Pubs and Crime in Gloucestershire, 1825-1919

When I was researching Gloucester Murder & Crime, it was noticeable how many times public houses and inns played a part in the stories I was working on. I suppose it is not all that surprising, as consumption of too much alcohol no doubt led to violence in the past as much as it does in modern times. Looking again at my first book, Hanged at Gloucester, I found that there were a number of cases where Gloucestershire pubs featured prominently.  I thought it would be interesting to give an outline of those establishments which played a role in Gloucestershire’s crime history.

In Gloucester:

The Barley Mow in Southgate Street was the scene of a fatal stabbing in 1873. An altercation at closing time between a ship’s carpenter from Gdansk named Otto Moritz and a group of French sailors led to the stabbing of two of the Frenchmen. One of those injured was later found dead. Moritz was tried at the Gloucester Assizes in April 1873, and was found guilty of manslaughter. He was sentenced to ten year’s imprisonment, which he served at Pentonville Prison in London.

In 1875, the Fleece Inn  in Westgate Street was frequented by a well-known hard-man called George Clements. He was a chimney sweep by trade, but also sub-let his house in Union Street to two prostitutes. He was sweet on one of the girls, named Lilly Cooke, and after seeing her at the Fleece Inn drinking with another man in December 1875, he followed her back to the house and stabbed her. Lilly spent several weeks in the infirmary, but she survived. Clements was tried at the Assizes in April 1876. The jury returned a verdict of guilty of wounding with intent to murder. He was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment at Pentonville.

In 1903, William Mould was the landlord of the Duke of Wellington public house in Tredworth Road. His wife, Agnes, had spent some time that year in Gloucester’s Lunatic Asylum, after her new-born child died. Agnes believed that she had killed the child, but an inquest (held at the Lower George, Westgate Street) found that the death was an accident. Agnes was released from the asylum in December, and on Christmas Eve she told her family that she had killed a little boy by pushing him into the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. A body was found a few days later. In January 1904, Agnes Mould was committed to the Lunatic Asylum once more, without standing trial.

The former Park End Hotel, now converted into apartments (Jill Evans, 2013)

The former Park End Hotel, now converted into apartments (Jill Evans, 2013)

The  Park End Hotel, on the corner of Park End Road and New Street, was visited on the night of 13 September 1919 by a married couple, Matthew and Elizabeth Rodgers, who lived in New Street, and their neighbours, Ernest and Maria Barnes. Mr and Mrs Rodgers had a troubled marriage, largely due to Matthew’s philandering, and the pair had argued that afternoon. After leaving the bar at closing time, Mr and Mrs Barnes were invited to go into the Rodgers’ house to listen to the gramophone. While they were all sitting together in the parlour, Elizabeth Rodgers went behind her husband’s chair and cut his throat with a razor. She stood trial in October 1919 and pleaded not guilty to murdering her husband, on the grounds that she had not planned to commit the crime and had been under great provocation. The jury found her guilty of manslaughter and she was sentenced to fives years’ penal servitude.

In Gloucestershire:

The Tennis Court Inn in Warmley, near Bristol, was the local haunt of some of the notorious Cock Road Gang. One night in November 1824, seven members of the gang, including Mark Whiting and James Caines, were drinking in the Tennis Court Inn when Issac Gorden came in. Gorden had words with James Caines, who threatened to knock his brains out. Not long after closing time, Gorden’s body was found, about 70 yards from the inn. He had suffered a heavy blow to the head and had a stab wound. It was later discovered that he had been hit with a heavy wooden post, used as a clothes prop, which had been taken from the garden of The Tennis Court Inn. Six men were tried for murder at the Gloucester Assizes in April 1825. All were acquitted except Mark Whiting and James Caines, who were hanged.

The Trouble House Inn on the outskirts of Tetbury already had an association with highwaymen and other law-breakers when brothers Matthew and Henry Pinnell called into the bar one afternoon in December 1828. While they were drinking, they saw a farmer, James Kearsey, going down the road on his way to Tetbury market, and Matthew remarked that it would be no sin to take a little from these great farmers. As Kearsey made his way home from the market, he was jumped on by two assailants, who hit him with a stick and robbed him. The Pinnell brothers were soon identified and were tracked down in Salisbury. They were tried in Gloucester in April 1829 and sentenced to death for highway robbery.

The Trouble House Inn, Tetbury (via geograph.org.uk. Image copyright Mick Lobb and licensed for re-use under Creative Commons Attribution- Share Alike 2.0 licence.)

The Trouble House Inn, Tetbury (via geograph.org.uk. Image copyright Mick Lobb and licensed for re-use under Creative Commons Attribution- Share Alike 2.0 licence.)

In September 1836, the body of a woman was found in a lane in Stapleton. She was taken into a nearby inn, the Mason’s Arms, and was recognised by staff as having been in the bar with a younger man shortly before. The next day, a strolling player named Charles Samuel Bartlett came into to the inn and identified the body as being that of his mother-in-law, Mary Lewis. He was recognised as being the young man who had been in the bar with the woman on the day she died. He was arrested and was tried at Gloucester Assizes in April 1837. Mary Lewis had been shot by Bartlett, who had persuaded her to walk with him from Bristol to Winterbourne on some pretext. They had taken a break at Stapleton, where Bartlett took the opportunity to shoot her, but made the grave error of returning to the Mason’s Arms to identify his victim. He was hanged on 15 April 1837.

In the early 1870s, The Early Dawn public house in High Street, Cheltenham was run by Peter and Sarah Gardner. Their eighteen-year-old daughter Emily helped out in the bar. She was being courted by a young man named Frederick Jones, who was very jealous of what he saw as Emily’s friendliness towards other men. On the night of 10 December 1871, Jones and Emily accompanied Emily’s sister back to her lodgings, then set off back to the Early Dawn, but Emily never arrived home. A search party found her dead in a lane, in a pool of blood, with her throat slashed several times. Jones was tried at the Winter Assizes in Gloucester and hanged in January 1872.

All of these stories can be read in greater detail in my books, Hanged at Gloucester (2011) and Gloucester Murder & Crime (2013), both published by The History Press.

© Jill Evans 2016

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7 thoughts on “Pubs and Crime in Gloucestershire, 1825-1919

      • Murder at Greyhound Inn, Tetbury, July 1878

        Mr Coren, deputy coroner, held an inquest (in the absence of Mr. Ball, the coroner for the division) at the Town Hall, Tetbury, on Monday, on the body of James White, who died on Friday last from the effects of a stab inflicted by Charles Cole. The proceedings commenced at eleven and lasted till after six o’clock.
        William White, the father of the deceased, said his son was 25 years of age, and lived at home. He kept the Greyhound Inn. On Saturday week, Charles Cole, Geo. Hammond, James Ball, and others were drinking at his bar about a quarter to ten at night. The deceased came in about ten, and at that time Ball and Compton were having words. Neither his son nor Cole took part in it. The house was cleared, and about twenty minutes after his son was brought back stabbed in the stomach. Cole was first cousin of deceased.
        Mr. Wickham, M.R.C.S., proved being called in to see deceased about half-past ten. He had a deep wound in the upper and central parts of the abdomen, an inch and a half in length. The upper surface of the left lobe of the liver was penetrated. He advised his disposition being immediately taken. He had a post mortem examination since, and attributed death to the wound, which must have been made by a straight bladed knife.
        George Hammond, labourer, who was at the Greyhound on the occasion, said when deceased came in he waited on the customers. There was a quarrel between Ball and Compton, but he did not see either prisoner or deceased take part in it, and no one was the worse for drink. Ball offered to fight the best man in the house. Deceased then went to Ball angrily, and put his fist in his face, and then walked away. Deceased did not come in again, and there was no fighting. The house was soon after cleared. He and Ball left first, and the rest followed. While he was in the house he did not see Cole excited or angry, nor was there any quarrel between him and deceased. When they got outside Compton quarrelled with Ball. Cole took Ball’s part. Someone – he did not know – struck witness, and he ran off, followed by the rest, when two of them knocked him down and beat him. When he got up he saw Cole and deceased struggling; they had their arms round each other. He heard deceased say, “Charles, thee hast been and stabbed!” He did not hear Cole make any answer. He saw no knife in either of their hands, and he heard no threat made by anyone. When the deceased said he was stabbed they all ran away. The next morning witness found he had been stabbed in the back, but not seriously. The knife produced was his, and he last saw it Saturday week, when he used it for his dinner; Cole and Ball being at work with him at the time. He did not miss it till the policeman came to his house the next morning. Cole had a long bladed knife, very “picked” at the point.
        Charles Compton, a groom, one of the party, said he had a dispute with Ball, but Cole had no part in it. A man named Maisey was present, whom deceased claimed as a “pal” and when they got outside Maisey was being pushed about. He saw Hammond knocked down. Someone knocked witness down, but he did not know who. He heard prisoner threaten to stab deceased if he hit “the chap” again. He did not see any struggle, but he heard deceased call out that he was stabbed.
        P.C. Holder said he saw some of the party near the scene of the affray, and ordered them off, and just after he heard that White had been stabbed, He saw White, who said that Cole had stabbed him. He went to Cole’s house and charged him, when Cole denied it. He took him to the station, and found a spot of blood on the left leg of his trousers. He searched for a knife, but failed to find one, but found prisoner’s hat on the ground. Other evidence having been given as to the search for a knife.
        Mr. Burge, clerk to the magistrates’ clerk, proved that he was present when Captain Henry took the deceased’s disposition at the Greyhound on Sunday morning. The disposition was read, and it simply stated that the prisoner Charles Cole was the man who stabbed him. The prisoner was then charged by the Coroner with killing the deceased, and was asked to plead, but declined to say anything.
        The Coroner, in an elaborate summing up, said there was very strong evidence that Cole stabbed White, and the only question was whether it was murder or manslaughter. He directed the jury in favour of murder, saying it was a question whether there was sufficient provocation to reduce it to manslaughter. The jury consulted for nearly an hour, and then returned a verdict of “Wilful murder” against Cole, who was committed by the Coroner to take his trial on that charge.
        On Tuesday 29th July 1878 he was also committed by the magistrates.
        Story courtesy of Paul Best; Original source: The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post Wednesday July 31st 1878.

  1. Jill, We have another grisly tale of a murder at The Greyhound in Tetbury. Will forward it to you Two queries please: 1. Is it ok if we use the Trouble House tale in our museum display, with a reference to you? 2. Is it ok to use it too as an item in The Advertiser, our monthly magazine in Tetbury organised by the Lions? Again with a reference to you. Many thanks. John

    John Silvester, Hon Curator Tetbury Police Museum & Courtroom The Old Courthouse, 63 Long Street, Tetbury, Glos. GL8 8AA Tel 01666 504670, Mobile 07843 377080, Email curator@tetbury.gov.uk Website http://www.visittetbury.co.uk/police-museum On 25 Feb 2016 12:29, “Gloucestershire Crime History” wrote:

    > Jill Evans posted: “When I was researching Gloucester Murder & Crime, it > was noticeable how many times public houses and inns played a part in the > stories I was working on. I suppose it is not all that surprising, > as consumption of too much alcohol no doubt led to violen” >

  2. Hello Jill Evans

    Fascinating stuff.

    I produce an online, ‘free’ to view, ‘left leaning’ magazine, ‘Sheep in the Road’ … I would like to pop this blog entry in as an article into issue 8 (pub. date early March), your credit line would mention your books … Can I have your permission to do this? Previous issues of ‘Sheep in the Road’ can be viewed at http://www.handoverfistpress

    Best wishes Alan

    > >

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