KNOTTINGLEY INQUEST REPORTS
FROM THE WAKEFIELD ARCHIVES
Ref: C493 - K2/1/30 number 1491
Inquest into the death of THOMAS CUNNINGHAM, 20th November 1868, at
the house of George Earnshaw, Railway Hotel, Knottingley.
Ann Cunningham of Moorhouse Row, Knotting a widow says: Deced was my
husband a 61 year old Licensed Hawker of Earthenware. He has generally
enjoyed good health. He was generally strong but about 9 years ago he
was ruptured whilst running to get up to a cart in which I and my son
was riding. He has regularly worn a truss. Last Wednesday morning about
8 o'clock we got up and Bernard Fisher whom I have known a long time as
a Tinman came in. He has for some time travelled about and lived in a
caravan and sometimes in a house. He left a house in Moorhouse Row about
three weeks ago. Last Wednesday morning when deced and I and our son
Richard (who is 19 years old) were about to get our breakfast, Bernard
came in and said "Come out Dick and fight." My son replied that he would
not go to fight and was not able to fight. I told Bernard to go out and
thrust him out. He appeared to be sober. He swore and said if my son
would go out he could kill him. My son did not go out but my husband
went out and said " Go away we don't want any falling out here." Bernard
went toward the turnpike road. I shut the door when deced went out.
Directly after he went out I heard women screaming. A woman came and
knocked at my door and I looked out and saw deced who was being held up
by 2 men. Deced was brought into the house. I went for a doctor. On
getting back deced was in bed. I never heard him speak after he went out
of the house. He died yesterday afternoon about 3 o'clock. I did not see
anything in Bernards hands. Deced was not out of the house above a
minute or two altogether. Last Tuesday evening about 6 o'clock I was at
the yard end and heard a noise and went out and found Bernard and my son
fighting. My husband was coming on the road with a can of water. He put
down the can and went to Bernard and my son and tried to separate them.
My husband was knocked down twice. On getting into the house I saw deced
was bleeding from the left cheek bone and his nose end. He also
complained of pain in his left ankle which was very much swollen.
William Naylor of Moorhouse Row a Thrower in the Pottery says: I knew
deced very well. Last Wednesday morning about 8 o'clock I heard him and
Barnie Fisher and I went out. Fisher said "You're a damned old
hypocrite." They were meeting one another . Deced said "he has you under
his finger and thumb." Fisher then struck deced on nose and mouth with
his fist. Deced immediately fell backwards with his head on a small
piece of limestone. Fisher immediately went away. I helped carry deced
into his house. I saw him trying to get his son and Barnie who were
fresh on Tuesday evening. Deced was then struck and knocked down.
Benjamin Hartley of the Street, Knottingley, Tinman, says: Last Wednesday
morning about 8 o'clock I saw deced come out of his house in a passion.
He stooped down to lace his boots. I did not hear what he and Barnie
said. They appeared to be quarrelling. I went to them and took deced to
his own door and his son pulled him into the house but he came out
directly I and Fisher who is also called Crosby and Andrew Wilson then
went towards the gate and a woman screamed out " He's killed the child."
Barnie's brother lives next door to the deced. Barnie went back and on
returning he met deced and struck him with his right hand fist about the
mouth. Deced fell and I went to him and helped Naylor to carry him into
the house. Blood flowed from his mouth and the back of his head.
Thomas Edward Gaggs Bywater of Knottingley a Surgeon says: I saw deced
last Wednesday night at his own house. He was unconcious and paralysed
on the right side. There was a scalp wound about an inch long on the
upper and back of the right side of his head. The left cheek was swollen
and was cut by the teeth. I made a post mortem examination of the body
this morning. The skull was not fractured.. He then goes on to describe
the findings of his examination on other parts of the body before
concluding: In my opinion the cause of death was extravasation of blood
in the substance of the cerebrum and left ventricle of the brain. The
rupture of the vessel causing the extravasation would be in my opinion
produced most likely by a violent blow or fall on the upper part of the
Verdict: Manslaughter against Bernard Fisher - a warrant was issued for
his apprehension to appear at next Assizes in Leeds.