Death from a Blow – Verdict of Manslaughter, Folkestone Express, 2  August  1879, page 8, columns 1 & 2, photocopied from Microfilm from Folkestone Library, Folkestone, Kent, United Kingdom, October 1999 by Janice Brooker, transcribed 16 October 2002 by Tracy Bretz.  Photocopy in file.




Page 8, columns 1 & 2






An inquest was held at the Town Hall, on Thursday evening, before J. Minter, Esq., Borough Coroner, on the body of William Hall, a fish dealer, who died under the following cir-cumstances.


William Hall deposed :  I am a costermonger, living in Stade-street.  I identify the body now viewed by the jury as that of my father, William Hall.  He was a fish salesman, and lived in Stade-street.  His age was about 50.  On Monday, the 29th July, between half-past 12 and a quarter to one, my father was standing on the kerb, opposite Mrs. Spearpoint’s house, near the fishmarket.  He was talking to William Spearpoint, landlord of the Skylark.  Thomas Anthony Hall was in the market, seven or eight yards from the deceased.  He sang out, “There’s two fine fish salesmen, been to college to get their learning.”  I do knot know who he meant.  Father said to Spearpoint, “Hold on, we’ll make him spiteful.”  Spearpoint said, “Hold on, Will, don’t say nothing.”  Father then said, “Some people have children and say they don’t belong to them.”  I do not know whether Hall heard what he said, as he stood in the fishmarket two minutes considering.  Hall then walked over in a passion across the street to where father was standing.   I knew he was in a passion because he was very red in the face.  He said “ What have you got to say about the baby, Will?”  Then he raised his fist and struck my father on the left side of the face.  The blow knocked my father down.  He fell into the lap of James Spearpoint, who was sitting on the doorstep of Miss Cook’s house, and then rolled on to the street.  Father laid there about a minute and a half on his back.  He recovered and as he was about to try to get up, Hall ran at him to strike him again.  I was sitting on the steps when father was knocked down and when Hall tried to strike him, I jumped up to prevent him, and succeeded in doing so.


[In giving a statement of the affair to Segt. Ovenden, the witness said Hall struck the deceased as he was trying to get up.


On being questioned by the coroner as to this, he said it was not true, and could give no ex-planation of altering his opinion, except that he (witness) received the blow.]


--When I got between them, Hall struck me, saying “You too.”  When my father got up he wanted to fight Hall.  I told him to go indoors and lie down, and with the help of the landlady of the North Foreland I got him indoors, to pre-vent him fighting.  I did not see where Hall went to.  I came outdoors again, and father came out just after and refused to go in.  My father was not drunk, but had had some liquor.  I went home about half-past eleven at night, and found my father in bed, moaning and groaning.  My mother was with him, and she told me I had better go to bed, and I did so.  When I got up in the morning, about half past six, I heard him still groaning.  I was out with fish all the morning, and in the evening I went for Dr. Bateman.


William Spearpoint said :  I am the landlord of the Skylark public house.  I was sitting on the door step of Mrs. Spearpoint’s house, opposite the fishmarket, between twelve and one o’clock on Monday the 28th inst.  Deceased came across from the fishmarket and spoke to me.  I heard Thomas Anthony Hall say something, which appeared to be addressed to us, but could not hear distinctly what it was he said.  Deceased said to me, “I’ll let him have it presently.”  Then he said, “Some people get children and don’t like to own them.”  addressing himself to Thomas Anthony Hall, who came across from the market to where deceased was standing, and said, “What do you know about the bab?”  He then took him by the guernsey and turning him ronnd struck him with his right hand in the mouth, and the blow knocked him down.  I only saw one blow, and if there had been another I must have seen it.  Deceased fell backwards on to his back, and his head did not appear to strike the ground.  Deceased did not lie there more than half a minute.  While he was lying there Hall did not attempt to strike him.  James Spearpoint helped him up.  When he got up he ran at Thomas Anthony Hall and struck him.  Hall was going to return the blow, when deceased’s son got be-tween them and prevented it.  Then deceased walked away, but as he was drunk he could not walk straight.  I said to Thomas Hall “ You had no business to strike the old man.”  He said to me, “What do you know about it?” and I replied,  Nothing.”  He then commenced “jangling” with me.  While he was there deceased came back and wanted to fight Thomas Hall for a sovereign, but Thomas Hall made no reply and deceased then went away.  I think deceased was about 49 years of age.  Thomas Anthony Hall was not sober.  I then went to the Royal George, and about ten minutes after deceased and Thomas Hall met there.  Both men said they were sorry, and that nothing more should be heard of it.  I left them there together.


James Spearpoint, a fish hawker, living in Radnor Street, gave corroborative evidence.  He added that there was a dispute between deceased and Thomas Anthony Hall as to the counting of some mackerel, and this led to the first remark.  Deceased got up without any assistance from him.  He was intoxicated, and was lying on the ground a minute trying to get up.  When deceased got up, he struck Thomas Hall, who returned the blow by striking the deceased in the mouth, when he fell back into the witness’s arms.  Deceased’s son then came and put him in doors.  Thomas Anthony Hall was sober.  Deceased was indoors about five minutes and again came out and said, “I’ll fight Thomas Hall for a sovereign, and you (meaning witness) shall pick me up.”  He pulled out some money from his pocket, but put it back, and witness then went away.


Brett Mercer, a joiner, of 19, St. John Street, who saw the occurrence, said he thought the deceased was struck by Thomas Hall, near his ear.  Deceased seem to him to fall sideways, and laid on the ground about a minute, having evidently been drinking.  When he got up he struck Thomas Anthony Hall in the face, and Hall struck deceased again on the right side of the mouth, and as he was falling the second time, someone caught him.  Deceased still wanted to fight.


Mr. William Bateman, surgeon, said – On Tuesday, the 24th inst., I was sent for to attend deceased, and went to his residence in Stade street, about eleven o’clock in the forenoon.  I found deceased in bed, in convulsions, and in-sensible.  He continued insensible, with occasional convulsions, and symptoms of pressure on the brain, until he died this morning at six o’clock.  I attended him up to the time of his death.  I made a post mortem examination about five hours after deceased died.  I opened deceased’s head, I found externally there was a large bruise on the left hip.  It was such as would be produced, in my opinion, from a fall.  The upper lip was swollen and discoloured, as if from a blow, and it was cut on the inside.  There was a discolouration upon the left temple, about on a level with the outer angle of the eye.  There was a slight dis-colouration on the chest, below the left nipple, and the discolouration on the temple was such as would be produced either by a blow or a fall.  I found a clot ot blood at the base of the skull on the left side, opposite to the external bruise.  There was a large effusion of blood, at least, I should think, altogether three ounces in the base of the brain.  The brain itself was in a diseased state..  Softening had commenced in the centre.  The blood vessels of the brain were diseased and dilated, and in such a state as would be likely to be ruptured from a slight cause.  The clot of blood which I observed and which corresponded to the external injury came from a blood vessel.  I believe it was a small one, and it had bled slowly, and therefore the symptoms of compression did not shew themselves for some time.  The cause of deceased’s death was effusion of blood upon the brain from a ruptured blood vessel.  In my opinion that rupture was caused by such a blow or fall as I have heard described.  But with such a diseased brain excitement might have caused death.  In my opinion the clot of blood which I found lying so close to the external mark on the left side of deceased’s temple, shows that that injury caused the rupture of the blood vessel.


Thomas Anthony Hall was then called, and the coroner pointed out to him that he could refuse to be sworn or give evidence, and informed him that there was a very serious charge hanging over him, and it would be for the jury to say upon the evidence before them whether he was guilty or not of manslaughter or murder.


Hall replied that he was an ignorant man, and would prefer to consult someone who could advise him in the matter.  He added that he was well known to be of a peaceable disposition, and a respectable man.


The coroner therefore thought it was better that he should not be sworn.


He then summed up the evidence to the jury, commenting upon those portions which did not agree.  He pointed out the law as regarded manslaughter and murder, and then said, “If you are satisfied that this man’s death arose from a blow which he received from Thomas Anthony Hall, and if you are of opinion that he struck that blow with malice, intending really to do him serious and mortal injury and to kill him, then undoubtedly he would be guilty of murder.  If on the other hand you are of opinion the blow was struck in sudden heat of temper, caused by the action and in con-sequence of the acts of the deceased himself (and it is quite clear from the evidence you have before you that deceased intended to get him into a passion, and he succeeded), that would be manslaughter.  Therefore, it seems clear that Hall would be guilty of the manslaughter of this man, because no person has a right to kill another, although he might have been put into a passion by some act that other has committed.  It could not be tolerated that he would be entitled to strike deceased and kill him simply because he said something which had put him in a passion.  In my opinion, after the evidence of Dr. Bate-man, there can be but one result of your deliberations.”


The jury retired for a short time, and then returned a verdict that the deceased man came by his death from the results of a blow, struck by Anthony Thomas Hall, but that there was no intention on the part of Anthony Thomas Hall to do him serious bodily injury.


A warrant was immediately issued by the Coroner for the apprehension of Anthony Thomas Hall, on the charge of manslaughter, and handed to the Superintendant of Police, together with a warrant to the Govenor of St. Augustine’s gaol to detain him in custody.


The names of William Harrison Marsh, of the Raglan Inn, and Alfred Noel, fruiterer, of South street, were tendered as bail, but as the Superin-tendent said Hall was in custody on a police charge, the Coroner had no power to grant bail.


The prisoner will be brought before the magis-trates this (Friday) morning.