Tales of tributes and whipping
1850 – Moving Gravestone Tribute to a Boy and Dog
“In childhood’s prime, when opening springtide wove
it’s wavy wreaths of yellow daffodil.
Awoke the winged warblers of the grove,
and fringed with primrose pale the copse-side rill.
Poor boy, death laid it’s hand upon thy brow,
and snatch’d thee in an instant from the earth,
while life was bursting from each budding bough,
and all around was industry and mirth.
Parental anguish steep’d in tears they shroud,
domestics press’d thy mangled corpse to see,
the passing pilgrim paused amid the crowd,
and they fond, faithful terrier – where was he?
He who was wont at dawn beside they door
to gently tap, or gambol at they side?
Soon as thy young life’s pulses beat no more,
he lick’d thy hand, moaned plaintively, and died.
Hence, while around Mount Pleasant’s slopes we stray,
and mark his grave beside the Shepherd’s Cot,
we pensive pen this tributary lay,
and plant above the mound – Forget Me Not.
1866 – Tragic Death at Clehonger Mill
Benjamin Cross was known as a sober man in good health, and hard working.
One day, witnesses reported seeing the mill wheel going faster than normal, but didn’t think to investigate; it wasn’t until Thomas Probert went to the mill as he had some grist to be ground that Benjamin Cross’s sad demise was discovered.
The water wheel was moving quickly, and Thomas could see Benjamin apparently standing by the machinery – he was so alarmed by his appearance that he immediately stopped the water wheel.
Benjamin was nearly in a standing position, with his knees bent and his arms around the spindle of the cog wheel. The skirt of his jacket was caught in the wheel and he had been drawn right into the machinery by his clothes – he was cold and dead.
The Post Mortem
A Hereford surgeon carefully examined Benjamin’s body and discovered severe external injuries, with the lower part of the abdomen extensively lacerated and bowels protruding. There were also cog wheel marks on the spine, which was dislocated. The surgeon also thought that there would have been extensive internal injuries, and that the shock alone would be sufficient to cause death.
Verdict – Accidental death from the machinery of a mill.
1887 – The Clehonger Whipping Case
As reported in the Birmingham Daily Post
“At the Hereford County Court, an action was brought by William Pritchard the younger of Clehonger (who is an infant) through William Pritchard the elder, a labourer, against Lieutenant Colonel Lucas of Belmont, J.P. for the county of Hereford, the Rev. E.H. Holloway, vicar of Clehonger, and Mr. W.J. Smith, schoolmaster of the same place, the claim being £50 for damages arising out of what is locally known as the Clehonger whipping case.
“Witnesses for the plaintiff stated that in May last, the plaintiff who is a weak minded youth aged 19, obtained admittance to Clehonger parish church vestry when no one else was present, got possession of several surplices some of which he burnt, and others defiled in a filthy manner.
“Pritchard admitted the act, and after being waited upon by the police who told him that he would be pardoned if he asked for forgiveness, he and Mrs. Pritchard waited upon the vicar and offered an apology. To this the Rev. Mr. Holloway replied that he could not overlook the matter and referred the plaintiff to Colonel Lucas, the churchwarden. The plaintiff and his mother called upon Colonel Lucas who said he felt it incumbent upon him to prosecute the lad and make him pay the damages, which were about £3 10s, but as this punishment would fall on the parents and not the person who deserved to suffer, he offered as an alternative that the plaintiff should be whipped in the Clehonger day school.
“The plaintiff agreed to this arrangement and stipulated that the schoolmaster, Mr. Smith, should administer the punishment. On reaching the school however, he met the three defendants.
“The schoolmaster took down plaintiff’s trousers, his shirt was also removed, and then Colonel Lucas gave him twenty four strokes with a cane, while the vicar stood by and counted the cuts. He shrieked and struggled to get away but was held down over a desk by the schoolmaster, and afterwards, the vicar addressing the other lads present, said he hoped it would be a warning to them not to abuse God’s house.
“The defence was that the plaintiff gave his consent to all that was to take place, and that therefore no assault was committed. It was done simply and solely as a kindness to the parents, and as a corrective to the lad, who, if taken before the magistrates would have been fined and his parents would have had to pay. Colonel Lucas also swore that the plaintiff agreed that he should administer the strokes and he denied that they were given with undue severity.”
The Judge did not think that it was a case in which heavy damages should be given, and the jury found for the plaintiff damages of £10.
1888 – Fatal Accident of a Farmer at Clehonger
William Hutton, a farmer of Clehonger was driving home from market late one night when his mare shied at a heap of stones on which a tramp had left a coat. He was flung from his trap and killed.
The horse went home and his worried wife drove out to look for her husband; when she found him she sat by his body until the doctor came.
1889 – Suicide at Clehonger due to Lack of Sleep
Clara Baylis was a single woman who worked as a Companion for a Miss Crampton, and travelled around with her.
Around Easter time she wrote to her sister and her husband saying that she did not feel well and would like to visit them, but subsequently she postponed the visit.
She then rearranged her visit and when she arrived was clearly unwell, saying that she had not slept for a good six weeks and was becoming distraught. She refused to see a doctor, but her mother called for one anyway and he prescribed some medicine.
The next morning, Clara’s mother went downstairs first thing and saw Clara hanging from a beam in the kitchen – she was cold and must have hung herself early in the night.
Her doctor in London said that she had not been depressed, just rather excitable and nervous. His examination of the body showed that she had come down with a drop which virtually dislocated the neck, and he thought that death would have been instant.
He thought that lack of sleep had sent her temporarily out of her mind.
1893 – Mysterious Death at Clehonger
Three young men were out for a walk when one of them went into a coppice to cut a stick – there he found the body of a man under some bushes.
They pulled the man out and saw that the man had been shot through the mouth – a new revolver being in his hand.
Strangely, the man seemed determined to hide his identity, having removed the used pages of his notebook, and put on brand new clothes from which he had cut the tailor’s name.
The surgeon, Mr. David Evans of Kingstone, made his examination and found a wound at the roof of the mouth such as might have been caused by a shot from a revolver; the ball had penetrated the back part of the brain at the junction with the spine, and death would have been instantaneous. Advanced putrefaction had set in in the abdomen which indicated that the man had been dead for about four days.
He was thought to be about 24 years old, around 5 ft 8 ins, with fair complexion and short brown hair; a short stubby moustache, hazel eyes and regular teeth.
The jury returned a verdict of suicide whilst in an unsound state of mind.