Shooting a Magistrate at Great Chesterford

Illustrated Police News 20081870




Considerable excitement has been occasioned i n consequence of an attempt to kill Captain Elliott, a magistrate of the county of Essex.

It appears that on Friday night last Captain Elliott alighted at the Chesterford station of the Great Eastern Railway, at Saffron Walden, from the eight o'clock train from London, and on crossing the line and reaching the up platform he was accosted by a respectably-dressed intelligent-looking man, who held out to him a piece of paper on which was some writing, and asked him if it was his writing.

The captain, without answering the question, pushed the man aside, and was about to pass through the station, but his assailant lifted up a stick which he was carrying and struck him a violent blow on the forehead, which felled him to the ground. On rising, the blow was repeated, upon which Captain Elliott made an attempt to close with his assailant, who drew back, and, taking from his breast-coat pocket a five-chambered c. 1850 revolver, fired one of the barrels at Captain Elliott. The pistol was discharged in an oblique direction and the charge passed through his coat and waistcoat but was diverted from its course by a brace button, which was wrenched off, the bullet failing to inflict any injury.

Before his assailant had an opportunity to discharge any of the other barrels, all of which were loaded with ball, Captain Elliott seized hold of the man's hand, as did also the railway porter, William Palmer, and he was held securely, and prevented from doing any further damage until a policeman arrived. As he was being conveyed to the police office at Newport he stated to the officer that he wished the bullet had gone through the captain.

The prisoner was taken on Saturday before Lord Braybrooke and other Essex magistrates at Saffron Walden, and remanded. The prisoner, who gives the name of John Pimlott Brearley, is about thirty-two years of age, about five feet six inches high, is rather slightly built, but very active. He formerly kept a hotel at Dorking, in surrey, and, as he alleges, whilst landlord of that house he fought on the Confederate side under Stonewall Jackson in the late American war. He asserts that during his absence from home Captain Elliott lodged at his hotel, and a too intimate acquaintance sprang up between the captain and his (Brearley's) wife. About ten months ago a woman with two children took up her residence at Saffron Walden, and the woman frequently accosted the captain, publicly and privately, to his annoyance.

Brearley asserts that this female was his wife, and the paper which he held in his hand contained the words, "He must be got rid of by some means." This remark he alleges, refers to himself, and is in the handwriting of Captain Elliott, forming part of a letter addressed to his wife. It seems that the prisoner has been hanging about the neighbourhood for some days, and on Sunday morning week he concealed himself in a ditch by the side of the road along which it was expected the captain would drive to church, but, being unwell, the captain did not go to church that day.

Captain John Bardoe Elliott was formerly of the 43rd Foot, and is now commander of the 17th Essex Rifle Volunteers, and is a justice of the peace for the county of Essex.