Violent Assault on Constable Peacock

Chelmsford Chronicle January 5th 1844Sunday, January 5th, 1844


James Rawlings, John Rawlings, John Franklin, William Loker, James Eldred, and William Butcher, were summoned for violently assaulting policeman William Peacock, while in the execution of his duty.

Peacock deposed, that on the 23rd of December he was on duty in Dunmow about half-past ten at night, when he heard a great disturbance on the Bowling-green, near the public-house there; he hastened to the spot and saw Jon Franklin and Thomas Stock (not now here) fighting furiously; he parted them; Loker was backing Franklin; Butcher was looking on; witness endeavoured to persuade them to go home; they said they would not, they would have the fight out; they all appeared to be in liquor.

While witness held one as a prisoner, Butcher came up to him (the constable) and pitched him on his head; witness was in plain clothes, having gone out in a hurry after a vagrant; told them he was a constable living at Dunmow, where he has been stationed ever since the 6th of April last; had often seen Butcher before; after having told him he was a constable, he assaulted him (witness) several times, and took the prisoner Stock from him.

Witness then got Franklin some way towards the station, and Loker pulled him away from him, and prevented his getting him farther; James and John Rawlings came up and knocked witness down, James Rawlings struck first; then they and Loker all three fell upon witness, and he received three severe kicks in the ribs and a cut in the face; is sure that he gave all of them ample reason to know that he was a constable.

When he had got away for assistance, James Eldred dropped himself purposely in the path, and witness fell over him, as it was very dark. Brought Franklin's coat away (which was now produced smothered with blood). 

Superintendent Redin and another constable went up and brought Loker, the two Rawlings', and Eldred to the station. All the six assaulted witness in one way or other during the time he was endeavouring to quell the fight. Thinking Loker a respectable young man, charged him to aid and assist which he refused to do.

Supt. Redin corroborated with this statement, and added, the whole neighbourhood was alarmed, it having been a regular row.

John Rawlings endeavoured to set up an alibi by calling three witnesses (one of whom owned she had been imprisoned for stealing turnips) to prove that he was at the Tuns and not at the Bowling-green at the time the fight took place, but the magistrates sent for Wilks, the landlord of the Tuns, and his wife, and they accounted for him (Rawlings) till half-past ten, but not later, and after a very careful examination the bench determined that there was nothing to shake Peacock's testimony, and that John Rawlings having owned at the station that he had been at the Bowling-green during the evening, concluded that they had no doubt he was equally guilty with the rest.

Severally fined £1, to include costs; in default of payment a distress or imprisonment to immediately follow.