James Walker, d.1846

Northampton Mercury, 3 Oct 1846

A MAN HUNG BY THE LEG.- A very extraordinary circumstance occurred in the parish of Winslow, Bucks, on Friday.  An elderly man, of the name of Walker, was discovered about eight o’clock in the morning, in a field suburban to the town, suspended by his leg in an elm tree, about eight feet from the ground.  He had ascended for the purpose of collecting the decayed branches, and while thus engaged, accidentally fell from his standing, and in the fall one of his feet was caught in an arm of the tree, from which in an inverted position nearly the whole weight of his body was suspended, excepting a slight relief afforded to his truly agonizing condition by a branch within reach of his arms, and from which he could command a slight bearing.  When found he was in a most exhausted state, and from the determination of blood to the head and brain, consequent on the form he was in, presented a very dreadful appearance.  Medical aid was immediately in attendance upon the sufferer, and it is presumed no fatal consequences will result.  He states that it was about two p.m. of Thursday when the event took place, and no assistance was rendered to him in his perilous condition until eight on the following morning, a period of eighteen hours. – Banbury Guardian.

Bucks Herald, 10 Oct 1846

WINSLOW. – The man Walker, whom our readers will recollect we stated was accidentally hung by the leg in a tree in the parish of Winslow, about a fortnight since, from which he was stealing the branches, expired suddenly on Sunday last, the 4th instant.  There is something remarkable in the circumstance by which the deceased primarily met his death, as considered in connection with an incorrigible propensity to wood stealing that has been evinced by him for a series of years, in obtaining and conveying away of which he exhibited an agility and deception peculiarly his own.  Although his years were upwards of seventy he would scale the loftiest trees, and secure his favourite plunder under the most adverse circumstances.  He was in receipt of a pension earned in military service, and it would appear that the martial daring of early life survived and assumed in the “old soldier” an utter defiance of the civil penalties which his practices incurred.  So confirmed were his habits in this particular vice of wood larceny that fines and imprisonments, though repeatedly visited upon the delinquent, were ineffectual in braking the spell of his darling [sic] peccadillo, until, like Milo in essaying to rend the oak of the forest, he forfeited his life as the penalty of his continued temerity.  A Coroner’s inquest was held on his remains, and a verdict of “Accidental death” recorded.

Army discharge papers (TNA, WO 121/116)

James Walker

HIS MAJESTY’S 2d Bn 34 Regiment of Foot whereof Lieut Gen Eyre Coote is Colonel

THESE are to certify, that James Walker Sergeant in Captn Burdets Company in the Regiment Aforesaid, born in the Parish of Winslow in, or near, the Town of Winslow in the County of Bucks was enlisted at the Age of 28 Years and hath served in the said Regiment for the Space of Six years and 186 Days, as well as in other Corps, after the Age of Eighteen, according to the following Statement, but in consequence of Varicose Veins of the Legs – which has occurred within the Service is considered unfit for further Service, and is hereby discharged, having first received all just Demands of Pay, Clothing &c. from his Entry into the said Regiment, to the Date of this Discharge, as appears by the Receipt on the Back hereof.

And to prevent any Improper Use being made of this Discharge, by it falling into other Hands, the following is a Description of the said James Walker. He is about 35 Years of Age, is 5 Feet 7 Inches in height. Dark hair Grey Eyes Fresh Complexion, and by Trade a Labourer

34th Corps From 22nd April 1805 to 24th October 1811 6 years 186 days Sergeant
Given under my hand the 24 Day of Oct 1811 Eyre Coote [signature] Colonel

[reverse of same form]
I James Walker do acknowledge that I have received all my Clothing, Pay,  Arrears of Pay, and all just Demands whatsoever, from the Time of my enlisting in the Regiment mentioned on the other Side, to this Day of my Discharge.
As witness my Hand this 30 Day Octr 1811
James Walker [signature]
Sergeant 34 2nd Battn

I do hereby certify that the Cause, which has rendered it necessary to discharge the within mentioned James Walker as stated on the opposite side, has not arisen from Vice or Misconduct, and that he is not, to my Knowledge, incapacitated by the Sentence of a General Court Martial from receiving his Pension.
Eyre Coote [signature] Colonel
This Regiment being on Foreign Service the Signatures to this Certificate cannot be obtained.


James Walker's age at death was registered as 71. He was the son of John and Jane Walker, bap. 9 Feb 1778. In the 1841 Census he was living in Chapel Yard, Horn Street, with his ?son George.

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