The Shocking Tragedy at Denaby Main – Sensational Evidence

May 1895

Mexborough South Yorkshire Times May 3, 1895

The Shocking Tragedy at Denaby Main
The Injured Woman’s Statements
Sensational Evidence

William Dransfield was again placed in the dock on Saturday, charged with attempting to murder wife, Sarah Dransfield, and further, with attempting to commit suicide on the afternoon of Sunday 14th of April.

The court was filled with persons interested in the case, which has aroused great excitement in Denaby Main, Conisborough and district. The prisoner was before the bench on Saturday the 20th inst., when medical evidence as to the state of the injured woman was taken, her condition being then thought precarious. The case was remanded until Saturday the 27th, by which time it was thought the prosecutrix might be able to appear.

All having gone on favourably, Mrs Dransfield was accordingly able to appear to give evidence as to the ferocious attack which she has been the subject. During the hearing, she was accommodated with a chair. Her neck, face et cetera, were swayed in linen bandages, her fearful injuries being far from healed. The prisoner, Dransfield, also appeared to be in a feeble state, and once or twice he asked for a glass of water.

Mr Baddiley, solicitor, appeared to prosecute, and in his opening speech said that the case that they proposed first to go into with regard to the prisoner was that of attempting to murder his wife, Sarah Dransfield.

It appeared that the prisoner, William Dransfield, had for some time been working as a miner at Pontefract. On Wednesday the 16th of the present month, he came on to Denaby, and went to the house in which his wife was staying, and remained there until the Saturday. On the Saturday morning, however he left, and went to stay at the house of a neighbour. Now, on Sunday morning, the 16th, he was at the back door of this house, and his wife was near her home door, which was some houses off.

He then beckoned for her to come to him, which she did and he asked her if she was going away with him. She answered no, she was going into the workhouse. He then, without warning pulled a knife out of his pocket, and stabbed her in the abdomen. He then inflicted terrible wounds upon her face and neck. A neighbour Mrs Oldfield, saw what was been done, and screamed out, which brought husband on the scene, not the prisoner away. He then went away and proceeded to cut his own throat, which would be the subject of a further charge. Mr Baddiley then called the injured woman.

Sarah Dransfield was questioned as follows:

Mr Badley: your name is Sarah Dransfield?

You are the wife of the prisoner, William Dransfield? – Yes

Some time ago your husband went to Pontefract to work? – Yes

Five months ago? – Yes

Did he generally come home to Conisborough every week? – Until about Christmas

Did you receive a letter from him on the ninth? – Yes

You know your husband’s handwriting? – He can’t write

Did he come on 19 April – yes Wednesday

what did you say to him? – I asked him what he had come home for

What did you reply? – “What do you think I’ve come for?”

What did you say – “you will get locked up now you have come home.”

What did you mean by that – He owed £2 to a man in Barnsley, with seven children, and he wouldn’t pay it.

What reply did you make to that? – He said, “I don’t care whether I am not. If I’m locked all I shall come out again.”

Anything else? – He said, “if they’d to lock me up I shall do both of you a job.”

What did he mean by both of you? – Mr Woottan and me.

When should he have returned to work? – On the Saturday morning.

Where do he you go then? – To John Houghton’s, a neighbour, a few doors off. He stayed there until Saturday night.

Now, about 1 o’clock on Saturday were you standing at your back door? – Yes, about three doors off.

While you were standing there did you see your husband? – He was sitting on his heels against the back door.

Did he say anything? – He beckoned for me to go to him three times – did you go? – Yes, the third time.

What the say to you? – Why didn’t you come sooner?

What did you say? – Because I didn’t want to. What do you want?

He replied, “Are you going on the tramp with me tomorrow?

And what did you reply? – I said, no. I couldn’t walk to Mexborough and back. I’m going to the work house in the morning.

What then? – He pulled a knife out of his pocket and ran it into my body, saying; Take that you – – –

The knife was open in his pocket, he had it ready when he shouted me

how did he first use the knife? – He ran it into me; he said nothing else.

Were you wearing that skirt and apron? (Produced) – yes, I was cleaning the windows.

What did he next do? – He can’t me by the back of the head with his one hand, taking the knife out of my body with the other. He then tried to cut my throat.

How did he injure you? – He cut my here in our, and my cheat was cut open, and the skin on my throat was severed stop

did you say anything? – No

Did Mrs Oldfield come up? – She screamed out as loud as she could, and a little boy also screamed.

Mr Oldfield then came up, and catching him by his neck with one hand knocked him across the yard with the other.

What did your husband do? – He ran away for about 20 hours and called out, “I miss, I’ve missed, I’ve missed, “as he ran.

I then fell into Mr Oldfield’s arms – where was your husband then?

In the middle of the yard, calling out, “Is the – – – dead,” and “If she is I don’t care a – – – for the scaffold.”I didn’t seem again.

Have you since been attended by doctors Gilchrist? – Yes, twice a day.

Prisoner, on being asked if you wish to question his wife, replied, “No, I’m not in my right mind.”

Eliza Oldfield, wife of John Oldfield, miner of Denaby Main, was questioned as follows:.

Mr Badley: Did the prisoner come to your house for lodgings and stay till Saturday night? – Yes.

did you seem on the Sunday morning estimate – yes, he asked me if I seen his wife that morning, and I answered no this was about 1 o’clock.

Did he say anything else? – Yes he said: if you see her tell her I want to speak to her.

Where had he been during the morning?

He had been out many times.

Where were you at 1 o’clock? – I went across the yard fetch some water and the prisoner and Mrs Dransfield. Talking against the door. I heard him say, “Are you going with me in the morning? And Mrs Dransfield answered that she was going into the work house. When she said that I saw that Mr Dransfield was looking vexed, and as I didn’t want to listen I went in at my door.

Soon after I heard a scream, and someone say “Oh! Oh!” and on getting out found that the prisoner was in the act of cutting her throat. My husband then not the prisoner off.

What became of him?

He went away and called, “I’ve Missed,” three times. I don’t know what he meant by missing. He then cut his own throat and Mrs Dransfield fell into my husband’s arms

John Oldfield, miner, 36, Edlington Street, Denaby Main, deposed to the prisoner coming to his house on the Wednesday asking If he could stop till Monday or Tuesday. Witness consented. On Sunday afternoon about 1 o’clock he heard his wife scream for help. Witness immediately ran out of the back door. The prisoner just drove the knife away from his wife’s neck. He could identify the night. He then ran away shouting, “I’ve missed,” three times. Mrs Dransfield fell into witnesse’s arms, and a doctor was sent for.

Question as to whether the prisoner was sober or not, witness said he had had no beer with him that morning.

William Wootton, 28 Edlington Street, said he was a miner and worked at Denaby Main pit. He was a widower. Prisoner and his wife came to lodge at his house about 60 months ago. Prisoner was then working at Denaby Main he (prisoner) lost his work at Denaby about seven months ago, and got a job at Monk Bretton, and some time after at Pontefract. He used to come home pretty regular up to Christmas to see his wife, who kept house for witness. Prisoner came home on Wednesday, the 10th, and he and his wife had some quarrel on Wednesday night. Nothing took place on the Thursday. On the Saturday morning he had intended to go back, but on be questioned upon his protracted stay he allegedly found a job at the new pits. Witness then told to go away, or get a place to keep him and his wife. Prisoner left his house on the Saturday morning at 10 o’clock.

Prisoner (to witness): Why did you turn me out?

Witness: because I couldn’t keep you. I told you before you went away to keep yourself.

Prisoner: I’ve given my wife money for our lodging.

Witness: I’ve never seen you.

Dr Gilchrist, Bachelor of Medicine, practising in Denaby Main was next sworn, and deposed to being sent for on the afternoon of Sunday, the 14th go to number 28 Edlington Street Denaby Main. He accordingly went, found a woman in a state of total collapse. She was suffering from two large rooms in the face, one, starting an inch behind the left ear, and extending to the middle of the cheek once had a little lower reaching the mouse. There was also a wound about 1 ½ inches in size to the body. He attended to the injuries, and the prosecutrix had since been under his care. The wounds were such as might have been caused by the knife (produced).

Police constable Truman, swore to apprehending the prisoner at new Conisbrough on April 14. On being formally charged he replied:

“yes, I’ve done it. I hope she’s dead stop I don’t care. Our swim for it tomorrow like a man. I was sleeping with her Friday night and thought I would do it then, but I thought I would try again.” Prison are also alleged that his wife had been guilty of immoral conduct while he was away. He afterwards said: “I have come home with the intention of murdering my wife; I can’t go on any longer.”

The evidence having been read.

Prisoner in answer to the charge said: I don’t remember doing it. I be very low in the mind lately. I have been having a sup of beer at home. I’ve been in the East Indies for nearly 11 years, and have been affected by the sun of it. I don’t remember any witnesses.

The prisoner was committed to take his trial at the next assizes.