The Isle of Wight 150 years ago.
Extracts from the Hampshire Telegraph.
2 March 1861
LIFE-BOAT. - On Tuesday, a quarterly inspection of the Brooke life-boat, with her gear and stores, took place. The local sub-committee, Sir Henry Percy Gordon, Bart., chairman, the Revds. E. Mc.All and J. Pellew Gaze, hon. secretaries; the Inspecting commander of coast-guard, Captain Midmay, R.N., and Mr. Cutajar, R.N., Benjamin Cotton, Esq., Messrs. Henry Way, W. Selby and the treasurer, Mr. G. Wyatt, with Mr. E. Watts, surveyor of roads, assembled in the resuscitating-room, adjoining the boat-house, at two o'clock p.m., when the coxswain Mr. John Hayter, presented his inventory, and reported as to the damage the oars, &c. , had sustained when the crew were out on duty, the repairs which had been effected, and also the desirability of having a compass complete, with light, attached to the life-boat. After having ascertained and certified, in accordance with the rules, that everything was in proper order and in its place, ready for action at a moment’s notice, and the payments to the coxswain and the crew being made, the committee proceeded to examine the road between in the boat-house and the shore, which is about to be much improved. The Committee also surveyed (for the purpose of recommending a plan to the general committee for adoption) the proposed improvements of the road leading from Brooke boat-house to Compton Grange, Chine, and Bay - the scene of many wrecks, and where the John Wesley now lays stranded, and undergoing the steady process of breaking up by the purchaser of the hull. The road in question has hitherto been, and is still, almost impassable for the life-boat on her carriage; but, should funds allow the proposed plan to be carried out, this road will then be readily available in case of need, and may (by God's help) be the means of saving many lives from shipwreck.
The Borough Court was held on Thursday, before R. M. Wavell and F. Pittis, Esqrs., where the notorious James Cassford, of Ventnor, who has probably been committed for drunkenness more times than any other man living, was charged by P.C. Grey with another offence of a similar description, and was again sent off to his old abode in Winchester Gaol for another month.
9 March 1861
THE WIFE MURDER NEAR RYDE. - Henry Lacey, a stout-built baldheaded man, was indicted and also charged on the coroner’s Inquisition with the wilful murder of his wife, Jane Lacey, at St Helen’s, near Ryde, in the Isle of Wight. The court was crowded immediately the doors were opened, and an immense assembly congregated outside.
Mr. W.M.Cooke and Mr. Arthur Sanders were for the prosecution; Mr. H. T. Cole defended the prisoner.
It is unnecessary to repeat the whole of the evidence which was fully reported in our columns a fortnight ago. The facts of the case may be briefly stated as follows:-The prisoner, his wife, who was about 70 years of age, and her niece, Susan Wildey, resided at Old House Farm, at St Helen’s, where the prisoner was a farmer. He was a man of very intemperate habits, but occasionally abstained to a certain extent for some weeks together. His wife had for the last 2 and a half years been attended for an illness which resulted in inflammation of the bowels, and afterwards in great debility. The last time the deceased was seen alive was on Saturday night, the 16th of February, between half-past 8 and 9 o'clock. During that day the prisoner and Susan Wildey had been to Newport, and during their absence Priscilla Young left Mrs Lacey in bed. Lacey was then drunk. On Sunday morning Mrs. Corney, a neighbour, went to the house, and immediately on her entering the door saw the prisoner, who said to her that Mrs. Lacey was dead; that she was coming downstairs, and fell down, and in that way he accounted for her death; he also added, voluntarily, “I am as innocent as you are; I have not done anything; I have not done it.” Mrs. Corney went up stairs, found Mrs. Lacey dead, with her face and other portions of her body very severely bruised, and there were spots of blood near where she was lying on the floor, which appeared to have been recently washed. Deceased’s flannel was damp, and her linen had been changed that morning. Priscilla Young also arrived and observed the bruises, which did not exist when she left on the previous night. Russell and Nicholas, two labourers, were roused from their bed at seven o'clock in the morning by the prisoner, who directed him to go for a doctor, as his wife was in a dying state, while at the same time she must have been dead some two or three hours. Mr. Ollard, the surgeon, came about half-past eight o'clock, and upon his entering the house Lacey's first observation was, “Mrs. Lacey is dead; she fell downstairs.” The doctor was anxious to have some conversation with Susan Wildey. He accordingly invited her to go into the garden, but Lacey followed them and pushed the woman into the house, observing that what was fit to be heard by her was also fit to be heard by him. Lacey, who was still the worst for drink, protested several times to the doctor that he had not done it - that he was entirely innocent. The doctor left, and on returning about eleven o'clock found a Lacey struggling with the police, whom he had to assist in handcuffing him, and keeping him quiet. Mr. Ollard’s opinion of the cause of death was that it resulted from violence received by her while she had a debilitated constitution; that the story the prisoner told of his wife having fallen downstairs was improbable, if not impossible; that it was impossible for her to have reached a staircase without being lifted to it, and that she must have been dead some hours before he was called to her. Lacey, while yet suffering from delirium tremens, stated to the police, King and Catchpole, that he had taken his wife up in his arms and thrown her down because he was jealous of her: that he put her into bed again, kissed her, and covered her up; that he got into bed to Susan; that the afterwards went to his wife again, and asked Susan to send for a doctor; that Susan’s reply was, “Let her stop till morning;” and that she died about six o'clock. He appeared quite calm and collected then, and ate his breakfast heartily. The deceased's flannel was produced, marked with blood, and covered with hair. The jury convicted the prisoner of manslaughter, and he was sentenced to 6 years’ penal servitude. [This case was heard at Hampshire Assizes, Winchester.]
COUNTY PETTY SESSIONS. - William Beck, the captain of the William the IVth, lying at Cowes, was summoned to show cause why he refused to pay John Bannister and Charles Fellowes, the sum of 3s. 6d. for their day work. Defendant said he had offered them 2s. 7½d. which they refused, as he reckoned by the hours they were employed that only three quarters of a day’s wages were due to them, they having only worked from 10 o'clock to 6. The claimants urged that the custom-house hours at Cowes were from 8 to 4, for all waterman and that they took the task by the job, not by the hour. The court decided they were right, and advised the defendant to make a more definite agreement in future ordering him to pay the extra 1s. 9d. and costs 9s., in addition to which he had to pay the expense of two witnesses from Cowes. The plaintiffs pocketed the 10½d. each, lost their extra day's work, had one witness to pay for his single time, had a 10 mile walk, and went away rejoicing on having - won the day!
Our Floating Bridge has commenced running again from East to West Cowes, greatly to the satisfaction of all, who during the time the Bridge was laid out, were compelled to revert to the old and inconvenient Ferry boats of ancient days.
16 March 1861
The contracts for supplying the Guardians of the Poor for the ensuing quarter were taken on Thursday, as follows:- Best white bread, delivered at the House of Industry, at 15s. 8d. per cwt., by Mr F Grey (13½d. per 8lb loaf!); best flour, per sack, 49s., Mr. B. Arnell; prime Isle of Wight pork, per score, 12s. 10½d., Messrs. Wooldridge; mutton and suet, per score, 13s. 2d., Mr. John Way; malt, per qr., 75s., Mr. Westmore.
COUNTY PETTY SESSIONS. - Cornelius Underwood, a veteran pilot, belonging to West Cowes, charged George Wakely, a brother of the same craft, with committing a wanton and unprovoked assault. The complainant on being Sworn said - Last Tuesday evening as I was standing in front of the “Marine Hotel,” the defendant came up and asked me why I took that ship from him? I said I had not, that the captain of her came ashore and asked me if I was a pilot, and when I said I was he said he wanted one to take him to sea the next morning, if the wind was fair at five o'clock. Defendant said I was a liar, and I said he was one too, if he denied that the captain engaged me, when he raised his fist and knocked me down. I got up again, and said I should summon him, and he said he shouldn't have any more to pay and so he knocked me down again. I have been a pilot now 46 years, and he is too big a coward to strike one of his own age, that an old man like me he would knocked down in a minute. Defendant - Why the least puff of wind would blow down, you were so drunk, and you called me a liar first, wrung your fists up, scratched my face and cheated me out of three pounds. Complainant –“I hadn't drunk a drop of any thing that day, I had my hands in my pocket when you knocked me down, and your face got scratched in the struggle when we were both down.” Defendant – “The captain was a foreigner and couldn't speak a word of English, and the ship was delivered over to me to take to sea, till you got an interpreter, and took her away from me, and he robbed me of £55.” Complainant said, he agreed with the captain himself, who could speak good English. The Chairman - At all events defendants took the law into his own hands when he committed the assault, and we shall fine him 10s. and costs 7s 6d.
23 March 1861
COUNTY PETTY SESSIONS. - Mr Henry S. Maynard, a respectable chemist at Sandown, preferred a complaint against his apprentice, James Theophilus Johnson, who, it appeared, had absconded in August last and joined the Garibaldian volunteers in Italy. He returned in a state of destitution on the Wednesday preceding, and behaved himself in a riotous and disorderly manner, and demanded to be taken into the complainant’s house. As he had been before cautioned as to his conduct by the Bench, and the magistrates considered that the best course to be pursued, under the circumstances was to cancel the indentures, which had agreed to by both parties.
John Edwards, keeper of the Duke of Wellington beer-shop in Cosham-Street was charged by P.C. Stubbs with harbouring improper characters. It appeared by the evidence that, after experiencing some difficulty in gaining admission to the house at 12 o'clock on the Tuesday night preceding, the police examined the sleeping apartments up-stairs, when they found two common prostitutes in bed, and in another bed a soldier and another common prostitute, which the landlady had pretended to be a married couple. The court said they were bound to suppress these evils as much as possible, and that therefore fined the defendant (who declined to appear) in the sum of 20s. and 5s. costs and, for a repetition of the offence, they would levy the full penalty of £10 and costs.