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CHAPTER 1 - The Hunt

Over the last 240 years many accounts have been written of the strange events that occurred in Tring, Gubblecote and Wilstone during April of the year 1751. The angry mob that gathered around the workhouse and church in Tring followed by the dragging of Ruth, the so called witch, and John Osborne her husband, from the vestry, and the tragic sequel - the drowning- of Ruth in a pond at Wilstone Green, stated in the records as "Wilstone Were or Wear".

Those accounts, some written at the time and many a number of years afterwards, all give different locations and details and none, not even the authentic records from the County Office, pinpoint the pond where poor Ruth was ducked and met her death or where the gibbet was erected on Wilstone Green and Thomas Colley, the man convicted of the crime was hung in chains.

This tragic affair started, according to some writers with the two old people begging for food at a farm in Gubblecote and when refused and turned away tempers became a little frayed and Ruth’s mutterings were taken by the farmer as a curse on himself, his farm and cattle. Unfortunately not long was to elapse before serious troubles befell this gentleman and his stock and with word quickly getting round of the old couple’s visit it was generally believed that they were witch and wizard and they were avoided by many local inhabitants. It is quite possible they were habitual beggars, a strange couple no doubt, and probably a nuisance. Or again, was it because they were paupers, (some accounts do mention this) unable to work and dependent upon the community for their existence and not too well thought of by the farmers and middle class families, who paid a parish rate for the upkeep of the poor.

As to the extent of the Farmer's troubles, we have no record, but one can imagine the affair was well discussed in the Ale Houses of the district and this eventually led to a person whose name is not known employing Daniel Nickols of Long Marston, recorded as a serving man, to take the following text to William Dell the Town Crier of Hemel Hempstead, who for the sum of four pence cried this notice on Monday April 14th 1751, Hemel Hempstead Market Day. This same notice was also cried at Winslow and Leighton Buzzard on their respective market days around this date.

"This is to give notice that on Munay next there is to be at Long Marcon in the Parish of Tring two hill desposed persons to be ducked by the neighbours consent.

During the days that followed the whole area was kept well informed of the wicked deeds these two poor people were supposed to have committed and grew more hostile towards them. So much so, that as the day of the ducking grew nearer Matthew Barton, the overseer of the poor in Tring, sensing some real mischief was afoot made an to avert the impending trouble, and as we shall read, upon their request took them into the workhouse for their safety. But upon Sunday evening 21st April it became clear from reports of the large crowds gathering that this action would not be sufficient. And so, in the early hours of Monday April 22nd, they were taken from the Workhouse and as an extra safety precaution, lodged in the Vestry of Tring Church

The events which then followed and which led to the death of Ruth Osborne are perhaps best recounted by going through the details of the subsequent inquest.

John Tomkins (Master of the Workhouse) was called to give evidence at the inquest, upon Ruth Osborne held at the Half Moon Ale House, on Wilstone Green, on April 25th 1751 before His Majesty's Coroner, Samuel Atkinson, and also at the enquiry at Tring held on May 21st before the Justices of the Peace, Squire Gilbert Williams of Tring, Reverend Roland Johnson of Hemel Hempstead and George Carpenter of Redbourn with the High Sheriff. John Tomkins, paints a vivid picture of the happenings in and around the Workhouse on Monday 22nd April. He stated that:

"On Saturday last the 20th instant, John Osborne and Ruth his Wife, sent to the Workhouse by the order of Mathew Barton, one of the Overseers of the poor,.for their being provided for as poor people, and on Monday following being the 22nd between the hours of eleven and twelve in the morning a great mob came to the Workhouse and demanded the old witch and wizard that came from Long Marston, meaning the said John Osborne and his wife, upon which he told them that they were not there, but the mob insisted that they were and if he did not let them in they would force in by violence "

Tomkins, finding the mob increasing every minute, was forced to open the yard gate and allow them to search the house and grounds but.......

"Not finding the persons they wanted several of them went into the garden, whilst some still remained in the house and then came a fresh mob, one of whom (a stranger to the examinant, as were all the others of them) said that if he did not deliver up the witch and wizard to the mob in order to be ducked, they would pull the house flat to the ground, and soon after a stone was flung at the window and all more till they broke, every window in the house and most of the lower windows and frames were entirely demolished, one brick end of the house was pulled down and a garden fence which was of pales. They also destroyed and pulled down a brick wall belonging to the garden. One of the mob said "it's a strong house" and believed that they would not get it down, another replied, yonder is straw enough we will get some and burn it down and when we have done that we will pull your town down, and threatened the examinant's life and the examinant being fearful of the ill consequences if he did not deliver them, told the ringleaders if they would go with him he would deliver them up and immediately went to the vestry in the Church at Tring and opening the door the mob rushed in and look them from there by violence and carried them away."

Tomkins continuing, stated that he did not know where they were taking them and did not see them afterwards, but he did give the name of one Richard Symonds of Aldbury, Labourer, who was among the rioters and greatly assisting in the pulling down and demolishing the said workhouse and fence.

The same tale of destruction was also given by many of the onlookers which included a Wilstone Baker, William Puttnam. (The Puttnams were evidently well established as village bakers by 1751 and their names can be traced as bakers throughout the 19th century. The Baker’s shop was in New Road and this family only moved away when the old cottages were demolished to make way for the present Rothschild Houses built in 1907). William Puttnam stood with William Watkins, Shoemaker, Thomas Harding, Carpenter and Thomas Stanbridge, Maltster, all of Tring. They saw a mob in Tring and the damage done but did not know any who were taking part.

Thomas Chappel a labourer and an inmate of the house, was set to watch and take notice of the people committing the offence, but he only saw one John of Flaunden or Flamstead break a gate down at the entrance of the Workhouse and saw another person, the son of a blacksmith of Leighton Buzzard, of whose person he knew, but did not know his name, doing great damage to the Workhouse, to the great terror of the people therein belonging to the house.

One might ask, where were the people in authority? The whole affair had been well advertised, yet no hand was raised to halt the destruction in progress. Sebastian Grace, Blacksmith and Tring Constable, eventually came upon the scene summoned by the Overseers of the poor. He was ordered to keep the peace and taking his staff of office, he demanded that the peace should be kept, but the mob replied. "He is only the Constable, don't mind him ", and some of them threatened his life. He saw bricks and stones flung at the windows by the populace at the same time demanding the witch and wizard. He, however knew only one person in the crowd, this being Benjamin Price of Chesham, pattern drawer, who the examinant saw throw a particle of brick at the said windows.

Sebastian Grace, obviously stood very little chance against such a riot, the number of the mob had risen by this time to an estimated 4000, and the constable's plight was well summed up by William Watkins, the Tring shoemaker, from remarks he overheard. These remarks he stated on oath at the enquiry at Tring. Standing outside the workhouse he saw.....

"A great mob of people assembled together and they began to pull down the wainscot and part of the workhouse and one, East, as he called himself from Leighton Buzzard, who said he was a piece of a gardener, came to Sebastian Grace who was watching with his constable's staff to keep the peace, and told him he was a fool staying there and bid him go home and about his business, and East also said he had served the office Of constable and several other offices and would himself pull the house down for a farthing, which he repeated several times. Watkins also saw John Waters the elder of Pightlesthorne (Pitstone) also a shoemaker heading part of the mob and called them to the back of the Workhouse and encouraged them with many oaths and by a large cudgel in his hand to come after him for that the old bitch, meaning Ruth Osborne would come out on that side and escape, and later at Wilstone Green he also saw Thomas Colley and one Umbles, busy in ducking the woman but knew no other person acting there in the murder or in the riot"


Such was the fear of the onlookers, that the words "not known to the examinant" occurs over and over again, as will be seen in the evidence submitted at Wilstone. Harry Archer also observed all that took place. He saw a large crowd assembled in Tring and witnessed all that was taking place. He was present when the mob seized John Osborne and his wife, under the pretence to duck them for witches and......

"Saw a person of Leighton Buzzard, commonly known by the name of Red Beard, who followed the occupation of selling brooms and bottoming chairs, take Ruth Osborne upon his back near the Church in Tring in a close called Pond Close and several of the mob beat them with sticks and she called out ‘for God's sake don't murder me'"

Archer was also present at Wilstone Green near the water called ‘Ware’ or ‘Wire’’ , where he saw the same person called Red Beard, with others, bring the woman to be ducked, and he saw Red Beard tie the rope about her and another person on the other side, draw her across by the rope, but the examinant did not know him and soon after, one Umbles or De Umbles, and another person, again unknown to the examinant, take her in his arms and carry her into the middle of the pond and laid her down in the water till it was thought she might be drowned and they then carried her out and set on the bank out of the water for half an hour, when she was carried into the water again, and then turned about by one Colley and soon after taken out of the water and laid upon the bank, the examinant was informed and believed that she was dead.

John Worster also saw the naked body of Ruth Osborne by the waterside and being left for dead.

John Osborne, husband of the deceased, described as a labourer of Long Marston, came forward and gave the following evidence. He was with some difficulty spared his wife's fate and gave a very detailed account of events before and after leaving the church in Tring, as follows:......

"On Saturday the 20th day of April last he was told by his neighbours that he and his wife were to be ducked on the Monday following, as wizard and witch, and advised them to remove from their house to some other place in order to prevent any mischief which might ensure and accordingly they came to Tring Workhouse, where they both rested on Saturday night and that on the morning following, being the 22nd of April, at three in the morning, they were both locked in the church to secure them from the mob, which was apprehended would be on that day, and that about noon, the vestry door was opened and a great number of people rushed in and laid hold of the examinant and some of them took hold of his wife and dragged them away to a place, called Gubblecot, in she Parish of Tring and put them into a house belonging to one John Bullerfield, at the sign of the Black Horse there and tied them up in a room and told them they would take them to Wilstone, but they would not harm them but try them for witch and wizard and accordingly carried them to Wilstone where they were both stript and put into a pond of water, being tied both hand and feet together, and he said he knew only two persons who were concerned in the riot and ducking them, who were Thomas Colley who is since committed to Hertford Jail and Francis Hopton of Ivinghoe in the County of Bucks, Plumber and Glazier who seized them in the Vestry in order to ducked ".

So much for the evidence of John Osborne at the enquiry held in Tring on the 21st of May 1751. But many queries arise from this statement, some accounts, written at the time state that the farmer who was bewitched was a Mr. Butterfield, but the Gentleman's Magazine of 1751 reports that a publican was the victim and he started the witch hunt. John Osborne said that he was taken to a house of a Mr Bullerfield at the sign of the Black Horse. No records have so far come to light of such a house in Gubblecote. The one Black Horse Ale House, being Paddock Cottage, Wilstone. But to return to the enquiry in Tring and the very interesting statement by a Mr Nott Gregory, Yeoman Farmer.

The examinant on his oath says that he .....

"Lives at Wilstone Green in the Parish of Tring aforesaid and about 2 or 3 of the clock in the afternoon of Monday 22nd day of April last, some of his children came into the house and said "they have got them", and he understood them to be John Osborne and Ruth his wife, whom he had heard were to be ducked on that day as wizard and witch, upon that he went into one of his fields, called Days Field, to find out whether the alarm was true or not and there he saw a great number of people going towards some water in a meadow called Ten Acres, where he imagined they were going to duck the said poor people. That the said water being running water, some people had stopt the current in order to pen a head for ducking them, but the examinant broke down the........ and told the mob that there was no water there whereupon, some of them offered to strike him with sticks and he believes they would, had he not gone away from them and he further says that the number of people assembled might be near 4000 but he says he does not know any one of them and that they were all strangers to him"

And so the sorry story continues with evidence given by John Worster, victualler of Tring, with Harry Archer, who stood by the pond. It was, they said, between 5 o’clock and 6 o’clock in the evening of Monday last they were near a pond of water on Wilstone Green and saw a great mob of people with a woman in a sheet and a rope tied about her and fastened in such a manner that a man on the opposite side dragged her through the pond (which was about 5 feet deep) and laid her on the bank. At this point Harry Archer moved to the rear of the mob, sickened by the proceedings, but about half an hour afterwards, most of the mob had left her and he saw her laying on the bank and dead. He did not know any who were involved, and was told by some onlookers, that it was Ruth Osborne of Long Marston who had been ducked for a witch.

Edward Chapman of Wingrave also witnessed the ducking and saw two men take her in their arms and carry her to the centre of the pond and when they had finished with her, her husband John was dragged across also. He goes on:

"One of the men dragged her across the pond to the bank where her husband lay and dragging her across the sheet came off and she was quite naked and when they had got her to the other side three or four of the mob took her up and carried her to a public house on Wilstone Green and the examinant also says he then saw her and believes she was dead, drowned in the manner aforesaid and does not know any of the persons concerned in the murder."

John Holmes, farmer, of Tring followed. He saw the Chimney Sweep, Colley, turning and prodding her with a stick, and at one time she managed to get her head above the water, she cried and grabbed the stick, but he wrenched it from her and left her lying in the water. But again Holmes did not know any other person concerned in the murder, and much the same evidence was given by John Stanbridge, Maltster, John Humphrey, Wheelwright, William Rolf, Apothacary, and John Grace, Farmer, of Tring. Colley they saw come round the mob after the ducking and asked for money for the pleasure he had given them.

Bolos Molongs, Landlord of the Half Moon and John Foster of Tring, Surgeon, must add the final statements which differ to some extent from John Osborne.

"Bolos Molongs. Victualler, on his oath says that about three in the afternoon of Monday last, the said Ruth Osborne was; brought to his house aforesaid by a very great mob of people, in a riotous manner and carried her upstairs, where she was kept for near three quarters of an hour, afterwards she was brought in again by some of the mob but she was: then dead, as the examinant believes, and he further says that they put her into a bed and left her, that as soon as: the mob was dispersed, he went to see her and she was; then dead which was about a quarter of an hour after she was brought into his house and he also says he does not know any of the persons concerned in the said mob";.

And in conclusion, John Foster, Surgeon, stated that he had searched the body of Ruth Osborne, lying dead at Wilstone Green and did not find any wounds or bruises that might occasion her death, but says that he

" verily believes she came to her death by being suffocated with water and mud and suffering to be on the cold ground for a considerable time

Once again emphasis must be placed on the reluctance of witnesses to name any of the troublemakers, even Colley the chimney Sweep, who must have been a well known figure in Tring, and the villages around. But Colley's name is not mentioned before the ducking and from the letters in the following chapter that passed between the Rev. Roland Johnson and Lord Cowper, Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, it does seem that Colley was one the worse for drink and encouraged by others to take part in the final episode. The witnesses could well have been in fear of vengeance that could follow if certain names were mentioned. The mob violence however, had certainly shaken up the county authorities as can also be shown from the letters and the subsequent steps that were taken to ensure that these uprisings should not occur again.


William Colley, the Tring Chimney Sweep, obviously the worse for drink was soon taken into custody, first to Tring and then to the County Jail at Hertford, charged with the murder of Ruth Osborne, but as regards the instigation of the Tring riots, a month was to elapse before the enquiry was held before the Justices in Tring, which gave those concerned ample time to make good their escape.

The Reverend Johnson, in his letter dated May 23rd 1751, to Earl Cowper, gives the names of those implicated, as stated in the enquiry.

"Last week within a month, limited by statute for the enquiry, the Rev. Spencer Gilbert Williams, George Carpenter Esq. and myself awarded a receipt to the High Sherriff of the County to come before us twenty five persons to enquire for His Majesty of the riot lately committed in Tring. Accordingly, last Tuesday we held a session at Tring and the sherriff and his deputy answered and upon evidence there produced upon oaths it did answer that Benjamin Price of Chesham, Pattern Drawer, Francis Hopton of Ivinghoe, Glazier, Henry Worster of Pitstone, labourer and Richard Symonds of Aldbury, labourer, did commit several riotous and unlawful acts at Tring aforesaid ...";

With no time left, the enquiry was then adjourned, the Justices would meet again on the Saturday following when the Reverend Johnson was sure ...

"More aggravating circumstances relating to the riot will be discussed".

Samuel Atkinson, the Coroner, who had conducted the inquest at the Half Moon Alehouse in Wilstone, on the 25th April, had however, written to Earl Cowper, concerning Nickols of Long Marston on the 19th May as follows, after receiving information from Hemel Hempstead:

"In answer to a letter I wrote to a person in Hempstead, in relation to the affairs of Tring..... he sent me the names of two persons concerned in that wicked action, viz- Daniel Nickols of Long Marston, who brought the notice in writing and ordered it to be cried, and William Dell of Hempstead was the person who proclaimed it.".

Unfortunately Earl Cowper's letter to the three Justices, did not reach the Rev. Johnson until after the enquiry. The Rev. gentleman lost no time in writing to explain the admission of Nickols at the enquiry and the reasons for not apprehending him in the following letter to the Earl on May 30th.

"The reason for not inserting Daniel Nickols in the list I sent your Lordship, was that he had not been before us and the hope I had of getting him apprehended thereby, to come to come to a very useful discovery of the person or- persons who had employed him to cause an unlawful assembly to be proclaimed (for being a servant and certainly set on by some villain, who was at the bottom of this flagitious scheme) immediately I directed a warrant and enclosed it as a letter. to Robert Gregory, the High Constable, for that division and ordered him to execute same with speed and secrecy, but I am incredibly informed that he published about the village openly, that he was to apprehend Daniel Nickols .and required the inhabitants to aid assist him, which was immediately carried to the fellow who took to his heels and has not (as been suggested) been since heard of."

However, he described William Dell, the Crier, as an inoffensive honest fellow, and no blame could be attached to him. The Rev. Johnson continues:

"Your Lordship will. find in perusing the affidavit that a man named Redbeard and another named De Umbles, both of Leighton Buzzard, were as much concerned as Colley (who is now in prison) in exercising cruelty on the body of Ruth Osborne at the ducking place. There are two men in the Parish of Pitstone, one Price, of Chesham and Hopton of Ivinghoe, who are notoriously guilty of the riot, but how they are to be come at, we submit to your Lordships judgement, for I presume they are all marched off at present. I hope your Lordship's good offices, will excuse this troublesome long epistle - The two, Just mentioned and Richard Symonds of Aldbury are all the persons concerned within our jurisdiction - the publishers may be looked upon as exciting, and Symonds for carrying on the riot. There was a warrant out last Saturday to take Symonds but he had already absconded."

This state of affairs had altered little when Colley was tried, and condemned at a great trial at Hertford on July 30th 1751, and again, we must turn to the Rev. Johnson for his account of these happenings, which he submitted to Lord Cowper the day after.

"My very good Lord, I returned late last night from the assizes at Hertford, and I beg leave by the first post, to give your Lordship a brief account of what took place there, regarding the prosecution of the Tring rioters.

The Grand Jury, of which Mr. Fagin Slale, was foreman, found verdicts against Colley, Redbeard and Umbles, as Set forth in the accusation for the murder of Ruth Osborne, but acquitted all the rest of the rioters of the murder - Whereupon, the Council for the King moved for a bill of indictment against the rioters upon the Statute of the first of King George, viz for demolishing, or beginning to demolish any dwelling house, which being brought in the Grand Jury accordingly, found against six of them, whose names I have set down on the other side. My Lord Chief Justice’s Warrant, which he penned forthwith for apprehending five of them, Henry Worster of Pitstone, in the county of Bucks; being taken and sent to Hertford the day before the assizes, by virtue of a warrant I had sent to Bucks persuant to the Authority granted last session of Parliament to Justices of one County to apprehend offenders in another County.

Colley was arraigned and tried before Lord Justice Lee, who brought guilty by verdict and accordingly received his sentence Of condemnation and was told by his Lordship not to buoy himself up with any expectation of a pardon. - his body to he hung in chains, on Wilstone Green - but this to be kept secret, that the Sheriff may not be interrupted with too great a mob at the erecting of the Gibbet, or suspending of the body thereon.

Henry Worster will be kept in prison until more of his comrades are, taken in order to be tried at the next assizes - and now, my good lord by your Lordships care and concern for preserving the peace of your County, I hope there will be a stop to this sort of dangerous riotous assemblies for one half century at least, absolutely necessary are such punishments for the common people knowing little, or nothing of history in the records of times past are strongly instigated to commit disorders of this kind, unless restrained by examples of punishment inflicted on such offenders, within their own memories which serve as marks. to deter them spitting on the same rocks.

Your Lordships most humble and obedient Servant
Rev. Johnson
Hemel Hempstead
August 1st 1751


The indictment for the murder of Ruth Osborne, was found against:

  • William Umbles
  • Charles Young or Redbeard
  • Thomas Colley

The indictment for pulling down the Workhouse was found against.

  • Richard Symonds
  • John Eastoffe
  • John Waters
  • John Mayos
  • Henry Worster or Worcester
  • Benjamin Price

The Buckinghamshire local records say,

"that on August 22nd was executed at Gubblecot, William Colley, for the murder of Ruth Osborne"

(actually he left Hertford on the 24th not the 22nd for his last statement after taking the Sacrament in Hertford Gaol, was on the 23rd). He was brought from Hertford on the first day to St Albans then to Tring and then to the place of his execution, guarded by 108 men and 7 officers of the Horse Guards (Blues). A force of this size to guard one felon was unusual, and was obviously a show of force to deter would be future offenders, who might take part in riots, and an effort to stamp out the belief in witches, which was still prevalent in this part of the country, especially as 16 years earlier Witchcraft had ceased to be a statutory or ecclesiastical offence.

People flocked for miles to see the sight and The Everyday Book of 1751, reports that

"Thousands stood at a distance, muttering that it was a hard case to hang a man for destroying a wicked old witch."

This account differs from the Letter to Earl Cowper by the Reverend Roland Johnson, who was at the trial and only mentions Colley's body being hung in chains, the gibbet to be erected on Wilstone Green, but this was written on the 1st of August and owing to public feeling the arrangements may have been changed by the 22nd. Johnson's letter stated ...

"The circumstances to be kept secret so that the Sheriff may not be interrupted by too great a mob at the erecting of the gibbet and suspending the body thereon."

One wonders how an affair of that nature could be kept secret, even in 1751 and maybe the Sheriff and his assistant thought along these lines, for there is no record of anyone being hanged on Wilstone Green, even though in those days, the name Green covered the whole area of the village. A Mr Reeves, a local Farmer, whose family have always farmed at Marsworth related a story handed down in the family that the body was hung in chains on the boundary of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, in Lukes Lane. A gate near the boundary is known as Gallow's Gate and as a number of those charged came from Buckinghamshire, this could have served two purposes, well away from Wilstone where trouble could arise, and near enough to Buckinghamshire, to be a warning to would be future offenders. Lukes Lane was until the last war, a very narrow lane with hardly enough room for two carts to pass. Many tales of strange happenings have been told about this spot. Mr Reeves father warned him about coming that way home at night, for Luke was supposed, on occasions, to rattle his chains.

One quoted by Doris Jones Baker, in her book "The Folklore of Hertfordshire" (1977)

"Where the Gibbet stood and long after it had fallen into decay and disappeared, the clanking of Colley's chains could be heard, as his skeleton (no longer there) swung in the wind. The spot has been haunted ever since moreover, by the spirit of a great ‘Black Dog’. The village Schoolmaster was one of many who saw this ghost."

So much for the tragic events of 1751 as taken from the official records and of Wilstone’s involvement in the recorded witch hunt in Hertfordshire.

But the account would not be complete without handed down scraps of local history passed on from family to family of old village residents, many whose ancestors had lived in and around the village for centuries.

Ruth and her husband were living in Long Marston at the time this event happened but from Puttenham Church records we know that during the early seventeen hundreds, they occupied one of two old cottages situated in Puttenham Church Yard (demolished around 1890) and that their children were baptised by the Rev’d Robert Merrick, Rector.

From old records kept by the Chapman family, who for centuries had farmed at Folly Farm, Ruth was referred to as ‘Dinah’.

During the inquest it was stated that after the obstruction was removed from the stream in Lukes Lane by a Mr. Nott Gregory, a ‘yeoman farmer’ of Wilstone, the old couple were kept for a time in the Half Moon Alehouse until a suitable pond could be found.

So could ‘Dinah’s Pond’ in Astrope Lane be the spot Ruth and her husband were ‘swum’ and where Ruth met her death?

During November 1971, the owner of College Farm, much to the consternation of many villagers filled in this pond and felled the trees which for years had overhung the lane.

This was always a very dark and dismal spot and many villagers recalled their parents warning them against playing near where 'a lady had been drowned.'

Today with the dry summers of recent years, the pond is difficult to locate, but during the winter months a few large puddles often appear in the lane. Maybe the ghost of poor Dinah still haunts this spot.

Most of the villains who caused the affray, those who took part in the riot in Tring and in the episode by the pond were never caught, having crossed the county boundary, making it difficult for the Parish Constables to apprehend them.

Colley, the one man convicted and hanged, according to the local Justice of the Peace, had very little to do with this sorry affair, his name was not mentioned in the Tring riot or the dragging of the old couple to the ducking place. He was in fact the local chimney sweep and as was his normal custom, he had spent quite a time in the local Ale Houses. Encouraged by the mob, he went into the pond and turned her over a number of times, which probably caused her death. But to make matters worse, he went round afterwards, collecting a few coppers from the onlookers for the pleasure he had given them.

Ruth's husband survived the ordeal. Never able to work again, he was for many years an inmate of Tring Workhouse.

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