3 Bridge Street
Dennis in 1841 and 43 and he also kept a beer house in Tower Hamlets in 1869.
From the Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General
Advertiser, Saturday 13 March, 1841. Price 5d.
DOVER POLICE COURT FRIDAY
E. C. Corral v. George Dennis, of the "Three Colts," beer retailer,
for having, on the 7th March, had his house open for the sale of beer,
before five o'clock in the morning.
Fined 5s. and 11s. costs.
The address given as Paper Alley was mentioned in a book about Murders in
Dover and says that the pub stood at the end of the alley, but no number was
given. The area is now believed to be Paul's Place. Recent information gives
it as Number 3 Bridge Street.
From the Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General
Advertiser, Saturday 14 September, 1844.
SHOCKING MURDER OF A POLICEMAN AT DOVER
It is our painful duty to record in our pages of this week, one of
the most savage and ferocious murders which has occurred for a long time
past in the County of Kent. The victim was one of our Police Force, a
very quiet, inoffensive, and steady man, named Couchman, who had served
his country for upwards of 26 years in the Royal Marines. He had
obtained a silver medal for 22 years good conduct, and a special medal
for his services at St. Jean D'Acre, where he exhibited great bravery
and coolness and gained the highest approbation. The murder was
perpetrated during the awful storm on Sunday night, in Bridge Street,
Charlton, adjoining Dover. The perpetrator of this horrid deed is a man
named Thomas Clarke, of Canterbury, a ruffian, well known to the police,
who, with his brothers, had come over to Canterbury on the Sunday
morning, bent on mischief; and about 11 at night, there being a serious
riot, the murder was perpetrated, the particulars of which will be
gleamed from the subjoined report of
THE CORONER'S INQUEST
At three o'clock, on Monday, an inquest was held at the "Eagle
Tavern," Charlton, before Mr. G. T. Thompson, Esq., Coroner for the
Borough, and the following jury:- Messrs. T. Robinson, (foreman,) Thomas
Huntley, J. D. Squire, Henry Crow, Joseph Smith, Edward Snell, George
Gray, William Metcalf, W. Thistleton, Robert Pierce, Thomas Petts, and
S. F. Marten. The jury having been sworn, proceeded to a house in Paper
Alley, to view the body, which presented a distressing spectacle. On the
return of the Jury, the following evidence was adduced:-
E. C. Correll, Superintendent of Police, identified the body as that
of one of the forces, named Samuel Couchman, aged 43, who went on duty
at 9 o'clock on Sunday evening in the Charlton beat. He was a very sober
steady inoffensive man.
John Smith, P.C. being sworn deposed - Last evening I was on duty at
Buckland, the next beat to the deceased. On going to duty deceased
requested me not to go too far off, as there were bad characters about.
Towards half past 11 o'clock, I heard deceased call out patrol very
loud, which being a signal for help I went towards the gate and met him
near the "Royal Standard." He said, "let us take off our lanterns we
shall have a row." We did so, and placed them in the lamplighter's
garden. I then accompanied him down Bridge-street, and saw three men
standing by the "Three Colts," and five others at the corner of Paper
Alley. The three men were making a noise, I went by them and told them
to be quiet, (the old man Clarke being the worst.) I told him to be
quiet, but he would not and used foul language. I took him by the breast
saying, "I must take you in charge." Couchman was then by me, and one of
the three men struck me on the back of the neck with his fist which
knocked me down. The men then came across from Paper Alley and fought me
across the road and again knocked me down. At length I got up and drew
my staff when they forced me back against the railings and got hold of
my staff. I then saw Couchman close by the spot, severely engaged with
two men. One of them then left him and went up Paper Alley. He returned
in about a minute with a large stick. He went up to Couchman and
deliberately struck him a violent blow across the face which knocked him
down. He struck him with all the force he could. I cried out "you rascal
you have killed the man." A boy who was standing by cried out "murder,"
on which the men who were engaged with me left. The man who struck
Couchman then came towards me and aimed a violent blow at me, which I
warded off with my staff. I then grappled with him and took away the
stick, ( the stick was here produced which was a broom handle.) The men
then went up Paper Alley, and I went to Couchman who was lying on the
ground apparently dead, and the blood was flowing from across his nose.
I cried out "murder," when a man named Castle came up in whose charge I
left the body and went to the Station House to give information of what
had occurred and to get medical assistance.
William Tamsett, labourer, living in Bridge Street, Charlton, being
sworn, deposed - Last night, about half-past 11 o'clock, on returning
home from Dover, when near the "Three Colts," I saw three men at the
door, and the landlady, Mrs Dennis, asked the policeman to remove them
from the premises. One of the men was named John Wood; but I don't know
the other two. The policeman told them to go home, but they refused. He
then took hold of one, and pulled them off the steps. One of them fell
down, and said, "You have broken my collar-bone." The policeman walked
backwards up the street, and I went home. In about five minutes I again
heard a noise in the street. I looked out, and saw two policemen
scuffling with some men. One of the policemen had hold of Clarke by the
collar. Thomas Clarke said, "Let the old man go, and I will take him
home." The policeman did so, and old Clarke went in doors with Thomas
Clarke. Just before there were seven men engaged with another policeman.
I cannot identify any of them, as their backs were turned at me. About a
minute after, Thomas Clarke went in with his father; he returned with a
long stick, with which he struck the policeman a violent blow across the
face, who fell backwards immediately. The other policeman, who was about
three yards off, and had hold of Stephen Clarke, let him go, and cried
out "Murder!" Thomas Clark then went towards the policeman and aimed a
blow at him with the stick, which he caught hold of, and got away from
Clarke. After the policeman was struck down, a man named William Smith
jumped on the body, saying with an oath, "Take that, you _____! you are
no good." I saw Smith come down bridge Street; but I cannot say if he
was one of the seven men who had been engaged with the policeman at the
corner of Paper Alley. The occurrence took place near a gas-light.
By the foreman - Thomas Smith went in his father's house at the back
door, and came out the front with the stick.
Charles Watkins, surgeon, of Charlton - Last night, about 12 o'clock,
I was called to attend a policeman. I went immediately to a house in
Paper Alley, where I saw deceased lying on his back. I found he had a
severe wound across the face, and was rapidly dying. He breathed two or
three times and expired. The nasal bones were fractured, and a large
aperture appeared on the right side.
The Coroner said, at this stage of the proceedings, he considered it
necessary to have a post mortem examination, for which purpose he
should adjourn the enquiry till 10 o'clock the following morning.
At the hour appointed on Tuesday morning, the Coroner and jury
re-assembled, and proceeded with the examination of Mr. Charles Watkins,
surgeon, who deposed - On making a post mortem examination of the
body of deceased, externally there was a bruise on the left side of the
head, above the ear, which I suppose to have been caused by a fall, and
not of a serious nature; a slight superficial cut under the left eye.
The bines of the nose were broken and driven in, and the whole of one
side of the nose presented a large open wound. There were no other
external appearances of violence on the body. The wound on the nose must
have arisen from a very violent blow from some blunt instrument. On
examining the interior of the head, I found extrication of blood on the
brain, about the size of a half-a-crown. The whole of the brain was
congested. There was no fracture of the skull. On opening the chest the
viscera were perfectly healthy, and presented no signs of injury. The
intestines were perfectly sound, and presented no marks of violence. I
attribute the cause of death to the injury of the brain, arising from
the blow across the nose, which would cause the injury to the brain
John Pine, police constable, No. 11, was then sworn, and deposed - On
Sunday afternoon, at 4 o'clock, I heard a noise near my house in Bridge
Street. I looked out and saw several persons, men and women,
quarrelling. I went among them, and saw several of the Clarks. Thomas
Clark, Stephen Clark, Frederick, and old Clark, Mrs. Batty and Mrs.
Castle (his daughters), who were quarrelling, Richard Beer, Gann,
and several others, whose names I do not recollect. I then dispersed
them, but in about an hour the same party returned, with a mob of about
a hundred people. They went towards Tower Hamlets. I heard old Clark
say, "Come alone, we are going to have another fight." I followed a
short distance, and returned to send my boy to the station-house for
more assistance. I then went after the party, and found one of the
Clarks putting on his coat. I went to him, and requested them to detest,
or they would get into trouble. Old Clark said - "I don't care a d--n
for you - we'll do for you, or some of you, before night." I attempted
to disperse them, when Thomas Clark came and said, "What the h-ll do you
want? Who the h-ll sent for you? When we want you we'll send for you.
There is only one of you - we can soon do for you and we don't care a
------ for all the police." Stephen Clark also threatened me, and old
Clark was the most violent of the party. I again requested them to
disperse, but they would not, and several of them again threatened. I
went to the bottom of the lane, when the party returned to Bridge Street
and a general fight took place among them. Richard Beer was bleeding,
and taken home by his sister. I again went among the party, and
attempted to disperse them; they were both told to do so, and several
times threatened me and all the ------ police. I heard someone say,
"Here comes more police," and at length Clark's party went into old
Clark's house, and some of the others into Beer's. Three of the police
shortly came up; but as the party had gone in doors, we kept a watch
outside till half-past 8, when I went to the station-house for night
duty, and reported the circumstances. From the numerous threats I have
had, I consider my life in danger, and I fully believe that the party
mistook deceased for me. The witness then detailed the general bad and
ferocious character of the Clarks. On one occasion he went with three
other policemen to Clark's house to apprehend a man for poaching. On
going into the kitchen, they found him armed with a long broad
knife-blade at the end of a stick. It was with great difficulty they
took him into custody, and in doing so the Clarks assaulted the police,
and attempted a rescue. Since that time they had shewn great animosity
towards him, and threatened to be revenged.
Henry Flood, loving in Paper Alley, Charlton, being sworn deposed -
On Sunday night, between 11 and 12 o'clock, I was awoke by cries of
murder in the street. I partially dressed and came down stairs. I went
out into the alley, and met John Clark coming down. He said, "For God's
sake go back, and shut your door." I said "No; as I am out I will go and
see what is the matter." He then went towards my house, and I went up
the alley, when I met Thomas and William Clark coming out of their
mother's house. William said to me, "Have you seen jack?" I replied that
he was at my house lighting his pipe. They then went to my house, and
met John coming out. William said to John, "Come, my dear brother, let
us be off, for we have done something to be talked about." The three
then ran off towards Charlton gate. I then went up the lane, and saw a
policeman lying on the ground. Castle, Williams and Pepper were there
washing his face with water. The body was then taken into my house.
Stephen and Fred Clark came to my house in about five minutes, and
looking at the body said, "Why it's a policeman; is he dead?" I said
"Yes, he's dead enough." I saw no other persons near. Williams, Thomas,
and John Clark live at Canterbury. Fred and Stephen live with their
father. I heard that the Clarks came over from Canterbury to have a row
with the Beers. In the afternoon there have been several disturbances,
and I heard old Mrs. Clark say, "We've come for blood, and blood we'll
Elizabeth Flood, wife of the last witness, was next sworn and
deposed, - On Sunday night, about 9 o'clock, I heard a riot at Clement's
house, and shortly after saw a party of 7 or 8 persons come out and go
towards Mr. Dennis's. The Clarks were among the party, and I heard one
of them say, "Let us have a pot or two more beer, and then we'll drive
the whole of them before us." This witness then corroborated the
evidence of her husband, as to what happened between 11 and 12 o'clock.
James Castle, labourer, of Colebran-place, Charlton, deposed - On
Sunday night, about half-past 11, I saw several persons quarrelling near
Paper Alley. There being frequent rows I took no notice and went towards
home. I heard murder cried, and then I went back, and saw a policeman
standing, and another lying on the ground. The policeman told me to take
charge of the body while he ran to the station and for a doctor.
Williams came soon after, and we removed the body to Flood's house.
While coming up Bridge-street a man ran by saying, "Don't touch him, or
you'll get in trouble."
Henry Clements, landlord of the "Admiral Harvey," beer-shop, was next
called, but not sworn. He sated that on Sunday evening, while Beer was
in the house, the Clarks came in, and caused a great disturbance. One
of them said if Beer would fight for a sovereign he could kill him in
William W. Williams, baker, Bridge Street, Charlton, was next sworn,
and deposed - On Sunday night, about 20 minutes before 12 I heard cries
of murder. I looked out of the window and saw a light in Clark's house,
and some one, I think Old Clark, looking out of the window. I then saw
William and John Clark leave a policeman lying on his back, and go
across the road and try and get into the house. The front door, which
was fastened, was then opened and Stephen Clark, and they went in. I
afterwards saw Thomas Clark go round the corner of Paper Alley - while
with him John, William, and Stephen Clark came out and walked past me on
the opposite side of the road.
George Dennis, landlord of the "Three Colts," and his wife were
called and deposed to the hours at which the Clarks had been in their
house, but their evidence was given with such reluctance and
prevarication, as to call forth a severe reprimand from the coroner.
The witness, Tamsett, was then recalled, and identified the Smiths as
the parties named in his examination, when the coroner said the evidence
was quite sufficient to warrant his detaining them in custody, and he
should adjourn the enquiry till Friday at 3 o'clock.
THIRD DAY - FRIDAY
The Coroner observed that since the last examination several parties
had been brought before him. He had taken down the statements of those
likely to throw any light on the case, but not on oath, as the parties
would now be brought before the jury, and sworn to the truth of their
The following witnesses were then called:-
Harriett, wife of William West, deposed, on Sunday night, about
half-past 11 o'clock, I saw three men, John Wood, Thomas Clark, and
William Smith trying to get into the "Three Colts," but Dennis refused
to admit them. A policeman came and told them to be quiet; John Wood
fell down, and someone said, "They have broken his collar bone." Smith
said to Clark, "Hit the b------ Tom." The policeman then went up the
street, and Wood came in and went up stairs with Mary Robus. I did not
see any blood on Wood's clothes. Soon afterwards I heard a scream of
murder, when Wood and Robus came down stairs, and went out.
Albert Williams, carpenter, Bridge-street, being sworn, after
deposing to the row at the "Three Colts," said - I then went up to bed,
and shortly heard talking under the window, and then fighting. I looked
out the window, and old Clark came out of his house, saying "What the
h--- are you all at?" He then joined in the affray. There were several
engaged with the police, and I saw two men had hold of a policeman's
staff, endeavouring to get it away. They suddenly let go, and the
policeman fell down. He got up and collared old Clark. Two or three of
the party then set on the policeman, and tried to get old Clark away.
One of the men I had seen during the day, and was called Tom Clarke,
separated from the rest, and went up to the alley. He returned in about
a minute, and stood in the road with his back towards me, and I saw a
long stick in his hand. I then heard two or three blows struck, and saw
two or three men run up the alley, and a man lying on the ground. I went
out, and found it was a policeman bleeding profusely in the face. While
assisting him another policeman came with a stick in his hand, and I
went to find a surgeon. I only recollect old Clark and his son Tom in
George Dennis, jun., sworn, deposed - I live in Paper Alley, and on
Sunday night I was awoke by hearing a great noise. On going out I saw a
policeman dragging off a man. A man, who I think was Tom Clark, came
from old Clarks house, and rushed at the policeman and struck him a blow
with a stick, and he fell down. After he had knocked him down he went to
strike the other policeman, who fended off the blow with his staff. The
man then went to Clark's back door. I saw no other persons in the
street. I went up to the man lying on the ground, and seeing he was
bleeding in the face I went in-doors, as I could not bear the sight.
Albert Williams came out of his house just as I turned away.
Mrs, Ann Watkins, Mary Robus, Henry Robus, Mary Castle, and ____
Lewis were next examined, but their evidence was not of importance.
Sarah Clark, wife of James Clark, was then sworn, and deposed - On
Sunday last, about noon, my sons John, William, and Thomas came over
from Canterbury in a pony cart. They went out in the afternoon, and in
the evening I went with them and others of my family to the "Three
Colts," and had some beer. We left at half-past 9, and my sons said they
were going back to Canterbury. Stephen, Frederick, my daughters, and I
went to bed, but my husband was very tipsy, and lay in the room. The
doors were locked and bolted, and I put the key at the side of the bed,
which I always do. No one came into the house nor did I hear any row
till the police knocked us up at about half-past 12 o'clock. My boys are
very steady, and are never out after the house is locked up. I heard of
no rows during the day.
Oliver Batty, a daughter of Clark's, was next called, and made a
statement similar to the above, except that she stated the key to have
been left in the door, and that there were no bolts.
The cool effrontery with which the two last witnesses gave their
evidence excited a thrill of disgust throughout the room.
About 6 o'clock the Coroner said this was the whole of the evidence h
had to offer, and proposed to adjourn till the following morning at 10
o'clock, when the parties in custody would be brought before them, and
the evidence would be read over in their presence.
Several of the jury expressed the great inconvenience it would be for
them to leave business on Saturday, and wished the proceedings to
continue. After some discussion, the enquiry was adjourned till the
evening at 8 o'clock.
Shortly after this hour the persons in custody, viz. James Clark, his
sons Stephen and Frederick, ad John Wood were brought from the gaol, in
custody of a body of the police, and the whole of the evidence was read
over by the Coroner in their presence.
The Coroner then summed up the evidence at considerable length, which
from he late hour we are unable to give in detail. He observed that the
principle point for their consideration was, whether the deceased was at
the time an offence in the execution of his duty, and if the parties
engaged in the affray were aware of the fact. If so, those aiding and
abetting were equally guilty of the crime of murder with those who
actually struck the blow.
At a quarter to 10 the jury retired, and at five minutes to 12
o'clock returned a verdict of WILFUL MURDER against THOMAS CLARK, JAMES
CLARK, JOHN CLARK, STEPHEN CLARK, WILLIAM CLARK, and WILLIAM SMITH, and
other persons unknown.
James and Stephen Clark were then fully committed for trial, and
Frederick Clark and John Wood dismissed.
A reward of £20 has been offered for the apprehension of the other
parties, who are still at large; but from the clue obtained, there is
little doubt of their being speedily apprehended.
On Thursday the body was interred at the expense of the Borough, the
Mayor, the Corporation, and the Police Force attending upon the
occasion. The funeral was a semi-martial one, the poor fellow's hat and
baton being placed on the coffin, which was covered with a union jack,
whilst the members of the force had crape rosettes on their left arm.
The deceased has left a widow and two children, and we are happy to say
that a public subscription, headed by the Mayor, Justices, and Town
Council, has been entered into, which we hope will be met with
liberality - the more especially as there is no fund or provision
constituted for persons similarly circumstanced, and which is extremely
hard, considering the very insufficient amount of remuneration which the
police receive for their arduous and dangerous duties. The manager of
the theatre, Mr. G. Hodson, also has announced his intention to devote
all the proceeds of the house on Tuesday next for the benefit of the
Widow, and we trust it will be full to overflowing.
From the Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General
Advertiser, Saturday 21 September, 1844.
THE LATE MURDER AT DOVER
Various rumours are afloat respecting the rendezvous of the four men,
Thomas, William, and John Clark and William Smith, against whom a
verdict of Wilful Murder was returned, as reported in our last; as yet
they elude the vigilance of the police. James and Stephen Clark (father
and son) were, on Saturday last, despatched by railway to Maidstone gaol
to await their trial at he next assizes for the county.
From the Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General
Advertiser, Saturday 28 September, 1844.
THE LATE MURDER
ADJOURNED MEETING OF THE JURY
At the inquest held on the body of Couchman, the murdered policeman,
on the 13th inst. the following document was presented to the foreman of
the jury, when the coroner and clerk to the justices suggested that such
a document should not be made public without giving the Authorities an
opportunity of answering the charges, as it was agreed that copies
should be sent to the justices and authorities, and as it was necessary
the jury should again be called together to sign the caption, the
subject should then be discussed.
"The jury having very patiently investigated the whole of the
evidence touching the death of Samuel Couchman, a policeman, of the
borough of Dover, feel that they cannot separate without expressing
their strong and unanimous opinion, that there appears great neglect on
the part of the Superintendent of Police, or the subordinate officer of
the force, who had its ordering and directing on Sunday last; and
further, it does appear to the jury, that no officer of that force on
actual duty appeared at all to interfere in order to suppress a series
of riots which took place on the scary day; and that the principal
officer never presented himself at all in order to suppress such
disgraceful scenes. And the jury cannot separate without expressing
their strong opinion, that the public authorities of the town did not
use or take such active and energetic measures for the apprehension of
the parties concerned as the ends of public justice demanding, and
which, from their situation, was indispensably required; and the jury do
strongly recommend that greater vigilance and more rigorous measures be
adopted in the better ordering and regulating beer shops in the borough;
for, in the opinion of the jury, it is in these places where crime and
offences are generated.
THOMAS ROBINSON, Foreman, (On behalf of the jury)
13th September, 1844.
On Monday evening, at 7 o'clock, the jury re-assembled at the "Eagle
Gardens". When the coroner arrived he read over the caption, the signing
of which the foreman of the jury (Mr. Robinson) requested might be
deferred until the answers of the authorities were received, being
apprehensive that after so doing their power as a jury would end, and
they would have no authority to reply to those answers as jurymen,
should they not meet their wishes.
The coroner stated that, strictly speaking, he had no right to
receive anything from the jury beyond the actual matter connected with
the verdict, and cited Lord Denman's opinion on the observations the
jury made on the inquest of a female, who had been seduced by a
clergyman. He stated that remarks of this description were sufficient to
expose a jury to an action for libel.
The Coroner then read the following replies from the Watch Committee
At a special meeting of the Watch Committee, held on Tuesday, the
17th of September, 1844, the Coroner having laid before the Committee a
copy of a presentment made by the jury who sat on the body of Samuel
Couchman, condemnatory of the conduct of the police force, and the same
having been taken into consideration.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY:- That as nothing appears on the face of the
deposition taken before the Coroner at the inquest held on the body of
Samuel Couchman, that would in any way imply the neglect on the part of
the police, either before or after the fatal occurrence; and, inasmuch
as it appears that the Superintendent of Police was absent at Folkestone
of official business until late in the evening, and that notice of the
riotous assemblage having been received at the Station House, at about
half-past four o'clock, three policemen were immediately
despatched to Charlton; but when they arrived there, the meeting had
dispersed, and that the men remained there between one and two hours,
and finding no appearance of further riot, returned to their other
duties. And as the information upon which the jury have come to the
conclusion, in making a presentation, condemnatory of the conduct of
the police force, must have been from some extraneous or hearsay
evidence, which the Watch Committee have no the power to rebut, the
committee can only reply to the words of the presentment, that, in their
opinion, all was done that the nature of the unfortunate occurrence
Resolved, that the Town Clerk do transmit a copy of the above
resolutions to the Coroner.
At a special meeting, held the 16th day of September, 1844, of the
justices - present, William Clark, Esq., Mayor, Charles Barns Wilkins,
Edward Poole, John Beddingfield Knocker, George Graham, John Coleman,
George Finch Jennings, William Philpott Elsted, Samuel Metcalf Latham,
Edward Sibbit, and Sigismund Stolterforth, Esqures, - it is moved by
Sigismund Stolterforth, Esq., and
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED, that after due deliberation on the
charges brought against the authorities by the presentment handed in to
the Coroner by the jury enquiring into the death of Samuel Couchman, a
policeman, "that the public authorities of the town did not use or take
such active and energetic measures for the apprehension of the parties
concerned, as the ends of public justice demand, and which, from their
situation were indispensably required;" the justices are of the opinion,
that the Mayor being the only magistrate cognizant of the facts of the
case, exercised all necessary active and energetic measures which the
powers placed at his disposal enabled him to employ; and that no blame
whatever can attach to him in the discharge of his public duty on the
occasion referred to by the presentment.
And it is ordered that a copy of this resolution be handed to the
Coroner by Mr. Kennett.
On reading these documents much discussion again took place. Mr.
Robinson said, they were very unsatisfactory, and he would not receive
them, and that he should write to the Secretary of State on the subject.
Mr. H. Crow expressed his regret at his tacit acquiescence to the
presentation being made, as it was far from his attention in so doing to
pass a vote of censure on the authorities of the town. t appear the
Superintendent of Police was at Folkestone till a late hour in the
evening of that day on official business, consequently no blame could be
attached to him. As the police force is at present constituted, and the
arduous duty they had to perform, he did not think they ought to be
blamed. After some further observations on the impolicy of the present
mode of offering rewards for the apprehension of murderers, Mr. Crow
expressed his determination of becoming a dissentient to any
further proceeding in the matter.
Mr. W. Thistleton said he quite concurred in the observations of Mr.
Crow, and also expressed his objection to any further notice of the
A lengthened discussion took place, when Mr. Robinson produced the
following document for the signature of the jury:-
Inquest Room, 23rd September, 1844.
The Jury empanelled to enquire into the death of Samuel Couchman, a
policeman of the borough of Dover, having, with their verdict of Wilful
Murder against Thomas Clark and others, made a presentment condemnatory
of the police and public authorities of Dover, and such presentment
having been submitted to the justices of Dover and the Watch Committee
of the borough, and the jury having received certain explanations from
such Justices and Watch Committee in reference to such presentment, are
of opinion that such explanations are vague and unsatisfactory, and that
the subject matter contained in such presentment requires a further
strict and searching investigation at the hands of the Secretary of
State for the Home Department.
And the jury request the Coroner to transmit to Sir James Graham,
Bart, a copy of this resolution, together with copies of the presentment
Thomas Robinson, (Foreman)
J. D. Squier
S. F. Marten
Henry Crow (does dissent)
William Thistleton (does dissent)
The inquisition was afterwards signed by the whole of the jury, who
were then discharged.
From the Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General
Advertiser, Saturday 19 October, 1844.
THE MURDER AT DOVER
Thomas Clark, the man for whose apprehension Government has offered a
large reward, for killing a policeman at Dover, was at Maidstone
yesterday week. He then went into the "Queen Anne" public house, the
landlord of which (Mr. Pelling) had lived in Canterbury, and after
ordering some beer, went away without having it, but asked for a pipe of
tobacco, which was given to him; he was observed to look back several
times, on leaving the house for the direction of the "Huntsman." The
landlord thought he knew him at the time, but did not recollect, till
after he had been gone some time, that he was the man for whom the
reward had been offered. He then set out in pursuit of him, and found
that he had lit his pipe in the "Artichoke," where he lost all further
traces of him. The following is a description given of him in the
Government bills:- He is about twenty five years of age, stands about
5ft. 6in. high stout built, of a dark shallow complexion, dark full
eyes, straight strongly marked eye-brows, dark bushy hair, dark full
whiskers meeting under the chin, and a round full face. When last seen
had on a pepper and salt blouse, blue cap with leather peak, and boot
shoes laced up the front. Is supposed to have changed his dress to a
bluejacket and trousers.
From the Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General
Advertiser, Saturday 30 November, 1844.
THE MURDER AT DOVER ON POLICE CONSTABLE COUCHMAN
This morning, James Clark, aged 60, John Clark, 25, William Clark,
30, and William Smith; 23, were charged with he wilful murder of Samuel
Couchman, at Charlton, in the borough of Dover. The principle, Thomas
Clark, is not in custody.
Mr. Bodkin, M.P. and Mr. Rose conducted the prosecution. Mr. Horn the
Mr. Bodkin very ably stated the case, and called the following
John Pine, one of the constables of the Dover police - Remembers
Sunday, the 8th of Sept. Lives at Charlton. Was dressing on the
afternoon of that day, when he heard a great noise outside the house, a
little before four in the afternoon. On looking out of the window saw
several persons quarrelling in the street. Dressed himself and went out
amongst them. He then noticed James Clark, William Clark, and John
Clark; think Stephen Clark was there, but can't be positive. About an
hour that he again heard a great noise, and on going out saw old Clark
passing by his door with a great mob of people. Heard him say "Come
along my boys, we are going to have another fight." Witness went out,
and put on his coat and followed them up towards Tower Hamlet, into
Black Horse Lane. Old Clark was there the lane, and the others were
dispersed around. William Clark was putting on his coat as if he had
been fighting. Did not then notice any of the other persons. Went to
James Clark and persuaded him to be quiet and go home, and not make a
disturbance in the streets on a Sunday. He said he did not care a d----
for witness, and would do for him, or some other before the night, if
they followed him. Witness afterwards cautioned him several times.
Thomas Clark said, "Who the hell are you - who sent for you - we don't
want you; when we do we will send for you- there's only one of you; but
we don't care for all of you." Old Clark was then led away by his
daughter down the lane. A fight took place about five minutes after at
the top of bridge Street, between 20 and 30 men and women, all fighting
together. Came up to them, went amongst them. Couldn't be positive who
was there. He then sent to the police-station, and afterwards went at a
quarter to nine to make a report of what he had seen. Produces a shirt
given him by the Superintendent.
Cross-examined by Mr. Horn - Had only known the Clarks by sight. Is
informed that they live in Canterbury. It is rather a disorderly
neighbourhood where these disturbances took place. The Clarks and
several of the mob were tipsy. Many of the mob appeared to be tipsy.
Edward Charles Correll, superintendent of the Dover police - Knew the
deceased, Samuel Couchman, who was a Constable in the police. He was on
duty on Sunday, Sept 8th, in the dress of a policeman. The shirt
produced, on which was blood, was taken off old Clark's back the day
after. He was brought to the station on Sunday, about midnight, in
Cross-examined - He had a mark over his left eye. Could not say if he
had that mark in the morning of that Sunday.
By his Lordship - The number of the police force is fourteen
altogether, twelve constables, a sergeant, and superintendent.
William Tamsett - Lives in Bridge Street, Charlton. Remembers the
Sunday on which this affair took place. Had been out, and came home at
half-past 11 at night; and had to pass a beer shop called the "Three
Colts," No. 3. Bridge Street. Knows the house Clark and his sons live
in, at the corner of Paper Alley. He saw a policeman, and some men at
the "Three Colts'" door, and the landlady Mrs. Dennis, would not let
them in. The policeman told them to go away quietly, but they would not
go, and he then caught hold of one of them, and pulled him away, when
one of the others called out, "You've broken the man's collar bone." The
policeman then walked back towards the turnpike, keeping his face
towards them. One of the men lay down on the steps of the beer-shop. The
others stood still. Witness directly went into his house, and shut the
door. About four or five minutes after that he heard a noise in the
street, and he opened the door and saw six or seven men fighting with
two policemen, one of whom was the one he had seen before. Neither of
them had hold of either of the men. Witness went in, put on his shoes,
and came out again, when all were gone, except old Clark, Stephen and
Thomas Clark, and the police, one of whom had hold of the old man, and
another held Stephen. Thomas Clark said, "Let go of the old man - I'll
take him in doors." The policeman let him go, and went to help secure
the other one. Thomas Clark then took his father in-doors, and came out
of hi father's back door with a stick, and held it close to his side,
then raised it with both hands and struck at one of the policemen, which
knocked him straight down on his back, the other was about half-a-yard
off. Thomas Clark then went to the other policeman, and made a blow at
him, which he warded off with his staff and seized the stick, and got it
away from Clark. Witness saw William Smith jump; but whether he jumped
on the policeman or the ground he can't say, and said, "There, you
b_____, you are no good."
Cross-examined by Mr. Horn - When the policeman laid hold of the man,
he pulled him backwards, and fell partly on the ground, and partly on
the steps, with some violence. All was then quiet; the policeman having
gone away, and witness went into his house. The old man was very tipsy -
the others appeared to be quite sober. Three or four of the men set on
the policeman Smith, and three or four on Couchman. Smith retreated up
towards the Canterbury road, followed by the men who were setting upon
him. It was about two or three minutes from witness coming out of
his door the second time to the parties all running away.
Re-examined - Had been drinking that evening - not much.
By his Lordship - He had not seen the prisoner Smith before the blow
was struck; but about a minute and a half or two minutes after he came
down Bridge Street. He does not live in that street, but in Tower
Hamlets. His father and sister live in Branch Street, just by.
His Lordship remarked that the witness had given a very different
account of the transaction at different times, and examined him on
several points to clear up the apparent discrepancies in the statement.
Witness said he knew none of the men he saw fighting with the policemen.
When he came out the first time, there were only three, Thomas, Stephen,
and old Clark. Thomas took the old man into his own house, and he never
saw him again. When the blow was struck there was nobody there but
Thomas and Stephen.
Harriet West - Is the wife of William West. Lived next door to the
"Three Colts" in September last. About half-past 11 on Sunday evening,
the 8th, she saw Mary Robus, John Wood, and Thomas Clark trying to get
into the "Three Colts." Mr. Dennis refused to let them in. Witness
advised them to go away. After the policeman had pulled one of them
down, and walked away backwards, one of them said, "Kill the b______."
Witness lodged in the same house as Wood and Robus, of which Mrs, Dennis
was landlady, as well as of the "Three Colts." About a quarter of an
hour after she went in doors she heard a scream.
John Smith, policeman of Dover - Was on duty on the night in
question. Knew the deceased, Samuel Couchman, and was on duty on a beat
adjoining his. Heard him call for assistance about half-past 11, and ran
towards him. Met near the "Royal Standard" public-house, about 40 or 50
yards from Bridge Street, in the London Road. He was in his policeman's
uniform. Went with his to the "Three Colts," and saw three men standing
about two yards from the door of the beer-shop, nearly opposite Paper
Alley, where four or five men were standing. The three first mentioned
were making a noise. They both went up to them, and desired them to be
quiet. The old man, James Clark, was one of the three. Did not know the
others. The old man said, "What b_____ are you?" Witness then took hold
of him to take charge, on which one of them struck him on the neck, and
knocked him down with his fist. He got up, and they knocked him down
several times. The men on the other side came running up. Altogether,
three or four attacked him. He did not see Couchman till he had got some
distance up the street, about 7 or 8 yards beyond the gas lamp. On
getting to the railings the men got witness down. He then saw Couchman
within about two yards of the gas lamp, very hotly engaged with two men.
One of the two left him, and went up Paper Alley. He was gone about a
minute, and returned with a stick by his side, with which he struck
Couchman a severe blow across the nose, holding the stick with both
hands. He instantly fell, and witness called out, "You rascal, you've
murdered the man," to which no reply was made, but he heard someone a
short distance call out "murder." The men who had hold of witness then
let go of him, and the man with the stick ran over towards him, and made
a blow at him with it. Witness warned it off with his staff, seized the
stick, and got possession of it. It is the stick now produced. (It was a
most formidable weapon, about three feet long, and an inch or more in
diameter, and appeared to be part of a chimney-sweeping machine.)
Cross-examined - The man who struck Couchman was a short, dark man,
with whiskers meeting under the chin. Witness was forced over the
railings twice. During the whole time he was not more than 6 or 7 yards
from Couchman. The latter had hold of one of the men by the breast, and
the other two about him. He had hold of one man at the time he was
struck. William Clark endeavoured to take witness' staff just as
Couchman was struck.
William Ware Williams - Is a baker in Bridge Street. Remembers
Sunday, the 18th of September. After he had been in bed he heard a cry
of "murder." Went to the front of the house, and looking out of the
window saw a man lying on his back, and two men running away. Those men
were John and William Clark. (Prisoner William Clark here exclaimed,
You're a false man, sir.) He then went down, and saw John, William and
Stephen Clark go into the old man's house. After a short time, two or
three minutes, he saw three men, William, John and Stephen, come out
of the house.
Cross-examined - John and William live at Canterbury. He has seen
them all in the afternoon of the same day, but had not seen them since
Policeman Smith, recalled by his lordship, said he had been to the
"Three Colts" before that evening, in the course of his beat.
Albert Williams, a carpenter, - Lives next door but one to the "Three
Colts." On the night in question, he heard some swearing in the street,
and some one say. "You ______, you've broken his collar bone;" also the
exclamation, "Is this the way you serve them here?" and, "At him, Tom!"
The policeman then walked away backwards, the men making a secret laugh.
Witness went to bed, and was disturbed in about five minutes by a fresh
noise, when he wet to the window again, and saw three men setting on one
policeman, and three or four on another; one lay in the middle of the
road, and another at the side - each defending himself as well as he
could. While this was going on, he saw old Clark come out of the alley
leading to his house, and holding up his arms said "What the h__l are
you about?" and then joined in the fray, which continued as much as two
minutes afterwards. Witness saw one man, whose name he did not know, but
who he was told Tom Clark, go in old Clark's house and return in about a
second with a long stick in his hand, holding it close by his side.
Witness immediately put his clothes on to go down and while doing so, he
heard two distinct blows struck. On hearing that he ran to the window,
threw up the sash, and saw people running in all directions, and two or
three up the alley leading to Clark's back door. One man was lying on
the ground. Witness immediately went down and found Couchman lying on
the ground, and bleeding from the wound on the nose where he was struck,
but not out of his mouth. He seemed to be dead. Witness washed him, and
then went for a surgeon.
Cross examined - Old Clark was drunk; if he had been sober witness
believes he would have come out, The men ran so quick they seemed like
Ann Watkins - Is a widow. Lives in Paper Alley, Charlton. Remembers
the 8th September. Heard a noise between 11 and 12 o'clock of
quarrelling; afterwards a cry of murder. On that she went up Bridge
Street and saw the body of a policeman on the ground. She saw the two
middle persons (John and William Clark) run up Paper Alley.
Henry Flood - Lives in Paper Alley, near Clark's house. Was disturbed
by a cry of murder - got up, and was going up the Alley into Bridge
Street, when he met John Clark, and saw William and Thomas coming out of
their father's house. William asked him if he had seen John, and witness
said he had gone to his house to light his pipe. On that William went
towards the house. He heard him say, "Come, my dear brother, let us be
gone - we have done something that will be talked about." They all three
then came up the Alley, and started off together down Bridge-street.
About a quarter of an hour, the body of the policeman was taken to
Elizabeth Flood, wife of the last witness - Heard some people in the
street say, "Come on my lads, we'll have a pot or two more beer, and
then we'll drive them all before us." About half an hour after heard a
cry of murder. Shortly after, John Clark came to her house to light his
pipe. She saw him feeling for his pipe with his left arm, and heard him
say, "That b_____ policeman has got my pipe." On going away he met hi
brother William Clark, who said, "Come on, my dear brother. let us go,
for we have done something to be talked about."
Cross-examined - It was about 9 o'clock she heard the observations
about driving all before them.
Mr. Charles Watkins, surgeon - Was called in to see the policeman
Couchman. He had an injury on the front of his face, which he doubted
not was the cause of his death. There was a post mortem
examination. With the exception of that injury the body was perfectly
Cross-examined - The skull was not fractured, The immediate cause of
death was extravasations of blood on the brain. There was a mark on the
left side of the head, as of a person falling on the ground, which might
have assisted in causing extravasations of blood on the brain. There are
cases where a slight fall or blow will occasion concussion on the brain.
Re-examined - The wound was across the bone of the nose, and its
effect was to drive those parts of the face inward.
By his Lordship - Has no doubt death was caused by the blow on the
face, producing concussion of the brain.
This closed the case.
Mr. Horn rose to address the jury for the prosecution, and
called upon to say whether upon the evidence they could say the accused
were guilty of the serious charge alleged against them. The learned
gentleman's address occupied upwards of an hour.
The learned Judge summed up very minutely, and occupied nearly an
hour and a half in his charge, and at the conclusion observed to the
jury that it must be left to them whether they would return a verdict of
Wilful Murder or Manslaughter.
The Jury then retired to deliberate, about 4 o'clock, and returned to
Court at 5, giving a verdict of NOT GUILTY against all the prisoners.
The prisoners, who seemed scarcely to have expected this favourable
result, energetically exclaimed, "thank you, my Lord - thank you,
Gentlemen of the Jury."
The grand jury ignored the bill of indictment against Stephen Clark.
From the Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General
Advertiser, Saturday 7 December, 1844.
THE LATE MURDER AT DOVER
The Clarks, acquitted at the Kent assizes, on Friday last, of the
charge of murdering a Dover policeman, returned to Canterbury, and
exhibited some of the most blackguard conduct that could be practised by
men. It is needles to say that they were intoxicated, and got
fighting, in St. Dunstan's, on Saturday-evening; and their conduct, both
in acts and threats, was outrageous and alarming.
I have also recently found another pub with the name of "Three
Colts." this one is reported as being somewhere in the Folkestone Road.
DENNIS George 1841-44+