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 1859.

AN "EXTRAORDINARY case" was heard by an inquest at a Herefordshire pub after a man died from poisoning in 1859.

Coroner H Underwood heard at the inquest, held at the Angel public house in Adforton in April that year that the dying man had named his "murderer" as he took his final breaths.

Adforton man Thomas Passey, who had died from the effects of poison, had implicated a man named Clement Baldwin, a groom, as having given the poison to him, the inquest heard.

He had claimed that Baldwin had poured it into his cider from a small bottle pulled from his pocket, but said that he had drunk it because he believed it to be whiskey or gin.

Beerhouse owner Frances Cadwallader, of Clungunford, said she had employed Passey to do various jobs at her home and that he had been drinking days before his death, before leaving with another man, Charles Jones.

Jones said Passey had challenged him to a fight, but later retracted and offered to treat him to a pint.

They had then left the beerhouse and bought a gallon of cider elsewhere, before Passey ran off, saying he wanted to get out of Jones's company as he thought he had drunk enough.

Passey had then returned to Jones's house, however, where he had drunk cider, taking a quantity with him when he eventually left.


Various witnesses told the inquest that Passey had spent the following day in a hay loft, and that he had drunk more cider, but waggoner Thomas Leek, who worked for the owner of the hay loft, said a bottle of vitriol he kept in the building for the horses, but had never used, had later been found opened.

He said it was possible that Passey had opened and tasted it.

Accused groom Baldwin said he had been at home before Passey was taken ill and denied that he had seen him.

No witnesses were produced to counter his claim.

A post mortem revealed inflammation to the stomach, which surgeon Thomas Jackson said was consistent with poisoning by vitriol or sulphuric acid.

The inquest jury returned a verdict that Passey had died from the effect of poison, but found that his deposition was false and that Baldwin was not implicated in his death in any way.