A sad incident

This story concerns my second great grandfather Henry Dennis, a retired coal miner of 77 years. Henry’s wife of 50 years had died in 1885 and eldest daughter Mary had taken the old man into her home. His sons chipped in to help with his care.

From Lichfield Mercury Friday 28 August 1891


WEDNESDAY. — Before A.E.MANLEY Esqr. (in the chair), and J.T.GODFREY-FAUSETT, AND G.BRAWN, Esqrs.

SERIOUS CHARGE AGAINST AN OLD MAN. — Henry Dennis (77), of Brownhills, was charged with indecent conduct on August 14th. — Supt. Barrett said he believed that Dennis was quite childish. — Defendant was very deaf and some difficulty was experienced in conveying the evidence to him. — Charlotte Hill (14), who lives with her parents at Brownhills, stated that on the day mentioned she was winding a bucket of water from a well when defendant passed by. He afterwards came back again and stopped on the opposite side of the road. Witness then described what took place. — Fanny Poxon (10), who lives with her parents at Brownhills, corroborated. — Defendant’s daughter attended the Court and stated that her father lived with her. She was a widow, and defendant’s sons contributed towards his maintenance whilst she provided a home for him. The Bench hoped that defendant’s daughter would take better care of her father in future and on her promising to do so, ordered him to pay costs, 11s.

It seems likely that Henry was suffering from dementia (in modern parlance). Daughter Mary had been widowed less than a year before; her husband, Henry Poxon, left just £22. I think Fanny was daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Poxon of Lichfield Road, Brownhills. Henry Dennis lived at Catshill, hence the Shenstone magistrates.

In 1891 George Brawn was a farmer and Justice of the Peace resident at Sandhills.  He was a wealthy landowner.

Augustus East Manley lived at Manley Hall, Thickbroom, Weeford. This was a Tudor-style country house built in 1833 for John Shawe Manley, who in 1843 was High Sherriff of Staffordshire. It appears to have been an impressive pile, with butler and 7 other servants. When he died his estate exceeded £50,000. The house was mostly demolished in 1905.

The third magistrate was John Toke Godfrey-Faussett. I cannot find any trace in the 1891 census.  It appears he was “of The Friary, Lichfield”.

The entry of death records that Henry died on 15 April 1895 at High Street, Ogley Hay aged 77. The informant was Mary Poxon, daughter. The cause was “age”. His true age was 80. The place was a few doors west of the toll gate at Catshill, which stood beside Anchor Bridge, which carries the Chester Road over the canal.

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