The King v The Inhabitants of Ringstead

The King versus The Inhabitants of Ringstead 1829


This case is mainly of interest for those with an interest in the Manning family of Ringstead, Northamptonshire. It comes from a book called “Reports of Cases Relating to the Duty and Office of Magistrates (Michaelmas Term 1827 – Easter Term 1830) published by Sweet in 1832. This was one of a series of such books going over recent cases to help magistrates understand the rulings and so administer local justice correctly.

 This case was to do with the Poor Law and the right of a Parish to send someone back to another Parish because they had an interest in a house or possessions there. They ruled (I think) that because Henry Manning would not come into his inheritance until his mother either died or remarried (neither of which had happened) he could not be moved back to Ringstead on this basis.

 As an aside it does sketch out part of the Manning family tree which I found useful, if also confusing in some aspects.

 The book has been digitised by Googlebooks and is also on the website The digitised version (done I suppose with character recognition software) makes something quite close to an anagram of googlebook of the text so I would recommend you read the copy of the original book pages 71 90 (which is also on the site).The law did not like the ambiguity of full stops



The King v. The Inhabitants of Ringstead 1829

 Two Justices, by their order, removed Henry Manning, Rebecca his wife and their four children from the parish of Wellingborough, in the county of Northampton to the parish of Ringstead in the same county. On appeal, the Sessions confirmed the order, subject to the opinion of this court upon the following case:-

            The birth settlement of the pauper Henry Manning was in the Parish of Ringstead. His grandfather Thomas Manning being seised in fee of the premises hereinafter mentioned, by will dated 6th January 1800, duly executed and attested, (after devising five acres of land in Ringstead to his eldest son and heir John Manning in fee in the words following, that is to say, I give and devise unto my son John Manning all those my five acres, more or less, of copyhold meadow ground with their and every of their appurtenances, lying and being dispersed in the open and common fields and meadows of Ringstead aforesaid, now in my occupation, and which I have duly surrendered to the use of this my will, to hold to him, his heirs and assigns, for ever, subject nevertheless, and I do hereby subject and charge the same estate to and with payment of £25 of lawful money of Great Britain unto my daughter Mary, the wife of Thomas Plant, to be paid to her within twelve calendar months next after my decease,) gave and devised in the words following, that is to say, “I give and devise unto my daughter Elizabeth, the wife of my late son Thomas Manning, all that part of a messuage or tenement, with the appurtenances , which is now in the occupation of Henry Lawford, situate in Ringstead aforesaid, and adjoining to the tenement in the occupation of Joseph Manning, to hold to her, the said Elizabeth Manning, and her assigns, for and during the term of her natural life, if she shall so long continuea widow, and unmarried, and from and after her decease or day of marriage, which shall first happen, I give and devise the said part of a messuage or tenement, with the homestead and appurtenances in the occupation of Joseph Manning, and also all that my close or orchard lying about the said homestead on the north side of a back lane, and now in the several tenures of myself, Samuel Hackett and Mary Whitney, unto the four children of my late son the said Thomas Manning, deceased, namely, Henry, John, Thomas and Rebecca Manning, to hold to them and to their several and respective heirs and assigns for ever, as tenants in common and not as joint tenants.” The pauper is the Henry Manning mentioned in this last-mentioned devise, and is the son of the said Elizabeth Manning. In 1806 the pauper acquired a settlement by hiring and service in the parish of Raunds. Having some years afterwards become chargeable to Ringstead, he was removed with his son to Raunds, by an order dated 8th January 1817, which was never appealed against. Between 1817 and 1819 when the property was sold to one Moss, he resided above forty days in the parish of Ringstead, his mother having up to that time continued, and then being, a widow and unmarried.


The details of the case and judgement continue for another 18 pages but I will leave you to work your way through them.


Ball, William Weekley. Brief for Defence 1864

copied from original Brief in Northampton Record Office (on folded blue paper). Incomplete



MARCH 1864



Regina in the Prosecution of George Williamson Inspector of Police against William Weekley Ball


Charge of Murder



Brief for the defence


The copy depositions and the marginal remarks hereafter given together with a copy of the Peterborough Newspaper, which contains a paragraph upon this case worth reading are sent to the Counsel as a preliminary to the Trial Brief which will contain the Medical and other evidence for the Prisoner and which shall be placed in the hands of the Counsel as soon as completed.

The theory of the Prosecution is that the Prisoner and the supposed deceased Lydia Atley had, (as the Newspapers have reported) been in habit of cohabiting and that Lydia Atley was in July 1850 close upon her confinement being with child by the Prisoner - that on the evening of the 22nd July 1850 the said Lydia Atley in consequence of being so pregnant with child and near her parturition applied to the Prisoner for money - that instead of giving her the required contribution or assistance the Prisoner partly by wheedling and partly by force got the said Lydia Atley into his orchard by the back way and there without much delay murdered the said Lydia Atley - perhaps it will be said by suffocation - and afterwards during the night stripped her of every Article of clothing and having done so conveyed her naked body - a corpse so murdered - to a spot on Denford Lane said to be half a mile(but in truth a full mile)distant from the orchard across country and a mile(but in truth nearly two miles) by road where at a depth of about 18 inches from the surface the Prisoner made a hole and buried the said Lydia Atley face downwards.

 The way in which it is intended to establish such charge against the accused will be collected by a perusal of the depositions upon which it will be seen several nice and important questions on the admissibility of evidence given at the committal, and intended to be pressed at the Trial arise.

 A reference to the following rough sketch of the localities will aid counsel in comprehending the depositions and the remarks upon it.
















It may be en paysant to remark that a few days after Lydia Atley was missed the case was investigated by the Police when all persons then professing to know anything in relation to the supposed murder of the Girl were taken before Mr Wilkins, the then Chief local and resident Magistrate who it is believed considered the statements made to him to be either insufficient in fact or of insufficient credibility to justify further enquiry

 Now the Prosecution seem to regard unequivocal proof of the corpus delicti (which when the case was enquired into in 1850 was entirely wanting was absolutely necessary in order to establish that an offence has been committed - hence the attempt to identify the bones exhumed by 1st showing them to be those of an adult female about the height of the supposed deceased, 2ndly by the absence of a particular tooth said to have been extracted shortly before death. . . . . . .

 Whether upon the Trial the Prosecution will hold to such view may reasonably be doubted seeing how one or two unquestionable medical facts militate against the skeleton found being that of Lydia Atley - and it may therefore be well to consider how far in such a case as this, where the crime is said to have been committed more than thirteen years ago, the prosecution will be permitted to establish the offence by prescimate(?) circumstances - The Rules laid down by Lord Hale and other authorities bearing upon this branch of the case will be found at page 269 of Best on presumptive evidence

 It has been hinted that one or two medical facts are opposed to identity of the skeleton.. they are 1st that no foetal remains are found with the skeleton. 2ndly that the state of the Bones show rather 30 or 40 years duration than 13 or 14, 3rdly that the alleged cavity in the mouth said to have been caused by the recent extraction of a Tooth (about a fortnight before alleged death) being composed of bony substance entirely and positively refutes the alleged extraction by the witness Henry Dicks (page 14 of copy depositions) of the tooth by which identity is mainly sought to be established. . . . .

The importance of the first fact, viz the absence of foetal remains has driven the Prosecution to the suggestion that the Parturition may have taken place before death (and the Infant have been deposited elsewhere). Assuming the happening of such an event viz parturition does not then the following presumption favourable to the accused arise, namely the then absence of motive to destroy the Woman, since a making away of the child could have answered every conceivable end. Again may not the Girl who had all the day complained so much of being in a depressed state have died in the effort of giving birth, and no murder at all been committed by any one? More general and less certain objections to the question of identity will be seen on reference to the depositions of the medical witnesses for the Prosecution and the marginal remarks thereon

 Having thus cursorily analysed the case so far as by attempting to show a corpus delicti, it supports the committal of a crime, I in the same way glance at the case so far as it points to the accused as the Author. Looking at the class of witness called to support this branch of the case - the class to which the girl belonged and the exciting nature of the occurrence which really resembles a tragical romance, it is not to be wondered at that witnesses are now to be found ready to relate as true what they have heard and told - perhaps read in Newspapers or heard sung in the street over and over again until that which was once but the result of imagination or hearsay has become belief.

 Opposed, however to the credit of the witnesses and supporting the last named suggestion may be mentioned the improbability of the story told by them and the oppositive (?) of their conduct e.g. It is improbable that Lydia Atley would add Weekley Ball to the end of her cry - “get off me for I believe you mean killing me tonight Weekley Ball” or that a man hearing such a cry by a woman followed by another “The Lord have mercy on me if I am to die in the state I am” is followed again by a “grumbling sort of noise growing weaker and weaker” should have quietly walked off and gone to bed with the supplicant’s sister leaving her unnoticed and uncared for.

Testing the evidence of other witnesses in this way their evidence becomes very much shaken and without the evidence of the witness Weekley upon the subject of his letter the case would be a weak one against the Prisoner.

It will be seen that the letter said to have been written by William Weekley was not put in evidence owing to Mr Gachi’s (?) objection that it will be attempted to get it in on the Trial. The letter is said to have been addressed to Mrs Weekley (Weekley’s Mother) but the copy produced and which was attempted to be used and said to have been taken from the original in Ball’s possession was addressed to Mrs Ball and is as follows. “Northampton Augt 12 1850. I write a few lines to inform you that I saw L.Atley in Northampton - I was going down Castle Street about 8.30. There was a man with her with a large frock coat and a Cap. - William Weekley. If this copy letter or parol evidence of its contents be held as admissible and the Jury believe it was written at the instance of the Prisoner - there may be given the explanation that a Man harassed by report may have done a foolish thing even were he innocent - with the object of putting down the annoyances to which he was subjected and among which may be classed the singing of songs like the one in the margin


 Copy of Peterborough Paper pasted at side of Brief






On Monday last, a private examination of several witnesses in the inquiry held upon the skeleton found in the Denford and Keyston Land on the 4th inst took place at Thrapston. The following magistrates of the division were present on this occasion Lieut. General Arbuthnott, W.B. Stopford Esq., Hon Fitzpatrick H. Vernon and the Rev. W. Duthy.

The evidence of the witnesses having been heard the result was the issue of a warrant for the apprehension of Weekley Ball, a local butcher formerly of Ringstead but lately residing at Ramsey, Hunts. The warrant was immediately entrusted to the experience hands of Inspector hands of Inspector Williamson of Thrapston who directly proceed to execute it, starting for Ramsey in a horse and gig about half past eleven o’clock.

During the whole of the morning, throngs of the poorer inhabitants of the villages of Denford and Ringstead with other persons were continually pouring into the town and gradually accumulating into a mixed mob of people. As noon approached this assemblage congregated in the little yard, and round the outside of the police station in which the fortnightly petty sessions were that day to be held. It appeared that a false and premature report of Ball’s arrest had been circulated and therefore the motley throng had flocked to Thrapston expecting to hear his examination.

It was some time before the jostling, laughing and impatient occupants of the station precincts were admitted to the hall, where they were, without doubt, much disappointed at hearing or seeing nothing of the expected prisoner. The ordinary business of the day being concluded and the hall cleared the mob adjourned to the various public houses in the town from which they did not emerge until late at night. We must not forget to add that a strong party of “roughs” walked up the road, which leads to Ramsey, via Huntingdon with the intention of meeting Inspector Williamson and his charge and of saluting the latter with certain ugly-looking pebbles which they appropriated on the way. But that vigilant police officer was too wary to run the risk of such an unpleasant recontre, and so after actually waiting about Thrapston streets until an early hour in the morning in quest of their prey, the major part of the mob dispersed homewards.

Inspector Williamson reached the town of Ramsey late in the afternoon and proceeded to the Constabulary Depot in that place. Shortly afterwards the prisoner was seen in the immediate vicinity and being asked to step into the depot the warrant was read over to him and he then quietly submitted to being taken into custody. He remained there until six o’clock on Tuesday morning at which time he was brought form Ramsey in the gig, arriving at Thrapston at eleven o’clock. Simultaneously with the appearance of the inspector of police and his prisoner in our town a number of bystanders ran toward the spot and greeted Ball in language which was more profuse than polite. The prisoner jumped hastily off the gig and bolted into the police-station with remarkable alacrity leaving Inspector Williamson to remonstrate with the crowd.

Weekley Ball is a respectable-looking man, 46 years of age and standing about 5ft 7 inches in height. He is of a rosy and pleasing complexion, is moderately stout with dark and straight hair and habited in a suit of light tweed cloth. He has pretty regularly for years attended various markets in the county of Huntingdon and his character for straightforward and honest dealing is unimpeachable.

Our Ramsey correspondent thus speaks of the apprehension of the accused:- “During the last few days much curiosity and concern has been awakened in the town by the arrival and demeanour of a respectably attired middle-aged stranger whose noted surveillance of a certain house gave birth to the opinion that the visitor was a secret ally of the police force and that his mission here had something to do with the tragedy supposed to have been enacted at Ringstead some thirteen years ago. The opinion formed by the townspeople was unpleasantly confirmed on Monday evening by the arrest of a well-known tradesman on his return from St Ives market. The intelligence circulated throughout the town with telegraphic rapidity; groups of excited persons eagerly assembled to discuss the painful affair in the neighbourhood of the police station, and the upper parts of the Great Whyte was thronged with people whom the distressing news had collected and thrown into a state of the most feverish excitement.

The suppose criminal has been a resident here about thirteen years during which time he has carried on most successfully the business of a butcher, having recently enlarged his premises, and erected a commodious house on the site of his former shop. As a tradesman he was obliging, assiduous to please and unremitting in his attention to business, and in that capacity secured the confidence and respect of the inhabitants. He was removed to Thrapston early on Tuesday morning and there is evidently a strong feeling here in favour of the accused.

On Wednesday Ball was brought before the Magistrates of the Thrapston division and formally remanded until next week.

The merciful principle that “a man shall be esteemed innocent until he is proved guilty” cannot be too scrupulously followed. In relation to the present case, this excellent maxim ought especially to be observed and the disgraceful rancour which some persons have openly manifested toward the accused is much to be deprecated. Nevertheless we cannot as journalists overlook the extraordinary outburst of popular wrath which has greeted Ball from the fist suspicion of foul play thirteen years ago, down to the present period. And this feeling has not decreased, but on the contrary has remained the same or rather has augmented in volume. We can only account for the existence of this animosity which is absolutely unanimous in the neighbourhood, by supposing a general conviction of the prisoner’s guilt, and this conviction must have derived strength from several singular rumours which were publicly talked about at the time of the first inquiry after Lydia Atley and which in the process of years acquiring the permanency of thoroughly confirmed facts. These facts will shortly re-appear in the evidence of the witnesses in this case. The prisoner’s well known connection with the missing woman subjected him more particularly to suspicion. To this may be added all the horrible stories connected with the affair which have now suffered a complete revival and we gain an explanation of the treatment which Ball received at the ungentle hands of the neighbours who unremittingly persecuted him until his removal to Ramsey. It is said that at the time the girl was missed a letter was received by one of the local magistrates to the effect that the writer had seen the deceased in company with a strange man in Gold Street, Northampton, but this statement was not generally credited in consequence of the condition in which the girl was. A witness has now voluntarily come forward for the purpose of declaring that this letter was written by him at the dictation of Weekley Ball himself. At the time of the girl’s disappearance cries of “murder” were heard in the orchard at the Back of Ball’s house and there was abundant proofs of his having been up all night. By the kindness of an acquaintance our Thrapston correspondent has met with an old ballad which was chanted and sold in Thrapston streets at the October fair in the year 1850, the year in which the tragic occurrence happened. This ballad is printed on flimsy paper, in the true Catnachian style and comprise some eight verses with a chorus attached to each.

Considered as a composition it is of course the sorriest and most absurd doggerel but as a sample of the sort of talk current at Ringstead at t hat time it is exceedingly curious, therefore we subjoin it. The ballad is headed in bold antique letter “The Cruel Butcher of Ringstead” and the word run thus:-


Come all good Friends that in Ringstead dwell,

Come listen to me and a story I’ll tell,

Concerning of Lydia Atlee

Who that in Ringstead ought to be

Chorus:           A cruel Butcher he hung should be,

For killing of Lydia Atlee.


1          In eighteen hundred and fifty

            That girl was killed we plainly see

            And on the twenty-second of July

            That deed he done he can’t deny



2          The night before her death they say

            She was met in the street with a washing tray

            To wash the next day she did intend

    Not thinking of her latter end



3          About that time we all do know

            Up to the Black Horse that man did go

            And for to have a glass of ale

            And there he told a dreadful tale



4          And then from there he went straightway

            To kill a sheep as he did say

            To kill that girl it was his guile

            Likewise to kill his lovely child



5          When she got home and left her tray

            To meet the man she went straightway

            To get her bounty she did intend

            Not thinking of her latter end



6      Through the orchard gate he dragged her in

O was not that a shame and a sin,

Now these few lines we have just penned 

To bring old Butcher to an end



7          And when he got her safely in,

            To try his skill he did begin,

            And when she knew she’d got to die

            She did aloud for murder cry.



8          Now to conclude and finish the song,

           What we have penned cannot be wrong

           O may the Pealers fetch him with speed

           To judge him for that cruel deed.




 Kew Public Record Office ASSI 36 Norfolk Assizes

 R v BALL  March 1864




The Examination of Elizabeth Groom of Ringstead in the said County, Sarah Ann Manning of Ringstead aforesaid, Sarah Dicks of Ringstead aforesaid, Hannah Hill of Woodford aforesaid, Richard Warren of Ringstead aforesaid, Henry Dicks of Ringstead aforesaid,, George Williamson of |Thrapston in the said County, John Griffith Leete of Thrapston aforesaid, William ? Markham of 33 Charges (?) Street, London in the County of Middlesex, Samuel Favey (?) of Rushden in the said county of Northampton, William Weekley of Ringstead aforesaid, Thomas Walter of Great Addington in the said County of Northampton, Thomas green of Ringstead aforesaid, Henry Lambert Bayly of the town of Northampton in the said County, William Weekley of Ringstead aforesaid and John Frederick Noble of Oundle in the said County of Northampton taken on oath this 15th day of February in the year of our Lord 1864 at Thrapston in the County aforesaid and before the undersigned two of her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said County, in the presence and hearing of William Weekley Ball who is charged this day before us for that the said William Weekley Ball on the 22nd day of July 1850 at the parish of Ringstead in the said County feloniously, wilfully and of his malice aforethought did kill and murder one Lydia Atley


This deponent Elizabeth Groom on her oath saith as follows

I live in Ringstead. I was living there in July 1850 just opposite Mr Ball’s garden. My sister Lydia Atley was living at Ringstead at that time. I have been in Lydia Atley’s house when the prisoner came there. When the prisoner came in Lydia Atley ordered me to leave the house. He was not a yard off…(?)

He has given me meat for her. I recollect the morning when my sister was murdered (?) it was on the morning of the 23rd of July 1850. I met the prisoner on that morning in the back lane of the village of Ringstead. I spoke to him and asked if he had seen my sister - he said No. I never stopped in the room with them and heard their conversation.

 Cross examined by Mr Gachi (?) for the prisoner.

My sister lived with her brother John Atley, Sarah Anne Phillips, now Sarah Ann manning lived there also. I went to Mr Wilkins, a magistrate of this District in 1850. I was not questioned. I told Mr Wilkins that I had seen the prisoner come to my sister’s.



I was never I swear (?)

                        The mark X of Elizabeth Groom


The Deponent Sarah Ann Manning on oath saith

I am the wife of John Manning of Ringstead. I was living in Ringstead in 1850 - Lydia Atley’s mother died in May 1850. On the death of my mother I went to live with Lydia Atley. I slept with her every night up to the night she was lost, the 22nd of July. She was near her confinement. I recollect her going to the shops for soap and rice. We were preparing for the next day’s dinner. She had arranged for her work. The next day we were going to wash at her house(?). I went down the street with her with the tray for washing. When Lydia Atley and I got home that night it was about nine o’clock. She went out a little time after that and I have never seen her since.


 I think the Brother kept on the house. Before I went to live there the mother and brother lived there also. Lydia Atley used to go about with oranges and other things. I don’t think she ever went further than Thrapston and the neighbouring villages. I can’t say up to the time of her being murdered.


 I slept there with her every night after the death of her mother


The mark of  X of Sarah Ann Manning


The Deponent Sarah Dicks on oath saith

I am the wife of ? Dicks. I am sister to Lydia Atley. In July 1850 I was living in London End, Ringstead under Mr Wilkins. I recollect the day before she was missed(?) I saw her on the day in my house. I was near my confinement and she was waiting on me. I asked her on that day to take my husband’s dinner in the hay field, in Mr Freeman’s Field it was then. She took it and said she was so ill she didn’t think? she could get there. I said I would send some little girl with her. She sat down a little while and then she did, I think I feel a little better, I’ll try to and go myself. She did go. She said she felt so ill that she was near her confinement. She had had a child before. When she came back she said she felt so ill she thought she would not be able to do her washing the next day (this question objected to - the court ruled that it might be fact). She said she was so near her confinement she hadn’t an hour to count on. She had a very bad leg so that she could not get far.



 She was in a very distressed state all that day. I last saw her at a quarter past nine o’clock at night in my house when she left me. It was on the Monday night as she was missed on the Tuesday. I did know a person named James Wilkinson. I have said that Lydia Atley had had a child.


 I am/saw(?) a mother on the eve of a confinement. Women are very often in a distressed state.


The mark X Sarah Dicks


 The Deponent Joseph Groom on oath saith

I am a labourer residing at Ringstead. In July 1850 I was living at Ringstead. I recollect the night before Lydia Atley was missed quite well. I was in the street smoking my pipe. I heard tow persons together. I did not see them. I knew their voices - Lydia Atley left me at my door a short time before this. I knew Lydia Atley’s voice well. I can’t say I knew the voice of Ball. I know Ball’s orchard. There was a pair of garden doors between me and the two. I could not see into Ball’s orchard. I heard two people come into the orchard form the Back Lane. I heard voices in Ball’s orchard. I heard Lydia Atley’s voice. I heard her say “I am not going in there with you tonight”. I heard her say soon afterwards, “Get off me for I believe you mean killing me tonight, Weekly Ball”. I heard her say “the lord have mercy on me if I am to die in the state I am in”. I heard a noise either getting away from me or weaker. It was a trembling(?) sort of noise like a screaming from a human being. I have never seen Lydia Atley since. It was about a quarter to ten at night when I went out of my house into the street.


I have lived at Ringstead 28 years, before that I lived at Denford. I worked at Mr Richard Freeman’s at t hat time. John Hill, Thomas Hall and Thomas Cottingham were working there with me. I should say it was getting towards nine o’clock when we left off work - we were carting ???.  I am  ???? at work after for on that night when I left work I went up to London End to fetch a pole which I had bought. I went home by myself. I separated from my fellow workers that night at the farm yard gate. I had known Lydia Atley then sixteen or eighteen years. I was then a labourer with a family. I had a housekeeper whom I have married since. I knew Lydia Atley perfectly well. I did not walk with her at night. She used to come to my house at different times, stop an hour sometimes talking to me and my housekeeper who is now my wife. I was talking to Lydia Atley this night at my door, I should think about twenty minutes before ten. She had been in my house before that night. I had been washing myself when she left me. I went into my house myself. I did not walk away with Lydia Atley because she told me she was going to see Weekley Ball about some money and if she didn’t have some there would be a row that night (objected to by Prisoner’s attorney) She did not apply to me for assistance that night. I knew Lydia Atley’s voice particularly, it was a remarkable voice. I knew Lydia Atley’s voice better than the prisoners because he wouldn’t let people hear his. On this particular night Lydia Atley’s voice had not made any particular impression. I was not more than I ought to be with her intimate.

I followed Lydia Atley about ten yards when she left my house - not further. I then put my back against the wall and went on smoking my pipe. I remained there from five to ten minutes and then went back into the house. I went back outside and remained a very few minutes. I came back and went to bed. I knew Lydia Atley lived on the London Road. I was only on the road that night to fetch the pole. I think that was a few minutes before nine. I did not see Lydia Atley on the road.


I am the husband of Elizabeth Groom. She was once(?) sister to Lydia Atley. There was no pretence(?) for saying that I had improper intimacy with Lydia Atley by a magistrate.

 I did not think the noise was serious so I didn’t interfere. I thought it was only a row.


Joseph Groom (signed in person)


The deponent John Hill on oath saith

 I am a labourer residing at Woodford. I recollect the night that Lydia Atley was missed. I was then living in Ringstead. It was about a quarter to ten. I can’t say to a minute when I went to Mr Beeby’s orchard. I went to do a chair(?) for myself just opposite the tree against the hedge. The next field to where the tree was, nearer the Prisoner’s orchard belongs to Mrs Hill. There is a road leading from the Black House of Mrs Hill’s to the Back Lane. I heard someone coming up the slipe as I call it ( very narrow close). It was Weekley Ball. He was coming (?) from his own house because it leads to Denford.. After he went into the Back lane he turned himself around and I saw it was Weekley Ball whom I had known for more than thirty years.

 I got over the hedge into the slipe and then over a wall into the Cherry Orchard. When I got a few yards I saw Lydia Atley and Weekley Ball in the lane together. They went down the lane which leads to the back gate of Weekly Ball’s orchard. I heard Lydia Atley speak, “I won’t” and after they got a little further down I heard her repeat again loudly “ I won’t, it’s yours and nobody else’s”. Then I went on till I got to the edge of the slipe(?). They had not then got into Ball’s orchard - they went down to the turn that leads into Ball’s orchard and I heard her say there “I won’t go in there????” She called that out two or three times. They went towards the gate and she retreated back a little and Ball went up to her again looking to me as if he ???? her(?) but I can’t swear to that -they then went to the gate leading into Ball’s orchard and I heard the latch go and then I lost sight of them. If they had come back I must have seen them.

My wife was out that night. I left the baby in the cradle and I hastened home. The next morning I was at work at Mr Freeman’s in the Parish(?) Close. We were a little before six. When I was in Mr Freeman’s field I saw Ball coming across with a hoe in his hand. He bid us good morning. There is a road at the side leading to Denford but there is no road across the field where he was coming. There is a lime kiln in Ringstead - he was coming in a direction from that lime kiln. I know the Denford and Keystone Lane. The road runs to the right of the Lime Kiln. I knew the occupiers of land in Ringstead. He had a load of the lime in the garden. I don’t know whether he had it then. He was coming in that direction.

Ringstead Field was enclosed in 1840. The road leading to Keyston is the boundary of Ringstead Parish running between that and Denford. I worked on the farm adjoining the road for several years. I 1850 the state of the road was bad - there was water and a great slough - cart wheels were often up to the hobs.

Cross examined

I lived in Ringstead in 1850. I left five years ago next March. I had no reason for leaving but my landlord gave me a discharge - now disappeared(?) because my hovel fell down and a ????? arose out of it. I did not receive a notice because I kept a brothel. Two young women came to visit me. They were distant relations. One was Harriet Reach(?). She came from Oundle. The other was Emma Bird. She came from Oundle. I don’t know that she came from a house of ill fame, it is unknown to me if she did. They came to me for shelter and a visit. The time they left me was more than a twelvemonth before I left Ringstead. They only stopped two or three days - I never see any harm by them.

I never did keep a house of ill fame. In 1850 Lydia Atley was missing I did not appear before any magistrate, the policeman came to me in Mr Freeman’s field and I stated what I knew but never was required to appear before a magistrate. A policeman came to me two or three years ago. With that exception I had nothing to refresh my memory. I lived in Ringtead at the bottom of Raunds Lane. It was nearly a fortnight from the of my seeing Lydia Atley before I saw the policeman and to say anything to them. The policeman came to my house two or three times. I saw them twice but said nothing about what I had seen. They came to fetch my mistress. It was about quarter to ten when I went to the field(?). I had a small outplace but I never use it myself. I climbed one wall to get to the tree(?). I can’t tell you the distance from my house but it is up Beeby’s orchard and it was for a natural(?). I heard Mrs Green and my wife talking when I went over the wall. I left the baby in the cradle. I was not above two or three moments at the tree. When I returned to my house my clock wanted about four minutes to ten. I don’t know whether it was right by the church. I was not absent above ten minutes altogether.


The police examined me two or three years ago. They came to me in the field. I never signed anything - they told me afterwards they took my examination upto Spencer Williams(?) who was the acting magistrate at the time

By a magistrate

Weekly Ball had not other tool than a hoe in his hand. 


John Hill (signed) 





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