Lytham St.Annes Coat of Arms
Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire, England

The Preston Guardian, Saturday, December 6, 1879


Nicholas Wright, a servant in the employ of the Misses Hornby of Ribby Hall, was summoned for assaulting Sarah Hargreaves, wife of Mr. E. H. Hargreaves, manure merchant and surveyor, Kirkham, in the Parish Church, on Sunday the 23rd ult. There was also a summons for assault by Thomas C. Hargreaves against Ann Anderson, and a summons against Thomas C. Hargreaves by Ellen L. Anderson.

The case excited a great amount of interest, and the court was crowded. In the first case Mr. Ambler appeered for complainant, and. Mr. Edelston for the defendant. Mrs. Hargreaves stated that she and her two daughters went to church rather earlier than usual on, the evening in question. They went into the pew in which they had sat for two years. They had got comfortably seated when the defendant and two girls came and also sat in the pew, which would hold seven. Shortly afterwards her son Thomas came, and she told him to come in.

Defendant then got up and prevented him from coming in. She told him to go into Miss Garlick's pew. Defendant then turned round and said, " You'll have to go too when the others come." Three other girls came shortly afterwards, and defendant then said she would have to come out, and be came with all his force, with his arms up, and pushed her right on the top of her two girls. They were all then in a heap, and defendant was sat on the top of them. He said, " I was sent to do it, and I will do it I'll sit on you."

—By Mr. Edelston I know that there is some dispute about the pew. There was a dispute as to who had the right to sit in the pew. I knew our right to it was disputed by the Misses Hornby. Mr. Hargreaves paid rent to the Misses Hornby.

—Mr. Edelston You went early to get possession of the pew, and in order to exclude anyone who might come after ?

—Witness : I went for the purpose of claiming my rights. Defendant came early for the sake of turning us out by brutal force. When Miss Bates came she tried to get past them, and it was then the assault was committed. She (witness) did not try to prevent Miss Bates from coming into the pew. She and her children were sat at the far end of the pew, and there was no room to pass them. She told the girls to take up as little room as possible, and to keep their places.

—Mr. Edelston. : Whether did you tell them to sit as close as they could and keep their places, or to sit as far off each other as they could and to keep their places ? That little word made a deal of difference. (Laughter.)

—Witness said she told them to sit close.

—Mr. Edelston : Did you not get up from your seat and try to prevent Miss Bates from getting into the pew ?

—Witness : No.—You did not try to keep her out of the pew ?

—Witness: I tried to preserve my seat, and prevent her getting past me.

— Mr. Edelston : 'Yes; I thought we should come at it. (Laughter.) Do you mean to say that you think that in the house of God this man meant to assault you ?

—Witness: I do.

—Don't you. think his object was to secure Miss Bates a seat ?

—I think not.

—Do you think defendant went to church with the deliberate intention of assaulting you or did he go to preserve the pews' for the Misses Hornby?

—I believe he came with the intention of turning us out, because he said he had been sent to do it, and he would do it

—Re-examined by Mr. Ambler: Mr. Hargreaves paid £1 15s to the churchwardens for the rent of the pew on the 24th Sept.

—Second witness was about to be called, when Mr. Edelston said that there was a question of title, and he thought the magistrates had no jurisdiction in the case.

He was not afraid of the merits or result of the case but is there was a question of title he thought it could not be proceeded with.

—Mr. Ambler said before they received the question of title they must be satisfied that the Misses Hornby every had a faculty for the pew. If they had, they had rented the pew, and thus deprived themselves of such faculty.

—Mr. Edelsten said that was a question to be afterwards determined

.—The Bench then retired, and after a short absence they returned, when the Chairman said they had given the case every consideration, and they were sorry that it had been thought necessary to bring such a case before them. They thought if there was anything wrong taking place between persons a a place of worship, it was the duty of the churchwardens to see that everything was properly conducted a the sacred edifice. The magistrates had no jurisdiction in that case, but they would suggest that the parties arange the matters amicably.—Mr. Edelston paid he was very glad the Bench had suggested a settlement, and he entirely agreed with it.—Shortly afterwards, Mr. Ambler announced that the summonses would be withdrawn.

—The Chairman: I am very glad.

—Mr. Edelston thought it was sensible termination of the case, and he was prepared when he came into that court to adopt such a course.