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Stories of People

Past news of local crime and misfortunes

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Peter Bardsley in 2006 at the Stockport Gourmet MarketThe late Peter Bardsley (1929-2010) scoured the 19th and early 20th centuries Stockport Advertisers, and other local papers, in the Stockport Heritage Library for these stories of the Marple past. Peter was a stalwart of several organizations in Marple, including the Local History Society and the Holy Spirit Church. He authored or co-authored several local history books, including Hollins Mill and Brabyns Hall and Park, both with Ann Hearle. In May 2011 a new display board, in the Marple Memorial Park, about the Carvers and Barlows, was dedicated to Peter.

Thank you, Peter
(left) at the first Gourmet Market in Stockport in 2006, tasting donkey sausages!

Swain & Co Ltd was formed in 1888 to take over Messrs Swain and Bearby's 'Stockport Advertiser'. The  Advertiser', Stockport’s  first newspaper, was founded in 1822 by James Lomax. Swain and Bearby purchased the business in 1873 and expanded it to cover surrounding areas. In 1977 Swain & Co Ltd became a subsidiary of the Guardian & Manchester Evening News Ltd. The 'Stockport Advertiser' was merged with the 'Stockport Express' in 1981, the resulting paper being called the 'Stockport Express Advertiser'.

Stockport Advertiser – 28th July 1826 Page 3

Police Office

Daniel Sullivan was committed to Knutsford to take his trial at the ensuing Sessions, by S P Humphreys Esq, for stealing a gander the property of Mr John Brocklehurst of Ludworth on Saturday 15th Inst.

Stockport Advertiser – 1st June 1827 Page 3

George Reed, boatman of Marple, a notorious character charged with stealing a quantity of potatoes, the property of John Higginbottom, farmer of Disley on Saturday morning last was committed to Knutsford to take his trial.

Stockport Advertiser – 8th June 1827 Page 3

Apprehension of Thompson the Supposed Murderer

It is with great pleasure that we are enabled to state that James Thompson, the man charged by the verdict of a Coroner’s Jury, with the wilful murder of Catherine Fisher, at Compstall Bridge near this town on the 13th January last was apprehended at Liverpool on Friday last.  It appears he was taken into custody on a charge of horse-stealing having hired a horse at Ormskirk and afterwards sold it at Liverpool.  He was examined for this offence on Saturday and committed to Lancaster Assizes.  In consequence of some suspicions entertained by Mr Miller, Constable of Liverpool, he wrote to Mr Barrett, our Deputy Constable stating that he had a person in custody answering the description given of Thompson in the Public Advertisements.  Mr Barrett in company with Mr Dyson, who is in the employ of Messrs Andrew Bruckshaw and Co went over to Liverpool on Saturday afternoon    and on being admitted into the prison he was immediately identified.  When they went into the lock-up, he was stripped for the purpose of examination, when to their great surprise they discovered he had been endeavouring to commit suicide.  He had inflicted one wound to his throat and two on his belly, none of which however were of a dangerous nature.  The wounds had been made by a piece of sharp pointed glass, about an inch and a half in length, which he had obtained by breaking one of the windows.  His arms were immediately pinioned to prevent the accomplishment of his purpose, and he was finally secured in Lancaster Castle.  We understand that after he had taken his trial at Lancaster, he will be conveyed to Chester to be tried for the murder.

Stockport Advertiser –  24th August 1827 Page 3 and 24th August 1827 Page 3

Police Office

Frances Greatorex, a girl of about 12 years of age, was charged with having stolen a black bombazine tippet and sleeves and a silk handkerchief, the property of Mrs Wilcock of The Bull’s Head Inn, Marple on Thursday last (16th August), also a cotton apron belonging to Jane Burrows, servant to Mr Booth of the Grapes Inn, Werneth.  This case exhibited a most remarkable instance of youth depravity.  It appeared in evidence that the prisoner went to Mrs Wilcock’s house on Wednesday evening and said that she was in want of a situation, relating at the time a tale so pathetic that Mrs Wilcock, from motives of humanity, was induced to give her refreshments and allowed her to sleep there all night.  The next morning she decamped with the articles above mentioned and was apprehended shortly afterwards by Chadwick, the constable of Marple.  When taken she had a bundle containing a quantity of wearing apparel no doubt obtained in a similar manner as she has long been known to the police and has already suffered imprisonment for a crime of a similar nature.  It is very probable that other cases may be brought against her.  Committed to Knutsford to take her trial at the ensuing sessions.


 Stockport Advertiser 24th October 1828 Page 3

Police Office Before S P Humphreys Esq.

James Sykes of Marple, for being drunk and assaulting Mrs Sarah Willcock of The Bull’s Head, Marple, on Sunday the 12th inst. was discharged on payment of 5s and costs.

Stockport Advertiser – 14th November 1828   Page 3

Police Office – before S P Humphreys Esq

John Smith of Compstall Bridge, charged with having committed a most brutal and violent assault upon Thomas Hadfield.  The complainant stated that he went into the Robin Hood Public house on Sunday week (1st November) where he found the defendant, who was noisy and quarrelsome, wishing to fight everyone in the room, upon which he said to him “Don’t be foolish, sit down and be quiet”.  He was then struck by him and had one of his fingers so dreadfully bitten that it had since been necessary to have it amputated at the first joint.  He also stated that the defendant said that if he got hold of anyone wit his teeth they were sure to meet.  Two witnesses corroborated the complainant’s statement.

The defendant denied striking the first blow and likewise called two witnesses who swore the same.  Under the circumstances the magistrates recommended that the defendant should pay the amount of the surgeon’s bill as under any circumstances he had no right to have recourse to such brutal means.  The defendant not agreeing to this proposal was ordered to find bail himself in £20 and two sureties of £10 each, to appear at Knutsford Sessions to answer any Bills or Bills of Indictment that may be proffered against him for the offence.

Stockport Advertiser:

17th December 1841 :  Burglary at Marple.  John Finney entered the house of John Bromiley of Lee Hey.

7th January 1842 :  Sale of freehold estate at Bradshaw, Mellor.  Late the inheritance and in possession of Wm. Hyde, deed.

11th March 1842 :  Compstall Mill.  In consequence of the dissolution of the partnership of Messrs Andrew, Bruckshaw & Co., and of the retiring from it of Mr Bruckshaw, that gentleman called all the workpeople belonging to the concerned together for the purpose of taking his leave of them.  There were 1100 workpeople.

25th March 1842 : Emigration.  Artisans from the manufacturing districts continue unabated their emigration to America. ----there are extensive preparations for the emigration of large numbers from Ashton-under-Lyne, Strines, Marple, Mellor etc., and an accredited individual proceeded to Liverpool from Compstall Bridge to ensure the passage of 60 emigrants by the deposit of £1 for each individual.

1st April 1842 :  Sale of  cotton spinning machinery at Torr Mill, Disley.  The mill is situated near the Peak Forest Canal ---- there are 2 coaches leaving Manchester every morning and passing through Disley.

15th April 1842 :  Sale at the house of Thos. Neild, The Little Mill Inn, Rowarth.  Land at Matley Moor, also tolls on the Glossop to Marple Bridge turnpike roads.

3rd June 1842 : Announcement of decease of Wm. Radcliffe of Stockport at his house in Millgate on May 20th.  Buried at Mellor Church.  Had 10 sons & daughters.  3 sons and 4 daughters remaining.  Born in Oct. 1760.  Contemporary of Watt, Richard Arkwright, Crompton & the late Robert Peel.  (Mentions that he was born in Mellor, and lived his early life there but, alas, no details).

17th June 1842 :  Burglary at house of Martha Wild, Longhurst Lane, Mellor.  Sale of land at Horseshoe Inn, the house of Mr John Wright.  Two houses, stables, shippons, garden, land etc., Well Field, Well Field Meadow, Further Well Field, Three Cornered Meadow, Pack Saddle Meadow, Hilltop Green, Great Field & the croft called Hill Top.  In several occupations – Mrs Elizabeth Stanney, James Handforth & John Handforth.  Annual rent - £60


Note: Those with a sharp eye may notice what appears to be a wrong spelling of Brabyns in the 1880 report on the Theft of Pheasants.

However the spelling is found in the original article. Between this report and the one of 1908 the i was replaced by a y.

Stockport Advertiser - 29th November 1879

Adulterated Milk

Alfred Lomas of Hill Top Farm, Marple, was prosecuted for selling adulterated milk.  Examined at Ardwick Station part of a consignment of cans to Isaac Newton, Milk Dealer, Grey Mare Lane, Bradford, contained 12% added water.  Mr Lomas claimed the water must have been added on the way to the station or when the sample was abstracted.  He also said that a few weeks before a servant girl whose duty was to stir the milk whilst cooling in a water trough next to the pump and either through indolence or an effort to speed the process made a practice of pouring water into the milk until caught in the act (laughter in court). Lomas was fined £5 and costs.

Stockport Advertiser – 2nd July 1880

Alleged Extensive Theft of Pheasants

At the Stockport Police Court on Thursday, before E C Howard Esq, and Capt Howard Thomas, Thomas Dooley of Romiley, employed as a gamekeeper by Mrs Hudson of Brabins Hall, near Marple, was charged with stealing at Northern Etchells, on the 23rd and 24th Ult, 65 pheasants belonging to T W Tatton Esq, at Wythenshawe and afterwards receiving the same knowing them to be stolen.  Mr Brown appeared for the prosecution and Mr Russell Coppock for the defence.  Mr Brown stated that after a conference with his friend Mr Coppock he thought this was a case which, with the permission of the Bench, they would not be justified in proceeding with.  There were many difficulties in the case, and there would, should they proceed with it, necessarily be a remand and they would have to collect further evidence.  Therefore, under those circumstances, he thought the prosecution would not be justified in proceeding with the case.  The Clerk:  “you mean that under the circumstances you think it would be an injustice to the prisoner to proceed with it” Mr Brown: “that is so”.  Mr Coppock: “the result might be numerous actions and litigations”.  On the Bench agreeing, the case was withdrawn.

Cheshire Daily Echo 4th September 1905

The Marple Bigamy Case

As army reservist named James Fury married Margaret Annie Higginbotham, his wife still being alive.

Leah Alcock, 35 East St, Wolverhampton testified that she had been a witness to the wedding of Fury to Eliza Rushton at St George’s Church, Wolverhampton.  Eliza Rushton was present in court.

Margaret Annie Higginbotham lived at 5 Emily St, (could be Emley St)  Marple, and they married at All Saints.

James Fury claimed he told Margaret he was a married man and took her to visit his sister in Stockport to prove that he was married.

Stockport Advertiser 16th August 1907 Page 6

Serious Bicycle Accident

Last Saturday a young man who hails from Eccles, Manchester, was riding down Brabyn’s Brow had reached the turn and was only a few yards from the river bridge when he collided with the post of some iron railings.  He was thrown violently on his face, sustaining some nasty cuts and bruises and an unpleasant soiling of his clothes.  He was taken into the surgery of Dr Hibbert where the injuries were dressed.  The bicycle was smashed and the owner’s watch was found to be wrenched from his breast and thrown against Mr Hyam Heginbotham’s door.  A young man in the locality, named Jones, took the injured cyclist to Rose Hill where he left by an early train for Manchester and home.  It has been stated that the young man had been warned against riding down the hill.

Stockport Advertiser : 20th September 1907 Page 6

Woodley Primitives v Brabyns

Football match between W.P. of Hyde Football League and Brabyns of Stockport District League.  Result – Woodley 3, Brabyns 1, after scoring first.

Stockport Advertiser 21st June 1907 Page 6

Rescue of an Oldham youth from drowning last Saturday afternoon.  James Capteis, a 19 year old youth of No.6 View Street, Oldham.  He had, with some companions, cycled from Oldham to Marple and was trying to avoid some persons at the top of the bridge over the canal before going down Brabyn’s Brow and in doing so ran on to the towing path and both rider and bicycle fell into the lock.  Happily the lower gates were open so that there was not a full depth to contend with.  The alarm was raised and a man named Osbaldeston, with a rope which he let down the lockside, with assistance, drew the lad out and the machine after.

The dripping lad was assisted down the brow and was taken to the house of Mr Sutton near the Co-operative Stores, Marple Bridge.  There PC Coley, who lodges in the house, found him in a state of collapse through the immersion and exposure to the cold, and at once took him in hand and, with considerable energy and the exercise of his ambulance knowledge, succeeded in fully restoring him.  Mrs Sutton provided the poor fellow with a hot meal and some dry clothes and after a short rest he was able to return home.  He had no doubt been saved from a very serious illness, if not death, by the promptness which PC Coley and Mrs Sutton had dealt with him after his rescue from the canal.


Stockport Advertiser : 2nd August 1907 Page 6

Daring Burglary at Brabyn’s Hall, Marple. House Ransacked When Full of Visitors

Early on Wednesday morning (31st July 1907) the drawing room, library, dining room, housekeeper’s apartment and other rooms in Brabyn’s Hall, Marple, were seen by one of the maids to be in a state of great disorder, as if some thief or thieves had been about, and left behind them to marks of their search.  The maid at one apprised her fellow servants and Miss Hudson, who was at home, was also apprised of the state of things.  The police were telephoned for, and a general search instituted to try and find out what things or valuables were missing and how ingress and egress had been made.  The house was full of visitors and lights were extinguished on the previous night shortly after eleven-o-clock, when all the doors, windows, and fastenings were supposed to be safe.  It was found that access had been gained through a slit or hole being made in a shutter, the bar lifted, and the window of the drawing room opened.  There the drawers were overturned and the same treatment was shown in the drawing room, library and other rooms all on a floor and egress had apparently been made through a window in the housekeeper’s room.  All the loose cash, about £12, had been taken, some few old coins from a cabinet, postage stamps and stamped post cards had also been made off with.  A purse in the housekeeper’s room was left empty, some valuable silver candlesticks and a box full of valuable silver plate had been left intact.  The safe had not been raided.

The affair created quite a little scare for a time.  The police have the matter in hand.

Stockport Advertiser – 27th August 1907 Page 6

A Marple Bridge Riot

Police Attacked

“A Bit of Belfast”

Just before midnight on August 10th,  in a disturbance at Marple Bridge, Police Constable Coyle was seriously injured and on Wednesday the New Mills Magistrate sat all day hearing about a dozen cases arising out of the affair.  There was a full bench, a crowd in court, and Mr Airey, Deputy Chief Constable of the County was present.  John Mullins, boatman, Marple Bridge, was charged with being drunk and disorderly to which he pleased not guilty.  Mr A Walker, Solicitor, appeared to prosecute for the police and Mr H Bostock defended.  Sgt Dickson said that on Saturday, August 10th, shortly after eleven at night, he, with Constable Coyle, found defendant and a man named Close causing a row.  The latter went away when ordered but Mullins refused and struck at Coyle, who closed with him.  A witness got him down in the road while Coyle succeeded in placing the handcuffs on him, but there was a severe struggle.  The constable was injured and unable to render assistance, and the prisoner tried to bite him and to break his fingers.  The crowd obstructed the police and pressed so closely on them that they had to give up the idea of taking the defendant to the Police Station and took him home instead.  In reply to Mr Bostock for the defence. The sergeant denied that he ill treated the defendant or knelt on him or threatened to ‘bash his head in’.  Police Constable Coyle who appeared lame and had to use a stick corroborated and said the crowd closed around and tripped them several times,  A man named Stafford tripped him up and he was kicked on the knee and badly injured.  Dr Hibbert, of Marple Bridge, said that he saw Sgt Dickson holding the defendant down in the road while Coyle put the handcuffs on.  The man resisted violently and was dead drunk.

Mr Bostock in defence, contended that the defendant was not drunk.  He admitted, however, that he was excited.  The defendant swore that he was quite sober and said his excited condition was caused by police ill treatment.  Sidebottom Gaskell also swore that the prisoner was sober and was quiet until interfered with by the police, who poked their sticks.

Edward Naden, James Harrop, Joseph Stafford, Andrew Walsh, John Baycock, Ellen Thompson, Harry Walker, Emma Gaskell and Ellen Ann Mullins, gave evidence for the defence.

Ultimately the bench found the cases proved and imposed a fine of 10s and costs.

David Harrop, James Harrop, Joseph Stafford, Sidebottom Gaskell, Mathew Lally, Benjamin Goddard, Robert Close and Edward Nadin were charged with obstructing the police on the same occasion.

Mr Walker said that when the police had got Mullins in a corner a number of men from the crowd among whom were the prisoners, got round and did their best to trip the officers, seized them and tried to rescue the prisoner.  The defendants shouted “let’s give them a bit of Belfast”.

Sgt Dickson said the defendants were the ringleaders.  Dr Hibbert said Coyle would not be fit to return to duty until about a fortnight hence.

Mr Bostock, in defence, contended that the defendants did not obstruct the police.

Each prisoner was sworn and denied having obstructed the police or interfering with them.

Close and Nadin were discharged.  The two Harrops, Stafford and Goddard were fined 40s and costs or a month’s imprisonment and Gaskell and Lally were fined 20s and costs or fourteen days.  The magistrates also allowed advocates fees.

Stockport Advertiser – 20th September 1907  Page 6

Industrial School Youth appeared at Marple Bridge Police Station before Joel Wainwright J.P. having stolen 5s 11d from Mr Dickins whilst working at Windybottom Farm.