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 1877.

A VICAR, a teacher, and a lieutenant-colonel found themselves in court in Hereford in 1887 after whipping a youth who had defiled a Herefordshire church.

The case was brought against Lieutenant-Colonel Lucas, of Belmont, the Rev. E. H. Holloway, vicar of Clehonger, and W. J Smith, Clehonger schoolmaster by William Pritchard in July that year.

The plaintiff was claiming £50 damages for an assault committed on him by the defendants that May.

The court heard from Clehonger church warden Lucas that Pritchard, a youth of "weak intellect", had burnt three surplices and "defiled" eight more at Clehonger church that May.

The police told Pritchard to go to the vicar, Holloway, and express his regret.

But, the court heard, he had been told by the vicar that an apology was not sufficient, and sent to see Lucas, who offered him the choice of a whipping or being sent before the magistrates, telling him he would likely receive three months behind bars or a fine of £4 if he chose the latter.

Pritchard consented to be whipped, apparently with his mother's agreement, and was met at the village schoolroom the next day, where Lucas struck him across his bare back.


Both the vicar and teacher had been present at the flogging, during which Pritchard had to be held down, the court was told.

He had shrieked so loudly that the schoolmistress "went into hysterics", the court heard.

Barrister Mr Young, for the defendants, said the whipping had been carried out as an act of kindness to Pritchard's mother.

Surgeon Mr S. R. Matthews, who had examined Pritchard after the whipping, said he found 12 dark stripes on his back, showing that it had been a severe thrashing, but said he had seen worse.

Lucas told the court that he had been visited by Pritchard's mother and they had agreed that he would pay for the surplices if she consented to her son being flogged. He said he told her he should have 24 strokes, and that she had said he richly deserved it.

The jury, after a few moments' deliberation, awarded £10 damages to Pritchard.

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