1841 - The Murder of Thomas Depledge

Barnsley Chronicle February 23rd 1907

Extract from the History of Barnsley, 1841
The Darfield Tragedy

At the Fair

Charles Milnes, Goldthorpe, on Monday, October 11 came to Barnsley October Fair. The fair in those days was an important event. France was about going to war, and agents from that country were attend affairs in this locality for the purpose of purchasing suitable horses.

I shall have more to say about this in connection with another local matter. Milnes spent some portion of his time at the “Three Cranes” a public house in Shambles Street, now unoccupied and in a ruinous state. Later in the day he went to the “Red Lion,” another beer house in Barnsley, formally kept by Mr William Lancaster.

At one of these places he met a companion named George Marsden, from Billingley, and together they strolled through the Fairground, where they saw one of the men who afterwards became involved in the fatal affray.

They left Barnsley together in company with others about half past seven, all being homeward bound and going in the same direction. When they got to the right of the hill beyond Measbro’ Dyke they overtook two men on horseback. (one of the witnesses said three). There were also some women walking on the roadside.

Two of the mounted men were Joseph and William Lodge, boat haulers, from Wombwell. One of them (Joseph Lodge) had a child with him on the horse, and as they got near he commenced flogging his horse very severely. The child began to cry, and someone called out “Keep that child quiet.” There was a remark made about Lodge flogging the horse. A woman also said something to him, and the child was lifted from the horse. Several of the party on foot made remarks to him about his use of the whip.

The Affray on Measbro’ Hill

Milnes, who was walking on the footpath, as a woman spoke to Lodge said, “Never mind, let him flog it.” At this point Lodge rode his horse at the footpath, and began to use his whip on the two young men, Marsden and Milnes.

Lodge afterwards, when speaking in his own defence, said they threw stones at him, pulled him from his horse, and began to punch him. None of the witnesses, however, corroborated his statement.

While he was using the whip before he dismounted, Milnes told him he ought to have the whip laid about himself. According to the account of the latter, it was after this remark that Joseph Lodge got off his horse and knocked him down. He then ran after Marsden and knocked him down also, biting him on the cheek severely. Marsden called for help, and a man named William Jessop, of Ardsley, ran to his assistance. Jessop told Lodge that he knew him and that he was using Marsden badly, upon which Lodge offered to fight him; but turning away, he once more began to attack Milnes, and bit two of his fingers nearly off. Jessop again came to the rescue, and with the help of the others pulled the infuriated man away. Other members of the party now interfered.

During the scuffle which ensued Joseph Lodge lost his hat. Finding themselves unable to cope with so many, the two Lodges, who bore marks for the fray, returned to Barnsley in search of aid, greatly exasperated and threatening a deadly revenge.

In search of Revenge

Marsden and Mills picked up the hat and together with their party proceeding onwards, calling on their way at the “Ring of Bells” public house, at Darfield, where they remained drinking and talking, and while doing this Joseph Lodge’s hat was placed on the kitchen table.

Meanwhile, the two Lodges and return to Barnsley in search of assistance, where having introduced several others to return with them – including John Lodge, a nephew – they called at every public house on the way in search of the party they sought. At Charles Green’s beer shop, “The Coach and Horses,” at Ardsley, the Lodges, with four companions, found William Jessop drinking. Joseph Lodge pointed at Jessop and said that was a man who pulled him off his horse. Lodge went behind the long settle where Jessop was seated and struck at him; but Green, the landlord, immediately ordered him out of the house.

The Lodges and their party then proceeded with intention been revenge upon Marsden and Milnes. There follows, however, soon abandoned the pursuit, with the exception of John Lodge. At last the three men found the partey they sought at the “Ring of Bells,” and Joseph Lodge observed his hat on the table. This house has or had at that time, two kitchens, and people in one could see anyone in the other. Marsden and Mills were in the back kitchen with a large party, and saw their pursuers enter the front one.

The Murder

Almost immediately after the Lodges entered the room where the men for whom they were searching was seated, William Lodge asked where the hat was. No one answered, the hat being on the table. Joseph recognised it, took it up, and said, “This is my hat; there is my name in it. I’ll make it a dear hat for you.”

The intruders then returned to the front kitchen, and soon afterwards left the house. They did not go far; being intent for revenge, they waited outside for the others to leave. John Lodge seems to have abandoned the pursuit at this point.

About 11 o’clock Milnes and Marsden rose to leave, and with them and Mr Parkinson on horseback and others on foot, among whom was Thomas Depledge, a young man aged 21 from Billingly, a farm servant to Mr Timothy Heptinstall. There was also a woman in the company. Soon after they passed the railway bridge Marsden and Mills went on in advance of the rest, on their way to Goldthorpe.

The party behind were presently overtaken and passed by the two Lodges, one of whom, in his shirtsleeves, was carrying a large hedge-stake. As they passed one of then spoke to the company. Depledge had heard them coming from behind, and ran forward, it is supposed with the intention of warning Marsden and Milnes. The rear party had not gone 100 yards further when a crushing blow was heard, and running forward they found Thomas Depledge lying on the ground bleeding, his face terribly mutilated by the blow. He expired as they raised him from the ground, and they carried the body with them to Millhouses, giving an alarm.

Meanwhile, Marsden and Milnes were proceeding on their journey. They did not hear the blow, the two murderers afterwards pass them at a run, and one of them threw away the hedge stake as he passed. Martin Mills did not hear or know anything of the murder until the following morning.

The Inquest

the inquest was held at the “cat ring of bells” Darfield Bridge, on the Wednesday mock following, before Mr Thomas Badger, the coroner. The jury consists of 18 persons from Darfield, Wombwell and Billingsley, and Mr Adams of Darfield was the foreman.

After the jury had viewed the body, they were briefly addressed by the coroner. Several witnesses gave evidence disclosing the facts given above. William Norman, Constable, and receiving immediate notice of the murder, said he went to Wombwell, and and along with William Matherton, Constable of Wombwell, arrested the murderers the same night. They found Joseph Lodge in bed. His face was scratched, and his clothes were spotted with blood. Norman also produced the edge state with which the murder was committed. The two prisoners were brought in separately and offering caution, Johnson Joseph -related story of attack on me is Hill, but neither of them confessed to the murder. They declared they had gone home to Wombwell. After sitting from 10 in the morning to 5 in the evening inquest was adjourned till next day. On Thursday additional witnesses were hurt, John Lodge be one of the witnesses.. The jury found Joseph and William Lodge guilty and they were committed to York Castle in the coroner’s warrant, charged with murder.

The Wayside Monument

On Wednesday, following John Lodge was arrested, taken before the magistrates at Barnsley, charged with being an accessory. He confessed to having been in company with the other prisoners when they pulled the hedge stake, and thought they would use it against Marsden and Milnes, and that he was with them when they passed the party at Darfield Bridge, but after that he went home. He said that he had no doubt that Depledge had been murdered by his uncles.

The spot where the murder occurred was marked by a stone, raised by subscription. The following was inscription:

“to the memory of Thomas Depledge,
who lost his life October 11, 1841.
At midnight drear, by this wayside
a murdered man, poor Depledge died;
the guiltless victim of a blow,
designed to lay another low;
from men whom he had never harmed,
by hate and drunken passion warmed;
hence learnt to shun in youth’s fresh spring,
the courses which to ruin bring

Thomas Depledge's Grave at Frickley Church

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