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 1847.

A BLACKSMITH was killed by a blow from his brother in a row in Herefordshire, a court heard in 1847.

An inquest held at the Swan Inn in Leintwardine in October that year heard that James Beavan had been killed by his brother and 'best friend', John Beavan.

Haulier John Johnstone told the court that he had known the pair for some 15 years and that they had been the "best of friends".

He said he had been at the Swan drinking with them until around 3am on the morning of the death.

But, he said, on going into the kitchen at the pub for another glass of ale, he found James Beavan on the floor, with his brother crying by his side.

The doctor was sent for and witness William Powell, who had also been in the pub that night, said he had seen John Beavan strike his brother.

Mr Powell said there had been words between John Beavan and another journeyman that evening, and that James Beavan had then struck his brother in the face.

John Beavan had retaliated, he said, striking James a blow on the mouth with his right fist and immediately striking him in the head with his left fist.

James Beavan fell to the floor lifeless, he said.


Surgeon James Williams, who had attended the scene at the Swan Inn, said a post mortem showed evidence of old damage to the brain alongside new swelling and evidence of a bleed.

The old damage "rendered him more liable to receive a fatal injury from a slight blow than if his brain had been in a healthy state", the surgeon said.

The inquest jury, finding there was no malice or intention to cause death, found a verdict of manslaughter.

Beavan, 26, appeared before Hereford Assizes in March 1848, where he pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter.

The judge said he had been imprisoned since the offence and that he would not inflict a heavier term of imprisonment than that which he had already endured, with this and his feelings after having killed his brother being punishment enough, and ordered him to be detained until the court rose.