the Committee dealt leniently with him, in the hope that he would not offend again. However, he absented himself from the police station on Saturday night, and remained away till Monday night, when he was apprehended under a warrant. - The bench committed him to Kirkdale for one month, at the expiration of which time his services will be entirely dispensed with.



Friday, June 22, 1860.

VAGRANCY.
   Ann Catterall, a young woman 21 years of age, was charged with rambling about the streets without any visible means of subsistence. Information was given to police that defendant was in Swinley-fields on Tuesday evening surrounded by a large crowd of factory girls and others, before whom she was conducting herself very indecently. An officer was sent to the spot, and on his appearance the crowd ran away, but defendant was taken to the police-office. - In answer to the bench she said she belonged to Upholland, and that her father lived there, and was a nail maker. Her mother was dead, but there was a step-mother. She had been in service at three or four places, but had left on account of wages. - The bench ordered the Chief Constable to take measures to have the woman transferred to her friends at once, and if they refused to keep her, it was understood that she was to go to the Workhouse. - Jane Whittle, who was said to be a married woman, and had only lately come out of gaol after undergoing a period of imprisonment for felony, was charged with sleeping in the petty in the Fleece Yard at two o'clock this morning, at which time she was found by police-constable Atkinson. - In reply to the bench she said she had a situation to go to that evening, and on her promising to go to it she was discharged.



Friday, June 22, 1860.

ATTEMPTING SUICIDE.
   Henry Fairhurst, a stonemason, living in Spring Gardens, was placed in the dock on the charge of attempting to commit suicide by hanging himself. It appeared that the man had been drinking since Friday last to such an excess as to produce a fit of delirium tremens, and yesterday, while at home, he was so violent that he threatened to stab his wife with a knife, and got a rope with which he prepared to hang himself. His wife called in a police-constable, and the man was taken to the lockups, where he had been chained up all night. - This morning he appeared to have got rid of the "blues," and in reply to the bench said he hoped he had more sense than to hang himself. - The bench ordered him to be detained in custody till evening.



Friday, June 22, 1860.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF MARRYING WITHOUT A MOTHER'S CONSENT.
   Thomas Harford was charged with an assault upon his mother, Bridget Harford. - Mr. Mayhew appeared for the defendant. - The complainant began by relating, in a very excited and noisy manner, the many wrongs, real or imaginary, which she had sustained at the hands of her only son, the principal one being that, against her desire, he had thought proper to bind himself in Hymen's bonds, going over to the Sister Isle for his "ladye faire." After listening with patience, not unmixed with amusement, to the mother's recapitulation of her woes and troubles, and after allowing her to indulge in some not very complimentary or elegant epithets towards her daughter-in-law, the bench brought her with some difficulty to the point which formed the charge of assault, when she stated that as her son and his wife were going chapel last Sunday forenoon, she passed them, and her son got hold of her by the arms and "knocked her poor unfortunate head about," and in the affray she lost her cap and shawl. - This was the substance of her charge, and at the close of her statement she directed her eyes towards her son, at whom she cast a most contemptuous and vixen-like glance, which raised a partial smile upon his countenance, and observing it she clenched her hand and compressed her mouth voilently, at the same time leaning over the witness-box railing as if eager to inflict some corporal punishment, but fortunately for the object of her wrath she was unable to reach him, and being thus foiled she contented herself with apostrophising him in no measured terms, and lamented deeply that she had "brough up such a son." - Mr. Mayhew then proceeded with the defence, and showed pretty clearly that the mother and not the son was in fault, for it was stated that the latter, in company with his bride, to whom he had been married only a week, were proceeding to their place of worship, the mother, knowing they would have to pass a certain neighbour's house, proceeded taither, and when she saw them approaching she rushed out and poured forth a volley of abuse upon the bride, and attempted to get hold of her to administer summary castigation. The bridegroom, however, apprehending danger to his bride, in a manner worthy of the knights-errant in days gone by seized his mother by the arms and held her while the bride proceeded quietly and prudently on her way, beyond the reach of harm, when the son released his mother, and joined his spouse. - Defendant's version of the affair was corroborated, and the bench dismissed the case, complainant to pay costs.



Friday, June 22, 1860.

PICKING POCKETS.
   Bridget Haggarty, a young Irishwoman, was charged with attempting to pick pockets in the Market-place on Tuesday afternoon last. - Alice Carr stated that about five o'clock on the previous day she saw the prisoner in the Market-place, while she (witness) was standing near some pots, when she came up and put her hand into the pocket of a woman who stood between the pots and some fents on the ground. Witness went and laid hold of both prisoner and the woman, whilst prisoner's hand was in the pocket, and said, "See, this woman has got her hand in your pocket." The prisoner turned round and left the Market-place, followed by witness, but she was lost sight of near the Commercial Inn. - Miss Hargreaves told Police-constable Cross what had occurred, and he apprehended her as she was going down the entry of the Commercial Inn. - The prisoner said she had nothing to say. She was drunk at the time. - Committed for three months to hard labour.



Friday, June 29, 1860.

DEATH FROM BURNING.
   A girl eight years of age, named Jane Austin, daughter of James Austin, Driving-lane, Chapel-lane, was left alone in her parents' house, between four and five o'clock on Tuesday afternoon, when from some cause or other her clothes caught fire, and she ran, enveloped in flames, into a neighbour's house. The flames were speedily extinguished, and medical aid called in, but the injuries were such that the girl died early on Thursday morning. An inquest has been held, and a verdict in accordance with the facts returned.



Friday, June 29, 1860.

A MADMAN AT LARGE.
   James Baldwin, a young man about 24 years of age, was charged with an unprovoked assault upon Ellen Drayton, and also with assaulting police-officer Kerfoot. - Drayton stated that on Saturday night, about twelve o'clock, she was going home in company with her husband, and on getting into Whelley they passed the defendant, who deliberately and without the slightest provocation struck her husband with a blow on the face which felled him to the ground. She screamed out, but before she had time to turn round defendant knocked her to the ground, scattering the contents of her market basket which she had upon her arm in the street. She then called out "police," and police-constable Kerfoot came up. - Kerfoot stated that he heard cries of "police," and on proceeding in the direction whence they came, he found the defendant reeling about the streets and making a great noise. He tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to be quiet, but defendant turned himsely savagely round, and severely kicked the officer on the shins. He was, however, secured, and taken to the police-station. - Defendant, in answer to the bench, said he had no recollection of what had happened; he did not see either the woman Drayton or her husband; nor did he see the officer till he found that he was in custody - The bench inflicted a fine of 20s. for the assault upon Drayton, in default one months' imprisonment; and a like penalty was also imposed for the assault upon the police-officer.


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