A man who stabbed another to death in Bevington Hill was convicted of manslaughter and jailed for life after the jury refused to accept his plea that the killing took place in self defence after he was called a 'Papist'.
On 8th May 1868 some workers from the Allinsons Brewery in Gildart Street went for a drink after work in a pub in Bevington Hill. When one of them, Richard Cropper, left on his own at about 930pm he encountered 26 year old butcher Edward Bailey outside, who said to him 'You're the one who has come to kill the Papists.'
When Bailey responded that he didn't want to kill anyone, especially a Papist as he was one himself, Cropper reacted angrily and challenged him to a fight. As the men squared up to each other, Cropper's colleague Arthur Brock came out of he pub and persuaded him to walk away and go home. As Cropper headed home, Brock and Bailey got into an argument, leading to the latter taking a knife out of a sheath that was around his waist and plunging it into Brock's chest.
Brock staggered off and collapsed after about 100 yards. By the time a doctor arrived, he was dead, the knife having gone between two ribs and protruded four inches into his body. Police soon found Bailey at his home in as court off nearby Ennerdale Street and he was taken into custody. A post mortem found that Brock had died from an internal haemorrhage caused as a result of a puncture to the heart.
Bailey was charged with murder and stood trial before Baron Kelly on 20th August. Witnesses said they had seen both Cropper and Brock act aggressively and Bailey's employers testified to his good character. But his claim that he had been rounded on by three men calling him a Papist and that he acted in self defence was not accepted. Due to the element of provocation however, he was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder.
The judge showed no leniency in passing sentence, saying it was a most aggravated form of manslaughter. As he was sentenced to penal servitude for life, Bailey's wife let out several shrieks and had to be removed from the courtroom.