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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Local History

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 head.

Verdict: Manslaughter against Bernard Fisher - a warrant was issued for his apprehension to appear at next Assizes in Leeds.

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