What the Papers Said 150 Years Ago

Combe Martin Petty Sessions Monday Feb 7th 1859:

Betsy Ley, farmer's wife of Berrynarbor, was charged by her servant, Prudence Perin, with assaulting her. The charge was admitted, but circumstances of provocation were pleaded. Fined 2s 6d, with 6s, costs.

24th February 1859. Ilfracombe.

Drunkenness and Disorder: Richard Snow and John Slee, two married labourers, of Berrynarbor, were brought before N. Vye, Esq., on Saturday, charged by P. C. Hodge, with being drunk and creating a disturbance in the street on the previous night. The defendants had been locked up all night in the 'Stone Lodge', a small cell under the town clock. Before hearing the charge, the magistrate told the policeman that he would not have any whom he might find it necessary to take into custody, kept in that small, cold, close place, all night; especially during the winter. It was not a place fit for a human being to be confined in the whole of a cold winter's night: in summer it might do, but even then not for two persons. The cell might serve for the confinement of a prisoner for a few hours in the day, but if they were required to be kept all night, it must be a private house: when the new station was built, the difficulty now felt by the police with a prisoner in charge would be done away. On the charge being laid against the prisoners above named they denied being drunk - they only had 'two pints o'drink' each. P.C. Hodge found them in Portland Street about half-past ten o'clock followed by a mob of noisy fellows, using the most horrible language. Slee having his coat off and offering battle to any one that would fight him. As defendants refused to leave or give any satisfactory accounts of themselves, Hodge found it necessary to stop the outrage by

taking him into custody. Much scuffling ensued in getting him to the cell, his fellow tippler demanding him as his 'property' and on reaching the Lodge, Snow assaulted the officer, and attempting a rescue, was himself seized and first placed behind lock and key. By this time his 'property' had walked off, who had to be pursued and re-captured, which was soon affected and the pair left to their reflections in the rogue's roost. - Mr. Sommers, watchmaker, described the conduct of the men as outrageous and profane, but that the row was greatly heightened, perhaps, would not have occurred if they had not been maddened by the hounding of a knot of lawless youngsters in the street. Mr. Henry Harding, postman, gave evidence to the same facts. The magistrate said there could be no doubt about the defendants being drunk, and that a very disgraceful outrage had been committed. Until recently, all a magistrate could do in such cases, however disorderly parties might have been, was to fine them 5s, and the expenses, but he would take the opportunity of saying that by a late act, persons guilty of disorderly conduct might be fined 40s, or sent 7 days to prison, at the discretion of the Bench. Those whom it concerned would see that conduct of this description would be followed by far more serious consequences than had been the custom, and which would certainly be inflicted. In the present instance, he would not inflict the severer penalty, as they had already been punished by being locked up all night, and he understood the police constable intended in bringing a charge against them at the petty sessions for assaulting him in the execution of his duties. Fined 5s each, with 2s 6d each expenses.

Tom Bartlett


What the Papers Said 150 Years Ago

28th October 1858:

A CHILD MORTALLY BURNT - On Friday, an inquest was held at Berrydown Cross, before R. Bremridge, Esq., county coroner, on the body of Emily Jewell, a girl between seven and eight years of age, the daughter of James Jewell, a labourer, residing in the hamlet. It appeared that on Wednesday morning, the father and mother left the house, the former to go to his work and the latter to the mill to get her grist ground, leaving the deceased and a younger child to take care of themselves as best they could. After the mother was gone, the children fastened the door by pushing something over the latch to prevent other children entering the house. In the course of the morning the neighbours perceived the smell of fire, and soon ascertained that it proceeded from Jewell's house. As the door was fastened they had to force it open; and, on doing so, found the elder girl burnt in a miserable manner. Mr. Stoneham, surgeon, of this town, was sent for, and on his arrival, pronounced the case to be hopeless. The poor child lingered until the next morning, when death put a period to her sufferings. The verdict of the Jury was in accordance with the facts, but the coroner thought it his duty to address the parents in strong terms of censure for their carelessness in leaving children so young in the house by themselves. It appeared that about eight years ago they had a child, of the same age, burnt to death under similar circumstances, and a third had since suffered from a like casualty, though the injuries had not proved mortal.

4th November 1858 County Courts [Before John Tyrrell, Esq., Judge.]

Tuesday, November 2nd -THE GAME LAWS -Quick v. Beer - Plaintiff is a farm servant, lately in the employment of Mr. Ley, of Crosshill, in the parish of Berrynarbor; and the defendant, gamekeeper to Arthur Davie Bassett, Esq., of Watermouth. The action was brought to recover £1.15s, the value of a gun and a quantity of powder and shot, the property of Quick, which Beer had illegally seized and taken possession of on the 20th of Sept., last. Mr. Incledon Bencraft appeared for the plaintiff; Mr. Hooper Law for the defendant. The plaintiff and James Ley [brother of his late master] were recently summoned before the Bench of Magistrates at Combmartin, for trespassing in quest of game, and convicted and fined for the offence; although the defence set up was, that they were upon ground where they had a right to be, and employed in farm operations - that the farmer had the right to kill rabbits, etc. It appeared that on the day named the two young men went to the field to work, taking with them a gun, intending to kill a rabbit if one should chance to start up - that Ley fired off the gun, which had been loaded several days, throwing up a stone as a mark at which to aim - that immediately after the gamekeeper and the Rev. Arthur Crawford Bassett entered the field and demanded who had fired the gun to which the plaintiff returned an evasive answer. Beer then searched in the hedgerow and found the gun hid under Quick's coat, of which he took possession, together with a quantity of powder and shot in the pockets of the coat. Evidence was given pro and con., the plaintiff and

his witness denied that either beat or searched for game, and Beer deposed that he saw Quick fire, and both beating the covers, though he confessed he was at a great distance at the time and several hedges intercepted the view. His Honour reviewed the evidence, and said he did not consider that adduced by the plaintiff worthy to be trusted, as much as that of the game-keeper. Judgement for the defendant - Mr. Law declined to ask for costs.

Tom Bartlett November 2008



1st July 1858 ILFRACOMBE

RARE VISITOR IN THE CHANNEL- On Saturday some attention was excited by the appearance in the offing of a ship of unusual stateliness and size, accompanied by a smaller craft as odd as the other was majestic. The Coast Guard were able to give the information that the large ship was the Russel, one of Her Majesty's steam frigates, carrying 60 guns. The accompanying vessel with leg-of-mutton sail fore and aft, and funnel between, was a gun-boat. The frigate was a gallant object with all her canvas spread, going up with a fair wind, the sun shining upon her and everything looking so beautiful. The spy glass revealed her two tiers of guns - she did not appear to have her steam up. It was said she was cruising round this part of the island for the purpose of inspecting and promoting the means of defence along the coast. It is an extremely rare thing to see a ship of war in the Bristol Channel; men accustomed to traverse it do not recollect seeing one for years, hence the anxious inquiry, to what cause is it we owe the unexpected visit?

26th August 1858

PAINFUL ACCIDENT - Yesterday [Wednesday], as the Rev. Thomas Hulme, Wesleyan minister, of this place, and the Rev. Joseph Chapman, with some friends were making an exploratory visit to the rocks and caves at Watermouth, the first named gentleman had the misfortune to slip his foot on the smooth surface of rock, when he fell and broke his right arm between the elbow and the shoulder. To make the matter worse, the bone is fractured in an oblique direction, rendering it more difficult to set and particularly difficult to keep in its place. The case is in the skilful hands of Mr. Foquet.

Tom Bartlett,

Tower Cottage July 2008

e-mail: tombartlett40@hotmail.com



NDJ July 15th 1858 BERRY REVEL. - On Wednesday, last week, Henry Webber, carpenter, (an ex-policeman of the Bristol Force.) of the parish of Berrynarbor, was brought in custody of Police Constable Hodge, before N. Vye, Esq., and the Rev. S.T. Slade-Gully, at the rectory in that village charged with having brutally assaulted, Jane Berry, wife of a labourer on the 6th instant. Berry Revel begins on the Saturday, and lasts several days including the Sunday. On the night in question this young wife had, very indiscreetly gone to the dancing-room of the "Globe" Inn, where between 10 and 11 o'clock, she was met by the defendant who is a single man. Being it is understood, old acquaintances. And complainant not being accompanied by her "natural protector," defendant proceeded to take unbecoming liberties with her, which she resented by giving him a push or a blow, telling him "to keep his hands off." He, brute as he was, flew into a rage and made a furious attack by her with his fists, struck her about the face and eyes, and when she was leaving the house he knocked her down and otherwise maltreated her, swearing in the most horrible manner that he would be "the death of her." The complainant carried the evidence of her ill-usage in her face, she had a dreadful pair of black eyes and other marks of foul treatment. The charge being proved, the magistrates fined him £3 with 11s 6d, expenses, with the alternative of a month in Prison. the money was paid.

22nd July 1858 A Fearful Fall. - Early on Monday morning a terrible accident happened at Berrynarbor to a young man, about 18 years of age, named Philip Lancey, as he was going down to Watermouth in search of crabs. The youth and his step-brothers, William Hicks, are the sons of a poor widow in the village, named Margaret Lancey, who render her by their attachment and labour, important comfort and assistance in the up-hill struggles of life. On the morning mentioned, a relation who had been paying them a visit being about to leave, the brothers went down to the shore to get some crabs or lobsters to gratify their departing friend. Many of the pots for trapping these crustances, are fastened to staples secured in the rocks, as the unfortunate youth was descending Ditch Cliff, opposite to Watermouth Castle, he fell a height of some fourteen feet on a ledge of rocks below, and from thence he rolled into the sea. His step-brother saved him from a watery grave, but it was found that a terrible wound had been inflicted on his head. The Surgeon was immediately sent for from Ilfracombe, who discovered an extensive laceration of the scalp and fracture of the skull. It does not appear to have affected his mental faculties, but serious apprehensions are entertained of a fatal result. The case is in the able hands of Messrs. Stoneham and Foquet.

Tom Bartlett

NB Please note that these extracts from the papers are reprinted exactly as published.



Tom Bartlett

COMBE MARTIN PETTY SESSIONS Monday Jan. 4th 1858. [Present - The Rev. S.T. Slade-Gully and J.C. Roe, Esq.]

ASSAULTS - Ann Williams, of Berrynarbor, was charged by Maria Huxtable, of the same place, with assaulting her on the 23rd ult. Some disagreement arising between the two parties in this case, about their boys, who had been playing outside their dwellings, when the defendant gave the complainant a slap in the face and several other blows, and then threw a pitcher of water over her by way of finish. Fined 5s, with 11s.6d. costs.

TRESPASS - William Adams was charged by A.D. Bassett, Esq., with trespassing on his coach road, at Berrynarbor, it being private property, on the 1st instant. Robert Lovering saw defendant on the road with a horse and cart, and told him not to go on, but he persisted in passing over it. Sentenced to pay 6d damages and 8s costs.

Marriages 7th inst., [January 1858] at Berrynarbor, by the Rev. S.T. Slade-Gully, Charles Henry, son of William Williams, Esq., Tregullow, Cornwall to Harriet Mary, eldest daughter of Arthur Davie Bassett, Esq., Watermouth, Devon.


In the Papers 150 Years Ago

North Devon Journal, August 1857


To the Editor of the "North Devon Journal"

SIR - Having just returned from your excellent North Devon watering place - Ilfracombe - and its delightful neighbourhood,

I cannot refrain from calling the attention of the authorities to the frightfully dangerous state of a short portion of the path to Watermouth. The earth and rock have broken away on the left-hand side of the originally narrow path, leaving barely room to pass, and exposing the unsuspecting traveller to a precipice of such fearful depth that falling from it must be instantly fatal.

It is a shame that a peril so easily to be guarded against should exist amidst such beautiful and attractive scenery, and I trust a regard to the public safety will induce the responsible party at once to prevent the sacrifice of life which, if the path be neglected, I expect to hear has arisen. Hoping the insertion of this notice may be useful. I am Sir, yours &c.

Leicester, Aug. 1857



Monday Dec. 7th [Extract]

GAME LAWS - James Tucker, was charged by farmer Dermaid of Hele, near Ilfracombe, with trespassing in search of rabbits in a field of his in the parish of Berrynarbor, on the 10th September. Complainant heard the report of a gun and going in the direction of the sound, he found the defendant in his field with a gun with which he shot a rabbit. - Richard Gammon, a witness called by the defendant, said that on the day in question, he invited him [defendant] to come and shoot some rabbits with him on his land. They went to Mr. Watt's where they had leave to shoot, and acknowledged having passed over one of Dermaid's fields, but denied having fired a gun there. The Bench considered the charge proved, and fined defendant 10s with 8s 6d costs.

Tom Bartlett, Tower Cottage, November 2007

e-mail: tombartlett40@hotmail.com



North Devon Journal, 2nd July 1857:


"Welcome Home! On Saturday last this village was the scene of great rejoicing on the occasion of the return to his paternal home of Lieut. Francis Gully of the 31st Regiment, son of the Rev. Thomas Slade-Gully rector of the parish, after eleven years service in the East Indies. The gallant officer was greeted with bell ringing and the discharge of artillery, and the villagers generally testified their joy at his return and their regard for their worthy rector and his much-respected family. Our correspondent writes: 'Such rejoicing was not witnessed in Berry before.'"

North Devon Journal, September 1857:

"Stealing by a Servant - Mary Ann Moon, a girl belonging to Berrynarbor, was taken before N. Vye Esq. on Wednesday last week, charged with stealing a handkerchief, and other articles, the property of a lady lodging at Mrs. Lammas's, Montpelier Terrace. She was remanded to the Petty Sessions at Combe Martin on Monday, when she was convicted and sentenced to three months' imprisonment."

Tom Bartlett



The following extracts from a local newspaper from the early 1900' s have been sent in by Vera Lewis [Ley] from Epsom, whose family lived both at Goosewell and later at Orchard House.

'To augment the prize fund of K Company of the 4th V.B.D.R. a concert was given in the Temperance Hall, which had been decorated by Sgt. Major Instructor Dennis and Colr.Sgt. Pugsley. Among the items deserving of notice was the splendid rendition of 'Eileen A!annah' by Mrs. Manning and Miss Copner's 'When Jack and I were Children'. Miss Bray gained much applause for 'Mary was a Housemaid', as also did Miss Saunders for 'Turham Toll'. The novelties of the entertainment were a skirt dance and a hornpipe by Miss G. Chalacombe, and a whistling solo by Captain Cooke. Mr. Brown received well merited applause for his recitation in the Devonshire dialect, and so did Mr. Bray for his piccolo solo. Mrs. Page, Corpl. Goss and Pte. Goss each sang a pleasing song. Mr. Page as a nigger caused roars of laughter by his songs and topical allusions. Much of the success of the entertainment was due to Mrs. Gubb as the accompanist. The company's band under Bandmaster S. Pearse, played selections. The funds of the company benefited by about £4.10s.'

'A highly successful entertainment, in aid of the Church choir fund, was given at the Temperance Hall on Wednesday evening. The various items were well carried out, the choir rending plantation songs in a very creditable manner, reflecting great credit on the organist Miss Bray. The play entitled 'A Rise in Life' under the management of Mr. Alfred Brown, provoked roars of laughter and was very cleverly acted by the various performers. '

Taking part were Vera's father and uncle, George and Tom Ley [Jnr.]. The Reverend Churchill's contribution was 'In Memory of our Queen', and since Queen Victoria died in January 1901, the event must have been shortly after her death. Queen Victoria died in the 64th year of her reign the end of an era. She had reigned three years longer and was three days older at the time of her death than George 111. She was survived by 6 children, 40 grandchildren, 37 great grandchildren, including four future monarchs Edward VEX, George V, Edward VIII and George VI.