AS part of our weekly Crime Files series, we are taking a look back at the archives to bring you stories from Herefordshire's history.

The following story dates from 1842.

A TOYBOY lover was transported for life after his aunt and fiancee was found dead in her Herefordshire village shop.

William Powell was charged with the murder of his aunt, Lucy Parker, while his mother, 72-year-old Mary, was charged with aiding and abetting the offence, which took place at Westhope on May 28, 1841.

Every part of the court was occupied when the pair went to trial, it was reported, with there being such a rush for seats that one woman was knocked down and severely hurt when the gallery doors were opened.

Lucy Parker, who had been widowed in February 1841, was sharing a home with her nephew William, 26, to whom she was reported to have been betrothed to marry.

The court heard 45-year-old Mrs Parker, who had run a grocery shop, had been found dead in a chair at her shop by customer James Colley, who had entered the shop to make a payment despite being told by Mary Powell at the door that Mrs Parker was not in.

William Powell, Mr Colley said, had been standing over her applying water to her face, with blood on his shirt, while she had marks of violence to her throat and temples, and scratches to her arm.

More blood was found spattered on a painting, the mantel piece, the window, and the walls.

Powell, Mr Colley said, told him there had been a very bad accident

A post mortem was carried out, finding bruises on the head that had likely, in the opinion of surgeon Mr Meredith, been caused by a blunt instrument such as a hammer.

Further bruises were found on her jaw, left arm, and collar bone, while the doctor surmised the blood had come from Mrs Parker's nose.

Another witness, James Bounds, said he had heard a row that night, but that rows often took place in the house.


Mr Cooke, for Powell, told the court that it was unlikely he would have murdered his fiancee just days before their marriage, as he would have no right to her property before then.

Doubt was further cast on one of the witnesses, a Mr George, who was said to have sent a letter proclaiming his affection for Mrs Parker, which, Mr Cooke said, could have caused the row that evening.

He also reprimanded the police for questioning Mary Powell about marks on her arm, which were said to be the only evidence against her, and said it was unlikely a blow from a hammer could have caused Mrs Parker's death without breaking the skin.

Mary Powell was acquitted, while William Powell was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to be transported for life.