Tales of Fire, desertion, horrible deaths and law suits

1833 – Horrible Death in Threshing Machine

Joseph Taylor was working for Mr. Gwillim of How Caple, and was attending a threshing machine when his smock frock became caught in the workings, and he was “wheeled around with terrific violence”.

The machine was immediately stopped, and Joseph was disentangled and taken home where examination resulted in him being taken to the Infirmary.  The doctors there realised that his left arm was so badly damaged that it would have to be amputated if he was to survive, and the operation was duly carried out.

Unfortunately, he had lost so much blood that he died immediately after the operation.

1846 – Devastating Fire at How Caple

At the beginning of February 1846, a fire broke out at Rugdon, an old thatched farm house which was lived in by two poor widows.

The nearest fire engine was some distance, and before help could arrive the whole house was destroyed along with all the widows’ furniture and possessions.  Some of the out buildings were burnt down too and one of the widows was badly hurt.

The reporter for the Hereford Journal was clearly upset by the incident, and said that he hoped the honest and hard working women would receive help from the neighbours, especially the “influential” ones (presumably he was thinking of How Caple Court amongst others), and that maybe a subscription would be opened on their behalf.

1846 – Drowned whilst Drunk

On 9th April 1846, John Powell of How Caple had been drinking heavily with friends before he boarded a barge on the River Wye.  He fell overboard at Hoarwithy, but his body was not found until 23rd April.

The verdict was accidentally drowned.

1856 – Death of a Child at How Caple

Eliza Oakley, a mother of seven children, went out “leasing” taking her 8 month old baby with her.

The baby had always been rather sickly, but for some reason Eliza had never sought medical aid.

On the day in question, Eliza carried the child around for a while and then put it on the floor whilst she went on with her leasing…..half an hour later the baby was dead.

An inquest was held and the jury returned an open verdict.

1861 – Children Deserted

Ann Meredith of How Caple took her two children to the Ross Union Workhouse and left them there whilst she went to live with “a man who was not her husband”.

At Court she was told that she should have stayed in the Workhouse with her children, or taken them out and received help from the Board where appropriate.  She was also told that she had acted very disgracefully and she was sent to Hereford Gaol for one month.

1899 – The How Caple Brook Law Suit

Lovibond v Foster

The Rev Frederic Hamilton Lovibond, Rector of How Caple brought a case against Arthur Wellesley Foster of Brockhampton Court.

It was alleged that Arthur Foster, or members of his family, had diverted water from an old stream so that it fed the mill race of his mill.  It was claimed that he had possibly raised the weir, or used other means which deprived those downstream of the valuable source of irrigation and water for livestock.

Arthur Foster had bought his mill in 1896  and he said that the tenant, Mr. W. Mayo had altered the weir, and had also filled in a hole which was there to allow water to flow into the brook during dry weather.

In summing up, the Judge said that nobody could deprive the brook of water by diverting it to the mill, and although the miller had a right to take a certain amount of water the question was whether this right had been taken too far by alterations to the weir.

The jury found in favour of the Rev. Frederic Lovibond.