Sort file:- Chatham, December, 2018.

Page Updated:- Friday, 21 December, 2018.


Earliest 1832-

Navy Arms

Latest ????

Meeting House Lane (266 High Street Pigot's Directory 1832-34)



The Licensing Records of 1872 stated the premises held a Full License and was owned by (Messrs Meux & Co) Sir Henry Meux Bart Sir Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks Bart and Mr Richard Berridge, Horse Shoe Brewery Tottenham Court Road.


From the Bells New Weekly Messenger, 18 November, 1838.



The greatest excitement has existed in Chatham and its neighbourhood since the institution of the judicial inquiry into the circumstances that led to the death of the marine, Robert Ross, aged 31, who, with several others, was attacked by soldiers belonging to the 67th and 74th Regiments, while sitting in the tap room of the "Navy Arms."

Since the first day of the inquest another marine has died. Four others still continue in a very bad state, but are likely to recover. Eleven men are now in custody on the charge of being concerned in the outrage: three of them belong to the 74th Regiment, namely, Joshua Sykes, Robert Farrell, and Robert Johnson; and the remaining eight, John Callaghan, Morris Lyons, Dennis Doyle, John Connell, John Noonan, Timothy Lawler, Bartholomew Brasner, and John Ninan, belong to the 67th Regiment. On Monday, soon after 10 o'clock, the prisoners were marched, under a strong escort, from the garrison barracks, where they had been confined, to the Melville Hospital, where the coroner and the jury reassembled.

The following evidence was adduced:— Josiah Powll, a private of the Royal Marines, examined:- I was in the tap room of the "Old Barn" public house on the evening of Saturday, the 27th ult. a little after seven o'clock, and heard John Callaghan, now present, say that he would split the b— marines’ skulls that night. I and John Leeks, another marine, then drank off our beer and went to the "Navy Arms." Nothing had previously passed between us and Callaghan's party. We had had no quarrel with them; they were about sixteen or seventeen in number, and before we left the prisoner Bartholomew Brasner went into the yard adjoining the "Old Barn," and brought in two sticks. Immediately upon seeing this we went to the "Navy Arms," and in the tap room we saw the deceased Robert Ross, James Barnett, Robert Grissell, and another marine who had his hand cut, and is at present in the hospital, but whose name I do not know. They were playing at cards at a table in the corner, and were drinking beer. Leeks and I called for a pint of beer, and, after remaining there about twenty minutes, a party of soldiers came in, consisting of sixteen or seventeen; they were all armed with sticks, and they commenced striking the tables with them; the soldiers began dancing and swearing loudly; they called for beer, but I did not see them served with any. I got over the screen and made my escape. As I was doing so one of the soldiers struck at me, and the blow fell upon my heel. The soldiers tried to kick up a row with the marines, but the latter would not have anything to say to them. The soldiers then surrounded the marines and struck at them indiscriminately, and I saw Callaghan strike the deceased Ross with the thick end of a clothes prop over the head. Ross fell, and I saw Callaghan then strike at him a second time. Ross fell upon the marine who was near him, and the second blow that was intended for Ross hit the marine next to him. The first blow knocked Ross's foraging cap off, and I saw the blood start from his head on to the table. The prisoner Morris Lyons was also very active in the attack, but I did not see any other person but Callaghan strike Ross. The landlady of the public house pulled me and Leeks into the parlour, exclaiming that if we did net come in we should be murdered. The soldiers soon after fallowed into the parlour, and I and my comrade ran to the back door. We then saw Ross standing in the passage with the blood pouring from his head. The soldiers had then left the house. We got a bucket of water, and washed his head, and cut his hair off from about the wound. We then tied a handkerchief round his head, and two marines led him away to the hospital.

The jury then directed the witness to go and see if he could identify the body of Ross, which was lying, with that of Jeffcott, the other marine, in the dead-house adjoining. He said, in reply to a juryman, "I can swear positively that the man who threatened to split the marines' skulls at the "Old Barn," is the same that gave Ross the blow upon his head in the "Navy Arms." [The evidence of this witness totally differs as to the identity of the soldier who gave Ross the fatal blow from that of the witnesses examined on the previous day, who all swore that it was the prisoner Connell, and not Callaghan] Robert Grissell, another marine, gave a similar account of the attack. Robert Lees, one of the marines who was bludgeoned, and who is an inmate of Melville Hospital, was next called: he appeared to be in a very weak state. He gave testimony similar to that of the preceding witnesses.

David Harris, a private of the Royal Sappers and Miners, identified the prisoner John Connell as the soldier who struck the deceased.

The prisoners were then re-conducted to the guard-room under a strong escort.

The inquiry was resumed on Tuesday at 10 o’clock, when the summoning officer, in answer to the coroner, said he had no more witnesses to produce.

The jury have come to an unanimous verdict of "Wilful murder against John Callaghan, Morria Lyons, and John Connell (of the 67th), as principals; and against Joshua Sykes, Robert Farrell, and Robert Johnman (of the 74th), Dennis Doyle, Timothy Lawler, Bartholomew Brasner, and John Ninan (of the 67th), as siders and abettors." The remaining man, John Noonan (of the 67th), was the only one out of the 11 prisoners not included in the verdict.

The Coroner then bound over the witnesses to attend and give evidence at the spring assizes against the prisoners, and made out their committals to Maidstone gaol, but it was believed that they would not be removed thither until after the inquest had sat upon the body of the other marine, named Jeffcott.

The remains of Robert Ross were removed from the dead-house, adjoining Melville Hospital, to the new burial ground at Chatham at two o'clock on Tuesday, where they were interred with the usual military honours. Although the coroner's investigation into the circumstances attending the death of Robert Ross, the marine, occupied an attentive and intelligent jury, the whole of three days, the direct cause of the attack upon the marines still remains in obscurity.

The public and the jury are left to conjecture the motives which could here instigated the men of the 67th and 74hh regiments now in custody, charged with the crime of wilful murder, to engage in such a bloodthirsty transaction. Our reporter, from extensive inquiries upon this point, has ascertained some of the most probable circumstances that led to the commission of the offence. It appears that a great majority of the marines are natives of Kent, and the inhabitants of that county, from the peer to the peasant are, for the most part, well known to be very staunch adherents to the Protestant church. From the long continued and almost constant quartering of the marines at Chatham, there is a strong feeling in their favour amongst the inhabitants, many of the smaller shopkeepers being old pensioners of that corps, who are apt to treat the soldiers of the "line'' with indifference. This may account, in some measure, for the assailants entertaining a feeling of jealousy towards the marines, which was not likely to be softened by the circumstance of the former being young Irish recruits and uncompromising Roman Catholics.


Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette 30 April 1853.


Another of those destructive conflagrations, for which unhappily Chatham has become notorious, occurred early on Friday morning last.

The scene of destruction in this instance was the house and shop occupied by Mr. Heath, printer and bookseller, and the adjoining public-house called the "Navy Arms," both situated near the post-office, High-street.

The fire appears to have originated in the cellar of Mr. Heath’s house at a few minutes before twelve, and the first intimation the persons in the house received that anything was wrong was through the infant of Mrs. Heath, who, being very restless, roused the parents, when the room was discovered to be filled with smoke. The watchman upon duty seems to have discovered the flames at this moment, by perceiving smoke issuing from the cellar. He at once aroused the inmates, and in a few minutes the house was one sheet of flame; Mr. and Mrs. Heath, their infant and servant, having barely time to escape through the back window in their night clothes. The alarm having been given, the Kent fire engine, followed by the Sun, was quickly on the spot, manned by the men belonging to the fire brigade.

The engine from the Marine barracks, and also that belonging to the dockyard, attended, but their combined efforts did not prevent the flames from extending to the adjoining public-house at the rear, and both buildings were speedily in ruins.

So fierce a hold had the flames of the buildings destroyed, that all hope of saving them was in vain; the attention of the brigade was, therefore, directed to the safety of the "Mitre Hotel," which was only separated from the burning premises by a gateway, and are happy to say these extensive premises escaped with only trifling injury.

A strong body of about 400 Marines were marched to the scene of disaster, and did essential service in keeping back an immense crowd, and also in working the engines, &c.

The origin of the fire cannot be ascertained, but it may have been caused by the servant who had occasion to proceed to the cellar a short time before the family retired to rest.

The premises and contents of both houses were insured. We regret to say that Mr Heath, who has only recently commenced business, will be a great loser by this calamity, his losses consisting not only of books and stationary, but also of several fonts of new and valuable type, which he had only recently purchased.



HILLS William 1832+ Pigot's Directory 1832-34 (266 High Street)

JACKSON Charles 1838+ Wright's Topography 1838

WINGROVE James to 1872

KEMSLEY Daniel 1872-74+ Licensing Records 1872

BOND John 1881+ (age 42 in 1881Census)

MILLS James 1882+

SPELLS Charles 1891+ (age 35 in 1891Census)

SPELLS H C 1903-13+


Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34

Wright's Topography 1838Wright's Topography 1838

Licensing Records 1872Licensing Records 1872


If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-