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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, July 13, 1860.

STEALING COLLIERS' PICKS.
   James Harrison, a collier, was charged with stealing three colliers' picks, the property of James Heaps. - Prosecutor works at the Patchcroft pit, in Haigh, and on the 27th ult., on finishing his day's work, left his picks along with a number of others in the lodge by the pit. On the evening of the 28th the prisoner was seen by a man at the colliery coming round a heap of coals on the brow of the pit, with one pick in his hand and two others down his back, underneath his coat. The prisoner was stopped, and told that many picks had been stolen lately, when he replied, if that was the case, he would put back those he had, which he was permitted to do, and allowed to go away. He was, however, apprehended on Friday last by Police-constable Thornley. - Prisoner, who was committed for trial at Kirkdale sessions, said he had witnesses to prove that he was in bed at the time of the robbery.



Friday, July 13, 1860.

ASSAULT UPON A YOUNG WOMAN IN A COTTON MILL.
   Robert Markham was charged with an assault upon Elizabeth Seddon. - Mr. Mayhew appeared for the complainant. - Complainant stated that she was a weaver at Messrs. Taylor's No. 3 mill, and on Saturday morning she went to the customary place with her weft tin for some weft. There was a number of other weavers waiting, and as there was no weft to be had some little noise was made, when the defendant, who is the loom tackler, was sent for, and ordered them away. Complainant was going when defendant followed her, and getting hold of her by the back of the head pushed her along. She fell to the ground, her head and leg coming in contact with the wall, and she had to leave her work in consequence of the injury she sustained. - Defendant admitted that he pushed complainant, but said she, with the other young women, were very impertinent to him during the time they were waiting for weft. - The bench said they considered the assault one they could not overlook, and imposed a fine of 40s. and costs.



Saturday, July 14, 1860.

POACHING AT HAIGH.
   George Jackson, a notorious poacher, was brought up under two informations; one for trespassing in pursuit of game, and the other for using a gun for killing game, not having a game certificate. The trespass case was taken first. - Mr. Mayhew appeared to prosecute, and Mr. Ashton for the defendant. - Christopher Alstead stated that on Friday, the 6th inst., he was on Lord Crawford's grounds at Haigh, and noticed some strange footsteps in a secluded part of the Longhurst Wood. He traced the footsteps and on going a few yards he saw the defendant walking along with his gun raised, and looking about as if in search of a shot. Defendant still went on, and witness followed him till he got to a sandpit, in a field occupied by Jane Cunliffe. Defendant again raised his gun and was taking aim to shoot at some rabbits, when he caught sight of witness, and took to his heels, but witness followed, and ran him down in a distance of 500 yards. Defendant, being thus caught, asked witness to say nothing about the affair, and he would give him 5, and also make him a valuable present, but witness declined to accede to this proposal. - Mr. Ashton said he would not deny that defendant was in the field in question, but hoped the bench, on account of the defendant's wife and family, would not impose the full penalty. - The bench, however, imposed the full penalty of 40s. and costs. - Mr. Mayhew then proceeded with the other information, which, after a discussion on a point of law, was dismissed.



Saturday, July 14, 1860.

STEALING AN OVERCOAT.
   Patrick M'Gaffer was charged with stealing a coat, the property of John Lowe, rural letter carrier. It appeared that the prisoner went into a beerhouse at Hindley, and began playing at cards and dominoes with Lowe, and being short of money, he offered his coat for sale. Prosecutor purchased it for 5s., but having occasion to leave the public-house a minute or two, the prisoner took up his coat, put it on his back, and was walking off, when he was stopped and handed over to the police. - The prisoner, who said he was drunk at the time he sold his coat, was sent to gaol for seven days.



Saturday, July 14, 1860.

STEALING A JACKET.
   Joseph Spencer, a boy 13 years of age, was charged with stealing a jacket, the property of Thomas Morris, quarryman, Dalton; but it appearing that he was partly idiotic, the bench ordered him to be handed over to his parents.



Friday, July 20, 1860.

MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT.
   On Monday last an inquest was held before T. Grimshaw, Esq., at the Fox Tavern, Chapel-lane, on the body of a boy named Ralph Berry, eight years of age. Deceased, on Sunday afternoon, was near the Pottery Bridge of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and seeing a boat enter the lock at that point, he went for the purpose of getting on board, and took a jump, but failed to reach the deck, and fell between the boat and canal bank. He clung to the side of the boat, but was not able to hold for more than a second, when he slipped into the water, and sank before assistance could be rendered him. - A verdict of "Accidently drowned" was returned.



Friday, July 20, 1860.

VERY SUSPICIOUS.
   John Houghton, a young man with a burglar cast of countenance, was charged with being found in the Mitre Vault, Millgate, this morning. - Miss Laithwaite, a neice of the landlady, said the vault was closed about eleven o'clock on Thursday night, and at that time there was no one in. There was company in the house, however, till about one o'clock on Friday morning, at which hour the premises were looked over before the inmates retired to rest. On examining the vault the prisoner seen was laid down under the table, and was or pretended to be asleep. He was not disturbed till police-constable Lowe arrived, who, on giving the prisoner a poke with his foot, brought him speedily upon his legs. Seeing into whose hands he had fallen, he protested he did not know how he had got there, and said he had "only just come out of prison, and they were going to send him again." - On being searched two boxes of lucifer matches were found upon him. - The magistrates committed him to Kirkdale for 21 days.



Friday, July 20, 1860.

ILLEGAL DETENTION OF A WATCH.
   Catherine Harvey, an Irishwoman about 40 years of age, was charged with stealing a watch, the property of Miss Marsh, daughter of Mr. James Marsh, draper. - On the morning of the 22nd June Miss Marsh left her home at Worsley Mesnes to come to town, having at that time a gold watch in her possession. On getting near the Pottery Bridge she discovered that she had lost her watch, and retraced her steps to look for it, but was unable to find it. Information was then given to the Chief Constable, and the loss of the watch was published in the customary manner, and a reward offered on its restoration. The prisoner, it appears, worked at Mr. Tipping's mill, Poolstock, and the day following Miss Marsh's loss she showed to a person who worked next to her, named Margaret Donnelly, a gold watch, stating that she had found it in Poolstock-lane. Donnelly informed her that the loss of the watch had been published, and that she ought to give it up. Prisoner promised to do so, and two or three days after, in answer to Donnelly, said she had given it up, and had received a silk dress and a shawl as a reward. Her statement was believed, and nothing further was heard or said respecting the affair till last Wednesday, when it was noised abroad in the mill that the prisoner still had the watch in her possession, and getting alarmed she left her work and did not return again. Information was then given to the police, and detective Whalley found the prisoner at a house in Princess-street. On seeing the officer she attempted to hide herself, but on being charged with stealing the watch she pulled it out of her breast. - Miss Marsh identified the watch, and the prisoner, who said she had been looking for its rightful owner, was committed to the sessions for trial.



Friday, July 20, 1860.

NON-PAYMENT OF POOR RATES.
   John Knowles was summoned for non-payment of poor rates alleged to be due from him. - Mr. Bolton, the collector, stated that there was some dispute between the defendant and the previous tenant of the property he held, and he had brought the case for their worships' decision. Knowles, it appeared, came into the possession of some fields formerly rented by Roger Halliwell, cow keeper, on the 29th February last and the remaining portion of the property on the 12th May. He had been charged with the rate from the 29th February, but refused to pay, as he had been told he was not liable for a farthing. Halliwell had offered to pay one-half of the sum due, but Knowles refused to accept that arrangement. - The bench said Knowles was clearly liable for what he had been charged with. They had the power in such cases to order an equitable division of the rate, and as they considered that Halliwell's offer was a very reasonable one, they ordered Knowles to accept it.


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