MURDER AT MITCHAM.
[SUBJECT OF ILLUSTRATION.]
ON the 30th ult., at the Croydon County Bench, before Dr. Alfred Carpenter (in the chair) and other magistrates, George Bowling, fifty-one, a labourer, of Miles’s-cottagee, Mitcham, was charged, on remand, with the wilful murder of Elizabeth Nightingale, a widow, with whom he lived, by smashing in her skull with a hammer, at Mitcham, on the 17th. ult. Sophia Collins, sister of the deceased, had her previous evidence read over, and in reply to further questions said it was a four-roomed house. The prisoner and the deceased occupied the two front rooms, one up and one down. Witness and her brother occupied the other rooms. The deceased and Bowling had the exclusive use of the front door, of which they had the key, and they generally shut the door when they went out. Bowling and deceased lived together for ten or eleven years. Witness and her brother always used the back-door, which was bolted inside at night time. Of late the prisoner had been drinking very much, and quarrels between the pair were frequent. The deceased was of sober habits generally. Witness was on good terms with her. Had never seen her the worse for liquor. Witness usually saw her sister every day, if she did not the prisoner. The deceased worked at a marketgarden, and used to get there at eight o’clock. She would get up between five and six to do her housework. At this point Police-constable Butler, 488 W, produced a plan he had made of the premIses, the bedroom being drawn to scale. The witness Collins went on to say that she last saw her sister alive on the 16th ult The prisoner came in about eight o’clock. Witness did not see hlm, but she knew his step. She was surprised at his coming home so early. The deceased came in at half-past nine, and remarked to wltness as she was going upstairs, “Aint it cold? Dlrectly she got in her room witness heard deceased and Bowling quarrelling. She heard the prisoner threaten her a good deal. He said, “I will be the death of you.’ She did not hear any blows, nor did she hear any scuffling. Soon after that prisoner came downstairs and seemed to go in his front room, and remained in there about five minutes. Witness heard him go up again. There was more swearing, but she heard no blows. This lasted five or six minutes, and all was quiet after- wards. Witness then went into the washhouse to get water and chop some wood, being absent about a quarter of an hour. Witness heard nothing more during the night. Witness’s brother came in about eleven o’clock, and stayed up about half an hour, and then went to bed. No one else went in or out of the house that night. Next morning, between five and six o’clock, she heard the prisoner come downstairs. Between five and six the same evening she went Into her sister’s bedroom and found her lying on the bed dead, with her skull battered in. Witness had seen a coal hammer in Bowling’s coal- cellar, but not during the past six months. Witness had used It for nailing pictures up. The hammer (produced, stained with blood) was not the one in question, in fact, she had never seen it before. She had several times heard the prisoner threaten to settle her sister. Cross-examined by Mr. Dennis: The last sound she heard was at ten minutes past ten o’clock. She did not know that Bowling went out at ten o’clock, and was drinking at the Buck’s Head public-house shortly before eleven. Witness was not surprised to hear them quarrelling, as it so frequently occurred. Her sister was rather a warm-tempered woman. Dr. Henry Love repeated the evidence he gave before the coroner as to the death of the woman being caused by repeated and violent blows on the head by a heavy instrument such as the hammer produced. The fact of there having been no struggle showed that the woman was stunned by the first blow. Inspector Butters, who arrested the prisoner, stated that on the way to the station Bowvling said, “I suppose they fetched you ?” Witness replied in the affirmative. Police-constable Banfield, 277 W, deposed that the prisoner said to him, “It was in my temper I done it in.” Other evidence having been called, Mr. Dennis, in reply to the Bench, said he had nothing to say. In answer to the usual caution, the prisoner, speaking with some emotion, said, “Not guilty, and I reserve my defence,” The prisoner was fully committed for trial at the next assizes on the capital charge. He was removed to Holloway Gaol to await his trial, his departure being witnessed by a large crowd.
This road is on the northern edge of the parish churchyard, and runs from Church Road, eastward to north of Edmund Road. Later renamed Miles Road.
From the 1915 street directory:
Miles Lane, from Church Road.
Robert Charles GUNN, florist, (Elm Villa)
Norman, Smee & Dodwell, varnish manufacturers
From the 1925 street directory:
Miles Lane, from Church Road to Field Gate Lane.
Arthur J. PARKER (Abingdon house)
Robert SMITH (Abingdon house)
George WRIGHT (Raleigh House)
1a, William GRAHAM
1, James William NICHOLAS
2a, Charles GOULD
2, George KELSEY
3a, Reginald Edward WEEKES
3, Oliver CHARMAN
4a, Robert JOHNSTON
4, George FRANCIS
5a, Arthur STARKEY
5, Frederick MONEY
6a, Robert Henry SIMS
6, George COLE
Robert GUNN, florist (The Nursery)
15, Herbert VINCER
14, John Orlando EDMUNDS
13, Charles Duncan BALLARD
12, Balantyne SEARS
10, Thomas BROWN
9, George Alfred BOURNER
8, Mrs PARK
7, Frank WHEELER
6, William PAGE
5, Charles PICKETT
4, Kenneth ENEVER
3, Thomas WEST
2, James CRUTCH
1, Eli NORTH
Norman, Smee & Dodwell, varnish manufacturers
Edward ABREHART, market gardener
R.J. Hamer & Son, varnish manufacturers
3, William Henry NORTH
2, Edward NORTH
2, A.F. NORTH, boot repairer
1, Charles BUNCE
… here is Edmund Road
3, Robert SAYERS
2, Daniel GRIFFITHS
1, William SAYERS
World War 1 Connections
Private Hubert Cole
From the Surrey Recruitment Registers:
F ABREHART of 1 Miles Lane, aged 21 Years 10 Months, Carman. Volunteered with the Derby Scheme on 24 February 1916 to the Royal Field Artillery.
C H BOWDERY of 4 Miles Lane, aged 26 Years, Carman. Volunteered with the Derby Scheme on 13 May 1916 to the Royal Engineers (3/1st Kent).
J L CRAWFORD of 6 Abingdon Terrace, Miles Lane, aged 32 Years, Motor Driver. Conscripted on 7 May 1917 to the Army Service Corps (mt).
C JAMES of 2 Miles Lane, aged 23 Years 5 Months, Dustman. Conscripted on 2 December 1915 to the Labour Centre.
W H NORTH of 3 Simmons Cottages Miles Lane, aged 36 Years, Scaffolder. Conscripted on 6 June 1916 to the Royal Engineers.
G C S SPOONER of Abingdon House Miles Lane, aged 30 Years 10 Months, Conductor. Volunteered with the Derby Scheme on 12 December 1915 to the Huntingdonshire Cyclists (2/1st Batn).
R VARNHAM of 12 Miles Lane, aged 34 Years, Labourer. Volunteered on 13 January 1915 to the East Surrey Regiment.
T WEST of 3 Miles Lane, aged 40 Years, Labourer. Volunteered with the Derby Scheme on 11 December 1915 to the Durham Light Infantry (5th Batn).
W WEST of 3 Miles Lane, aged 35 Years, Labourer. Conscripted on 6 March 1917 to the Bedfordshire Regiment (30th Inf Lab Coy).
F W WHEELER of 7 Miles Lane, aged 39 Years, Lamplighter. Volunteered with the Derby Scheme on 11 December 1915 to the Royal West Surrey Regiment (9th Batn).
W E WILKS of 4 Miles Lane, aged 39 Years 5 Months, Horsedealer. Volunteered with the Derby Scheme on 8 March 1916 to the Royal West Surrey Regiment.
Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.