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Kirton and crime

A selection of 19th century crimes involving Kirton Lindsey in some way.

Published : 09 November 2018


A selection of 19th century crimes involving Kirton Lindsey in some way.

Sometimes while researching some topic or other, I come across interesting snippets that alone don't contain enough information to warrant generating a whole webpage, so I have selected a few of the more interesting criminal cases that relate to Kirton in some way, just enough to fill a page.

Too many words, skip to the end.

A LINCOLNSHIRE JURY.-- An extraordinary instance of clodpole wisdom lately occurred at Kirton, Lincolnshire, which deserves to be recorded as a "sign of the times," as well as because of its instructive bearing on the constitution of juries, and the present system of parliamentary representation. At a sessions held there a few weeks ago, a prisoner was arraigned for having stolen pig iron from the premises of an ironmonger at Gainsborough. After the usual examination of witnesses, and a lame defence by the prisoner, the jury were ordered to bring in their verdict ; when, to the horror and dismay of the prisoner and the court, the foreman announced that they had unanimously agreed that the prisoner was, "Guilty of Manslaughter!" -- The Recorder then explained to the Solons that the offence was stealing, and that their duty was to consult whether they considered him guilty or not guilty of that offence. After a little jolting together of heads the foreman returned a verdict of "Guilty, and we also sentence him to six months' on the wheel!" - April 1840

A milkmaid of prepossessing appearance

A milkmaid of prepossessing appearance

REVOLTING OUTRAGE.-- The Lincolnshire Chronicle mentions the following instance of barbarity: -- At the Epiphany Sessions for the Lindsey division, held at Kirton, before Sir Robert Sheffield. John Sunman, aged 28, a sweep, and Alick Johnson, aged 46, were tried on a charge so barbarous as hardly to be credited. They followed a young woman into a field at Winterton, near Barton-upon-Humber, about six o'clock in the evening of a cold day towards the latter end of the month of October, and then and there stripped her of every article of clothing and then stood over her while they compelled her to go through the whole of her work, that of milking four cows. The case came on for trial at the above sessions, when, although the prosecutrix, a young woman named Sarah Ann Neal, in the domestic service of a farmer at Winterton, and of prepossessing appearance, was put through a cross-examination of a very questionable kind, the jury, having certain corroborative evidence, found the prisoners guilty of stealing her gown, skirt, petticoat, and other articles of clothing, of which it appeared that only the chemise and an old great-coat were given up to her by the ruffians for her to go home in; the field in which the atrocity was committed being above a mile from the nearest house. The prisoners were sentenced to be transported for seven years. - February 1849

FORTUNATE RECOVERY OF STOLEN JEWELLERY AND CAPTURE OF THE THIEF.-- On Tuesday, at the Gainsborough Police-court, a Jew, named Barnett Samuels, was brought up, charged with burglariously entering the dwelling-house and shop of Williamson Travis, watchmaker and jeweller, of Kirton-Lindsey, and stealing jewellery, &c., to the value of £150. About one o'clock on Sunday morning a young man, apparently a Hebrew, was seen prowling about in the street where the prosecutor's shop is situate but no notice was taken of him. In the morning it was discovered that the house had been forcibly entered, an entrance having been effected by taking out a pane of glass in a back door, and then shooting back the bolts, and that two cases of jewellery and one of cutlery, valued altogether at £150, had been stolen. Information was given to the Lincolnshire police, who succeeded in tracing the prisoner to Sheffield, and from thence to Manchester, Inspector Buckley, of the Manchester detective force, and Sergeant Groome, of the Lincolnshire police force, on Monday evening, proceeded to a house kept by a Jew in Fernie street, Red Bank, and there succeeded in capturing the burglar, without difficulty. The prisoner is a Jew, apparently from 25 to 30 years of age, and was stylishly dressed. On entering the front room, having first secured the prisoner, the officers found two cases of jewellery and one of cutlery, together with a large quantity of other property, apparently, which consisted of gold brooches, pins, and gold albert chains, was recovered. The prisoner, together with the property, was conveyed to Lincoln on Tuesday morning fully committed to take his trial at the next Lincoln assizes. - September 1863.

A MELANCHOLY COINCIDENCE.-- The superintendent of police at Brigg recently died of inflammation of the brain, induced, it is believed, by anxiety of mind caused by the escape of a notorious criminal who had been placed in his care. The prisoner was known by the name of "Raggy", and it seems had been sent to prison for two months, with hard labour; a second time for four months; and a third time he had been sentenced to three years' penal servitude. He had afterwards been apprehended for a burglary at Wrawby, a village near Brigg; was again taken to Kirton prison, brought down from Kirton by Mr Snow, the governor, and given into the custody of Mr Eady, the Brigg superintendent, whose death is now recorded. The prisoner shortly took an opportunity of leaving the room, to go to the yard for a certain purpose - a purpose best known to himself. He was permitted to go by a young man and inexperienced constable named Straw ; and his absence was forgotten for a few minutes. On being searched for, the man was missing, and an alarm of his escape was raised. It was found that he had had no difficulty in doing so. He would have to get over the prison wall, and this he could do by stepping upon a copper, and a shelf above the copper, which was only two feet below the top of the wall. The escape was thus accomplished, and to avoid detection "Raggy" took off his boots. He thus left no trace or means of discovering the direction he had taken. Fleet as a buck, and a good swimmer, he went away. Eight policemen made every search in Brigg and the neighbourhood, but unsuccessfully. Eady, on learning of the man's escape, had said that half an hour could not elapse before he was captured. Mr Eady had to see his superintendent-in-chief; trouble afflicted him; he sickened and died. The superintendent, who had been one of the most gentlemanly and clever men in the force, succumbed to the misfortune. Four weeks elapsed, and strange to say, on the very night that poor Eady died, "Raggy" had committed one other felony. He again cleverly escaped from the hands of the constable, and, good swimmer as he was, he plunged into the River Trent, having on a manacle. This time he could not swim, and while endeavouring to escape, was drowned. - January 1865

A furze-bill

A furze-bill

THE MURDER NEAR BROCKLESBY.-- A few days after the visit of Prince Albert to Brocklesby and Grimsby, in April last, a barbarous murder was committed on the body of a middle-aged female, named Farrow ; she was on her way across some fields leading from Haborough to Keelby, about mid-day, when she was killed by blows on the head with a sharp instrument, supposed to be a furze-bill, and robbed of two sovereigns and some silver. The medical men were of opinion that the first blow killed the poor woman, as, although some labourers were working all the morning only a few fields off, they heard no cries of distress. A man named Charles Overton, of bad character, was suspected of the murder and was taken into custody. It was proved that he had changed two sovereigns at different villages on the afternoon of the murder; and it is singular that on the day after he underwent a mock trial at a village alehouse, and his drunken companions pretended to find him guilty of murder. The coroner's jury had no other evidence before them to implicate Overton than his changing of the sovereigns, and they returned an open verdict but the supposed murderer was detained in custody, and subsequently committed by the magistrates on a charge of stealing a gun, and on a charge of stealing the furze-bill with which the murder is believed to have been effected. On Friday, at Kirton Lindsay sessions, Overton was found guilty on these two charges, and was sentenced to 14 years' transportation. On receiving the sentence, he addressed the bench, saying, Thank you I never thought I had so long to live. - July 1849

A rush was made to seize them, and a regular battle ensued.

A rush was made to seize them, and a regular battle ensued.

SERIOUS ENCOUNTER WITH POACHERS IN LINCOLNSHIRE.-- A serious poaching affray took place at Scotton, Lincolnshire, on Monday morning last. It appears that, as the under gamekeeper to Sir William Fredericks was going his rounds in the above lordship, on the night named, he saw six or more poachers busily engaged in netting hares on land in the occupation of Thomas Oxley. They were all determined-looking fellows, and had dogs with them. He at once summoned three watchers, and a policeman named Greetham, who happened to be near the spot, to his assistance. The five men then proceeded to where the poachers were, with the view of apprehending them. As soon as the poachers saw them they stood on the defensive, and cried out, "Come on, you b___ ____." Each man was armed with a heavy bludgeon several feet long and of great thickness. A rush was made to seize them, and a regular battle ensued. The fight soon became too serious for the three watchers, who took to their heels, leaving Greetham and the under-keeper (Hudson) to sustain the unequal conflict themselves. They fought valiantly, but the wounds they received and the loss of blood soon rendered them insensible. On regaining consciousness, they found themselves in a ditch, all the poachers having decamped. With difficulty they crawled out, and succeeded in giving information of the occurrence. It was afterwards feared that Greetham's head was cut open in several places, besides other serious wounds on other parts of bis body. Hudson fared even worse, he being cut and bruised in a dreadful manner. A description of the men having been obtained, Superintendent Fraser and Sergeant Wright, of Gainsborough, and Sergeant Morris, of Kirton Lindsey, apprehended five well-known poachers on suspicion of being concerned in the outrage. Their names are James Martin, of Fristney, near Boston; Charles Cree, of Grimsby ; Henry Hobson, of Broughton, near Brigg; William Rowbottom, of Newark ; and Christopher Marshall, of Scotton. They were brought before the Gainsborough bench of magistrates on Tuesday, when Superintendent Fraser stated that the wounded men were now lying at Scotton, unable to be removed from their beds, and attended by two doctors. Several days must elapse, under the most favourable circumstances, before they would be in a position to identify the men or give evidence. He, therefore, applied for a remand. Their worships granted a remand until Saturday. - October 1862

TL;DR - Conclusion.

All these stories made the national newspapers. The wording and punctuation is as it was printed at the time. Queen Victoria was on the throne, the navvies were building railways everywhere and Britain was at war with Russia in Crimea. Once that war was over, they went to war against China (again), because the Chinese didn't want to buy British opium. Other things happening in the world at the same time includes the Irish Potato Famine, the USA invaded Mexico and liberated Texas, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Arizona from the Mexicans, and then promptly had a civil war amongst themselves, prior to abolishing slavery and ruining the Atlantic trade. The Chinese surrendered and legalised opium, gave Hong Kong to the British, who were very grateful and immediately went to war against New Zealand.


Click here for the Kirton in Lindsey entry from White's 1856, History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Lincolnshire etc. etc.


Click here for the Kirton in Lindsey entry from the 1885 edition of Kelly's Lincolnshire Directory.


Click here for details of an unsolved horrid murder of a brother and sister from Kirton Lindsey in December 1836.

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