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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, 1890. Material kindly loaned by Ron Hunt.


Saturday, August 9, 1890.

A DRUNKEN FREAK.
   Bridget Whittaker, 12, Castle-yard, was charged with doing wilful damage to the floor of a dwelling-house of which she was the tenant. - Mr. John Harrison, Greenough-street, the owner of the house, said that the prisoner had been the tenant of the house for some time, and he had tried to get rid of her several times. He had taken police officers, thinking to frighten her, and had taken the doors off their hinges, but could not get her out. Only the same afternoon he had threatened to prosecute her for keeping premises open for the purpose of prostitution. The prisoner was detected in an effort to set fire to some straw in her room by putting red hot cinders into it, and if the police had been much longer the place would have been in flames. - Police-constable Hockin proved the offence. - Mr. Roocroft: Are the premises insured? - Mr. Harrison: No. - Mr. Ellis (to prisoner): Why did you set the place on fire? - Prisoner: I was forward in drink and upset. If I had it to do over again I wouldn't do it. - Prisoner was fined 10s., and ordered to pay another 10s. the amount of the damage.



Saturday, August 9, 1890.

FATALITY IN A COALPIT.
   On Monday, the coroner (Dr. Gilbertson) held an inquest at the Wheat Sheaf Inn, Shevington, upon the body of Thomas Barnes, 21 years of age, who had lost his life through being injured in the John Pit of the Wigan Coal and Iron Company on Friday morning last. - Formal evidence was given by the father of the deceased as to the identification of the body. - Peter Read said he was employed on Friday morning with the deceased as a hooker-on in the John Pit about eleven o'clock in the morning. The deceased was pushing a full waggon into the cage, when a large stone and a quantity of earth fell upon him, completely covering him. On the debris being taken from him, the deceased complained of his back and leg. He was at once removed home, where he died about two o'clock on the same day. - The jury returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased met his death through an accident.



Saturday, August 9, 1890.

A PLANK-LANE POINTSMAN KILLED.
   A shocking fatality occurred at the Plank-lane crossing of the Bickershaw Collieries on Monday afternoon, about three o'clock. An old pointsman named George Mansley, seeing the lid under one of the waggons insecure, was endeavouring to fasten it when another waggon came rolling towards him from behind, and before he was able to get out of the way he was knocked down on to his face and killed instantly. As the wheels of the truck rested on the man they had to be levered up before the body could be removed. Deceased was well known in the neighbourhood.



Wednesday, August 13, 1890.

"POVERTY DROVE HER TO IT."
   Louisa Lee, Union-street, an old woman aged over 70 years, was charged with stealing two moulders' boxes, the property of the Douglas Forge Company. - Robert McMahon, 66, Hardybutts, a watchman employed on the new railway works in Scholes, said that at a quarter to six last Saturday morning he saw the prisoner throwing something on to the railway company's premises, from the Douglas Forge Company's yard. He examined what she had thrown and found it to be an iron moulder's box. He followed her into the yard and found her with another under her shawl. - John Eatock identified the two boxes as belonging to the Forge Company, and said they were worth 2s. 6d. at the least. They had missed a large number of them lately, the railway works having caused their yard to be practically open. - Police-constable Lewis having deposed as to apprehending the prisoner, Lee acknowledged to the bench her guilt, saying that poverty drove her to it. She was very sorry for what she had done. - She was sent to prison for seven days.



Wednesday, August 13, 1890.

HIS 26TH APPEARANCE.
   Joseph Moran, of Tyldesley, was charged, under a warrant, with having in his possession on March 20th, 1890, two rabbits, which had been unlawfully obtained. - Police-constable Bywater said that at ten minutes past ten on Thursday morning, March 20th, he was on duty in Woodhouse-lane. At Pagefield he saw the prisoner and another man coming towards Wigan, and noticing that his pockets were bulky, he asked Moran what he had in them. The prisoner replied, "What I have is my own," at the same time pulling a bundle of nets out, and throwing it to his companion, who made off with it at once. Witness searched the prisoner, and found two rabbits upon him. He did not answer to his summons, and a warrant was issued. - In defence, the prisoner said he bought the rabbits from a man, named John Langdon, giving him two shillings for them, and he thought it was hard he should be charged with such an offence when he was doing his best to retrieve his character. He had marks upon his body of wounds sustained while assisting the police, and he considered they ought to be more careful in making charges. He failed to answer to the summons because he did not know one had been issued, having gone back to Tyldesley after seeing his parents in Wigan. The prisoner got very excited, and had to be called to order several times. - John Langdon said he sold the two rabbits to the prisoner for 2s. on the morning in question. - Mr. Roocroft said there seemed to be a doubt in the case, and they would give Moran the benefit of it. He would be discharged.



Wednesday, August 13, 1890.

A CHILD DROWNED IN A DOLLY-TUB.
   On Saturday, at the Queen's Head, Great George-street, Mr. Rowbottom, borough Coroner, held an inquest concerning the death of a child named Elias James Knowles Sweetlove, aged fourteen months. The mother of the deceased, Charlotte Sweetlove, living at 21, York-street, said that on Friday about one o'clock she was in the back-yard of her next door neighbour, Mrs. Green, and the child was with her. She then went to her own home to admit Dr. Wolstenholme, who is attending another child of hers, and left the deceased behind in the yard. A quarter of an hour afterwards she went into her own yard, and found the deceased there, but dead. He had followed her from the neighbour's, and had fallen head downwards into a dolly-tub, which was about six inches deep in wash-suds. - The jury found that death was accidental.



Wednesday, August 13, 1890.

A STRANGE METHOD OF COURTING.
   At the Wigan Borough Police Court, on Friday morning, before Messrs. T. Wall and W. B. Johnson, John Hesketh, an elderly man residing at Plank-lane, was charged under a warrant with assaulting a young woman named Christian Anderson, of 18, Chapel-street, Wigan. - Complainant said that on July 27th she and another young woman, with whom she lodged, were sitting having their supper, when a knock came to the door. Her friend said, "That is Hesketh. Tell him I am not in." Complainant went to the door while her friend hid herself, and when the prisoner asked if Lizzie was in, she said "No." Prisoner, who had a stick in his hand, thereupon struck her on the thumb with the handle, then pushed her into the house and struck her again on the wrist. He was courting her friend, and was continually coming to the house and kicking up rows. One time he kept them up till four o'clock in the morning. - Annie Walker and Ann Smith corroborated, and the prisoner was fined 10s. and costs, in default 14 days' imprisonment.



Friday, August 15, 1890.

DAMAGING A HOUSE.
   Mary Rush, Victoria-street, was charged with wilfully damaging a door, the property of Alexander McCann, on Monday afternoon. - The complainant said he saw the woman throwing bricks and stones at the door, and she also flung several bricks at him. - Patrick Lycett corroborated, and the defendant, although she pleaded not guilty, was fined 1s. and costs and ordered to pay the damage to the door. - A woman named Jane Riley was also charged with breaking windows in the same house on the 2nd inst. Her sister was up and fined for breaking the same windows a week ago, and as the magistrates were not satisfied that the panes were actually broken by the present prisoner she was discharged.



Friday, August 15, 1890.

SLEEPING OUT.
   Two young men named John Riley and Robert Barlow, both of Bridge-street, were charged with sleeping out and having no visible means of subsistence. - Police-constable O'Gorman found them in a stable behind the Fox Tavern, Chapel-lane (close to their home), and took them to the police station, and searched them. He found nothing on either. - Mr. Roocroft: Why didn't you go home. It is close to the Fox Tavern? - Riley: We were drunk and did not know where we were. - They were let off with a caution as to future behaviour.


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