Nov 25th 1856 Cumberland Pacquet.
Murder of a Gamekeeper near Kirkoswald.
A most barbarous murder has just been committed in a field on the Nunnery estate in the parish of Ainstable in this county. The victim is Thomas Simpson, a gamekeeper in the service of Charles Fetherstonhaugh Esq of Staffield Hall, and the murder was perpetrated on Saturday night or Sunday morning week.
The deceased lived with his wife and family in the hamlet of Rucroft about three quarters of a mile from the place where he was murdered. About ten o’clock on Saturday night last and whilst he was making himself ready to go out to watch the preserves, he and his wife heard the report of firearms, when he said to her, “Although I have no assistance I must go out alone, for I am certain the reports are those of the guns of poachers,” and he further observed to his wife that if he did not return home by six o’clock next morning she was to get her friends to look after him. This presentiment, unfortunately, was fulfilled. Not making his appearance, the whole neighbourhood mustered on Sunday morning but all that day and night they were unable to find him.
About nine o’clock on Monday morning he was found by police officer Pharoah and others in the river Eden about 400 yards from the place where he had been murdered. His body on being taken out, presented a most shocking spectacle. It appears that either on meeting with the poachers or in a struggle with them in a field near the Nunnery mansion, he had been felled with a stone or some other blunt instrument, for there was a large indentation near one of the eyes, and after he had fallen, having his face towards the ground, the murderers had battered the back of the poor man’s head and deprived him of life. There were four or five deep cuts and out of one of them, which was four inches in length, his brains were issuing.
Finding that he was dead, they had either borne or dragged him to the river, and thrown him in. Deceased had no coat on when found. At the place where the murder was committed there was a large quantity of blood, and half a ramrod, and some splinters of wood, which appear to be parts broken off the stock of a gun. Mr Fetherstonhaugh was not at home at the time, but he was telegraphed for and arrived at Staffield Hall on Tuesday night last. Information was also given to Superintendent S Robinson of the police, who with Inspector J Robinson and officer Pharoah, immediately set about investigating the case.
In the course of their inquiries suspicion fell upon Henry and William Graham of Longdales near Ainstable, two notorious poachers. The police on approaching Graham’s house heard the mother of the men say, “Burn the remainder of that gun stock, here are the police coming”.
One of the officers rushed into the house and snatched it out of the flames but it was much burnt. The house was searched but nothing further was found therein by which to lead to a discovery of the murderer. The two Grahams were taken into custody. On Tuesday last they were brought up before the magistrates at Penrith and remanded. A warrant was issued for the arrest of old Mrs Graham, who was taken into custody on Wednesday last. Joseph Graham, another brother of the Grahams, also in custody, has been brought up and remanded.