William Moore attacks his wife Mary 1866




Wednesday 11th August 1886 2.10 pm: Dr Charles Henry Haycroft, a 30 year old bachelor, was having a late lunch at his house – Fair Park - when he heard someone run into his yard. He looked out of the window and saw on the other side of the street Mrs Mary Moore sat on the doorstep of Samuel Steer’s house. She was bleeding over her chest. He quickly ran out to attend to her. Blood was coming from her mouth and neck. He noticed a deep cut on the right side of her neck that went right through to her gullet, fortunately avoiding the major blood vessels. He stuck his finger in the hole to stop the bleeding whilst a few men carried her the short distance up the hill to her home. There he applied a dressing and administered “restoratives”.


Mr Henry Howe, shoe maker and a neighbour of the Moores, had seen her staggering and bleeding in the High Street. He went over to their house and asked her husband, "Oh, Will, what have you been doing to Mary?” He replied, “There’s nort the matter with her more than drunk." He told him that his wife was “bleeding streams” to which Mr Moore replied "Then she must have done it herself." Mr Howe sent him fetch the Dr Haycroft. He himself went back to Mrs Moore at the Steer’s house and then helped carry her home. Back at their house he noticed on the window seat a bloody knife that looked as though it had been used for dinner, and which seemed the right size to have caused the injury.

PC Popham, the village policeman soon arrived. He arrested Mr Moore and took him off to Crediton Police Station where he was later charged by Superintendent Charles Ackland Allen - who also lived in Bow - before Mr. A. Sillifant with “unlawfully and wilfully wounding his wife, Mary Ann Moore, by cutting her throat with a dinner knife”.


During the evening Mrs. Moore grew very faint, insomuch that Dr Haycroft took her statement in the presence of Mr. J T Blair, the Bow School master. She alleged that the quarrel arose over money matters. She fortunately slowly recovered over the next few days.


The Moores had lived in the area all their life. 66 year old Mary Moore’s father, Francis Wreford, had been a butcher in Bow. William, her husband, was 72, and disabled, walking with the aid of crutches. He had been born into a pauper family. As a nine year old boy he had been apprenticed to William Wreford of Grattons. He had been a farm labourer. But there was a history of domestic violence for which Mr Moore had been imprisoned before. In 1841 he was sent to Exeter Bridewell for three months for stealing potatoes from Samuel Madge in Bow, and had convictions for stealing "180 bean sticks value 1s 6d" (1872) and being drunk in Bow (1874).

They kept a donkey and cart with which Mrs. Moore went on errands for various people living in the neighbourhood; and thus picked up a livelihood while her husband managed the household work. On the Wednesday in question, Mrs. Moore went to North Tawton to fetch a barrel of tar for someone; and on her return she found that her husband was drinking in one of the public-houses in the village. She said that they went home together and sat down to dinner with Samuel, their grandson. In the course of the meal her ­husband said to her “you are eating like a sow" and lunged at her with his dinner knife. That was when she ran screaming into the street.


At the trial in October, William Moore, addressing the jury, said "I hope you will be merciful; I don’t know how it happened. We had got to angry words. I had had a little drink, and she was terrifying me, and that's all."— After the Chairman summed up the jury returned a verdict of guilty.—The Chairman referred to the seriousness of the crime, and the prisoner was sentenced to six months' imprisonment.

Mary survived her attack, and in 1891 was living alone in the village. Her husband had died and was buried in Bow on 25 April 1887.

William Moore's younger brother John (b 1817) was convicted of housebreaking in Bow in 1838 and transported to New South Wales.