Sort file:- Chatham, November, 2022.

Page Updated:- Thursday, 17 November, 2022.


Earliest 1829-

Navy Arms

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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.


Kentish Chronicle, 9 June. 1829.


May 27, at Hackney, Mr. Cheaman Croft, formerly landlord of the "Navy Arms," Chatham, aged 36 years.


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.


From the Kentish Gazette, 13 November 1838.


We stated in our last the violence of the military. The injuries they committed on Robert Ross, a marine, caused his death on the 28th ult.; and on Wednesday last a jury assembled to sit on the body.

The Coroner briefly addressed them on the points of their duty. It appeared that there was a direct charge against the following men of the 67th Regiment; John Callaghan, Morris Lyons, Dennis Doyle, John Connell, John Noonan, Timothy Lawler, Bartholomew Brasuer, and John Vinan, and he should now request them to be brought into Court to hear what evidence might be produced against them.

The jury then proceeded to view the body, which presented a most horrid appearance. The surgeon of the hospital duly explained to the jury the apparent cause of the man’s death. A dreadful wound on the right side of the head had produced erysipelas, extending over the whole of the head, neck, and the greater part of the breast.

Johanna Haddington, who described herself as a single woman, deposed that on Saturday, October 27, about eight o’clock, she was in the tap-room of the "Navy Arms." There were also several of the Royal Marines there, quietly drinking their porter. Robert Ross, the deceased, was one of them. About four of the 67th and ten or eleven of the 74th Regiments came in, nearly all with sticks in their hands. She then identified John Connell, Morris Lyons, John Callaghan, and Dennis Doyle, as being present on that occasion. She did not know the names of any of the 74th Regiment. John Connell and the others had half-a-gallon of porter. John Connell hit the deceased with a large stick on the side of the head, which knocked his cap off. He bled very much, and she saw the wound. He was afterwards knocked down in the passage by John Connell with the same stick. The second blow was on the shoulder. Connell was standing when he struck the blow; deceased was sitting. Deceased was taken into the back parlour, where his head was washed and bound up. There was no provocation or conversation before the deceased received the first blow. John Connell returned from the passage to the tap-room, and with his stick struck Jem Barrett and Corporal King, and knocked them down across the fire-place. The row lasted, as near as she could say, a quarter of an hour.

The prisoners put some angry questions to the witness, but on being cautioned by the Coroner desisted.

James Chidley, sworn, described himself as a fiddler. Lives at the "Navy Arms," an inn in Chatham. Most of the marines had been there since about five o’clock drinking; the deceased was one. A party of soldiers, about eighteen or twenty in number, armed with sticks, which they knocked on the floor, entered the room, accompanied by a serjeant of marines. The sergeant called for a pot of beer; the soldiers afterwards had half-a-gallon of beer. They began striking their sticks on the table. I was afraid of a row. My mistress told me to ask the marines to go into the back room. The marines said "They won’t hurt us." Mistress then told me to play a tune on the fiddle, which I did, as a means of amusing them. The soldiers then danced, and the serjeant also danced, and the soldiers kissed the serjeant. I then saw John Connell strike the deceased. Deceased and marines tried to getaway, when they were all attacked, and I saw John Connell strike a second blow with the same stick, which came across deceased’s shoulders as he was in the passage. There was one marine wounded under the table. Was not certain that the serjeant of marines was present when Connell struck deceased. The stick he struck deceased with was about three or four feet long. I could positively identify one of the 74th regiment if I had an opportunity. [Here it was considered by the jury that it was material that they should have the 74th called out, as they were all to embark the following morning, and such as were identified should be brought before them; they adjourned for an hour.] On re-assembling, James Chidley stated that he had been able to identify Robert Johnson, of the 74th, as having been present at the "Navy Arms" when deceased was struck. Did not see him strike any one. Saw him flourishing his stick about, in the attitude of striking, before Ross was struck.

James Chalton sworn:— Could swear to eight of the soldiers now in court—John Connell, Morris Lyons, John Callaghan, Dennis Doyle, John Noonan, Timothy Lawler, Robert Johnson, and Michael Farrell; each of them had sticks; they were dancing about with the sticks in both hands. The only attempts at striking that he saw were aimed by the soldiers at the marines. He corroborated the other evidence.

By the prisoner Noonan:— The disturbance occurred, as near as I can recollect, either a little before or a little after eight o'clock. The row lasted about a quarter of an hour.
By a Juror:— I was on the parade in Chatham barracks on Monday week, and Johannah Haddington pointed out Noonan. I swear that Noonan was present during the disturbance.

Joshua Sykes, Michael Farrell, and Robert Johnson, 74th; John Callaghan, Morris Lyons, Dennis Doyle, John Connell, John Noonan, Bartholomew Brasner, John Vinan, and Timothy Lawler, of the 67th, were removed in custody and the inquest was adjourned till Monday morning at ten o’clock.


From the Kentish Gazette, 20 November 1838.


On Monday, soon after ten o’clock, the prisoners were marched under a strong escort from the garrison barracks to the Melville Hospital, where the coroner, Richard Hinde, Esq. and the jury re-assembled.

The panel having been called over, the following evidence was adduced:—

Josiah Power, 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., and heard John Callaghan, now present, say that he would "split the-marines' ____ skulls" that night. I and John Leeks went to the "Navy Arms." Nothing had previously passed between us and Callaghan's party. The deceased (Robert Ross), James Barrett. Robert Grisnell, and another marine, who had his head cut, and is at present in the hospital, were playing at cards at a table and were drinking beer. In about 20 minutes a party of soldiers came in, consisting of 16 or 17. They were all armed with sticks, and they commenced striking the tables with them. The soldiers began dancing and swearing loudly. 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 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. Rose fell, and I saw Callaghan then strike at him a second time. The second blow that was intended for Ross, hit the marine next to him. The first blow knocked Ross’s forage cap off, and I saw the blood fly from his head on to the table. I did not see any other person but Callaghan strike Ross. On the soldiers leaving the house, Leeks and myself got a bucket of water and washed Ross's head, and cut his hair off from about the wound. We then tied a handkerchief round his head, and he was led to the hospital, while I and Leeks wiped up the blood that was standing in a pool on the floor. [The witness was here desired to look particularly at the prisoners, and point out those that he saw there. He again pointed out Callaghan, and added that he saw most of the others there, but he could not identify them separately with certainty. 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 in the dead house adjoining Melville Hospital. On his return he said the wound which was apparent on the head of Ross, was the same he saw indicted by Callaghan.]

Cross-examined by Callaghan:— I am positive the blow I have just seen upon Ross’s head was given by you.

Cross-examined by Brasner:— I saw you at the "Navy Arms," as well as at the "Old Barn." You had a stick in your hand at both the houses.

By the Coroner:— At the time Callaghan struck Ross he held the stick in both his hands, and wielded it with great force over his right shoulder.

[The evidence of this witness differs as to the identity of the soldier who gave Ross the fatal blow, from the witnesses on the previous holding of the inquiry—all the witnesses examined on Saturday having sworn to the prisoner Connell, and not Callaghan.]
Robert Grisnell, another marine, gave a similar account of the attack as the preceding witness, and added that Ross remarked to the soldiers that they (the marines) wished to be quiet and not interfered with. Serjeant Rose soon after came in, and paid for a pot of beer, and gave to the soldiers, and endeavoured to prevail upon them to be quiet. The soldiers soon after got round the serjeant, and witness heard some of the soldiers say, "Don’t strike him (meaning the serjeant), for he’s a good fellow." Morris Lyons it was that struck at Ross, and witness did not see any other person strike him then. Lyons struck Ross on the side of the head. The blow did not appear to have much effect upon him at first. Witness saw Lawler strike Farrer, a marine, as he was running out of the passage; and afterwards he saw Ross in the act of falling, as if he had received another blow.

William Rose, serjeant of the marines, said:— On the evening of the 27th ultimo, upon my coming out of the "Crown and Thistle" public-house, at Chatham, I was told that there was "dreadful goings on at the "Navy Arms," and that they were killing the marines." I went there, and saw 18 or 20 soldiers, whom I treated with a pot of porter, and requested them to sit down or go home quietly to their barracks. The greater part of them were armed with bludgeons. They were endeavouring to raise a disturbance, and one of them seized hold of me and very cordially kissed me. They said they did not want to hurt me, but it was the "_____ privates." I used all the means in my power to get them away or to restore order, but finding that all my efforts were ineffectual, I left the house for the purpose of getting a picquet, but my intentions were frustrated by a peace-officer calling upon me to aid and assist in keeping the peace.

Captain Burton, of the royal marines, in the course of the day, complained to the reporter of the serious misrepresentation that had gone forth that the infuriated soldiers were accompanied by a serjeant of marines, and from which it would be inferred that he took part against the marines, whereas the fact was, that he went to the "Navy Arms" to try to restore order. The mis-statement has created considerable discussion in the military circles.

Henry King, a corporal of the royal marines, stated that he was at the "Navy Arms," and saw a soldier, whom he had not been able since to identify, come in with a stick in his hand, and threatened to break some of the marines’ skulls.

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 and reduced state; he received a blow upon the shoulder, and was afterwards knocked down by one upon the head indicted by Lawler. Immediately before that he saw Morris Lyons standing before the deceased Ross with a stick in his hand.

David Harris, a private of the royal sappers and miners, identified the prisoner, John Connell, as the soldier who struck the deceased; he also remembered seeing Farrell and Sykest striking at some of the marines in the passage.

George Howard, a constable of Chatham, stated that his attention was drawn to the "Navy Arms," on the 27th ult., by a party of soldiers armed with sticks running out of the house.

James Thomas Collins, porter at the Medway Union House, deposed to seeing Connell strike the deceased Ross, and to Ninan and Lawler being present at the time.

Dr. William Rae, head surgeon of Melville Hospital, stated that the deceased Robert Ross, had a contused wound an inch and a half in length, and a quarter of an inch in depth, extending over the parietal bone, on the right side of the head. He died on the sixth instant, about half-past five in the morning, erysipelas having taken place on the 30th ult., which extended from the wound over the face, head, neck, and upper parts of the breast and shoulders, and which continued to extend until his death took place. Witness had since made a post-mortem examination, and found that the body was generally healthy. Witness was of opinion that the deceased died from the wound on the head and the erysipelas extending over the head and body. It was such a wound as could have been inflicted with a blunt instrument, such as a large stick or poker.

At half-past five o'clock the inquiry was adjourned until half-past 10 o’clock of Tuesday.

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


It has been the subject of observation that no person has been in attendance either from the Admiralty or the War-office to watch these proceedings.

Arthur Kift, the assistant surgeon of Melville Hospital, deposed that he saw the deceased between nine and ten o’clock on the night of the 27th ult. The wound was an inch and a half long, and of considerable depth. Two arteries were bleeding, which he secured by a ligature, and the bleedings soon after ceased. The bone was exposed by about half an inch, and after the wound was dressed the deceased was sent to bed.

Johannah Haddington was recalled, and being desired by the Coroner to look at all the prisoners she had not seen during her examination on Wednesday, she immediately pointed out three, named Johnman, Farrell, and Sykes, belonging to the 74th regiment, and who were not in custody when she gave her evidence on Wednesday. The prisoner Sykes had a thick stick in his hand, and he told Corporal King, who was present, that be wanted the stick to pound the ______ marines with. Sykes made use of these words while he was standing before the fireplace. Witness could not distinctly state whether Farrell was in uniform or undress.

The Coroner then desired the prisoners, eleven in number, to stand forward, and upon their doing so he explained to them that the present was only a preliminary inquiry. They were not upon their trial, but having heard all the evidence against them, they might, if they thought proper, make any statement that would explain any portion of the evidence, or bring forward witnesses on their behalf; at the same time it was his duty to caution them against adopting any course that would be prejudicial to them, as they were implicated in a very serious charge.

The prisoner Johnman then called John Shaw, who stated that Johnman was in the barracks with witness and another private of the 74th, playing at cards, from half-past five o'clock until a quarter before eight o’clock on the evening of the 27th ult. When the quarter-drum beat witness went to make his bed, and Johnman pulled off his jacket and proceeded to his own room.

By the Coroner:— While the quarter-drum was beating the prisoner have got out of the barracks.

Examination resumed:— There is a private of the 74th regimeut named M'Gregor, about the same height and very much like Johnman.

By the Jury:— The soldiers were not allowed to play at cards in the barracks, but they got the corporal out of the room, and during his absence they had two or three games.

William Morris, a private of the 74th regiment, stated that he was in the barracks on the 27th ult., with Shaw and Johnman, who played with five or six others at cards. The prisoner Johnman slept in the same room with witness, and upon the quarter-drum beating Johnman went to his bed.

John Noonan, requested Mr. Budden, the landlord of the "Red Lion," to be sent for.

His son, William Budden, shortly afterwards entered the jury-room, and Nooman put a number of questions to him. The witness’s evidence did not materially benefit the prisoner, as he had no recollection of Noonan's person, although he remembered some observations passing between himself and some soldiers, which Noonan repeated.

Noonan expressed a wish that Bines, the summoning officer, should be examined.

Bines was then sworn, but his testimony merely went to prove that he saw the prisoner in the "Red Lion," at twenty minutes after ten o’clock on Saturday evening, the 27th ult., about two hours and a half after the fatal attack.

The Coroner inquired if any of the other prisoners had any witnesses in attendance, and was answered in the negative. The learned gentleman next asked if the prisoners had a desire to add anything in their defence, and they all declined saying anything with the exception of Michael Farrell, who protested that he was quite innocent of what had been laid to his charge.

This concluding the case as far as regarded the deceased Robert Ross, the jury retired for a few minutes to take some refreshment.

Upon their return at three o'clock, the coroner commenced summing up. He remarked, that as there was a great mass of evidence which in some measure was contradictory, it would be necessary for him to go through the whole of it. The coroner then read the statements of the several witnesses who had been examined, which occupied a considerable time, and at the conclusion added, that the jury should calmly and deliberately weigh the evidence, and from that alone draw their conclusions. With regard to the offence that had been committed, it was one of a very serious aud alarming character, if it was considered only in the light of an assault. But where a person struck a blow in this case, and that blow produced death, he had no hesitation in saying that that party was guilty of manslaughter. As to the idea of murder, the law on that head he did not think applied at all to this case. They would attentively weigh the evidence which had been adduced respecting the death of the unfortunate man, and also that which had been brought forward, by some of the prisoners, and if the jury felt that there were any mitigatory circumstances, they would give the parties to whom they applied the benefit of them. They would first have to consider who was the principal in the first degree guilty of this offence, and secondly, who were the principals in the second degree, present, aiding, and abetting. The coroner then read the law applying to eases of this description, and concluded by observing that the jury should take care and return such a verdict as would satisfy the public mind, while at the same time it did justice to all parties.

After an absence of one hour and thirty-five minutes the jury returned into the inquest-room, and the foreman (addressing the coroner) said:— The jury have come to an unanimous verdict of Wilful Murder against John Callaghan, Morris 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 aiders and abettors.

The remaining man, John Noonan (of the 67th), was the only man out of the eleven 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 proceedings did not terminate until six o’clock at night.


From the Kentish Gazette, 19 March 1839.


On Monthly these Assizes commenced at the Court House, Maidstone. The Honorable Sir Joseph Littledale, accompanied by David Salomons, Esq. opened the Commission, and afterwards attended Divine Service at All Saints’ Church, where the Rev. Dr. Knox, the High Sheriff’s Chaplain, preached a sermon from the 2nd verse of the 8th chapter of Romans.

The Right Honorable James Lord Abinger, the Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer, presided in the Nisi Prius Court; and the Honorable Sir Joseph Littledale, Knight, one of the Judges of the Queen's Bench, in the Criminal Court.

On Tuesday morning the usual forms having been gone through, the undermentioned gentlemen were sworn on the Grand Jury:— Hon. J. W. King, forrman; Right Hon. S. R. Lushington, Sir T. M. Wilson, Sir J. K. Shaw, Sir B. W. Bridges, J. Bereus, Esq., W. Deedes, Esq., J. W. Stratford, Esq., P. H. Dyke, Esq., Isaac Minett, Esq., T. P Alchin, Esq., G. Gipps, Esq., J. D. S. Douglas Esq., M. D. Dalison, Esq., J. Best, Esq., C. Wykeham Martin, Esq., T. F. Best, Esq., J. A. Douce, Esq., C. T. Pattison, Esq., J. Jacobson, Esq., J. A. Wigan.

John Connell, Maurice Lyons, and John Callaghan, charged with the murder of Robert Ross; Timothy Lawler, Bartholomew Brasnan, Dennis Doyle, Joshua's Sykes, John Bunyan, Michael Farrell, and Robert Johnman, charged with aiding and abetting the three first named in the murder of Robert Ross, a marine, at Chatham, on the 27th of October last.

The whole charged with wilful murder on the verdict of the coroner's inquisition. Their age varied from 19 to 23.

The prisoners in reply to a question by the court, stated they had no counsel.

The jury being all residents of Rochester, the prisoners were informed that if they had any objections to them, a new panel would  be sworn. The prisoners replying they had no objection, the case proceeded.

No counsel was engaged for the prosecution, and the judge investigated the case without assistance.

Joanna Addington was first called:- Lives at the "Navy Arms" in the high street, Chatham. On Saturday, 27th October, was in the Tap-room. There were six or seven marines present. About 8 o'clock the men at the bar came in. Knew John Connell, Dennis Doyle, and Maurice Lyons. The prisoners called for half a gallon of porter. John Connell hit Robert Ross on the right shoulder with a stick 4 feet long, and as thick as a man's arm. When Ross was struck, he rose to leave the taproom, and went to the back parlour. As he was taking his departure, Connell again struck him twice. His head bled. He was not upon the ground. Two marines washed them. Witness remained with him half an hour in the parlour. Connell brandished the stick with both hands when he struck the deceased. The first blow was not a heavy one. Two marines accompany Ross from the house. He afterwards died, and she saw his body at the Hospital. Saw none of the other prisoners touch Ross in the public house. Heard Corporal King saw to Sykes, "What do you want the stick for? King is a marine. Sykes said he wanted to "pound the b—y marine's head.'' Connell wished to ask witness where he (prisoner) stood when he struck the marine. The witness replied,—Against a table close to the door.

By the Judge:— Did not say before the Coroner that the first blow Ross received was on the hand. Was not able to read. On her deposition (as taken before the Coroner) being read, it appeared she had said Ross was struck on his head first, and the blow on the shoulder was given on his retreat to the parlour. She denied having said any such thing.

The Judge said she had an sworn at the inquest.

Question by Connell:— Did not see Connell strike anybody else.

By Judge:— You say in your deposition before the Coroner that Connell returned from the parlour and struck Bennett against the fire-place.

Witness said, so he did and he struck me also three blows. Hid not know what dress the prisoner wore, he had a red jacket on.

By Bartholemew Brasnan:— Did the marine receive more cuts on the head than one.

Witness:— No, only one, a large long one. Did not see Brasnan in the house at all.

By Judge:— You have said you saw all the prisoners there.

Witness did not see Lawler or Bunyan, or Brasnan there.

Question by Bartholomew Brasnan:— Could any one else than Connell strike the marine without her seeing him?

Witness:— No. It was about eight when the party went into the public-house. She did not live at the "Navy Arms." She was married at Gillingham Church three or four months ago. Was single when at the "Navy Arms," and a servant in the house. Her name was now Mrs. Barrett. Four of the 67th and three of 74th went into the public-house. Has sworn to precisely the same thing to day as she did before the Coroner's inquest.

The Judge stated that the witness had not this day sworn as she did at the inquest.

James Chitty is a fiddler, and was at the "Navy Arms" at the time of this occurrence. Saw Ross there and about half a dozen marines. A young man named Charlton was waiter. The marines were smoking and had porter before them. A party, perhaps twenty of the 77th entered the house about eight. Some of them had sticks. Saw a stick pass from one to another; a sergeant of marines was there. After some time witness went out, and on his return to the room, desired the marines to go into the back parlour. They said, never mind, the soldiers would not interfere with them. He (witness) played the fiddle at the desire of the landlady. The soldiers of the 67th and 74th danced to it. The serjeant of marines danced with them, and they seemed friendly.

They put their arms around his neck and kissed him; recognized Connell, Doyle, Farrell, and another as being there. Connell had in his hand a piece of wood with the bark off, about three feet long. He struck Ross with it on the head as Ross was going out of the tap-room. Only saw him strike once. There was such a crowd of them that witness could not see if deceased was on the ground or not. Doyle had a stick in his hand.

Mr. Rae, the surgeon of the Chatham Hospital, said a marine was brought there on the 27th October. Examined his head the following morning.

The appearances were more fully described by the assistant, who was examined after Mr. Rae had sat down.

Mr. Rae said, in examining the head the outer covering of bone was denuded to the extent of an inch. There was a separation of the inner membrane to very small extent, the space being occupied by a small clot of blood. The brain was more or less vascular, and there was a small quantity of water in the ventricle. Erysipelas was at times infectious they always separated persons afflicted with it from other patients. The disorder was prevalent at the time.

Question by Callaghan:— Why were not the surgeons of the line allowed to examine the head?

Witness:— None applied.

By Brannan:— Was there not no objection against a doctor of the line being called in?

Witness:— Had heard of none.

Mr. Kift, assistant surgeon of the hospital, said a marine was brought in the evening, between nine and ten o'clock bleeding from a wound on the right side of the head, he secured the ligatures, and the blood ceased to flow. The bone was exposed. He dressed the wound and sent the man to bed. The man died. He assisted in the post mortem examination. Considers the man died from a combination of the wound and the erysipelas. The wound appeared to be caused by a blunt instrument. A stick would have effected it. Erysipelas attacked the wound on the third day. The disorder had been prevalent. Thought it probable the marine would have recovered if erysipelas had not come on. It is common naturally in wounds of the head for erysipelas to follow.

He had objected to admit a private practitioner to the post mortem examination. It was not customary for them to interfere with the duties in the Hospital.

By Brasnan:— Was application made by one of the jury at the inquest to admit a military surgeon.

Witness:- Yes; and he had sent for Dr. Piper, the garrison surgeon.

James Charlton.— Was waiter at the "Nary Arms" on the 27th October. All the soldiers had sticks. One of them asked for a tune.

They begun to jump about to it. Saw five of the prisoners of the bar there, Grizzle, a marine, received a blow from Connell on the
shoulder, and as Ross followed his comrade out of the room Connell struck him on the head and knocked him down. Ross fell into
the passage. The soldiers went soon after this, and lie then saw Ross in the parlour. There was a great quantity of blood on the floor. The soldiers as they danced struck the door with their sticks.

By Brannan:- Saw no one strike the marine beside Connell. He (witness) was dodging about to escape the blow himself. The marines did not defend themselves.

Isaiah Powell, a private in the marines:— Was at the "Old Barn" public house on the 27th of October, and afterward, at the "Navy Arms." When at the "Old Barn" saw several of the soldiers of the 67th go into the yard to get sticks. One of them said they would "split the skulls of the b—y marines." Himself and a comrade went to the "Navy Arms;" there were other marines there. A party of the soldiers entered the tap room just at witness called for a pint of beer. Ross was there, playing at cards. One of the soldiers struck at witness as he was stepping over a screen to get out of the room; the blow fell on the heel of his boot. He got against the passage door, and saw the soldiers close on the marines in the box. Some of the marines were under the table, and some lying down bleeding. Noticed only one man, Callaghan, who when Ross was rising from the ground and picking up his cap, struck him on the head with a thick stick. Ross fell on the settle, and witness ran away into the parlour. He saw Ross going down the passage stooping, and he took him into the parlour. They got some water, and himself and Leakes washed Ross's head. Saw Connell, Lyons, and Callaghan, but did not notice any others. The row lasted about a minute and a half, but they might be five or ten minutes in the house altogether.

Question by Brasnan:— Was the blow struck by Callaghan the same that caused the wound?

Witness replied he could not say; he saw Callaghan strike Ross, but did not know if it was that blow which caused death. It was the blow that inflicted the cut. Could not swear that he saw any body else strike Ross, but he saw Connell and Lyons brandishing their sticks about. There was a lump or two on Ross's head besides the wound. Ross called his (witness’s) attention to them in the parlour.

By Callaghan:— Had learned his (Callaghan's) name at the inquest.

By Connell:— Did you identify me at the Coroner's inquest?

Witness had said he would not swear he (Connell) was there.

By the Judge:— Would not now swear he saw him there.

By Connell:— Was not asked at the inquest to swear to him.

By Lyons:— Was not asked to identify him. Thought he knew him by his features.

Thomas Grizzle, the marine who was playing cards with Ross at the time the last witness entered the "Navy Arms" corroborated the statement of the disturbance. Serjeant Rose, of the Marines went to them, and told them not to speak to the soldiers, to whom he gave a pot of beer. The soldiers surrounded the Serjeant, and appeared to be kissing him. The serjeant left before the disturbance. The soldiers struck Ross. After washing Ross's wounds he took him to a doctor who dressed them, and by the doctor's advice accompanied him to the Hospital. Recognised Brasnan, Lyons, and Lawler. Saw Lyons strike Ross as he sat in the box.

By Brasnan:- There were other than those at the bar before the Coroner. Recognised four on that occasion; one is not here. There was a blow struck after Lyons hit Ross in the box. Did not know who struck him.

By the Judge:- At the inquest they asked if the blow struck by Lyons drew blood.

Witness said he could not say. He hit Ross on the head.

Sergeant William Rose belong to the Marines. It was at the "Navy Arms" on the 27th of October. Saw a party of soldiers there, and gave them some porter, requesting them to go quietly to their barracks. Did not observe one without a stick. There was an expression used by someone, but he could not identify who said it. Some of the soldiers left the house at the time he did. There were several marines and the tap-room, but he did not know if Ross was one. Lyons was there. Did not see him do anything.

Question by Brasnan:- Saw two marines wrestling a poker from him prisoner at the "Green Man" public house, after the affray at the "Navy Arms." Sore Baynan there also. This was about half-past eight or a quarter to nine.

Henry King:- Is a sergeant of marines. Remembers the soldiers going to the "Navy Arms." He had been there a quarter of an hour when they came in. Saw one with a stick, but cannot swear to him. Whilst talking with a soldier in the marines were attacked by them in another part of the room. Did not see anyone struck. Could not swear to any of the prisoners.

Robert Lee's, a private in the marines:- Was at the "Navy Arms." A man with a wooden leg recommended them to go into another room just before the soldiers arrived. Ross said he thought they would not interrupt them, and they might as well remain. Knew Lyons and Lawler, but no one else. About eight o’clock the soldiers commenced a row, and witness received a blow on his right shoulder and got up. Lyons stood at the front of the table to prevent any one going out. Witness was knocked down. Lawler struck at him several times. Did not see Ross struck at all.

David Harris.— Is a private in the sappers and miners. Was at the "Navy Arms," he went out for ten minutes, and on his return the tap-room was in confusion. There was a party of soldiers armed with sticks in it. Saw Ross struck by Connell with a stick and his hat fall off. Callaghan and Johnman were there. Did not see blood follow Connells blow.

By Judge:— Was quite sure that Johnman was the other man.

George Howard:— Was in the "Navy Arms" about eight o’clock. All was confusion. Saw a party of soldiers of the line come out armed with sticks. They went in again, and again returned to the street. Did not see Ross. Recognised Lawler, Sykes, and Lyons.

It was here intimated that the prisoner's witnesses had arrived, and his lordship told the prisoners that they should have an opportunity of seeing them.

Collins, porter to the Medway Union, saw the soldiers knocking the marines about at the "Navy Arms." Some of them were on the table and others on the settle. Saw Ross struck on the starboard side of thr head, the right side us it is generally called. On getting out of the tap-room into the passage, he was followed towards the parlour, and one of the soldiers (Lawler) struck at him with his bludgeon, and over-reaching him, broke two panes of glass in the window of the door. Followed him, accompanied by a peace officer and took him into custody in the course of the evening. He also recognised Brasnan.

By the Judge:— Signed the deposition before the Coroner. The Judge said Brasnan was not named then by him.

Witness said they were in different dresses.

The deposition was handed to him; and he said he was mistaken in his identity of Brasnan.

Question by Lawler:— At the Court Martial, held at the Barracks had sworn to his (Lawler) striking at him in the passage.

Bines, a constable of Chatham, was sent for to the "Navy Arms," but the soldiers had all gone. This was about a quarter past eight o'clock. Went on up the street to quell a disturbance among the soldiers, who had sticks. Saw Lawler, Brasnan, Buynan, and gave them in charge of a piquet.

This terminated the evidence for the prosecution; and his Lordship called upon the prisoners for their defence.

Connell declared his innocence, and that when taken to the hospital to Ross, the dying man said he had never seen him before.

Lyons said they might as well have selected any other soldier from the garrison.

Lawler said he was innocent.

Brasnan said he was never at the "Navy Arms"* in his life. Some of the civilians said he was one of the party, but he was not selected next day from the ranks.

The rest of the prisoners declared their innocence.

The Judge said to Connell that he had the deposition of Ross as taken on his death-bed. The prisoners might, if they chose, have
it read, but they must abide the consequences.

The prisoners declined having it put in as evidence. They would call their witnesses.

The following evidence was then called in their behalf. They were understood to have come from Portsmouth for the purpose.

Thomas Clifford, private of the 67th, said John Connell and Lyons, were at the "Navy Arms" with him. Supposed that not more than four of the 74th were there. Left when the row commenced, but did not see either Connell, Callaghan, or Lyons.

By Lawler:— Did not see him in the room; he could not be then unknown to witness. Brasnan was not there, nor Lawler.

Timothy Harrington, a Corporal of the 67th, was orderly corporal on the day of the affray, and was not out of the barracks. The "Navy Arms" is about three quarters of a mile distance. The men were all sober when they returned to barracks, a few minutes past eight o'clock.

William Hayes, a private, was at the public house, but saw none of the prisoners strike anybody. Doyle was in his company the whole time Doyle had no stick or unlawful weapon in his hand. Doyle could strike no one unknown to witness, nor did he take any part in the row. Did not see Lawler; but did not know half there, from the confusion.

John Murphy, private of the 67th, was on guard, and ordered out by the Officer into Chatham. Saw three of their men opposite the "Green Man," a few minutes past eight — Lawler, Buynan, and Brasnan. Took them into custody. The constable demanded Lawler as a prisoner, to be given over to the civil power; and he was given up.

William Vince, another private:— Doyle was never out of his presence. He (witness) returned to barracks about a quarter past eight. They left the "Navy Arms" together, as soon as the row commenced. Did not see either Buynan or Brasnan in the house.

John Spiller accompanied Clifford to and from the "Navy Arms." Did not see Lawler, Brasnan, nor Buynan there at all.

John Shaw, a private of the 74th, on the evening in question saw the prisoner Johnanan in the barracks from half-past five o’clock to a quarter before eight. He was with witness. When before the Coroner witness had not said he could not tell the day of the week the affray took place. Knew it was Saturday.

The prisoners said they wished not to call any more witnesses.

This closed the evidence.

The learned judge then turned to the jury and observed that as the inquiry had continued throughout the whole day, he deemed it right to allow them the option of having the further consideration of the case deferred until the morning, or of closing it that day.

The summing up would occupy a considerable time, as the evidence applied to each of the ten prisoners separately.

The jury, after a brief consultation, turned to his lordship and thanking him, said they would prefer the postponement of the case.

Much to their astonishment and chagrin his lordship ordered accommodation to be prepared in the grand jury room, and two officers to be sworn to keep them aloof from all communication during the night. The jury attempted to remonstrate, but the officers of the room were too intent upon their duties to listen to the complaint, and the "twelve" were escorted in due form to their temporary asylum, and the court adjourned to the next day.

On the Saturday morning the case was ably and explicitly recapulated before the jury. His lordship said that no conclusive proof of who had committed the capital crime had been adduced—that the charge did not amount to more than manslaughter against the three principals; and as concerned the others the evidence was vague and unsatisfactory.

The jury retired for the space of three quarters of an hour, and on their return into court declared Connell, Lyons, and Callaghan guilty of manslaughter, and acquitted the remainder.

The prisoners were then all removed with the exception of Joshua Sykes, who was arranged for the murder of Charles Jeffcott a marine, at Chatham.

It appealed by the evidence of two of the soldiers of the 67th regiment that in an affray which took place in the streets of Chatham, subsequent to the fatal affair at the "Navy Arms," Jeffcott was assailed and violently beaten by the soldiers and his death ensued on the 11th of November. The prisoner was one of the party in the attack.

The prisoner denied his guilt.

The jury consulted a few minutes, and then returned a verdict— "We acquit the prisoner of murder, but find him guilty of manslaughter."

The other three prisoners were then brought up and placed by the side of Sykes to receive judgment.

His lordship addressed them as follows:— John Connell, Maurice Lyons, and John Callaghan, you were indicted for the wilful murder of Robert Ross, but the jury, after hearing a great deal of evidence, and giving the case great consideration, have found you guilty of the minor offence of manslaughter, and in their verdict I fully concur, but I must say that it is a case of great aggravation; yet I consider that a distinction may be made between your degrees of guilt. With respect to you Connell, the court feels bound to inflict the whole punishment which the law allows. The sentence, therefore upon you is that you be transported for the term of your natural life, and that you Lyons and Callaghan be transported for seven years. With regard to you, Joshua Sykes, you have been properly convicted of a similar offence but the court have taken into consideration that you was not the person who struck the fatal blow. The sentence, therefore, is also upon you that you be transported for seven years.


Kentish Independent, Saturday 11 September 1852.


On the 26th of August, Mr. S. J. D. Wrake, of the "Navy Arms," Chatham, ages 29.


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.



CROFT Cheaman Mr to 27/May/1829 dec'd

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

JACKSON Charles 1838+ Wright's Topography 1838

WRAKE S J D Mr to 26/Aug/1852 dec'd

WINGROVE James 1871-72 (age 46 in 1871Census)

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+ Kelly's 1903


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

Wright's Topography 1838Wright's Topography 1838

Licensing Records 1872Licensing Records 1872

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903



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