Murder – or was it?   Death from alcohol, or was it?

1838 –  Sudden Death at Holmer

This is perhaps how we all might wish end our time on earth.

James Archibald of Holmer had been ill for many weeks, but then seemed to turn the corner.  He went out riding with his son and told his wife that he felt better than he had for a long time.

During the afternoon he enjoyed a walk in the garden, then returned to the house.  On sitting down he immediately died.

1855 – Mrs Hill of Holmer Loved Legal Proceedings!

It would seem that Mrs. Hill of Holmer was forever bringing cases to court, and would have been deemed a nuisance if they didn’t find it so funny.

She usually went to the City Magistrates Court with her cases, but in August 1855 she  appeared before their Worships at the Shirehall, prompting the observation in the press that she was “perhaps thinking that she would be unjust in favouring the City Magistrates so frequently with the light of her countenance, without honouring the county gentlemen with an occasional visit.”

This time, she wanted the Bench to bring proceedings against the landlord of the New Inn for letting her husband drink there, when to her mind he should be at home with his family.

The Magistrates were patient “proof that they are blessed with considerable powers of endurance”,  and sighing, told the landlord that he should send for the police if Mr. Hill refused to go home when asked.

1859 – Child Dies after Supposedly getting Drunk on Cider

Nine year old Alfred Thomas, son of John Thomas a Labourer, had always enjoyed good health.

One evening his father came home from work and found Alfred in a chair by the fire – he was seemingly drunk, and covered in cow muck.  A neighbour, William Knill had brought him home after finding him lying by the path covered in vomit and insensible.

Alfred’s parents washed him, during which time he was sick and his father said that he thought that it was cider;  Alfred perked up a bit after this but refused food and went to bed.

Alfred and his parents slept in the same room, and in the early hours of the morning they heard him groan – then he appeared to have a fit.   He went on to have four fits an hour until his father went to work at 4.30.

Later the Mr. Lane the surgeon was called as Alfred got no better, but the medicine he prescribed made no difference and in fact it became increasingly more difficult to get him to open his mouth;   despite desperate requests by Alfred’s father, Mr. Lane did not attend the child again and a few days later Alfred died having had an endless succession of increasingly violent fits.

At the inquest the lad’s movements throughout the day were studied and at no point was there any suggestion that he had drunk too much cider.

The Verdict

Alfred Thomas died from a succession of epileptic fits.  The jury said that Mr. Lane had said that he had a message leading him to believe that Alfred was better, but that the message had actually come from another parish.  They considered that Mr. Lane was very much to blame for not keeping at his surgery a servant sufficiently intelligent to give him correct messages from his patients.

1861 – Attacked by a Bull at Holmer

A bull belonging to Charles Bulmer of Holmer attacked a group of men, and Benjamin Davies was so badly injured that he died in the infirmary two weeks later.

1862 – Two Babies Found in Pond at Holmer

Mary Ann Green, wife of John Green a labourer of Holmer,  was walking along a footpath on the farm of J. Walker Esq. at Holmer, when she passed a horse pond and stopped to watch some ducks.

She noticed something else in the water and shouted to a nearby man to ask what he thought it was – he said that he had just chucked some horse entrails in (lovely!) and thought that that was what she had seen, however she insisted that she thought it looked like a child.

Both of them went to investigate, and did indeed find not one child, but two.  They immediately alerted the police, and Sergeant Cope of the County Constabulary rushed to the scene and ordered the tiny bodies to be taken to the nearby New Inn.

It was supposed that the babies had been in the water for roughly 9 days, and they were full term.

A woman was arrested, but after a medical examination proved her innocence she was set free.  Then an aunt and niece were taken into custody – Sarah Goode, a respectable middle aged woman, and Elizabeth Goode, a pretty and ladylike woman of 21.

The trial was somewhat inconclusive, although from witness statements it seemed glaringly obvious that Elizabeth Goode had been pregnant – and then wasn’t!  However, because the post mortem could not prove whether the children were born alive, the inquiry had to be stopped with a verdict of “Found dead in a pool, but whether they were alive or dead when placed there, there is no evidence to show”

Superintendent Wilson was not happy, and intended to investigate the case further so the prisoners were taken to Hereford.  I have yet to discover the outcome.

1878 – Herefordshire Manure Company at Holmer

I bet the locals had to keep their windows shut around this place!

The Herefordshire Manure company Limited, Holmer – Thomas Landon Managing director;  James Hain, Secretary.

Advertising pure bones of various sizes;  bone dust;  dissolved bones;  bone superphosphate etc. etc.

1891 – Holmer School struck by Lightning

During the course of a massive thunderstorm, Holmer school was struck by lightning on the apex of the roof over the west wing.  The lightning tracked down and smashed the top of the large west window, splintering the frame on the inside.

By sheer luck, a girls’ sewing class had not yet begun, as they usually sat on a raised platform just below the window……they could have been seriously injured.