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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.


Wednesday, October 8, 1890.

ALLEGED ATTEMPTED SUICIDE.
   At the Wigan County Police Court, on Monday, before Mr. H. S. Woodcock, a middle-aged man, named James O'Brien, of 33, Little-lane, Pemberton, was charged with attempting to commit suicide on Saturday night.
   Mr. Superintendent Brassington said that a short time ago prisoner was summoned by his wife for assaulting her. Since then they have been living apart, and the prisoner had been drinking heavily. A bottle containing some kind of lotion which was labelled poison was found in a cupboard, and when prisoner was apprehended he admitted having taken a portion of the contents. It did not seem, however, to have had any effect upon him or done him any harm.
   Police-constable Waterhouse said from something he was told by a relative of the prisoner he went to his house and apprehended him. When witness questioned him as to what he had taken he replied, "I'll do it, I have taken a bottle of poison this afternoon," and then went to the cupboard and produced the bottle. Prisoner was under the influence of drink at the time, and when witness asked him why he took the poison he answered, "To make away with myself."
   Prisoner said he got the lotion some time ago when he injured his leg in the pit. He went to the cupboard on Saturday afternoon and took the bottle to the sink and emptied a portion of it out. He never drank any of it.
   Mr. Woodcock remarked that there was no evidence to show that prisoner had attempted to commit suicide.
   A son of the prisoner stated that his father would not allow the family to have anything to do with him.
   Prisoner said he was obliged to live by himself because his family left him and took the furniture away.
   Mr. Woodcock said prisoner would be discharged. He would advise him to be more careful in the future.



Wednesday, October 8, 1890.

A BOATMAN DROWNED AT INCE.
   On Monday afternoon, Mr. S. Brighouse, county coroner, held an inquiry at the Rose Bridge Inn, Ince, touching the death of a young boatman named James Bowen, whose body was found in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Ince.
   John Bowen, the brother of deceased, said the latter resided at Appley Bridge with his grandmother, and was 17 years of age. Witness last saw him alive a fortnight ago at Bootle, and then he appeared well and in good health. He was rather near-sighted, and could not steer a boat in the dark. The captain of the boat told him at Liverpool that his brother was missing, but he did not see the body till it was brought to the Rose Bridge Inn. To his knowledge the deceased and John Thomas, the captain, were on good terms.
   By Sergeant Parker: The deceased was not teetotal. He drank a gill of ale now and again.
   John Thomas, captain of the boat "Linnet," said he lived at Parbold. The deceased had worked with him as mate for nearly seven weeks. On Monday, the 29th ult., about seven o'clock at night deceased was in advance preparing the locks for the boat. The were going to Liverpool. He last saw the deceased alive at Top Lock, Aspull, and he missed him at the Ironwork's lock, No. 5. He found that the lock was not prepared to receive the boat, and he went down the canal bank in search of the deceased. He met a man named John Winstanley, and asked him if he had seen anything of his lock-filler. As he passed along he also asked another man, but neither of them had seen him. The mystery of the thing was that the lock was full of water, and everything was in readiness except that the gates were not open for him to bring his boat in. Deceased would have found the lock empty, and would have filled it. He kept a considerable distance ahead all the way, and had nothing at all to do with the boat, his only work being to see that the locks were prepared for the boat. Whilst he was on the boat he heard no cry or any alarm whatever. In his opinion the deceased must have fallen into the canal whilst crossing the lock gates. The light at that point was very awkward.
   The coroner asked how that was?
   Witness said it was in consequence of the electric light at the steel-works and the fires, which dazzled and bothered them as they were going through the locks.
   Witness, continuing his evidence, said he thought at first the deceased had run away, as he said he would go no further than Wigan, and he did not give information to the police because he little thought at the time that the deceased had got into the water.
   Ralph Sutcliffe, lock-keeper, testified to pulling the body of the deceased out of the canal about half-past one on Saturday afternoon. The body was found in the pool below lock No. 5.
   Police-constable Waters said he removed the body from the canal bank to the Rose Bridge Inn, and searched the pockets of the clothes. He found a shilling, a sixpence, three pennies, and a pocket knife. There was only one mark (on the left side of the head) which was caused by the grappling irons.
   The jury decided that the evidence did not justify them in saying that the death was accidental, and therefore returned a verdict of "Found drowned."



Wednesday, October 8, 1890.

A FARMER'S TROUBLES.
   John Taylor, farmer, Winstanley, was charged with bringing seven cows within an area declared to be infected with pleuro without obtaining the necessary licence. - The facts of the case having been proved, the defendant said he really had done all he could to obtain the licence, but the effort had involved so much sacrifice of time and trouble that he had come to the conclusion it was not worth while to buy cattle if it was such a source of waste of time to get them to his farm. He had spent several days trying to conform to the regulations, and when he obtained a certificate he thought that was sufficient. - Superintendent Brassington said the certificate only authorised the defendant to obtain a licence. - The bench decided to dismiss the case this time, but the defendant must take care in future to obtain the necessary licence when bringing cattle into the infected area.



Wednesday, October 8, 1890.

A WARNING TO COAL PICKERS.
   Catherine Winstanley and Elizabeth Robinson, two women living in Ince, were charged with stealing coal from the Moss Pit sidings, belonging to Messrs. Pearson and Knowles. - Police-constable Barker said that on the 29th ult. he saw the two defendants picking coal. When they saw him Winstanley ran away, but Robinson stayed, and witness took possession of a bag, in which he found a quantity of coal. This was weighed, and found to be 70lbs., value 4d. Thefts of this kind were very frequent, and the proprietors wished to put a stop to them. - Each of the defendants was fined 5s. and costs.



Wednesday, October 8, 1890.

A DISPUTE ABOUT A PIANO.
   This was an action between Messrs. O. Gee and E. White, exors. for the late Mrs. Swarbrick (deceased), and Messrs. Chamberlain and Son, music dealers, Standishgate, Wigan. - Mr. J. Graham was for the plaintiffs, and Mr. W. Lees for the defendants. It appears that after Mrs. Swarbrick's death, the stock-in-trade was sold, and on the day of the sale, Mr. Chamberlain went to the shop in Standishgate, and wished to buy the fixtures. After some negociations the plaintiffs say they agreed to sell the fixtures, and the defendants agreed to buy them for 15, and a piano worth 4. - The defendants' version of the affair was that they agreed to sell the fixtures for 15, but there was a private arrangement that the piano should go to the children of Mrs. Swarbrick. - The exors. claimed the piano for the value of it. - His Honour gave judgement for the plaintiffs, and defendant said he would pay 4 instead of giving the piano.



Wednesday, October 8, 1890.

WAS A CONTRACT MADE OR NOT?
   This was the question his Honour had to decide in the case of Houghton v. Glover. Mr. J. S. Hopwood appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr. J. Wilson for the defendant. - The plaintiff, Thomas Houghton, a bricklayer, living at Goose Green, said in the beginning of July the defendant told him he wanted some work doing at some cottages, and he asked what it would cost. He (plaintiff) replied that the materials would cost about 6 10s. and he (defendant) told him to get the work done. On completing the work plaintiff presented his account, which amounted to 10 12s. 2d., but the defendant refused to pay. - Mr. Wilson said they had a specific contract for the work to be done for 6 10s. During the progress of the work 3 9s. 6d. had been paid, and the defendant had paid 3 0s. 6d. into court, and consequently they contended that they owed nothing. The defendant and his brother were exors. for the cottages, and therefore they had no personal interest in the case. He then called the defendant, who is a farmer occupying Cranberry Farm, who stated the plaintiff said he would do the work at the cottages for 6 10s., and he (defendant) told him to go on with the work. - His Honour said in his opinion the defendant's statement as to what took place was the correct one, and he must hold that there was a contract between the parties to do the work for 6 10s. The money already paid was sufficient, and he gave a verdict for the defendant.



Wednesday, October 8, 1890.

A BETTING TRANSACTION.
   Charles Harrison, a horse breaker, of Bolton, sued Richard Wilkinson, of the Leigh Arms, Hindley, for 5, money deposited in a trotting match. - The plaintiff, in stating his case, said he only applied for his money a week or so after the race, which was won unfairly. - Mr. Ramwell, solicitor, of Hindley, interposed with a point of law. He said the plaintiff ought to have demanded the money before the race came off, and not having done so he could not recover. - His Honour took the same view, and nonsuited the plaintiff.



Wednesday, October 8, 1890.

DAMAGING A CONSTABLE.
   John Seddon, of Wilcock-street, was charged with assaulting Police-constable McFay in the execution of his duty on Monday night. The officer met him at half-past eleven in Wallgate, and prisoner came to him and asked if there was a warrant out against him. McFay said there was, and produced the warrant, and read it to him. He then asked him if he would pay the amount for which the warrant was issued, and he retorted, with an oath, "Not a halfpenny." The constable told him he was his prisoner, and he attempted to break away, but he was stopped. The he seized the officer by his legs and threw him down and kicked him several times, once very fiercely on the first knuckle of the left hand. Another constable - Police-constable Barbour - came up, and the prisoner was secured. It was hard work to get him to the station, and the last named constable also received a kick on the shin. - Mr. Johnson gave the prisoner a severe reprimand, and sentenced him to imprisonment for a month with hard labour.



Saturday, October 11, 1890.

ALLEGED THEFT OF PIGEONS.
   William Thomas Calderbank, of Whelley, was charged with stealing three pigeons, the property of John Calderbank, collier, living at 160, Whelley, on the 6th inst. The evidence of the complainant was that he last saw his pigeons safe about three o'clock on Monday afternoon. They were in a cote behind the house. About ten o'clock at night the pigeons were missing, and he gave information to the police. He never locked the cote door. The pigeons were worth 2s. 3d. - Richard Lucas, a pigeon dealer, of Millgate, said the prisoner came to him with the three pigeons (which had been identified as belonging to the complainant), and offered them for sale. He asked 6d. each for them, and at that price witness bought them. Since that time he had sold one of the pigeons. - Police-constable Finney, who apprehended the prisoner, said when he charged him he replied "Yes." - Prisoner was committed to make his trial at the sessions.


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