Skip to Content

Charles Copeman (1817-1847)

The 1847 murder of Charles Copeman as told by the newspapers of the day.

Published : 07 November 2018


The 1847 murder of Charles Copeman as told by the newspapers of the day.

24th December 1847 HORRIBLE MURDER.-- Mr. Copeman, jun., son of Mr. Copeman, farmer, of Blyborough, was found on Sunday morning, about nine o'clock, on the road leading from Kirton to Blyborough, quite dead. His throat was cut, and the body was otherwise dreadfully mangled ; a piece of flesh was knocked or cut off his face, and was lying on the ground near the body. The young man had a dog with him, which had also been very much cut and bruised, but it was not quite killed. Mr. Copeman left the Red Lion Inn, Kirton, about 12 o'clock on Saturday night, to go home to Blyborough, and it appears that he had not gone far before he met with his assassins.

Too many words, skip to the end.

25th December 1847 SHOCKING MURDER.-- On Sunday forenoon, as two labouring men were proceeding from Blyborough to Kirton-in-Lindsey, to attend the chapel there, they perceived the body of a man in a lane, about a mile distant from Kirton, and a dog lying upon his body. On approaching nearer it, it was manifested that a shocking murder had taken place, the throat of the murdered person having been cut from ear to ear, and also his face was very much mangled. The dog was severely cut also, but, faithful to his trust, would not permit them to approach. It was soon ascertained to be the body of Mr. Charles Copeman, a farmer, of Blyborough, a most powerful athletic young man, about 26 years of age, who had been to Kirton fair on Saturday, and continued there drinking until past one o'clock in the morning, when he left to go home. It is supposed that he must have been either way-laid or followed by several persons, as the ground about where he lay was much trampled up, and bore numerous marks of spiked boots such as are worn by "navvies". Mr. Copeman was a very powerful man, and a person who would make a most desperate resistance, and his dog, which was of the bull-terrier species, would also be a formidable antagonist, so that it is probable three persons at least must have been concerned In this horrible affair. It is not known what money he had on leaving Kirton, but the pockets were completely empty, and turned out, when the body was found, and the amount of 7s. 6d. was scattered about on the ground near where he lay. After the alarm was given, Mr. Woodhouse, who was well acquainted with the deceased, was early on the spot, but all endeavours to induce to dog to quit the body or allow it to be removed were unavailing, and it was found necessary to throw a rope over the neck and nearly strangle the faithful creature before he would desist from his mistaken guard over the dead body of his master. It may be worthy of remark that the dog still lives. The deceased was well known at the various principal towns in this county, and the intelligence of this shocking death caused the greatest sympathy wherever it was related. Since writing the above, we hear three persons are in custody at Kirton House of Correction on suspicion of being the murderers.-- Lincolnshire Times.

The Greyhound Inn

The Greyhound Inn

1st January 1848 THE LATE MURDER IN LINCOLNSHIRE. APPREHENSION OF JOSEPH TRAVIS, THE SUPPOSED MURDERER. KIRTON IN LINDSEY, THURSDAY.-- The coroner's investigation into the circumstances attending the horrible murder of Mr. Charles Copeman, residing at Blyborough, in the public road leading from this town to that village, was proceeded with yesterday afternoon, before Mr. H. C. Holgate, the county coroner. A young man named Joseph Travis, the son of a widow, who occupies a respectable farm in the neighbourhood, has been apprehended on suspicion of being concerned in the murder. The subjoined are the brief facts adduced by the several witnesses, all of which are purely circumstantial. On the evening of Saturday the deceased was at the Greyhound Inn, Kirton, with Travis and three or four other persons. Deceased and Travis had some words, and were about to fight, when friends interfered and the dispute ended. He left about half-past eleven, and was noticed going towards the Red Lion, Travis remaining at the Greyhound. Between twelve and one he was seen standing by the Red Lion. Before this, Travis had left the Greyhound, and was afterwards noticed conversing with the unfortunate man. Their road home was the same, the deceased having the longest distance to travel. On the following morning, shortly after nine o'clock, a labouring man of the name of Whelpton, in proceeding to Kirton along a road leading from Grayingham, had his attention drawn to a dog sitting upon the body of a human being in a ditch by the side of the road, by the poor beast growling as he approached. The face of the corpse was downwards, and the dog was seated on the back. Whelpton endeavoured to examine the body, but the snarling and barking of the faithful creature prevented him, he being fearful it would bite.

To return to the conduct of Travis, it would appear that before he was suspected, he made a statement respecting the deceased of a very contradictory nature. It was stated that on that Sunday morning he changed a sovereign to pay a Mr. Hotchiss three shillings which he had borrowed off him on the previous night. He is said to have worn a pair of drab trousers, but none of that description could be found at his residence. A striped shirt which he had on could not be seen, and it further appeared that a pair of his boots was missing. A bruise was discovered on his right collar bone, his throat scratched, both hands similarly injured, and a cut on his right hand. He was described to have arrived home on Sunday morning about one o'clock, and seemed to be tipsy. The state of his dress at that period could not be ascertained. On being searched, two sovereigns were found in his pocket, and in the course of the Sunday morning a third sovereign was picked up in the vicinity of the Red Lion. It may be observed that during the day he was perceived walking about near where the sovereign was found. Further inquiries and search brought to light a buck horn-hafted and two-bladed penknife, which was discovered near where the murdered man was lying. In the blood under the head of deceased was detected part of the end of a penknife, and which corresponded in size and make with a broken blade of the knife in question. It was besmeared with blood, and it was shown that on the 10th ultimo Travis purchased it in Kirton. The police found at his residence a pair of drab trousers answering to the description of those worn by the accused on the night of the murder. They were in a drawer in the prisoner's bed room, and they appeared to have been spunged in many places. A pair of garters worn by the prisoner were produced: one was stained apparently with blood in kneeling.

The proceedings, after lasting several hours, were then adjourned.

The relatives have offered a reward of one hundred pounds for detection and conviction of the murderer, and no doubt her Majesty's Government will also offer a similar amount.

8th January 1848 THE KIRTON MURDER.-- Travis, accused of the murder of Mr. Copeman, has been committed to Lincoln Castle. The 'Lincoln Mercury' states that a Mr. Whelpton, who knew Copeman, dreamed twice that he saw the latter attacked and murdered on the way from Kirton to Grayingham. He told Copeman, and so earnestly entreated him not to remain out late, that he promised to attend to the request. He had done so for some weeks, and the night when he was murdered was the first time he had deviated from his promise. Edwin Landseer, the celebrated artist, has evinced a strong desire to become possessed of the faithful dog which accompanied the deceased.

in mourning

in mourning

21st January 1848 THE KIRTON MURDER.-- A very remarkable circumstance has just come to light connected with the above horrible tragedy, which we should certainly have felt inclined to discredit, were it not proved most indisputably to be true. It appears that a person named Whelpton, well acquainted with the murdered man (Copeman) had, some weeks ago, a remarkable dream, in which he thought he saw Mr. C. returning from Kirton, late at night, and that between Kirton and Grayingham he was attacked and murdered. The dream made a great immpression on his mind, and he therefore mentioned it to a friend, who strongly urged him to go to Mr, Copeman and tell him of it. After much persuasion he did so, but Mr. C. only laughed at him for his fears. Not long after Mr. Whelpton had the same dream again, and he again consulted the same party as before. It had so taken hold of his mind as to render him very unhappy, and he again after much pressing, waited upon Mr. Copeman to inform him of it. The repetition of the dream evidently affected the unfortunate gentleman, and he solemnly promised his kind monitor never to be again so late in returning home from Kirton, as had been his practice. That promise he faithfully kept until the day when the dream was fulfilled, and he met with the awful fate with which the country is familiar. -- Lincolnshire Chronicle.

TL;DR - Conclusion.

22nd January 1848 The 'Lincoln Mercury' says, that the dog which showed much singular fidelity in the case of the recent awful murder at Kirton, had belonged to Mr. Copeman only about three weeks.

8th March 1848 At Lincoln Assizes, on Wednesday, Joseph Travis was tried for the murder of Charles Copeman, at Blyborough, in December last. The particulars of the case were mentioned at the time. Copeman, a farmer, was found murdered in a lane; he had been robbed; a broken penknife was lying near him; and his dog, wounded, was beside the body. There were very suspicious circumstances against Travis: he had been in deceased's company; the penknife had belonged to him; he was flush of money; there was blood on his clothes. He endeavoured to account for these things.-. The inculpatory evidence did not convince the Jury; and they acquitted the prisoner.

Kirton in Lindsey - 1826 - History The village of Messingham, Lincolnshire Kirton in Lindsey - 1841 - History