Poachers, schooling, murder and ghosts

1790 – Private Tuition at Madley

The Rev. Henry Davis B.A. advertised places for ten pupils who were “designed for University or the superior lines of trade”, with attendance to commence on 25th January.

He wished to continue to superintend the education of young gentlemen, limited to just ten, with a plan carefully adapted to the respective institutions in life for which they were intended.

He stressed that his small school included many important advantages not found in Public Schools, and that his pupils would be treated liberally with the material privileges of parlour boarders.

The fees were eighteen guineas a year (washing not included!), with an entrance fee of one guinea.

This small school continued successfully for a great many years.


1793 – Poachers cause a Problem at Madley

Ann Pateshall;  Richard Aubrey, J. Matthews and John Greeen posted the following in the Hereford Journal in August 1793:

“Whereas the game in the several manors of Allensmore, Clehonger, Old Hill and Cagebrook in the parish of Madley have been for many years past greatly destroyed by poachers and unqualified persons;  therefore, to prevent the like depredations, we, whose names are underwritten, do give this public notice that all persons who shall in future be found destroying the Game upon any of the aforesaid Manors, will be prosecuted as the law directs.

It is particularly requested that qualified Gentlemen will not sport upon any of the above Manors without making a previous application to us for that purpose”.

1794 – Advertisement for Person to Preside over the Poor of Madley


A person to preside over the POOR at Madley, and to provide for them all necessary accommodations whatever.  A large house and garden is ready, and shall be made perfectly convenient for that purpose.

For more particulars, enquire of Mr. Geo. Foote, Overseer.

1830 – Madley Turnpike Trust

On 2nd November 1830 the Trustees of the Madley Turnpike Trust gave notice that from 1st January 1831 tolls would be taken for building materials taken through the turnpike gate on the road from Bun’s Lane to the White Hill in the parish of Weobley.

1851 – A Tale of Love, Murder and Hallucination

Hereford was awash with excitement over the murder of Richard Maskell and subsequent rumours and reports.

Mr. Richard Maskell a currier of Weobley aged 36, had six children with a seventh on the way and he was a highly respected businessman with a wide circle of friends.

Richard Maskell Disappears

On Monday 26th February 1833, he left home to travel to Hereford and was his normal cheerful self when he said goodbye to his wife.  He was carrying about £260 (a huge amount of money then) which he intended to pay to Messrs Hatton of Hereford, and at midday he arrived at their offices in Church Street.  He was invited to dinner by Mrs. Hatton, and he accepted – then went down the street towards Cathedral Close.  He was never seen again.

The Woman from Madley’s Secret

At the time of Richard’s disappearance, a woman from Madley was in the service of a gentleman in Castle Street, and from there she went to London.  13 years later on her return to Madley she got to know the Davies family of Blackmarstone and she told them a tale of untmost secrecy – ufortunately, Davies was not one for keeping secrets and eventually the city police got to know of this secret.

The secret was this –  When she was in service in Castle Street, two of her fellow servants were a coachman and a footman;  the coachman died a natural death, but the footman committed suicide by taking a “lovers leap” into the Castle Millpond.

The coachman slept over the coachhouse and his son of four slept with him.  The Madley woman was a Primitive Methodist and usually got up early so that she could attend prayer meetings at 7 a.m..  One morning she got up far too early, (1 a.m. to be precise)  and once outside  she heard a noise in the stable;  she realised her mistake when she heard the clock strike so turned back to the house and as she did so her foot caught on something on the ground.  It was a man’s stocking soaked with blood.

She chucked the stocking over the wall just as the coachman and footman came out to ask if she had seen anything unusual.  She told them about the stocking.

Some time passed, and during an exhibition on the Castle Green one night she went up to a back room of her master’s house to watch;  whilst there she opened a cupboard and found the matching stocking to the one she had tossed away, along with a blood soaked shirt.  Apparently she took them both away and burnt them – goodness knows why!

The Little Boy’s Secret

The coachman’s little boy meanwhile told the house servants that he had a secret, but they were not to say anything because his father would beat him if he knew.  He then said that he had seen his father and the footman cutting up a man and throwing the pieces in the old well.  His father had told him that it was a big dog, but he said that he knew it wasn’t because he had seen a man’s legs.

All this happened at the time that Richard Maskell disappeared.

The Ghost of the Footman

The woman from Madley said that she kept quiet at the time because she had good reason, but she later talked to the footman who begged her to stay silent and then asked her to marry him!  She constantly refused his attentions, he eventually he killed himself by jumping in the Castle Millpond.

After his death, the woman often heard strange noises at night, and is sure that she saw the ghost of the footman at the back door of her master’s house.  It happened so often that she moved to London, but the ghost followed her there.  She wrote to the coachman, who admitted that he too had seen the ghost, and that he had had long conversations with it, but he reassured her that he had taken effective means to allay the disturbed spirit, and it indeed never appeared to her again.

Soon after this, the coachman died.

The Story Ends

The police decided to ignore the ghost part of the story, but nevertheless were keen to interview the Madley woman themselves.  She kept to the story, but  denied having said that the little boy had seen the legs of a man.

The whole business was closed and no attempt was made to verify the story,  so the mystery of Richard Maskell’s disappearance remains unsolved.


1899 – Death of Mr. W. Taylor of Madley

Mr. William Taylor of the Withies, Madley died after a short illness.  He had been a builder on the Tyberton Court and Madley Estate for 26 years, and for 24 years was a member of the Ancient Order of Foresters, Court Unity at Moccas.

He was born February 28th 1836 and died February 15th 1899.