Sort file:- Folkestone, November, 2023.

Page Updated:- Monday, 13 November, 2023.


Earliest 1821-

Battery House Tavern

Latest 1821+

 Possibly Bayle



Imperial Weekly Gazette, 23 June, 1821.

Johnson's Sunday Monitor, 24 June, 1821.

Weekly Dispatch, 24 June, 1821.

Thursday se'nnight an Inquisition was held at the "Battery House Tavern," Folkstone, before H. Butcher. Esq., Mayor and Coroner, touching the death of Mr. Richard Woodridge, late a quarter-master on board his Majesty's ship Severn, stationed off the coast of Kent for the prevention of smuggling, who was slain in a recent skirmish between the Government officers and a party of smugglers. The Jury consulted for six hours, and then one half were for a verdict of Wilful Murder, and the other maintained that it could only amount to Man slaughter, inasmuch as the officers were the first aggressors and the smugglers were not proved to have any dishonest object in view; but the Coroner again addressing them and pointing out the illegality (as the law at present stands) and evil tendency of an armed body assembling in the night time with firearms. &c. they unanimously agreed to a verdict of "Wilful Murder against some person or persons unknown," which verdict was instantly recorded.


Leeds Intelligencer, 25 June, 1821.



On Thursday morning, the 7th inst. a desperate encounter took place between a party of smugglers, and some of the men employed on the preventive service, at Folkstone, near Dover. Lieut. David Peat, was much wounded; and Mr. Richard Woolridge, quarter-master, killed. An inquest was held on the body of the latter, at the Battery-House Tavern," Folkestone, and a verdict of "wilful murder, against some person or persons unknown," was returned. A number of the smugglers were mounded, and carried ofF in a cart, which they had on the road; but where they have been conveyed to, remains a mystery.


The New Times, 21 June, 1821.

Dreadful Outrage On Th Preventive Service.


Thursday se'ennight an Inquisition was held at the "Battery House Tavern," Folkestone, near Dover, before the Rt. Worshipful H. Butcher, Esq. Mayor and Coroner, and a most respectable Jury, to inquire on behalf of our Sovereign Lord the King, touching the death of Mr. Richard Woolridge, late a quarter-master on hoard his Majesty’s ship the Severn, stationed off the coast of Kent for the prevention or smuggling, who was slain in a recent skirmish between the Government officers and a body of smugglers, as briefly noticed in a late number of this paper.

The first object of the Jury, which consisted of fifteen inhabitants of the town, was to take a view of the body, which presented a most shocking spectacle, being pierced in several places with bullets or slugs. There were two dreadful wounds on the breast, either of which was calculated to produce death, and which appeared to have issued from guns of more than ordinary calibre. Having returned to the jury room, the following evidence was adduced:—

Mr. John Lascelles stated, that he was an Admiralty midshipman belonging to his Majesty’s ship Severn, and that about one o'clock on the morning of Thursday, the 7th instant, whilst doing duty on the Batteries, at No. 1 Tower, his attention was attracted by a buzzing sound, which appeared to proceed from a wheat-fleld, a little distance off. He listened attentively, and could discern the voices of several persons in earnest conversation. Being rather surprised at a circumstance so unusual at that dead hour of night, he left his post, and proceeded towards the wheat-field, with a determination to ascertain the cause. When he arrived there, he saw a body of men, whom he calculated at 100, drawn up in the field; they were nearly all dressed in round frocks, and were armed with guns, and other murderous weapons. Not doubting but that the party were smugglers, and there for some unlawful purpose, he went into the field and fired the alarm pistol, thinking that would have the effect of dispersing them; but they did not appear in the least alarmed, and took no notice. Witness then proceeded down the opposite side of the hedge, very near to the party, and fired another alarm gun, which was returned by a volley or fire-arms from several of the smugglers, which however fortunately missed witness. He then levelled at them, and fired, on which they made a stand, as if they were preparing for attack; but he should not have fired at them, had he not heard the balls whistle about his head from their first volley, he instantly returned back to the Tower, and obtained a reinforcement of two men, with which he was returning to the attack, when he saw a small number of the preventive service men near the high road, at whom the smugglers were firing with guns and pistols; the latter still keeping possession of the wheat-field. Witness proceeded with his assistants towards the party near the road, where he had previously heard the firing, and found the deceased lying on the ground weltering in his blood, and wounded in many places in the body. He was not then dead, as he once or twice groaned, and the blood was fast streaming from his wounds; but he believed he expired in less than two minutes afterwards. His body was carried to the nearest place of shelter, where medical assistance was procured, but to no avail.

Lieutenant David Peat, who was very weak from the wounds which he had received in the affray, entered at greater length upon the subject, although with great difficulty. He deposed that he also belonged to the Severn man of war, and on the morning in question, between one and two o’clock, was returning from the Eastware Bay, where he had been performing duty; he was on his way to Folkestone; but when he had got as far as the Folly, he was alarmed by the report of a pistol in the direction of No. 2, Tower; at this time the deceased was with him. They both (witness and deceased) ran immediately to whence they saw the flash, and when they were approaching No. 2, Tower, they heard a number of voices hooting and cheering, with an occasional discharge of fire-arms. Witness and the Quartermaster crossed the wheat field, where they beheld a number of men, some sitting and some standing in a grass field to the number of fifty or sixty. Upon seeing witness, they retired towards the road, and he and the deceased followed them up, and they were seen after joined by another man, who also assisted in the pursuit. They came up with them at the corner of the field, and then for the first time discovered that they were all armed with guns and pistols; the guns were what are termed long duck guns such as are generally used in boats on swivels, and sometimes by sharpshooters on carriages in field actions, because they carry much farther than common muskets. Most of the party were dressed in white and green jackets, or short frocks, and were strangers to witness and his party, he looked about to see if they had any goods with them; but he could perceive nothing of the kind. One of the smugglers, who was armed with a long gun, appeared rather conspicuous, and witness was closing upon him to seize him; but when within about ten yards of the main party, about four of them levelled their pieces and fired at him, by which he was wounded about the legs. He nevertheless continued to follow his object with the intention of seizing him, when a second volley was fired, and he received the shots in his right arm, by which he was disabled, and fell to the ground. The smugglers exultingly exclaimed, "Look how the ---- tumbles!" Whilst witness laid in this deplorable situation on the ground, he heard the deceased engage with them, for his pistol was discharged twice; but he did not see him fall. He heard the opposing party exclaim, in allusion (as he believed) to Wooldridge, "You ---- ----, have you not had enough of it yet? Give it to him again!" and then fired frequently after. On turning round, witness beheld the deceased lying in the field, and appearing to him to be badly wounded. In a short time afterwards, Mr. Lascelles and some more men came up, at whose approach the smugglers fled, but continued firing for some seconds as they went. Lascelles informed witness, that he believed the deceased was dead. He fell very close to witness, not going more than five or six yards distant at the time.

[This gentleman, whilst giving his evidence, was frequently overcome by weakness, and could not sign his name to his deposition. We were informed that he received near a dozen wounds; but we are happy to add, that when our account left Folkestone, he was considered out of danger.]

Robert Hunter and John Walker, Quarter-masters of the Severn, corroborated the above evidence. The latter said he was close to Lieutenant Peat all the time, and can swear most positively that he did not attempt to seize any one of the party.

John Williams, Esq. being sworn, stated that he is surgeon on board his Majesty’s ship the Severn. About nine or ten o’clock on the morning of the affray, he was called to examine the dead body of Quartermaster Wooldridge, as well as to minister to the other wounded men. The deceased was wounded all over his body; but he had two mortal wounds on the right breast, which appeared to have been inflicted by musket or pistol balls, and either of which would have caused death. In the course of the day he opened the body and found a bullet — [Here it was produced.] — under the right shoulder blade; it having passed through the lungs; he also extracted a number of other balls from various parts of his body. Has not the slightest doubt but that his death was caused by these wounds.

It was also stated that a number of the smugglers were wounded and carried off in a cart which they had in the road; but where they were conveyed to remains a mystery. It is supposed they were waiting for some smuggling vessel to put in, as when they were disturbed they had no goods about them, and were evidently anxious to avoid observation.

Thus being the whole of the evidence, the Coroner charged the Jury in a very perspicuous manner, pointing out the law as it bore upon the case.

The Jury consulted for six hours, and then one-half were for a verdict of wilful murder and the other maintained that it could only amount to manslaughter, inasmuch as the officers were the first aggressors, and the smugglers were not proved to have any dishonest object in view; but on the Learned Coroner again addressing them and pointing out the illegality and evil tendency of a body assembling in the night time with live arms &c. they unanimously agreed to a verdict of "Wilful Murder against some person or persons unknown," which verdict was finally recorded.





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