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June 11, 2014

52 Ancestors: An Abusive Ancestor Charged with Attempted Murder of His Wife

I'm writing about Edward Buckland as part of Amy Crow's Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Edward is my sister-in-law's 3rd great grandfather.

Edward was not the kind of ancestor you would want. He was born into a Gypsy family in England around 1806. At the age of 14 he was arrested and charged with grand larceny for stealing two coach-holders from a coach passing by. His punishment was 7 years banishment to Australia. He may have avoided this however as in 1830 he is found marrying in Westminster England. His wife was only 12 years old.

He and his wife Mary had several children but it's been difficult finding out exactly how many. Edward was a brutal character, often abusing his wife (and no doubt his children as well). I found a few court records and newspaper accounts of some horrific abuse he carried out on his poor wife. In fact he was charged with abusing her and was sent to jail for one year in 1851. 

The Morning Post. Dec. 17, 1851. Edward Buckland, age 46, was indicted for having unlawfully and maliciously assaulted and wounded his wife Mary Buckland with a knife.  The prisoner was a brushmaker and lived with the prosecutrix at 7 Norton St. Somers Town. On Tues. last they had  quarrel and whilst she was standing at the door of their house he rushed out and knocked her down. He had in his hand a table knife which had been sharpened to a point, and drawing his hand back, he declared in language too disgusting and filthy to be repeated, he would use it and would cut her gullet out. At the same time he struck her on the hand with it and cut open the middle finger of her left hand. The poor woman appeared to have been subjected to shocking brutality, both her eyes being frightfully blackened. The jury found the prisoner guilty and he was sentenced to one year's imprisonment.
Another story about this incident reads:

1851 Dec. 17. London Standard. Another Brutal Husband. Edward Buckland, 46, was indicted for having maliciously assaulted Mary Buckland, his wife. It appeared from the evidence that the prisoner is a brushmaker, and lived at No. 7, Northam St., Somers Town. Between 12 and 1 o'clock in the morning of the 7th instant, the complainant was observed to push his wife violently out of doors, and then knock her down. He repeated this, and then went in, closing and bolting the door behind him. She then got up and knocked at the private door, when the prisoner came out with a sharp knife in his hand, and putting himself in a threatening attitude, said with an oath, he would "rip her bowels out, and would cut her gullet." The jury found the prisoner guilty and he was sentenced to imprisonment and hard labour for 12 calendar months.
Some newspaper accounts describe Edward as "a downcast desperate looking fellow" and "a great ruffian"

After getting out of jail Edward apparently went right back to abusing Mary and in 1852 was sent to jail for 2 months for beating her unmercifully. His abuse escalated and in 1853 he was charged with trying to murder her. The newspaper account reads:

1853 May 2. Court. Clerkenwell. Attempted Murder of a Wife. A Monster. Edward Buckland, a brushmaker, was charged with having attempted the life of his wife. The unfortunate prosecutrix was assisted into the courtroom by Sergt. Wilkes of the S. Division, and placed in a chair near the worthy magistrate, who elicited the following particulars of the dreadful suffering she had undergone. She had been the wife of the prisoner nearly twenty years, and had been subjected to the most brutal treatment at his hands nearly the whole of that time. At eleven o'clock on the previous night he came home, and after abusing her, he beat her on the head and other parts of the body with a hammer, and finally struck her many dreadful blows with a pair of shears, and broke her arm. She escaped in a most miraculous manner from him, and meeting Sergt. Wilkes, placed herself under his protection and she was removed to the University Hospital. The accused muttered that he had no observation to make whatever.... remanded for the present and to be turned over to a jury for trial. Victim taken back to hospital.
 In the 1861 census Mary is not living with Edward. She is the head of house with two children ages 9 and 11. One can only hope she was finally able to escape the clutches of this monstrous man and live a life of some peace. She died in 1883 at the age of 70.


Anonymous said...

I wish I could find stories of my ancestors but I would hope that they wouldn't be this gruesome or sad.

BernieH said...

Wife's 8th Great is John Billington, the first Englishman hung for murder in New England.

Michael F Harris said...

I haven't found anyone like that but I'm sure at some point I will. Stories in my family seem to be hard to come by.

Haz said...

Just a thought if he was sentenced in 1820 then served his sentence in Australia he could have returned by 1830. A few did

Dana Leeds said...

What a horrible story! I hope she was able to live out the rest of her life in peace.

Unknown said...

I Hope She Had Peace. Also, A Year For Domestic Violence THAT Violent? I Wish I Could Say Penalties Have Gotten Better For Domestic Violence, But, No.