1840 Eckington, Derbyshire

The following transcript comes from the Sheffield Independent, dated August 8, 1840

It should be noted, that this is likely the same Luke Staniforth that would go onto become a butcher in later years, we have a page on his life here. This is further backed up by a newspaper article dated August 28, 1869 where a Luke Staniforth is declined a license for a pub named The Butcher's Arms due to having '13 convictions'.

Thursday August 4

The court opened this morning at nine, and the first case was that of James and Aaron Hibbert, who were indicted for the wilful murder of Wm Colgin, Sir G. Sitwell's gamekeeper, at the parish of Eckington.

Mr. Halguy and Mr. Wildman for the prosecution, and Mr. Miller and Mr. Mellor for the defence.

Mr Halguy having opened the case, called R. Harrison, schoolmaster, at Eckington, who made plan produced: names of fields and gates, and distances correct; whole plan correct; the Renishaw dairy is correctly laid down.

Esther Fraser, cook to Sir George Sitwell- went to the dairy on Easter Monday last, in the evening about ten minutes before eight. While in the dairy, about a quarter past eight, heard a gun fired apparently in the direction of Staveley Lane. Staid in dairy till 10 minutes before nine, shaw two little girls, who came to me in dairy. They had a light, and in consequence of what they said to me, I took the light and went to a place where I heard moanings as of great distress. Found the person to be Wm Cogin. He was on his hands and knees. He told me he had been shot, and put his hand to the upper part of his right thigh. Went for assistance, and he was taken into a room over the stable. There are two windows in the dairy.

Horace Knowles was time keeper on the N.M.R - On Easter Monday, lived at Eckington; returned to my home from the station, and on passing Eckington Church it wanted sixteen minutes to eight. Kniw prisoner James - saw him that night with three others (one was his wife) in Eckington street; had to call on inspector eighty or ninety yards up the town - stood talking with inspector's wife and James -his wife and another came up; wife said "Prithee James come home" in a coaxing manner. He was in liquor and would not go home; he proceeded across the road and put his foot on a stile as if to go over - I went away and saw no more of him. Know J. Stevenson's close. The stile was in that direction.

John Stevenson, wheelwright at Eckington, also parish clerk, has three fields between Eckington and Staveley Lane, There is a footpath. On Easter Monday was wheeling a barrow of stones in one of my fields and I saw both prisoners going on path towards Staveley Lane. Not close together, but both going one way. James said I was doing a thing that was not right, and Aaron said "he only means John, because you are working so late" I said to James if he did nothing worse that night, nothing worse would come to him. This was as near 8 O'clock in the evening as possible. After I said this he walked on, but turned back and said, he had some giglet hafts for me. They then went on, across Mr Askham's field in the direction of Staveley Lane. My field is about half a mile or upwards from Mr Barber's field. Next morning, at 8 O'clock, James Hibbert brought me the hafts into my shop. He said "This is a pretty job, is it not?" Understood him to speak of the shooting of Cogin. I said "It is, are you clear of it?" He said "Oh yes, I'm clear enough". I told him he was not in the right road the night before to be clear. He said"Why, where was I?" I replied that he was crossing my field. He said he never was in my field. I said "Come James, that won't do" He said "If I was in your field I can't remember" - Cross examined.

He appeared in liquor the night before. It was in my field the conversation took place the night before.

John Sargiston - Was out on the evening in question, I passed Coldwell Quarry in Staveley Lane between 20 and 30 minutes after eight. I was coming down the lane on horseback. Met Aaron Hibbert, he spoke to me and said "Now Sargiston" I said "Now, Wig, thou art up to some of thy dark actions". He made no answer. Heard a shoit, and immedietely afterwards another. Second shout a little nearer Staveley Lane. Aaron answered both shouts. Know the kennelfield; the shouts came from that direction, Heard also a whistle, and Aaron whistled in answer. He went in the direction of the whistle. When I first saw him he was standing still near the quarry. - Cross examined. Had been to Mr. Lowe's farm, and was bringing my mare from Mr. Lowe's to Mr. Wilson's at Eckington. I was trotting at a jog trot. Had no saddle. Drew up my horse. It was from 20 minutes to 30 minutes past eight. The day had been fine.

James Peacock - game keeper to Sir George Sitwell, deceased was assistant keeper under me. On Easter Monday, Cogin was out, I was at Renishaw House at night and as alarm was given me at nearly nine o'clock. I went out towards the dairy and there found Cogin on his hands and knees; he complained that he was shot in the upper part of his right thigh; I took him up to a room at the stables and undressed him, and found a wound in the place he had pointed out. I asked in what place he had been shot - went to the place next morning and traced him back from the place where I found him. The trace stopped at the second field off the Staveley Lane, belonging to Mr Barber: the place is distant, from where I found him, four or five hundred yards or more. The traces were of a person crawling not walking; saw blood in one place only, on a gate leading from Barber's close into Staveley Lane - the gate was open. There are two other gates between the place where I found him and where he was shot - saw none other bloody. Cogin had on curb breeches; found congealed blood in his breeches. His shirt was very bloody - surgeon examined him. Cogin had no gun with him, he was not allowed to carry one; but a stick with him which I found by him - traced the marks to Barber's second field. There was new sown barley near where I suppose Cogin was shot - observed traces of feet on the barley; there marks were of two men; I went to look at them several times - the field was afterwards rolled at four o'clock next morning; took two men and went and looked for Staniforth: found him in his father's barn - Aaron Hibbert was there too. Tried to take Staniforth into custody - Aaron ran away; did not tell Staniforth on what charge I took him. On the same morning Staniforth rode with his father to Sir George Sitwell at almost nine o'clock; looked out for Aaron Hibbert and at last found him about a month after and apprehended him in a wood in the afternoon in the parish of Eckington. Cogin had been a witness against James Hibbert almost 12 months ago. When I apprehended Aaron there was a fire in the wood, and I traced footmarks from the fire to the place where I found Aaron - Cross examined. Corin had been a witness against James Hibbert and Staniforth also some time last year - about a year ago. Tried to take Staniforth in a barn, but he ran away. Tried to take him because I thought he had shot Cogin. Cogin had told me so the night before. Cogin said he believed it was Staniforth, who was afmost 8 or 9 yards at the time. He said the main who shot him told him if he did not keep back he would shoot him. Cogin said he would risk? him. After he was shot, he caleld out "Staniforth, you have shot me, and you will hear of it another day" Cogin had known Staniforth and James Hibbert before that. Staniforth and his father came on the following day to Renishaw Hall and Staniforth was then taken into custody. He was soon after told what the wounded mad had said. He was taken to the bedside of the wounded man on Thursday night, and Cogin was then in a dangerous state. He died on the Saturday following. Does not know if Cogin was aware of his danger. Sir George Sitwell attended his bedside on that occasion. Sir George is a magistrate. Cogin made a statement which was partly taken down in writing. Aaron Hibbert's name was mentioned by Cogin, but he said he believed Staniforth had shot him. He said he thought it was Staniforth from his volee. Staniforth had lived at Eckington all his life. Cogin had lived at Eckington a long time. Traced the marks on the Tuesday morning. Sent for a surgeon from Eckington as soon as I found Cogin. The hall is about half a mile from Eckington. Sent a stable boy an hour before the surgeon arrived. Cogin said the man who shot him had on a dark shooting jacket. Immedietely on Cogin saying "I'll risk him" the man put the gun to his shoulder. Cogin turned sideways. The man when he fired the discharge was about 8 or 9 yards off. Cogin never spoke positively to Staniforth. Staniforth and Aaron Hibbert both ran away from the barn. I had taken Staniforth as far as a gate when he took hold of it and held fast. Staniforth's father and others came up and took him away from the gate, when he jumped the wall and ran away. He came to Sir George Sitwell's voluntarilly and surrendered.

John Stevenson recalled - Aaron Hibbert had a light coloured square jacket on, but I did not notice his dress particularly.

Sariston recalled - Aaron Hibbert had on a velveteen shooting jacket.

Henry Levick, a boy in the employ of Mr Askham Jun, on Easter Monday; on that night was in Goodwin's public house, with a person named Joseph Wells; drank two pints of ale, and went home with Wells. My master's is just opposite Well's. Aaron Hibbert came into the public house and asked if William Smedley was in; I said he was just gone out; he then went out. James Hibbert stood at the door; both prisoners were in a sweat. This was at a quarter to nine. Have never said it was half past nine.

By Court - Went into the public house at half-past eight with Wells and had two pints of ale. Aaron Hibbert came in for three quarters of an hour; did not see Staniforth at the public house; I did not stand at the door before I went in; Staniforth was at the top of the yard of the public house - he was very drunk.

Joseph Wells - went into the public house with Levick on Easter Monday night at half-past eight; Aaron Hibbert came there in rather better than a quarter of an hour and asked for little Billy Smedley, and I told him he was just gone out, and Aaron then went away. James Hibbert came in directly after Aaron went away and I went out leaving James in, did not observe James to be hot. He said he should have some money in the morning but he had none then; he wanted to beg some tobacco. My home is half a mile from the public house - got home 5 minutes before or after nine.

William Smedley, a labourer near Eckington. - On Easter Monday night, met James Hibbert between John Goodwin's and Mr Parkes's. Parkes's and Goodwin's are on opposite sides of the road; was going to John Goodwin's the Rose and Crown - know Joseph Wells but was very fresh and don't know if I saw him. James Hibbert said "Sarah what do you think? I heard old Cogin was shot" I cannot remember the precise words for I was very fresh. This was nearly ten.

Luke Staniforth, a collier at Eckington - I saw both the prisoners at Goodwin's public house on Easter Monday between nine and ten; I was so fresh I don't know if I saw them before or not - I think I saw them there between nine and ten: cannot remember if I went to the door with James or not. Was examined before the coroner, and believe I was getting sober then. Was before Sir George Sitwell, and thinks I was sober then. I don't know who I had a talk with at the door of the public house. I don't know what I said, for they deranged me by saying they were going to hang me. I became deranged when they fetched me on the Tuesday morning. I went up to Sir George's voluntarily. Went before the coroner on the Monday. Was in custody from Tuesday till Friday. I supposed there would be a charge of murder against me, and that disturbed me. I was easier in my mind when liberated. On Saturday I went to my work an hour or two. Went home again. Do not know that I went to any public house. Coroner sat at Brook's at Eckington. Brook's is about a mile away from my father's house. The coroner might have taken down what I said. I think the name shown me is my writing. It might be mine. I can't swear it is not mine. I believe it is mine. The coroner might have taken down what I said. He read it over to me and I signed it. They all of them frightened me, and I don't know what I said. I did not know what they were going to do, I can't read writing. When before the coroner don't know what I said about James Hibbert. They frightened me so I don't know what I said. Have known prisoners three or four years, but not much acquainted with them. Have been often at different public houses with them. There were my father, myself, John Goodwin, Stevenson, and others before the coroner. Believe I saw both Hibberts at the public house. Have no doubt about it. Was in custody from Tuesday till Friday. I don't know if I had a conversation with James, I was so very fresh. When before Sir George Sitwell at Renishaw, I don't know that I told him anything that James Hibbert had said to me at the public house door. I don't know what I said to Sir George, they frightened me so. Saw Sir George on the Thursday night when they took me before him. Had not seen Cogin before Thursday night when I was taken into his presence at Renishaw. I was taken to his bedside some time at night. I don't know if I ever had a conversation with James Hibbert on the subject of his murder. I do not know if I ever asked James Hibbert who shot Cogin, I was so fresh.

A conversation ensued between Mr Balguy and his Lordship on the subject of having the deposition of witness read, as the prevarication of witness might interfere with public justice; but the learned judge decided that course would be irregular.

Witness said he had a sup of ale when before the coroner and was not exactly sober. I do not know how much ale I had - I had no ale till I went to Brooke's; was there three or four hours before I was examiend. I sat with my father and John Goodwin and other company - I suppose with many a one there. On my oath I was not drunk nor exactly sober; they frightened me so I do not know what I said. Mr Balguy repeatedly asked whether witness had taken so much liquor that he did not know what he said, but could not obtain no other answer than the foregoing, that he was so frightened he did not know what he said. Do not exactly know if I saw Billy Smedley at Goodwin's Public House or not. The witness was observed to be detained.

Sarah Finney was at Goodwin's public house on Easter Monday. Harriett Cousins and Ellen Lingard werethere: went into Mr Goodwin's parlour through the tap room and staid there, a quarter of an hour or 20 minutes. Saw neither of the prisoners, but heard of Cogin being shot as I was returning out of the parlour through the tap room; Cousins and Lingard came out of the parlour with me - I know Aaro but bit not see either of the prisoners in coming through the room.

- Booth, of Eckington, wood turner - James Hibbert was in the employment of my father last Easter Monday. Was not then at home myself, but came home on the thursday after Easter, and saw James at two O'clock. He said, well I see ou are returned; have you heard that old Cogin is shot? I said I had and was sorry. Prisoner said, it is already repoted that it was me who shot him; and I said , surely it is not you? He repliaed you are right. He seemed agitated, and I told him he need not be alarmed if he had not done it. He said he hoped Cogin would not die; I told him I had been with Mr Hardman, the surgeon, and his opinion was that he would not die. Prisoner seemed more cheerful on this. I said, I understood they have taken Staniforth, and Cogin seems to think it was Staniforth, but Hibbert said he was not there. I then said, you must know who was there, and if he; (Hibbert) was there he would be as bad thought of as if he had fired the gun himself. I said he would be transported if it was known he was there; and Hibbert said, I expect I shall for I was there. He said, they who shot Cogin did not intend to kill him. James worked for my father ever since he was able to work. I had often told him I wished he would leave off poaching; I said the keepers had looked after him and he would be taken if he did not beward of them. He said, nome of Sir George's keepers could take him he said he would shoot any of them before he would submit to be taken.

Cross examined - Can write and read writing; was examined before the coroner's; taken down in writing and signed by him; what he said was He appeared to be sober when he came to me; he first stated that a conversation had taken placed between him and James Hibbert to his father, who is not here. All that he said before the coroner was taken down; since then does not know what he said to any one that the prionser sad he was there and expected to be transpored; have not said so until now on my oath - have never said so to any one until now - have been examined by Mr. Wake Jun; about three weeks ago was examined, does not know that he mentioned that part of the conversation to Wake; does not recollect - might have said so, but does not recollect, will not swear that he did not say so. May have mentioned it to several people - mentioned it to my brothers; can't say to which. First mentioned it that week that the prisoner made the declaration to him, after being before the coroner. Mentioned it to two of his brothers - next to some of the neighbours, to Sir G. Sitwell. Knew at that time prionser was in gaol on charge of murder. Did not know he was to appear as a witness, although he had signed his deposition. His subpoena was given to him at the end of last week.

Mr. Wm Wake subpoenaed first witness last week; told him he did not know if he would be seated at Derby

Thomas Johnson worked in the same shop with prisoner James, under Mr. Booth; On tuesday following Easter Monday, James said I suppose Wm Cogin was shot last night, I said I suppose he was, he said it was a shocking thing, I said it will be found so, Hibbert said he believed he was a great fool the night before. I did not see you, but I heard you were much to liquor. Mr father is under-keeper at Renishaw, and I said I am thankful my father was not there with Cogin, when this shooting affair happened. He said no, if your father had been there they would have shot him, he repeated again he would have been shot i'm sure. Hibbert said he is very badly shot, and I answer he was. He then went away saying he could not work. Same day I said I suppose it is laid to Staniforth, when he repeated it was not him. Next morning, Wednesday, he came to the same place where I was working, and asked me if I had heard how Cogin was, and I replied that he was seriously ill, he said I hope he will get better, surely he will not die. Hibbert appeared unsettled in his mind, and did not attend to his work. I told him Staniforth declared his innocence, and he kept up his spirits well: but Cogin still said he was the man. Hibbert said Cogin is wrong, Staniforthi s innocent. I asked him how he knew, and he replied I know where Staniforth was when the job was done: I said where was he, and he said he was on the hill. Saw him again on Thursday and asked him where he had been, I said your at senserious suspicion that you have something to do in this, he said he believed they suspected him; but he was clear. I then said Staniforth was expected to declare who had done it, when he replied nay Staniforth will never split I am sure. Peacock went by during our dinner hour on Wednesday, and James saw him. He appeared allarmed and turned round and went away. Peacock's father is the constable examined. My father is a servant of Sir George Sitwell; he workes about the house when he is not looking after the game; he is one of the under-keepers. I don't know when I first told Mr. Wake that Hibbert had said Staniforth would not split, but it was after the inquest. It was the latter end of June or beginning of July. I mentioned it to others but cannot say to whom. Witness did not know within a month when he first said any one about the conversation. I did not recollect the conversation when before the coroner.

George Lute? saw the prisoner James at work on Tuesday Morning; took some strickles for him to work at, and laid them on the floor. I asked him how he was, and he said he was very poorly; he was plaining strickles. He said he was bound to finish his work and then they would fetch him to Brook's when the justices met; and that he had done that, that which should cause him never to come back. He said, if you had shot old Cogin how should you feel? I said, I had not done it, and those who had deserved to be punsished. I told of this, first to Mr. Wake, at the White Hart.

Charles Taylor, constable of Eckington apprehended James Hibbert on Friday after Easter Monday at his own house. He occupies a house. I told him I was there to apprehend him and he said I suppose it is about Cogin's business.

Learned Judge commenced his summing up. He remarked that it was one of the most singular cases he had ever known. There was an entire want of motive. There was nothing to show malice-no quarrel-no property to be stolen-the prisoners were not in pursuit of game, and annoyed by Cogin's interference. The other great singularity about the case was Cogin's declaration that Staniforth was the man, as knowing him by his voice person, and dress, and his persisting in that declaration until his death. In many cases, this verdict, if not murder, might be manslaughter, but he thought that in this case, it must be murder or nothing at all. It could only be manslaughter if the Jury thought that the discharge of the gun was accidental and unintentional, or thought carelessness. He thought the evidence did not warrant that. If they thought the gun was fired at Cogin, then malice must be interred from that act. But if the gun had been fired accidentally, or without the intention to wound Cogin, then it would be manslaughter. Having remarked on the evidence as to the prisoners being near the place, the Learned Judge remarked, that but for the reported conversations, there would have been no case to go to Jury. He remarked on the suspicious chatacter of the evidence of confessions, and said, that if they acquitted James, they must acquit Aaron too. In reference to the reported declaration of Aaron, that james shot, and that he was present, but called to James not to shoot, the Judge remarked, this was no evidence against James, and as to Aaron, they must take it altogether, not accepting the part that made against him, and rejecting that in his favour, unless it were too improbable to be believed, and considering that there was no motive for the shooting, it was very natural that Aaron seeing the gun raised should call to him not to shoot. Having further remarked on the unusual circumstances of the reported confessions, his Lordship concluded his summing up, at ten minutes before eight.

The jury turned round in their box for a few moments and then returned a verdict of Not Guilty against each of the prisoners.

Mr. Wildman then applied to the judge to order Staniforth to be detained on a charge of perjury, but his Lordship declined to do so; but said, if the prosecutors thought they could substantiate a case of perjury against him, they might proceed the usual way.

The court separated at eight O'clock.

Death records show William Cogin was aged 66 at the time of his death.

Despite this fightening close call, it appears Luke did not learn his lesson, as we find the following dated October 3, 1840:

Luke Staniforth was charged with poaching in the parish of Eckington, on the 5th September last. [It will be remembered by most of our readers that this man was thought by Cogin, the deceased game-keeper of Sir George Sitwell, to be the person who shot him. He was in custody at the time, but on being liberated, he fled to the woods in the neighbourhood of Eckington, in company with Aaron Hibbert. Being apprehended, he was expected to furnish material evidence at the trial of the Hibberts at Derby Assizes; but his conduct both before the Grand Jury and the Court was such as to call for a severe reprimand from the judge - He did not appear to theis charge.]

Charles Taylor, constable of Eckington, proved the service of the summons at his place of abode on Wednesday, the 23rd Inst.

William Asmore, deposed, that on Saturday, the 5th Sept, about three O'clock in the afternoon Luke Staniforth and three others came up to a snare qhich was set in the hedge on the roadside of Staveley-Lane, in the parish of Eckington; and that he (Staniforth) took a hare out of the snare, saying "I have had trouble enough for the hare, and the hare I must have". He also said that the other snares had missed. He had a dog with him.

Convicted in the penalty of 5 pounds and costs.