William Henry Lander the first Forest of Dean Superintendent
The first District police headquarters for the Forest of Dean
was opened at Newnham in the Spring of 1840. Its Superintendent
was William Henry Lander, who was born in Birmingham around
1811. He was the son of George & Alice Lander and joined the
force on the 17th of February 1840.
know a little about him as apparently he was sued for debt
in April 1838 at the Debtors Court, Lincolns Inn Fields, London
and described in the London Gazette as
"William Henry Lander, formerly of
Gandy Street and the Hill's Court, both in Exeter, Devonshire,
afterwards of No. 4 Grays Inn Square, Middlesex, and then of
No.8 same place, Articled Clerk to an Attorney, afterwards of 1
The Spa, then Bell Lane, and of Southgate Street, all in
Gloucester, Secretary to the Gloster and Hereford Railway
Company, and then of the city of Worcester, also staying
occasionally at the Bell Inn, Gloucester, and late of No.4
Southampton Buildings, Holborn, Middlesex, in no business or
employment, but holding a Commission as an Ensign in the Royal
South Gloucestershire Militia. (sued as William H. Lander.)"
William was an ensign with the South
Gloucester Militia, a force led by the landed gentry. It was a
part-time regiment, and unpaid during peace-time. Its militiamen
had to attend an annual training camp, local drill parades and
church parades. During the 18th and 19th centuries the South
Gloucesters were commanded by members of the Berkeley family of
Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire and during the first half of
the 19th century its Colonel was
William FitzHardinge Berkeley
who between 1836 and 1857 was also Lord-Lieutenant of
William Lander had described himself as a gentleman and residing
in Gloucester at the time of his marriage to a widow with three
children, Sarah Matilda Brice, in January 1840. Sarah (1815) was
the daughter of a Westgate Street, Gloucester hairdresser and
perfumer George Meadows and already had three children from her
He does not appear to have any experience in police work so one
can only guess that Lefroy chose him to be a Superintendent
because of the army background and his time as Articled Clerk to
an attorney. Another possibility is some pressure on the Chief
Constable from Lander's Colonel, the Lord-Lieutenant of
He moved to Newnham with his
new family and two servants to take up the administration of the
Forest of Dean District in 1840. His first child Alice Gilbert
Lander was baptised at Newnham in November 1840.
The first buildings rented to serve as police stations in the
Forest of Dean were often procured in a rush and some would
quickly prove unfit for purpose. The station at Passage Lane
(now Severn Street) Newnham was rather small to be District HQ.
The small police station
seems to have been very crowded in 1841 if all those
eight officers listed on the census form were barracked there.
The normal policy from headquarters was that no officer would be
stationed in his own home district. James Evans
(1817-1907) who was a shoemaker from Newnham, and signed up at
Cheltenham on the 4th of November 1840, was posted to
Minchinhampton in the Stroud District with his wife Elizabeth
and their infant daughter Sarah Jane, while
(25) who was from Minchinhampton was posted to Newnham.
The other officers there in
1841 were 21 year old George Walters from Bristol, 30
year old William Onion from Cheltenham, Joseph Perkins
from the Ledbury area, John White (20) from
Wotton-under-edge, Thomas Symons (30) from Axminster,
Devon, Cornelius Lewis (23) Bisley near Stroud, and
Nicholas Peters (36), and his wife and daughter, both called
Elizabeth, were from Cornwall.
Elizabeth Peters would have been expected to clean and
cook for the men.
Later, in 1857, the building was described by Lefroy the Chief
This station is situated nearly
opposite the Bear Inn in the lower part of the town and is 12
miles from Gloucester and 4 miles from Blakeney. The premises
are very old, the Rooms very low, back of premises confined and
deficient in Privacy and the whole accommodation unsuitable and
A small insecure Cell without sufficient air and no external
A strong room. Two rooms, small
office, Wash House, Pantries, enclosed Yard & Privy and three
good sized bedrooms. Rent £8.8 shillings per annum.
It probably would not have survived as District HQ until around
1849 if Superintendent William Lander had not moved into a
property which was either next door, or very close, and situated
at the end of Passage Lane. His home was described when being
auctioned at the Bear Hotel in 1847 as
" A Very desirable and
convenient dwelling house, in good substantial repair, with
stable, out offices and small garden attached.
The above premises are situate at the bottom of the Passage Lane
in the town of Newnham opposite to the Bear Hotel and command
pleasing views of the River Severn and are now in the occupation
of Mr William Lander."
1847 was an extremely bad year for Superintendent
His wife Sarah and 3 year old son Henry George died in June, followed a
few months later by their infant daughter Mary. He was forced to
send daughters Alice and Elizabeth to live with his Meadows
in-laws at Westgate Street, Gloucester and move out of the
family home in Passage Lane.
He was to lose a third child in 1853
when eleven year old daughter Elizabeth Matilda died at
The whole tragic experience appears to have seriously affected
him. On the 14th of April
1848, after eight years service in the Forest of Dean District
he received his first admonishment from the Chief Constable.
For being under the influence of
liquor at Newnham as reported by himself.
"I regret very much this
occurred and I am satisfied from the manner Superintendent
Lander expresses himself that a reoccurrence of it will not take
Then on the 2nd of June
that same year - "For gross neglect of duty in not having
visited his Stations by night as frequently as he should have
done." Fined three pounds.
On the 9th of March 1849 -
For neglect of duty and disobedience of orders in not
reporting several cases of sheep stealing and other serious
offences to the Chief Constable. Allowed to resign with pay to
the 1st of April 1849.
On the 30th June 1849 the Gloucester Journal reported that there
would be an election of a Governor for Hereford County Gaol at
the Hereford Quarter Sessions on Monday 2nd July and that Mr
William Henry Lander would be supported by testimonials of the
highest order from all the magistrates in the Forest division
plus other gentlemen of distinction. "Mr Lander's success,
while it would afford satisfaction to his numerous friends, we
are sure, would be a subject of congratulation to the county of
Hereford, that it had acquired the services of so active and
valuable an officer."
Unfortunately it was not to be. 40 year old Captain Henry Geers
Napleton was elected and awarded the £230 per annum position.
An unsigned letter in the Hereford Times of July 7th,
complaining about the ousting of the previous Governor, Mr
Kettle, by only seven votes, went on to say that Captain
Napleton had only been elected with the votes from his own
After resigning from the
Gloucester Constabulary William
does not appear to have immediately found work. The 1851 census
shows him living with his widowed mother near Bath and the
occupation recorded was as an unpaid officer with the Royal
South Gloucester Militia. Within a couple of years the South
Glosters were mobilised in the lead-up to the Crimean War.
In 1852 he was being employed as a Superintendent of Police for
the Midland Railway at Gloucester and living at Awre. It was not as prestigious a
position as the one formerly held with the Gloucestershire
Constabulary and he would probably have been in charge of less
than a dozen officers.
In November 1852 a worker for the Midland Railway at Gloucester
Docks had noticed that a piece of tarpaulin covering a horse
from the Stroud firm of mustard makers, Lucas & Stephens, was
marked with the railway's company name. The railwayman believing
it to be the Midland Railway's property seized the item and
informed the Railway police.
Their Superintendent, William Lander, then proceeded to Stroud
where he attempted to obtain a search warrant for Mr Joseph
Stephen's premises from Mr Edwards, the clerk to the
magistrates. He was then told that the Stroud man was a
gentleman of respectability and cautioned him against taking
criminal proceedings. He advised Mr Lander to visit Mr Stephens
and obtain his explanation of the matter.
The railway police officer ignored that advise and applied to
the magistrates for a search warrant. They refused his request
saying that from the evidence presented no crime had been
Supt. Lander then decided to charge the man who had supplied the
tarpaulin to Mr Stephens. That charge was thrown out by the
grand jury at the Epiphany Sessions in 1853.
The police officer did not let the matter rest. He went before
the grand jury at the Spring Sessions in 1853 and obtained an
arrest warrant for the apprehension of Mr Stephens. The trial
came up at the following Summer Assizes and after the witnesses
for the prosecution had been examined the case was dropped. The
jury expressed their opinion that neither the charge of stealing
or receiving could be sustained.
After the verdict, Joseph Stephens then proceeded with an action
against William Lander and the Midland Railway to recover
damages which he had sustained to his reputation and credit and
also to recover the £40 spent on his defence. It had been
admitted earlier that Superintendent Lander had acted under the
authority of the company.
The Jury agreed with Mr Stephens and awarded him £100 damages.
It is not clear at which point William Lander and the Midland
Railway parted company but on 28th November 1854 he was
unemployed and in the gaol at Gloucester as an insolvent debtor.
The 1861 census recorded him living alone in a modest dwelling
at Millend, Blakeney. That was only a couple of miles from where
he had opened the Forest's first police station. He was
described as a 49 year old widower living on half pay as a
lieutenant in the Army.
He died there on 6th January 1863. His daughter, Alice Gilbert
Lander, was the sole executrix. William Henry Lander's assets
were valued at less than £100.
The Bear Inn, also called
the Passage House, has long been part of Newnham's history. It
was one of the five inns recorded in 1637 and
from 1759 the borough and manor court of Newnham was being held
there. From 1856 it was also the home of the Petty Sessions.
When up for sale in 1837 it came with a fishery plus the ferry,
and was the town's only posting-house.
By the time of the 1851 census the District HQ was established
at Coleford and Newnham was now a station in the care of
Sergeant Hugh Brown
(bn 1822) from Horsley in Gloucestershire. He had joined the
force in 1845. His wife Ann and six year old daughter Selina
were with him and there were now only two constables,
from Hampton Court in Middlesex and
from Swindon in Wiltshire.
Hugh Brown went on to have a distinguished career with the
force, serving at Headquarters, Cheltenham and being promoted to
Inspector in 1866 and Superintendent in 1868. He died
while serving at Dursley in 1869.
The Hewelsfield Station
opened on the 3rd of December 1840 and appears to be the only
Forest police station where the day to day diary for that period
has been preserved. It records 22 year old Minchinhampton born
Constable Samuel Kirby moving the furniture, probably by
hand-cart, from the station at Newnham to 'Tumkiln Nails'. He
started out at 11.30 am and finally arrived at 7 pm on that
Account of Duty performed
by the constables at this Station commencing 3rd day of December
Orderly Samuel Kirby.
Constable Samuel Kirby in charge of the Barrack Furniture
proceeded from Newnham at half past 11 am for Hewelsfield and
arrived at 7 pm.
Sergeant John Baker
and Constable Daniel Walker left Newnham at 10am and arrived at
Hewelsfield (passing through Blakeney, Nibley Hill, Viney Hill,
Deadmans Cross, Whitecroft, Bream, St. Briavels) at 3pm. Took
possession of the house at Tumpkiln Nails provided as Barrack.
Hewelsfield Station Diary
A note was added by
Superintendent Lander who arrived at 3pm on horse-back and
obviously took a different route to Samuel! Visited this
station. Found Sergeant Baker and Constable Daniel Walker
arrived, Constable Samuel Kirby not having arrived with the
Barrack furniture at 3pm. William Lander Superintendent.
Engaged at this
session putting up the beds & making the Barrack comfortable.
One of the reasons for choosing
Hewelsfield for the site of a police station at this time was
probably its proximity to both St. Briavels and the Wyeside
village of Brockweir.
It was there, one of the highest points on the tidal Wye, where
sailing barges, known as trows, had their cargoes transferred to
flat bottom barges which were then towed by teams of ten men as
far up river as Monmouth and even Hereford.
Around this time, coal and wood was still being conveyed from
Bristol, and Chepstow while Herefordshire cider and other
articles such as cereals and wool were transported in the
Due to the transient lifestyle of the
stevedores employed there, and the barge crews passing through,
Brockweir had a reputation as a place of refuge for low-life
characters. A Moravian minister, sent there by the Duke of
Beaufort to build a church on the site of a former cock fighting
pit in the 1830s, described the life of its watermen as being
centred on beerhouses, skittle alleys, and cockfighting, and
said that it had the reputation as a "city of refuge" for
The river trade was to decline after the completion of the
Hereford to Gloucester Canal in 1845, and
practically ceased following the opening of the Wye Valley
Railway in 1876.
By the 1880s, Brockweir Bridge was effectively the upper limit
of navigation on the Wye being the end of its tidal reach. In
time heavy silting was to make even this site impractical and
subsequently commercially uneconomic.
The site on the Coleford to Chepstow
road of the since demolished Carpenter's Arms, sometimes known
as the Tumpkinhales, and believed to be the area where the 1840
Hewelsfield police station was situated.
Larceny at Hewelsfield in 1842
from the Hewelsfield Police
17th January 1842.
At 9am being called on by Mr Samuel Edwards
of Harts Hill Court, Parish of Hewelsfield whose house was
broken into and a quantity of bacon, lard, cheese and wheat
stolen there on Sunday night the 16th instant. Sgt Sheills and
Constable Baisley proceeded with him to search the house of
Edward Blunt of the Parish of Hewelsfield where
he suspected his Property was concealed. We found the whole of
the Property that was lost. We took Edward Blunt,
Alexander Blunt and Phillip Blunt into custody on
suspicion of having stole the property. After we took them into
custody Phillip Blunt acknowledged to have taken the property.
We also found in the
house a gun the property of John Evans
carpenter of Hewelsfield which was stolen some time in December
last. Also part of the reins of a bridle the property of
Mr Thomas Wade of Arkle Farm, Parish of Woolaston, and
a smock frock that was stolen from the stable of Mr
William Willett, the property of his servant
Henry Reeks. We were the greater part of the day
employed as above.
At 10am Constable William Onion proceeded to Mr Thomas Wade
and Mr Thomas Willett to inform them of the Property we found.
From whence proceeded with the property and witnesses to Lidney.
At 10am Sgt John Sheills and Constable George Baisley proceeded
with the prisoners to Lidney. and took them before the
Magistrates assembled at the Petty Sessions. Phillip Blunt was
committed to stand his trial and Edward and Alexander Blunt was
admitted to Bail to stand their trials. About 7pm Constable
George Baisley left Lidney on his way home in charge of the
property. Arrived at this station 9pm. Sgt John Sheills and
Constable William Onion remained at Lidney in order to make a
night patrol home. Constable Baisley took up guard.
* Notes on the people
who was baptised at Hewelsfield in 1822, was the
third illegitimate child of Ann Blunt. She died in 1828. When
this crime occurred he was staying with an uncle, Edward Blunt,
and his family.
Nine months earlier the
1841 census records Philip employed as a farm servant to the
above mentioned Samuel Edwards.
Philip Blunt was sentenced
to transportation for 7 years at Gloucester in March 1842 for
this crime and records show him later that month imprisoned on
the prison hulk 'Justitia' at Woolwich with other convicts who
were destined for Van Diemen's Land. I have so far been
unsuccessful in tracing his arrival in Australia or in finding
any record of his stay there.
If he was transported to
Oz he possibly returned to the UK after serving his sentence, as
a researcher of the Blunt family tree believes he changed his
name to Philip Powell around 1860 and settled near Cardiff.
Sgt John Sheills
(born 1819), from Charlestown, Louth in Ireland, was
one of the first Irish officers recruited from the Dublin
Metropolitan Police by Anthony Lefroy, signing up on the 23rd of
December 1839. Shortly after the above incident he resigned from
the police force and accepted a position of gamekeeper with the
owners of Hewelsfield Court. He settled at nearby Clanna with
his Herefordshire born wife Elizabeth. Three of their children
were baptised at Alvington
Bargemen and Sheep-stealing at St Briavels - Hewelsfield Police
Thursday April 12th 1842.
George Rickard barrack guard.
At 9am being called on by Mr James Page butcher of Saint
Briavels from where there was a sheep stolen last night and
having some suspicion of some Barge men that lay on the River
Wye with their barge near the field which the sheep was stolen
from. Sgt John Sheills and Constable William Onion proceeded
with him to the Abbey Slip where we met the barge going down the
river. We got on board and searched it but found nothing on it.
We then went to Brockweir and received information of another
barge that went up the Wye.
This morning in consequence of which we went to Monmouth and
found the barge which we were told went up. We searched it and
found one loin, two legs, and two shoulders of mutton on board.
We arrested Edward Ward
the Captain, and the following workmen who belonged with the
barge, Charles Witcombe, Thomas Fluke, John Davis, Benjamin
Hunt, Stephen Jerrett, William Williams and John Hughes. All
of which by the assistance of Sgt Fuller of the Monmouth
Police we took to Coleford. Arrived at Coleford between 8 & 9
o'clock when we lodged them in the Coleford Station House. In
the mean time part of the skin was found floating in the River
Wye by Thomas Aston constable of St Briavels.
Friday 13th George Rickard barrack guard. Sgt John Sheills and
Constable William Onion at 9am proceed to Coleford in order to
attend the prosecution of the above named prisoners. We took
them before P.J Ducarol and Alexander Gibbon magistrates.
All the prisoners were discharged except Charles Witcombe,
Thomas Fluck, and William Williams who were committed to
Gloucester to attend their trials. Edward Ward the Captain was
admitted as an evidence on the part of the prosecution.
Sgt John Sheills and Constable William Onion returned to the
Station at 12pm.
* Points of interest - Two
nineteen year olds, Charles
Witcombe and Thomas Fluck
were sent to trial at Gloucester Sessions for sheep stealing, an
offence that normally led to a sentence of 10 years
imprisonment. On the 28th of June 1842 they were both acquitted.
Thirty year old
James Page was a fairly wealthy St Briavels butcher and
farmer. His family were recorded as butchers for much of the
19th century. It is also interesting to see a mention of Parish
Constable 45 year old Thomas Aston who was a
nailer (nail-maker?) by trade.
1830s Hewelsfield area
Hewelsfield Police Station Diary Saturday 20th March
Day - Constable Daniel
Walker Barrack guard. Constables John Sheills and George Baisley
patrolled to Madget, the (Tidenham) Chase, Spicklemean
(Spittlemesne Common), Bowl Spring (Boughspring), Strote,
Bowlash (Park Hill), Woolaston Common, and Hewelsfield. Went at
12.30pm returned 4.30pm. Found all correct.
Night - Constables John
Sheills and George Baisley patrolled to the Chase, Bowlash,
Woolaston, Brocking (Brookend?), Netherend, Barnage Farm and
Hewelsfield. Went at 9.30pm returned 1.30am. Found all correct.
Sunday 25 April 1841
Constables George Beasley and Daniel Walker were dispatched to
Tidenham where they took into custody two men accused of the
theft of three ducks. They brought them back to Hewelsfield to
be detained. The following day the two men were taken before a
local magistrate who committed them to Gloucester Gaol. The men
then had to be escorted to Lydney where they were handed over
for onward escort to Gloucester.
Hewelsfield. Up at the pub, now the Carpenters Arms,
there used to be a pool on the side of the road now filled in.
It was a stopping place for the farmers on the way to Chepstow
Market to water the horses and cattle – no lorries or cars.
All the farmers drove
horses and float. It was a big day out for them, all used to
have fast horses and try to pass on the way home, but Mr. G.
Bond could always pass them with his gig and trotters. He was
always pulling someone's leg on the way home. All pulled up at
the Carps, no closing hours in those days.
In those days there was
only the pub to go to and before the little club was opened, no
restrictions, if you were about 14 and liked to go in no Police
did not seem to interfere but the old boys that used to go saw
that you behaved, no lads had beer, it was always pop with just
a spot of beer.
Beer then the first time I
remember, was 2 ½ d a pint and if they gave a shilling when they
went in they got five pints for a bob. How I remember some of
those woodcutters marking it up on the table, four strokes and
put the last one across, I can remember Mr Scrivens remark
“That’s the one over the bar”.
The old table was still in
the Carpenters Arms 50 years after and still shows the marking
where he used to put them down. It cost the lads one penny for
their glass of shandy, so you can see that times are altered,
you wont get much today for one penny. It was all Cinderella and
Tabs cigarettes in those days, Woodbines were about. The price
then was one penny for five, three half pennies for ten. Ansties
Gold Flake in a paper packet was threepence for 10.
From Hewelsfield Our Village
By P.A. Michael - 1964
| Superintendent William
William Ellison (bn 1828)
joined up in January 1846 and was a tailor's son from Minety in
North Wiltshire who was promoted to Superintendent in 1866.
He was moved around the
Forest stations between 1848, serving at Blakeney till 1852, St
Briavels till around 1857, and Coleford till 1860. Whilst at
Coleford he was promoted to Sergeant in April 1856. In 1861 he
was Sergeant at Gloucester's busy Bearland Station and May 1866
saw him promoted to Superintendent and posted to the Campden
In May 1847 he had been
stationed as a constable at Stonehouse. It was there he received
his first reprimand from the Chief Constable. 18th May 1847 -
For absenting himself for 6 hours without leave from his station
at Stonehouse. 'Reprimanded'
Shortly after that
incident he was posted to Blakeney in the Forest of Dean. He
received his second reprimand in May 1848. For allowing a
prisoner to escape from the Blakeney Station. 'As Supt Lander
had not forwarded the handcuffs to the station - not proceeded
He was in trouble there
again on the 14th of August 1848. For improperly interfering in
a case where two men had been summoned for Drunkenness, by
allowing them to settle the matter by paying the costs. '
Removed from charge of the Blakeney Station.
He had married Elizabeth
Creed (bn 1830) at Tebury in 1847 and four of their children
were born in the Forest of Dean area. Henry Edwin Ellison -
baptised at Blakeney July 1851, William Stephen - baptised St
Briavels April 1853, Mary - baptised St Briavels March 1854,
Catherine and Martha - baptised at Coleford in May 1858.
On the 20th of April 1850
he was in trouble again, this time visiting Cheltenham. For
neglecting to report his arrival at the Cheltenham Station when
in pursuit of two men who had committed a murder in Newport
(Mon.). 'Reduced to Constable 2nd Class for 3 months.'
His only reprimand as a
Superintendent was in January 1874. 'Not sending in a report
made by Dr Long against PC Vick of the Thornbury Station as soon
as he should have done.' "I must express my disapprobation at
the length of time taken by Supt Ellison in sending in this
report. At the very latest it ought to have arrived at this
office on Friday morning (Jan 3rd) . This is not the first time
I have had to remark on the dilatory way the Superintendent has
lately done his duty. If a change does not take place I will
have to find someone who will do the work in a more satisfactory
William Ellison received
his of £80 per year pension on the 1st of July 1878.
Unfortunately it was forfeited in April 1879 by order of the
Quarter Sessions when he was imprisoned for forgery.
According to the
Gloucester Prison Registers, in February 1879, William Ellison
was incarcerated and awaiting trial, the charge being
"Forging several receipts and embezzling five sums of money." On
15th February 1879 he was found guilty at Gloucester Assizes of
forgery and embezzlement committed while on active duty. The
prisoner had appropriated sums of money forwarded to him by the
Chief Constable to pay tradesmen's accounts, returning forged
receipts for the same. He was found guilty and sentenced to five
years penal servitude.
Awaiting trial at
Gloucester where in earlier years he had been the Police
Sergeant must have been extremely difficult.
The 1881 census records
him at Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight and his wife and
one of their children, staying with their daughter's family in
He appears to have had
some good fortune after being released. He was given work
as a lodge keeper by the Duke of Beaufort at Badminton which was
not far from the town of Campden where he had served 12 years as
a Police Superintendent. Here he and Elizabeth stayed for at
least a decade and, in later years were given accommodation in
the almshouses on the Duke's estate. William Henry Ellison died
there in June 1901.
Woolaston's first resident policeman was PC Henry Thomas
Eagles (1849-1920). Henry was born at Hardwicke in 1849
and was working as a farm labourer when he married Fanny
Shearman in 1869. He joined the Gloucestershire
Constabulary in 1876 and during the next few years was
posted to Redwick, Chipping Sodbury, and Cheltenham, and
then to the police station at Littledean prison where he
served for about 8 years.
The family moved to Woolaston
around 1892. Their 10th child, Beatrice, was born there
in 1894. He retired in 1900 and later became a publican
when he moved to the Whitesmith's Arms in Southgate
Street, Gloucester. Henry died at Woolaston in 1920.
successor was Dymock born PC Frederick Morgan. In the
1930s PC Beddis was resident and by the 1950s the
village bobby was Jim Ludlow who locals recall keeping
piglets in the station's cells. In spite of very strong
local opposition,Woolaston police station was closed in
1974. Its last residing officer at that time was PC
PC Henry Eagles and the police station at Luggs Cross on
the A48 in the 1930s
The house called 'The Oaks', on
Bailey Hill, Yorkley, and opposite the Institute, was a police
station until the 1960s. Fitzroy 'Fred' Taylor,
the village constable, lived there before being promoted in 1933
to Sergeant at Coleford.
He was born at Gloucester in 1901
and during the First World War had served as a Royal Marine
gunner on board HMS Marlborough, a Dreadnought class battleship.
In 1919 he took part in a mission to the Black Sea when the
Marlborough, on the orders of King George V, rescued his aunt,
the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, and other members of the
Russian Imperial Family, including Grand
Duke Nicholas and Prince Felix Yusupov, from the Crimea during
the Russian Civil War.
After leaving the Royal Marines he
joined the Gloucestershire Constabulary. Fred was posted to the
Forest of Dean and married 25 year old Nancy Caldwell Bennett in
1926. She was the daughter of coal agent and road surveyor James
Bennett from Blakeney and was born at Little Box Farm in Awre.
Fred was a keen and respected rugby
player and a regular member of the Lydney RFC sides of that
period. In 1928 he played for the Great Britain Police team at
rugby and apparently was the only Englishman in that side, the
others being Welsh. He was captain of Lydney RFC 1929-39.
Whilst stationed in the Forest of
Dean, he was awarded a medal by the Royal Society for the
Protection of Life from Fire, for his actions at the scene of a
house fire in Coleford in October 1939. Fred was also awarded
the 'Silver Braid' by the Chief Constable,
reward for Gallantry, a silver braid band which was worn on the
sleeve of the recipient’s uniform.
Inspector Fitzroy Fred Taylor was only 41 years old and serving
at Dursley Police Station when he collapsed and died in May
1942. About 200 police from the Divisions of the Gloucestershire
Constabulary attended the funeral at Blakeney. It was a fair
tribute to a brave, efficient, and popular officer.
William Taylor, a farm labourer from Sulgrave in
Northamptonshire was 26 years old and married to Hannah. He had
been living in the Banbury area when he joined the
Gloucestershire Constabulary at Cheltenham in April 1844.
William was promoted to 1st Constable at Newent in December 1845
and to Sergeant while at Iron Acton in July 1850.
In September 1855 he was made up to Superintendent 2nd Class and
moved to the Bearwood Station in charge of policing the City of
Gloucester. A competent and efficient officer, he was promoted
in 1859 to Superintendent 1st Class and he and Hannah together
with their five children, moved to Coleford to take charge of
the Forest of Dean force. He was replacing Superintendent
Charles Griffin who had held that post since 1851 and was now
moving to take over William's position at Gloucester. (Charles
Griffin went on to be Deputy Chief Constable from 1867 -1877).
William Taylor and his family's circumstances had changed
remarkably since those days in 1844 when he was a Banbury area
farm labourer. His hard work now rewarded him with a comfortable
salary and prominent lifestyle in the Forest of Dean.
His most famous investigation was that of the manslaughter of
Police Sergeant Samuel Beard near the Speech House in 1861. (see
the story below)
All that was to end in 1864. On Friday August 5th the Chief
Constable Anthony Lefroy was visiting the Coleford police
station in the company of the Government Inspector of
Constabulary, Captain Willis, when they received a complaint
from widower David Smith, a cabinet maker from Cinder Hill,
Coleford. He informed the officers that Superintendent Taylor
had seduced one of his teenage daughters.
Lefroy wrote to William Taylor the next day officially
suspending him and enclosing a copy of a letter from David
On Monday 15th of August Lefroy met local JPs, J. Fortescue
Brickdale and Major General Woosnam, by appointment, to inform
them of the Superintendent's resignation.
On his notes on William Taylor's service he has written - "When
the Superintendent tendered his resignation, which the Chief
Constable accepted and entered the following minute thereon, -
Accepted, in consequence, of his length of service and previous
good character, to which J. Fortescue Brickdale Esq. J.P. and
D.L. and Major General Woosnam J.P. who attended to investigate
the charges against the Superintendent, coincided with me.
Anthony Lefroy 15th August 1864.
Sergeant James White from Mangotsfield station was promoted to
be Superintendent at Coleford on the 16th of August 1864. White
himself was dismissed in August 1871 for neglect of duty and
filing false reports to the Chief Constable.
The 1871 census reveals that William Taylor and his family had
returned to Banbury in Oxfordshire. His lifestyle had
dramatically changed. He is then recorded as being employed as a
gardener and his wife, Hannah, having to work as a laundress.
| The Death of
Sergeant William Morris at Viney Hill
Morris was born at Whitchurch, Shropshire in 1863.
Before being a policeman he was for 4 and half years a
footman for Mr W C Lucy at Brookthorpe, near Stroud.
joined the Gloucestershire Constabulary in 1884.
first serving at Cheltenham he was posted to Parkend in the
Forest of Dean. During the following years William served at
several stations in the Forest, Lydney, Newnham, Cinderford and
St. Briavels. In 1890 he married 31 year old Whitecroft born
barmaid, Mary (Minnie) Aminda Morse, whose father was inn-keeper
of the Nags Head at Yorkley Slade.
In 1892 he was promoted to
Sergeant and posted to Stroud and before the end of 1894 was
back in the Forest taking charge of Lydney police station
and replacing the late Sgt. Clarke.
William and Minnie had three
children, Ethel, born at the Nags Head Inn, Yorkley in 1891,
Sidney Harry 1892 at St. Briavels, and Ernest Leonard at Stroud
in 1894. At the time of his death William Morris had been
Sergeant at Lydney for eighteen months.
On the evening of Saturday
9th November 1895, he was in charge of a number of police
who had set a trap hoping to catch some poachers red-handed at
Arams Farm, Newnham. It was on land owned by local magistrate
and lord of the manors of Newnham and Ruddle, Russell James
Kerr. Also in attendance were the landowner's gamekeepers.
When the three poachers
entered the farm yard, the hidden police and gamekeepers rushed
in and swiftly apprehended two of them. They were identified as
colliers, Joseph James age 28, and Moses Virgo age 24. The trio
were equipped with netting, pegs, sacks and had four rabbits in
their possession. The third man, quarry worker James James,
alias 'Sheepskin', escaped. The Gloucester Citizen on November
15 1895 reported "He can run like a hare and jumped like a
steeplechaser. Whoever the man was he led keeper Button a fine
dance. He cleared a hedge in good style, but the pursuer was
"button holed" at this point, and the quarry got away."
The police then surrounded
and searched a house at Old Furnace Bottom for Sheepskin James.
Not finding him there, they split into two parties, one of which
was Sergeant William Morris from Lydney station and PC Cornelius
Harding from Blakeney who suspected that Sheepskin James would
be heading for his home at Woodside,Viney Hill.
Joseph James and Moses Virgo
appeared in court on 16 November charged with trespass and
taking four rabbits they were found guilty. Unfortunately one of
the magistrates on the bench that day was landowner Russell
Moses Virgo, was sent to prison for
three months and Joseph James for one month. On 20 November 1895, the Gloucester
Citizen reported that "James James, quarryman of Viney Woodside,
Blakeney, better known as 'Sheepskin', a notorious character,
who was wanted for poaching, was apprehended at his home this
morning by PC Jones. The prisoner was found hiding between the
joists in the ceiling upstairs, and was secured without
trouble." On 22
November, Sheepskin James was sentenced to three months in
On the same evening
as the above incident,
Saturday 9th of November 1895, three
young football-playing colliers from Whitecroft were among
members of their local team celebrating the defeat of the
Blakeney side that afternoon. The young men often worked together and
their families only lived 20 yards apart on Chapel Hill,
Whitecroft. 24 year old James Morgan,
his brother George, who was 19, were the sons
of labourer George Morgan, and were employed at Pillowell Level
18 year old
George Hill who worked at Princess Royal,
the eldest son of widower Thomas
Hill. The father, now a platelayer for the Severn & Wye Railway,
was a former police officer who had himself served at Blakeney
The trio had stayed at the Cock Inn in
Blakeney until 'last orders'. Leaving the public house they
appear to have been boisterous and noisy.
On the way home via Viney
Hill they approached the east corner of the All Saints burial
ground when their intoxicated singing and shouting attracted the
attention of Sgt Morris and Constable Harding
who were in plain clothes and still out searching for the poacher Sheepskin James.
Sgt Morris appears to have known the three men. He is reported
by PC Harding to have said "Now young men your houses are at
Whitecroft. You had better make your way there as fast as you
At that point in the
moonlight there was a confrontation and a fight started. Later
the constable admitted that he struck the first blow that
seriously injured 19 year old collier George Morgan. According
to Harding, George Morgan then threw a stone hitting Sgt Morris
on the head. Harding was knocked to the ground and the men ran
William Morris's head wound had resulted in a
brain hemorrhage and he was dead.
Mr James Turley who lived
in one of a cluster of cottages opposite the churchyard was
awakened by a man knocking on his door who informed him that he
was a constable from Blakeney. Mr Turley dressed quickly and
went downstairs. On going outside he saw a body lying on
the ground. He then lifted him up and Mrs Turley brought out a
chair so that he could sit and support the sergeant while
Harding went for assistance. He later reported that the poor
man's head had fallen forward as though his neck was broken.
After a short time,
Constable Harding returned
accompanied by PC Webb and gamekeeper Button. The body was then
conveyed to the Albion Inn (now Old Albion House) at Viney Hill
where it was examined by Doctor Lunn.
On the morning after the
incident Mr Turley found a parcel containing a football suit
close to where the fight had taken place and some spots of blood
were discovered at the corner of the churchyard wall. A
blood stained half brick was found near the location by Superintendent Ford. PC
Harding's blackthorn (staff or truncheon?) was also recovered
broken in two.
The three colliers were
arrested at their homes in Chapel Hill, Whitecroft early the next morning and their injuries confirmed
that they had been in a fight. They were first detained at
Blakeney police station and later moved to Coleford.
On 27th November all three
were charged with the murder of Sgt Morris and the attempted
murder of Constable Harding. They were transported to Gloucester
gaol by train. At Parkend a large crowd of colliers lined the
station platform to show their support. The committal of the
three colliers on the capital charge strengthened the feelings of the mining
community in their favour and soon a large fund was raised to
cover their defence costs.
Their trial took place at
Gloucester Assizes on 18th February 1896. The evidence presented
was often contradictory and Harding's evidence was open to
question. The defence lawyers argued that because that night the
police were in plain clothes, and as the three colliers were not
committing any crime, it was apparent that the defendants
felt they were being attacked by strangers. All three had not
been in any trouble with the law previously. The apparently
heavy handed Constable Harding's evidence was sometimes
contradictory and 19 year old George Morgan's injuries quite
serious and far worse than PC Harding's who had admitted that he
had struck the first blow. Their defence also argued that the
defendants were justified in repelling an unprovoked attack.
The jury found George
Morgan guilty of manslaughter. A formal verdict of acquittal was
returned in the case of the other two who had both plead guilty
to common assault. George Morgan was sentenced to twelve months
imprisonment, his brother James Morgan to six months, and 18
year old George Hill to one month.
The handing down of these
obviously lenient sentences was probably because the judge viewed that
there had been no concerted action on the part of these men.
There was a great deal of
public sympathy for the family of Sergeant Morris and a
subscription fund was set up to raise money for them.
The funeral of Sergeant Morris took
place at Lydney on Wednesday afternoon, 13th November 1895. He
was held in great esteem in the town and as a mark of respect
local tradesmen closed their premises from 11 o'clock till two
buried in the churchyard of St. Mary's, Lydney on Wednesday the 13th of
November 1895. The spot selected for the grave was next to Sgt
Clarke, who had preceded Sgt Morris at Lydney.
Constable, with inspectors, superintendents, sergeants and
constables to the number of over 60 men attended and it was
reported that the church was crowded. An inscribed headstone was
erected on his grave. Today it reads -William
MORRIS, h/o Mary Aminda, Late Sergeant of Police, Lydney Glos,
10 Nov 1895, 32. Mary Aminda, w, 1 March 1942, 82. In the midst
of life we are in death. Of whom may we seek for succour but
thee O Lord.
His widow Minnie (1859-1942) did not remarry. Following the
death of her mother Selina in 1898 and her father William Morse
in 1899, she took over the Nags Head at Yorkley Slade and the
care of her disabled brother Howard Henry (Harry) Morse
(1865-1908). She was listed as licensee there on the 1911
census. Mary Aminda Morris was 82 years old when she died at her
home, Southville, Yorkley Slade, in 1942.
|The Death of Sergeant Samuel
Beard in 1861, and the Speech House poachers
Arlingham, Gloucestershire, is a village on the River Severn
opposite Newnham. Samuel Beard was born there around 1822, the
son of labourer Thomas Beard. His
actual birth-date is unclear. On the 1841 census he is
recorded as 19, and when he joined the Gloucestershire police at
Cheltenham in February 1843, he gave his age as 20. During the
early 1840s he was employed at Coleford in the Forest of Dean as a servant for solicitor Benjamin Peach.
At that time there was a fee-paying ferry from Arlingham to
Newnham which carried passengers and livestock. It existed from
1802 until after the Second World War.
In February 1843 Samuel joined the Gloucestershire Constabulary at
PC Samuel Beard married 18 year old Jane Morton,
the daughter of draper William Morton
from Tetbury, at Cheltenham in 1844 while he was serving there.
The couple went on to have six children, five born in the Forest
of Dean area.
After serving at Cheltenham, where his first child, Jane,was
born, he was posted to Lydbrook. From there he served at a
number of stations in the Forest before being posted as a
sergeant to run the Littledean station around 1855. In
1854 prison reform legislation made the former House of
Correction at Littledean available for use as a police station
and a short term remand prison. On 15 March of that year
Sergeant Edward Birch and two Constables moved in and the police
station in Church Street was closed. When the lease on the
courtroom at Newnham Town Hall expired in 1874, Newnham Petty
Sessional Court also moved in.
It is not at present clear when Samuel Beard took over as
sergeant. Two of his children were born
there, Emily in 1856, and Frederick in 1858.
Littledean Prison had opened in 1791, only a few months after
the new gaol at Gloucester. The first
inmate admitted on 18th November 1791 was a 19-year old Westbury labourer
by the name of Joseph Marshall. He was convicted for stealing a
The gaol consisted of a two-storeyed building with a central
block, containing an office, committee room, chapel,
infirmaries, and accommodation for keeper and turnkey. The cells
were then situated in the east and west wings. Around the building
were four courtyards and the whole area was surrounded by a perimeter
wall with a gatehouse on the south side. In 1844 the
ground-floor cells were enlarged and a third storey was added to
the central block, one room of which became a schoolroom.
From 1854 the building, no longer a House of Correction, was used as a police station and remand prison.
Around the same time, the prison's crank mill, which was
apparently originally designed not only as part of the punishing
regime but also to lift water from the well for domestic use,
was removed and the building converted for use as the
Constabulary stables. During the restoration workmen taking up
the flag stones and cobbles exposed a network of water channels
and a well.
Further changes came in 1874 when the prison's east wing was remodelled as a petty sessional
After the gaol became Littledean police station its hand-crank
mill room was turned into the Constabulary stables
Today it is the home of Littledean Jail Museum with its the
Crime Through Time collection and Quadropehnia exhibition.
On Tuesday, August 27, 1861 the Birmingham Daily Post
inaccurately reported -
MURDER OF A SERGEANT OF POLICE NEAR COLEFORD - On Saturday
night a terrible affray took place upon an estate at Little
Dean, near Coleford, between Sergeant Samuel Beard and four
sheep-stealers. The four men had been drinking in a neighbouring
public house and a farmer and Beard suspected something wrong.
Beard secreted himself in one position and the farmer in
another. It appears that the fellows had set their gins and laid
their nets. They then drove some sheep into an angle of the
ground for the evident purpose of killing some of the flock.
Beard then rushed upon them and they commenced a savage and
brutal attack on him. They beat him with bludgeons and kicked
him most furiously when on the ground. The ruffians then fled .
The poor fellow was found the next morning about four o'clock in
a state of insensibility. He presented a most deplorable
spectacle. The farmer states that when he was in his hiding
place he heard some blows, but he thought it was someone beating
a donkey. He says that when some considerable time had elapsed
he left his hiding place and went to look for Beard but could
not see him.He however found his coat hung up in a tree and
thought he was gone home. The affair must have been a very
sanguinary one for four of Beard's teeth were knocked out and
the ground was covered with clots of coagulated blood. On
Tuesday he became conscious and immediately mentioned the names
of the four ruffians. The fellows were shortly after
apprehended. Their names are Williams, Roberts and two brothers
named Cooper. On Wednesday they were taken before the
magistrates and afterwards to the bedside of Beard, who at once
rwecognised the whole of them. They were then remanded and the
dying deposition of the officer taken. Poor Beard lingered in
great agony until Saturday evening when death put an end to his
That night, the 17th of August 1861, following up on a
complaint of possible sheep-stealing, Police Sergeant Beard with
farmer's son Thomas Guest had been keeping observation at the
Speech House Inn. Already drinking there when they had arrived
were four young men with their two dogs from the Berry Hill
area. Though they were not the individuals suspected by the
farmer they attracted the interest of the police sergeant. He
decided to follow them when they left the inn.
Evidence was given by Thomas Guest, the son of a farmer from
Maidenham Farm, Littledean, at the
trial of the four men which took place at Gloucester Assizes on
December 4th 1861 before Justice Willes.
On Saturday night, the 17th of August 1861, the four prisoners
left the Speech House at around 10.30 with two dogs.
Guest had already earlier told Beard, who was in plain clothers,
that these were not the suspected sheep-stealers and he did not
know these men.
The two men followed the suspected poachers from about 100 yards behind towards
Moseley Green. On the left hand side was a gate opening into a
field behind the Speech House. He saw one of the men about 50
yards from the gate leaning against the rails. He and the
Sergeant separated and he walked down the road and passed the
man wishing him good night. About 200 yards further on was a
second gate leading into the second field from the Speech House
where he saw three men. He walked a further 200 yards and then
doubled back through the Forest towards the Speech House.
When about half-way back and opposite the rails, he heard heavy
blows of some kind. Before that he had heard someone shouting
'Tom' and another 'Dick', apparently coming from near the gate
where he later found Sgt Beard. He then saw the four men walking
back towards the Speech House. He went back to look for Beard.
He had trouble finding him and it was several hours before he
eventually located him near the gate where they had separated
earlier. He was lying on his side apparently dead. There was
blood on his face and his mouth was cut. On the ground nearby
was a stick with blood on it. He also saw a gate net apparently
used for hare-catching. There was blood on the ground in several
places. His staff was in his pocket. He stayed with him for 15
minutes and then went to the Speech House for assistance.
The innkeeper John Coleman was roused by his charwoman, Mrs
Elizabeth Rooke, and went to where Beard was laying. The
policeman appeared to be dying. He tried to give him some brandy
but was prevented by the injuries to his mouth. He then had the
sergeant taken back to the Speech House and sent for medical
Mr Hatton, a surgeon from Coleford, gave evidence that at 7am on
Sunday he found the sergeant badly beaten about the face, his
lips were cut through, his face was blackened around the eyes.
There were bruises about the body and four of his upper teeth
were knocked out. There was also a severe head injury which he
believed had been inflicted by a stone or boot.
Superintendent Taylor from Coleford deposed to having seen Sgt
Beard on Sunday the 18th August. He was in the tap-room and
opened his eyes saying "This is a bad job Sir!"
The Superintendent saw him again at 7 pm that evening and took a
deposition from the dying man. He read it back to him and asked
him to sign but the officer was too ill to write. On Monday the
19th Sgt Beard was still alive and the accused four men were
brought before him for identification. Taylor found spots of
blood on Gwilliam's trousers. That day they were charged with
PC 32 William Webber gave evidence that he stayed with Sgt
Beard from Sunday until his death. On Monday he had complained
of a pain in his head and said "I cannot stand this; I shall
die". He said he had knocked one of them down with his staff and
stated "he hoped they would be hung".
Samuel Beard died on Saturday 24th August 1861. The dying man's
statement to Superintendent Taylor reads -
"Speech House 19th August 1861. Thomas Cooper, George Cooper,
Richard Roberts and Thomas Gwilliam, whom I have just seen, are
the four men who assaulted and beat me last Saturday night. I
watched them leave the Speech House about 11 oclock that night.
They went along the road towards the Fancy Pit. I afterwards saw
three of them near a gate leading into a small field near the
Speech House. I went to them. I met George Cooper a short
distance from the gate. I asked him what they wee doing there?
He said it was no odds to me. I told him I should search him. He
then struck me with a stick. I struck him on the head with my
staff. One of them called for the fourth man who came. They all
fell upon me. Roberts struck me a heavy blow on the head with a
stick; I fell down. They then kicked me about the head and face
when I was down. I became insensible and knew nothing after till
I was at the Speech House on Sunday". The
mark of Samuel Beard X; William Taylor, Supt.
PC Rodway who was in charge of the prisoners at Littledean gave
On the 27th August George Cooper sent for him and said he wanted
to make a statement. He was warned that it would be taken down
in writing and might be used against him. He then made a
statement. "On Saturday night the 17th of August I went to
the Speech House Inn and had seven or eight pints of beer. We
had nets and dogs with us. I am not certain what time we left
the Speech House, and as soon as we had the nets teeled we put
the dogs over and it then tongued a hare. Another man ran down
the road before him; and then directly on this Beard came down;
he stood opposite the turnpike road. Richard Roberts was at the
upper gate, and I at the lower, and he passed Richard Roberts
and I went round the corner of the Lodge. He had catched hold of
Thomas Gwilliam and I went and told him to loose. He did not
say anything for a bit; he put his hand in his coat pocket and
took hold of his stick and struck me on the arm: then I cut him
two or three times with the stick. Then after he hit me on the
head and knocked me down; he stunned me for a minute or two.
When I got up he was he was down. Thomas Gwilliam and my brother
was together; Richard Roberts was behind. He came up then.
Richard Roberts never touched him nor I don't think that Thomas
Gwilliam did. I was behind the hedge. It was by where he was
found. It was dark between the trees and the hedge." Signed
Mr Cooke, defending, addressed the jury. That unfortunate
affair, he said, would not have occurred if it had not been for
the excessive zeal of the deceased man who had gone out that
night to catch some men, not the prisoners, but who, as he could
not find the men whom he wanted, thought he had better catch the
prisoners than go home having done nothing.
He did not ask the jury to acquit them of anything but wilful
murder. He urged upon them the absence of any premeditation or
malice and drew their attention to the fact that the prisoners
were doing nothing which justified the police sergeant
interfering with them for it was not hinted that they were
poaching. He characterised it as an unfortunate, unpremeditated,
and unhappy affair and said that whilst the death of Sergeant
Beard was to be very much regretted, yet that it was, to a
certain extent, of his own seeking.
After retiring, the jury found the prisoners guilty of
manslaughter, and recommended Roberts to mercy. His Lordship
sentenced them each to 15 years penal servitude at Gloucester
prison but recommended
Richard Roberts for a mitigation of punishment.
Richard Roberts, who had only kept watch, and not involved
in the actual incident, was given a free pardon on 30th of March
On the 15th October 1861 the Cheltenham Chronicle
reported that the subscription on behalf of Sgt Beard's widow
and orphans had raised around £600. Among many others,
Gloucestershire County police officers at Bristol had all
subscribed one day's pay towards the fund.
It was proposed that the widow should be allowed £1 per week in
the short term and the balance would be invested to give her at
least 12 shillings per week for the maintenance and education of
The Chief Constable also announced on 21st October 1861 that he
was granting a gratuity of one year's salary to be awarded to
Sgt Beard's widow. The widow and three children of another
police officer, PC Thomas Trinder, who was
stationed at Littledean with Sgt Beard and who had died suddenly
after the tragedy, 'his death having been caused by the
shock acting on a debilitated constitution' were granted a
quarter of a year's salary..
Over 500 people attended Sergeant Beard's funeral at Littledean
Church. On his grave there is the inscription 'Overwhelmed
with pain, sunk within this cell, and bid the anxious cares of
life farewell. Farewell fond wife and young children dear, in
whom was centred all my earthly care.'
The Western Daily Press on the 9th
September 1861 reported the sad death of a police officer
stationed at Littledean a week earlier. 33 year old PC Thomas
Trinder who lived with his wife Hannah and four children at
Church Street, Littledean, had taken the death of his friend and
colleague Samuel Beard on the 24th August
badly. It had preyed on his mind, he was not eating, and was
frequently found crying. The constable had earlier complained of
pains in the chest which seemed to worsen during the period
after Sergeant Beard's death.
On a visit to Lydbrook with Sgt Arthur
they were descending a steep hill when PC Trinder, who had been
unsteady on his feet all day, stumbled to the ground causing the
Sergeant to fall on top of him. They both got up and the
sergeant asked him if he was OK. The constable reassured him
that he was unhurt. PC Trinder was sent home to rest but expired
at 5pm the next day, the 2nd of September. His post mortem
revealed a ruptured a blood vessel and also that he was
suffering from a long-standing lung disease.
The jury at his inquest returned a
verdict of 'died from natural causes'. He was buried at
Littledean on 6th September 1861.
|The General Strike in 1926
After the nine day General Strike was over, the coal owners
insisted on imposing cuts to wages, and an increase in hours
worked. When the miners would not yield, the owners locked them
out and on the 17th of May, Forest of Dean colliers asked Mr
Purcell, their local Labour member of Parliament, to explain to
them why the general strike was called off, and the miners
The lock-out was to take the heart out of the Forest.The heroism
and self-sacrifice of the colliers and their families during
those grim months, brought miners and their families anguish and
misery, creeping hunger and despair. They stood up to the
employers for seven months, stubborn and persistent in their
determination to win. Finally, when flesh and blood could stand
no more, they were forced to capitulate.
They returned to work on the owners' terms. Bream's Princess
Royal colliery held out till the last and the Cheltenham
Chronicle reported on 25th September that men there had began to
sign on with 200 already working. A wagon load of new shovels
was seen at Whitecroft station and horses were being shoed. The
Mine Owners' Association reported that in the group of larger
pits, 2637 colliers, around 50 per cent of the workforce, had
At the end of October that number had increased to 4,416. Before
the dispute 6,520 had been employed.
The biggest losers were those miners who held on till the end,
including the Mining Federation's local Executive. The return to
work agreement did not include them getting their jobs back. A
later account by Albert Meek, who together with Jesse Hodges
were joint secretaries of the union, related that they were both
victimised and out of work for 17 months after the dispute.
On 20th October 1926, when a large percentage of the men had
returned to work, there was a meeting of the Gloucestershire Standing
Joint Committee, where the Chief Constable, Major Stanley Clarke, was
criticised by Labour's County Councillor, C.W Luker from Lydney,
for continuing to maintain a force of 140 men in the Forest of
|Gloucestershire mounted police billeted at the Feathers Hotel,
Lydney in 1926. The hotel was demolished in 1999 to make way for
the Tesco store. At the beginning of the dispute 179 extra
policemen were brought into the Forest. Mr Luker, the
Labour County Councillor for Lydney, commented near the
end of the dispute - "The real reason for mounted police
being disliked was that they represented one more stage
in brutality than did the men on foot."
Generally relations between the police and the miners was
amicable. There were no major incidents or violence reported.
Most prosecutions were for minor offences by locals forming
groups and crowds when blackleg miners were being escorted to
and from work. On Saturday 17th July the Gloucester Journal
reported that 'an indication of the spirit prevailing between
the police and the men was when the Cinderford Town Club,
composed mainly of miners, have played one cricket match with
them, and another has been arranged.'
Police preparing to leave
Chipping Sodbury in 1926 to maintain order in the Forest
Food parcels being
distributed at Bream during the strike
in the Banbury area of Oxfordshire in 1873, and married to Emily
Blundell at Stratford on Avon in 1894, John Francis Shelswell
became a Police Officer, and after a short period at Cheltenham
was posted to the Forest of Dean.
In 1901 he was a constable at Lydbrook, and in 1911, a sergeant
at Blakeney. By 1923 he had risen to the rank of Superintendent,
and in charge of the Forest Division from 1923-1937.
In charge of policing during the Miners strike in 1926, he was
stationed at Tutshill House, Lydney when 175 extra police
officers were drafted in.
John Shelswell was later awarded
an MBE for his lengthy public service.
He was also a keen supporter of Lydney Rugby Club, being
Chairman from 1924 - 1935. When their ground came up for sale in
1928 he was the purchaser. He then rented it back to the club.
Retiring in 1937 John Francis Shelswell MBE died at Lydney in 1960.
Boy's Theft of
Cycle at Lydney.
An indication of local justice to children at that time
is reported in the Gloucester Journal on Saturday 28th
of April 1928.
At a Children's Court at Lydney on Wednesday, a
twelve-year-old boy pleaded not guilty to having stolen
a pedal cycle, value 15 shillings,
(75p in decimal currency)
between March 30th and April 5th.
James Price said he left his machine in a shed. Later it
Evidence was given by a lad of twelve to the effect that
in April he purchased the cycle from the defendant for 3
The father, a widower, said he had beaten the boy, but
could do nothing with him.
Superintendent Shelswell regretted he was unable to say
anything in favour of the boy, whom he described as
crafty, and added that the police had received numerous
complaints about him.
The magistrates ordered the lad to receive six strokes
with a birch.
A one pound note in 1928
would have had the purchasing power of around £40 today.
birch was normally administered privately by a
policeman, usually immediately after the magistrate's
court hearing, either in a room in the court building
or at the nearest police station. Its use was abolished
in the United Kingdom in 1948.
Walter Virgo and the Blakeney Gang by Ian Wright
A Forest Beat: The Forest of Dean
Police 1839-2000 by Geoff Sindrey & Ted Heath
The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post
The Gloucester Citizen
Gloucestershire Archives - Various
1841, 1861,1891, 1901, 1911 census returns
GRO marriage certificate Samuel Beard
and Jane Morton
The Cheltenham Chronicle
The Gloucester Journal
Gloucestershire Constabulary Early Days