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 Post subject: The Burnley Case
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 3:47 pm 
Spider Lady
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The Times,
Tuesday, Mar 15, 1825

The Burnley Case
(From the Manchester Guardian)

We shortly alluded, in our last, to a report, which was at that time in general circulation here, that "an extensive calico-manufacturer, in Burnley, had, in a sudden fit of passion, occasioned by some angry words with his wife, struck her a violent blow on the head, in consequence of which she died in a few hours afterwards. The verdict of the coroner's jury" we added, "we had not then heard."-We now find that it did not criminate the husband; but was to the effect that his wife had "died by suffocation." This case coupled with the finding of the jury, having excited an intense degree of interest here, we proceed to lay before our readers such of the facts connected with it as have come to our knowledge. Mr. John Roberts, the husband of the deceased lady, is, we have already stated, an extensive calico manufacturer at Burnley; and, on the night of Monday week, had been attending a sale of some real property belonging to a bankrupt's estate for which he was assignee. It was very late, we believe one or two in the morning, before the sale was concluded; and after that, some of the parties who had been engaged in it took supper, and sat enjoying themselves for a considerable time. At length the hour approached at which the market coaches for manchester quit Burnley; and Mr. Roberts, not intending to go to Manchester that day, said to the persons with whom he was sitting, that he would go and see the folks set off for the market. He did so; and after taking some more liquor, went to bed, we believe, at the public house whence the coaches start. He was called up again in an hour or two (it being known that he had an engagement to go some distance into the country on business), and went home. When he got there, he ordered breakfast, and (as was natural, after he had been out all nihgt) was not received by Mrs. Roberts in the most gracious manner. He found fault either with his breakfats, or with its not being ready so soon as he wished; and Mrs. Roberts, who was somewhat disturbed, told him he had better go and get his breakfast where he had been staying all night. This observation irritated him; other hasty language took place, and it is admitted that he so far forgot himself as to proceed from words to blows. As to how often, or with what violence, he struck his wife, we have heard different reports; but we understand it was proved on the inquest, that there was considerable discolouration under one ear, upon, or about, the jugular vein. To return, however;-After this (to say the least) very unmanly behaviour towards his wife, Mr. Roberts set out on his journey; we believe about ten o'clock. Some short time afterwards, Mrs. Daniel Spencer, the wife of a brother of Mrs. Roberts, accidentally calling on that lady, found her in great distress, and very unwell. On being asked what was the matter, she recounted the ill-usage which she had received from her husband; and we are assured, spoke very strongly both with respect to it, and with respect to her apprehensions as to the result. Be this as it may, she was advised immediately to send for a doctor, who, as is stated to us, on seeing the patient, immediately declared the case to be a serious one, ordered her to go to her bed-room, and attempted to bleed her, in which, on a second attempt, he succeeded. Mrs. Roberts, however, complained of a difficulty of swallowing, and asked for water; and whilst her sister-in-law was gone to get some, fell down upon the floor. She was immediately lifted on to the bed, where shortly afterwards she expired. An inquest was held on the body, on the evening of Thursday week, at Burnley, when, the head and throat of the deceased having been opened and examined, two medical men-the gentleman who had attended to her decease, and another, (who, however we believe, had not seen the body, but formed his opinion from the evidence given by the other, as to its appearance)-distinctly swore, that in their judgment, the blow or blows she had received under the ear (the only mortal part where she appeared to have been struck) were not the cause of her death. We have not seen any professional statement, or indeed heard any very intelligible account of the appearance of the parts examined; but so far as we can understand the case, Mrs. Roberts had what is commonly called a full neck and there were discovered on the examination some marks of disease, such as might naturally be expected under such circumstances. About two ounces of extravasated blood were found; and the proximate cause of death was stated to be violent excitement and passion, which having occasioned the rupture of a blood vessel, had terminated in suffocation. Under these circumstances, the jury returned the verdict we have already mentioned: This verdict, or at least the motives of the jury in delivering it, it is far from our intention to ??: but it is a fact [there is a crease in the paper here, some lines do not make sense but look like they follow on] painful, though not surprising that it has given deep and ext?? dissatisfaction. In our judgment, there is not the slightest ground for any suspicion of unfairness; the coroner, Mr. Hargreaves, is a gentleman of the highest respectability, and the jury consisted, as we are well assured, or persons as free from any apparent taint of partiality or dependence as any that could have been selected. The public dissatisfaction at their verdict may, nevertheless, be easily accounted for. In Burnley, where an inquest - one, at least, which excites any interest - is of very rare occurrence, the people are scarcely aware that the coroner's court is an open one; consequently, we believe (though we do not hear that any body was actually kept out) no persons except the witnesses, and those officially connected with the inquiry - not even any relatives of the deceased - were present. Under these circumstances, taking into account also the well-known and admitted facts of the case, and how much the verdict is at variance with what was universally expected, there is not felt at Burnley that confidence in the integrity of the proceedings which, we may safely aver, that publicity, beyond any other possible contrivance, avails to inspire. As the case stands, it is asserted that all the witnesses who could have given important testimony were not brought forward; and that of some of those who were examined, the evidence was not fully gone into.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 4:36 pm 
Computer Whizz
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And all because she didn't do breakfast to his liking, after he had been out all night. Poor woman, what did she have to put up with?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 8:07 am 
Spider Lady
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It makes you wonder doesn't it.
I like these articles, I think they gave an insight into the lives people led and the things they had to put up with.

I wonder when this type of behaviour started to change? I don't mean the beatings (we all know that still goes on in some households) but that a woman is there to serve her man.
When they were both working, my Mum thought there should be a meal ready to be put on the table the minute my Dad walked through the door from work.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 2:44 pm 
Computer Whizz
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I think these articles are brilliant, an insight into the "good old days"????
This behaviour changed in the 60's, women's lib and all that. I don't think they would have dared change before that, I believe that kind of behaviour to have been the norm in most households------like to see it tried now. :wink:

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