Victorian Trials – 1850-1859

This is a list of some trials in Britain between 1850 and 1859.

This is not, of course, a definitive inventory. It is likely that details of the case were reported in the news. If you can find the name you are searching please make contact by using the enquiry form. I will see if any archive material is available. If you cannot find the person you are searching don’t worry – please enquire anyway. I will do a search and get back to you.

The data for these British trial pages is sourced from references more than 100 years old and took a long time to transcribe and digitise for the internet. They make fascinating reading and create temptation for us to find out more. They cover all life from murder to executions, libel, slander, bankruptcy, love affairs, divorce, wills, land disputes – it’s all there for us to discover and read about in the newspapers generations on.

I have transcribed these pages as faithfully as possible with little change to the language and style. I have taken time-out to remove any references that, today, we might find racist or offensive (as language and attitudes towards life has changed dramatically since the days of these court proceedings).

Walter Watts lessee of the Olympic theatre for forgery &c, 10 May, 1850

Robert Pate, a retired lieutenant for an assault on the queen, 11 July, 1850

The Sloanes man and wife, for starving their servant Jane Wilbred, 5 Feb, 1851

The Board of Customs v the London Dock Com­pany, on a charge of defrauding the revenue of duties a trial of 1 days ended in a virtual ac­quittal, 18 Feb, 1851

Sarah Chesham, for murder of husband by poison she had murdered several of her children and others by the same means hanged, 6 March, 1851

Thomas Drory, for the murder of Jael Denny hanged, 7 March, 1851

Doyle v Wright, concerning the personal custody of Miss Augusta Talbot a Roman catholic ward of chancery before the lord chancellor protracted case, 22 March, 1851

The murderers of the rev George Edward Holiest of Frimley Surrey guilty, 31 March, 1851

Achilli V ‘Newman, for libel tried before lord chief justice Campbell in the Queen’s Bench verdict for the plaintiff Nov 1851, 31 Jan, 1852

Miller v Alderman Salomons MP, for voting as a member without having taken the required oath ver­dict against the defendant, 19 April, 1852

The case “Bishop of London v the rev Mr Glad­stone” judgment of the Arches court against the defendant, 10 June, 1852

Lord Frankfort, for scandalous and defamatory libels guilty, 3 Dec, 1852

Richard Bourke Kirwan for the murder of his wife guilty, 10 Dec, 1852

Eliot Bower, for murder of Mr Saville Morton at Paris acquitted, 28 Dec, 1852

Henry Horler, for murder of his wife hanged at the Old Bailey, 15 Jan, 1853

James Barbour for murder of Robinson hanged at York, 15 Jan, 1853

George Sparkes and James Hitchcock, for the mur­der of William Blackmore at Exeter guilty, 19 March, 1853

Five Frenchmen (principal and seconds), for the murder of a sixth Frenchman in a duel at Egham verdict manslaughter, 21 March, 1853

Moore and Walsh, for the murder of John Black­burn at Stafford hanged, 21 March, 1853

Saunders, for murder of Mr Toler hanged at Chelmsford, 30 March, 1853

The Stackpole famil, four in number two of them females and wives to the others for the murder of their relative also a Stackpole hanged at Ennis, 28 April, 1853

Case of Holy Cross Hospital Winchester, decided against rev earl of Guildford, 1 Aug, 1853

Smyth v Smyth ended in the plaintiff being com­mitted on a charge of forging the will on which he grounded his claim, 8 Aug, 1853

The Braintree, case respecting liability to church-rates decided by the house of lords against the rate, 12 Aug, 1853

Case of Lumley v Gye, respecting Mdlle Wagner decided, 22 Feb, 1854

Mr Jeremiah Smith, mayor of Rye convicted of perjury 2 March, 1854

Duchess of Manchester’s, will case, April, 1854

Mr Carden, for abduction of Miss E Arbuthnot and assault upon John Smithwick convicted, 28 July, 1854

Mary Anne Brough, for murdering her six children not guilty (insanity), 9 Aug, 1854

Case of Pierce Somerset Butler v viscount Mountgarret, verdict for plaintiff who thus came into a peerage defendant being proved illegitimate, Aug, 1854

Courts-martial on lieuts Perry and Greer, sen­tences reversed by lord Hardinge, 29 July-Aug, 1854

Courts-martial on sir E Belcher captain McClure &c, for abandoning their ships in the Arctic regions acquitted, Oct, 1854

Emanuel Barthelemy for murder of Charles Collard and Mr Moore (executed), 4 Jan, 1855

Handcock v Delacour otherwise De Burgh (cruelty

to Mrs Handcock and charges against lord Clanricarde) compromised
Earl of Sefton v Hopwood (will set aside), 1855

Luigi Baranelli, for murder of Joseph Latham (or Lambert) (executed 30 April), 12 April, 1855

Charles King, a great thief-trainer transported, 13 April, 1855

Wm Austin (governor), for cruelties in Birming­ham gaol acquitted, 3 Aug, 1855

Sir John Dean Paul William Strahan and Robert M Bates, bankers for disposing of their cus­tomers’ securities (to the amount of £113625), 27 Oct, 1855

Joseph Wooler, on charge of poisoning his wife acquitted, 7 Nov, 1855

Westerton v Liddell, (on decorations &c in church in Knightsbridge decision against them), 5 Dec, 1855 [Decided again by privy council partly for both parties each to pay his own costs 21 March 1857]

Celestina Sommers, for murder of her child convicted (but reprieved), 6 March, 1856

William Palmer for murder of J P Cook by poison, 14-27 May, 1856 [He was executed at Stafford on 14 June in the pre­sence of 50000 persons If he had been ac­quitted he would have been tried for the murder of his wife and brother]

William Dove, for murder of his wife (executed 9 Aug), 19 July, 1856

Ditcher v archdeacon Denison, respecting the doc­trine of the eucharist defendant deprived and appeal disallowed [verdict set aside by privy council], 22 Oct, 1856

W S Hardwicke and H Attwell, convicted of forgery, 31 Oct, 1856

William Robson, for frauds of Crystal Palace Com­pany (to the amount of about £28000) trans­ported for twenty years, 1 Nov, 1856

Earl of Lucan v Daily News, for libel verdict for defendant, 3 Dec 1856

Pearce Burgess and Tester, gold robbery, 14 Jan, 1857

Leopold Redpath, for forgeries (to the amount of £150000) upon Great Northern railway com­pany transported for life, 16 Jan, 1857

Jem Saward, a barrister (called the Penman) William Anderson and others convicted of extensive forgery of bankers’ cheques, 5 March, 1857

Miss Madeline Smith, on charge of poisoning Emile L’Angelier at Glasgow not proven, 30 June-9 July, 1857

Thos Fuller Bacon, for poisoning his mother con­victed, 25 July, 1857 [He was acquitted on a charge of murdering two children 13 14 May same year His wife con­fessed the murder but appeared to be insane]

James Spollen, on charge of murder of Mr Little near Dublin acquitted, 7-11 Aug, 1857

W Attwell, and others convicted of stealing the countess of Ellesmere’s jewels (value £15000) from the top of a cab, 15 Dec, 1857

Strevens v Campion, for slander in charging the plaintiff with complicity in the murder of his aunt Mrs Kelly damages 6d, 31 Dec, 1857

The directors of the British Bank, Humphry Brown Edw Esdaile H D Macleod alderman R H Kennedy W D Owen James Stapleton and Hugh Tunes Cameron for fraud convicted, 13-27 Feb, 1858

Rev S Smith and his wife, for murderous assault on John Leech convicted, 6-7 April, 1858

Edward Auchmuty Glover MP, for false declaration of qualification of MP, 9 April, 1858

Simon Bernard as accessory to the conspiracy against the life of the emperor Napoleon acquitted, 12-17 April, 1858

The earldom of Shrewsbury, case earl Talbot’s claim allowed, 1 June, 1858

James Seal, for the murder of Sarah Guppy con­victed (and executed), 23 July, 1858

The Berkeley, peerage case, 23 July, 1858

Patience Swynfen v F Swynfen, a will case the will affirmed, 27 July, 1858 [The plaintiff was Patience Swynfen widow of Henry John Swynfen son of the testator Samuel Swyn­fen Her husband died 15 June 1854 and his father on 16 July following having made a will 19 days before his death devising the Swynfen estate (worth about £60000) to his son’s wife but leaving a large amount of personal estate un­disposed of The defendant F H Swynfen son of the testator’s eldest half-brother claimed the estate as heir-at-law on the ground of the testator’s insanity The issue was brought to trial in March 1856 but proceedings were stayed by Mrs Swynfen’s counsel sir F Thesiger entering into an agreement with the opposite counsel sir Alex­ander Cockburn without her consent and in de­fiance of her instructions After various pro­ceedings the court of chancery ordered a new trial ‘She gained her cause mainly through the energy of her counsel Mr Chas R Kennedy to whom she had promised to pay £20000 for his extraordinary services Mrs Swynfen however married a Mr Broun and repudiated Mr Ken­nedy’s claim The latter in an action against her obtained a verdict in his favour on 29 March 1862 which was on appeal finally reversed in Feb 1864 Mrs Swynfen was non-suited in an action brought against her counsel (afterwards lord Chelmsford and lord chancellor) in July 1859 and June 1860]

Lemon Oliver a stockbroker convicted of extensive frauds, 10 Nov, 1858

Marchmont v Marchmont, a disgraceful divorce case begun, 30 Nov, 1858

W H Guernsey, for stealing Ionian despatches from the Colonial Office acquitted, 15 Dec, 1858

Evans v Evans and Rose, divorce case, Dec, 1858

Lieut-col Dickson v earl of Wilton, for libel verdict for the plaintiff, 14 Feb, 1859

Black v Elliott, 850 sheep poisoned by a sheep-wash sold by defendant damages £1400 23 Feb, 1859

Wagner Bateman and others, a gang of bank forgers convicted, 13 May, 1859

Earl of Shrewsbury v Hope Scott, and others the earl gains the Shrewsbury estates, 3 June, 1859

The llusson, will case decided, 9 June, 1859

T R Marshall E A Mortimer and H S Eicke convicted of illegal sale of army commissions, 29 June, 1859

Thomas Smethurst, a surgeon for the murder by poison of Isabella Bankes whom he had married during his wife’s lifetime convicted, 15-19 Aug, 1859 [He was reprieved on the ground of insufficient evi­dence but was tried and found guilty of bigamy 16 Nov 1859 On 11 Nov 1862 he proved Miss Bankes’s will and obtained her property]

Oakley v the Moulvie Ooddeen, “ambassador of the king of Oude” Verdict for the defendant who seems to have fallen among bill-sharpers, 17 Dec, 1859

Victorian Trials – 1850-1859