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Maria Louisa Roulson (aka Old Ma Lechmere)

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  • Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
    Click image for larger version Name:	DE3BF995-9253-410C-B4C3-1950C1044870.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	574.2 KB ID:	583995

    OK, OK!!

    The Incident in Pipe Lane: A Double Coincidence?

    In December, 1856, a man named Edward Whitcomb appeared before the Hereford justices charged with assaulting a PC Cross in Pipe Lane, Hereford. The prosecution claimed that Whitcomb had passed Constable Cross in the lane and had upbraided him for neglecting his duty by being in conversation with a female through an open window. Cross initially ignored Whitcomb and carried on along his beat, but a moment later he heard him kicking a stable door and returned to ask him to desist. On being confronted, Whitcomb squared up to the constable and struck him on the forehead, knocking him to the ground and rendering him unconscious. Cross’s injuries were quite severe, there was a star-shaped wound on his head that was 3/4 of an inch deep and went down to the bone, suggesting he had been struck with an implement of some kind. When he was arrested, Whitcomb was found to be in possession of two castration implements, but he was insistent that he had only used his fist on Cross and then only after the PC had struck his wife.

    Although the press report* doesn’t make it explicit that she was the female with whom Cross was alleged to have been in conversation, a woman named Eliza Botham gave evidence and corroborated the prosecution’s version of events, except for one intriguing detail. According to Emily, she had merely opened her window to let in some fresh air and had overheard PC Cross in conversation with a ‘Mr Lechmere’ who lived nearby.

    Whitcomb was found guilty of assault and received a fine of 10s.

    Could PC Cross have been Thomas Cross, the young man who went on to become Charles Lechmere’s ‘stepfather’? Could the Mr Lechmere referred to by Eliza Botham have been Charles Lechmere’s father, John Allen Lechmere, the disgraced anatomical boot maker of Hereford?

    Having lead everyone up the garden path, I think the answer to both of the questions above is ‘probably not’. No christian name is given for this PC Cross, but there are several press reports of a Hereford PC named Cross going back to at least 1853. I believe Thomas Cross was born in 1836, so he was perhaps too young to have been patrolling Hereford as early as 1853. That said, I recall Ed Stow saying that when he died Thomas Cross required an extra large coffin. Perhaps a strapping 17/18-year-old country lad was considered man enough to shoulder the responsibilities of a provincial PC in the 1850s.

    As for ‘Mr Lechmere’, there is evidence that John Allen Lechmere was already in Northampton by 1855, when the first child of his second family was born.

    Pipe Lane’s alternative name of Gwynn Street was coined in recognition of the fact that it is alleged to have been the birthplace of Nell Gwynn, the courtesan paramour of Charles II. The photo above shows Pipe Lane’s picturesque but somewhat ramshackle appearance in the late 19th century. I think it’s unlikely that the Mr Lechmere mentioned by Eliza Botham was one of the wealthy Lechmeres of Fownhope. So who was he?


    *Hereford Times, 20th December, 1856
    I think it’s quite likely that the ‘Mr Lechmere’ mentioned here was George Scudamore Lechmere, and is it out of the question that there were two PC Crosses in Hereford in 1856 or that Tom Cross lied about his age to enlist?

    We’re unlikely ever to know for sure, but the possibility that Tom Cross and George Lechmere worked together has to be considered.

    Comment


    • I doubt it is Thomas Cross.
      An interesting story nonetheless.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Edward Stow View Post
        I doubt it is Thomas Cross.
        An interesting story nonetheless.
        Why?

        As I mentioned before, there are references to a ‘Mr’ Lechmere making arrests in Hereford. That struck me as odd, but perhaps it was a class thing, people thought it proper to address him as Mr even though he was just a Bobby on the beat.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Edward Stow View Post
          I doubt it is Thomas Cross.
          An interesting story nonetheless.
          PC Cross was accused of dereliction of duty for ‘talking to a female, who was at a window’ in Pipe Lane.

          Looking at the 1861 census there is only one household explicitly shown on the schedule as being in Pipe Lane, but the one above it, Gleebe Cottage, is transcribed as Gleebe Cottage, Pipe Lane on Find My Past.

          A farmer named James Clayton was living in Gleebe Cottage in 1861, and if you look back to 1851 he is recorded as living in Pipe between the Pipe Vicarage and Highway Cottage. In his household in 1851 was a 12-year-old servant girl named Harriet Daw. She was still in the household, aged 23, in 1861. It seems likely, therefore, that she was there in 1856, aged 17, two or three years younger than Thomas Cross.

          And she had been born in Breinton, the same small parish as Thomas Cross.

          Could just be a coincidence of course.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post

            PC Cross was accused of dereliction of duty for ‘talking to a female, who was at a window’ in Pipe Lane.

            Looking at the 1861 census there is only one household explicitly shown on the schedule as being in Pipe Lane, but the one above it, Gleebe Cottage, is transcribed as Gleebe Cottage, Pipe Lane on Find My Past.

            A farmer named James Clayton was living in Gleebe Cottage in 1861, and if you look back to 1851 he is recorded as living in Pipe between the Pipe Vicarage and Highway Cottage. In his household in 1851 was a 12-year-old servant girl named Harriet Daw. She was still in the household, aged 23, in 1861. It seems likely, therefore, that she was there in 1856, aged 17, two or three years younger than Thomas Cross.

            And she had been born in Breinton, the same small parish as Thomas Cross.

            Could just be a coincidence of course.
            Did Maria have a rival for young Tommy’s affections? A much younger woman he had known since childhood? Potentially another reason for the move to London.

            We seem to be entering Mills and Boon territory. ;-)

            Comment


            • In your fevered imagination... if I'm allowed to make such a remark.
              The only connection is Cross and Breinton.
              My guess is it will be possible to trace this Cross.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Edward Stow View Post
                In your fevered imagination... if I'm allowed to make such a remark.
                The only connection is Cross and Breinton.
                My guess is it will be possible to trace this Cross.
                Fevered?

                The PC Cross who was attacked was treated at the local Infirmary. Are their records still in existence/accessible?


                Comment


                • I doubt it. But the census might turn up a Cross PC.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Edward Stow View Post
                    I doubt it. But the census might turn up a Cross PC.
                    It didn’t, by the way, only a PC George Scudamore Lechmere.

                    Comment

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