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Eaton Bishop News from the Past

Possible madness and other things

1826 – Fire at The Tuck Mill, Eaton Bishop

On 12th March a destructive fire broke out at the Tuck Mill, entirely destroying it along with all the stock and property of the tenant, Mr. James Hiles.

Poor James went from living a comfortable life to finding himself destitute, and he had no choice but to beg for assistance from the “charitable and humane” to procure the means of subsistence for his family.

Donations came in promptly, with the Rt. Hon Lady Southampton giving £20, and the Rev. Mr. Tandy donating £10 – both huge sums at the time.

Touchingly, one of the donors wished just to be known as “A Friend”.

1849 – Fire on Eaton Bishop Farm

Very often when fire broke out on a property in remote villages, it was down to the efforts of neighbours to try to contain the fire until the fire brigade arrived.

This notice in the Hereford Times is an example:

“James Coleman is anxious thus publicly to express his heartfelt gratitude to his friends and neighbours generally, who so kindly and promptly rendered their services during the calamitous fire at his farm”.

1854 – Farewell Tea Party at Eaton Bishop

More than a hundred children from Eaton Bishop school, as well as many of their friends and parents, were given a farewell tea party by Mrs. Musgrave.

The grounds of the school, and the school house itself  were well decorated for the occasion.

The villagers had clubbed together and bought a beautifully bound bible for Mrs Musgrave to present to the Rev. Canon in gratitude for his support of the school and for his ministry.  The children gave Miss Musgrave a book.

The Rev. Herbert Symonds who helped with the festival, later talked to the children in a most affectionate manner, and so ended a lovely evening which was only clouded by the fact that they were losing the Rector and his family who were moving to Yorkshire.

​1899 – Was this Lad Mad?

William Albert Connor, aged 17, from Eaton Bishop, was charged with having tried to kill himself on 22nd February.

William was described as being of ruddy complexion with a mass of oily hair, and he treated his court appearance with huge indifference until he saw the distress of his aged father and younger sister, when he seemed to begin to realise what trouble he was in.

Mr. John Kingdom Frost, a surgeon from Kingstone testified that on 22nd February he was called to the house of William’s father at Eaton Bishop, and found William lying on the floor suffering from a cut to the throat, which was consistent with a knife lying close by.  William said that he had pain, but had no idea that it was from the wound.

This was the third time that he had tried to cut his throat, but he never seemed to be aware that he had done it.

Mr. Frost said that it was hard to say whether the lad was sane or not, but that he had been “morose”.  The clerk asked if that might be a symptom of insanity, and the reply was “undoubtedly”.

William’s father, who was very old, was asked if he would take William back into his home, and in floods of tears, he said that of course he would, but the Chairman of the Court was worried about the strain it would be for him and wanted to commit William for trial at the Quarter Sessions.  (How callous was that?)

William’s father, and his sister burst out crying again, and the Chairman asked if he knew what the Quarter Sessions meant, to which he replied “no”.

Everything was explained to him, and he begged to be allowed to take William home, – the Chairman agreed with reluctance.

I do wonder what happened to poor William and to his desperate father.

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