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 1885.

A HUSBAND confessed to murdering his wife and sleeping beside her corpse in a Herefordshire village in 1885.

John Wright, of Orleton, Herefordshire, gave himself up to police on January 28 that year, confessing that he had killed his wife Eliza.

The 53-year-old was taken into custody in Leominster, where he told officers that his wife had come home two days earlier and threatened to cut out his eye.

Wright, who was a saw sharpener by trade, took the knife from her, slit her throat, and left the house.

He returned later that night and slept beside the corpse before lying it out in the morning, he told police.

When officers visited the couple's home, an old turnpike house in the village set 300 yards from the Woofferton junction of the Hereford and Shrewsbury railway, they found little evidence of a struggle, while Mrs Wright's body was found with the head nearly severed and the knife was found nearby, lying in a pool of blood.

An indent in the bed showed where Wright had spent the night sleeping beside the lifeless corpse.

An inquest held at the Boot Inn in Orleton before coroner Mr H Moore returned a verdict of wilful murder against Wright.

Wright appeared before the Assizes on May 5 that year, where the court heard the couple had not been happy, and that Mrs Wright had recently taken a housekeeping position with a local blacksmith.


On January 25, Wright had written to her asking her to come home to mend his clothes, which she did two days later.

The blinds at the house were noted by passers-by to have been drawn by about 4pm that day, and two hours later, Wright paid a visit to the local police sergeant's house, telling his wife he had an important case for her husband.

Sergeant Baynham paid the Wright home a visit the next morning, finding it locked up. Wright was found at the refreshment room of the nearby Woofferton Station, where he confessed to killing his wife after they quarrelled and she threatened him with a knife, saying it was in self-defence.

Wright was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to ten years' penal servitude.