Hi readers, as promised here is the next chapter of my book, Taken up. I plan to upload new chapters or parts thereof every Monday from now on. Read and enjoy and dont forget you can add comments……..
By half past one on Wednesday 21st May, a large and noisy crowd, mostly female, had gathered in the middle of Wood street, Sneinton. Mary Miller heard a knock at her door and answered it to find her next door neighbour Lucy Wardle. Lucy looked anxious, stared at the large crowd, then cupped her hand over Mary’s ear and whispered a message. After telling her husband Alfred she had to go out, Mary slammed her door then squeezed through the crowd, making her way to the top of Wood Street. She turned left into Gedling Street then crossed over the road to walk over the hill and through Hockley and Pelham Street into the centre of Nottingham. Reaching the Exchange building she walked down Long Row then entered the Police Watch House. A sergeant on duty listened intently to what Mary had to say. He didn’t like the sound of the large mob in Sneinton, nor indeed the story of a missing woman and her children. He decided to notify his Inspector and Samuel Wilkinson appeared from an office. Wilkinson was a career police officer, full time and salaried. He represented the new face of policing in Nottingham and worked for the new Police force, established only in 1836. The force was modelled on the Metropolitan with its structure of superintendents, inspectors, sergeants and many constables. The Chief Constable was the most senior officer. Wilkinson had risen quickly through the ranks; only a few years previously he had been simply Constable Wilkinson. Having listened to the woman he was concerned more about the mob than the missing family. Nottingham Police were on alert for troublesome crowds and feared rioting as nearly half of the working population of Nottingham were on strike. Most framework knitters stood idle in a dispute about payments and men with time on their hands or worse, in drink, were a great concern. Many businessman had closed down their warehouses and premises, afraid of a repeat of the Luddite or Reform riots, fearing their premises could be damaged expensive equipment destroyed . Wilkinson decided he needed to investigate this matter himself and asked the woman to lead the way back to Wood Street.
They traced the route that brought Mary to the Police Watch House and climbed the hill then walked down through Hockley and crossed over into Gedling Street. At this point Wilkinson became aware of the noise of a large crowd. As they turned the corner into Wood Street they stopped. The crowd now completely filled the street from top to bottom and loud shouts and threats could be clearly heard. Wilkinson realised he needed help and asked Mary to return to the Watch House and ask for Constable Stevenson to join him quickly. As Mary returned to Nottingham Wilkinson waded through the crowd to a house in the centre of the street, just in time to stop a man banging on the door with both fists. Wilkinson knocked sharply on the door: a man’s face appeared briefly at the window. The door opened and Wilkinson stepped inside. Samuel Wardle introduced himself and his wife Lucy. They briefly explained what had excited the crowd so much. Their friend Ann Saville and her three children had been collected by her husband at ten o’clock the previous day to walk to Carlton but had not returned as expected. The husband had returned on Tuesday afternoon looking for his wife but they were concerned about some of the things he was saying which seemed contradictory. Many of the people in the crowd outside shared their concerns; that her husband was in some way responsible for the disappearance of his own wife and children. The crowd were openly accusing the man of drowning his wife and children in the Trent at Colwick. They explained the man had been to their house twice on the previous day looking for his family and had come back again not one hour since. Pointing to the back room they said he could be found there. Wilkinson walked into a dim room at the back of the house, lit by an oil lamp. There were no windows to provide light. The houses here and in the surrounding streets were all “back-to-backs”; cheaply built houses where the back walls were shared with houses in the streets behind. No yards, no outside privy and no back windows. The back wall here was shared with a neighbour in the next street; Sheridan Street. Wilkinson found a man slumped in a chair, staring at the ground. Wilkinson explained that there was a great crowd of people outside and he was concerned for the safety of all the people in the house, himself included.
“I wish to ask you a few questions, which you might answer or not as you think proper, and what you say might be taken as evidence against you.”
Taking out his notebook and pencil. he asked for his name and address then continued ”What have you done with your wife”
William Saville replied “I have not seen them since I left them against Beardsley’s the druggist”
Wilkinson continued “Have you never told anyone that you left them at the top of Toll House Hill?
Saville replied “ I cannot say, I was so fresh, I do not know what I did”
Wilkinson had heard enough and decided to arrest Saville “It has become my duty to take you into custody, even if only for your own safety and you must go with me to the Police Watch House. Willam Saville, I am arresting you on a charge of drowning your wife and three children”
At that moment a knock on the door signalled the arrival of Constable Stevenson. Wilkinson quickly explained that Saville had been arrested and now they must quickly get him back to the Watch house. Stevenson stepped outside the front door as Wilkinson brought out Saville. Standing at each side the police officers then took him by both arms and began marching up Wood Street. The large crowd seemed pleased by this firm police response, and started shouting and cheering. The mob parted to let the officers through but soon began following immediately behind and the accusations and jeers started afresh. This strange and noisy cavalcade continued up the hill through Hockley and down again until the Exchange building and Watch House were reached. Wilkinson heaved a sigh of relief as he brought his prisoner into an examination room.
He told the prisoner he would now be searched and asked him to turn out his pockets. Wilkinson carefully noted own what he found;
A quantity of slur string for frames
A quantity of black and green tea in a tea paper marked John Barker late G Bunting Tea Dealer and Coffee Roaster, Long Row
Pair of cotton shoe strings
A pocket knife
A pawnbroker’s duplicate for a waistcoat. On it was written 25 William Savage New Radford dated 3 February 1844
Two silver shillings and halfpenny in copper
Some sugar wrapped in blue paper
Wilkinson asked Constable Stevenson to remove the prisoner to a lock-up and he placed his goods in a small box. He had to report this incident and decided to immediately consult William Barnes, Chief Constable.
Outside the crowd continued to shout and jeer. They were in little doubt as to what had happened to the woman and children. Some of them knew Anne Saville and her husband. Slowly they dispersed in small groups, most heading back to Sneinton, talking excitedly about what they had all witnessed. In a cell inside the Watch House, Saville tried to settle on an uncomfortable bed.
As day turned slowly into night, the talk in many houses in both Sneinton and Colwick and surrounding districts centred on the events of the day. The framework knitter’s strike was now old news. In Sneinton and in Nottingham many people were talking about Bill Saville and how he might have done away with his family. The obvious place for a drowning would be Colwick Weir behind Colwick Hall and this was very near the roadway from Sneinton to Colwick and Carlton. Nottingham Police were entertaining a man who had been arrested for drowning his wife and children, yet no bodies had been found, and no witnesses had come forward with any evidence. The man they held claimed to have last seen his wife in two different locations, one in Sneinton, the other in Nottingham. A few miles away in Colwick parish constable Parr was guarding the bodies of a woman and three children found nearby with their throats cut. Parr had bodies but no evidence of who was responsible and as yet no witnesses to the awful deed. He did however have a suspect in mind. Parr was looking for a cut-throat murderer, possibly a vagrant who had made his way to Carlton. He was not looking for any bodies in the River Trent and Colwick Weir fell within his parish. Wednesday 21st May closed with no-one putting together these two puzzling mysteries. A new day and a new dawn would shed some light on this riddle and a disturbing and macabre turn of events would see both the country and town police come together and work as one.
Copyright @ Mike Sheridan 2013 All rights reserved
PS Next week as well as uploading a new chapter or part chapter I will also add “The Story so Far” which will be the previous weeks chapters combined so anyone new to this blog may read it all from the start!
[i] Nottingham Review Friday May 24th 1844 Page 5