Storms, concerts and Arsenic poisoning

1784 – Death Penalty for Old Man at Weston Under Penyard

James Williams, also known as Samuel James, aged 74, was executed on 13th August 1784 for stealing a horse at Weston Under Penyard.

1849 – Death by Arsenic Poisoning at Weston Under Penyard

A very sad and tragic tale.

Harriet White was in the service of Mr. Butler at Weston Under Penyard when she became pregnant.

One evening she became very ill, and Mr. Butler ordered her to bed – suspicions were aroused a little later that maybe she had taken poison, and a lady by the name of Mary Baldwin who was tending Harriet asked her if this was the case.

At first, Harriet denied having taken poison, but then later she said that she had taken half a teaspoon of arsenic in water;  not long afterwards she died.

The surgeon who was summonsed had initially suspected Cholera, but the post mortem ruled this out and the cause of death was stated to be arsenic poisoning.

The jury’s verdict was that Harriet had taken the arsenic in the hope of getting rid of the baby, and that she had not intended to kill herself.

1853 – Reckless Driving by Youths is nothing new

Thomas Probyn, a butchers boy, was known to be something of a boy racer – only of course in 1853 it was horses and carts not cars.

One evening, he was careering down the road to Weston Under Penyard when he came across the carriage of Mr. Cocks of that village, who was being driven home by his servant.    A serious collision ensued, which resulted in both Mr. Cocks and his servant being thrown from their carriage which was virtually broken in two.

The Bench took the view that as butchers boys were notoriously reckless when driving, the highest penalty allowed should be given.  This was 40s fine, but because Thomas couldn’t pay he was committed to prison for three weeks with hard labour.

1853 – Storm over Weston Under Penyard

Flooding in Herefordshire is nothing new – in July 1853 a massive thunderstorm, which lasted for over two hours, deluged the area causing massive damage and loss of livestock.  It was reported that the rain didn’t just fall, it dropped as if in a solid mass!

People had lucky escapes when rescuing horses from the deep water in their stables, and whole fields of turnips were destroyed when water to a depth of four feet covered them.

Mud was washed from the fields onto the roads, clogging the drains and causing the water to divert into houses and farm yards.  The London mail coach battled through mud and deep water – one can only imagine the exhausted state of the poor horses.

1857 – Child Murder Suspect – Weston Under Penyard

A new born baby girl had been found dead in a pool at Kingston Court Farm at Weston Under Penyard, and the chief suspect was a 22 year old girl named Sylvia Trigg who worked for Mr. Burgum at Kingston Court.

Sylvia was arrested at the Court and a private investigation was carried out at the office of the Magistrates’ Clerk – an action which was severely frowned on by the Court as being damaging to the case.

The evidence was heard over two days, and included that of a 14 year old girl, Elizabeth Bradley, who told of how she found Sylvia apparently very ill, lying on a sofa and appearing to be in great pain.  Elizabeth saw a great deal of blood around Sylvia.

Another witness, Henry Hall who was a labourer at Kingston Court, told how he found the child in the pond.

Post Mortem on the Baby

When the post mortem was carried out, it was found that although the body was very decomposed, a swelling was evident on the right side of the head – an injury which was deemed to have been sufficient to cause death. The umbilical cord had been torn and not tied off, which meant that no medical aid had been given at the birth, and this too could have killed the child.

The surgeon also examined Sylvia, and found that she had recently given birth.

However, the Bench were not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to convict Sylvia of murder, and they decided to proceed against her only for concealment of birth.  Sylvia was committed for trial and bail was set at £100 with two sureties of £50.


May 1863 – Amateur Concert at Weston Under Penyard

A wonderful selection of musical talent gathered to entertain at Weston Under Penyard schoolroom, which was said to almost equal the visit by the Wandering Minstrels of Hereford, and the room was packed.

Sir F. Gore Ouseley played the piano;  J.H. Arwright, Marcellus Newton, and C. Willett played on violin;  Tenor was the Rev. H. Cooper Key;  Rev. G. Cornewall and L. Willett played Violincellos;  Concertina was played by Captain X.F. Orange;  Flue by Chandos Wren Hoskyns, and Harp by Mrs. Hawkshaw.

The schoolroom was beautifully decorated with evergreens, and flowers which were artificial but so good as to be like the real thing.

Sir F. Gore Ouseley gave an outstanding performance, and the audience wanted more – what they got instead was a mediocre duet by Mrs. Symonds and Miss Phillipps!

The rest of the concert was well received.