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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, 1860. Material kindly loaned by Paul Byrne.

Friday, April 13, 1860.

   Peter Dean was charged with an assault upon Police-constable Richardson. The officer was on duty in Lower Morris-street on the previous night, when he met defendant and another man. Defendant said to the officer, "We know thy number, thou art 21, but we'll make it even 22," and thereupon struck the officer and seized his hand, giving the thumb a violent wrench backwards. After a struggle he was taken to the police-office. - Fined 10s. and costs.

Saturday, April 14, 1860.

   John Finch, of the St. Patrick's beerhouse, Engine-row, Standish-with-Langtree, was charged with having, on the 4th instant, permitted gambling in his house. - Police Sergeant Barker said about nine o'clock in the evening of the 4th inst. he visited defendant's beerhouse. On entering the kitchen he saw Thomas Ryder, John Hall, Thomas Eccleston and several others, all colliers, sat round a table tossing for money. The landlord was in the room, but did not see witness, who was standing at the kitchen door. The landlady attempted to get in to give the alarm, but witness kept her back. He watched their proceedings for some time without being observed. Ryder tossed Hall for a penny, and then all three tossed together. He saw money handed from one to another. Ryder had a handful of copper. Hall told Ryder he had got 10d. out of him. The landlord at last saw witness, and cried out "Police." - Fined 5 and costs, or in default six weeks' imprisonment, with an intimation that another conviction would cost him his licence.

Friday, April 20, 1860.

   An inquest was held on Monday, at the house of Mr. Timothy Worthington, the Black Bull, Lamberhead Green, before C. E. Driffield, Esq., coroner, on the body of Robert Davies, aged six years, son of John Davies, Lamberhead Green, collier. About eight o'clock in the evening of the 13th instant, the child was sitting upon a chair, near the fire, and by some means it fell to the floor, the chair at the same time falling against a tea-pot filled with boiling water, which had been placed upon the bar. The whole of this water was thrown over the child, who was scalded so severely, that it died the following evening. Mr. Morris, surgeon, was in attendance, but the poor little sufferer was beyond human aid. - Verdict, "Accident death."

Friday, April 20, 1860.

   Ann taylor, an inmate of the Wigan Workhouse, was brought up charged with disorderly conduct and wilful damage. The defendant entered the house towards the end of March, and had not been there many days when she commenced to break the windows of the room in which she was placed. Being deemed a dangerous character she was removed to the "padded" room, which is only lit by means of a skylight, and she had not been there very long before she took off her clogs and threw them at the skylight, breaking the glass. A police-officer was sent for to remove her to the lockups, and on his arrival she told him that if she had known he was coming she would have broken every window in the place. - Committed to prison for fourteen days.

Friday, April 20, 1860.

   A boy about ten years of age, named Michael Goulding, was charged with assaulting an old man, named Peter Mitchinson, by throwing a stone at him and hitting him on the head. Mr. Ashton appeared in support of the charge. - Complainant is a somewhat singular individual, and evidently of weak intellect, and being rather diminutive in stature, and having peculiarly formed legs, his appearance in the public streets is the signal for the ragged urchins of Kerfoot's-row to gather round him and salute him with various observations upon his personal appearance. Naturally enough getting irritated, he turns round upon his tormentors, when they give him a chase, and if Fortune favours his legs and he succeeds in seizing one of them, he administers a few knocks. On the occasion which formed the subject of the present charge complainant alleged that the defendant threw a stone and hit him on the head, afterwards running away. The police were then consulted, and a summons was taken out. - The boy, in answer to the bench, said he did not throw the stone, but was sitting on some steps nursing a child. - The bench, however, thought he was guilty, and discharged him on payment of costs, at the same time cautioning his parents to look better after him.

Friday, April 20, 1860.

   Ellen Sharples, a middle aged woman, who is employed on a coal pit brow, was charged with assaulting James Whitter, of Standish, collier. - Mr. Mayhew appeared for the defendant. - The complainant said he was going home on Saturday night last, and on passing the defendant's house at Douglas Bank she called him in, to ask him some questions in reference to her son. He told her that her son was not worth talking about, whereupon she got very violent, and after some words had been exchanged she seized the poker and attempted to strike him on the head. He, however, put up his arm to ward off the blow, and caught the weapon upon the joint. He then received two other blows, and was disabled, medical attendance having to be called in. - The defence was that the complainant was the aggressor, the defendant's version of the affair being that the complainant, on the night in question, walked into her house unasked, in a state of intoxication, and wanted some tobacco given him. This was not supplied, and he pulled out threehalfpence to pay for some, but he was told he was not wanted, and had better go out of the house. He accordingly left, but returned directly afterwards, and commenced to assail defendant with all sorts of foul names, becoming exceedingly abusive. An attempt was made to put him out of the house, and the defendant admitted that in her anger she took up the poker and struck the complainant. - The bench said an assault had been committed, but as there were extenuating circumstances in the case they should only inflict a fine of 10s. and costs.

Saturday, April 21, 1860.

   John Booth was charged with stealing one egg, the property of Mr. William Pimblett, Low Hall, Low Green, Hindley, on Saturday last. - Committed for twenty-one days.

Saturday, April 21, 1860.

   At the meeting of the Watch Committee, held on Thursday evening, the 12th inst., the Chief-constable, in his customary report, alluded to the existence of certain houses of bad repute, and asked for powers to take proceedings against the keepers of such places, which seemed to have lately increased in number. At the November sessions, 1859, a woman named Gorner was indicted as the owner of a brothel, and pleaded guilty to the charge, but judgement was suspended on her promising to leave to locality and finding sureties to appear when called upon. Other prosecutions would have followed, but owing to the expense which would be incurred in counsels' and justices' fees, and the refusal of the overseers to allow these expenses, the matter remained in abeyance. Great good, however, followed what proceedings were taken; for while the committals of prostitutes previous to that time averaged from three to four per week, only two committed in the time up to the period of the arrest of the parties charged with the robbery of the man Chadwick (reported in our columns last week). This robbery rendered it imperative on the authorities to make another attempt to rid the town of this foul excrescence, and as Gorner has been discovered carrying on her old practices, the Chief-constable asked permission to have her apprehended and brought up for judgement at the ensuing sessions. He also asked for powers to take out a warrant for the arrest of another notorious character, named Mary Taylor, living in Castle-yard, whose proceedings are loudly complained of by persons who have the misfortune to live in that neighbourhood. The committee accordingly invested Mr. Simm with full powers, and on Wednesday a warrant was served upon Gorner to appear on Thursday next, before the Recorder, for judgement. Taylor was apprehended on Thursday, and brought before W. Park and J. Meeks, Esqs., when she was fully committed, and as security for her appearance she deposited with the Chief-constable her bank book, which showed that she had a sum of above 231 placed to her credit in the Wigan Savings' Bank.

Friday, April 27, 1860.

   On Tuesday afternoon last an inquest was held before the borough coroner, at the Fox and Goose, Wigan-lane, on the body of William Fleming, aged 67 years, who died suddenly on the previous Sunday. Deceased, who resided at the Fox and Goose, and is the father of the landlord of the house, came home about a quarter to ten o'clock at night, and complained of being unwell. Stimulants were given to him, and a medical man sent for, but immediately after that gentleman's arrival the deceased expired. He had been subject to palpitation of the heart, and it is supposed that death resulted from the disease of that organ. A verdict of "Died by the visitation of God, from natural causes," was returned.

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