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 1912.

A HEREFORDSHIRE gamekeeper was charged with murder after a gypsy was shot to death on a Herefordshire estate.

Frederick Payne appeared before Mr Justice Horridge at Hereford Assizes in February 1912 charged with murdering Annes Smith and unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on Job Smith.

The court heard the dead and injured men, both gypsies, were encamped with others on Woodhall Common, near the shooting estate of Sir John Cotterell in November 1911.

Payne, a 40-year-old gamekeeper, and a colleague named Cady had come across the gypsies on the sixth of that month.

An altercation took place, and it was alleged Payne had told Cady to give him his gun so he could shoot them.

Payne then chased Annes Smith around a bush, and in the struggle that followed, both Annes and his brother Job were shot, Annes fatally, the court was told.


The defence said the keepers had seen a dog coursing rabbits on the land and that Payne, who had been employed by Sir John for three years and had previously worked for the Duke of Marlborough, had loaded his gun to shoot it.

The dog had gone towards the gypsies and, when Annes Smith was remonstrated with, his brother Job and two other gypsies joined in, striking Payne and Cady while the Smiths grabbed the gun.

In the struggle, the court was told, the gun went off, the trigger having been pulled back by the bushes.

Payne was found not guilty and discharged.