~ Old News ~
GORNAL IN THE NEWS - OLD NEWS AND GOSSIP FROM AROUND THE VILLAGE
1880s
These reports were taken from newpapers of the time....
2nd April 1880
A BRUTAL ATTACK
Recently, Mr. George Hampton, of the Mill House, Ruiton, when crossing a lane leading from the Dudley Road, Upper Gornal to Ruiton, was over-taken by five men, one of whom said, "Here's a Tory, let us kill him" and immediately afterwards he received a violent blow in the face. He fell to the ground, and was then violently assaulted by three of the men.
Hampton urged them not to kill him, upon which one of the ruffians kicked him between the eyes, which caused him to be insensible and to fall down an embankment.
Shortly after twelve o'clock Hampton became conscious, and found that he lay at the bottom of the embankment in a pool of blood. With difficulty he succeeded in getting to his house, where his injuries which were found to be of a serious nature were attended to. Fortunately, Hampton can swear to one of the ruffians who assaulted him, and magisterial proceedings will be taken.
Hampton is a quiet, inoffensive man, and much sympathy is expressed for him.
The Merthyr Telegraph and General Advertiser.
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The following report relates to a shooting incident on the night of Sunday 20th March, 1881, earlier newspaper reports indicated that the man had both attempted murder and also had shot himself in the head, causing grievous harm to himself, but this doesn't seem to be the case.
9th April 1881
ALLEGED ATTEMPTED MURDER OF A SWEETHEART.
On Monday evening, at the Sedgley Police court before the Rev. Wm. Griffiths and Mr F.A. Homer. Mr James Bodenham, jun., wheelwright, of Upper Gornal, was brought up on remand charged with attempting to murder Miss Elizabeth Williams, daughter of Mr Edward Williams, metal merchant, of that place, whom he had been courting for the past three years.
After the former hearing it was proved that, having been out walking together on Sunday, the 30th ult., and on returning to her home, at Pale Piece, the accused and Miss Williams had a slight quarrel, and after some words expressive of jealousy, he fired a revolver, and that she rushed into the house, saying her lover had shot her. Subsequently he is alleged to have shot himself, and was wounded when he entered the house of Williams.
The evidence was further gone into, and Mrs Williams now stated that on the night in question, having heard the report of a pistol close to the house, she met her daughter rushing towards her, crying out, "Oh, dear father, Jim Bodenham has shot me. "There was the smell of powder on her daughter's ulster. Shortly afterwards the defendant came and said, "It is me Mrs Williams. Oh! forgive me. Have I hurt Lizzie?" Prisoner said he had thrown the pistol away.
Subsequently prisoner admitted to Mr W.E.Fithern, who came on the spot, that the pistol was in his pocket, where Fithern found a revolver recently discharged. There were cartridges in five barrels, but whether discharged or not he could not say. On the way home accused repeatedly said, What have I done this for?"
Dr. Ballenden examined the defendant the same evening, and extracted a bullet from his hand. From an examination witness believed only one barrel of the pistol had been discharged. Police-constable Sutton, who examined the revolver, was of opinion that four barrels had been discharged. Prisoner stated to the officer that the discharge was accidental.
Mr Stokes, in a forcible speech, argued that the pistol was not fired at the girl at ail. The Bench committed the defendant for trial at next Stafford Assizes on the charge, but admitted him to bail, himself in 100, and two sureties of 50.
The charge against him of attempted suicide was adjourned to Monday. Prisoner, who was also charged with using threatening language towards Mr Williams, the father of his sweetheart, was bound over to keep the peace.
The Cardiff Times
In July 1881, James Bodenham appeared at Staffordshire Assizes for the attempted murder of Elizabeth Williams in March.
He was acquitted.
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10th December, 1881
VILLAGE IN TERROR
For some weeks, past the greatest excitement has prevailed at the village of Lower Gornal, near Dudley and Sedgley, in consequence of rumours that ghosts were to he seen walking about St. James's churchyard. The young women of the village choir refuse to go to practice in church without a strong escort.
One woman of more mature years, going home with the supper beer, stumbled against a child, spilt the ale, and rushed home declaring she had narrowly escaped capture by a ghost.
The Rev. J.Y.Rooker, the vicar, two years ago, was fired at and badly injured, and several persons who know Mr. Rooker's would be assassin asserted that they had seen him lurking about, while others declared that figures had been observed walking up and down the field which led from the vicarage into the churchyard performing all kinds of strange antics. In consequence of those statements, a large number of persons became terrified as to declare openly that on no account would they walk near the churchyard after dark, and so frightened the fe1low members of the choir that they refused to go to practice at night unless some, men accompanied them for protection.
The Police have been called upon to inquire into the truth of the rumour, but they have not in any way been successful in solving the mystery. Knowing that the vicar had been permanently injured by a former attack, a band of young men pledged themselves to watch and to watch and inflict summary punishment on any person attempting to attack him or his family. On the very same night one of these volunteers, not acting in concert with the others, appeared on the scene to take his share in the watching, but not being recognised in the dark, a cry was raised that be was the guilty Individual, and it was only by scaling the garden wall and getting into the back of a house that he evaded his pursuers.
On Saturday evening voices were heard in the vicarage garden, and the police were sent for, but no one could be discovered although every corner was searched. In a yard at the back of the house more voices were heard, and Mr. Rooker upon going out, was seized by a man who cried out "you have come to kill the Vicar have you, I've sworn to take your life you villain, and I'll do it quick". Lights being procured, the rev. gentleman's assailant was found to be a neighbour who had been drinking In a public-house.
The idea cannot be dispelled that the churchyard is haunted, and to sheo the kind of superstition which exists. It may be stated that a woman a few nights ago called at the vicarage, and requested the Rev. Mr Rooker to permit her to cut a turf four inches square from a particular grave in the churchyard, in which she alleged was a young man who could not lie at ease in his grave in consequence of a guilty conscience. She stated that if the turf were put under the communion table, and allowed to remain four days, all ghosts would disappear and be laid at rest for ever.
Reported by The North Wales Chronicle and several other newpapers at the time.
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11th March, 1882
A PAINFUL SCENE has been witnessed in the streets of Lower Gornal. A boy, named Robson, in running across the street, was knocked down by a cart, the wheels passing over his head and killing him instantaneously. The mother witnessed the occurrence, and fainted away, dropping a baby out of her arms as she fell. The infant is said to be badly injured
County Observer and Monmouthshire Central Advertiser.
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18th August 1883
At a recent meeting of the Sedgley and Lower Gornal Horticultural Society, it was reported that a cottager, who had during the past twelve months taken great pains in providing exhibits of fruit, vegetables, and plants for competition at the annual show, had had his premises broken into on the previous night, and the whole of his exhibits stolen.
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17th May 1884
MURDER.
Thomas Smith, one of the chief men at the fire-brick works of Mr. Benjamin Gibbons, Lower Gornal, near Sedgley, was killed by a workman named James Bradley on Tuesday morning.
It appeared that Bradley hurled a fire-brick at deceased's head, fracturing his skull, and causing almost instant death.
Bradley ran away, but was shortly afterwards apprehended.-.
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13th November 1885
SHOCKING CASES OF OVER- CROWDING.
At the last meeting of the Upper Sedgley Local Board, the Inspector of Nuisances stated that seven persons, including two women, a man, and a youth 16 years of age, slept in one bed in a room 8ft. by 9ft in Robert-street, Lower Gornal; that a family of seven, two of them being grown-up daughters and a son of 19, occupied two beds in a room which was also used as a shoe-maker's shop, and which was 9ft. by 11ft., in Rock-street, Upper Gornal; and that in Pail Street, in the same village, seven persons of both sexes, including mother and father, and a son and daughter of mature age, slept in two beds in a room 9ft. by 10ft., which was also used as a shoe-maker's shop. The rain poured through the roof into the beds, and the house was quite unfit for habitation.
The board ordered notices to be forthwith served on the parties concerned.
South Wales Daily News
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25th September 1886
REFUSING TO PAY RENT.
An unusual scene was witnessed yesterday at the mining village of Lower Gornal, near Wolverhampton, in the locality known as the Graveyard. The occupiers of a row of cottages, the title of which is the subject of litigation, have taken advantage of the dispute, to pay no rent. For twelve years notices of eviction had been served, but disregarded, and yesterday the sheriff, acting upon an authority from the Court of Exchequer under an order dated October, 1874, proceeded to eject them, accompanied by a body of police.
The wives of the occupiers on their approach barricaded the dwellings. They refused to promise to pay the rent of 14d per week on the arrears being forgiven, and the sheriffs' officers thereupon evicted them all.
Several, however, subsequently made a settlement.
South Wales Echo
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9th November 1886
Elisha Marsh, brewer, Gornal, was at Sedgley on Monday afternoon, fined 20 for conceiling 48 gallons of worts, and thereby defrauding the inland Revenue of 6s.
South Wales Echo
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6th May 1887
A WOMAN BURNED TO DEATH.
Yesterday, Jane Flavell, 77, Gornall [sic] Wood, Sedgley, died from the effects of shocking burns. Owing to infirmity, deceased has for some time been unable to sleep in bed, and has been in the habit of sleeping in an easy chair before the fire. Early in the morning deceased was discovered enveloped in flames, and her injuries were found to be of a shocking description. Deceased's clothes are supposed to bare become ignited by a spark
South Wales Echo
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16th December 1887
EXTRAORDINARY LEAP BY A FEMALE HOUSEBREAKER.
At Sedgley, yesterday, a young woman, named Mary Parks, was charged with being upon the premises of Mrs Jeavons, at Gornal, for an unlawful purpose. Upon a domestic servant going into a bedroom last night she saw the prisoner hiding. She raised an alarm, and the prisoner jumped through a window and fell a distance of 16 feet. She ran away, and upon being captured it was found that she was not injured.
She was sentenced to one month's hard labour.
South Wales Echo
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28th September 1889
TOSSED BY A COW.
Shocking Death of a Farmer.
A farmer, named Henry Thompson, of Wombourne and Gornal, died late last night from the effects of shocking injuries received through being tossed by a milch cow. Deceased, who was 76 years of age, when walking through his Gornal farm, had occasion to go near a cow. The animal suddenly turned, and tossed Mr Thompson into the air, and the stout man fell heavily to the ground.
His injuries were so serious that be died in great agony soon afterwards.
South Wales Echo
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6th November 1889
ATTACKED BY A GAMECOCK.
Shortly after 11 o'clock on Monday morning, a little girl named Maud Alice Jones, the daughter of Joseph and Sophia Jones, residing at Kettles bank, Gornal Wood, near Himley, was met in a lane by a gamecock [Rooster used for Cockfighting]. The bird flew at the child, knocked her down, and afterwards jumped upon her, and commenced to peck her about the face, ears and head, seriously injuring her. The spurs also penetrated the muscle of the left arm. A girl name Humphries, hearing screams, went into the lane, saw the bird attacking the child, and had considerable trouble in driving it away.
Several parents in the neighbourhood have reported to the police that the same bird has attacked other little children.
South Wales Daily News
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