North Devon Journal

Assault on a Magistrate

Thursday, 29th October 1846

Assault on a Magistrate - Thomas Stanley, one of the Gipsey tribe, pleaded guilty to a charge of having violently assaulted and beaten Arther Chicester, Esq., while he was in the execution of his duty, as a Magistrate for the county of Devon; and Thomas Cooper, 24, one of the same tribe, was acquitted on the same charge.

It appears that on the 4th of last November, between 4 and 5 o clock in the afternoon, Mr. Chichester was returning from Exeter to his house, at Stoodleigh, near Chudleigh. He was driven in an open carriage; the head was up; the coachman sat on a box and Mrs. Chichester was in the body by his side. When at the top of Halden Hill, somewhere between the race stand and the road which turns down towards Sir Lawrence Palks the defendent, Thomas Cooper, came up to the side of the carriage, and in an agitated voice said,

"For Gods sake, do come and assist me, or my wife will be killed."
At this Mr. Chichester very naturally ordered the coachman to pull up. He alighted and accompanied Cooper to a spot, not far distant, where he saw three women fighting and using very violent gestures. One seemed to have a great deal of blood about her. Mr. Chichester was going to separate them, when the other defendant, Thomas Stanley, having a large loaded whip for driving carts in his hand, thus addressed him:-
"God d--n you; what do you mean by interfering?"
Then he took hold of Mr. Chichester by the collar, who replied,
"I interfere because I am a magistrate and bound to keep the peace. I desire all present to go and assist in keeping the peace."
Stanley said,
God d--n you for a Magistrate."
Mr. Chichester again said,
"I interfere, as I have told you before, because I am a Magistrate, and I charge and command all present to go and aid me in keeping the peace."
He advanced within a foot or two of the women; Cooper followed; Stanley then gathered up the thong of the whip, so as to make it double, and struck Mr. Chichester two or three times across the shoulder and neck. Mr Chichester turned to go back to his carriage but Stanley, seeing him attempt to get in, ran to the horses, tried to flag them into a gallop, as if his oject were to separate the magistrate from his servant and carriage. He however succeeded in getting in, and the moment he did so Stanley left off flogging the horses. But just then Cooper, who appears to have done the looking on part up to this time, jumped to the heads of the horses and hung on for a quarter of a mile. The horses of course, reared and plunged; directly they were quit of him they became quiet, so that it could not be pretended Cooper went to the heads of the horses to pacify them after Stanleys flogging. The intentions which refused their conduct seem to have been very vague and this being the only part Cooper took in the transaction, the jury acquitted him.

Mr. Chichester recommended Stanley to the merciful consideration of the Court, and he was sentenced to 4 months imprisonment with hard labour.

Mr. Beven was Counsel for the prosecution. Mr. Bird for the defence.

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North Devon Journal - Thursday, 29th October 1846
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  • Thomas Stanley
  • Thomas Cooper