The Attack Upon John Chester [1869]

On Friday, 6th August 1869, John Chester was drinking in The Shears, West Vale.

Benjamin Whiteley, a labourer from West Vale, had been sitting nearby when Chester got change for a sovereign.

After midnight, Chester and George Heywood, a scutcher from West Vale, left and walked towards Brow Bridge. Whiteley and another man assaulted Chester, threw him down on the ground and searched his pockets. They found 2 half-sovereigns and 10/- loose in Chester's pockets and then ran away.

The men were later arrested by Police-sergeant Brighouse and committed to the sessions.

John Ramsden, a cotton spinner of West Vale was charged as an accomplice, but the charge was withdrawn and he became a witness in the case

The Halifax Guardian [Saturday 14th August 1869] reported

Highway Robbery with ViolenceTrial on 7th August 1869.

Benjamin Whiteley a labourer of West Vale was charged with attacking and robbing John Chester a factory operative of Lindwell, Greetland on the highway at Greetland. A young man named John Ramsden, a cotton spinner, of West Vale had been charged along with the prisoner.

Superintendent Captain Ormsby believed Ramsden was innocent and made a witness in the case.

Prosecutor said he was at the Shears Inn, West Vale, and the prisoner was in the house at the time, sitting by his side. He had to change a sovereign and was given change by the landlord. He left the house at about 10 minutes past 12 with George Heywood. When he had got to Brow Bridge, prisoner came up behind him and put his arm round his neck, there being a young man with him at the time. Prisoner threw him down and lay upon him until he had searched his pockets. The prisoner took a purse containing two half sovereigns and other ten shillings in silver loose in his pocket.

He called out

Murder, police

when another man, his mate, held him down by the leg. This man was Ramsden. Both men ran away.

He then returned to the Shears Inn as did Ramsden. The police Sergeant searched Ramsden in the presence of the prisoner and found eighteen pence upon him. John Ramsden was called and he said the prisoner followed him out and saw him knock a man whom he had since been told was prosecutor. The man called out


the prisoner being upon him but he did not see prisoner put his hand in the prosecutor's pocket. George Heywood, a scutcher, of West Vale, said the prisoner and the prosecutor were in the Shears Inn sat on the opposite side of the room.

After the prosecutor had left, the prisoner said he wanted to go to the petty. Prisoner then went and then came back later bleeding saying he had been robbed by two men.

Abraham Stott, a cotton winder of West Vale was also in the Shears Inn and gave similar evidence. He said that when the prosecutor later saw the prisoner he said

That is the man who has done it

Prisoner denied it. Sgt Bridgehouse said the prosecutor told him that he had been robbed and he went to the Shears Inn and arrested the prisoner. On searching him he found eighteen pence in money, a snuff box, and a demand note from his landlord stating that

If this is not paid this week, we shall distrain on Monday

Prisoner said in defence

If it is the last breath I am going to draw, I have nothing to do with this crime

He was committed for trial at the Sessions, bail being allowed


© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 16:07 / 11th May 2021 / 5753

Page Ref: X482

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