By the end of a second full week in gaol, Saville was becoming accustomed to his new surroundings and his daily routine. His cell was sparsely furnished: apart from his hammock there was a box and small stool in the corner. A bible lay on top of the box; Saville could not read it but the Chaplain could and he was a frequent visitor. A lidded chamber pot sat in a corner and was emptied every morning. The Matron prepared all meals in the prison kitchen. Saville was well fed courtesy of the rates; his food was much better than many of his fellow framework knitters could hope to enjoy without any work. Breakfast was usually served at 7.30 am and consisted of oatmeal gruel and bread. Dinner was served at 1.00pm and varied slightly over the week. On Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday it was cooked meat, bread and potatoes. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays it was soup and bread. Supper at 6.00pm was the same as breakfast. He was allowed to leave his cell to walk in the yard briefly each day but was allowed no contact with any other prisoner. On these occasional brief forays from his cell Saville could wash himself at a tap. In some respects he was luckier than other inmates, especially those at the nearby House of Correction in St Johns Road. Saville was not expected to work like most of the prisoners there,teasing out oakum from chunks of old tarred rope. Instead he had endless hours each day to contemplate his fate. This second week did not prove to be a good one for Saville. On Tuesday 11th June he had a visitor conveying some news from his Lodge. Following this visit his mood and appetite suddenly changed and he became more withdrawn and morose.
The Nottingham newspapers were published as usual on Friday June 14th and the appetite for more news concerning the Colwick Murders showed no sign of abating. The Nottingham Review carried a report on page 5 under a heading titled The Colwick Tragedy and a sub-title of New Evidence
Saville met his wife on Monday afternoon on Derby Road and expressed much disappointment she had not brought the children; they had been left behind at the house of Mrs Wardle. He took his wife that same evening to the same house and agreed to fetch them next morning
Two witnesses have come forward stating they saw him down Colwick Lane on Monday evening near the place the bodies were found.
There is a rumour circulating about the murderer’s shirt. During the last few days a shirt stained with blood has been placed in the hands of Inspector Wilkinson. On the morning of Whit Sunday Mr Clements, basket-maker was passing over a bridge recently constructed in the meadows and observed a bundle floating in the new canal. He took it out and it proved to be a shirt wrapped in newspaper. The shirt was very bloody and it was presumed some butcher had been killing a sheep and threw it away. He took it home and told his wife to clean it. She became sick of the sight of blood and gave it to a neighbour. The garment was then placed in the hands of Wilkinson. It was shown to Mrs Sutton who did not recognise it. Wilkinson then learnt that a Mr Buchan had lost two shirts the week before Mrs Saville went into the workhouse which he had sent to her for washing. The bloody shirt was taken to Mr Buchan for identification but neither he or his family will swear to it. One of the shirts sent to Mrs Saville had the name of the owner cut out of the lap and a hole apparently made for the same purpose is shown in the lap of the bloody shirt. The inference was that the murderer put the shirt on for the perpetration of the murders, then he took it off as soon as the deed was done. The shirt evidently was used to wipe something bloody as the marks were so irregular and extended all over it.”
The Review then presented some new information about Saville’s attempts to secure legal counsel.
Saville’s request for legal counsel has been refused. A deputation of his lodge waited on him on Tuesday and communicated the result of his application. Messrs Thomas Lee and Joseph Terry were the deputation and after a conversation they handed him the following signed letter;
Nottingham June 10 1844
Sir, your request was laid before the committee of your lodge on the 10th inst and they declined rendering you any assistance in consequence of you entering under a false pretence. They have expelled you according to article. You entered as a single man.
By Order of the Committee of Nottingham Independent Lodge No 15
John Wright Gill
The Review concluded its news by informing its readers where and when Saville had joined his Lodge;
The Lodge is held at the Pheasant Mansfield Road and he got himself entered as a single man on 26th February last.
The Nottingham Journal carried similar news to the Review but carried more detail about the bloody shirt and even offered its readers an insight into how the murders might have been committed.
Under a heading of The Colwick Murders, it began by stating;
Saville still maintains his innocence and has made application to a Lodge of Odd Fellows to which he belonged for their assistance to provide him with counsel.
The Journal then printed the same letter to Saville from his Lodge as printed by the Review. It then went on to provide its readers with something many were waiting for; a possible explanation for how the murders were commited and why Saville was found with only a few small specks of blood on his clothing.
Mystery still surrounds the almost total lack of blood upon the clothes of the murderer. From recent discoveries by the police it is conjectured the prisoner took off his coat and waistcoat during the time he was committing the murders ad afterwards changed the shirt stained with the blood of his victims for one which he had previously put in his pocket. The following narrative would seem to give countenance to this supposition.
On Whit Sunday a man named Clement Rice, resident in Crosby Place Leen Side found in the new canal near the footbridge, a shirt tied up in newspaper. The shirt was stained with blood on the sleeves as high as the shoulders and also on the bosom and other parts of the front. It has evidently been marked but the bit was cut or torn out. It has since been discovered that several shirts which were never returned had been given to Saville’s wife to wash before she went into the workhouse. One of them, the property of Mr Buchan, had a name torn out in the manner described but he cannot identify the shirt. There are however hopes of tracing the shirt found to a young man who gave one patched on the shoulder to Mrs Saville to wash as that taken out of the canal had been patched in a similar manner. Should the shirt be thus identified the chain of evidence will be supplied with an additional link.
The Nottingham Mercury carried the least amount of news on this Friday yet what it did carry in two small paragraphs added yet more vital and important detail to the ongoing story. It began with a heading titled The Colwick Murder;
The secretary to the Operatives Library Nottingham held at the Pheasant, Charlotte Street, Mansfield Road, authorises us to state that Saville “never was a member of that library and that he has never applied to the members for assistance to enable him to employ counsel.”
Immediately below this paragraph under a sub-heading titled The Bloody Shirt, the Mercury provided key information not printed by the other papers;
This shirt will be traced to the possession of Saville, the supposed murderer of his wife and three children. The shirt belongs to Mr George Attenborough, painter, for whom Mrs Saville washed and to whom it was delivered with other articles belonging to Mr Attenborough, the week before she went into the union workhouse. Mr Attenborough’s linen was not returned and one of his shirt fronts was found in Saville’s trunk
The Journal had provided greater detail about the blood stains on the shirt which seemed to match the stains you would expect from the commission of a cut-throat murder. The Review sparked interest and curiosity as to what the prisoner might have been doing at Colwick on the night before the murder. The Mercury actually named the owner of the bloody shirt. This was exactly the sort of detail the masses wanted to hear and sparked endless debates over the following week. Tales of bloody shirts abounded and the ballad sellers hastily amended their verses to incorporate the latest news. One added a shirt dripping with blood onto the branch of a tree on his canvas daub.
TO BE CONTINUED
Copyright@ Michael Sheridan 2013 All rights reserved.
[i] Nottingham Review Friday June 14th 1844 Page 5
[ii] Nottingham Journal Friday June 14th 1844
[iii] Nottingham Mercury Friday June 14th 1844