Faked fits, deaths. fire and more

1819 – Three Year Old Burned to Death at Whitbourne

William Siveton, a three year old boy was burned to death when his clothes caught fire.

William had been left in the care of a 7 year old child whilst his mother went out.

1832 – Enormous Gourd Grown at Whitbourne

William Smith of Whitbourne Court managed to grow a most astonishing gourd – it measured five feet ten inches around and weighted eighty five pounds.

1846 – Surprise Baby at Whitbourne

Eliza Phillips, a 32 year old woman from Norton near Bromyard and described as having a “somewhat weak intellect”, was discovered in a hay loft at Whitbourne in a rather poorly condition.

She was put in a cart by her helpers and taken to the Bromyard Union Workhouse, but on the way Eliza gave birth to a large and healthy baby!  Both of them did well under the treatment of the Workhouse governor.

1847 – Attention Seeking at Whitbourne

Mary Ann Jenkins, also known as Mary Ann Jones, greatly annoyed people when she threw herself to the ground on the road in Whitbourne and pretended to have a fit.

She was given much attention and aid, before it was discovered that she was faking it, and she was given two months hard labour in gaol for her efforts.

1853 – Death of Waggoner at Whitbourne

George Portman, a “sober and industrious”  waggoner working for J. Freeman of Gaines, was driving three horses along with his 12 year old son.  George was known to be lame.

The wagon was loaded with two and a half tons of coal, and when nearly home the lad had hold of the leading horse when the shaft horse shied across the road.  In the ensuing confusion, the shaft horse threw George to the ground, and the wheel of the wagon went over him, killing him outright.

1858 – Bigamist at Whitbourne

John Rowlands, a Shoemaker, married Elizabeth Ford at Whitbourne in March 1856 whilst his first wife, Martha Rowlands, was still alive.

Elizabeth Ford worked for the Rev. R. Briscoe as a cook, and he was not best pleased when she married John, who had been separated from his first wife for 25 years and believed that she was dead.

At the trial, the defence argued well, and persuaded the Court that the Rev. Briscoe was the real prosecutor because he wanted to keep Elizabeth as his servant and get rid of John Rowlands.

However, the jury only took a short time to return a verdict of guilty, but he was given a light sentence of two months in prison without hard labour.


1859 – Death from Burning

Ten year old Fanny Jones of Whitbourne, daughter of a labourer, was holding a baby whilst sitting by the fire.

Her clothes caught fire, and she rapidly sustained fatal burns.

Nothing was recorded about the baby.

1859 – Drunk Falls off Wagon

William Price of Whitbourne was rather the worse for wear when he fell off the shafts of a wagon.

The wheels went straight over him and he died soon afterwards.

1862 – Cottage Fire at Whitbourne

Mr. Pitt and his wife were renting a cottage from E.B. Evans, and one afternoon they went out leaving a lodger and  the Pitt’s  small son at the house.

The lodger then also went out, and not long afterwards the little boy raised the alarm that the house was on fire.  Lots of people rushed to help and managed to save most of the Pitt family’s possessions, but the cottage was entirely destroyed – apart from the chimney.