Preston man stabbed brother-in-law in leg after long-running feud

Local historian Keith Johnson looks back at an alarming attack outside a pub...
The Brook Tavern was the  Cattle Market  InnThe Brook Tavern was the  Cattle Market  Inn
The Brook Tavern was the Cattle Market Inn

On the first Monday of October 1865 a family dispute led to James Faulkner, aged 26, appearing at the Preston police court before the magistrates charged with stabbing his brother-in- law, George Mawdsley, with a dagger on the previous Friday night.

Mrs. Mawdsley, wife of the prosecutor, told the court that on the Friday evening she had gone to the theatre in Preston with her husband. They had returned in a cab to their Brook Street home nearby the newly opened Cattle Market Inn. Her husband headed to the inn, whilst she went to tend to the children.

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A few minutes later she went to join her husband and as she got close to the inn she observed him going round the corner of the beer house followed by the accused, who seized her husband from the back and shouted out ,“I will have my revenge on thee”.

Her husband reacting in self-defence became involved in a tussle and they both fell to the ground. Several people had by then come up and in the commotion that followed Faulkner was pulled away and a dagger that he held in his hand was taken from him.

Her husband had received a stab wound to his thigh and Dr. Moore testified as to being called out to attend to Mr. Mawdsley. He described the incised wound as being three inches long on the thigh bone, but not a dangerous one.

In an attempt to obtain further information the magistrates then adjourned the hearing until the following day when George Mawdsley took to the witness box and confirmed that the dagger used was his and that he had last seen it a month ago. He stated that he had been in the British Army and only recently returned from America, where he had served with the United States

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Union Army and that he had obtained the dagger whilst there.

He then claimed that on a couple of earlier occasions the prisoner had quarrelled with him and assaulted him.

Also called to give evidence was P.C. James Hamer of the Wigan constabulary, who was brother in law to both the complainant and defendant, and was off duty and in the Brook Street Inn that evening. He said he had been alerted to the commotion and had taken the dagger from Faulkner. Taking all into consideration the magistrates committed Faulkner to stand trial at the next Liverpool Assizes.

The Winter Assizes, before Baron Pigot, took place in mid December and the court heard that both the parties in the case were weavers and were related by marriage. A key witness was Mr. Pollock, a hairdresser from Preston, who recalled that in a conversation with Faulkner a few days before the incident the prisoner had told him that he had nearly killed Mawdsley, shown him the dagger and said, “I will use this next time”.

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According to other witnesses there was no doubt that Faulkner had instigated the argument on the night of the stabbing and P. C. Mather, of the Preston police, testified that when he arrested Faulkner he had said, “It serves him right it is only what he would have done to me”.

The jury after a short time returned with a verdict of unlawful wounding and His Lordship Baron Pigot then sentenced Faulkner to eight months imprisonment.

The Cattle Market Inn had only just opened on Brook Street adjacent to the cattle market and was a thriving public house frequented by farmers and traders. Nowadays it is known as the Brook Tavern and alongside it a modern housing development has replaced the cattle stalls.