Winter Assizes Part 1
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The Commission of Winter Assizes for the counties of Cumberland and
Westmorland, grouped as Assize County No. 1, was opened on Monday night by Mr.
Justice DAY. His Lordship was timed to arrive by the train from London reaching
Carlisle at twenty minutes past five o’clock, and shortly before that hour the
High Sheriff of Cumberland, Mr. George ROUTLEDGE, of Stone House, Hayton, with
his chaplain, the Rev. Canon DIXON, Hayton, and his under sheriff, Mr. E. L.
WAUGH, solicitor, Cockermouth, passed into the station, where a body of the
county police under Superintendent SEMPILL had already taken up position.
The train arrived punctually, and his Lordship was at once conducted by the
High Sheriff to his carriage which was waiting in Court-square,
Superintendent SEMPILL and his men keeping off the crowd. The heralds blew the usual
standard call, and the carriage started at a brisk pace for the judge’s lodgings
in Portland-square, where the lordship put on the official robes.
Following the usual custom, the mayor and the members of the Corporation
would have been in attendance at the court at the time when his Lordship was
timed to reach Carlisle; but on this occasion in order to avoid the
inconvenience and weariness of a long wait frequently experienced on the former
occasions notice had been given to the civic officials of the city that their
attendance would not be necessary till a quarter to six o'clock.
At about that time the Mayor, with his sword bearer, Inspector PHILLIPS,
and his mace bearer, Constable SCOON, accompanied by a small number of the
members of the Town Council, assembled in the lobby of the Court, a passage being
formed through the crowd at the gate by Superintendent SEMPILL and the
county police. The learned judge having been received by the Mayor and those who
accompanied him passed immediately to the Bench.
The Commission was soon read by Mr. SHUTTLEWORTH, Clerk of Assize, and his
Lordship having stated that business would be begun on Tuesday at eleven o’
clock the ceremony terminated.
The business of the Cumberland and Westmorland Winter Assizes was commenced
on Tuesday at the Crown Court, Carlisle, Mr. Justice DAY taking his seat on
the Bench at eleven o’clock.
The following were sworn on:
THE GRAND JURY.
1. G. J. JOHNSON, Esq., Castlesteads (foreman).
2. Jonas LINDOW, Esq., Ehen Hall.
3. F. R. SEWELL, Esq., Brandling Gill.
4. S. P. FOSTER, Esq., Killhow.
5. C. FETHERSTONHAUGH, Esq., Staffield Hall.
6. H. P. SENHOUSE, Esq., Hames Hall.
7. R. S. FERGUSON, Esq., Carlisle.
8. Thomas HARTLEY, Esq., Gillfoot.
9. Thomas HORROCKS, Esq., Eden Brows.
10. John RICHARDSON, Esq., The Oaks.
11. W. FLETCHER, Esq., Brigham Hill.
12. James LUMB, Esq., Home Wood.
13. John DICKINSON, Esq., Rheda.
14. J. R. H. MAXWELL, Esq., Durran Hill.
15. W. B. GORDON, Esq., Edmond Castle.
16. W. A. ALEXANDER, Esq., Lorton.
17. W. S. LOSH, Esq., Wreaysyke.
18. W. PARKER, Esq., Carleton Hill.
19. G. W. MOUNSEY-HEYSHAM, Esq., Castletown.
20. G. H. OLIPHANT-FERGUSON, Esq., Broadfield.
21. W. E. A. JAMES, Esq., Barrock Park.
22. J. R. CREIGHTON, Esq., The Snabs.
23. H. C. HOWARD, Esq., Greystoke Castle.
The Clerk of Assize having read the Queen’s proclamation against vice,
profaneness, and immorality.
His Lordship addressed the Grand Jury. He said -
The Calendar of prisoners to be tried at these Assizes, although it does
not contain very many charges, contains, I am sorry to say, some charges of a
very grave character. Your duties, however, will be very light. I have had the
opportunity of reading the depositions in all the cases, and I see that they
have been so thoroughly investigated by the magistrates who have committed t
he prisoners for trial, that I cannot imagine that you will have any
difficulty in the charge of your duties, and I don’t see how I can be of any real
assistance to you.
It may be right, however, with respect to one or two of the graver charges
that I should make a few short observations. The most serious charge you will
have to investigate is, I am sorry to say, a charge of willful murder, made
against a father who is charged with having killed his infant child - a child
of somewhere about the age of one month. The death of the child was
abundantly proved, and the charge against the father is supported by the evidence of
witnesses who speak to having seen the killing and the slaying of the child by
the father, and although two of the witnesses do differ, and differ it may
be, I won’t say materially, but to a considerable extent - as to the precise
mode of killing yet, if you are satisfied upon the evidence before you that
this prisoner did take this child and did cause its death, it will be your
duty, notwithstanding any apparent discrepancy which may be material, and it may
be important to investigate by and by in this Court - it will be your duty
to find a true bill for willful murder against this man. It is true when one
speaks of willful murder that this is not the case, so far as I can judge, of
murder premeditated in the ordinary or popular sense - it is not a case of
murder so far as I can judge, committed through any sordid motive, but it was
murder in the eye of the law - a murder in respect of which the prisoner’s
life, if he is found guilty of the offence, will be justly forfeited, because
it was a death caused by his wanton, brutal violence. And you must understand,
gentlemen, there is no occasion to have motive, it is not necessary there
should be malice in a popular sense of the term, it is sufficient if you are
satisfied that this man did with his wanton violence take away the life of a
The circumstances of the case make it a charge of willful murder. About
this I wish you to entertain no doubt. Of course it is for you to investigate
the evidence and ascertain whether the act is or is not brought home to the
prisoner, but if the act is brought home to your satisfaction, I tell you there
is nothing apparent on the face of the depositions which reduces the offence
from murder to manslaughter.
The next most serious offence which appears upon the calendar is a
charge against a man seeking to destroy life and attempting murder by means of
casting into a room where persons were asleep some explosive substance. This is
a charge in one respect of a very different character, because it is said
the prisoner acted from vindictive and malicious motives - that he had some
time beforehand schemed and prepared the means of carrying out his offence, and
the evidence against him, which is said to connect him with the offence, is
that he must have obtained at the works upon which he was engaged - in the
tunnel between Liverpool and Birkenhead - explosive material used for the
purposes of those works, and having obtained that explosive material he had carried
it with him to the place where the offence was committed, and in the dead of
night through it through the window of a room where his sister-in-law and
another person were lying asleep, and that he committed that offence while
harboring malice and attempting to avenge himself upon his sister-in-law for some
offence which he attributed to her.
If you are satisfied upon the evidence brought upon you, that the prisoner
did throw that explosive substance, it will be your duty to find a true bill
against him of attempting to commit the offence.
Another offence, and one in one point of view of a very serious character,
is a charge against two men who appear to be respectable workmen, father and
son, of manslaughter.
I say a serious charge, because a charge of manslaughter is always a
serious charge; it always involves the destruction of one human life, and as you
know it may entail according to the circumstances, a grievous punishment upon
those who are charged with the offence. At the same time one cannot but feel
that in this case, although it may have been manslaughter, the offence was
committed without malice; the offence was committed without forethought. It was
committed in the course of an unfortunate dispute which arose between workmen
in the mill in which a tool actually in the man’s use at the time became a
weapon of the offence and defence; and in the course of the struggle which
cannot so far as the prisoner is concerned, and so far as I see, justify the
blow struck, or the thrust given, which caused the death of the man who had
originated the dispute.
Again, here also there is some discrepancy as to the precise cause of
death. On the one hand it seems to have been suggested that the death may have
been caused by a fall over a bench; but the weight of the medical evidence would
seem rather to be that the death was occasioned by blows struck with a clamp.
But, however that may be, if you find that in the course of the struggle,
which was not a necessary struggle, so far as the prisoner is concerned, a blow
was struck or an injury was caused which resulted in death it will be your
duty to find a true bill for manslaughter against the prisoner.
I may tell you that in this case it is most unfortunate for the unhappy man
who died, and most unfortunate also for the prisoner, who is now charged
with the serious offence that the death of the man was not necessary
consequences of the injuries inflicted upon him. It would seem that, contrary to the
advice of the medical man to whom he went to get the wounds - which originally
appeared slight - attended to, he left his work and took to drinking, and as a
consequence of that to some extent his death may be attributed. But at the
same time you must bear in mind that if these blows were the original cause of
his death the offence is the offence of manslaughter.
It may be that he would have recovered of these wounds if he had adopted a
more prudent and more reasonable course, but if you find that, as the medical
witnesses say, the cause of death was injury to the brain by reason of blows
inflicted upon the skull it will be your duty to find the prisoner guilty of
Any defence which may be made on the prisoner’s behalf, as also with
reference to the persons charged with other offences will be dealt with in this
court, where every suggestion that can be made to reduce the person from
criminal liability altogether will be made and will be carefully considered by the
jury before whom the case will eventually come. I am merely directing you in
reference to the inquiry you are to make, and the results; and if you find true
bills that more formal and careful investigation will take place before the
jury which will be impanelled to try the case. His Lordship, having referred
to the minor cases on the Calendar, dismissed the Grand Jury to their duties.
The Calendar contained the names of nine prisoners, implicated in eight
offences. Of these seven were imperfectly instructed, and two could neither read
nor write. One person who had been admitted to bail surrendered just before
The Bar: - The following were present at the Assizes:
Hon. A. D. ELLIOT
Mr. J. W. LOWTHER
Mr. T. LUMB
SETTING FIRE TO A FARM
AT HOLM CULTRAM.
Isabella SCOTT, 19, farm servant, imperfectly instructed pleaded guilty to a
charge of maliciously setting fire to a farm building in the possession of
George LITTLE, at Holm Cultram, on the 30th of August last.
Mr. DICKINSON, for the prosecution, strongly recommended the prisoner to
mercy, stating she was now deeply repentant for what she had done, and his
Lordship said he would pass the most lenient sentence he possibly could, viz.,
Twelve Calendar Months.
He was afraid in passing in passing that sentence he was not dealing as
severely as he ought to do in justice. He passed it with great diffidence as to
whether he was doing right, but he hoped she was sincerely repentant.
OBTAINING GOODS BY
George Tremble LAMB, 32, upholsterer, imperfectly instructed, pleaded
guilty to a charge of obtaining, by false pretences, 14 yards of black Holland
from Messrs. John HUTHART and Company, on the 11th and 13th October, 1882. He
also pleaded guilty to a further charge of obtaining by false pretences, 36
yards of calico and 23 yards of black Holland, the property of William WRIGHT,
on the 18th and 19th October.
Mr. MATTINSON, who appeared for the prosecution, recommended the man to
mercy on account of his previous good character. His Lordship said he would pass
the most lenient sentence he thought it was his duty to do.
The prisoner upon each charge would have to go to gaol for two Months, the
terms, of course, to be concurrent.
FORGERY, LARCENY, AND
FALSE PRETENCES .
William MILL, 46, Labourer, imperfectly instructed pleaded guilty to a
charge of stealing a suit of clothes, the property of Anthony PATRICKSON, at the
parish of St. Bees, on the 6th August last.
He also pleaded guilty to the charge of obtaining by false pretences from
Henry M’ALEER a pair of boots, value 10s 6d., on the 10th August last.
Prisoner also pleaded guilty to a third charge of feloniously forging an
order for the delivery of a suit of clothes with intent to defraud Messrs. John
BOYD and Son, in the parish of Workington, on the 11th of August last.
His Lordship in passing sentence upon the prisoner, said that nothing
seemed a warning to him. He had previously been convicted at these Assizes for
forgery, larceny, and false pretence, and had undergone a twelve months’
imprisonment with hard labour. He had sent up a paper to him, (the judge) ascribing
his offence to drink, but he, for his part did not see much connection
between drink and larceny, and still less between drink and forgery.
The prisoner had been convicted of forgery five years ago, and he was now
again convicted, and yet he asked to be treated leniently, indulgently, and
said, “If you do so I will refrain from drink.”
It was trifling with him to ask such a thing. His duty there was to
administer justice and protect people’s property against such people as the
prisoner, who was a designing criminal.
The sentence upon the prisoner was that he be kept at Penal servitude for
five years, a sentence perhaps too lenient for a man like him.
DESPERATE POACHING AFFRAY
John MAYNES alias John MAINS 27, coal miner, neither reads nor writes;
Thomas DAVIS, alias Thomas DAVEY, 52, blacksmith, imperfectly instructed; and
Robert DAVIS, alias Joseph NICHOLSON, 33, coal miner, neither reads nor writes,
were charged together with other persons unknown, with having, on the 15th
September last, being then respectively armed with certain bludgeons, entered a
certain close of land, then in the occupation of Mr. Henry FERGUSON, of
Branthwaite, for the purpose of taking and destroying rabbits.
Mr. DICKINSON prosecuted. The prisoners were undefended.
The facts of the case were simply these: - It appears that on the 15th of
September two gamekeepers - one named KENDAL and the other SATTERTHWAITE -
were watching the premises at Gilgarron, and after watching for some time they
moved towards Branthwaite Wood, where they met three other keepers. The five
keepers then went together, and while they were watching they heard a noise in
an adjoining field as of a man moving, and then further on they discovered a
hare net set. Two of them who were in front came upon two men. One of these
men when he saw the keepers advancing said, “Come on,” and when the keepers
went forward there was a struggle in which the keepers were knocked down with
When the other keepers came up two of the men “bolted,” but four other
poachers, who until now had been in the background, then came forward, and one
of them, the elder DAVIS, said, “Stand together, lads.” So they did, and the
keepers made a rush at them. The keepers succeeded in handcuffing one man, but
they were so completely over powered that even the man who was handcuffed
got away, but, of course, information was given to the police, which led to the
apprehension of the prisoners.
The Learned Judge in summing up asked if the two sticks produced were the
sort of things which men would use for the purpose of inflicting injury upon
others. If they were of opinion the prisoners were out on the night in question
and had these sticks with them they would probably think that they were
armed. The main question, of course, was whether the men were there at all that
night. Each prisoner had been identified by one or more of the witnesses, and
it was for the jury to say whether they believed the witnesses.
The jury returned a verdict to the effect that they found all three guilty.
His Lordship, in passing sentence, said Thomas DAVIS was an old offender,
having been convicted eight times of various crimes, sheep stealing in 1862,
manslaughter in 1864, when he was sentenced to five years penal servitude; for
being on premises for an unlawful purposes in 1878 and 1880; illegal
possession of game and other offences in 1881. He seemed on this occasion to have
acted as leader of the gang of poachers, and he must pass upon him a severe
sentence. The sentence which he passed upon him must be a sentence of penal
servitude. The law did not allow him to pass a less sentence of Penal servitude
than seven years, and that was the sentence he passed upon him.
This was not the first case against MAYNES, who had acted in a brutal and
cowardly manner in striking one of the keepers from behind. He must, however,
make a distinction between him and Thomas DAVIS, as he could not pass a less
sentence of penal servitude than seven years he sentenced him to Twenty-one
months hard labour.
Robert DAVIS, from the evidence, had not acted with specially brutal
conduct; he did not stand forward in the evidence as a leader of the gang. Upon
him, therefore, he passed the sentence of Six months hard labour.
Anthony PROCTOR, 52, bobbin turner, imperfectly instructed was charged with
unlawfully, maliciously, and feloniously killing and slaying Alexander
AITKIN, at Caldbeck, on the first of July.
Mr. HENRY prosecuted, and Mr. SHEE defended.
The facts, as stated for the prosecution, were that the two men were
working together at Mr. JENNINGS’ mill, at Caldbeck, on the day in question, at
The prisoner was standing at a lathe engaged in his avocation, and in his
hand he held a wooden instrument called a clamp, used for the purpose of
holding bobbins, when some words passed between him and the deceased, the latter
seeming to have been dissatisfied with the way in which PROCTOR had done some
of his work.
Deceased used some strong language, and struck PROCTOR over the face with
his fist. Prisoner, who still held the clamp in his hand, struck at deceased
with it, and deceased ran round the lathe to him, when prisoner used the
clamp, in the language of a witness, “like a flail,” inflicting two or three
distinct wounds upon the deceased’s head.
AITKEN left the mill and saw Dr. TAYLOR, and three or four days afterwards
left the mill altogether and went to a place called Eskdale, near
Ravenglass, about 30 miles distant from Caldbeck. While there he took very ill, and
died on the 8th July - a week after the occurrence - in Bootle Workhouse.
The jury returned a verdict of Not guilty and the prisoner was discharged.