Thursday, 23 August 2012

"I'll be damned if I have not shot your daughter”

We don’t often come across gun crime in the Quarter Sessions so the shooting of 16 year old Emma Hills of Beeston instantly caught our attention.

Emma Hills retold how she had been going home along with her friend Emma Ilsley when they were overtaken by Edmund Huckle and William Jeeves on Beeston Green.  Huckle was carrying a gun which he had acquired from his master.  She asked if his gun was loaded and he said no.  He asked her to walk by his side and she said she would not and ran forward.  She heard the gun almost immediately.  As soon as the gun went off she felt as if she was on fire about her neck and she fell down.  Huckle picked her up and carried her home.  When Emma made no response to her mother’s questions, Huckle said “Mrs Hills I’ll be damned if I have not shot your daughter”.  She replied “you haven’t have you?” and he said that he had.  When the blood was removed, Mrs Hills saw that her daughter had been shot on the left side of the face and down her neck and shoulders. 

Fortunately the doctors, Emma’s family and Emma herself declared the incident to have been an accident and the wounds appeared relatively minor.  Edmund Huckle was found not guilty of the unlawful, malicious and felonious shooting of Emma Hill and went back to his wife Sarah and his rapidly expanding family.


Thursday, 9 August 2012

from Bicycles to Tricycles

Maybe unsurprisingly we’ve come across yet more Bedfordshire bicycle, or in this instance, tricycle crime.  This time in the Epiphany session of 1889.

Luton Detective William Chamberlain was perusing the Police Gazette one evening when he read details of Jacob Josh wanted in Kings Lynn for the theft of a piano.  The same man was also wanted in Huddersfield, Rugby, Portsmouth and other places for stealing tricycles.  Chamberlain went round to warn the local cycle agents and ascertained that the prisoner had visited 2 other cycle agents before being allowed to borrow a tricycle from Albert Trott, a jeweller and cycle agent of Waller Street Luton. 

Chamberlain hired a horse and trap and went to St Albans with Trott where they came across the tricycle in the yard of The Cock public house.  They watched the prisoner go into the bar and Chamberlain followed and entered into a discussion with Trott about purchasing the machine for £2.  An arrest was made, although the prisoner became violent and said he refused to be taken to prison alive.  Interesting he confessed to the crime at this stage, although later pleaded not guilty to the charge.  He was tried at the General Quarter Session of the Peace at Wakefield, West Riding, York and sentenced to 6 months hard labour.

Another interesting element to the case was that Josh was described in the Calendar of Prisoners (QSR1889/1/3/1) as an Engine Driver.  In fact the 1881 census described him, at just 16 years, as an Engine Driver.  However, records available via suggest although he did once work for the railways, it was for a period of 2 months as a labourer.  It would be fascinating to know if he did have a further career as a driver; it would certainly explain his travelling tricycle crimes.  However in the October of 1890 Jacob Josh is again convicted of larceny, this time in Warwick.  He was considered insane and confined to the County Lunatic Asylum.  So possibly his interest in tricycles and trains were all part of his psychosis.