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To set the scene: Thomas Madeley, licensee of the “Travellers Rest” and William Bradbury licensee of the “Red Lion” had for many years in the early 1800s been in dispute about the ownership of land adjoining both properties. The public houses are located at Bank Top, Gnosall. Both accounts below are transcripts from the “Staffordshire Advertiser” Land dispute - 1826 Sarah Bradbury [aged 70] was indicted for assaulting Thomas Madeley, at the parish of Gnosall and firing a gun at him, with intent to do him some grievous bodily harm; and also with a common assault. It appeared, from the evidence that the Bradburys and Madeleys have, for some time, been at enmity with each other, on account of a dispute respecting the right of ownership of a bit of land which adjoins the property of both families; and on 9th October, Madeley, with a view of establishing his right, took an axe and saw, and proceeded with his sons to cut down some trees, several of which had been planted on this said land by the Bradburys. Old Sarah Bradbury endeavoured in vain to drive the enemy off with brick-bats and stones, so she fetched out her son’s loaded gun, and fired it - one set of witnesses said at Bradbury [Madeley?] to kill him but he stopped and was missed - the other declared that it was only at the damson tree, merely to alarm the foe. Guilty of common assault - to be imprisoned one month in the common gaol, and to find sureties to keep the piece. Elizabeth Bradbury , a mere girl, grand-daughter of the aforesaid old lady, was charged with assaulting Charles Madeley, son of the former prosecutor, by running a pikel [two pronged pitchfork] into his arm! The time and place were those already specified: the lad appeared and proved the fact of the assault; and the defendant’s Counsel urged in extenuation that the girl was acting in defence of her old grandmother. Guilty - fined 20s. and discharged Riot - 2nd November 1829. On Monday, November 2 nd 1829 a crowd of nearly one hundred men., shouting and cheering, were moving in some excitement outside the Traveller's Rest Public House on the Stafford Road in Gnosall. Many of them helping themselves to beer from a barrel, which had been thoughtfully placed in the road, and some noisily declared their intention of coming down the hill to pull the Red Lion apart. Mrs. Elizabeth Bradbury, wife of William Bradbury, the licensee of the Red Lion, warned her husband and the other members of the family, and they hurriedly secured the doors and shutters of the house. Not long afterwards, the crowd rushed down the hill and banged at the front door, while one of their leaders, Kentish Will, broke open the back door, walked through the house, unlocked the front door and so admitted them. William Bradbury and his wife took up their positions with backs to the cellar door. The men, who by now had filled the house, pressed hard against them, trying to break into the cellar, demanding beer and threatening that if they did not get it, they would pull the house down. Thomas Cheney begged the landlord to agree in the hope of pacifying them, and he handed over eight gallons of ale. But the men were not so easily satisfied, and after the ale had been quickly drunk, one of the leaders, John Barnes, shouted that he would have more, and if they did not give more, he would do mischief. So twelve quarts more were given to the men, who disposed of it with alacrity, while some of them diverted themselves by smashing all the crockery in sight. Kentish Will struck Bradbury with his cudgel, and Charles Baker seized the servant girl, Elizabeth Fletcher round the waist and tried to carry her out of the house, saying that he would dash her brains out. Fortunately he failed to do either. The uproar in the house continued for some hours, from the middle of the afternoon until eight in the evening - and since the village constable, then an unpaid, often reluctant, holder of the yearly office chosen at the annual Parish meeting, failed to appear - and who can blame him? -- it was only the restraint of some members of the crowd led by Thomas Cheney that saved Bradbury and his family from serious harm. When the riot was at its height, some men were heard to say that Thomas Madeley, licensee of the Travellers Inn had given them beer to drink if they would pull the Red Lion down. This was confirmed later by one of them, Richard Hill, who also said that Thomas Madeley had stopped him in the street on the morning of November 2nd and asked him “if he was ready to do that bit of a job”. Madeley, said Hill, had given him a paper to fix upon the gate post at the tollhouse where the Moreton and Newport roads joined [ed. Where Oak Cottage is located] . Hill could not read it for himself, but his friends who could told him that, as far as he could remember the words on the paper were:- "Mr. Bradbury - this is to give you notice that your house is to come down on the second instant without further notice”. This paper was lost and could not be produced when the matter came to court. Madeley had also told Hill that the drink he had promised would be ready by 2 o'clock and when Hill went to the Travellers Rest he was offered a glass of gin, and later, two picks. Hill took the gin, but would have nothing to do with the picks. Two others confirmed that Madeley had given the men forty gallons of ale and had promised them forty gallons more when the Red Lion was pulled down - and further - had assured them he would bear the blame. However, he was careful to keep in the background for the rest of the day so that later he could deny his part in the affair. But when they heard the case, the magistrates were rightly sceptical, and remanded him and the leaders of the affray for trial (and for sentence) at the next sessions. At Stafford Assizes (Session 1830.1) the following were charged with violent assault of Elizabeth Bradbury, and Elizabeth Fletcher. All 3 were discharged Charles Baker (aged 30) John Barnes (aged 47) James Marshall (aged 30) Notes: In 1834 Madeley was in Stafford prison, an insolvent debtor, and the Travellers Rest and his other property was sold to satisfy his creditors The riot of November 2nd, 1829 was just one of many incidents that frightened the people of Gnosall and district when navigators -- as they were called - came to build the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal. The authorities, when a military garrison for Gnosall was asked for, enrolled special constables, and took rigorous action against all offenders. They also built the Lock-up. By 1832, Gnosall was relatively quiet again. Bob Johnson

Land dispute 1826 and Riot 1829

Traveller’s Rest Red Lion
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