Drownings and all sorts at Almeley
1851 – Death of Two Youths by Drowning
Two lads, Horatio Nelson James Hince and Edward Mifflin were drowned whilst swimming in a millpond one Sunday morning.
A shoemaker named John Stephens said that Horatio, aged about 15 and from Presteign, had been his apprentice for some three years. On the night before the tragedy John asked Horatio to take a pair of shoes to a lady at Newchurch, and near to her house was a millpond where the unfortunate pair drowned.
Evidence given by John Price, a blacksmith aged 18, revealed that he was with Horatio and Edward on the Sunday morning and that he had been to the millpond with them many times before to bathe. On this occasion, they all got into the shallow part of the pond but after a while Edward tried to cross the pool.
John asked him to come back before he reached the deep part but Edward ignored him and suddenly began to flounder. Horatio tried to reach him, and eventually caught hold, but Edward struggled and they moved into even deeper water where they both sank.
The bodies were eventually recovered, and the verdict was Accidentally Drowned.
1854 – Charge of Concealing Birth at Almeley
Elizabeth Watkins was charged with concealing the birth of her illegitimate child.
Mary Ann Jones, the wife of Edward Jones of Stocks Farm in Almeley, said that Elizabeth Watkins had been her servant for thirteen years or so; she stated that Elizabeth was single but had two children both of which were born in Hay Workhouse. She also said that she had no idea that Elizabeth was pregnant recently, and there was nothing to indicate in her room that she had given birth.
Another witness who worked for the Jones family, also claimed that she had not noticed that Elizabeth was pregnant, but she said that a local workman had told her that he thought that she was. Some little while later, this witness went into the cow house and found blood on the floor – when she asked Elizabeth where it came from she came up with a plausible reason.
A lad by the name of Clarke also worked for the Jones family, and when rumours began to abound about Elizabeth, the Superintendent Constable of Weobley district, Thomas Dykes, went to the farm to interview him.
Clarke told him that he had seen blood in the cow house and on the handle of the door, and Thomas went to see for himself…….he also found blood on the gate leading to where the child was found.
The Post Mortem
When questioned, Elizabeth admitted giving birth, and said that she had thrown it into a pool as it was a miscarriage and was only 9 weeks. She was arrested, and then claimed that she retrieved the baby and buried it.
The policeman, along with Henry Cooper of Weobley, went to do a search and found the body of a baby girl which they took to the Workhouse.
The Surgeon, Charles Lomax, confirmed that on examining Elizabeth he found she had recently given birth; he also said that the post mortem on the child revealed it to be full term, but that there were no marks of violence on the body and that in his opinion the child was alive when born.
1855 – Liberality of Alemely Vicar
The Rev. W. Edwards gave 50 children of the Almeley National Schools an afternoon of fun, starting with tea and plum cake in the Vicarage garden.
They went on to play many games in the field until darkness fell, whereupon they returned to the vicarage for more refreshments before singing the National Anthem and going home.