Sad death at Broom Hall

Leicester Guardian
Wednesday 6 November 1872

A FARMER’S WIFE POISONING HERSELF WHEN DRUNK

On Wednesday an inquest was held before T Taylor Esq, at Snow Hill, near Wakefield, on the body of Sophia Thompson, wife of Mr George Thompson, farmer, Broom Hall, Wrenthorpe, near Wakefield, who had died from the effects of a large dose of arsenic taken by her in a gloss of brandy, whilst under the influence of drink. The deceased, who was forty-seven years of age, was addicted to drinking, and although she had generally drank at home, she had often returned from Wakefield the worse for liquor. She began drinking on Wednesday night week, and continued to do so for the next three days. Last Saturday morning the servant girl heard someone downstairs, about four o’clock, and, on going into the cellar, she found her mistress, who had been in the habit of getting up at nights and sometimes sleeping in the kitchen, talking to herself. The girl returned to bed, and some time afterwards she heard the deceased, who was tipsy, talking to herself in her room. The deceased went downstairs and stood before the kitchen fire a few minutes, and then returned upstairs. Mr Thompson had bought a pound of arsenic on the 18th instant to use in dressing wheat, and the deceased seems to have got some of it and drank it along with some brandy, for between eight and nine o’clock on Saturday morning the servant found her seated on a box upstairs with a glass of brandy before her. It was subsequently discovered, and she admitted that she had taken a large dose of arsenic in the brandy. Mr W Statter, of Wakefield, and his son were called in during the evening, and administered the usual antidotes for arsenic, but with little hope of success, and the woman died on Monday. – The jury returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased had poisoned herself when drunk.

Boers and the King’s appendectomy: Daniel Milton’s last hurrahs

A final piece on Daniel Milton, from an article in the Yorkshire Evening Post less than 18 months before his death. Here ‘Judge’ Milton brings his prophecy into the 20th century. The illness alluded to is Edward VII’s appendicitis which postponed his coronation.

Yorkshire Evening Post
Friday 4 July 1902

PROPHET WROE’S SUCCESSOR
AN OCTOGENARIAN SEER NEAR WAKEFIELD

In a cottage at Wrenthorpe, near Wakefield, lives a stately old man, just over eighty years of age, with spare locks and white beard. The name of Daniel Milton has been familiar to everyone within a radius of some miles for a score of years. Despite the decision of the law courts and the arguments of those who wish him well, he continues to maintain with stubbornness that is the head of the Church of Christian Israelites, and that Melbourne House, a fine Doric stone mansion, built at Wrenthorpe in 1856 by the notorious “Prophet” Wroe, should be given into his charge.

He has had several unsuccessful disputes with the present rightful owners the building, but still old man lives on in the belief that he holds some Divine mission on earth, and that Melbourne House is his lawful earthly habitation.

He is a pathetic figure, and his stone-floored living room is strangely furnished and stocked. There are no blinds or curtains to the window – only newspaper pinned across to keep out the draught and to obstruct the view of the many curious people who from time to time assemble in the vicinity…

Daniel Milton was [once] an official this so-called church in New York, where he annexed the title of Judge. On coming over to Wakefield he had differences with the man Wroe, but notwithstanding that, he is fully convinced that the prophet’s robe fell upon him.

He does a little prophetic line himself, and he claims to have predicted the Boer war. “The first shot was fired,” said he in an interview the other day, “on the day I was 78 years of age, and it lasted 2 years, 8 months, and 23 days. Just after the war broke out I announced that it was the Devil’s own war, and that it would be the last the Boers would fight.”

“I said to a friend a few weeks ago,” he went on, “that something serious would happen before the Coronation. My prophecy has been fulfilled. It is intended as a rebuke of the people who were preparing to worship King Edward a Divine being.”

“Come, Mr Milton,” asked the visitor, “what do you say about the King’s illness before the result is definitely known?”

“I have not had a Divine revelation on that matter,” replied the cautious seer.

Manslaughter charge for lighting candle in local coal pit

Yorkshire Gazette
Tuesday 30 August 1836

FATAL EXPLOSION OF FIRE DAMP AT A COLLIERY NEAR WAKEFIELD

On Saturday last an explosion of inflammable air took place in Bull Pit, at Kirkhamgate, about two miles to the west of Wakefield, which occasioned a serious loss of life and other damage. Although the accident was serious enough, in point of fact, the accounts, as they reached Wakefield were much exaggerated, and excited intense interest. It was recently reported that ten men had been killed, and twice as many scorched, many of whom were not expected to recover. On inquiry, it was found that, at the moment the explosion took place, there were about twenty men and boys in the pit, three of whom were killed, and the remainder, with the exception of two, more or less scorched. Up to Monday night no other death had occurred, but several of the unfortunate creatures were reported to be in a very precarious state.

John Pickford, aged 17, William Brooke, aged 10, and William Broadhead, aged 9, were the persons who lost their lives. Amongst the other sufferers the following were seriously hurt – David Broadhead, Thomas Brooke, George Lumb, Charles Hartley, David Hartley, Thomas Becher, Benjamin Scott, James Bedford, George Broadhead, and Edward Throit.

The Bull Pit belongs to Messrs Smithson and Co. On Sunday, Thomas Lee, jun. Esq, empanelled a jury, in order to inquire into the cause of the death of John Pickford. The jury came, to the conclusion that the poor fellow lost his life in consequence of the incautious use of a candle at one of the “banks” by a pitman. On Monday evening at six o’clock, a second inquest was held the house of Mr Percival Brooke, innkeeper, of Kirkhamgate, before Mr Lee and a very respectable and attentive jury, on view of the bodies of the two boys, when additional evidence was adduced, and the inquiry was adjourned till Thursday, at Potovens, when after a protracted and minute investigation and the examination of Mr Walsh[?] surgeon, and particularly Benjamin Scott, a lad who was working at the same time in the same place with Benjamin [sic] Bedford, the man who took the candle which caused the explosion and after hearing Bedford’s voluntary statement, the Jury returned a verdict of “Manslaughter against James Bedford”. Two of the sufferers are expected not to recover.

James Bedford was found not guilty at the York Spring Assizes in March of the following year.

Road death outside Bay Horse

Leeds Intelligencer
Saturday 6 April 1844

DISTRESSING AND FATAL ACCIDENT

On Monday last, a very distressing occurrence took place at Snow Hill, by which a son of Benjamin Dixon, Esq, of Wakefield, solicitor, lost his life. It appears that in the afternoon of that day, he had been walking towards Potovens, in company with some other children; and as they were returning, a cart was descending the hill from the bar just at the time the young people had reached the junction of the Bradford Road with Potovens Lane [now Wrenthorpe Road]. As they were playing, they unfortunately did not notice the approach of the cart, and Mr Dixon’s son ran backwards against the horse, which knocked him down on his face, and the wheel passed over his loins in slanting direction upwards; and though no bones were broken the injuries done to the spine were so great that death ensued before medical aid could reach him. An inquest was held on the same day, which was adjourned to Tuesday, before Thomas Lee, Esq, coroner, at the Bay Horse at Snow Hill, when the above facts were given in evidence, and a verdict of Accidental Death was returned. The driver, who was also the owner of the cart, was stated to be a very respectable and steady man, and showed deep concern at the lamentable occurrence. The coroner cautioned him to be more careful in future to be near the head of his horse when driving, remarking, at the same time, that nothing was more common than to see drivers loitering at an unwarrantable distance from their teams.

The Bensons and Lane Foxes

A little background on the family history of the one-time residents of Red Hall and prominent local landowners until the end of the 19th century.

Knaresborough Post
Saturday 26 July 1884

THE YORKSHIRE BENSONS

H V T writes to the Leeds Mercury Supplement:

A Dorothy Benson, according to Young’s “History of Whitby”, was living there in sixteen hundred and something, and that William Benson, of Whitby and of Ruswarp Hall, married Dorothy, daughter of Ingram Chapman, born April 28th, 1682, and had issue Thomas Benson, leaving William Benson, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Walker, and left Henry Walker Benson, who married Martha, daughter of John Hugo, and left issue (1) William, who had Robert; (2) Alfred; (3) Henry Walker Benson, now of Sunderland, who has Leofric de Temple Benson, and William Marsden Benson, &c.

A family of this name has long been seated at Halton, near Skipton-in-Craven. Whitaker states under this place, “One of the principal estates has long been held by the Benson family, from whom, probably, Lord Bingley was descended.”

“In 1699, Edmund Benson, of Halton, in the parish of Skipton, made his will, mentioning considerable property at Halton, Skipton, Halton East, and Appletreewick, and leaving three sons – Christopher, William, and Robert; and three daughters – Margaret, Sarah, and Mary.” There is a monument in Skipton Church to a Robert Benson, Esq, of Halton, dated 1818.

From the Plumpton Correspondence a family of this name resided at Plumpton or at Knaresborough, and were employed in legal work by the Plumptons in the latter half of the fifteenth and early part of the sixteenth centuries. Henry Benson, of Knaresborough, was elected MP for Knaresborough in 1641, but unseated for opposition to the dominant Parliamentary faction. He had two sons, according to the Fairfax Correspondence, who assisted in his election. Robert Benson, of Red Hall, near Wakefield, attorney and Clerk of Assize in Northern Circuit, was returned MP for Aldborough in 1673. He had issue Robert Benson (only son), of Wrenthorpe, near Wakefield, and of Bramham, who was created first Lord Bingley, and died in 1730, leaving an only daughter who married James Lane Fox, the ancestor of the present Squire of Bramham. Lord Bingley had very considerable property in Airedale, and especially around Skipton. Robert Benson, of York, made his will in 1765, describing himself as formerly of Leeds, leaving considerable property about York and in the North Riding, and mentioning three sons, Robert, John, and Thomas. Robert Benson, of Bradford and Leeds, married in 1773, Hannah, daughter of Stephen Parkinson, of Cragg Hall, and whose descendants, wealthy and in good position, still reside in the neighbourhood of Leeds. In 1799, a Robert Benson (probably the above) was appointed a trustee (qualification £100 a year, or £4,000 personality) of the Knaresborough and Skipton turnpike road. From 1801 to 1810 George Benson was Vicar of Ilkley.

Miners scrap at Silcoates

Yorkshire Evening Post
Friday 1 July 1892

PUGILISTS BOUND OVER AT WAKEFIELD

To-day, at the West Riding Court, Wakefield, James Jackson, miner, Bragg Lane End, and Joseph Farrer, miner, Brandicarr, were bound over their own recognisances of £5 to keep the for six months, and ordered to pay 18s costs each, on charge of committing breach the peace by fighting. The offence took place at Silcoates on the 18th ult., and describing the fight, the Rev W Field, headmaster Silcoates Hall, said the two men were stripped to the waist, and were very furious indeed, being half covered with blood. They were surrounded by a ring of people.

Suspected arson over 150 years ago

What with all the problems Daniel Milton caused Prophet Wroe in 1861 – claiming ownership of Melbourne House, preaching to thousands on Bradford Road, covering the walls of Wroe’s property with posters, and attempting to blow up one of the lodges it’s surprising the authorities didn’t try to pin these cases of arson on him.

Bradford Observer
Thursday 6 June 1861

SUPPOSED INCENDIARISM

About midnight yesterday week, a stack of wheat, situated at Bragg Lane End, about two-and-a-half miles from Wakefield, was discovered to be on fire, and there being but little water, it had to burn itself out. The damage done was about £35, which will fall on the owner, Mr Thomas Button. Again at midnight on Friday, another fire was discovered not far from the same place. This time the site was the stackyard of Mr James Henry Carr, farmer, the land belonging to “Prophet” Wroe, who is the leader of the Southcotian [sic] sect, and whose mansion (the centre of the earth) is in the neighbourhood. There were in the stackyard two wheat stacks, one straw stack, and one oat stack and in the adjoining shed, a large quantity of implements, besides forty loads of wheat. Again there was no water (except what could be got from a well in the yard), and so the best use was made of buckets, it being deemed useless to send for the engines from Wakefield. The result was the fire burnt on practically unchecked; on Saturday, at a late hour in the morning, it was not extinguished. The shed and its contents were destroyed, and nearly all the produce in the stacks. Mr Carr estimates his loss at £500, but he is insured (whether to the full extent or not we could not gather) in the Yorkshire Office. The most deplorable circumstance connected with both these fires is that they must have been the work of incendiaries.