Saturday, 28 December 2013

Thomas William Alexander turns violent

They certainly rattled through justice in the old days. Within a week of attacking his wife, Alexander was in court.

He was a lucky man - the charge was considerably reduced in seriousness before the trial kicked off:

"Serious Charge.—At Newark on Monday, before the Mayor (Ald. Pratt) and other Justices, Mr. Thomas William Alexander, of the firm of Howe and Alexander, brewers, Newark, was brought up on remand charged with attempting to murder his wife.—Mr. C. W. HAIGH prosecuted, and Mr. W. H. NORLEDGE defended.—Mr. HAIGH asked that the charge of feloniously wounding with intent to murder might be withdrawn and one of aggravated assault substituted, as there was not sufficient evidence to support the graver charge. — The Bench consented to the charge being reduced to one of cutting and wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm."
Stamford Mercury - Friday 06 April 1888, page 5.

I'm sure that the potential sentence would be much higher for attempted murder than aggravated assault.

First the doctor who had treated Mrs Alexander gave evidence.

"Dr. Lucas said on the 26th March he was called to see Mrs. Alexander soon after ten in the morning. Her face was very swollen, her eyes blackened, and her neck marked with contusions or bruises. A very shallow incised wound was on the left cheek. That, in his opinion, was caused by a knife or sharp instrument. There was a deeper incised wound the base the index finger the left hand. The only other injuries were slight bruises on the left side and knee. The bleeding had stopped before he saw the wounds. There was no wound on the throat of any kind."
Stamford Mercury - Friday 06 April 1888, page 5.
The fact that her injuries were relatively minor and that there was no wound on her throat are probably the reasons why the charge was reduced.

Next it was Mrs. Alexander's turn to take the stand.

"— Mrs. Almeida Alexander said : I am the wife defendant. On a week last Sunday night I had been with my brother and husband to the Midland station to see the former off on the mail train. After that I came back to the Royal Oak in My husband came home about ten o'clock. After we had closed I went into the dining-room, and he asked me if I would go the smoke-room, where he had some workmen sitting. I refused to go. There had been no quarrel, and I said nothing else, but went to bed. My husband was perfectly sober. I next saw him about twelve o'clock, when he came to bed. I had been to sleep. He locked the door after him. The first words that he said were, "I will murder you," and he had an open pocket knife in his hand, and the gas was alight in the room. He got hold of me and dragged me out of bed, and I struggled. I felt the knife first against left ear, and put up my hand to save me. My hand was then cut. I managed to get the window. I wanted to get out of the window, and up to that time he had the knife his hand. He pulled me away from the window by the hair, and in doing so broke the fastener. Afterwards he kicked me, and hit me with his fist about the head and face. He did not knock me on the floor, but the bed, where I struggled with him. He mentioned about my saying that I would go away to a situation. My hand was bleeding, and I put a towel round my hand. There was blood on my night-shirt, and he told me to take it off. He took the night-shirt off, and said if he were taken up I should not have the clothes to give in evidence against him. My child, aged four, was in the room. He took the towel away also. This continued till after 3 o'clock. I went to the door, but the key was taken out of the lock, and he refused to give it me. Shortly after three he got into bed, and kept kicking and pinching me. This went on till I fell asleep. Before I got into bed I asked be allowed to lie on the floor, as I said I had no strength to get up. Defendant woke at seven o'clock. Asked for the key, he said he did not know where it was. I asked him a second time and he gave me from between the bed and the mattress. I was partly dressed, and went to the barmaid's room after unlocking the door. In the barmaid's room he called for me. He asked me to get his working coat. I refused to go alone, except the barmaid went with me. He asked to speak to me privately. In the presence of the barmaid he asked me to forgive him, but I was very frightened and went downstairs. The housemaid washed the blood off my face. He left the house, and soon after I left and went to some friends. On the Wednesday night previously we had had a quarrel my father, who was living in the house. I have had occasion to remonstrate with my husband for his treatment of my father. That night father was drunk, and my husband had locked him in a bed-room. I remonstrated with my husband about this."
Stamford Mercury - Friday 06 April 1888, page 5.
I'm not sure I understand why Mr. Alexander came into the bedroom and threatened to kill his wife. It all seems rather random.  Unless it was something to do with not going into the smoke-room full of workmen. Why did he want her to go there and why did she refuse?

"He mentioned about my saying that I would go away to a situation." What does that mean? Had she threatened to leave him? Is that why he lost his rag?

It must have been a terrifying experience for Mrs. Alexander. What's even weirder is that all this happened while their 4-year-old son was in the room. I don't think I'd be able to fall asleep after having someone put a knife to my throat. Especially if the were still kicking and punching me.

Or was it connected with her rather? It sounds as if Alexander didn't care for his father-in-law. Were they partners? As Mrs. Alexander was born Almeida Howe, I suspect that they were. Though I haven't unearthed any actual evidence.

The barmaid corroborated Mrs. Alexander's account:

"— Miss Mary Jane Hill, barmaid, said: A week on Sunday night I saw defendant at ten minutes past twelve, when he was sober. My bed-room is some distance from where Mr. and Mrs. Alexander sleep, and I did not hear any noise. About seven next morning Mrs. Alexander came to my bed-room and was bleeding from the hand. Defendant asked Mrs. Alexander to forgive him in their bed-room."
Stamford Mercury - Friday 06 April 1888, page 5.
At which point the case rather irritatingly came to a halt. A shame, as I'd like to have heard Mr. Alexander's evidence.

"—Other evidence having been taken,

Mr. Haigh said there was evidence to justify a charge of aggravated assault, but Mr. Norledge had suggested that an arrangement should to come to by which the defendant would undertake to leave the district, that a separation order be drawn up, and defendant should settle upon his wife £700 and certain property. It was a matter between husband wife, and it would be better for all concerned if an agreement could be come to, and if defendant was allowed out on bail for a month it might carried out — Mr. Norledge for the defendant, consented. — The Deputy Clerk (Mr. Wallis) said he should have to report the case to the Home Secretary, that the Public Prosecutor might take up if he liked .— Mr. Haigh thought he would not interfere. — The Mayor replied, but supposing the Home Secretary and the Public Prosecutor set to work it would be a slur on the Magistrates after they had allowed the case to drop. — After some further discussion the case was adjourned for a month, pending the depositions being sent to the Public Prosecutor and the agreement and deed of separation being drawn up. Subsequently defendant was liberated on the recognisances of himself and brother in £100 each for his re-appearance in month."
Stamford Mercury - Friday 06 April 1888, page 5.
In return for buggering off and paying a considerable sum to his wife, the case would be dropped. On the face of it, Alexander got off pretty lightly. I say on the face of it because the story doesn't stop there. But we'll be getting to that later.

Another newspaper report includes some details omitted from the first. Mrs. Alexander must have been quite a sight in court:

"The prosecutrix [Mrs. Alexander] was then called into court, and signed a fresh information on the minor charge. Both her eyes wore blackened, the fingers of her left hand were bandaged up, and she bore other signs of brutal treatment."
Grantham Journal - Saturday 07 April 1888, page 3.
There's a little more about their son in this report:

"The ill-treatment went on till a little after three o'clock in the morning. When witness went to the bedroom door to try to get out of the room, she found it locked, and the key taken out. Witness asked the prisoner for the key, but refused to give it to her. Shortly after three o'clock prisoner got into bed, and witness took the child (four years old) out of the cot and put it in the bed between the prisoner and herself. After prisoner got into bed he kept kicking her with his knees and pinching her. Prisoner fell asleep about four o'clock, but before doing so he took the child out of the bed and put it back in the cot. While prisoner was asleep witness searched for the key of the door, but could not find it. When he awoke, about seven o'clock, she asked him for the key, and he said at first he did not know where it was, but afterwards got it from between the bed and the mattress."
Grantham Journal - Saturday 07 April 1888, page 3.
And I can't help wondering what Alexander meant by this:

"Sergeant Free said he apprehended defendant, and read over the warrant to him. Prisoner replied, "Free, there are faults on both sides."
Grantham Journal - Saturday 07 April 1888, page 3.
Next we'll be looking at the continued fallout from the case,  which rumbled on for another couple of years. And had a big impact on the brewery itself. And we'll be seeing Mr. Norledge again.

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