Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Lodger Killer Transported

In 1828 a man was transported when he was convicted of manslaughter after he had killed a fellow lodger, with the press indicating he was fortunate to be convicted only of this crime.

On Sunday 6th July that year Richard Thomas, a 44 year old wheelwright, was drinking ale at his Stanley Street lodgings with John Barber, a cart driver aged 37. Barber dozed off and Thomas playfully hit him with a towel, but he reacted angrily and struck back violently, causing a nosebleed.

Both men went into the yard where an outraged Barber continued to act aggressively and threatened to knock Thomas's head off, but their landlord William Godfrey came out and managed to calm the situation down. The two men shook hands and by way of apology Barber ordered a quart of ale for them to share.

They went back into the yard to drink it but without warning Barber said 'I will give thee a finisher' and struck Thomas in the temple, causing him to fall down and hit his head.' Medical assistance was sought but he died about half an hour later, leading to Barber being taken into custody and committed for trial at the assizes in Lancaster on a charge of manslaughter. Reporting the inquest verdict though the Liverpool Mercury said that 'it is doubtful the whether the crime was not of  a higher nature.'

The following month  Barber appeared before Mr Justice Bayely, where the evidence of his landlord helped convict him. Describing the crime as of a most aggravated character, the judge then sentenced him to be transported for fourteen years.

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