A dreadful occurrence took place in 1831 when an innkeeper was killed after he tried to restrain a man who had gone to his pub with a knife.
At around 11pm on Thursday 28th April that year a Miss Pickering opened the door of her brother-in-law's public house at Devon Street, to be greeted by the sight of a man wearing no coat, stockings or shoes. He asked for a glass of ale but Miss Pickering saw a knife up his sleeve so she asked what he would do with it. She received the shocking answer that the man was going to stab the first man that came near him.
Miss Pickering shouted for her brother-in-law William Roberts who came to the door with another customer. The man ran off but the two others gave chase and cornered him in Moss Street. William had a stick which he tried to use to knock the knife out of the man's hand, but he was rushed at by the man, who stabbed him in the belly and ran off.
When a watchman named John O'Donnell arrived on the scene, he was slashed in the wrist and back. More watchmen arrived and managed to knock the man down, but he got up and escaped before eventually being secured by two constables who managed to put handcuffs on him. He was then conveyed to the Bridewell covered in bruises, such was the force needed to finally restrain him.
At the Bridewell the man identified himself as 44 year old James Malone and he told officials that he had been quarrelling with a woman prior to his actions. William had managed to walk home but he died on the Saturday morning, leaving a wife and six children.
At Lancaster Castle on 12th August Malone was acquitted on the grounds of insanity after evidence was heard regarding his behaviour whilst in the castle awaiting trial and and while previously residing in Chester. He was then ordered by the judge to be detained at an asylum.