Assault on the assistant overseer, 1835

A case from the Bucks Quarter Sessions. In 1835 the New Poor Law was coming into effect but the old law was still in place, under which the parish officers were supposed to find work for the unemployed (presumably until the new workhouse was ready). The men who carried out the alleged assault were probably from North Marston which was now part of the Winslow Union for Poor Law purposes.

Bucks Herald, 4 July 1835

 Thomas Price, J Young, sen., John Young, jun., - Stonhill, Christopher Price, and Richard Buckingham, were charged with having on the 13th of April last, riotously assembled and assaulted George Grace, the  assistant overseer of the parish of North Marston [mistake for Winslow].

  The prisoner, C. Price, pleaded guilty.

  Mr. George Grace, assistant overseer of Winslow, on the 11th of April last hired a piece of ground in North Marston parish, for the purpose of employing the surplus labourers; the prisoners were employed on that ground by him: on the 13th witness went to Winslow, and ordered the men to go to work on the ground; Young the elder was not amongst them.  Witness told them how to go to work, but they said they would show witness how to order them; they then said the pool was his and the ground theirs; witness then ran across about half the field when the prisoners came after him.  Thos. Cook, C. Price, and John Young, were the most active; they took hold of his collar, and forced him through the pool; some called out ‘duck him;’ others said let him come out on the other side of the land; witness was surrounded by the rioters, who followed him to Grandborough; they struck at him and he called out ‘murder,’ for he was nearly exhausted; at this moment some other person came up, and told the prisoners to murder him; the prisoners told witness never to venture into that parish again; witness, through their ill-usage was obliged to apply to Mr. Cowley, of Winslow, for advice.

  Charles Ward, blacksmith. – I heard the cry of ‘murder’ and looked out, and saw a number of men coming towards Grandborough; when they got near saw Price and others beating the prosecutor; all of the party are not at the bar; there was a great disturbance at the time; saw R. Price, and Young, sen., strike the prosecutor; Young left his work and ran towards the men, and threw a stone at Grace, who was much exhausted, and cried out that he should be murdered. 

  The prisoners said it was all false what Grace had said, and that he had treated them in a most overbearing way, and said he was going to get his living out of the poor, and his conduct enraged them; one of the party got a small stick and cut him across the back, telling him to go on about his work, and not act so by poor men, who were quite willing to do their right work.  One or two of the prisoners called witnesses as to character.

  The jury found all the prisoners guilty, but recommended Thomas Price and Richard Buckingham to mercy on account of their previous good character, and the court sentenced them to two calendar months’ hard labour; and the other five were sentenced to four calendar months’ hard labour.

  The Chairman in passing sentence on the prisoners said he hoped this would be a warning to them, and induce them in future when they fancied themselves agrieved [sic] to apply to persons whose duty it is to defend the laws as they stood, and not take the law into their own hands.

  The prisoners said that they would attend to the advice of the Chairman.

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Copyright 30 March, 2020