News of the murders at Colwick was now spreading far beyond Nottingham and its surrounding villages. Copies of the Nottingham Newspapers were carried aboard the many coaches leaving Nottingham for various towns around the country. Printed accounts of the murders first appeared outside of Nottingham on Saturday 25th May in London, Leeds, Bristol and Hampshire. A brief account of the discovery of the bodies appeared in The Examiner, a London newspaper sold for a shilling per copy.
“DREADFUL MURDER: The police have discovered the bodies of a woman and three children in a plantation near Colwick with their throats cut. They are indentified as the wife and children of William Saville of this town who was seen walking with them in that direction on Tuesday morning last. The man is apprehended – Nottingham Review”
In Leeds and district The Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser , sold for fourpence halfpenny a copy, carried an almost identical story on page five with their own heading of “Appalling Murder at Nottingham”, though the Nottingham Review was not credited as the source of the information.
News spread to the West Country courtesy of the Bristol Mercury, on sale at fivepence a copy. With a heading titled “Dreadful Murder”, readers of page eight of this paper were informed,
“When upon the point of going to press we ascertained that the police have discovered the bodies of a woman and three children ……..”
This article was also copied from the Nottingham Review but was credited.
News also reached the south coast only one day after it was first published in Nottingham thanks to the Hampshire Advertiser and Salisbury Guardian which was printed in Southampton. On page five of their May 25th edition under a sub heading titled “Appalling Murder” the short article from the Nottingham Review appeared again.
Another newspaper carried the story on Saturday May 25th. The Morning Post was a London newspaper but also had some national circulation. Selling for fivepence a copy, it carried the most detailed account of the discovery of the bodies plus other events up until the Coroner’s Inquisition. The article on page seven began with a sub-heading titled “A Wife and Three Children Murdered”
“Nottingham, Friday – We have to record the murder of a poor woman named Ann Saville and her three children Mary seven years old, Harriet aged five years and Thomas aged four years. The following outlines all of the facts are at present known, will put our readers in full possession of this frightful tragedy”
The report then gave good details about Saville’s movements on the preceding Wednesday, his arrest and subsequent examination in the police office and the searching of his lodgings and box. A description of the prisoner is also provided. The article closed by informing its readers,
The prisoner is a Native of Nottingham and has been convicted of a felony.
The Post did not credit its source but this was clearly not taken from the Nottingham Review and looked very much like the account given by the Nottingham and Newark Mercury.
Within twenty four hours of the story appearing in print in Nottingham it had spread as far as Leeds, London, Bristol and Southampton. This was only possible thanks to the coach network that served Nottingham and a fast coach could reach London within one day with many changes of horses. News continued to spread to ever more readers. On Sunday May 26th the Lloyds Weekly London newspaper carried an account of the murders on its back page under a heading titled “Horrid Murder of a wife and three children.”, the account was again very similar to that first published in the Nottingham and Newark Mercury. It could however have been lifted from the Morning Post published one day previously! Another London newspaper published an account on Sunday May 26th. The Era selling for sixpence a copy carried an account on page seven under heading “Murder of a wife and three children.”
“One of the most atrocious murders that has ever fallen to our lot to record, has this week been perpetrated in the neighbourhood of Nottingham, of which the following are briefly the particulars as far as they have transpired.”
The account provided was again remarkably similar to that first provided by the Nottingham and Newark Mercury.
On Monday May 27th another London newspaper, The Morning Chronicle, carried the story on page 8 under a heading titled “A wife and three children murdered”
“The following are the particulars of this horrid deed which was mentioned in the Chronicle on Saturday.”
The account, as with all of the other London papers, seems to have again originated with the Nottingham and Newark Mercury. By Tuesday May 28th news of the Colwick murders had spread still further; all the way over the border into Scotland on onto Dundee! The Dundee Courier, on sale at fourpence halfpenny a copy, carried a short account of the discovery of bodies clearly taken from the Nottingham Review under a sub heading “Appalling Murder.”
On Wednesday news had reached eastern England and the East coast as the Bury and Norwich Post and East Anglian went to press with the story on its page four of the second edition on Wednesday May 29th. It carried a detailed account and this time there can be little doubt the information came from the Nottingham and Newark Mercury as it quotes Saville as leaving his wife at the John Warren public house. This was not a detail carried by the Nottingham Review. Wednesday also saw the most lengthy and detailed account yet provided in print outside of Nottingham. Just fifteen miles away in the neighbouring town of Derby, the Derby Mercury provided an exact copy of the account printed first in the Nottingham and Newark Mercury. It was taken from the second edition, the one containing the adduced information in an extra column with the testimony of the final few witnesses late on Friday at the Coroner’s Inqusition. The report detailed a guide to the murder location so now the curious of Derby could join the search for the spinney with no name.
On Thursday May 30th another report was printed in Scotland. The Caledonian Mercury, an Edinburgh newspaper selling for fourpence halfpenny a copy carried the familiar short account of the discovery of the bodies on page four under a heading of “Appalling Murder”. Familiar as it was first carried by the Nottingham Review and then spread to the four winds. The following day, Friday May 31st, a Glasgow newspaper, the Glasgow Herald responded. Also selling for fourpence halfpenny, it carried the account on page four under a title of “A wife and three children murdered.” The information used came from the Nottingham and Newark Mercury.
As the latest copies of the Glasgow Herald were being hawked all over the streets of Glasgow, a Midlands town was the stage for three different newspapers to carry the latest news. The three Nottingham newspapers went to print on Friday May 31st with much to report. Each carried detailed accounts of the story with an emphasis on the recently closed three day inquest into the murders. The accounts were similar yet different. The Nottingham Review commented on the first day of the Inquest held for two days at County Hall,
The Hall was crowded to excess the whole of the day and the most interest was excited.
After describing the events of the second day and the decision of the jury the Review also commented,
The verdict was returned at ten minutes to five o’clock in the presence of a vast concourse of spectators who were evidently satisfied with the results of the proceedings.
For those who had not yet been able to see the prisoner the Review also carried a description of him with some background information.
The prisoner is about five feet five inches tall with a very sallow complexion, dark eyes and hair. Nose long and rather prominous, widish mouth and thick lips, forehead low and has a heavy and gloomy countenance. His presence of mind throughout the examination was great. His native place is Arnold, son of Thomas Saville, native of Blidworth. His mother’s maiden name was Mary Terry, eldest daughter of Richard Terry who lived at the upper end of Arnold. His father was known as an habitual drunk who totally neglected the education of his own children. He was brought up in a state of destitution, ignorance and vice. The prisoner was originally a farmer’s servant but subsequently acquired the skills of a framework knitter.
Having described the prisoner, the Review now added some detail about his former wife;
The deceased woman lived with Mr Buchan late of High Pavement as a house maid for nine years. A brother named William Ward, a farmer of Long Sutton, Lincolnshire, forwarded ten shillings to a friend in town for his sister on Wednesday morning, unconscious of the melancholy event.
The Nottingham Journal carried a detailed account under a heading of “Horrible Murder” and filled almost an entire column with detail, beginning with a bold statement;
“There is no doubt but the perpetrator of this shocking butchery is the husband of the unfortunate woman and father of the murdered children.”
The Journal also wasted few words in establishing a motive for the murders;
“He passed for a single man and was paying his addresses to a young woman, sister of his landlord.”
A detailed account then followed of the examination in the police office and then three days of reporting from the Coroner’s Inquest.
After explaining events at the second day of the Inquest and the first at County Hall, The Journal noted;
The Justices room as well as the hall outside was suffocatingly crowded during the whole investigation and lasted til about a quarter before eleven o’clock.
Reporting on the second day at County Hall, a reason for the slightly late start of the final day of the Inquest was given;
At half past ten o’clock the Coroner and Jury resumed their sitting. The utmost anxiety to learn the result of the inquisition was manifested by the populace who crowded the entrance to the court at different periods of the day so densely as to render ingress of egress a somewhat difficult task.
The Journal finished the account by recording the decision of the Jury;
The verdict was received with tokens of unequivocal satisfaction on the part of extremely crowded audience.
The Nottingham Journal carried some information completely overlooked by the two other Nottingham newspapers; it was the only paper to bother to inform its readers that the jury left Parr’s farmhouse to travel to and inspect the location of the murders. Even more important to some; it was the only paper to report exactly which side of the Colwick to Carlton path the bodies lay![i] [ii]
TO BE CONTINUED!