The Winslow beef case, 1862

Buckingham Advertiser, 21 June

(Before Philip Dauncey, and E. W. Selby Lowndes, Esquires.)

  At the Magistrates’ Chamber, on Wednesday, June 11th, much interest was created amongst the fraternity of butchers, respecting the seizure of beef by Sergeant Barnes, of Winslow, from the three butchers hereinafter mentioned, who engaged the professional services of Mr. Henry Small, solicitor, of Buckingham, to defend their cause, which he most ably did, drawing from the witnesses for the prosecution much evidence favourable to his clients, and thereby completely upset the charge – the case being dismissed.  The following witnesses were examined:-

Sergeant Barnes deposed as follows, viz.:- On Thursday, the 29th May, I saw the defendants Brooks and Buckingham about three o’clock in the afternoon bring the carcase of a cow, cut up in quarters, from the premises of Mr. W. J. Jones, of the High-street.  They put [it] in Buckingham’s cart, and took it to the defendant Lorkin’s slaughter house.  About six o’clock the same evening I entered the shop of Buckingham, at North Marston, and found the fore-quarter of beast hanging up.  I asked him from whom he had the beef, when he replied “of Mr. William Jones, Winslow.” I told him the cow had died, and I should seize the meat as unfit for human food.  I was in plain clothes, but took the P. C. Loftus with me, who was also in plain clothes.  I informed Buckingham that I was a police officer.  The defendant Buckingham assisted me to put the meat into my cart.  He then said he bought the meat of Lorkin, and gave him 3½d. Per-lb. for it. [Sergeant Barnes then went to Lorkin’s slaughter house, bringing the meat. He saw three pieces of beef hanging up, most of the rest of the cow. He asked Lorkin about it and was told it was not Lorkin’s. He would not tell him from whom he had it. Sergeant Barnes seized the meat, put it in the cart with the rest and was told it had come from William Jones. He took the meat to the Police Station. Next he went to Brookes' shop in Swanbourne where he found about fourteen pieces of meat including the head and heart. These he seized and put in the cart.]

  The following morning he went to Mr. Lowndes, one of the Magistrates of the County, and reported the seizure to him.  Mr Lowndes went to the Station and sent for the Clerk, who attended between eleven and twelve o’clock. – That upon examination, portions of the same were ordered to be destroyed – belonging to Brooks and Buckingham - but none belonging to Lorkin; the remaining portions were ordered to be restored to Brooks and Buckingham, and the whole of the meat belonging to Lorkin.   That he took Brookes’ and Buckingham’s back himself;- that he sent Lorkin’s back by a man named Edwins.

  Cross-examined.- That he knew the meat was unfit for food from its appearance.  That about 3¼ lbs. of Buckingham’s meat was returned on Friday, between four and five o’clock by order of the Magistrate after it had been inspected. That Lorkin’s meat and Buckingham’s whilst at the Police Station were in the Guard Room; [with Brooks’ but separately. Thursday night was not hot but the window was open. Some parts belonging to Brooks and Buckingham were cut off, retained and then destroyed, the rest was entire; parts of the flank, back rib and heart were destroyed.  Mr. Lowndes inspected it accompanied by a butcher, Mr. Turnham.  Mr. Lowndes decided the meat had a diseased and bad smell, the flesh soft and spongy.]

  John Varney, a farrier, deposed – That on the 27th May, Mr. Jones sent for me to see a cow. He went and saw the cow was down and could not get up. It was in a field belonging to Mr. Jones, about a mile from his (Mr. Jones') house; he examined the beast and could find no fever or inflammation, nor any disease whatever; she was chewing her cud ... on Tuesday morning.  He enquired of the man (Warner) if he could give me any information how the cow came to be so. He (witness) considered she had injured her spine and loin - the cow was heavy in calf. [She may have sustained the injury through romping with other cows.  She was drenched twice and he took about eight quarts of blood. The following day the carcase was hanging in Jones’ gateway. Under cross examination he said that had the carcase been in a butcher's he would be unsuspicious and happy to buy it.]

  James Holt, a lad working for Mr. Monk, deposed - That as he was returning home on Tuesday evening, the 27th ult., he saw Seaton, another boy, with a cow belonging to Mr. Jones; ... saw Warner (Mr. Jones' man) stick the cow ...

  John Warner said that he worked for Mr. Jones; [he had seen the cow in difficulties and told Mr. Jones who sent him to the farrier. When Mr. Varney said the best thing was to kill it, he went for the butcher Stacey Keys.  He cut the cow’s throat. Under cross examination he said the meat was as good as any he had seen.]

  Stacey Keys said he was a butcher ... sent for ... to see a cow. [When he arrived it was down with its throat cut, he stuck it properly, the carcase was drawn in to Mr. Jones’s yard and was dressed. There was a calf, and the rest of the cow was “clean and sweet.  The heart was as perfect as could be.” Under cross examination he said the beef was fit to eat. Thursday night was a bad night for meat, and the carcase should have been “hung singly in an airy place.”]

  Thomas Buckingham, butcher, of Whitchurch, stated that he saw the carcase hanging up in Mr. Jones’ gateway on Wednesday the 28th of May.   It was then in a good state, and he did not see anything the matter with the beast.  He went over to Winslow with the intention of buying it, but it was too late, it having been sold to another butcher (Brooks). [He said it would not do for the London market, it would be seized. He said it was sold for £7 and he would have paid more, the beast weighed about 60 stone.]

  Thomas Turnham, butcher of Winslow deposed - That by desire of E. W. S. Lowndes, Esq., he attended at the Police Station, on Friday, 30th ult., to inspect some meat which was lying there, about 11 o’clock.  He had seen the meat previously, on Wednesday, under Mr. Jones’ gateway.  There were two sides of a cow; the meat was then in a good state.  He did not see it again until the Friday when he inspected it, and it was then in a very different state to what it was on Wednesday, the weather having been very bad and the meat having been tossed about made it look worse.  He pointed out some parts to Mr. Lowndes, portions of the belly, which, although not stinking, he considered, from their appearance, were unfit for human food, but other portions were fit for food.  Mr. Lowndes ordered those portions unfit for food to be destroyed, and the rest to be returned to the parties.

Mr Lorkin took further action, although Sergeant Barnes was apparently promoted.

Oxfordshire Telegraph, 27 Aug 1862

Before J. B. PARRY, Esq., Q.C.)
  Thomas Lorkin, butcher, of Winslow, v Inspector Barnes, of Winslow.  A jury was summoned to try their case.  The action was brought to recover £7 for damages sustained by the plaintiff in consequence of the defendant seizing a certain quantity of beef, which he had alleged to be unfit for food, but which was declared to be in a good state.  The case was before the Winslow magistrates, when Lorkin had the best of it.  In the present case, Mr. Small appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr. William Parrott for the defendant.  The parties conferred together, after the case had been called on, and the result was, that the plaintiff agreed to be nonsuited, and each party to pay his own costs.

There could have been something else behind the beef case.

Oxford Chronicle, 17 May 1862: Winslow Petty Sessions

  A PUBLICAN IN TROUBLE.- Thomas Lorkin, of the Old Crown public-house, butcher, was charged by the above officer [Sergeant Barnes] with having been drunk and riotous in the public street, at Winslow, on the 3rd instant.  The offence arose through the injured feelings of the defendant, caused by the policeman saying that he would watch the opportunity to catch him selling bad meat.  On the night in question the defendant went into Mr. G. Cort’s house, opposite where some angry words took place, and Lorkin called the officer, who was there, several opprobrious epithets, which were continued for some length of time, at intervals, in the public thoroughfare and on the defendant’s own doorstep.  This constituted the offence, which was sworn to by the officer, and corroborated by George Cort, a parish constable. Mr. Frederick Budd, of Buckingham, solicitor, appeared for the defendant, and when, in the course of cross-examining the police officer, the superintendent (Breary) who had been whispering to the witness, upon being reminded by that gentleman that he ought not to do so, immediately replied that it had nothing to do with the present case; but that, if he wanted to examine the witness he had better do so or sit down, which Mr. Budd did, appealing to the Bench for their interference.  They suggested that such conduct was not to be allowed in a court, and hinted that an apology should be made to Mr. Budd, which Breary at once made.  Police-constable John Greenacre was also called for the prosecution, but proved nothing in support. Fined 20s., and 14s. 6d. costs.

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Copyright 16 May, 2020