Saturday, 4 December 2010

The almost Mashford murder story

The report on Peter Lewis's attempt to shoot George Mashford has come up on Trove. There is no doubt that Peter was a violent drunk and this gives credence to the earlier theory that Elizabeth Mashford Lewis may have left him or perhaps he left her.

It is clear there were problems from the beginning of the marriage although she did go on to have another two sons after this incident and there is no reason to believe Peter Lewis was not the father.

And it is clear that poor Elizabeth got short shrift from the judge who suggested that she find ways to 'temper' her husband's temper! These were the days when women had little in the way of rights and even less hope of making their way in the world without the support of a father, brother or husband.


POLICE COURT. Thursday. 7th December, 1848.

Peter Lewis was charged with threatening to shoot George Mashford, his brother in-law, at Kensington, on the 3d instant. '

George Mashford made a lone statement, from which it appeared that his sister (the prisoner's wife) was afraid to live with him, he having repeatedly threatened her, and even on one occasion attempted to choak her.

On last Sunday evening he came to witness's house demanding to see his wife. He then went to the Chapel looking for her, and created a disturbance there. He made use of the threats complained of on that occasion, and he had circulated the most abominable stories of witness and his sister.

Mrs Lewis stated that she feared her husband would sometimes put his threats into execution, particularly as he was in the habit of getting drunk purposely to increase his violence. She was willing to support herself and child without troubling him. The prisoner admitted having called and asked to see his child, which was denied him. He declared he had no wish to hurt his wife or her brother, but hoped his Worship would order them to let him see his child. His Worship could say nothing to that. He would require him to give bail to keep the peace for six months.

And to the wife he said she should endeavour to soothe the violence of her husband's temper. Her bargain might be a bad one, but she should make the best of it After entering into recognizances, the man again applied for an order to see his child. His Worship declined to give it, and admonished him not to resort to any violent means to effect that object.

In September of 1851, Elizabeth had other problems as well as her husband. There is another legal notice indicating that  she is sueing for unpaid rent. It was probably Josiah who  is the Mashford mentioned, who headed off to Melbourne later that year and seems to have been less reliable as a brother than George May.

But one wonders why she was doing the sueing and not Peter Lewis and if they were still living together? But clearly they were still in a relationship.Little George was three and John Mashford Lewis had been born the previous year. Henry would arrive in 1854 so clearly there was some sort of complicated 'dance' going on between the two of them. Unless of course they were 'sharing' a house but not as husband and wife and Henry was the result of violent, unwanted advances.

Given the two years between George and John and the four between John and Henry this may well have been the case.

As recorded in the South Australian Register:

September 4, 1851.
Lewis v. Mashford. Action for £9 1s. 6d., for board and lodging. Plea — That plaintiff was a married woman, and could not maintain an action; and that more money had been already paid than due.  Several witnesses were examined, and a judgment of 5s. per week for the full amount and costs given.

Elizabeth must have been feeling increasingly alone.  In March of 1848 barely a year after the family arrived in South Australia, her sisters Mary Ann and Jane had sailed for Melbourne on the steamship Juno.  Her brother John Cann Mashford had died a year later in 1849 and, the following year, on September 14, her beloved brother and protector, George May Mashford died, and eight weeks later, to the day, her mother, Mary Cann Mashford died. Barely a month after losing her mother, her remaining brother, Josiah Labbett Mashford sailed for Melbourne on the schooner Amalia.

He is listed in the CLEARED OUT section of the South Australian Register:

Friday, December 12, 1851— The schooner Amalia, 136 tons, Funch, master, for Melbourne. In ballast. Passengers — John Williams, ................... Josiah Mashford.

His departure may have had something to do with another notice in the Register where Josiah had been assaulted by a man named Mara on November 4.

From the Register: Owen Carroli and Daniel Mara— Did assault Thomas Chalk, onthe 5th November; and also, Mara did,' on the 4th November, assault Josiah Mashford.

The Shipping Intelligence as noted in the South Australian Register does show Josiah Mashford returning to Adelaide on Saturday, March 20, 1852 on the Brigantine Rattler. On this journey he was in a cabin as opposed to ballast so one presumes that he had fallen on his feet in Melbourne. He is also noted in the April of that year as secretary to The Adelaide Band of Musicians:

THE ADELAIDE BAND OF MUSICIANS under the' superintendance of Inspector Stuart pro poses to march and meet Mr. Commissioner Tolraer and tne Overland Escort at Glen Osmond. In returning thanks for the subscriptions already raised, the Adelaide Band of Musicians respectfully inform their friends, that they have no connection with Mr. George Bennett, and that sub scriptions will continue to be gratefully received on their behalf, by Mr. Peter Smith, Red Lion Inn, Rundle-street, by Mr. Clisby, Rosina-street, and by Mr. Mashford, Peacock's
Buildings. JOSIAH MASHFORD, Secretary to the Band. April 27, 1852. '

However, by June of 1853 the Adelaide Post Office was recording unclaimed letters for J. Mashford.  One wonders if he did a runner with some of the takings from the Band but I have yet to stumble upon a report in the Register. Josiah does seem to be something of a shifty character.

It would take five years for George May Mashford's estate to be finalised.

Coming Soon:
South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839-1900) Monday 20 August 1855 p 1 Advertising

... Demand on the ESTATE of the late GEORGE MAY  MASHFORD, are requested to send in their respective...... 12115 words

George May got three years in the new colony of South Australia and with his death, as far as we know, Elizabeth Mashford Lewis found herself alone, without the support of family and with a violent husband.

Even more tragically, she had lost her youngest son, Henry Lewis just three months earlier at the age of fifteen months. Was this when she moved to Rocky River?   Henry Lewis died at Marryattville so Elizabeth was living in Adelaide at the time of George's death. And clearly she and Peter Lewis were still in some sort of relationship  up until the time Henry was conceived.. Henry was born at Marryattville on January 22, 1854.

Perhaps the loss of her tiny son and the brother who had clearly been a protector was more than she could bear.  With George's death there is every chance that no member of her family remained in Adelaide. Within two years she would marry Edward Atkins in Rocky River and Peter Lewis would have disappeared from her life.

There is another note which has come up on Trove and has yet to be fully uploaded, indicating that Josiah Mashford applied for a timber licence in 1849:

1. TIMBER LICENCES. Colonial Secretary's Office, August 28, 1849. [coming soon]
South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839-1900) Saturday 1 September 1849 p 4 Article

..... Josiah Mashford ' 23 201. ... 1167 words

The Rocky River/Wirrabarra Forest area may well have been where his timber licence operated. If that is the case, there may have been links with people living in the area, including with Edward Atkins, where Elizabeth could take refuge from her husband and find the support she would need as a woman alone with two small sons to raise.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Edward Atkins was a Gloucestershire lad!

This week has brought important progress in terms of tracing Edward Atkins. The National Library's Trove section has recently recorded a death notice for him and it is as follows:

ATKINS.— On the 15th November, 1891 at the residence of his son-in-law, Whyte Park, 'Wirrabara, Edward Atkins, aged 84 years A colonist of over 50 years, leaving 1 son, 5 daughters, 47 grandchildren, and 3 greatgrandchildren to mourn their loss. Gloucestershire papers please copy.

And the all too obvious ommission in this is Elizabeth Mashford (Lewis) Atkins, his wife, who was well and truly alive and living in Gladstone. The fact that she is not recorded at all is a good sign that they were well and truly estranged. There is no mention of another wife so perhaps Elizabeth packed up and moved to Gladstone and Edward continued to live on in Wirrabarra Forest with his daughter and her husband. And, given the fact that Elizabeth does not rate a mention I am thinking that Edward Atkins was living with one of his older daughters, presumably, although not necessarily, from his marriage to Hannah McLeod.

So he was a Gloucestershire lad and roamed the countryside (see pic above) which contains the Cotswolds... one of my favourite parts of England. Interestingly, while my research has not yet begun I have also noted a Haynes family in Gloucestershire and am hoping that particular little mystery will also be laid to rest.

If James Haynes Atkins was his only son then there is every chance that Edward Atkins' mother was a Haynes. In fact,  a Joseph Atkins married Ann Hai(y)nes in Cirencester, Gloucestershire on August 14, 1809. If Edward's birth date was correct then perhaps this was a child born to Ann before she married Joseph Atkins. Conjecture of course but something to check.

So his birthplace must be Gloucestershire which will help enormously. I am wondering if the other three daughters were from Hannah McLeod or a third marriage? And that is an enormous amount of grandchildren and even three great-grandchildren which makes me think that the three other daughters were by Hannah MacLeod because Elizabeth, Mary and James Haynes were not old enough to be grandparents.

As another 'treasure' found in the Trove indicates, Elizabeth was living in Gladstone in 1888 where she nursed her dying son, John Mashford Lewis. That is some three years before her husband's death.

February 16, 1888
LEWIS.—On the 14th January at his mother's residence, after a long and painful illness, John Mashford Lewis, the second-eldest beloved son of Elizabeth Atkins, Gladstone, aged 37 years.—"For so He giveth his beloved sleep."

I am struck by the connection with John and Mashford and early deaths. John Mashford was 39 when he died and his son, John Cann Mashford died  at the age of 26 and then his grandson, John Mashford Lewis died at 37.

And on its way is another interesting 'jewel' from the National Library of Australia's Trove collection:

1. LAW AND POLICE COURTS. POLICE COURT. Thursday, 7th December [coming soon]
South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839-1900) Saturday 9 December 1848 p 4 Article

... LAW AND POLICE COURTS. POLICE COURT. Thursday, 7th December, Peter Lewis was charged with threatening to shoot George Mashford, his brother in-law, at Kensington, on the 3d instant. George Georee Mashford made a long statement, from which it appeared that his sister (the prisoner's wife) was ... 842 words

Our Elizabeth will speak!! Well, about her husband trying to kill her brother but at least we will have some 'words' from our great-great-grandmother!

The other newspaper report I found on Trove concerned James Haynes Atkins in a fracas with the Chinese cook at a hotel in Gladstone where Annie Clavin, who later became his wife worked as a waitress. Interestingly at the end of it all the cook got off with a mild sentence, due no doubt, to the sensitivity of the judge who felt that he, like many Chinese, had been 'driven' to the attack on Atkins.

Fascinating stuff. Luke, who is descended from James Haynes said he knew of this story. He went on to add that Annie Clavin and James Haynes lived on Booyoolie Station , just outside of Gladstone, where James worked as a horse breaker and that Annie continued to live there after James died.

But here is the report from the South Australian Register:

GLADSTONE, October 11, 1885.

Some excitement was occasioned last night at the Commercial Hotel by the report that a man named James Atkins, employed at the Booyoolee Station bad been stabbed by a Chinaman named Ah Chuck, a cook at the hotel. It appears that some days since the cook threatened Atkins that if he caught him in the kitchen he would scald him with water; Atkins went in on Saturday night, and the Chinaman threw lukewarm water over him. The Chinaman raised ' a row, and Atkins followed him outside, where a blow was struck.

The Chinaman then used a butcher's knife, which he had previously sharpened, causing a wound at the elbow joint. The wound is a very nasty gash. Dr. Hamilton stiched up the arm, and Atkins is getting along well. Although today his arm is much swollen. Chuck was arrested by the police while in bed, and Yook his blanket with him under his arm. He was surprised to find at the station that he was not allowed the use of the blanket. He will very likely be tried to-morrow. STABBING CASE.

At the Gladstone Police Court on Monday last, before Mr. O. Homer, J.P., Joe Yook, a celestial, was charged on the information of James Atkins, of Booyoolie station, laborer, with unlawfully and maliciously wounding him with a knife. Mr. Bonoaut appeared for the prisoner. James Atkins said on the previous Saturday night he went to Mullers hotel kitchen. Heard prisoner order the servant girl out, to which she replied that she had as much right in there as Yook bad. She refused to go out.

Heard prisoner say he would scald her, and then ordered me out, to which I replied that I would go when Mr. Muller ordered me to do so. Prisoner threw a dipper of water on me and ran away, when I followed. He went to the passage door, when I caught him, and be tried to hit me with the dipper. Put up my arm and received a blow on the elbow. Yook then ran back again into the kitchen, where he remained for about ten minutes before coming out the second time. Then he came to the door, and said—" You b… I will kill you." Was standing at the passage door at the time. During the time the prisoner was in the kitchen I heard him sharpening something on the steel, but could not say whether it was a knife. When he said he would kill me told him to come down to the back.

Was walking close ahead of him when he made a run at me. I turned round as he did so and hit him. He then struck me; the blow was like a sledge hammer. Lost all power of my arm, and felt a sore feeling through it. The coat (produced) I had on at the time, and also my white shirt and undershirt were all marked with blood. Alter the blow I went out the back and to the front of the hotel. Accused the prisoner of stabbing me and he replied "Ah .

Went to the doctor and had the wound stitched. By Mr. Boucaot —Will not swear that I did not say I had no desire to bring' the case in. Told the Chinaman in the court that I did not wish it. Prisoner told me once to go out of the kitchen. Mr Muller never did tell me, nor did prisoner say he wanted to go on with his work. Prisoner may have been speaking to both the girl and I when he ordered her out of the kitchen. Bid not stake him. Think I laid hold of him by the coat. When prisoner struck me I called out, " You have stabbed me."

Annie Clavin, waitress at the Commercial Hotel, said she went into the kitchen on Saturday night to get a candle, when prisoner ordered her out and threatened to scald her. He threw water at Mr. Atkins and some fell on my arm. Yook ran out, and Atkins caught him at the kitchen door. Heard prisoner call Mr. Muller, but he did not answer.

Left the kitchen and went into the passage, and returned, but did not see prisoner. Miss Muller enquired what the row was about, and I said. "Cook and Jim were having some words." Saw prisoner with a butcher's knife which had a black handle, bat could not swear that the knif e produced was the one. Subsequently was standing in the passage, and thought everything was over, when I heard prisoner sharpening a knife.

Prisoner went to the kitchen door and said to Atkins "I will kill you," and Atkins replied, "If you want to fight come to the back." Atkins took the lead and prisoner followed. Prisoner made a leap at him when his back was turned, but could not say whether they struck one another. Saw Atkins's arm drop down by bis side, and afterwards saw his coat cut and blood on the arm of his shirt. By Mr. Boucaut—Was always friendly with the cook till lately, when he threatened to stab me with a fork.

 He has previously told both of us to go out of the kitchen. Cant say whether there were any fowls to kill that night. They are generally killed before dinner by the ostler and never at night. Dr. Hamilton said Atkins had an incised wound about an inch and a half long on the outside of the right arm, which looked as if it bad been inflicted wtth a sharp instrument. The knife produced would have caused the wound, which I stitched up. It was not dangerous.

P.C. Harris gave evidence as to the arrest. Searched the kitchen for the butcher's knife, but could not find it, and afterwards discovered it in prisoner's bedroom underneath some clothes in the corner. Prisoner said —** I could not help it, Mr. Harry; he struck me first" Red spots were on the knife, which had been newly sharpened, judging from the keen edge.

Compared the size of the holes in the coat and shirt, and Mr. Boucaut asked for a dismissal on the ground that the information was bad. Defendant should have been charged with a common assault only. They all knew how Chinamen were kicked and cuffed about, but they were as much entitled to protection as any English subject.

LEFT: Booyoolie-Gladstone area.

The case was a trivial one, in which he should use his discretion, and deal with rather than send it on. The Crown Solicitor had fully explained only a few days ago how the law was administered by justices, and this was a case in point. The Chinaman was justified in self-defence in going to extremes, and if Atkins struck against the knife it served him right.

 He would point out that the wounding was neither wilful nor malicious. The court declined to accede to the request Adolph Welch said he was ostler at the hotel. He ought to have killed some poultry during the day, but did not do it. Prisoner asked me to help to kill some at night when he was finished in the kitchen.

By the Police—Saw the prisoner playing cards from 9pm. Don’t know why the fowls were not killed before . There was no poultry killed that night! Mr. Homer having intimated that he would send the case on, Mr. Boucaut declined to call the prisoner to give evidence, and applied for bail. Committed for trial at the next sittings of the Glad- Stone Circuit Court, bail allowed, prisoner in £50, and two sureties of 50 pounds each.