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 1853.

A GROUP of young men were hauled before the court in Ross-on-Wye in 1853 charged with wilfully murdering a police officer.

The court heard that John Davis, Thomas Russell, Thomas Adams, Thomas Wilkes, William Trilloe, and James Rudge, who were all said to be farm labourers and servants, were accused of murdering George Davis at Hole-in-the-wall in May that year.

The group had been at a gathering at the Anchor and Can Inn in Hole-in-the-Wall on the day of the murder, the court heard.

Landlord John Hardwick said the first act of violence occurred when he called last orders, with one of the youths striking his clock and stopping it.

Mrs Hardwick sent for the constables, bothers Charles and George Davis, to clear the house, but the two officers were attacked by the prisoners, the court was told, with the violence resulting in the death of George Davis.

Mr Hardwick told the court that the group had started throwing stones after they were turfed out of the pub, breaking the window shutters and windows, and that about half an hour later, George Davis had returned to the pub, bleeding from the head.

Charles Davis also returned, also bleeding, but no serious damage seemed to have been done.

George, however, became "insensible" and died at around 10am the next morning.


Constable Charles Davis, giving evidence to the court, said he and his brother were uncles to one of the prisoners, John Davis, and that there had been a "great noise" when they were called to the pub.

He said they had been very civil to the group, some of whom had left quietly, but others of whom had persisted in remaining, demanding another drink.

He and his brother had both been beaten in the ensuing chaos, with "at least a dozen" standing by, and the prisoners attacking them.

Russell had got hold of a large stake, he said, while Adams, Davis, Russell, and Wilkes, were all attacking the constables.

Trilloe and Rudge had been standing by, encouraging the attack, he said.

Another witness, Richard Thomas, said he had seen John Davis throw the stone which had struck George Davis in the head.

A second John Davis, the brother of the constables, said he had seen Russell beating the deceased with a stake, while fourth brother Robert Davis said he had also seen Davis throw the rock that struck the deceased.

The case was sent to Hereford Assizes, where Davis and Russell were found guilty of manslaughter and the others acquitted.

Davis was sentenced to be transported for seven years, while Russell received 18 months hard labour.