“…but what a change has taken place, there is nothing now wanting at Melton for any man’s comforts, provided he has the means to pay for them; and there are two hotels, the George and the Harborough Arms, which equal in accommodation and comfort any that I have experience of. Some idea, indeed, may be formed of the style in which the Harborough is fitted up by the fact that the very passages, upstairs and down, are entirely covered with carpet …”
Luxury indeed! But Melton was indeed very expensive then; it is said that to be in with the flow of these rich winter visitors required the possession of at least 12 good hunters which would have then cost at least £1000 a year to maintain; at the beginning of the 21st century, this would have equated to over a million pounds. J.B. Firth in his book, ‘The Highways and Byways in Leicestershire,‘ writes:
‘…During the ‘thirties Lyne Stephens, reputed to be the richest commoner in England, spent money lavishly in the town. He fitted up his stables with mahogany partitions and had gold embroidery on the green sheets with which he covered his horses. Naturally, he was a wretched horseman and his stables had the reputation of being unlucky. The costs increased. If a man was heavyweight he needed the best horse flesh for the Leicestershire jumps and the best horse-flesh was never cheap. Many were forced to give up in the race to compete socially on the grounds of cost alone, but Melton remained the ‘only’ place to hunt; there was no comparison in any other part of the country. In 1830, whereas a man with five hunters and a hack could make “a respectable appearance with the Provincials” he had no business in Leicestershire, where he would be half the time kicking his heels in the town where he was quartered, while his friends were enjoying themselves in the field. It was estimated that the custom of the hunting visitors was worth £50,000 a year and that there were generally from 250 – 300 horses in the stables. At an average of 10 horses to each sportsman that only meant 30 visitors, but some kept from fourteen to twenty and the Earl of Plymouth at Melton Lodge, exceeded even the latter number. Capt. Pennell-Elmhurst writing in the ‘seventies, had a similar story to tell. In his view the minimum required to see a hunting man safely through the winter, if he wished to hunt every day, was six thoroughly seasoned hunters. Even then he would be sure to miss many a good afternoon gallop for want of a spare mount. Nor was the long purse the only qualification. The social exclusiveness of Melton is very delicately but no less definitely hinted at by many writers.”
‘Beresford, Henry de la Poer, third marquess of Waterford (1811–1859), reprobate and landowner, was born on 26 April 1811 at 5 Mansfield Street, Marylebone, Middlesex, the second son of Henry de la Poer Beresford, second marquess of Waterford (1772–1826), and his wife, Lady Susanna Hussey Carpenter (1784–1827), daughter of the second earl of Tyrconnel. His elder brother and both his parents died before he was seventeen, and the young marquess, who was educated at Eton College (1824–9), became notorious for his wildness. (He returned to Eton in 1838 to steal the headmaster’s whipping block, an exploit Waterford celebrated with an annual dinner.) He matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1829, but was invited to leave, and for the next decade he was to be found most frequently at the racetrack, on the hunting-field, or in the police courts. His favoured companions were young ‘sporting men’, prize-fighters, and prostitutes; powerfully built, rich, and with an uncontrolled sense of humour, it amused him to challenge passers-by to fight him, to break windows, to upset (literally) applecarts. He painted the Melton Mowbray toll-bar red; he fought a duel; he painted the heels of a parson’s horse with aniseed and hunted him with bloodhounds. When, as frequently occurred, his activities landed him in court, he laughed at (and paid) the derisory fines which were designed to control the excesses of the working class, not those of the apparently limitlessly wealthy aristocracy. Waterford’s reputation as a rowdy and boisterous ruffian led to his name being associated with Spring-Heeled Jack, the unknown figure who terrorized women in London in 1838 ….’
“ … He was a man of strange contrast as recorded by Lord William Pitt Lennox in his Drafts on my Memory, ‘I breakfasted at Lowesby Hall, then rented by Lord Waterford; there I was surprised to find how much his mind was stored with the writings of the best prose and poetical authors, ancient and modern. What a contrast did this intellect form to a variety of acts of folly which the noble lord perpetuated, some of which would have been heartless had not Waterford’s generosity always compensated those who suffered his larks.’
‘The Druid’ in Scott and Sebright describes the ‘Great Leicestershire Stag Hunt’ which actually took place while his lordship was at Lowesby. ‘The preparations for the meet at Twyford were on a remarkable scale. The stag was trained for days in a large walled kitchen garden and the Marquis with a horn and whip and a couple of little dogs kept him in exercise for hours among the gooseberry bushes. The hounds had one of their best pipe-openers by running the drag of a clerical visitor, whose horse’s feet had been secretly aniseeded and all seemed right for the action except the huntsman, he was a stranger. On the day, the stag made his point for the Queniborough road between Barsby and South Croxton and then bent to the right, through Barsby village. Up to this point the huntsman had gone well, and hallooing like a maniac; but his right foot was seen to fly up as high as his head, crossing a ridge and furrow, and he was heard of no more. The Marquis was then left in command, the hounds ran well for Brooksby and down the turnpike road for Rearsby, there the stag bolted into a farmyard and finally into a cellar, where it kicked the spigot out of the ale barrel, and flooded the place before it could be secured.’ The riders who took part were fortunate if they found their way home again, for the Marquis had all the arms of the signposts sawn off and turned the wrong way round. Until recently, many of the posts in this area were still braced with iron angle brackets, which were fixed when the arms were replaced in their correct positions. The Druid tells us how his lordship once rode from Lowesby to Melton and back, by moonlight in an hour, this being a distance of some 15 miles (not thirteen as stated) and jumped all the stiles between Twyford and Lowesby on the return journey. He also fastened his horses to a flat bottomed fishing boat from Lowesby pond and enjoyed a sledge-ride along a frosty road, until the horses took fright at Twyford Windmill and jumped the hedge.
It was at this [Lowesby] Hall, one December evening after dinner, that Lord Waterford accomplished the remarkable feat of jumping a five barred gate that had been brought into the dining room. He did this on his hunter, Don Juan, for a wager of one hundred guineas. The gate is still hanging on the wall in the stables and a coloured print depicting the event hung in the dining room, and was shown to the Prince of Wales on his visit in 1877. At the end of his first season at Lowesby, the Marquis, together with the Hon. John Beresford. Lord Rosslyn and Col. Dundas, sailed for New York, where they were soon in trouble with their pranks. They demolished two street lamps, broke windows, attacked and stripped a bystander and the watchman who tried to arrest them. They were eventually imprisoned, but discharged after representation by the British Consul and after agreeing to pay the watchman twenty dollars. Two years later he tried similar tricks in Norway, but was felled by a blow from a watchman’s staff. It was later reported that ‘the Marquis of Waterford is fully recovered, he was tried at Bergen and sentence passed, he was absolved from the accusation and the watchman from all further prosecution, the latter is to pay the costs’. Back in England he continued to commit his own follies, or encourage others on the same course. Imagine the surprise of the officials of the London and Greenwich Railway Company when they received this communication, ‘Sirs, I am anxious to witness a train smash. If you allow two of your engines to collide, head on, at full speed, I will contribute a sum of £10,000 to your funds, Waterford.’ The Company replied, ‘Sir, you must be mad if you think for one moment that the Company would entertain your proposal.’
He had a mania for collecting door-knockers and bell pulls, and when he died thousands of these were found among his possessions. Mr Ralph Neville, in Sporting Days and Sporting Ways avers that his Lordship once put a donkey into the bed of a stranger at an Inn, and that he amused himself at a sporting box which he took in the Shires [presumably Lowesby], by shooting out the eyes of the family portraits with a pistol. The older inhabitants of Twyford village used to tell curious stories from the fund of recollections handed down to them from the days of the Marquis. He was riding through the village, past the Plough Inn, an old thatched building, when he noticed the sign depicting a man ploughing with two horses, below which were the words:
‘A barrel in the cornerSprung from barley mow,A place to treat a friendSo god speed the plough.’
Accepting the invitation to speed the plough, the Marquis and a friend came back at night, removed the sign and galloped away with it. The owner suspected the Marquis as the culprit and went to him to protest. He was given £10, a good feast and returned home with the sign. After this liberal treatment, everyone in the village who had something conspicuous hanging outside their house, hoped for a visit from Lord Waterford. But, as history now tells us, all of these escapades pale into insignificance when compared with the occurrences in Melton Mowbray in the early hours of Thursday 6th April 1837, when our town became notorious throughout the land as the ‘The Town that was painted Red’. Once, four glee singers who had been performing and entertaining in the streets of Melton Mowbray arrived at the residence of the Marquis, whence they were invited in after singing their songs. They were said there to be plied so freely with wine that they were all quite overcome and were later discovered by the police stretched out in various parts of the town. The following Tuesday they were fined 5/- each towards the cleaning of the lock-up. When the Marquis finally left the town at the end of the 1839–40 season, the press reported, ‘His Lordship and party have exercised a most noble and generous hospitality during their sojourn here.’
‘Being at the Bell at Leicester during the Assizes I saw the great Marquis in the front of the hotel with some of his admirers. A commercial coming out of the hotel at the time was challenged by the Marquis to fight, but declined until he got a playful tap on the nose, which he returned in such good earnest that the Marquis of Waterford threw him a “fiver” as a settler. But the commercial’s blood was up, and his spirit being great, he insisted on his opponent seeing which of the two was in reality the best man, and the Marquis thereupon got as sound a drubbing as it ever happened to be my lot to see. The hangers-on of the hotel were sorely disappointed at the defeat of their favourite, to whom for weighty reasons they were accustomed to a toady.”
‘Practical jokes cannot be defended, nor can other eccentricities, entitled larks, be approved of, however original is the idea and ludicrous is the effect, and yet few could help laughing at some of the pranks of poor Waterford. His energy in painting the Melton toll-bar a bright red, his putting aniseed on the heels of a clergyman’s horse and running him with bloodhounds, his set-to with the basso of a travelling set of minstrels, his fierce encounter with the Norwegian watchman, his prowess in wrenching off door-knockers, in pulling down signs, in placing a donkey in the bed of some unlucky wight [person], his patronage of Deaf Burke, his shooting the eyes out of certain portraits which he found in a hunting box which he rented, were perfectly unjustifiable; but there was a redeeming point in Waterford’s character, he paid liberally for any damage he did. The toll-keeper received a handsome gratuity; the clergyman was presented with a haunch of venison – ‘…a finer a fatter. Ne’er ranged in a forest, or smoked on a platter’ – The basso singer went away with a black eye and a five pound note, his Lordship’s face being somewhat damaged in the fistic encounter, the Norwegian watchman was probably squared, Deaf Burke liberally paid, and the owner of the portraits had to put the damaged ones down in the bill.’
‘The Town of Melton Mowbray, has during the last week, been in considerable excitement, owing to the Croxton Park Races. There were more than the usual quantity of strangers of rank and fashion, who came to visit their friends generally residing in this metropolis of fox-hunting during the winter months. The Marquis of Waterford, with a large party, attended the races and slept at Melton. There were large dinner parties most evenings at the New Club and Lord Rokeby’s. On Thursday morning, about 3 o’clock, the peaceful inhabitants of the place were aroused from their slumbers by a great noise. A party, with the Marquis as leader, attacked the constables and, knocked them down. A short time afterwards, being joined by several more “gentlemen,” as they are called at Melton, they visited the Grantham Toll-gate, screwed up the door and window shutters, made a great noise, and called out “Gate!” The keeper, thinking that someone was about to break into his house, reached down a loaded horse pistol; but fortunately for the gentlemen, in his confusion he could not find powder for the priming, or they would have quickly felt the effects of shot No. 1. They proceeded down the Beast-market, [Sherrard Street] and one of them carried a large tin of red paint and other brushes. The front doors of the houses of Mr. Norman and Mr. Berridge, the surgeon, were smeared over; knockers were wrenched off the doors of Mr. Gray, Miss Gray and Mr. Corner; some flower-pots were demolished at Mr George Bishop’s, who threw open the window and called ”Watch!” The Marquis was lifted up by his companions to the figure of the Old White Swan, in the market-place, and the colour was quickly altered to red. Most of the houses in this part of the town “came in for the brush.” The window of the post-office was screwed up – the letter-box painted, Mr Hall’s windows broken, a caravan with a man sleeping in it nearly upset, the sign of the Red Lion thrown into the canal, and other outrages committed of a similar order, too numerous to mention. The watchmen, with the assistance of the constables, seized two of the painters, one escaped, and the other, Mr Edward Horner Reynard, was lodged in the Bridewell, as the constables thought, safely for the remainder of the night. Shortly after Reynard was “run to ground;” the Marquis, Sir Frederick Johnstone, the hon. Mr. Villiers, with the remainder of the party, attacked the watchhouse, broke three locks open, and, not being able to force the fourth, beat the constables, (Mason and Campion) and threatened to murder them if they did not deliver up the key of the remaining lock. The constables, from fear of their lives, were obliged to release their prisoner, and were glad to be released themselves.Thursday was the second day of Croxton Park races, and as it had been intimated that the remaining part of the town would be visited in the evening, about eight special constables were sworn in to preserve the future peace. It was thought by many that after the very serious injuries the peace officers had received, and a prison having been broken the last night, a day’s reflection would bring the rioters to their senses, that extra precautions were unnecessary: but they were deceived. Another night of disturbance followed, and the special constables with their assistants, it is thought by some, helped to increase it. The Marquis, with Captain Grantham and Mr Reynard, were again in the streets; a row, either occasioned by the over-officiousness of the “specials,” or by a challenge to fight any of the party from the Marquis, again ensued; and Mr Reynard was carried off by three of the constables, and a second time locked up in his old quarters; the Marquis, unfortunately, was allowed to escape. There was no painting the second night; but noise, oaths, and blackguard language like unto it, has seldom been heard at any place, and never before in the streets of Melton. Mr Richard Norman, the resident magistrate, was applied to very early on Thursday morning, and took down informations against the ringleaders as soon as they could be identified. On Friday, at 1 o’clock, he, Mr. Roger Manners, and the Rev. E. Hartopp, took their seats at the large room at the Bell and Swan hotel, to investigate the proceedings of the two last nights.The first witness called was William Digby, who said, I am assistant watchman. About half past two o’clock on Thursday morning, Mr Reynard and four more gentlemen came to me and the other watchmen in the market-place. They began to jostle us. We wished them to be quiet, but they would not. They offered to take our staves from us. They went down to the Noel’s Arms, and tried to turn a caravan over. We prevented them. They went towards Lord Rokeby’s. Mr Reynard was as bad as the rest. About a quarter of an hour afterwards heard a disturbance towards the Grantham Toll-gate. Met a party of gentlemen near the top of Back-street. One of them [had] a tin of paint, and two or three of the party had brushes. We remonstrated with them. Hugh Barnes, one of the constables, snatched a paint brush out of the hands of one of them; four of them rushed upon Barnes knocked him down, and Mr Reynard painted him all over his face. I assisted a short time afterwards in taking him to the Bridewell.Before the examination of Digby was concluded, Mr V. Green, Captain Grantham, and from 150 to 200 of the inhabitants of Melton, of all grades, were present to witness the proceedings. The large room was quite full. Mr Cowdell was proceeding to cross-examine Digby, when Mr. Reynard said, “I do not wish all this kind of thing. I wish it to be done in a sporting like manner.” (Applause from the audience.)Hugh Barnes, being sworn, said, I am watchman and night constable of Melton Mowbray. Whilst on my rounds I the morning of the 6th instant, six gentlemen came up to me in the market-place, and tried, without any provocation, to wrest my staff from me; the Marquis of Waterford and another offered to fight the watchmen; saw the gentleman sometime afterwards doing mischief near Mr. Judds and Mr. George Bishop’s. Mr. Bishop called for the assistance of the watch. I snatched the paint brush out of the hands of one gentleman, four of them rushed upon me, and knocked me down; they kicked me when down, sprained my hand, and painted me all over with red paint. I was present when one of the party was lodged in the watchhouse; a short time after he was locked up, the Marquis of Waterford, Sir F. Johnstone, a tall gentleman, and seven or eight others, came to the Bridewell, and swore they would murder us if we did not let their friend out; three of them seized me, and knocked me down in the Bridewell-yard. I have been very much hurt.William Campion stated that he was a constable appointed at Lord Melbourne’s manor court; that a short time before 4 o’clock he was called up by one of the watchmen to assist in preserving the peace of the town, the watchmen being overpowered. Mr. Reynard and a tall gentleman came up towards the church, near to the market-place. Wright seized Mr. Reynard; he escaped from him. He (Campion) then seized him, and in the struggle they both fell together. Mr. Reynard lost one shoe and his hat in the fall. The tall gentleman then struck me in the neck, and ran away. I assisted in locking Mr. Reynard in the Bridewell; he was all over red paint, and wore a short dark-coloured round jacket. About ten minutes afterwards this same tall gentleman, the Marquis of Waterford, Sir F. Johnstone, and the Hon. Mr. Villiers, and about seven more came down to the Bridewell-yard. The Marquis of Waterford swore that they would have their friend out of the watch-house, or he would murder them all. I said I should not let him out without and order from a magistrate; it was a county prison. One or two of them said they were magistrates; I said that it must be a magistrate of the county that I know. Sir F. Johnstone and the Marquis of Waterford knocked the three padlocks off the prison door with an instrument about a foot long, but they could not break the lock, which was let into the frame. Some of the party demanded the keys; the tall gentleman knocked me down, and swore he would murder me. They searched my pockets, and kicked me violently when down. The Marquis, Sir Frederick, and another took me up to the window of the prison to ask Mr. Reynard if I was the person who locked him up. The Marquis said, “If you won’t tell me where the keys are, I will murder you,” holding up the iron instrument in a threatening manner. Another person with a mop-stail threatened to cleave me down if I did not open the door. I was obliged to find the key, which I hid in the yard, and as they could not unlock the door, I did it for them, for I was afraid of my life. None of the party appeared much intoxicated, they could walk well, and were very strong. I escaped over a wall, and was glad enough to get away I do assure you.He was asked by Mr. William Latham, who assisted the magistrates in the examination, if he knew who the tall gentleman was. Witness answered Lord Althorp. (A laugh, in which Mr. Reynard joined.) Campion said “You misunderstood me, I said Lord Alford.”Mr. Norman said, that however painful it might be, he and his fellow magistrates, after having heard the evidence, felt themselves bound to send the case to a higher tribunal to be disposed of. The prison had been broken, great outrages committed, and these offences could not be looked over as cases of a minor kind.They ultimately bound Mr. Reynard over to appear at the sessions to answer to charges of assault and riot, himself in a penalty of 200l [£200], and two sureties (Mr. R.S. Berridge, surgeon, and Mr. George Bishop, liquor-merchant), in 100l each.Mr. Cowdell said, what charge do you bring against Mr. Reynard for the proceedings of this morning? The magistrates said they did not know until the witnesses were examined; they had yet to learn what had taken place.John Wright, watchman, said, that about a quarter before 3 o’clock the Marquis, with another gentleman, was in the streets making a noise – very much drunker that the morning before, and wanted to fight Brown: said to Brown he would give him 5l if he would stand before him for 10 minutes; Mr. Reynard came running up, and said he would fight any special constable amongst them; Mr. Pears, the pipe-maker was standing by, and said, “Wright, you dare not take him;” he (witness) and two or three others then took him to the watchhouse.Thomas Millington, a special constable, saw Mr. Reynard amongst the crowd; he offered to fight any of us; he struck at him but missed him, as he stooped to avoid the blow; Reynard was very drunk.Mr. Norman, Mr. Manners and Mr. Hartopp thought the offence of the last night a slight one, if he had not been one of the party the night before. They fined him for being drunk 5s, and discharged him. Warrants were desired to be made out against the Marquis of Waterford, Sir F. Johnstone, and the Hon. Mr. Villiers. As the tall gentleman could not be clearly identified as Lord Alford, no warrant was ordered to be made out against him.It is right to name that of the 11 persons engaged in the riot, only one, Sir F. Johnstone, is resident at Melton.’
‘ Mr. HEYRICK rose to call the attention of the court to a subject of great importance, a subject on which he was not at present about to make a motion, and respecting which he had not spoken to any of his brother magistrates. The subject to which he alluded materially affected certain parties who had violently resisted constables in the execution of their duty; and in calling the attention of the magistrates to it, he need not remind them that it had ever been the custom of all courts to punish such offences with great severity. Last session an indictment had been referred against an individual who (though of the first in rank and fortune) had made himself most notorious for his systematic, presumptuous, and wicked opposition to the officers of the law, whom, indeed, he held in complete defiance. That crime was greatly to be reprobated in any one, but much more so when he who committed it had a double commission to make those laws which he had broken, and to administer those laws which he did not keep. If the matter was allowed to pass over, it might give rise to a suspicion that the trammels of the law were found to fail before the rich man, and the poor would be apt to think that the privileges of the peer had allowed the offender to escape that punishment which his offences richly merited. He did not for a moment think that the peers of England were anxious to avail themselves of such a shield, firmly believing that they possessed too much magnanimity and wisdom to wish to screen one of their order from the consequences which must result from a line of conduct calculated to produce the utmost contempt and disgust. He believed, and all around him believed, that the certiorari which removed that proceeding from their court would never be heard of in another, he being of [the] opinion that the constables had weighty reasons for not proceeding with the prosecution. Now, those keepers of the peace, who had been tempted by the breakers of the peace to cheat the public of that which the public had a right to expect from them, were non-commissioned officers of their court, and as they (the magistrates) were sworn to keep the peace to the poor as well as the rich – with special reference to those who were in honour and authority – it would be a mockery of those solemnities connected with them if their court should knowingly connive at an attempt to defeat the ends of justice. He was sure that their court would not for a moment entertain such a thought – he was satisfied that every member of it would repudiate any offer that might be made with scorn and contempt. It was not enough, however, that a court of Justice should not be guilty of such iniquitous conduct – it ought not even to be suspected of it. Therefore, if the constables should fail to bring the question to an issue, he should, at the next court, move “That the magistrates do take such means as they may think proper to pursue that investigation which the justices of the district had thought proper to put in train.” Though it was the duty of the constables to bring it forward, it was in the power of the magistrates to do so, and he was happy to know that justice would not be defeated by the connivance of the constables, the written documents [the depositions taken on the examination at Melton] being safe in the hands of the chairman.The CHAIRMAN: Yes, they are safe in my possession.Mr. HEYRICK resumed: All he was anxious for was, that the enquiry should not be forgotten where it had been begun. He was not insensible to these allowances which were generally made for the extravagancies of youth, and he could very well conceive that there was some difference in the guilt of the parties implicated. He could distinguish between sins of infirmity and sins of presumption, and he did think that some had felt great sorrow for their conduct: but they, who had to look to the peace and morals of the community, must not forget that those allowances which a father might make for the faults of a dutiful child would be contemptible weakness and infamous justice if shown to one who so systematically and so presumptuously set justice at defiance. These were the reasons which had induced him to say thus much on a subject which he considered was of too serious a nature to be passed over in silence. He trusted that the parties concerned would save them (the magistrates) the trouble of interfering further, but if they did not he should consider it his duty to do so, and he would not be swerved from that duty though all the world were against him. If the case followed in the ordinary course of things, it ought to be tried at the next assizes, but if it did not it would be competent for them to take it for these reasons: – The Sovereign was the prosecutrix in all such proceedings – all the indictments running “against the peace of our sovereign lady the Queen.” She was bound to secure justice to all her subjects, and, though the party complaining was called the prosecutor, he was merely called so by courtesy, being, in fact, only the principal witness in all cases.The CHAIRMAN observed that the writ of certiorari was moved for on the part of the prosecution.Mr. HEYRICK replied that it did not make any difference. It would not have been moved from the Court of Queen’s Bench till the end of days, it being hoped by the parties concerned that it would never be brought to light again. Mr. Heyrick concluded his address by remarking that they were morally bound to carry it out, those who were associated with them in the magistracy having done their duty in beginning the investigation.’
“A letter we publish to-day, will be found well worthy of the perusal of our readers. Whether the narrative it contains be a fact or an imagination, is a question upon which those who read it will form their own opinion; but in whichever light it may be considered, the truth and force with which it illustrates the unequal operation of our laws, as too frequently administered upon different classes of society, cannot easily be excelled.The law of England recognizes no distinction between rich and poor in respect of either crimes or punishments, and we shall be unjust, indeed, if we did not acquit the learned and excellent persons who preside in our courts of judicature of any corrupt disposition to pervert the law, either by misconstruction of statutes, misdirection of juries, or deviation from the established course of practice, in favour of the individual. Still, there is no disguising the fact that some defects have crept into our administrative system which tend to establish in practice, and to a certain extent, that distinction which the law repudiates in theory.For some years there has existed in London, and not in London alone, a certain aristocratic coterie, consisting principally of very young men, who seem to find their chief occupation and amusement in public and notorious breaches of the peace. So perfectly well known are the principal actors in these disturbances, and so marked a character have they acquired, that, as an evening contemporary remarks, it has been a matter of course to exclaim, when such an outrage was spoken of, “Oh! It must be the one Lord W., or the other Lord W.,” meaning (for we shall not be so tender as our contemporary with respect to names) the Earl of WALDEGRAVE and the Marquis of WATERFORD. What redeeming virtues either of these noblemen may have (and we hope they have many), it is beside our present purpose to inquire; all we know is, that they have made an experiment, or rather a series of experiments, upon the patience and forbearance of the law; and very patient, and very forbearing, have they found it. …”
‘… It is thus that a whole nation is slandered and its just rights attempted to be intercepted upon the credit of a hairbrained, untutored stripling, as ignorant as the whelps he pursues, and as reckless as the dogs he haloos in their track; who, were he not a born legislator, would scarcely be allowed to move his lips at a parish vestry. …’
Mr. Fletzeniz, master of police at Bergen, has sent into the Department of Justice and Police a copy of an examination made in the Chamber of Police at Bergen, on the 14th inst. At the request of the British Consul, Mr. John Greig, in consequence of a complaint lodged by the friends of the Marquis of Waterford, of the pleasure yacht Charleoote, fromLodon, belonging to the Royal Yacht Squadron.The first witness examined was the watchman, Brynild Larsen Hamre, 44 years of age, who deposed that whilst on his post at the Halvkand-height, at 11 o’clock in the evening of the 11th instant, he had heard loud vociferations and other noises down in the New-way. On the side of the hill he met a woman with a man’s hat on, and by her side a man without a hat. Hearing that the man, who was dressed in a white smockfrock, was a stranger, he (the watchman) ordered the woman to be quiet, raising at the time his “morning star” (watchman’s club), but without offering to strike with it. His only object in doing so was to make himself intelligible to the stranger. They paid no attention to his (the watchman’s) remonstrance and the stranger stooped, lifted up a stone and advanced towards him. The stranger flourished the stone close to the watchman’s nose, jumped about, waved his arms, and seemed desirous of showing that he was the stronger and more active man of the two. He (the watchman) wished to make the stranger incapable of mischief by giving him a smart blow on the right arm; but as the latter stooped at the moment to catch hold of him, the blow unintentionally came upon the head, and the stranger fell. At that moment the fire officer on duty came that way, and ordered the watchman to go for assistance to the guard-house, and to convey the wounded man thither. In the mean time the latter rose again of his own accord, and went away with the woman. Witness had not had time to sound his whistle, being obliged, in his own defence, to hold his club with both hands. He had been 11 years in the army, and had been a watchman during the last seven years. He has a wife and four children. The superintendent of the watchmen deposed that the last witness, an able, sedate, and confidential man, had reported at the midnight muster that he had been obliged to strike an Englishman who was making a row with a girl. He (the superintendent) had not thought it necessary to report the case, such encounter with drunken foreign sailors being of frequent occurrence in the public-houses where girls of that description reside.
The fire-officer on duty, Mr. Albert Mohn, a merchant, said he had come up on hearing a blow given and seeing a man fall. He had given the order, as stated by the watchman, had helped to lift up the fallen man, and had directed the woman to convey him to a house, and have the blood washed away, which was streaming from the head. The watchman appeared to him to be sober, but the Englishman seemed to be intoxicated. The “morning start” used on this occasion was a stick with and iron spike at one end, and a bullet at the other; it was with the latter end that the watchman struck, and the bullet was broken off by the blow.
Anne Catherine Uldenhoft, 23 years of age, resides with two other girls at the public-house of Hollet, in Nostet, where she maintains herself by waiting on the guests. After 11o’clock in the evening, on the 11th inst., six or seven Englishmen came to the house, and having stopped there sometime, one of them had gone out with her to take a walk over the New-way. He had put his hat on her head before leaving the house. He took a bottle out of his pocket and put it to his mouth, but observing that the cork as still in it, he burst into a loud laugh. At that moment the watchman came up, abused them for making a noise, and with his “morning star”, struck the Englishman on his back, at which the latter did not appear to be at all incensed, but only laughed louder than before. He took up a stone, which she endeavoured to get away from him, in which attempt she succeeded. They then went over to Halvkand-height, passing the watchman, but as the Englishman continued to be merry, and to laugh out aloud, she was not able to get away from him until the watchman came up and struck him a blow, which threw him to the ground. She then remained with him till she was joined by his comrades. Had received no money from him. After she had taken the stone from him, he had not offered to lift up another, and had not one in his hand when the watchman struck him.
Another of these girls said that the last witness had told her that the watchman had not struck the lord at their first meeting; but a third girl stated the contrary. This was also partly confirmed by a merchant’s clerk, who asserted that the watchman had given a blow in the first instance. The watchman was, in consequence, dismissed on the 17th inst.
Dr. A. Helberg, town physician, deposed on the 16th that the blow had fallen on the right temple, and had inflicted a wound which had pierced to the bone. A considerable swelling and a discolouration of the skin ensued subsequently, extending over the whole temple and eyelid. Near to the cranium were two superficial wounds of no importance. The blow must have been struck with extraordinary force, and had occasioned so severe a concussion of the brain that the Marquis’s life was still in danger. On the back there was no mark of a blow having been given; but on the loins there is a round blue spot of the size of a dollar, evidently occasioned by some external act of violence.
John Lewis Ricardo, 24 years of age, and John H. Jesse, aged 28 years, both Englishmen, were likewise examined. Their testimony was simply to the effect that, on leaving a public-house in the Nostet, they had met the Marquis of Waterford, who had requested them to return immediately with him to the vessel, he having received a blow on the head which he thought must be mortal. They had to support him till he reached the vessel. He was bleeding profusely. He had told them how he had received the blow, merely saying it as a scandalous act, as he had given no provocation.
The further examination was then adjourned till his Lordship’s recovery. The last accounts from Bergen are to the 14th inst., when he was getting better, and was considered out of danger.’
‘The Marquis of Waterford, who some time since received some serious injuries in what his Lordship and his friends are pleased to call a lark, at Bergen, is quite recovered, and has arrived we understand, in this country. One of the Marquis’s party arrived at Douglas’s hotel here on Tuesday, and left next day for the south. We believe the whole party arrived in the Marquis’s yacht at Aberdeen, from Norway.’
The history books of today record various and differing versions of what actually occurred that long-ago night in the small market town of Melton Mowbray, but an account of the prosecution and trial was duly reported for perpetuity in the Times of Thursday, 2nd August 1838. This same account is reproduced below exactly as it appeared; it delightfully depicts an amusing and heart-warming slice of life in early Victorian England.
MIDLAND CIRCUIT, DERBY, Tuesday, July 31.
NISI PRIUS COURT. — (Before Lord Chief Justice Tindal, and a Special Jury.)THE QUEEN ON THE PROSECUTION OF CAMPION AND OTHERS v THE MARQUIS OF WATERFORD AND OTHERS.————————————————————Mr. Balguy, Mr. Hill and Mr. Waddington were Counsel for the prosecution and Mr. Serjeant Goulburn, Mr. Clarke, Mr. Hildyard and Mr. Burnaby for the defendants.The indictment charged the defendants, the Marquis of Waterford, Sir Frederick Johnstone, Bart., the Hon. Charles Hyde Villiers and Edward Horner Reynard Esq., with having committed a riot at Melton Mowbray in the county of Leicester, on the morning of the 6th of April, 1837 and in a second count it charged them with an assault upon certain constables and watchmen when in the execution of their duty and in a third count, it charged them with the commission of a common assault.
Mr. Balguy, in opening the case to the jury on the part of the Crown, stated that the circumstances out of which the prosecution had arisen, took place in the month of April, 1837. At the following Midsummer sessions the present indictment was preferred and found by the grand jury. Both parties being anxious to have it removed into the Court of King’s Bench, a certiorari was sued out, but the delay occasioned by this proceeding rendered it impossible to have the case tried at the ensuing summer assizes. It was expected, however, that it would come on at the following spring assizes, but the parties who instituted the prosecution, having in the meantime received something in the way of compensation, took no steps in the matter and consequently a representation on the subject was made to the Government, who felt it to be their duty to carry on the prosecution, in order to prevent it being said that the defendants had got off because they were persons of wealth and station; whereas if they were men in a humble rank of life, they would have been prosecuted and punished for transgressing the law in the manner in which the defendants had transgressed it. The learned counsel then proceeded to state an outline of the evidence which he proposed to adduce.
Two watchmen, three constables and two tradesmen of the town of Melton, were then severally called and examined. Their evidence was to the following effect: – At about half past two o’ clock on the morning of the 6th April, (the 5th being the first day of the Croxton–park races,) six gentlemen, one of whom was the Marquis of Waterford, proceeded through the streets of Melton making a noise, and came up to the watchmen on duty in the market-place. The Marquis challenged each of the watchmen to fight, which, however, they declined, alleging that it was their business not to fight but to prevent fighting. They tried to force the staff from one of the watchmen, but failed, and they then passed on. Seeing a caravan with a man in it standing in the street, they endeavoured to capsize it and lifted up one of the wheels half a yard from the ground; but the watchmen held it on the other side and prevented it from being upset. The Marquis and his companions then passed on and seeing a woman drawing water for brewing, they upset the pails as fast as she filled them. After that they passed onto Lord Rokeby’s house and went in. After a little time they came out again and Lord Waterford was seen standing on the back of one of his companions and throwing down the flowerpots that stood outside the window of a tradesman’s house. The owner of the house, whose name was Bishop, called out to a watchman, named Barnes, to do his duty, upon which the watchman went up to the gentlemen and told them that such goings on could not be allowed. The gentlemen thereupon rushed upon him, threw him down and either kicked or trampled on his side. They then painted his face and throat with red paint. A little gentleman held the paint pot, while the Marquis used the brush and laid it on thick. They then went on to several doors, one of them belonging to Mr. Harman, a magistrate, which they painted, and they screwed up the lock of the toll-bar keeper’s door, so as to prevent its being opened on the inside. In the meantime another watchman, seeing Barnes’s face and throat all over red, supposed he was covered with blood and he therefore went and alarmed the constables, who got out of bed and proceeded to apprehend the parties guilty of the assault upon the watchman. Captain Reynard being the person stated to have assaulted Barnes, they took him into custody and locked him up in the bridewell. A great number of the captain’s friends then assembled, as many as 13 or 14, and demanded that he should be forthwith liberated. The constables said, that could not be done without an order from a magistrate, upon which one of the gentlemen said, “I am a magistrate,” and several others said, “so am I.” The constable said there must be an order from a magistrate of that county. The gentlemen then knocked the constable down, took the keys of the bridewell from him and carried off their friend, Captain Reynard, in triumph on their shoulders. They afterwards offered to treat the constables to punch in the marketplace, which offer, was declined. Break of day at length put paid to the disturbances. The four defendants were clearly identified as taking an active part in the proceedings. The officers all admitted having received satisfaction for the outrage offered to them.Mr. Serjeant Goulburn, in addressing the jury for the defendants, complained of this stale prosecution having been taken up by the government, merely for the purpose of lowering the aristocracy in the opinion of the public. Here was the Marquis of Waterford, a young nobleman just left Eton, and other young men of high blood, who were sowing their wild oats, committed this frolic, and afterwards compensated the officers for having painted their faces. This was a year and a half ago. The proceedings were dropped; but upon the instigation of some low and malignant person, the Government, forsooth, must take up the matter, and convert it into a state prosecution. Accordingly, down came Mr. Maule, the solicitor to the treasury, to superintend this mighty case; and there was his learned friend, Mr. Balguy, Queen’s Counsel, to conduct it, assisted by Mr, Hill and Mr. Waddington. Indeed, a great part of M. Balguy’s address consisted of a laboured apology for the conduct of the Government, which he was obliged as counsel, to repeat, because it was written down in his brief, but which was far from being in accordance with his own feeling on the subject. He was really surprised that this magnanimous Government had overlooked the opportunity of prosecuting the noble Marquis on a former occasion, when, his Lordship having gone down to Eton in his cab, succeeded in carrying away the flogging-block from Dr. Hawtrey. (Laughter) The Marquis, no doubt, had an old grudge against the flogging block; he had a painful recollection connected with it: it was a subject on which he felt sore. (Great laughter) Only think what a magnificent occasion this would have afforded for this impartial Government to institute a state prosecution. (Laughter) His friend Mr. Balguy had come out in a new character, for he had indulged in a little preaching on the subject; but surely his friend was not properly dressed for the occasion; he should have mounted that smart scarlet coat that they had all seen exhibited so often (laughter); Indeed, he (Serjeant Goulburn) was afraid to ask the witnesses as to who were any of the other rioters not mentioned in the indictment, for fear his friend Mr Balguy’s name might pop out. (Great laughter) Then there was his friend Mr. Hill. He (Serjeant Goulburn) was really afraid they might rouge his face with the paint brush, and put him up to ask the witnesses if they could identify him. The learned Serjeant proceeded to ridicule the idea of magnifying this foolish frolic into a riot, and contended that there was no ground for even charging the defendants with assaulting the officers in the execution of their duty, because the constables, not having seen any assault upon the watchman, but mistaking the red paint on his face for the appearance of blood, were not justified in law in taking Captain Reynard into custody; and consequently, what the other defendants did to release him could not be held to be an assault on those constables in the execution of their duty. He admitted that, so far as regarded Lord Waterford and Sir Frederick Johnstone, a common assault was proved against them; but he confidently submitted that the verdict of the jury would be limited to that extent.The LORD CHIEF JUSTICE having explained the law of riot as laid down in the books, summed up the evidence very minutely.The jury retired for about 30 minutes, and then returned a verdict of Guilty against all the defendants, but only on the count for a common assault.Mr. Serjeant GOULBURN then applied to the learned Judge to pronounce sentence at once, as the defendants were only convicted of a common assault.His Lordship immediately adjudged that the defendants (none of whom were present) should pay a fine of £100 each to the Queen, and be imprisoned until such fine be paid.The Court was crowded to suffocation during the trial, which seemed to excite the most lively interest.’
‘The marriage of the Marquis of Waterford and the Hon. Louisa Stuart, second daughter of Lord Stuart de Rothesay, is no longer doubtful. The consent of Lord Stuart de Rothesay has recently been received. Lady Stuart de Rothsay will not leave London until after the marriage, and her ladyship will have quitted the Metropolis to join her Lord at St. Petersburgh in June next at the latest.’
‘…the turning point in Waterford’s life was the Eglinton tournament of 1839. He took an enthusiastic part as one of the thirteen knights in Lord Eglinton’s attempt to revive ideas of chivalry among the tory aristocracy. The Knight of the Dragon (the sobriquet taken by Waterford) excelled his host’s hopes by not only being so carried away in the mêlée that he had to be separated from his opponent, Lord Alford, by the knight marshal but also by falling in love at first sight with the beautiful Louisa Stuart, like her sister Charlotte, Lady Canning, was celebrated as a model of pious, gentle, artistic womanhood; on the surface, she was the most unlikely match for Waterford. At the same time, the wooing of the pure, virtuous woman by the worldly, rough—if good-natured and kind-hearted—reprobate, and the reshaping of his character by the love of a good woman, represented an archetype of the chivalric ideal. After a courtship of three years, Waterford secured his lady’s affections and the consent of her family, not least by the reform of his habits. The wedding took place on 8 June 1842 and the couple went immediately to his estate, Curraghmore, in Co. Waterford, where they were to pass most of their happily married, but childless life together.’
I will touch on the Eglinton Tournament later, but there was little doubt that his marriage to Louisa in 1842 was to prove to be a huge culture transformation in the life of the young Marquis. After 1840, little more was heard of him either in Leicestershire or the country at large. Louisa was said to be amazingly beautiful and talented and even as a young woman, society considered her an accomplished artist. In fact both Louisa and her sister, Lady Charlotte Canning, were prolific amateur artists whose work is represented in the V&A. Being obviously head over heels in love with the ‘best Knight at the tournament’, Louisa seems to have eventually won over her parent’s doubts in her desire to marry him.
‘Marriage ended Waterford’s career in the police courts. Instead, he busied himself with the management of his estates, becoming in the process something of a model landlord. Resident on their estate in Ireland, the Waterfords worked long hours to attempt to relieve the worst effects of the famine on their tenants and neighbours. Despite generally good relations with his tenants, unrest in the region in 1848 led Waterford to fortify Curraghmore. He remained devoted to horses, of which he kept hundreds, and, if he no longer steeplechased, he continued to hunt with passion (six days a week during the season).’
‘QUEEN’S SQUARE. Henry Tompkins, toll-collector at Vauxhall Bridge, applied for an assault summons against the Marquis of Waterford, under the following circumstances: – The applicant stated that on Thursday morning, about 6 o’clock, he was on duty at the gate on the Middlesex side of Vauxhall-bridge, applied for an assault summons against the Marquis of Waterford, under the following circumstances: The applicant stated that on Thursday morning, about 6 o’clock, he was on duty at the gate on the Middlesex side of Vauxhall Bridge, when he observed a carriage coming from the direction of the Vauxhall gardens, in which were seated two gentlemen, and a lady was accommodated in the lap of one of them. As they approached the gate, one of them called out “Open it.” Applicant did so, and then went as usual to the side of the carriage to receive the toll (which during certain hours is only taken on the Middlesex side), but the very moment the gate was opened, a gentleman who was driving whipped his horses and dashed through. Applicant caught hold of the reins, and was dragged several yards, when the gentleman who was driving said, “If you don’t let go, I will cut you in pieces,” and he then lashed him so severely that he was compelled to let go. He had never seen the gentleman who assaulted him before, but he was positively informed by a gentleman who witnessed the occurrence that it was the Marquis of Waterford.Mr. GREGORIE [Magistrate] said the applicant might take a summons against the nobleman, but it would be necessary for him to identify the gentleman who assaulted him.’
‘The following is a letter from Captain Symmons, of the ship Tigris, to his Grace the Archbishop of Armagh:-Ship Tigris, May 14.“My Lord Primate, According to your Grace’s desire, I have the honour to forward the proceedings of the inquest held on board my ship, on the 28th April last, upon the body of your Grace’s nephew, the late Lord James Beresford. I beg leave to add, that during our long passage from Ceylon until the day previous to his death, his Lordship enjoyed good health and very cheerful sprits; but early on the morning of the 27th he complained of an excruciating head-ache, and throughout the day it seemed to increase, until it deprived him of reason, and led to the sad catastrophe deplored by every individual on board, and by no one more sincerely than myself.“It may, perhaps, be a melancholy consolation to your Grace and the other members of Lord James’s family, to know that the act which thus terminated his life cannot be traced to any worldly cause whatever, but solely to a fever on the brain, and consequent temporary bereavement of reason, not to be accounted for; and that his Lordship’s kindness of heart and amiable disposition had won him the esteem of all his fellow-passengers.“I have the honour to be your Grace’s most obedient humble servant,“JOHN SYMMONS,Commander of the ship Tigris“To his Grace the Archbishop of Armagh.”This was to be followed up with even more macabre details to be enjoyed with the readers’ breakfasts when the following was to appear in a later copy of ‘The Observer’.SUICIDE OF LORD JAMES BERESFORD CONFIRMEDYesterday morning the ship Tigris, Captain Symmons, arrived in the West India Import Dock from Columbo, which place she left on the 20th December; Cape of Good Hope, February 28; and St Helena, March 15. In consequence of a report which appeared in the Times on Friday morning that Lord James Beresford, of the 10th Hussars, had committed suicide on board that vessel, being on his passage to England, and which painful intelligence had not reached his Lordship’s noble relations, and being therefore generally discredited, our reporter proceeded to the West India Docks yesterday afternoon for the purpose of making enquiries on board the Tigris relative to the reported suicide of his Lordship (brother to the Marquis of Waterford), and he reported that the report was unfortunately too true. It appear that the Lord James Beresford, who was only in the 26th year of his age, embarked passenger on board the Tigris for England, and that it was remarked at the time, and at a subsequent period during the voyage, that his Lordship appeared to be labouring under slight symptoms of insanity, and that his servant was in consequence ordered to pay more than usual care and attention to his Lordship, which he did. On the night of Tuesday, the 27th April, his Lordship was in his own cabin, and did not evince to the servant or to the passengers during the day anything particularly remarkable in his usually somewhat eccentric manners. The servant, before going to lie down in his settee for the night, went to his Lordship’s cabin for the purpose of enquiring whether his Lordship needed any further attention that evening, and having repeatedly knocked at his state-room door, without receiving any answer, the servant opened it, and discovered the cabin floor partly covered with blood, and on proceeding to the water-closet adjoining the apartment he found his master (Lord James Beresford) reclining over the seat, with his head nearly severed from his body, and quite dead. The rash act was committed with a razor, and so determined had been his Lordship to effect his dreadful purpose, that only a small portion of the skin at the back part of the neck attached the head to the body. The alarm having been instantly given, the utmost consternation prevailed among the passengers (27 in number) and crew; but any attempt to restore life was beyond the power of human aid. After a consultation by the officers of the ship and passengers, the mangled corpse of Lord James Beresford was, with great solemnity, consigned to a grave in the abyss of the ocean. This lamentable event has created great grief and distress among the noble relatives of the deceased and the fashionable world generally.
“Whatever opinion may be formed of the success of the Tournament as an imitation of ancient manners and customs, we heard only one feeling of admiration expressed at the gorgeousness of the whole scene, considered only as a pageant. Even on Wednesday, when the procession was seen to the greatest possible disadvantage, the dullest eye glistened with delight as the lengthy and stately train swept into the marshalled lists”.(Aikman 1839).
‘His death came suddenly, on 29 March 1859, on the hunting-field, at Corbally, near Carrick-on-Suir: thrown from his horse, he broke his neck and died almost instantly. He was buried in the family mausoleum at Clonegam, close to Curraghmore. His title and estates passed to his brother.’
‘Throughout Ireland’s turbulent history, this family have never been ‘absentee landlords’ and they still provide diverse employment for a number of local people.
The present day de la Poer Beresfords are country people by tradition. Farming, hunting, breeding hounds and horses and an active social calendar continues as it did centuries ago. Weekly game-shooting parties are held every season (Nov. through Jan.) and in spring, calves, foals and lambs can be seen in abundance on Curraghmore’s verdant fields. Polo is still played on the estate in summer. Throughout Ireland’s turbulent history, this family have never been ‘absentee landlords’ and they still provide diverse employment for a number of local people. Change comes slowly to Curraghmore – table linen, cutlery and dishes from the early nineteenth century are still in use.’