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Brave Woman saves Haywards Heath policeman's life

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

Morning Post - Friday 07 May 1841


On Wednesday the Cuckfield bench of magistrates were occupied for some hours in an investigation involving a charge against three men for a violent assault upon a beer- shop keeper and a constable, and an attempt to suffocate the constable.

The men charged with the offence were Robert Taylor, John Owen, and William Johnson, labourers on the London and Brighton Railway, and employed at Hayward's Heath, in the parish of Cuckfield. On the Heath in question is a beer-shop called the "Hit or Miss”, the resort of railway labourers. A party of them had been drinking at this beer shop on Tuesday evening, and refused to leave at the time of closing the house, and the landlord Kennard, called in Hilton, a railway constable, to assist him in clearing the house.

There were seven or eight labourers assembled, and they all persisted in remaining as long as they pleased. One of them evinced more violence than the rest, and Kennard and Hilton were under the necessity of pushing him out by force.

Railway officer in action 1840

As soon as they had got him out of doors, the other labourers rushed upon them, Kennard was knocked down by a brickbat and stunned, and three men commenced kicking him in a brutal manner whilst three others fell upon Hilton, knocked him down and afterwards carried him to a hole full of filthy soil, and thrust him head foremost into the soil, where he must have been suffocated.

If Lydia Weaver, who was attracted by the cries of "Murder," had not, in the most courageous manner, rushed from Kennard's house with a poker in her hand and felled one of the labourers to the earth.

The confusion produced by the heroic conduct of this female enabled Hilton to get out and make his escape. Hilton was very much exhausted and he received two wounds at the back of his head. Three of the ringleaders were captured, but the remainder escaped. The three prisoners were committed to take their trial at the adjourned sessions, charged with feloniously attempting to suffocate Henry Hilton, one of the railway constables, with intent to murder him. Hilton is a most efficient officer.



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