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Trial of Constable George Weddell for the murder of Cuthbert Skipsey; trial of Anthony Wanless for his part in the riot

Newcastle Courant, 11 Aug 1832 - Manslaughter - Friday, 3 Aug 1832: George Weddell, a special constable, was indicted for killing and slaying Cuthbert Skipsey, a pitman, near Chirton on the night of Sunday the 8th of July. Testimony follows.
Mr George Huntley: I am a surgeon at Howdon. I remember being sent for about 8 o'clock on the night of Sunday July 8th to Dobson's public house near Chirton. I examined the body and found a wound in the left breast occasioned, in my opinion, by shot or slugs. The shot wounds were the cause of his death. His name was Cuthbert Skipsey. I knew him before; he was a workman at Percy Main Colliery. The shot had spread; there were 21 wounds in the breast.
[more details follow]
John Heckles: I am master wasteman at Percy Main Colliery...about 8 o'clock I was going from Percy Main to Chirton. I saw a man named Alexander Clark. He was sitting on his hat on a waggon-way. I saw the policemen, 5 or 6, go across the rail-road. As they went past, Clark turned around and said "I'm a pitman, but your are not - you are blacklegs.". One of the police turned back and asked what he meant by insulting them so. Another policeman came back and said "take him, neck him" and they siezed him by the collar and dragged him off...I afterward heard the report of a pistol and saw Skipsey cross his arms and walk some yards. He appeared to be in great agony. I did not see him fall. I saw one of the policeman in front of him when he clasped his hands and another policeman was at his left hand.
William Patteson, a lad: I live at Chirton gate. My father keeps the toll bar...Skipsey laid his hand on the policeman's shoulder and said "Let him be, friend, he's drunk.". The policeman said "Stand back" and shoved him off and shot him. Skipsey put his hand to his breast and fell back on the dyke side. The rest of the police had pistols and struck the men with them before Weddell fired. The pitmen had no sticks or other weapons. Before the shot was fired, I heard someone cry "Fire" - this was before Skipsey laid his hand on Weddell and before he fired.
More testimony from:
Nevison Thompson,age 14, son of Patrick Thompson of Chirton, shoemaker
Josiah Dobinson, a boy
James Wild, a boy
James Arkley, sawyer of Percy Main
W.G. Charlton, a boy
Jane Bryson, niece to Mrs. Dobson of the public house - Skipsey was in the company of Joseph Taylor when he left the pub
Joseph Taylor, pitman of Percy Main Colliery
John Charlton, Richard Cooper, Silas Dawson, and John Jewett, pitman
Michael Robson, Esq., an owner of Burdon Main Colliery - on the 5th of April a number of our pitmen struck and have since ceased to work at the pit. Since the beginning of June we have had policemen stationed about the pit.
T.J. Turnbull, clerk to the magistrates of part of Northumberland; magistrates are Mr Bigge and Mr Brandling
George Waugh, special constable, of Gateshead - we heard the report of 2 pistols. After the 2nd report, which was a signal, we ran up and found a man lying with his hat and coat off in the road. His name was Wild. There were some men about him, trying to get him away. He was struggling and very violent. The next thing I saw was a man of the name of Wanless in custody of Higgs and Corby. The mob was coming to rescue him. The mob was 2 dozen persons, mostly pitman. Gilroy & I went to assist Higgs and Corby and kept the mob off as well as we could. I saw that Wanless was wounded by a blow on the back of the head. I saw Skipsey on the hedge side; he was moving when I first saw him. We made 4 prisoners and took them to the guard house. Wanless was cut with the butt end of a pistol.
Robert Pattison, special constable, of Newcastle - was with George Waugh
Ralph Falcus, chief of constables - I took Matthew Raine with me...the man sitting on his hat on the railway made an oath and said there should be a blackleg going to work in the pit that night. His language was very bad and threatening. I turned around and desired him to go away. He said we were all blacklegs and we should go home and work. He would not leave. I and Weddell tried to remove him. He made a loud noise and threw himself on the ground...about 20 or 30 people came running from Dobson's house, from the Percy Main pit. They seized Clark and rescued him from our custody. Wild then threw off his coat and waistcoat, dared me to fight, and struck me over the head...he struck me again; I thought he was in liquor. I called for assistance. Matthew Raine was to the left of me lying on the ground. Weddell and another man dressed in blue were struggling very hard for the pistol...I heard the pistol go off on my left and then a shot immediately to my right. Higgs was struggling with Wanless for the pistol; Wanless wanted to get the pistol from Higgs...the conduct of the pitmen was so violent that I considered my life in danger. [hissing and yelling from the pitmen in the court]
Matthew Raine, special constable
John Corby, special constable
William Higgs, special constable - Wanless, a pitman, tried to take a pistol from Higgs and to prevent that, Higgs struck Wanless on the back of his head with the butt end of the pistol
Thomas Tate, Thomas Scott, and John Sheldon, grocer of Jarrow, passers-by
John Marley, John Tate, T. Forsyth, G.A. Lambert all vouched for Weddell's good character and peaceable disposition
The jury was instructed to decide if Weddell was guilty of manslaughter (i.e. fired intentionally and was not in danger of his life at the time). The jury deliberated from 1:25 a.m. to 2 a.m. and returned a guilty verdict but recommended the prisoner to mercy.
Weddell was sentenced on Aug 4th to 6 months in prison doing hard labour, the judge having believed him to be in fear of his life and firing on someone else's command. The sentence was received "with marks of disapprobation" by the body of the court.
John Wild, Anthony Wanless, Ralph Turnbull, and William Wilkinson were arraigned on the charge of assaulting Ralph Falcus, Matthew Raine, and William Higgs, policemen in the execution of their duty. Mr Cresswell for the prosecution said he would bring no evidence against Turnbull and Wilkinson and would prefer a charge of common assault against Wild and Wanless, to which they pleaded guilty. Sentenced to be imprisoned for 3 months.


File name1832-AnthonyWanlessTrial-CuthbertSkipseyKilled.pdf
File Size1.98m
Linked toCuthbert Skipsey; Anthony Muncaster Wandless

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