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The Murder Stone
The Story behind the Murder Stone

High above Redmoor Lane is Disley Old Road. At the side of the road, at a place once commonly called Longside is the Murder Stone. For those who don’t know the story of the murder here it is as it was revealed in the local papers of the time.

22 July 1823
Highway Robbery and Murder.
On Wednesday last, about seven o'clock, Mr William Wood, of Eyam, Derbyshire, was discovered robbed and murdered by the road side, between Disley and Whaley-bridge, on his return from Manchester Tuesday's market. This atrocious murder, there is every reason to suppose, was committed by three men, dressed in sailor's clothes, who were observed to follow him through Disley, up the old road, both parties having, it appears, previously met by accident at a public-house, in How-lane. Mr Wood, having refreshed himself, (being on foot,) left the house, and was followed in about ten minutes by the three men, who taking the same road, came up with him within a short distance of Whaley, where he was found his pockets turned inside out, and his head beaten in the most dreadful manner possible. The villains, not content with using their own bludgeons, had even taken the stones from the wall, and used them for their hellish purpose; as a large basket-full have been picked up and removed along with the body to the Cock Inn, for the decision of the Coroner's Jury. Mr Wood is a married man, about 30 years of age, and has a family of three children; and there is too much reason to fear, the murderers have had a considerable booty, as he received a large sum in Manchester, though he had paid several accounts on the day of the murder, one to a gentleman in Stockport. We had forgotten to state, that the unfortunate man, when found, was buried under the stones of the wall, which they had pulled upon him to conceal him. No trace has yet been made of the assassins, though they were observed to take the road leading to Buxton.

(Macclesfield Courier.)
On Thursday morning, three young men, two rather shabbily dressed, and the third in a new fustian jacket and trousers, came into this town (Macclesfield) and went to the Golden Lion public house. The youngest of the three then proceeded to Mr. Burgess's in Chestergate and purchased three complete suits of clothes, he also bought shoes &c. from Mr. Wainwright, in the same street, and then returned to his companions, who stated they were related to Mr. David Browne, and wished to change their clothes before they saw him. Having done so, they had some beefsteaks, &c. and left the house, one of them leaving his old clothes behind him. The youngest of the three then went into Chestergate, and offered the remainder of the old things to two lads carrying in coals for Mr. Wainwright, who accepted of them: they then proceeded by the Telegraph coach to Manchester. Shortly afterwards intelligence of the murder having reached Macclesfield, a suspicion arose that these three fellows had been concerned in the deed, and upon examining their old clothes, they were found much stained with blood. Mr. Frost, the constable, immediately proceeded to Manchester by the Mail. We have seen the clothes of these men, they are much smeared with dirt (evidently from a lime road,) to conceal the blood on them, which in many places is very visible in the inside, and we have not the smallest doubt that the owners of them are the perpetrators of the bloody deed.

(Macclesfield Courier.)
In addition to the above we have to state, that on Thursday afternoon, about six o'clock, the three fellows against whom there is so strong a presumption of their having perpetrated the horrid deed, proceeded to the Greyhounds public-house, in Oak-street in this town, and called for some liquor. The landlord observing that the same persons had been at his house the day before, and presenting a very different appearance, being clothed from head to foot with altogether new clothes, and having plenty of money in their pockets, a suspicion was awakened in his mind that the men had committed some robbery, and he immediately dispatched his son to the Police-office, from whence, after communicating the intelligence, two Officers accompanied him to the house, but unfortunately before they got there two of them had left; the third was, however, luckily taken into custody, who, having first given information of some consequence upon the subject, was conveyed to the New Bailey Prison. Intelligent search was made in all directions during the night in quest of the other two, but without success. On Friday morning, they were seen drinking with some women at the Coach and Horses public-house, in St. George's-road, and the landlord being struck with their appearance, sent to the Police-office, where Officers were immediately forwarded, but before they had reached the house they were suffered to leave, and were observed to proceed rather hastily over the fields which led into Oldham. And, since which time we are sorry to learn no trace whatever has been discovered of them.
We cannot help thinking that if Mr. Frost, the constable from Macclesfield, had immediately on his arrival here communicated with Mr. Lavender, at our Police-office, where he might have expected much important assistance, the result would have been far more satisfactory; instead of which he arrived by the Mail, and without giving any information whatever, stopped about an hour in town, and then returned home.

Manchester Mercury
29 July 1823
On Saturday week, an Inquest was held at the house of Mr Sykes, the Cock Inn, Whaley, before John Hollins, Esq., Coroner, and a respectable Jury, on the body of this unfortunate man, who, as we stated in our last, was found barbarously murdered, at a place called Longside, on the old road from Disley to Whaley-Bridge, on the previous Wednesday evening, about half-past seven, on his return from Manchester Tuesday's market, whither he had attended as a cotton manufacturer, and had received, as near as can be ascertained, £100, no part of which was found upon him. The Jury and witnesses proceeded to view the body, which presented a horrid spectacle the face and head being savagely mutilated, and covered with gore. On the head were ten wounds, inflicted by some blunt instrument, many of a mortal kind, but the one which apparently produced death, was on the back of the head, by which the skull was severely fractured, and a part of it forced into the brain.

Manchester Mercury
29 July 1823
On Saturday week, an Inquest was held at the house of Mr Sykes, the Cock Inn, Whaley, before John Hollins, Esq., Coroner, and a respectable Jury, on the body of this unfortunate man, who, as we stated in our last, was found barbarously murdered, at a place called Longside, on the old road from Disley to Whaley-Bridge, on the previous Wednesday evening, about half-past seven, on his return from Manchester Tuesday's market, whither he had attended as a cotton manufacturer, and had received, as near as can be ascertained, £100, no part of which was found upon him. The Jury and witnesses proceeded to view the body, which presented a horrid spectacle the face and head being savagely mutilated, and covered with gore. On the head were ten wounds, inflicted by some blunt instrument, many of a mortal kind, but the one which apparently produced death, was on the back of the head, by which the skull was severely fractured, and a part of it forced into the brain.

John Johnson, of Disley, stonemason, sworn.
“I live near the Bull's Head Inn, on the old road between Disley and Whaley, about half a mile from the place where the body was found. About seven o'clock last Wednesday evening, I saw two young men going towards Whaley; and behind them (at about 18 or 20 yards distance) the deceased and another man, going the same way; the first two had dark coloured coats on, were below the middle size, and appeared about 18 or 19 years of age; the man with the deceased, had a light-coloured coat, a jacket, and trousers of the same colour; he was taller than the other two. They were all going towards the place where the deceased was found”.

Joseph Hadfield, of Disley, sworn.
“I live on the side of the old road between Disley and Whaley. On Wednesday evening last, about seven o'clock, I was standing at my door, and observed the deceased walk by, towards Whaley, with an umbrella in his right hand and a bundle or basket, on his left arm; about two or three minutes afterwards, I saw three young men walking after him; I cannot recollect their dress.
The distance from my house to the place where the body was found, is about a quarter of a mile, and they were all going in that direction”.

Edmund Pott, of Kettleshulme, labourer, sworn.
“On Wednesday evening last, I was returning back from Stockport with my cart and horses. I returned along the old road from Disley to Whaley. When I came opposite to William Goodwin's house (which is about a quarter of a mile from the road,) I saw the body of the deceased, lying by the lower side of the road, quite dead, but warm; the blood then still flowing from the head. He could not have been dead many minutes. It was then about eight o'clock. The head was very ill cut, and very bloody. Several stones lay at the back of the head, and they were very bloody. I lifted the body up, and brought it in my cart to the Cock Inn, in Whaley. Blood ran from the body in the cart”.
(The stones were produced; they were pieces of rock stone, were all very bloody, with hair still sticking to them; one was of an oblong shape, and had the appearance of bloody finger marks at one end.)
John Mellor, who was with the last witness, confirmed his testimony.

Thomas Etchells, of Whaley, sworn.
“About half-past seven, or twenty minutes before eight (as near as I can judge,) last Wednesday evening, I was coming very slowly along the old road from Whaley to Disley, when I saw three men running along the road towards Whaley. When they came within about forty yards of me, they ceased running, and walked; one of them asked me, how far it was to Chapel-en-le-Frith. I replied "four miles." One of them said "thank you Sir." As soon as they passed me, they ran again, and continued to run till I ceased to look after them. One of the men was a little taller than the other two; he wore a jean jacket, and had trousers of the same. On his left arm, between the shoulder and the elbow, I saw a mark four or five inches long, the colour of blood. The other two were rather lower than the other, and of about the same size of each other; they had darkish coats, and one had lightish coloured trousers, narrow stripe; they were all very young men. The place where I first saw these men is about half a mile from the place where the deceased was found; and they were running in a direction from that place”.

John Johnson, of Whaley, wheelwright, sworn.
“On Wednesday evening last, about eight o'clock, I was standing at the side of the Smithy, at Whaley, opposite the end of the old road from Disley. I saw three men running down that road towards me. I concluded they were running a race. They ran about a quarter of a mile in my sight; and ceased to run when they got near the Whaley Toll-gate. They went along the road towards Buxton. Two of the men were about five feet seven or eight inches high, had dark coloured coats; I took them to be blue, I cannot say whether they had trousers or not. The other man was about two or three inches taller, had on a light coloured jacket, like jean; and trousers of the same colour, with a white apron round his waist. He was thin. They all appeared about twenty years of age”.

William Beard, of Disley, labourer, confirmed the last witness.
Henry Scott, toll bar keeper, at Whaley, sworn.
“On Wednesday evening last, between seven and eight o'clock, I saw three young men after they had passed a few yards through the bar; they were walking quick, along the road towards Buxton. They were of a moderate size, but I cannot say whether one was taller than the other. One had a jacket and trousers on, both light coloured; and he was without stockings. On the leg of his trousers, towards the bottom, I saw blood, as well as upon his leg below the trousers. The coats of the other two, were dark coloured”.

William Wright, of Disley, surgeon, sworn.
“I have examined the body of the deceased and find ten wounds on the head--three on the forehead, and seven at the back. They are made by some blunt instrument. One blow on the back of the head, has fractured the skull in three directions; the one an inch and a half long, and the others rather less; part of the skull is forced into the brain. This wound is calculated to produce instant death. The four stones now produced, or any of them, would inflict such wounds as those I have found upon the deceased”.
No other evidence appearing to identify the murderers, the Jury returned a verdict of wilful murder, against some person or persons unknown.

We are informed that several benevolent and well-disposed individuals, in consideration of the deep distress and poverty which the widow and an orphan child have been thrown into by the loss of a good husband and kind father, who had industriously and anxiously endeavoured to maintain his family comfortably and respectably, are soliciting subscriptions from the charitable and kind hearted; and the smallest donation, if left at our Office, will be transferred to the Rev. Gentleman of Eyam, who has kindly undertaken to become the treasurer for the disconsolate widow and helpless orphan.

Manchester Mercury
29 July 1823
Self destruction of one of the Murderers!! Charles Taylor, the person apprehended at the Greyhounds public house, was discovered about one o'clock on Friday afternoon, by Mr Evans, the turnkey, at the New Bailey, suspended on the stove-pipe, which crosses the room where he was confined. The wretched murderer, it appears, had tied his stockings together, and with the assistance of his gaiters, was enabled to make them sufficient for the fatal purpose. He was not quite dead when found, but had so far effected his fatal purpose, that he had not been able to speak since, and he died on Sunday morning, about three o'clock. He was a native of Salford and has lived for some time in Oldfield Road, is 17 years of age, and has been twice convicted of felony. The other characters are equally young and have but a short time since left the New Bailey; they are so well known that they cannot with any degree of probability remain long at liberty.
Last night, an Inquest was held before John Milne, Esq. Coroner, at the Dangerous Corner public house, Long Millgate, and a verdict returned of "Felo-de.se," the Coroner therefore issued his precept, to dispose of the body agreeable to the new Act of Parliament, which will be found in another part of this Paper.

Manchester Mercury
5 August 1823
The late Mr Wood, of Eyam. On Sunday week, after a short notice given in the Sunday Schools of Disley, and the neighbouring places, an excellent and appropriate sermon was delivered by the Rev. Luke Barlow, of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection, of New Mills, on the spot where the unfortunate Mr Wood, of Eyam, was so barbarously and inhumanly put to death, from the very suitable text, "Be ye also ready; for in such and hour as ye think not, the son of Man cometh." Matt. c.24 v.44. The scholars belonging to the Disley and Furness Sunday Schools, met at the place about five o'clock in the evening; and their admirable and exemplary behaviour on this memorable occasion, justly entitles them to their well-earned praise.
It is calculated that there were not less than 2,000 persons present. After the sermon, a collection was made for the widow of this unfortunate man, amounting to the sum of £4 10s. 4d. a handsome sum, considering the class of the population of the neighbourhood.

Manchester Mercury
12 August 1823
Late Murder of Mr Wood, near Disley. We are happy to inform our Readers, that another of the miscreants, (Joseph Dale), supposed to be concerned in this cruel and barbarous murder, has been apprehended at Liverpool. It appears he had attempted to enlist, and was taken on board the Mary, of Great Yarmouth, lying in the Salthouse Dock, by the active and laudable exertions of Sergeant-Major Eyre, of the recruiting staff at Liverpool. On Friday, Mr Lavender, our worthy Deputy-Constable, went over, and on Saturday returned with his prisoner, and lodged him in our New Bailey Prison. Yesterday he was removed to Whaley, where he will undergo an examination before a Magistrate of that district, and from thence be conveyed to Chester Castle, to take his trial. Platt, the other accomplice, has not yet been taken.
It is worthy of notice that Charles Taylor, who assisted in the murder of Mr Wood, and afterwards hung himself in the New Bailey, Manchester, on the 18th ult. as mentioned in our last, had been confined in Chester Castle, six months for felony, and was only liberated the day before the horrid murder was committed. Whilst under confinement he was thought by some of the discriminating part of his fellow-prisoners, to be a very evil-disposed youth.

16 August 1823
On Monday, Joseph Dale, one of the murderers of Mr Wood, of Eyam, apprehended on Wednesday, at Liverpool, on board the ship Mary, of Great Yarmouth, by Mr Lavender, underwent an examination before G.W. Newton, Esq., at the Cock Inn, Whaley. None of the witnesses who saw the three men running from the place, where the murder was committed, could identify the prisoner; but he was fully sworn to by Mr Bradshaw of this town, at whose shop he had bought a hat, as well as Mr Burgess, from whom he had bought new clothes for himself and accomplices. Mr Wainwright, deposed that the prisoner after buying a pair of shoes from him had given the clothes that were afterwards left in this town to two poor lads--and that he had told him that he had just received a small fortune left him by a relative. Mr Frost, Deputy Constable of this town, said he had seen the prisoner with Taylor and another at the Golden Lion public house, on the morning after the murder had been committed. When called on for his defences, the prisoner said, he had been travelling with Taylor and Platt on the road to Chapel-en-le-Frith--that they met with Mr Wood, who, after walking some time with them, offered to pay for something to drink--that Platt then gave him (prisoner) six-pence; and told him to go on and wait for him and Taylor at the next public-house, about a mile off. He waited there above an hour and half for them, and as he was leaving the public house, he saw them running towards him, with their clothes stained with blood, and to his enquiry "what has been to do," they only answered, "Come along"--that he went with them to Macclesfield and Manchester, where they parted and that he had never heard of them since. The prisoner was fully committed by the worthy Magistrate, and taken back to Manchester, from whence he was conveyed to Chester Castle on Tuesday. When first taken into custody at Liverpool, he denied any knowledge of the transaction; in the course of the day, however, he related the circumstances of the robbery and murder, and admitted that he had received from John Bratt, alias Platt, three £1 notes and 7shillings out of the money taken from Mr Wood.

After a consultation of just two minutes' duration, the jury returned a verdict of "Guilty."

The prisoner heard the awful decision without any apparent emotion; and shortly afterwards a glass of water or lemonade was brought, which he drank off at a draught. During the trial, he now and then ate something, which he took from his jacket pocket. He wore a round pillow fustian jacket and a yellow waistcoat.

24 April 1824
The Judges took their seats precisely at eight o'clock, and immediately the prisoner was placed at the bar to receive the judgement of the Court. He is a young man, apparently about eighteen years of age, and has evidently been suffering much illness since his imprisonment. He was borne into the Court by the Governor of the gaol, and was so weak and tottering, as to make it necessary to support him the whole of the time the Judge was addressing him.
A solemn silence having prevailed, Mr Justice warren addressed the prisoner in nearly the following words: "Joseph Dale, you were tried at the last Assizes on an indictment charging you, together with John Platt and Charles Taylor, with the wilful murder of William Wood on the 16th July, 1823, at Whaley, by casting stones on his head, by which he was so dreadfully wounded as to occasion his death. At the time you were tried, Platt was not taken into custody, and another of your associates, named Charles Taylor, who was apprehended, destroyed himself in prison before he was brought into Court. You were, therefore, the only person tried, and after a minute and painful investigation of many hours, the Jury found you guilty of the crime with which you were charged. Upon your guilt being established, the Court were about to pass that awful sentence on you which the law had said that persons convicted of the high crime of murder should suffer when your Counsel submitted, in arrest of judgement, that the indictment had not stated, with sufficient legal accuracy, the precise manner in which the murder had been committed.
The Court considering that the life of a fellow creature depended on the objection, thought proper to submit the point of law to the judgement of a higher authority, and having made a communication to the proper quarter, the opinion of twelve Judges had been obtained, which opinion was, that there was no validity in the objection, and that the indictment was good. You are now, therefore, brought up to be informed of that decision, and to receive the sentence of the law. The learned Judge who assisted me on that trial is now no more, but it is, perhaps, correct that you should know that he was fully persuaded by the Jury, as men of sense and honour, and could return no other verdict that than that which they had done.
The Learned Judge who now sits with me has also most minutely and attentively read over the depositions and evidence, which were brought forward on your trial, and he concurs in the opinion that no other verdict could with justice be found.
It appears that the barbarous murder was perpetrated by beating the unfortunate Mr Wood's head with stones, taken either from the ground, or from a wall made of loose stones, near which the unhappy man was attacked. Some of those Stones were produced in Court, clotted with blood, and having still the hair of the deceased sticking about them, and the whole circumstances developed in the course of the evidence marked as being, perhaps, the most horrible murder that was ever committed.
A short time before the murder was effected you were seen with your two companions, in the company of the deceased, and soon after you were seen running from the spot where the foul deed had been done, and traced to your retreat, and there you were taken with some of the property of the murdered man in your possession: for it appears that you had in view the double crime of murder and robbery.
You and your companions were also proved to have purchased clothes in Macclesfield with part of the money you had taken from the deceased's pockets; and as a further confirmation of the evidence, you prevaricated so much in the statements you made, as to make it impossible not to believe you were guilty of the crime you were charged with. It is a painful and most lamentable thing to observe a young man of your early life thus broken from your present existence, through you having associated with the most abandoned characters; and your unhappy and disgraceful fate, will, it is hoped, be a warning to all young men to take care of the company they fall into.
The last advice that can be given to you is seriously to prepare yourself for your transit to another world, for no hopes of mercy can be given you in this. A Clergyman will attend you to give you that spiritual assistance which your unfortunate situation requires. In this world your hopes are closed, and on Wednesday next your mortal existence must end”.
The Judge then, in the solemn words of the law, sentenced him to be hung on Wednesday, and his body to be given over to the surgeons for dissection.
When the concluding words of "the Lord have mercy on your soul" were pronounced, the prisoner looked fervently up to Heaven, and in a trembling voice said “Amen”.

24 April 1824
On Wednesday morning at about five o’clock, this unfortunate young man was delivered up by the Sheriff of the County to the Sheriffs of the City, to be executed according to his sentence. During the previous night he enjoyed sound repose for about an hour and a half--Mr Keeling sat up with him. Before he slept he was particularly anxious to be awake again at three o'clock "because you know" said he to Mr Keeling "we should devote as much as possible of our time to devotion." Early as was his removal from the County gaol to the city, many persons were there to witness his transit, and with as many as came within his reach he cordially shook hands, bidding them an affectionate farewell. He did not appear so badly in health as was generally expected. Arrival at the city gaol, the whole morning was spent in conversation and devotional exercises with Mr Keeling, in which Dale gave Mr Keeling, well grounded assurances of his hope in death, and expressed his surprise that death could be met with so much happiness as he then felt in its contemplation. As the time for the execution began to approach, Dale expressed an anxiety almost amounting to impatience for the arrival of the officers, and as soon they arrived he begged to be immediately led out to the place of execution, which request was complied with, by which means the execution was over earlier than usual, notwithstanding, which a great crowd of spectators was present.
According to the declaration of Dale made at a time when he could have no earthly motive for concealing the truth or uttering a falsehood, he was not the actual murderer of Mr Wood. He says that he had little or no previous acquaintance with the two men he met with on the road, Taylor and Platt, (the latter name he says should be Pratt, a person who was discharged from the Castle of Chester only a few days before,) and he believes that when they overtook Mr Wood, none of them contemplated murder, and if robbery was contemplated by the others it was unknown to him. When he saw them use Wood roughly, he begged of them to desist, and was answered by a threat, that they would serve him in the same way. He then attempted to leave them, but was threatened again, and by threats and ridicule was induced to remain in their company, partake of their booty, and be, as it appeared upon the trial, their servant. The sum of four shillings and sixpence is all the other two allowed him of the spoil. He says he was not aware that Wood was killed for some time after. Wood had engaged him as a workman.

The third murder was never apprehended.

The Memorial Stone

11 April 1874
The ceremony of uncovering an indication stone, got up by subscription, in memory of the murder at Higher Disley, of a man named William Wood, some 57 years ago, took place last Saturday, in the presence of a large assemblage of persons who had gathered to witness the event. The place near the spot is called Longside, situated in the higher parts of Disley township. After the stone had been uncovered, Mr W.T. Moore ascended it, and proper audience being given; he remarked that he was sorry that no one had come forward to take his position. He felt but too keenly his inability to do justice to the subject; however, they must take the will for the dead. It was not for him to explain what was their object, or the purpose of their being present that day, as they were all aware of that. He would only simply state the facts how the stone came to be erected. A few gentlemen opened a subscription, which was so nobly responded to that the matter was taken in hand and all completed within four weeks. Many opinions had been expressed on the course taken, but he could hurl back the imputations cast upon the committee respecting their object and motives in the erection of that stone. To his mind, there were many, which might be advanced, and with justice and right considered worthy of it. One was its being made a terror to evildoers. Strangers, when viewing such an object in the landscape of nature, would naturally have their thoughts diverted perhaps from viewing nature up to Nature’s God. That stone would also remind them of the importance of being prepared to meet Him, “for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.” Little would William Wood have thought when he left his home and little family behind him in the morning, that he would never see them again. Such was the uncertainty of life that they could not be too often or in too many places of the fact, and be prepared to meet their god. Those were the sincere motives, which prompted the gentlemen contributing to place that stone which he stood upon. Stone after stone had been put on the wall, but often destroyed or removed, and wrong dates put on, leading the traveller or visitor wrong about the time the deed was committed. This stone, he believed, would put all right on that point, and he hoped would answer the good intentions of the committee. He trusted that when their names were written in the dust, there would still arise a strong feeling to protect it as there had been that day, as they all knew its purpose; and as it was public property, so it required public attention. A collection, which realised a handsome sum, was made, and the surplus will be devoted to repair the village fountain.

The Murder of William Wood of Eyam

Chester Summer Assizes - Monday August 25th 1823

The King against Joseph Dale

On Thursday evening (the 22nd) the Grand Jury returned two bills against Joseph Dale, one for Highway Robbery and the other for the murder of Mr William Wood of Eyam in the county of Derby, on the old road leading from Disley to Whaley, on the 16th July last. In the ordinary course of legal proceedings for murder, the trial must have taken place on the ensuing Friday, but the Counsel, in consequence of the absence of witnesses, moved the court to fix it for today, to which the Chief Justice readily assented, and ordered it to be heard the first thing this morning.

At an early hour, so intense were the feelings excited by this murder, unparalleled in the criminal history of this country for the violence, brutality and ferocity with which it had been perpetuated, that the Castle Gates were almost literally assailed by an immense number of persons of every rank and condition. When the gates were opened, a little before nine o’clock, a tremendous rush was made, and in an instant
every part of the spacious hall was crowed to suffocation.

On the entrance of the Judges, the prisoner was placed at the bar, and universal surprise at his youthful appearance prevailed. It was in vain that the spectator looked in his countenance for the features of the sanguinary ruffian. He was pale, but not livid: his complexion seemed to be natural.

The Petit Jury were sworn and the Prothonotary, J Lloyd Esq., read the Indictment, which, in the usual terms, charged the prisoner, together with Joseph Platt and Charles Taylor, wit the offence, as being committed by them on the 16th July last at Whaley, in the County Palatine of Chester “With certain stones of no value”.

The prisoner having pleaded NOT GUILTY to this indictment the Attorney General rose, and addressed their Lordships and the Jury to the following effect:-

May it please your Lordships, Gentlemen of the Jury. You have just heard the nature of the serious charge, which is preferred against the prisoner at the bar; and it is my duty to state the particulars of the outrage, which we allege against him. But before I enter into a statement of the facts, by which we propose to bring the charge home to him, I do most earnestly entreat of you to dismiss form your minds; all the matter relative to this horrid affair, which you may have heard. We are all aware that many reposts have gone abroad, of which the tendency ma be to prejudice the case of the prisoner. Those reports are also connected with parties, who are not here, and I state this, because I know that they have been made against the prisoner at the bar.

Gentlemen, I feel it is to be my duty, and I do it with pleasure, to state to you, that previously to the transaction into which you are empanelled to enquire, the prisoner at the bar was never implicated in the commission of any crime, at least he is utterly unknown to the officers of the police; and this fact is favourable to him, and you will give him the benefit of it. The evidence, which I shall adduce, is circumstantial, and of what nature which will require much serious attention. When evidence, which is merely circumstantial, and which throughout the whole chain is unbroken in any of its links, it is strong and conclusive. In case of murder, it is seldom that any other can be obtained, such crimes being perpetrated with the utmost privacy and secrecy.

Gentlemen, it will appear to you that on Wednesday, the 16th of last July, the unfortunate deceased, who was a manufacturer, received some money from Mr Cheetham, of Stockport, with whom he transacted business. The sum, which he received amounted to £48 and 7shillings, which Mr Cheetham will tell you he paid, part in local noted, part in Bank of England notes, and part in Derby bank notes. The Bank of England notes were £5 notes. Mr Wood left Stockport about 5 o’clock on his way home, and was seen by Joseph Hadfield on the road, as also were the prisoner and the other persons, about one and a half mile from the spot on which he was found dead. At this period, he was all alone, and three young men, shabbily dressed were following him at a sharp pace. This was between six and seven, and about half-past seven, three young men were seen funning very fast on the old road. Near the turnpike one of the witnesses was standing, when the slackened their pace; and on coming up with him one of them enquired how far it was to Chapel-en-le-Frith? The witness observed a mark of blood on the waistcoat of one of them; on quitting him, they again commenced running. Another witness, Johnson, saw them running on the road towards Buxton; and they were also seen running by another person. These witnesses cannot speak to the persons of these young men, but a post boy, who was waiting at a public house, will identify the prisoner as one of the three young men. About eight o’clock the body of the deceased was found bathed in blood, but still warm. Several wounds appeared on the head, which had received a considerable fracture on the back part. There were stones lying about, covered with blood, which seemed to have been taken from the wall, near which the body lay. His breeches pockets were turned inside our, and none of the property with which he had been seen on the road was found. It is therefore evident, that this murder must have been committed since the time that he was seen by the witness Hadfield. That was between seven and eight o’clock.

Gentlemen, I must here press upon your attention the account, which the prisoner gives of himself. He admits that he was out with the other two, who are not before you. He says that on the road, they met with an elderly person, who entered into conversation with them, and that he invited them to take some ale with him. They went to a public house together for that purpose. He further states that Platt called him out and gave him sixpence, desiring him to proceed to a public house about half a mile distant, and there to await for the arrival of the others; that he went but found it a much greater distance. After waiting some time, he saw Platt and Taylor running up very fast. And that they appeared to be bloody. From this statement you will perceive, that he left Manchester in company with the persons on whom he thus fixes the murder. I beg your serious attention of their having left Manchester together. Several witnesses see three young men running at this time, and there is no public house near Disley, where he states that he was waiting. It will appear that he ran on the old road with these persons.

The prisoner, in his examination, says that he joined them and ran with them as fast as he could towards Buxton. In another story, he gives a different account. Now one of these cannot be true, for three were seen running, and not two only. Of the inconsistencies of his account, you will soon have to judge.

Gentlemen, another fact is, and every witness will show it, that these young men were very shabbily dressed one being without shoes and stockings. At Macclesfield, we find the three on the following morning, at the Golden Lion. There the prisoner goes out and purchases a pair of trowsers and some stockings which some of the party used. He then went out again and purchased a coat and waistcoat, which he said were for his brother. A third time he went out and bought a suit of clothes, which he said were for a cousin. He also purchased a pair of half boots, and gave his old clothes to some boy in the street. They left the Golden Lion after changing their clothes there, which tow of them left behind.

Gentlemen, we do not stop here; we shall distinctly trace into the possession of the prisoner at the bar, one of the five pound notes, which Mr Cheetham will tell you he paid to the deceased on the 16th July, just before he was murdered. The prisoner with another young man went into a watchmaker’s shop at Macclesfield, and there purchased two watches, for on of which the prisoner gave a five pound Bank of England note, and this note will be shown to you, from the number, date, and other particulars to be one of those which were paid by Mr Cheetham to the deceased. We shall trace it directly up to the prisoner. While the watchmaker was procuring the change for the note at the bank, the young man appeared to be particularly anxious for the arrival of the Macclesfield coach, for which they made many enquiries. The person who sold them the watches did not notice them sufficiently to enable him to identify them, but another witness, who was in the shop, has not the least doubt as to the prisoner at the bar. The three young men proceeded from Macclesfield to Manchester, and there we find them at a public house called the Greyhounds. At this house, the improved change in their appearance attracted the attention of the waiter, who addressed the prisoner; “Well Joe, you’ve got some new clothes – where or how did you get them?” The prisoner replied, “I have been amongst my friends”. In a very short time after this two of them left the Greyhounds, and in a few minutes afterwards the other, Taylor, was taken into custody. It was not long before the prisoner was also taken, at Liverpool, and he accounted for being there by telling Mr Lavender that it was to be out of the way.

Gentlemen, these are some of the facts of this case. That a murder was committed in unquestionable, and powerful circumstances tend to fix the crime on the three men who were seen running. Whether the prisoner was one of them will be a matter for your consideration. I need not tell you that all the parties, who are aiding and assisting in the crime, are equally implicated and guilty. To aid and assist constitutes the crime in the eye of the law. The prisoner admits being with two other young men on the road when this murder was c0mmittted. That he ran with them the whole way from Whaley to Buxton. He says that at the time we shall prove three men to have been running, he was in a public house when, in fact, there was no public house. You will have to consider his own statement in all is bearings, and to compare it with those of the witnesses. He voluntarily tells of the purchasing of clothes at Macclesfield, but not one word about purchasing the watches for which the five pound note was given. You will observe that he was on the road, according to his own account, and it will be for him to shew why he was on the road – why he left Manchester – why he was in concealment. He will have to shew that he was in the public house at Disley, and to account for many other particulars, which tend to fix deep suspicion upon him.

Gentlemen, I leave him in your hands. I have only to observe, that if you find the circumstances to be unconnected – if there be any thing to excite a reasonably doubt of his guilt on your minds; you will give him the benefit of it, by returning a verdict of acquittal. But if the evidence, which we shall adduce, shall be sufficiently satisfactory of his criminal connection with the atrocious transaction, then, lamentable as it is to see so young a man in such a situation, it is your bounden duty to consign him to the fate awarded him by the laws of the land.


I am a farmer’s servant at Whaley; I recollect being on the road from Bullock’s Smithy, on the 16th July last; I was with a cart; it was on the old road from Disley to Whaley – one goes along a valley. The old road is very steep; was passing along the old road between seven and eight o’clock. There is a boundary wall between the two townships of Disley and Whaley; I found a man lying dead under the wall: It was about forty yards from the wall; It is about three miles from Disley to Whaley, by the old road; The place is about a mile from Disley; I am not quite sure of the distance from Whaley – the wall is nearer Disley than Whaley: There was nobody with me – but there was some persons behind, when I found the body: I stopped till they came up: my uncle was one, and Edmund Pott was the other; My uncle is not here; I did not know the person I found dead: He had a terrible wound on the back of his head, and two on his forehead: They seemed to have been knocked in with a stone: there were some stones near the body under the wall: thee was some blood on the ground, and a vast quantity under his head. The stones were marked with blood but I did not notice how many: They were lying a little way off his head. There was blood at a distance from the body: I did not observe the pockets of the deceased: The body was not quite cold: It was put in Edmund Pott’s cart: Pott put the body into the cart. We left the stones; but we noticed them. We did not think of it, so we left them there.

I was on the road between Disley to Whaley, on the
16th July last; It was between seven and eight: I saw the last witness John Mellor there; I do not know John Johnson: I know where Mr Hadfield lives: I saw Mellor before me on the road: I came up to him and saw him standing beside the man that was murdered: The place was nearer on the Disley side but in Whaley Parish. I passed by Hadfield’s house before finding the body from a quarter to half a mile distance: I examined the body: it was still warm: This was between seven and eight, but nearer eight, I suppose: I saw some stones near the body, there was blood upon them: I cannot say there were more than two: I took the body to the Cock, in Whaley.

By the court: I took it in my cart: I put the body into the cart. The cock is the place where the inquiry was made: It was there the inquiry took place before the Coroner: I examined the pockets when I found him, his breeches pockets were turned inside out.

I examined them, where he was found. I found no money in them but an old penny, a pocket handkerchief, the top of an umbrel, and some class-tickets: I did not find any notes: I took him to the Cock, and was examined there. I looked at the wounds: there were some wound in front.


I knew the late Mr Wood: He was a calico manufacturer, and lived at Eyam, in Derbyshire: It is fifteen miles from Whaley towards Chesterfield: I recollect seeing Mr Wood on the 16th July: He called at my house about seven in the morning and told me he was going to Manchester: I never saw him again: I saw a body at the Cock in Whaley: It was Mr Wood’s.


I live in Disley: On The 17th July, I examined the road near Disley: I found some stones there within a yard of the left hand side of the road. Twenty six yards from the boundary wall: It is between Joseph Hadfield’s and –

Attorney General – Will you produce the stones, Mr Howard?

The witness accordingly unlocked a box, and took out a large stone, much like a butcher’s cleaver in shape; the edges were sharp though the stone was thick and heavy. It was stained all over with blood, and a quantity of hair adhered to it. He then held up another stone, a little smaller than the first, but covered with blood. The third stone was larger, covered with blood, and hair adhering to it, but not so much as to the first. The last stone produced was similar to the second. These three were lozenge shaped, and all resembled large fragments of thick gravestones. The prisoner appeared to gaze on them without the slightest emotion: while every one else was struck with horror at the appalling spectacle.

By the court – These stones are like those of which the wall is built. They are of the same description.


I am a Manufacturer at Stockport: I was sin the habit of transacting business with the late Mr Wood: I recollect seeing him on the 16th July last: It was Wednesday he called on me about two o’clock, and staid till three: I paid him some money: the amount was £48 7s 0d. I paid him £8 in one ping country notes, two five pound Bank of England notes, two five pound Derby bank notes, and all the rest in Bank of England notes – two of £5 and one of £10: I know that note now produced: (five pound Bank of England note number 721, and the date of 21st of January 1823. This note had apiece torn out of the left side). I know it by the number and date: I recollect copying it: I have not the copy with me.

Mr Jones contended that this evidence could not be received, as it was from a copy not produced. This objection was overruled

Cross examined by Mr Jones

Mr Wood left me about three o’clock: I cannot say, though I have been several times, how far it is from Stockport to Disley: He had an umbrella in his hand and a small parcel. He was a calico manufacturer: He generally brought his materials in Stockport: He told me he had some other business to do before he should go home. I make it a general rule to copy all large notes: I did not copy the Derby notes: I cannot say that I copied all the notes: The reason I copied the Bank of England notes, was, that I received them in a letter. I did not consider it necessary to bring the book. But for the book, I could not tell the number of any particular note. I cannot tell the number of the three notes now missing: I recollect copying it because it was such a low number: I could not have sworn to any particular note if I had not had the book to refer to.

What was the day you were first called upon to speak? The Magistrates’ next meeting – What day was that? I think Thursday. Mr Newton sent a man next morning, and I looked over the notes: I was not desired to bring the book. I cannot swear to the note, on account of the tear: I cannot, without the number, date and signature: I copied them when I received them by the Monday’s post: I made no memoranda of what I paid to Mr Wood: I do a good deal of business, and much money passes through my hands in a day. I keep my money myself in my sleeping room in a box: I put the notes I received on Monday there: I keep it in a tin box: I put notes in as they come: I had no other five pound note but that I paid to Mr Wood: Perhaps the face depends upon your book? I may. I knew I gave him £20. I attended the Manchester Market on the Tuesday, but I received no money. Derby notes are very common in our neighbourhood. There are scarcely any local notes in Lancashire.

Re-examined – I received that note on Monday: I was in Manchester on Tuesday: the reason I copied the note was that I received it in a letter: I referred to the copy before I say the hand bill: My attention was called by a Magistrate’s order. I did not look at the copy in consequence of the hand bill.

Having so refreshed you memory can you swear that this is the note, which you paid to the deceased.

Mr Jones – I object to this course entirely. The degree of belief ought to preponderate in the memory of the witness of the fact itself, and not on a written paper which is not before the Court. He has told us repeatedly that he had looked at the book several times – can anyone doubt for what purpose. Can anyone doubt that it was to refresh an imperfect recollection? If the recollection depend upon two things, both ought to be produced here the witness says he recollect the note because he recollects copying it. Why, then, is the copy not produced? A witness certainly may refer to a memorandum to refresh his memory, and then to swear to the fact, for that becomes evidence.

Mr Law contended that the evidence could be received only from the book, which could not be produced. The witness said over and over again that he knew that not by the number and date; yet he tells us that he has to look for them in the book He knows, then, through no other medium, and having so refreshed his mind he recollects both!

The Attorney General – I think this evidence strictly competent; - we will see. What is the reason you know the note again?

Witness – I know the number, date and signature. I recollect copying the note.

Do you recollect it without the aid of the book? The last time I referred to it several times: the last time was Wednesday. I looked at the book to see what I had paid Mr Weed: I looked in consequence of a Magistrate’s order: It was before I saw that hand bill.

Mr John Johnson, examined by Mr Parkes

I am a stone mason, and live on the road between Disley and Whaley: I remember seeing some persons on the road about seven in the evening of the 16th July: I saw two young men pass by me in dark coloured clothes: I saw two more fellow about twenty yards distant. One was a middle aged man: He was dressed in a dark coloured coat and had light tight gaiters on. He appeared to be taller than the others: I did not see them far: They were all going towards Whaley: It was near a mile from my house, that the body was found: The boundary wall is nearer Whaley than my house. I know Joseph Hadfield’s house: They were going on the road towards Hadfield’s house.

Joseph Hadfield examined by Mr Parkes

I live on the road between Disley and Whaley about half a mile from Johnson’s house: I live nearer to Whaley about half a mile, and from a quarter to half a mile from the boundary wall: I did not know the late Mr Wood. I recollect seeing some persons pass my house on the 16th July: I saw a man pass after seven o’clock, and directly afterwards three more: I cannot say anything about their ages: I only noticed that the first man’s gaiters were slack: I took but little notice: I saw three young men following him, but they passed in to or three minutes afterwards. He had a basket or bundle, and an umbrella: I did not notice whether the three men were of the same height.

By the Court – I saw that they were young men: The first mad did not appear elderly: They were going towards Disley.

I was standing as the door-stead when they went past: I went into my garden and saw no more: I cannot say which of them; the three, or the one man, walked the quicker.

By the Court – How far was the single man from the others? I cannot tell – they cam past in two or three minutes. I was minding my business in the garden and so did not observe any carts. I saw the dead body on the Saturday night after he was killed: the body had leggings on like those I saw the old man wear.

Thomas Etchells examined by Mr Parkes

I live at Stonehedge, between Whaley and Disley; I live nearer to Whaley than Disley than the last man: About a mile nearer: I remember being on the road on the 16th July, between seven and eight: I saw three men on the road: They were young men: When I first saw them they were coming running towards Whaley: I was about two hundred yards from them. I saw them run to within about forty yards form me: There asked me how far it was to Chapel-en-le-Frith? They said nothing else: I told them it was four miles, and they said, “Thank you sir”. They then went running away: I saw them forty or fifty yards abreast of each other. I observed their dress, tow had dark coloured coasts and one had a round light coloured jacket and trousers. I saw a *** mark on the light coloured jacket, it was on the left arm between the shoulder and the elbow for four of five inches: It was the left shoulder and was four or five inches long: that was about half a mile from the boundary between Disley and Whaley. They were coming in the direction of Whaley.

John Johnson examined by Mr Parkes

I am a wheelwright, and live at Whaley. I recollect being at the end of the road that leads from Disley to Whaley where the two roads join, and the 16th July last: I was standing at the smithy door: It was near eight o’clock, when I saw three persons coming from the top of the hill. I could see along the road half a quarter of a mile from the place where I stood: I say they were young men when they came up to me. When I first saw them they were coming from the top of the hill on the. (Text missing).

They passed the place where I stood. They came down into Whaley, and stopped running before they came up to the toll bar: They walked sharp and over the bridge: One turned towards the public house door, but whether he went in or not I cannot tell.

By the court – There was time enough for him to go in: there is no public house on the old road between Disley & Whaley where they sell ale: there is one two hundred yards further? It is a private house: there is a sign to it: It is between Birchhall’s house and Whaley: It was a young man that turned to the house: Two were nearly the same size, and one rather bigger: The tallest was dressed in a light coloured jacket, and trowers the same: There was a dark coloured coat on one of them: Whether blue or black I cannot say: I think one of the lesser had trowsers on of a dark colour too: They passed about 20 yards from me.

Cross examined by Mr Jones

I was by myself and the men passed about twenty yards from me: They went as fast as they could: On of the three stopped near the public house: It is kept by Joseph Sidebottom: He is not here: He turned towards the door: I cannot tell what colour he Had: The is a sign over the door: There is s public house in Disley: He takes a licence but he does not sell ale: His wife is out of her mind is the reason he does not do so much business: there is s sign of the Swan over the door, facing the road: There is a public house at Disley also, and one on the new lane – The Soldier Dick: They were strangers to me: I was about two hundred yards from the place where the man turned to the public house: The evening was closing: I did not see any more persons passing at that time: The old road is the nearest; the other is for the convenience of carriages.

William Beard examined by Mr Parkes

On Wednesday evening, about eight o’clock, I was on the turnpike road at Whaley: I was in the village through which the road passes: I met three young men running towards the toll-bar leading to Buxton: It is in Whaley: They passed me, and stopped running a little as they passed me, and then began to run again: They appeared as if they had been running some distance which made me take notice of them: I cannot justly say how far I saw them: One was taller than the other two: They were young me: The tallest had a round waistcoat with sleeves and trowser of fustian: One of the had a dark coloured coat and light coloured trowsers: One was without stockings, but I cannot say which: The third had a dark coloured coat and trowsers: One had a small parcel, but I cannot tell which: It might be a bundle, or something tied in a handkerchief, or something in that way.

William Wainwright examined by Mr Parkes

I am a shoemaker at Macclesfield: I recollect seeing the prisoner on 17th July last, soon after breakfast. He asked for a pair of pumps.

Court :- A pair of what?
Mr Parkes Sunday shoes, my Lord
Witness: - Pumps are think shoes: I told him I had no pumps but such as were too large, but that I could get him a pair in an hour: He then asked for a pair of quarter boots and purchased a pair: He came again and bought another pair: I cannot say what time it was; it was breakfast time.
Mr Parkes: - How am I to know what that was? Was it twelve?

We breakfast sometimes at eight and sometimes at nine: There was a poor boy at the door: the prisoner said “I’ll give these things to some poor person”: I did not know what things; I thought it was his shoes and stockings: He said he should have received £30 but he had only got £15. I said “If you are in the habit of giving things away, you cannot do better that to give them to the poor lad: for he has neither father nor mothering in comparison.” He bought two pairs of boots, paid for them and went away. I went with him to Burgess’s shop as he said that he wanted some things – some clothes: I left him there: I think I did not see him again, but I cannot say: I believe I did not until I saw him at Whaley: It was when he was buying the boots that he spoke of the money he should have received: He gave me a bundle of clothes for the boy at the door: the whole was done in a few minutes, and after he had been at Burgess’s.

By the Court:-

He gave them to me after he had been at Burgess’s the conversation about the money took place the first time he came: When he gave them to me he had a blue coat. It was not new: It was not the first time he came that he had a new coat, but he had when he gave the boy the clothes: I did not open the bundle, but delivered it in the same state I received it: I saw that it contained clothes: the lad did not open it in my presence: It was not tied up. In a few minutes after receiving it, I gave it to the boy: I did not see what they were: I looked at them after the stir: The boy had them two hours: I believe I could tell the blue coat from a hole in the elbow: It is the only thing I could identify.

Re-examined:- I did not take notice whether there was a blue coat. I cannot swear it is the same blue coat.

Thomas Burgess examined by Mr Parkes

I am a shopkeeper in Macclesfield. Mr Wainwright brought the prisoner to my place on the17th July, about 7 o’clock: He said he wanted to buy a suit of clothes for himself I served him with a pair of trowsers which he said were for his brother: He had a blue coat for himself, blue trowsers and a yellow kerseymere waistcoat: the blue trowsers were for his brother: When he came to my shop he had a blue coat and dark coloured trowsers: He paid me in one pound country notes, but I cannot say of what bank: He went away with the trowsers for his brother, and said he would return in a few minutes for a suit for himself. He returned shortly after for the: He came again and dressed himself in them, and said he wanted a coat and waistcoat to make up a suit for his brother: He purchased a coat and waistcoat: He then said he wanted a suit of clothes for a cousin, which he purchased, and for which he paid in a five pound Derby bank note (the note was produced). After he had paid for the clothes he returned again in company with a person less than himself, and changed the clothes, saying they were too large: They then went away: In a short time he returned with another slenderer than any of them, and bought for either of them a great coat, for which he paid in a five pound bank of England note: He paid in the whole £5. 5s., but I cannot say exactly what sum: The first time he paid £3. 3s., The trowsers 15s. I cannot say what for the cousin’s suit.

John Longstaff examined by Mr Parkes

I am an apprentice to Mr Latham, watchmaker, at Macclesfield: I recollect seeing two me in my master’s shop about two o’clock on Thursday: They wore blue coats, blue trowsers, and yellow waistcoats: They were young men and one was taller than the other: They asked to see some watches. One was paid for in a Macclesfield note and 8s. The other paid for his in a five pound bank of England note: It was the taller: I took it to Mr Brocklehurst’s bank to be changed. I left the young man in the shop with the house-keeper, Elizabeth Tomlinson; I got the note changed and delivered it to Mr Hankinson, the clerk, who game me Macclesfield notes for it: I did not take sufficient notice to know either of them again.

Mr George Hankinson:- I received the note from the last witness.

Elizabeth Tomlinson examined by the Attorney General

I am housekeeper to Mr Latham, of Macclesfield: I remember being in the shop on the 17th of July last: I was in when Longstaff sold two watches: I remained in the shop while he went out: The prisoner was one of two young men there: He was taller than the other: He put his hand in his waistcoat pocket and brought out a five pound note and paid it to Longstaff: I was in the shop at the time: The appeared in a hurry to go out and kept wishing for the Macclesfield coach to come: and asked what made it so long: They wished Longstaff to return: At length he did come with the change: I am quite sure the prisoner is the man that paid the five pound note.

Mr Hankinson examined by Mr Parkes

This is the note I received – It is numbered 721: I know it by the red mark 10671: we put numbers upon all large notes – five pound notes and others: the mark shows it to have been in the bank: I am positive this is the same note I received from Longstaff: That fact depends upon the number and the entry in the book, whish is not here: I have had the note in my possession ever since the day: I was put amongst the rest.

Thomas Bowcock examined by the attorney General

I am a waiter at the Greyhounds, in Manchester: On the 15th July I saw the prisoner: He was then in the tap room: He had on a blue coat, blue trowsers, and yellow waistcoat. He was not many minutes in the house: He has some roses in his hand, and he gave me one. After he had left John Platt came to enquire for him. Platt and Taylor came in about half an hour after Dale left. I saw them again on the following Thursday, the 17th July: They all came in together about a quarter past five; The prisoner had a blue coat but I did not notice his waistcoat: Platt had a blue coat: blue trowsers and a light coloured top coat: Taylor had a blue coat and trowsers, and a brown or snuff coloured top coat: The prisoner on the 15th had a blue coat, blue trowsers, and yellow striped waistcoat: Platt had a light coloured pocket fustian jacket and trowsers: Taylor had a black coat, blue striped waistcoat, and an old pair of trowsers. None of the persons had the same clothes on, that they wore on 15th. I asked Dale where he had been to have a new suit of clothes? He said he had been amongst his friends: He had a very ordinary dress on indeed, on the 15th. I challenged them all three with having new clothes on: The other two gave no answer: Soon after this Dale and Platt left the house: Dale went first and Platt next: Taylor remained a quarter of an hour: He stopped till Lavender’s men fetched him: I should know that coat again.

Mr Stephen Lavender examined by Mr Parkes

I am a Police Officer: I took the Prisoner into custody on Friday 8th of August: I brought him form Liverpool to Manchester the following day: I took him to the Police office, where he made a communication: I asked him if he were disposed to give any account of the transaction.

We were together: I merely put the question to him: I first told him he need not say anything unless he chose: I told him if he did, it would be better for him to tell nothing but what was true: He said that he and Platt and Taylor left Manchester about dinner time on 16th, they left Manchester for the purpose of gong to chapel-en-le-Frith wakes. On the road, a short distance on the other side of Bullock’s Smithy, they were overtaken by an elderly person, with whom they got into conversation: That they walked a considerable distance together, till the come to the old road leading from Stockport to Whaley; that they proceeded on the road some short distance, when Platt told the prisoner to go on to the next public house, and wait till Taylor and him came up with him; and that Platt gave him sixpence to enable him to get some entertainment. That he went to the public house, and waited near an hours and a half before they came; when they arrived they appeared to be in a great hurry; and he observed some blood upon Platt’s shoulder and trowsers; he asked them what was to do: the only reply that they gave him was, “Come along”. He then went on with them, and they kept running nearly the whole of the way till they came to Buxton: that they all three slept at a small public house at the other side of Buxton, which place they left early in the morning, and came to Macclesfield where Platt purchased some new clothes at a public house at Macclesfield, where they had all been at, and the remaining part at the shoemaker’s. All the money that he had had from them had been £3 and some silver. They returned to Manchester that evening, and that he went to Liverpool the following morning, at which place he remained till he was taken into custody: I am not aware that he assigned any reason for being in Liverpool.

I found the prisoner had been at Manchester that night, and found him in Liverpool the next morning: I have no reason to believe that when he told me was not true: From the first to the last he denied having anything to do with the actual murder: Of his own accord he told me this story; I never hear of the prisoner’s being involved in any criminal charge before: I have seen his friends – they are respectable for their situation in life: The other two were known to the Police: Taylor was apprehended on this charge and lodge in the New Bailey where he hung himself: At this time the prisoner did not say they threatened his life, or any thing of the kind: He was taken to the Cock at Whaley, and examined before the magistrate on Monday following, the 10th August: As far as I have seen of him he appeared to be a mild tempered lad: He seemed to be a young beginner in these things. He told his story, whether true or false in a straightforward manner: He is about five feet and a half in height. The affair found its way into the public prints: There were long accounts of what were supposed to be the case.

George William Newton Esq examined by Attorney General

I am a magistrate, at Whaley: I took the examination of the prisoner at the bar: The prisoner signed it at his own desire: He preferred having it put into writing: I read to him the examination of the witnesses. The examination (prisoner’s) is in my own hand writing: It was taken on the 11th August, after the prisoner was properly cautioned.

The examination was now put in and read by the Prothonotary:- “Platt, Taylor and me left Manchester, on Wednesday, the 16th of July, intending to go to my aunt’s at Castleton on the old road from Disley to Whaley where we met with an elderly person in a blue coat and light trowsers, and we got into conversation with him. He invited up into a public house to take some ale: Platt gave me sixpence, and told me to go on and wait for them at a public house a half a mile off: I waited at the public house a considerable time. When they came up to me, they were running, and I saw they were bloody. The said “Come along”. I ran with them a good way, and they said I would run no longer. Platt damned me, and they said “Good-bye”. When I came near Buxton, they were waiting for me, and the cursed me fro keeping them so long. We had supper and slept together that night near Buxton. The next morning we went to Macclesfield, where they asked me to buy clothes for them, which I did. (The examination described the particulars of the purchase, and the taking of fares in the Telegraph for Manchester). Platt asked me to go to Chester with him, but I refused. I have not seen them since I left.

Mr William Wright examined by Mr Parkes

I am a surgeon, at Disley: I saw the body of the late Wm. Wood, abut ten o’clock on the evening of the 16th July: the day the murder was committed: I found it at the Cock in Whaley: I examined his head and found ten wounds upon it: The skill was fractured in one place only, the back of the head. The wounds appeared to have been inflicted with some blunt instrument: They were such wounds, as wall-stones would make: they were of such description as to have been done with them. They caused his death. The most material wound was on the back of the head. A portion of the skull was driven into the brain.

George Hughes examined by Mr Jones

I am a stucco manufacturer, at Manchester: I have know the prisoner seven years; For what I have known of him he has always borne a very good character, until the present charge: I have had many opportunities of judging of his disposition, and always considered him a mild and peaceable lad.

George Burgess examined by Mr Jones

I am a constable at Bucklow, in this county: I formerly lived in Chorlton Row. I was a constable there eight year: The prisoner lived near me a long time. I never heard any criminal charge against him till this affair: with regard to his temper I never had anything to do with him, and cannot say: He always attended the Sunday school: He was considered a good tempered, well behaved lad: I never hear any charge against him.

George Henshall examined by Mr Jones

I am a cotton spinner: I have known the lad three years: He was a quiet lad: Good tempered in my presence always: He was always very kind to his parents.

The Chief Justice, at half-past five began to recapitulate the evidence. The prisoner, his lordship said, was indicted for murder, and the question, which you have to try, is whether, from the evidence which you have heard, and which I shall repeat to you, he is guilty in your judgment or otherwise. In order to constitute the crime of murder, malice must be expressed or implied from the conduct of the parties and the facts of the case. It is not necessary that the party should be actually present at the commission of the crime, but if he shall have in any manner wilfully and knowingly participated, he is then equally guilty with those by whom the fatal act was perpetrated. (His Lordship then read over the depositions of the witnesses, as given in the preceding pages). You have not to try the prisoner for the robbery, but for the murder. By some person, it is but too evident, a most barbarous murder has been committed – barbarous in the extreme. The deceased was killed by someone or other in the most savage manner. Whether the prisoner at the bar had any connection with the parties, you have to take into your serious consideration. It is not a question for you to consider, whether the prisoner was the man who actually struck the blow. It is sufficient that he was either present, or aiding, abetting and consenting to the perpetration of the crime; for, in point of law, his is equally as guilty as if he had t the mortal wound. It was attempted to show on his behalf that strength, greater than it was implied the parties possessed, had been employed to commit this murder. It was, however, committed, and it is your province to say by whom; and, with respect to the prisoner, it is of no avail if he in any way participated in the crime. Their clothes you will consider were marked with blood. Then, the accounts, which the prisoner has given of himself, are matters for consideration, as they are pregnant with suspicion. He says that he received only three pounds and some silver; but it is in evidence that he paid away upwards of nine pounds. The witnesses swear that he had more, but the story of the three is his own statement. The question is not whether he were one of the party. If the other men murdered the deceased, you will consider whether the prisoner were by at the time. Now, by his own admission it is evident that he was on the road with them at the time. And his is seen with them both before and after the crime. Not only is he seen with them, but of all the party, he appears to have been the most active in distributing the money, in purchasing clothes and in other particulars.

Mr Law – Your lordship forgets that he is not identified until he comes to Macclesfield.

I do not lose sight of it. You must consider whether he was with these men at the time – whether the money which he paid was part of that which belonged to the deceased. With respect to what the prisoner has said by way of accounting for his absence at the commission of the crime, you will compare his statement with that of the witnesses. He says that he was in a public house where he waited for them. This is an evident falsehood. If there were such a public house where he says Taylor & Platt came up to him, somebody might have called. There must have been someone who would know him. Why was not the landlord or some person belonging to the house brought to prove this most important fact. It is for you to decide on the credibility and consistency of his statement. We find that he had a great proportion of the money himself. We have him running and stopping and running with these two men again. The money which has been traced to him is clearly the money that belonged to Wood. He who was guilty of the robbery was also undoubtedly guilty of the murder. The evidence which has been adduced in his behalf is only to character, but where the facts of a case are so distinct as to be conclusive of guilt, evidence of this nature neither can nor ought to be of avail; and with respect to such evidence, you must consider that the contrariety of opinion may exist. It is merely a matter of opinion opposed to decisive facts. Taking all the circumstances of the case together, you will weigh them in your minds, and according to your judgment, you will pronounce whether in your opinion, the prisoner be guilty of the crime alleged against him or not.

After a consultation of about two minutes duration, the Jury returned a verdict of GUILTY.

The prisoner heard the awful decision without any apparent emotion; and shortly afterwards, a glass of water or lemonade was brought, which he drank off at a draught. During the trial, he now and then ate something, which he took from his jacket pocket. He wore, what the witnesses termed, a round pillow fustian jacket (or waistcoat with sleeves) and a yellow waistcoat.

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