The Attempted Wife Murder at Rotherham

November 1876

Sheffield Independent, November 3, 1876

The Attempted Wife Murder at Rotherham

At the Rotherham police court, yesterday, before B.E.C.Chambers Esq, Mayor and J Yates, Esq, James Beech, filler at Denaby main colliery, was brought up on remand charged with shooting at, with intent to murder, Mary Jane Beach, his wife, in the Dusty Miller Inn, Rotherham, on the night of the 30th ult. Mr Packwood prosecuted.

The prisoner is a young man, 25 years of age, and his wife is about 20, and when she was married to him in March last he was a widower. However, he was subsequently in default of finding sureties to keep the peace, committed to gaol for three months for abusing his parents, and during his incarceration she accepted a situation as a domestic servant at theDusty Miller Inn. When he was released she returned to him at Denaby, but owing to his cruelty she left, and went again to the Dusty Miller. The prisoner visited her on Monday, and in the evening, whilst in the kitchen, the prisoner pulled out a pistol, charged to the muzzle, and fired at her. The cap exploded, but the powder was not ignited, and she escaped uninjured. He then attempted to use a second pistol, but was prevented. The police were then sent for, and the prisoner was locked up.

Mary Jane Beech deposed: I am the wife of the prisoner stop I live with him after our marriage, until June, when he went to gaol. I then went to Dusty Miller, as a servant. I joined him at the end of the three months, but I left him again. A week ago Ireturned to Mr Oldfield´s (the Dusty Miller). On Monday morning last he came to Dusty Miller, and he lounged about the premises during the day. About nine o’clock in the evening my husband came into the kitchen, and asked me to come to the doorstep with him, but I refused. He next asked for a light for his pipe, and William Steer gave him one. He then pulled a pistol out of his pocket, pointed it at my head and the cap exploded.Mr Oldfield, the landlord, came into the room, and with the assistance of William Steer took the pistol from the prisoner. I then left the room.

Answering the prisoner: I did not tell you to give your father a downright good hiding before you went to prison, nor did I say if you were sent to gaol I would go to a place. I did not say that I wish you had killed the old d -. I said I would do my duty by your child (by the former wife). I did not refuse to do anything for you. When at Denaby I saw you putting buttons on your shirt, but I was mending a clean one for you, which you would not put on. I told you on Monday that I will come to you if you had only a week’s wages in your hands. You had a respectable place for me to go to. Your mother had taken your child, and I said she had better keep it. I promised to go out with you on Monday night at seven, and then at 6:30, and then I refused to go out because I suspected your intention.

William Steer, Moulder, Westgate, Rotherham, stated that he was in the kitchen at the Dusty Miller on Monday night, and Mrs Beech and the prisoner, were also there. The prisoner drew out a pistol and fired it at his wife, but only the cap exploded. Witness caught him by the race, and Mr Oldfield then came in. Witness took the pistol from the prisoner, who tried to get away, and fumbled his pocket, from which another young fellow took a second pistol, which was also loaded and capped. The prisoner said to witness, “I´ll do you.”

George Adam Oldfield, landlord of the Dusty Miller, said that he heard a noise in the kitchen, and he went to see what the matter was. He heard the explosion of the cap, and saw Steer holding the prisoner by the right wrist, the pistol being still in his hand. The prisoner was endeavouring to get something out of his pocket when witness seized him by the hand, and a second pistol, loaded to the muzzle, was drawn from his pocket.

John Birks, an apprentice to Mr Dobson, Ironmonger, Rotherham, said that on Monday afternoon, about five o’clock, the prisoner came into the shop and asked to be shown some cheap pistols. He bought one (produced), and also half a pound of shot, one pennyworth of pistol caps, and three pennyworth of the best powder. He came again about 6:30, and bought another pennyworth of caps. He likewise asked some common powder, not the best, and he purchased to pennyworth. He could not identify the second pistol. The powder now produced was the common sort. The shots he bought were number six or seven, very small, and were similar to those produced.

Police Constable Berry stated that he went to the Dusty Miller and there took the prisoner into custody. He received the pistols, both of which were loaded to the muzzle and capped, the cap on one having been exploded. He charged the prisoner with shooting at his wife with intent to murder her, and he replied, “I’ve nowt to say to thee.” Witness brought him into the police station and on the way he said, “I wish I had shot the b -; I would like to swing for her.” He repeated these words when he got to the police office. The prisoner was searched, and in his pocket were found powder, shot, and caps. The charges of both pistols were drawn, and were found to consist of powder and shot.

The prisoner made no defence, and was committed to take his trial at the Assizes.

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