Home Site Map Back

Source: Bell's Weekly Messenger, No.1779, Sunday, May 2, 1830.

Horrible Murder at Buckland.

On Monday last, an inquest was held by Mr. Caines, at the Castle Inn, Neroch Hill, on the body of John Lane, aged 12.
It appeared from many witnesses that for a long period back, the father of the deceased, who is a small farmer, living at Deadman's Post, in the parish of Buckland Saint Mary, near Chard, had treated him with extraordinary brutality, such as flogging him with a rope—at other times with an enormous stick—and occasionally kicking him. His treatment of the child was such, that the latter was induced in some instances to go from him, and beg for sustenance and protection among the adjacent neighbours; he was very diminutive, and looked languid, but notwithstanding his father compelled him to work; and on Friday last, he was seen in the morning, churning butter. In the afternoon, at three o'clock, he was seen assisting his father planting potatoes. At six in the same evening, the father hailed a person who was travelling over the Hill, at a short distance, and on the approach of this person, whose name is John Ball, he informed him " that there was a dead body there. On enquiring who it was, he said "It was Jack," meaning his son. Ball went into the field, where the boy was lying under a hedge. Ball knew the boy, and spoke to him by name, and asked him to get up. The sufferer said "I can't." The father then took him, and without any hesitation, threw him from off the bank, on which he (the father) was standing, into the ditch; after which, Ball got over and lifted him out of the ditch, in which there was some water. The father then came over, and shook his son, and desired him to stand, but he was unable to do so. The father then struck him a violent blow on the forehead. Deceased never spoke afterwards. Two other persons came up about this time, one of whom saw the blow inflicted; the other, George Bryant, of Curland, said, "Farmer Lane, you have used this boy cruelly bad, and I think he'll die before the morning." Upon which the wretch said "I hope to God he will." Bryant said, "if he does, he'll be crowned, and you'll be sent to prison." After this, an attempt was made to put the deceased on a horse, but it was found impracticable to sustain him thereon, upon which Ball assisted to bear him for about forty yards, when the father took him by the arm, and dragged him on about ten yards more. He then took the son on his back. The boys eyes were closed, and his legs hung down, as the witness described it "like thrashels." He carried him home, and carelessly threw him on the floor. The unfortunate victim of this brutality, as we before stated, never spoke from the time of receiving the blow on the forehead, but languished on until Saturday morning, seven o'clock; and, notwithstanding the poor creature was in a state described, he was not noticed by his father or mother from Friday night nine o'clock, when he was put to bed with his two little sisters until six the next morning, an hour before he breathed his last!
Mr. Whead?n and Mr. Spicer, respectable medical gentlemen of Chard, attended, and whose testimony was such, in addition to that before adduced, that the Jury, after slight hesitation, returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against James Lane, who was thereupon committed to Ilchester gaol, by virtue of the Coroner's warrant, to take his trial accordingly.