Henry Foster

Henry Foster was the son of John Foster.

He was baptised at Heptonstall [20th January 1811].

He was at Queen's College Oxford before moving to Heptonstall Slack,

On 4th April 1833, he married Grace Sutcliffe.


  1. Grace Sutcliffe (Foster) [b 1833]
  2. Mary Ann Midgley (Foster) [b 1837] who married [1854]  Joseph Hodgson

Henry was imprisoned in the Debtors' Gaol in Halifax on the day after the 1841 census was taken.

On 28th October 1841, he died

of chronic disease

in gaol, having been in prison for several months.

A verdict of

Died by the visitation of God

was returned at the inquest.

He died owing money to the gaoler, Francis Scott, for accommodation. The amount in question was a total of £181, of which £144 was for attendance and refreshments supplied to Foster during the previous 6 months.

Scott kept Foster's body, burying it in a lead coffin in a 4 foot-deep grave in the yard, assuming that the executors could recover the body when they came to pay the debt.

The executors - William Sutcliffe and Henry Appleyard - applied for the body but refused to pay the £181, because Foster had land but no money, whereupon Scott refused to release the body.

Sutcliffe went immediately to London to obtain a warrant to hand over the body.

The matter went to court and 4 High Court judges ordered Scott to release the body to Foster's executors, and Scott was subsequently charged with the common law offence of

retaining a corpse for debt

Scott had pleaded not guilty, but the Judge explained that such a plea was untenable, and found him Guilty.

William Sutcliffe and Henry Appleyard exhumed Foster's body from the yard of the gaol and buried it in the family vault at Heptonstall

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 17:47 / 20th June 2021 / 4432

Page Ref: X2042

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