Attacks and murderous goings on

1850- Child Drowned at Little Hereford

An inquest was held on the body of William Griffiths, the five year old son of John Griffiths, a gamekeeper.

William was the eldest of five children and went to Little Hereford school every day, usually accompanied by his younger brother.

One morning William went off to school as usual, and later his father was told that he had drowned by the canal bridge.

John Griffiths stated that he had no idea that William was in the habit of taking off his shoes and stockings and going into the water, but the body was found in a deep and dangerous part of the river Teme.  His schoolmaster said that William had been at school in the morning, then went with his friends to play;  he said that he had often cautioned the boys never to go near the water but when crossing a bridge over the Teme in the early afternoon he saw the children on a rock.  He shouted to them to get back to school, but William never turned up either there or at home.

When William was found he was in the water and quite dead with no shoes or stockings on.

The jury returned a verdict of “deceased found drowned in the Teme, but how or by what means there is no evidence.”

The Coroner expressed a hope that this tragedy would serve as a caution to the schoolmaster to exercise a greater degree of watchfulness over his boys.


Yes……….and no parent these days would let two very small boys walk to school along the river on their own!

1859 – Man killed at Little Hereford Turnpike

Susan Bradford, wife of Richard Bradford, kept the Little Hereford Turnpike gate, and at the inquest on the body of James Owens she said that she had known James for eight years.

James used to work for a Mr. Lane of Upton, and one evening he was driving Mr. Lane’s horse and cart when he came to the turnpike.

The attack on James Owens

Samuel Hodgkiss who lived close to the gate came out and asked “what do you want with my boy?”.  It seems that there had been some sort of misunderstanding between the men on a prior occasion.

James Owens said that he didn’t want anything to do with Samuel or his boy, but Samuel swore and then hit James.  Apparently James didn’t strike back but adopted a fighting attitude;  however Samuel hit him twice more.

James asked for a policeman to be called, but was hit several more times by Samuel Hodgkiss.  Susan then told James to go home, thinking that he wasn’t badly hurt, although his face was bleeding badly, and others who saw him on his way home thought that he seemed cheerful and okay if a little drunk.

However later on a lady named Mrs. Blind came across the horse and cart down in the road near the turnpike……the bed of the cart had left the wheels and was overturned;  the horse was attached to the shafts and wheels which as well as the horse were turned completely over.  The horse was lying on its back, and a man was under the bed of the cart but when he was dragged out he was found to be dead.


Post Mortem on James Owens

Mr. F.L. Thomson, surgeon said that he found no marks of violence on the body with the exception of a very severe contusion on the right side of the head, also another on the left, but neither serious;  there was a blow on the left eye, and another on the forehead which may have been caused by a fight.  The most serious blow was behind the right ear;  there was a corresponding effusion of blood beneath the scalp, and on removing the skull there was a quantity of blood on the surface of the brain;  the blow may have been given in the fight, and it is possible that the blows on the forehead, behind the right ear and on the right side of the face took place at the same time.

His impression was that the upsetting of the cart might have inflicted them;  there was so much effusion of blood on the brain that he did not think that the deceased could have walked from the turnpike to where he was found.

The surgeon felt that death was instantaneous and that the deceased died from extravasation of blood on the surface of the brain.

The jury found a verdict of accidental death, but accompanied this with a censure upon the conduct of Samuel Hodgkiss as being cowardly and inhuman.

1863 – Murderous Attack at Little Hereford

Abraham Steed who had been remanded on bail came to the court to answer the charge of assaulting Richard Spiers with intent to cause grevious bodily harm.

Richard Spiers was a labourer living at Little Hereford, and said that whilst in a cider shop known as Halls in the Wood, Abraham Steed came into the room in a beligerent mood, and not wanting to fight, Richard went outside with his drink.

Later, after calling at several cider houses, Richard and his friend came across Abraham Steed in the road.  Unfortunately the friend, Johnson, had fallen down drunk and Steed proceeded to hit him with a stick, and shortly afterwards Richard also collapsed unconscious whereupon Steed attacked him.

The policeman said that when he found Richard Spiers, there was half a pint of blood in his mouth, and the surgeon, Francis F. Thompson said that Richard was dreadfully injured about the face, with a deep wound above the left eyebrow which in his opinion was caused by a stick.  There was also a deep wound beneath the eye, and the corner of the mouth was cut through.  Three teeth were broken as if by a kick.  Marks on the forehead seemed to be from the toe of a boot;  one rib was broken on the left side;  many blows  must have been given with great violence.

The defence lawyer tried to say that the wounds could have been caused by Richard falling on a stone, and some of his witnesses claimed that Steed was nowhere near the scene at the time and had never been alone.  One witness was Abraham Steed’s 8 year old illiterate son who didn’t know what the bible was, but he was sworn in and gave evidence which suggested that his father was absent for some time that evening but there was nothing that placed him at the scene of the crime.

After some consultation the Bench decided that Abraham Steed should be committed for trial for assault with intent to commit grevious bodily harm.

Later at the Quarter Sessions, after much deliberation, the Jury returned a verdict of not guilty


1899 – Memories of Mr. Strangward, Superintendent in the Police

Amongst other grim tales was a horrible child murder at Little Hereford.

A cottage belonging to Mr. Froggatt had been uninhabited for some time but the garden had been cultivated.  A man was sent after harvest to dig up the potatoes and store them in the cottage.

When he went into the cottage he discovered the decomposed body of a child with evidence of foul treatment.

Inquiries made by Mr. Strangward revealed the fact that two tramps with a sweet child had left Ludlow on May Fair night and gone to Little Hereford.  Six months had passed since then, but suspicion fell on these tramps and a thorough search was ordered.

Eventually the male tramp named Sanders was found at Worcester and arrested, and the woman was found at Thornbury. Sanders was executed.