As the new week started on Monday 12th August yet another Coroner’s Inquisition began. Shire Hall was busy once more with many witnesses called and their depositions recorded. A jury was sworn in and the Coroner sought an explanation for all of the sudden deaths. Many people in Nottingham were blaming the Police for failing to control the crowd.
Inspector Isaac Meldrum had been tasked with providing a convincing explanation for the dreadful events of August 9th. There had been much talk in the town that the rush and panic in the crowd immediately after the drop had been caused by robbers and pick-pockets. It was well known that large crowds as found at fairs and races provided endless opportunities for “easing a bloke”. It was also known that a cry had rung out clearly just after the drop . “Now’s the time for a rush!” This was a term for a particular type of robbery. Usually a large gang of men would surround their victim and simply help themselves to whatever valuables their victim had on their person. Any resistance would be met by instant violence. The moments just before and after the drop provided an ideal time for robbing an unsuspecting victim. The huge crowd would make an escape very simple. There were some people present at the hanging who reported valuables stolen and at least one account of a lady who had her ear-drops torn from her ears. The majority of the crowd consisted of women who had travelled in from the poorer parts of Nottingham surrounding villages and had few possessions to their name. What little they did have was contained in a pocket sewn into their long skirts. This fact was well known and many women were found with some or indeed nearly all of their clothes ripped off. It would not do to have so many deaths blamed on robbery and violence. Inspector Meldrum needed to find some answers and find them quickly. What made the crowd panic? Why were so many people killed and injured? Who or what was responsible? How could the hanging of one man cause so much death and injury to others?
The numerous copies of the Nottingham newspapers were read again and again, each reader seeking his own answer to the events of the previous week. Maybe the answers could be found in print? There were some who still thought Saville was innocent and had not been given a fair trial. Even the smallest detail would spark a conversation and debate and support for those who had no doubt that Saville was guilty was provided by an unlikely source. The Nottingham Review had carried a very different story in its pages on Friday August 9th. On page three under a heading of “Saville the Murderer; Particulars of his Life” it carried news not provided by the Mercury or the Journal. In a cradle to the grave article, it began with Saville’s earliest days when he lived with an aunt in Arnold as his father was away enlisted in the Army. Of particular interest was the great detail surrounding Saville meeting and marrying Ann Ward.
“Saville went with his father to work at the house of Mr Lynch in Daybrook, both working in stocking frames. There he met Ann Ward, a few years his senior. Nine years before her marriage she had worked in the service of Mr Buchan. She had an intimacy with a young man at Daybrook and had an illegitimate child; this had lost her the position with Mr Buchan. She then went into lodgings in Nottingham in the house of a draper.She then met Saville and after an intimacy became the second time in the family way. Saville left Lynch’s house and went to live at the house of his brother in law in Earl Street taking his frame with him. Mrs Brownsword asked Saville to marry her sister Ann Ward as she had two illegitimate children. He had no objection to marriage but pointed out that he had no home and didn’t want to support an illegitimate child. Mrs Brownsword offered to furnish him with a home at her expense and to allow him four shillings a week to support the illegitimate offspring. Mrs Brownsword was housekeeper and cook to George Rawson Esq on Low Pavement and with the assistance of her brother Mr Ward fulfilled her promise. She arranged they should be married at Sneinton church though Saville objected unless the bride went in a new silk gown which was provided. They were married on 9th November 1835 and went to reside in Red Street. A £10 note was given to them for the first week of housekeeping. From the very first Saville behaved cruelly towards his wife. After a few months they moved to Queen Street then Angel Alley in Goose Gate. At this house Mrs Saville’s first child was born. Saville was consistently cruel to both wife and child, leading to frequent quarrels. From its birth Saville ill-used the child, reportedly holding it up by the heels until it was blue in the face. When about two months old it died; its death was sudden and suspicious. Ann frequently cried in the presence of friends and told them she believed he had “doubled it backwards”. Immediately after the death they moved to Radford and resided in Pelican Street for a few weeks. They were still receiving four shillings a week for the illegitimate child, his conduct to it was brutal. When it cried at night he would not let her go to it. After crying for a long time it would wet its bed and Saville would whip it cruelly. A neighbour informed Mrs Brownsword, she went to see the child and found it covered in bruises and sores from head to foot. Mrs Brownsword took the child away and placed it with a Mr Newbold of Long Row. When she the returned the child to Radford Saville swore much and said “He would never work for another man’s bastard!” After the child had been back a week Saville and his wife agreed to separate and each take a portion of the furniture. Mrs Saville went to live with Mrs Newbold and obtained a livelihood shoe-binding. Saville and his father went into lodgings at Sneinton. There Saville assumed the name of George Terry. Mrs Newbold found Mrs Saville was in the habit of giving her husband the greater part of her earnings. After nine or ten weeks with the Newbolds she went again to work for Mr Buchan who was then residing at Sneinton, leaving her child in lodgings. The illegitimate child was taken by its father at Daybrook but was then returned to Nottingham, left in Nottingham Market Place and then taken to St Marys Workhouse. The mother of Mrs Saville died and Saville was offered £5 if he would live with his wife again by William Ward her brother. He consented and took a house in Youngs Square St Johns Street Sneinton. There was no improvement in his conduct, he used to kick and beat his wife unmercifully. This attracted the attention of neighbours who used to hoot after him in the streets. During their time in Youngs Square in 1837 Mary was born. After six months they moved to Carrington.”
This information came as a shock to many who had been following the story in the pages of the Review. This was a liberal newspaper and had not followed the line taken by the Journal which had pronounced Saville as guilty long before his trial. During both his inquisition and trial, Saville’s mostly calm and composed manner had bemused some and charmed others. He did not seem capable of the crimes laid against him. Now here was another side to Saville, previously unknown, a savage man capable of beating his wife and children. The article in the Review continued………..
“The family lived in Carrington for twelve months but Saville was away for four months in prison for stealing a coat from the British Sailor Public House in Carrington Street. At the sessions held in November 1837 William Saville aged 22 pleaded not guilty to stealing a coat on 31st July last, the property of William Freeman. Beardsley of Daybrook gave the prisoner a good character for eight years whilst neighbour Mr Lynch gave him a good character since he was nine. He was found guilty and sentenced to be imprisoned at the House of Correction for three calendar months. A fortnight before being taken to prison he fetched in a broker to sell his furniture but was prevented from doing so by Mrs Brownsword. At the time of his apprehension Saville’s father lived with them and worked in a stocking frame. When in prison Saville’s frame was let to another stocking maker and Mrs Saville obtained a livelihood by seaming for two frames. She found some means of sending food to her husband in prison. After his release Saville took a house again in Sneinton and there, Mary their second daughter was born in 1839. They stayed in the house for six months then Saville called on Mrs Brownsword saying he was unable to obtain work and induced her to get him a situation at Southwell. Upon going to Southwell he “moonshined” from Sneinton and Mr Young his landlord sent Whitworth the Constable after him on Southwell Road. Overtaken, he was made to pay arrears of rent. They remained at Southwell for one year, Saville working as a stocking maker. Mrs Brownsword and her brother paid the rent for the first six months. Another child, Thomas was born in 1840 whilst they were in Southwell. They returned from Southwell and lived in Young’s Yard at Sneinton once more. Soon after Saville deserted his family and went “on tramp”. Ann supported herself and family for three months and was then obliged to apply for parochial assistance. At the latter end of 1842 she went into the Union Workhouse, staying there nine weeks. Saville called at the workhouse but was apprehended and committed to the House of Correction for two months for leaving his family chargeable to the parish. He came out of prison on 25 January 1842 and went with his family to Derby where his youngest child Lucy Ann was born. Mr Ward set Saville up as a greengrocer with a shop taken for him in Waterloo Street and supplied him with money to commence his business. Saville neglected the business “which did not answer” and they were obliged to move to a smaller shop near St Michaels church. They stayed there one week then moved to a house in Hill Street on London Road. Here they stayed one month. They moved next to Traffic Street staying three months then Saville came to Nottingham by himself, leaving his wife and family destitute. After a few days he fetched his family from Derby and took a house in Washington Street where they remained until his wife and family went again into the workhouse on January 2nd 1844. On 24th February Lucy Ann died.”
More shocking news and now the Review’s readers saw a very different man to the one in the dock and on the scaffold. A man imprisoned twice, a man who deserted his wife and children. A man who was constantly supported by the generosity of his wife’s family yet always contrived to fail to support his own. The Review continued the story but the rest of the article was already familiar to most readers. There was some information about his time with the Suttons and Elizabeth Tate, how he conducted himself immediately after the trial and his time waiting for the day of execution. It referred to the confession by Saville and detailed his last hours. The article concluded with an editorial comment on the confession made by Saville;
“The public will scarcely be willing to give credence to this pretended confession. The criminal was apparently anxious that the world should look upon him as a better man than he really was. The man who had been in the habit of telling falsehoods all his life appears to have been unable to speak the truth on the approach of death.”[i]
If Saville still had any friends or supporters left it was highly unlikely that they could have been readers of the Nottingham Review. News that Saville had actually confessed at all came as a shock to many. The many thousands attending the execution had hoped he would speak and his failure to do so had proved a great disappointment. Now came more talk and recriminations; had Saville somehow, in some way been responsible for the behaviour of the crowd?
To be continued
Copyright@Michael Sheridan 2014 All rights reserved
[i] Nottingham Review Page 3 Friday August 9 1844