Rioting Hop Pickers and violent burglary plus more

1808 – Suspected Rabid Dog at Weston Beggard

In February 1808, two children “belonging to some poor people” in Weston Beggard, were bitten by a dog with suspected rabies.

The dog was not seen again, but the children were taken to a surgeon in Hereford, who cut the flesh out around the bites.

1828 – Weston Beggard Woman Hurt by Bullock at Hereford Vegetable Market

A lady by the name of Symonds from Weston Beggard was at the High Town vegetable market one Wednesday, when a bullock which was being driven from the cattle market turned a little tricky and escaped his handler.

Mrs Symonds was knocked to the floor and trampled, resulting in severe facial injuries, and many other shoppers were also hurt.

After this incident there was an outcry about the siting of the vegetable market, especially as the meat, poultry and butter market was superb – most of the vegetables were brought by wives of gardeners and farmers, who had walked a considerable distance, and were then exposed without seating or shelter to all the elements as they sold their wares.

High Town on market day was crowded with vendors, and the passage for carriages and horses was usually blocked, making accidents all the more likely.

A toll had to be paid by the vendors, so they were entitled to rather better accommodation.  A plan was called for.

1841 – Man Dies in Threshing Machine

James Parsons was driving the horses pulling a threshing machine, when he slipped and fell.  The wheels of the machine killed him instantly.

1848 – Child Burns to Death

Here is this village’s example of the tragically frequent occurrence.

Ann Beavan of Weston Beggard left her children in the house when she went out to do some errands.

A little later, her eldest child, a 7 year old boy ran screaming up to her and begging her to come home immediately;  she of course did so, and found her three year old boy, Thomas, engulfed in flames.

She managed to put the flames out, and applied oil to the burns before sending for the doctor, but Thomas died within an hour.

1851 – Shocking Burglary at Weston Beggard

Miss Morris lived at Weston Beggard some 100 yards from the Hereford to Worcester Road and a short distance away from the Crown Inn.

The burglary

One Sunday afternoon, three men entered the house of Miss Morris by way of the parlour window, but found the door to the rest of the house locked.  They chiselled the door open, and proceeded to steal silver spoons and money from the next room they came to.

The three men then went upstairs, and two of them went into Miss Morris’s bedroom;  she woke up, and saw that they had blackened their faces, and that one of them had a cudgel in one hand and a candle in the other.

With threats to her life, the men ransacked a chest of drawers and removed eight crown pieces, a purse containing a sovereign, £12 in gold and £65 in notes.

Miss Morris started to scream and aroused her servant man, who rushed to see what was going on, but was stopped by one of the robbers who with foul language threatened to blow his brains out whilst holding a gun to his head.

The poor man was terrified, and did nothing to further annoy the burglars who eventually went back down the stairs to the kitchen, where they stole a flitch of bacon.  They left briefly, but came back to fire the gun through the window, shattering both the glass and the frame as well as the ceiling of the room beyond.

The Police give chase

Once they had finally gone, the servant ran to the house of Mr. Lewis, the parish constable, and together they set off after the thieves (a Mr. Thomas Powell was also asked to join them, but he refused to come downstairs!);  unfortunately, the constable and servant obliterated the tracks of the burglars as they rushed about.

A farmer of Weston Beggard, Mr. Heaford,  heard the commotion, and immediately saddled his horse to race to Hereford;  he called up superintendents Gregory of the Hereford County constabulary, and Adams of the city police, as well as sending a messenger to Superintendent Marshall of Bromyard and Superintendent Shead and Gregory at Ledbury..  They, in company with Sergeant Griffiths arrived at the scene of the crime before daybreak.  Incredibly both Shead and Marshall arrived at the same time, having cleared hedges and ditches in order to take the shortest route.

The police searched the lanes and fields for miles around, to no avail and eventually they gave up as darkness fell.  Locals were quick to start rumours that the culprits must be from the neighbourhood, due to the theft of the ham and the fact that they seemed to know their way around the house.

Robbery with violence was taken most seriously indeed and efforts continued to find the culprits of this crime.

1859 – Death of Illegitimate Child at Weston Beggard

An unmarried woman by the name of Mary Hackford gave birth to a child fathered by a Mr. Taylor who had never been found and therefore had never supported the baby.

The child was unhealthy from birth, and five months later he took a turn for the worse.  Mary Hackford was unconcerned, and indeed, on a day when he was really poorly, she departed for Hereford without feeding him.  Soon afterwards, the child died.

The mother later stated that she knew that her child was cold and ill, and that she had placed him by the fire;  then thinking that he would die, she had gone out because she couldn’t stand to be there.  She had been told not to bury the body until she had heard from the Coroner, but she went ahead;  the poor child had to be disinterred for a post mortem examination.

The post mortem showed nothing suspicious, just a slight congestion of the brain and death was attributed to natural causes.

1867 – Hop Pickers Riot at Weston Beggard

In September 1867, about 14 Irish hop pickers, both male and female, were drinking at the Crown Inn, (or Bannut Tree Inn) in Weston Beggard.

The parish constable John Bayliss was called mid evening to sort out a disturbance, but as soon as he entered the Inn he was brutally attacked.  He was pushed to the ground, then kicked about the head, face and body until he was on the verge of death.

Not content with this, the mob stormed into the bar and smashed glasses, bottles and windows, including the frames – the Inn was wrecked basically, but still the mob wanted more destruction and threatened to set fire to the house.  They were thwarted in this last act by the lack of straw or other combustible material.

Meanwhile poor John Bayliss was carried to his house where Mr. Wood, a surgeon from Tarrington attended to him.  It was later reported that he had a compound fracture of the skull, with other injuries, but was in no immediate danger.  However, this was soon amended and reports sadly stated that he was unlikely to recover.

Six members of the mob were taken into custody by the county constabulary, but the rest managed to get away.  The six were described as “having forbidding features, with the physiognomical development of one or two of the men especially being exceedingly atrocious and animal like.”

There names were John Casey;  William Maloney;  William Stead;  Margaret Field, alias Welsh;  Mary Lirch and Alice Costello.

In October, John Bayliss had recovered despite gloomy predictions, and was able to testify in court.   He related how badly he was kicked and thumped, and also said how the women had pulled most of the hair from his head.

1867 – Fatal Railway Accident

An inquest was held at the Crown Inn, Weston Beggard, on the death of William Moss aged 34.

On 18th February  a local farmer, Thomas Davis, heard the whistle of the train;  he knew that the train was due to rattle through but it never normally stopped, and when it did, he thought that something was wrong.

He went to investigate, and found the engine driver, Henry Farmer,  who said that he had hit a man and “cut him all to pieces”.  They both went down the track to find the body, and later the police constable who was summoned confirmed that it was William Moss – identification was by clothing, because the whole of the face was crushed.  His left hand had been cut off and the shoulder and arm were dreadfully lacerated.

The verdict was death by accident, and no blame was attached to the driver of the train.