A works New Years Eve party descended into a drunken brawl that left one employee dead and another transported for life.
On 31st December 1828 the bosses of Messrs MacKie & Co, a dye importers based in Eccleston, took their workforce out for ale. The drinking went on until 7 o'clock the next morning when a fight broke out amongst staff, with sides being taken when two of them started quarrelling.
A man named John Hughes went to protect another, Slater, who was on the ground. He was then punched down by 40 year old Thomas Boyle, who went on to jump on his belly with both feet. Boyle then started kicking at Slater and threatened to do to him what he had just done to Hughes.
Hughes died on the morning of 2nd January and when his body was opened the bladder was found to be injured and small intestine ruptured. The Liverpool Mercury described the case as 'one of those brutal cases, so disgraceful to this part of the country, where parties fight by kicking and stamping on each other.'
Boyle was charged with murder and appeared at the Lancaster assizes the following March. Several work colleagues testified for his character, saying he had stayed down himself for twenty minutes during the fracas. They also said he was a peaceable character and once saved Hughes's life following an accident.
After deliberation the jury found Boyle guilty of manslaughter and Justice Bayley commented that due to the enormity of the offence he had to be transported for life. He arrived in New South Wales aboard the Morley on 3rd December that year.