Sheffield Independent – Saturday 16 October 1841
Wilful Murder at Darfield – The Inquest
The inquest was held on Wednesday, and by adjournment, on Thursday, at the Ring of Bells public-house, Darfield Bridge, before Thomas Badger, Esq. Having viewed the body, which lay at the Plough beer house, near the place where the fatal blow was struck, the following evidence was heard : —
Joseph Jessop, of Ardsley, shoemaker, said : I and John Downing were coming home from Barnsley fair, on Monday night, about eight o’clock, and just before we got to Oaks lane end, near Mearsbro’ hill, I saw two men on horseback, one of them was Joseph Lodge, of Wombwell. Two men were walking on the pavement, just anent Lodge and his companion, and Lodge rode up to the causeway edge, and began to beat one of the men with his whip. It was either Marsden or Milnes. Lodge then turned his horse from the causeway, got off, and “ran after the two men on the causeway, who ran to get away. Lodge ran after them, knocked one down, and got upon him, and the man screamed out for assistance. I pulled Lodge off, who said he did not care, and he would fight me. I left hold of him, and then Lodge knocked down the other man, and got upon him, but with the assistance of some women I got him off. Lodge then went away towards Barnsley. Downing and I went to Green’s beer shop, at the top of Ardsley, and we had not been there long before Joseph Lodge and four more men came in. One of the men I knew to be Stephen Depledge. Joseph Lodge pointed to me, and said, “That’s him that pulled me off,” and he struck at me and John Woodcock. The landlord ordered Lodge and his companions out, and they all left together. It was about half-past nine.
George Rodgers, of Ardsley, constable, proved, that on Monday evening, a few minutes before nine o’clock, Wm. Lodge and his nephew came to the Coach and Horses, at Ardsley. They looked round, and the nephew said, “Where are they?” I asked who they wanted, and one said, “A chap that had stolen his brother’s hat.” He did not know his name, but his nephew knew where he lived, and Wm. Lodge swore that if they could not find him, they would go to his own house and fetch him out, and pull his liver out. Rodgers said, “You are too rash — go coolly, or you will get yourselves into trouble.” Wm. Lodge said, “They did not care for nothing, they would have him.” Joseph Lodge, who had come in, said he had been badly used on Mearsbro’ hill, and they had stolen his hat. Wm. and Joseph Lodge, John Lodge, their nephew, Stephen Depledge, and several others, all left the public- house together, about nine o’clock, and went up the town, in the direction of Darfield. Joseph Lodge and his nephew were both in their shirt sleeves. Joseph was without his hat. William had a sleeved waistcoat on.
Caroline Wake was at Green’s beer house, Ardsley, on Monday night, when the two Lodges and two or three other men came in. They looked round, and one of the Lodges said, the men are not here that we wanted. They went out, saying they would go to Darfield Bridge, and swearing they would kill the men they had been fighting with on Mearsbro’ hill. lt was one of the Lodges, but she could not say which, that said so. She should know them again. They went out towards Darfield, at half-past nine. They had no horses; one of them struck at a shoe- maker named Jessop, who was sitting in the house, but hit another man.
Charles Milnes, of Goldthorpe, labourer, said he and George Marsden, of Billingsley, had been to Barnsley fair on Monday, and were returning home about nine in the evening. As they went along the road, they saw John Lodge paying his horse; and in consequence of something a woman spoke to Lodge about not flogging his horse. Milnes said, “Never mind him; let him flog him.” On this, Joseph Lodge rode up to Marsden and Milnes, and began to flog Marsden, with his whip. Milnes said, Lodge ought to have the whip laid about him, when Lodge jumped off” his horse, and knocked Milnes down. He then ran to Marsden, and knocked him down and got upon him. Lodge again turned upon Milnes, knocked him down, and bit two of his fingers. Some women and Joseph Jessop pulled him off, and then Lodge set off towards to Barnsley, and Marsden and me came on the road towards Billingley. Lodge, in the scuffle, lost his hat, and Milnes’s was also knocked off. Marsden and Milnes picked up the hats, and brought them to the Darfield Bridge public-house. In one of the hats was written the name, “Jos. Lodge.” When Marsden and Milnes had been about ten minutes at Machell’s, the Darfield Bridge public-house, John Lodge, servant to Mr. Haigh, of Goldthorpe, and Joseph and Wm. Lodge, of Wombwell, came in. Joseph asked the company where his hat was. . It was then placed on the table in the kitchen. Joseph. Lodge took it up and said, “It is my hat; my name is in it; you brought it here, and I will make it a dear hat for you.” William Lodge was present Nothing more passed between the Lodges, me, or Marsden, at the public-house. Marsden and me went together out of the house, on the road towards Goldthorpe, our home. Before we came to the four lane-ends, leading to Doncaster, Pontefract, and Rotherham, Joseph and Wm. Lodge ran past us towards the lane-end turning towards Rotherham. They had both large sticks like hedge-stakes in their hands. They ran past me and Marsden. We did not speak to them. I can swear to them. They were the only men who passed us. One of them had a round fustian jacket on, without laps. The other had a light-coloured waist- coat on. I cannot say whether he had a waistcoat on without sleeves. Soon after they had passed us, one of the men dropped his stick. We went home, and did not hear of the murder until the next day. It was about 20 yards from the four lane-ends that the two Lodges passed us. I was sure it was them, having seen Joseph on the Mearsbro’ hill, and afterwards both of them in the public-house. Wm. Lodge came to me in the kitchen of Machell’s public-house, and said, if I would go out, Joseph should fight me. I said, I would have nothing to do with him, and he went out of the kitchen. I saw the three Lodges sitting in the window of the house, [a room of that name] in Machell’s, watching who went out of the kitchen. Whenever the door between the house and the kitchen was shut, they opened it again. Neither Marshall nor I threw any stones at Lodge on Mearsbro’ hill. George Cooper, of Millhouses, near Darfield, was at Machell’s public house on the evening in question, and sat in the kitchen, when Mr. Machell came in and de- sired him to go into the house, and charge the peace. A man in a round fustian jacket was in the kitchen, and said he wanted to know who brought in his hat. I pacified him, and got him to sit down. Three men sat in the house near the door, and when the door was shut, they opened it again, that they might watch who went out of the kitchen. The three” Lodges left the house before Marshall and his companion, but I did not see them go out. In ten or fifteen minutes afterwards, in consequence of a message from James Johnson, I went out on the road from Darfield to Doncaster, and met George Denton and William Briggs, carrying the dead body of John Depledge. When Briggs and Denton left the house, I cautioned them to keep a sharp look out, fearing that some of the young men from Billingley would be waylaid. “I feared this from having observed the three men in the house watching the door.
George Marsden, of Billingley, confirmed the evidence of Milnes, as to the original quarrel on Mearsbro’ hill. While Joseph Lodge had witness down, Lodge bit him very severely on the cheek. Himself and Milnes left the Ring of Bells with George Denton, Wm. Briggs, Eliza Briggs, Matthew Parkinson (on horseback,) Joseph and Thos. Nicholson, Depledge, and others. Parkinson rode on before them. Marsden and Milnes walked on quicker than the rest. When they got near the four lane ends, two men passed them, running as fast as they could. One of them let a large stick or a stake fall as they passed. He believed the two men were two of those they had seen at Machell’s, and one of them was the man that owned the hat. He had no doubt they were two of the Lodges.
Smith Machell, landlord of the Ring of Bells public house, Darfield Bridge, confirmed the evidence of the former witnesses, that the three Lodges came to his house on the night in question, sober; but Joseph Lodge had a bloody face, and would not wash it. Charles Milnes was in the kitchen, and he also had a bloody face. He said the three men in the other room had abused him on Mearsbro’ hill. I asked him to stay all night. One of the three Lodges went into the kitchen to speak to Milnes, and then returned into the house. In consequence of some person having spoken disrespectfully of them, one of the Lodges pulled off his coat in the house, and wanted to fight. I produced my staff, and prevented it. Deceased and several others were in another room, and was not in the same company with the Lodges, nor with Marsden and Milnes. The three Lodges sat together, whispering frequently, and watching the kitchen door.
Elizabeth Machell, landlady, confirmed the evidence as to the coming of the three Lodges to the Ring of Bells. Two of them came first, and soon after then John came in. One of them had his face bloody, and had no coat on. The other had a jacket on. She asked the man with a bloody face what was the matter; and he said he had been in an affray on Mearsbro’ hill, and had been ill used. She asked him if he thought the party were in the house, and he said he could not tell. Joseph Lodge afterwards went into the kitchen, and asked her to be witness that Milnes had stolen his hat Lodge then stood by Milnes, and had the hat in his hand. Every time, she shut the door between the kitchen and the house, one of the Lodges opened it. The deceased sat in another room with Denton and two young women. They were not in company with Marshall or Milnes.
George Denton, of Billingsley, said, that Thomas Depledge, farming servant to Mr. Timothy Heppenstall, of Billingsley, with himself, Wm. Briggs, James Johnson, James Denton, and others, were returning home from Barnsley fair, when they stopped for refreshment at Machell’s. They were a company to themselves. They stopped an hour or two, and when they went out, between ten and eleven o’clock, a caution was given to them by George Cooper, who told them to look out, for he was afraid there was going to be something there should not be. Marshall and Milnes came out at the same time; but at a little distance from the house, walked on before the rest. Depledge also passed before the rest, but not so far ahead as Marshall and Milnes. Two men then overtook the party, and passed them sharply. As they passed, one of them said to Briggs, ” How goes it my hearty?” Briggs replied, “How goes it?” Joseph Lodge was one, but I cannot speak to the other man. Briggs slipped off the causeway, to let the men pass, and when they had gone by, said, “Now, we must look out— there’s going to be something to do.” We walked on, and quickly heard a loud stroke. We ran forward, and found Depledge laid on his back on the road. We raised him up, but he could not stand. He was bleeding from the mouth and nose, and we found that he was dead. Johnson ran back to the inn for assistance, and we removed the body to the Plough beer house. The nose of the deceased was flattened. “He was 21 years old. The men who passed were neither Marshall nor Milnes. They were considerably in advance of us on the road.
William Briggs confirmed the evidence of the last wit- ness. The two men who passed them had both hedge- stakes or large sticks in their hands. They were Wm. and Joseph Lodge. It was Joseph Lodge who spoke to him. He knew them well. He took the more particular notice, in consequence of the caution Cooper had given them at coming out. When they found Depledge laid on the ground, he rattled slightly in his throat. When the men passed, I said there would be a row of those before did not get out of the way. I believe Depledge went forward to warn Marshall and Milnes.
Matthew Parkinson, of Billingsley, butcher, observed the three Lodges at Machell’s, and heard them say, when they went out, they were going. He went to the door, and saw them at the Pinfold lane end, which is near the house. He heard one say to the other, you must send my coat and smock home. He left the house at the same time as Marshall, Milnes, Depledge, and others, but he rode on before them. Hearing a whistle, however, he turned back, and met Marshall and Milnes in advance of the rest He enquired what was the matter? They said nothing, and then he turned his horse again and rode home.
James Denton, another of the party, gave confirmatory evidence.
Elizabeth Briggs, 18 years of age, who was with the party on the road, said she saw two men pass them, one of whom had a hedge stake, and his shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows. I took particular notice of him.—Witness confirmed the evidence of the preceding witnesses as to the blow which they heard and the finding of the body of the deceased. She said she could swear to the men if she saw them. Had not seen them before they overtook them on the road, and passed them. The man who spoke to my brother had his face all grazed and bloody. The other man’s coat was dirty.
John Lodge, nephew of William and Joseph Lodge, servant to Mr. John Haigh, of Goldthorpe, said, he was at Machell’s house, on Monday evening, with his uncles. When he left to go home, they went with him to the toll- bar above Darfield bridge. He then went straight home, and saw them no more. He got home about twenty minutes before 12. When he left them, they said they were going up the churchyard home. He was with them at Barnsley fair, and when on the road home, they had a quarrel with Marshall and Milnes, of Billingsley. Joseph and Milnes fought, and Milnes shouted that Joseph had bit him. He helped a man to take Joseph Lodge off Milnes. Joseph and John Lodge went to Marshal’s with him. We followed Milnes to Darfield Bridge public house, for Joseph Lodge’s hat William Lodge asked Milnes for the hat; and when it was found, Joseph would not have it. He said he would try another fancy for it- he would make Milnes pay for knocking his hat off on the causeway. I stripped to fight with a man in the house that I did not know. I did not see Depledge there. My uncles had had no quarrel with Depledge. When we were at the top of Ardsley I told them they had better go home, and fetch the hat in the morning. We left Machell’s together. We did not go up Pinfold lane. They went with me to the bar. This witness was detained in custody till the second day. He persisted in denying that he knew his uncles had any design to waylay Marshall and Milnes.
Messrs. Birman, of Wath, and Moore, of Rotherham, surgeons, having examined the body of the deceased, gave it as their opinion that the wound on the face was the cause of death, and was such a wound as would be inflicted by a large stick or hedgestake. The cartilage of the nose was carried away by the stroke, and part of the bone was driven into the head. It would cause instant death.
Norman, the constable of Darfield, and Thomas Marchinton, the constable of Wombwell, proved that they went to apprehend Joseph Lodge, and found him in bed at home. Norman said, “We apprehend you for wilful murder.” Joseph Lodge asked, “Is he dead?” and Norman replied, “Dead enough.” They also apprehended William. Lodge, but he said nothing.
At the close of the proceedings on Wednesday, the evidence was read over to the prisoners, Joseph and William Lodge, when they made the following voluntary statements, having been cautioned by the Coroner.
William Lodge, aged 32, said, he was at Barnsley fair, and his brother came back there to him and said, they had taken his hat They went to seek the men who had taken it, at Ardsley, but could not find them anywhere. They went to Darfield Bridge, and there they found the men: Joseph’s hat was on a form. Joseph said, “He would not have it He would make them bring it home.” I says to him, “Take the hat, and let’s be going home.” We went out of the house right up Pinfold lane and home.
Joseph Lodge, aged 23 years, said, as me and another person were riding past some people. I had a little -bairn on the horse with me and it was- crying. They told me to make it hold its noise, and as soon a* I spoke to them, they began throwing stones at me. Then they came and pulled me off the horse, and punched me; and I followed them, for they had taken my hat. I went to the top of Ardsley, and not finding them there, I came to Darfield Bridge. I looked into the house, but there were none of them there. They told me they were in the kitchen. I said they had taken my hat, and I had come for it. They asked me if this was it, and I said yes. I put it on, and supped, and we turned up Pinfold lane, for home. I have nought else to say. No person saw me after I turned up that lane for home.
On Thursday, when the various witnesses signed their depositions, William and Joseph Lodge were brought into the room, and being mixed indiscriminately with other persons, Elizabeth Briggs pointed them out as the men who had passed the party, who had left the public-house, quickly on the road. Caroline Wake also pointed out the three Lodges. Mrs. Machell identified John Lodge, as the man who stripped to fight in the room ; and William Lodge, as him who kept opening the house door, when she shut it in order to keep the company in the house apart from those in the kitchen. George Cooper also pointed out John Lodge, as having been very eager to fight in the house. He identified the others also. Matthew. Parkinson also identified the Lodges, as having been at the public-house.
Martha Ross, servant to Mr. Haigh, of Billingley, was examined on Thursday, and corroborated the statement made by John Lodge, on the previous day, as to the time when he arrived at home. She said he had been sent by his master to the fair to sell some pigs, and he got home at night about 20 minutes to 12. She let him in, and said it was a nice time of the night to come home. As she went upstairs again, she looked at the clock. Lodge was in his shirt sleeves when he got home.
The Coroner then proceeded to call the attention of the Jury to the more prominent parts of the evidence, by which their verdict must be guided. The circumstances of this case, he remarked, were as malicious and violent as ever came before a jury. It shewed very great deliberation and wickedness of heart, to have followed from Ardsley, a distance of several miles, to Darfield, the Joseph Lodge, in the quarrel with Marsden and Milnes, betrayed a most disgraceful ferocity ; for, not satisfied with men they intended to kill ; and previously, the conduct of thrashing one man with his whip, he bit “him severely on the cheek, and when he had knocked Marshall down, he got two of his fingers in his mouth, and bit them for several minutes in a most brutal and unmanly way. Their search for the persons with whom they had quarrelled at Ardsley, and then at Darfield Bridge, shewed there was something on their minds not satisfied. It was of no consequence which of the two men struck the fatal stroke. The other being present, and concurring, was equally guilty. Nor did it make any difference in the eye of the law that they meant to murder Milnes or Marshall, and killed Depledge by mistake. Where an unlawful act is intended, where with malice expressed or implied, men provide themselves with deadly instruments for a deadly intent, if death ensues, the crime is clearly murder. In the whole course of his experience, he never knew a more cold-blooded murder, determined upon, followed up, and carried into execution. The prisoners were seen waiting at the end of Pinfold lane; they had provided themselves with fatal weapons, and with one tremendous blow, they flattened the nose of the deceased upon his face, driving the bones of the nose into the skull. If the law did not punish such crimes as this, there must be an end of civilised society.
The Jury, after consulting for a few minutes, found a verdict of Wilful Murder against William and Joseph Lodge, and the Coroner immediately issued his warrant for their committal to York Castle. The Coroner discharged John Lodge, expressing his hope that he was not a participator in the guilt of the murder, but informing him that he was still liable to be charged as an accessory to the crime, if further evidence should be discovered.
Mr. Marshall, clerk to H. C. Mence, Esq., Barnsley, appeared at the inquest, to watch and conduct the proceedings on the part of the prosecution.