Marple Bridge Murder - 6
Usher: The jury have reached a verdict.
Judge: Already? It has only been less than ten minutes. Well tell us, how do you find the defendants, guilty or not guilty?
Foreman of the Jury: Guilty, my Lord for both James Garside and Joseph Mosley.
Judge: Then gentleman you are of opinion that Garside inflicted the mortal wound?
Foreman: Why, my Lord, I don’t know how we can say that.
Judge: If you disbelieve the accomplice as to so material a fact as that, gentlemen, you had better reconsider it.
(The jury quickly confer together again. The judge and other members of the court are looking impatiently at them.)
Foreman: My lord, the question appears to very intricate that we beg your lordship’s leave to adjourn.
Judge: Very well, but I am instructing the bailiff to keep you without meat, drink or fire except candle, and you are to be conducted to the grand jury room where you can consider this.
An hour later.
Judge: Well, jury have you reached a decision to this very intricate question I posed for you?
Foreman: Yes, we have my lord.
Judge: And what is it?
Foreman: We think that Mr. James Garside fired the gun, my Lord.
Judge: Will the defendants stand. (They do so.) I am perfect satisfied with the opinion which the jury expressed of your guilt, and that you, James Garside, shot him in a single instant, upon the spot, without giving him a moment’s time to reflect and endeavour to make his peace with his God. And you committed this atrocious crime from the basest of all possible of human motives - from the love of gain. For you therefore, either of you, there cannot be in this life, the slightest hope.
I should be deserting my duty and unfit for the situation I hold, if I were to tell you to expect mercy on this side of the grave. There is not a human being who can feel the slightest commiseration for you. I must tell you that you have but a few hours to live. In a very short time - in forty-eight hours - you must be hurried into eternity; and all I can do is to beseech you to pass that short interval in humble and earnest endeavours to make your peace with God for that dreadful crime, and many others which you must have committed before you could have been brought to commit this - and to do so by entreating him to extend his mercy to you, not through your merit, but through your Saviour and Redeemer.
No one dare hold out the expectation to you that your prayers well be granted; but no one dare say that even at this late hour, the gates of mercy are shut against you. All I can do is to exhort you to repent, and with the spiritual assistance you have, to endeavour to procure pardon for your dreadful and enormous crime. I have told you that you cannot expect mercy here, and therefore I precede to pass the dreadful sentence of the law, and that is - that you James Garside and you Joseph Mosley - be taken from hence to the prison whence you came, and that you be taken from thence on Friday next to a place of execution, and that you be there respectively hanged up by the neck till your bodies be dead, and that your bodies be then taken down and buried within the precinct of the said prison, or such other prison as you maybe confined in after this your sentence, according to the form of the statute then made and provided and the Lord have mercy on your most miserable souls.
That is the end of the newspaper account of the trial.
The judge was very wrong when he thought everything was going to be over the next day.
Up until now criminals condemned to death had been handed over by the sheriff of the county to the sheriffs of the city, and by them executed in front of the city gaol; but an act of Parliament was recently passed taking away the jurisdiction in the county; and the city sheriffs now contend that they are by that act of parliament exonerated from the obligation of seeing execution done on the criminals; and that the obligation now attaches to the sheriff of the county, who by the common law, is bound to take care that the sentence is carried into effect. So basically nobody wanted to take on the job of doing the execution.
As soon as the trial was concluded, the city sheriffs sent a formal notice to the judge that they would refuse to obey any order made upon them to execute the prisoners. The sheriff of the county at the same time declared that he would risk the consequences of a criminal information rather than carry the sentence of the law into effect. Mr. Baron Parke, according to the Manchester Guardian, concurred in the opinion of the city sheriffs; but as he had no means of compelling the sheriff of the county to discharge his duty, he had no course left but that of respiting the prisoners (which is case of murder he is empowered to do by a recent act of parliament) until the dispute can be in some way decided.
His lordship, therefore, granted a respite for ten days; but the paper says they do not see how a decision of any competent court can be procured in that time, as the judges are all on circuit; and unless the city or the county authorities should give way or some compromise can be hit upon, for continuing the execution so as to produce the claims of neither, the respite will provably have to be extended to a more distant period.
In the mean time, both Joseph and James assert their innocence and, of course, have made no further disclosures. On being told that Schofield, the man whom William said paid the wages of the murder, was in custody, both James and Joseph said that they knew nothing about it. William Mosley went over to Stockport to attend the examination of Schofield. He denied everything, but was kept in custody.
When the 10 days respite was up, they were granted another month until the 18th of September, and then at that time they were again respited until November when the Court of King's Bench met to determine the question in dispute between the sheriffs. The matter was discussed at length, and on Tuesday the 11th of November, and Thursday the 13th, the prisoners were brought before the Court of King's Bench.
Mr. Dunn, on behalf of Garside, contended that the court could not award sentence against that prisoner, because he had made a statement to the authorities of Cheshire with regard to the circumstances of the murder, which, by the proclamation which had been issued, offering a reward of £2000. and a pardon, to any accomplice of the actual murderer, entitled him to be liberated. This fact having been pleaded by the learned gentleman, on behalf of his client, in obedience to the direction of the court, the Attorney-General was heard on the other side. He contended that the jury had distinctly found that Garside had fired the fatal shot; and that even taking the statement of the prisoner to be correct, he was not therefore entitled to his pardon.
Lord Denman held this as true and the court awarded that ithe hanging should be done by the marshal, assisted by the sheriff of Surrey.
The prisoners were then conveyed to the King's Bench prison, to await their death and at 9 a.m. on Tuesday the 25th of November, the wretched convicts expiated their foul offence on the top of Horsemonger-lane jail (pictured above). And I was there watching. I was not so sorry about James Garfield who was hanged first, as I think he was the most guilty, but I felt a little bad about Joseph, as it was partly my fault, since I identified him in court as being there at the time. And Samuel Schofield, who was the real ringleader of the murder, had an indictment preferred against him, but it was ignored, and he was set at liberty.
I'd like to finish my piece by saying a bit about the victim in this crime and his family. Living and working conditions were certainly no worse in Hyde than in most of the cotton towns. The Ashtons who became the town's largest employers provided good facilities for their workers. Their workers were not on strike during this period when so many of the other mills were closed down – and that bore witness to the fact that they were good employers. Thomas Ashton was only 21 when he was killed – the same sort of age as his assassins.
The Ashtons were among the earliest cotton pioneers in Hyde. From 1800, they worked as a family business with mills at Gerrards Wood and Wilson Brook at Godley. Six brothers were involved in the business which, as well as coal and cotton, also established the calico printing works at Newton Bank. The Ashtons were particularly noted for running mills that did both spinning and weaving, a successful practice when most mills concentrated on one process.
After the hangings, William Moseley disappeared from public records until 1885 when he applied to Stockport Workhouse, at the age of 60. He died ten days later. However, before his death, he confessed to a guard that all three men had tossed a coin to see who would do the shooting, and it was Garside in the end who had pulled the trigger.
The Ashton family business continued to thrive over the rest of the century, and later members of the family had important offices in the Hyde area.