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Wilful Murder at Darfield

October 1841

Sheffield Independent – Saturday 16 October 1841

Wilful Murder at Darfield.

We have this week to record one of the most malicious and deliberate murders that has ever fallen under our notice, which has naturally occasioned a great sensation, not only in the quiet and pleasant village of Darfield, where it occurred, but throughout a large district of country. We must furnish a key to the subjoined evidence by a short explanation. All the parties concerned had been to Barnsley fair. Joseph and William Lodge are boat haulers, living at Wombwell, and working on the Barnsley Canal. Thomas Depledge, the murdered man, was a farm servant, 21 years of age, living in service at Billingley, on the road from Barnsley to Doncaster. Charles Milnes, of Goldthorpe, and George Marsden, of Billingley, are the persons with whom Joseph Lodge had quarrelled, and whom, it is believed, the two Lodges intended to kill, when they murdered poor Depledge.

Mearsbro’ hill, where the quarrel between Joseph Lodge and Marsden and Milnes took place, is about a mile out of Barnsley. After the scuffle, Joseph Lodge returned towards Barnsley leaving his hat on the ground ; and Marsden and Milnes’ having picked up the hat, went forward through Ardsley to Darfield Bridge, three or four miles further on their road home. Joseph Lodge, being joined by William, by John, and by several other persons, sought Marsden and Milnes at Ardsley in vain. The right way to Wombwell, the residence of William and Joseph Lodge, was then by Stairfoot, but they went forward to Darfield Bridge, several miles out of their road, swearing vengeance against the man who had taken the hat.

At the Ring of Bells, Darfield Bridge, they found Marsden and Milnes, and recovered the hat. After an attempt to induce Milnes to go out and fight, the three Lodges sat in the other room, watching the door of the kitchen where Marsden and Milnes were, in so marked a manner that several persons seem to have observed it, and apprehended mischief. After waiting about half an hour, the Lodges went out, and then, it seems, John Lodge left them, and went home. The other two were, however, observed standing near, at the Pinfold lane end, watching the house. Between ten and eleven o’clock, the party who had to go forward on the Doncaster road left the house, some of them having been previously cautioned to beware of danger. They passed under the railway, and Parkinson, being on horseback, rode ahead. Marsden and Milnes, walking quicker than the rest, also got before the main party. At a short distance from Darfield Bridge, the road from Barnsley to Doncaster is crossed by the road from Pontefract to Rotherham, the former turning to the left, and the latter to the right When Parkinson got about to this point, he ‘ heard a whistle, which caused him to turn back, and meeting Marsden and Milnes, he enquired what was the matter. They replied, nothing; on which he again turned his horse, and rode off home.

Depledge had got about a hundred yards before the main party, with a view of warning Marsden and Milnes, when the two Lodges, armed with hedge-stakes, passed them, and Joseph Lodge spoke to William Briggs in passing. It is supposed that Depledge, hearing footsteps coming quickly behind them, turned half round, when he received from one of the Lodges a tremendous two-handed blow with a thick hedge-stake, about five feet long, that laid him dead on the ground in a moment.

The party behind heard the blow. Marsden and Milnes, being a greater distance before, did not hear it, but when they got nearly to the cross roads, the two Lodges ran past them, and turned to the right towards Rotherham. Marsden and Milnes went forward home, ignorant, until the next morning, that upon Depledge had fallen the vengeance intended for them.