at the
Robin Hood Inn, Cragg Vale

This story is based on material which was kindly submitted by Janet DiMaria, the great-great-niece of David Wilcock

The Halifax Guardian of 3rd July 1869 reported an inquest held at the Shoulder of Mutton Inn, Mytholmroyd on the body of David Wilcock who had died after being struck on the head with a poker.

According to one witness, William Clayton of Hollock Lee, Erringden, he was at the Robin Hood Inn on the evening of the 27th June 1869 when someone said that he would back a man to wrestle any man in the room for 10 shillings. The money was thrown on the table and both the deceased and the landlord, Joseph Barrett, seized each other. They got on the floor and others joined the brawl, at which point the landlord jumped up, got a poker and struck the deceased on the head while he was lying on the floor saying he would cleave some of them if they were not quiet. William Clayton said to Joseph Barrett

Don't strike, Joe

and the reply was that he would and then he struck David Wilcock again. Others in the brawl were Joseph Bailey and Thomas Newall who was seen to kick the deceased on the head. David Wilcock was known to be fond of wrestling and fighting.

The Halifax Guardian of 10th July 1869 states that the evidence showed that a wager was staked, the money placed on the table, Wilcock tried to pick it up when the landlord interfered and had a struggle with him. Several others joined the struggle and the landlord, after trying to quell the disturbance, seized the poker and struck David Wilcock a blow on the head, inflicting a lacerated wound between two and three inches in length.

According to the family history, David's friends took the pub door off its hinges and carried him home. Dr Howard was called in, but David died on Wednesday 30th June 1869.

The results of Dr Howard's post-mortem of the deceased's head showed that besides the lacerated wound, there was a crack or fissure in the skull, rising from near the wound to the top of the nose. He also found an extravasation of blood over the left anterior lobe of the brain, but he could not say if this had been cause by the blow. The family had asked for another opinion and Mr Strickland, a surgeon from Halifax said that he as of the opinion that the extravasation was the result of the blow. He also differed from Dr Howard on the extent of the crack stating that it began immediately under the wound and ran both ways on the head. Dr Howard had said that it ran forward and that there was no fracture under the wound. It took the jury just 50 minutes to come to the verdict ...

that they believed Barrett struck the blow under great provocation, causing the scalp wound and the cause of death was extravasation of blood over the left eye, but there was not sufficient evidence to show that the blow with the poker was the cause of it

David Wilcock is buried at the church of Saint John in the Wilderness, Cragg Vale along with his wife, Nancy. He left her to raise their 6 young children – aged between 1 year and 15 years – alone.

The newspaper article of 10th July 1869 gives no indication as to whether Joseph Barrett, who was charged with manslaughter, was found to be innocent or guilty

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 15:24 / 24th May 2021 / 5583

Page Ref: X80

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