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Altercation at the Allotments

At Melton Mowbray Petty Sessions on 24th March, 1877, magistrates George Norman Esq., W. A. Pochin Esq., E. A. Pagett Esq., and Major Calgitt presided over an assault case involving three residents of Goadby Marwood. The proceedings were reported in the Grantham Journal:


William Brutnell, who has been several times remanded, surrendered to his bail on a charge of committing a violent assault on James Chamberlain and Mary Ann Chamberlain at Goadby Marwood 9th February.

Questioned James Chamberlain testified that William Brutnell had assaulted him and his wife with a metal fork after he and Brutnell had exchanged words. Chamberlain denied he was drunk and had left the allotment to buy ale.

Mrs. Mary Ann Chamberlain said she was taking dinner to her husband, James Chamberlain at the allotment gardens, about 12.30 on February 9th but could not find him, when he came walking up the road from Scalford. William Brutnell and George Ecob called to him “Come on Jack Harris you'll miss your dinner”. My husband and Brutnell had words then I saw them wrestle to the ground. When they got up Brutnell picked up a fork to strike my husband. I went forwards to intervene and the fork struck me on the head.

I went with my husband to Mr. Norman's barn to wash the wounds and then to Mr Norman's house, the magistrate who issued a warrant for the prisoner’s apprehension.

In defence Mr. Atter said that as the defendant was exceedingly sorry for his actions and had thanked Mrs. Chamberlain for taking his part, could not the case be met by him paying all court costs and medical expenses.

At the recommendation from the bench the complainants agreed to this.

It is not clear exactly where in the village this altercation took place. Mr. Norman’s barn most likely refers to the large red brick barn on Towns Lane, and the 1910 Finance Act Survey shows the location of the Allotment Gardens to the north of Manor Farm close to White Lodge, although in 1877 they may have been in a different place. The two protagonists were from long-standing Goadby families and would have been well-known to local residents.


Chamberlain is one of the earliest names in the Goadby Marwood Parish Records, the first mention being Mary Chamberlain who was christened at St. Denys’ Church on 4th May, 1692, and members of the Chamberlain family continued to live in the village well into the 20th Century.


James Chamberlain was born in 1852 in Goadby Marwood to agricultural labourer, John Chamberlain of Goadby and his wife, Elizabeth Chamberlain nee Goodson from Garthorpe. John and Elizabeth had six other children in addition to James, and the family lived at Ivy Cottage on what we know today as Kemp’s Lane, although in the mid-1800s it was called Sparrow Lane. James worked as a mason’s labourer.


In 1876, one year before the incident with William Brutnell, James married Mary Ann Tivey from Worthington in Leicestershire. The couple initially settled in Goadby where their son, John Edward, was born in 1879, but sometime before the 1881 census was taken James moved his family to Eastwell and then to Eaton, where he worked as an ironstone labourer as well as running a newsagent business. Mary Ann Chamberlain died sometime before 1901, and James spent his twilight years living with his son’s family. He died in 1917 at the age of 65.


Allotment gardens 1910.JPG

The orange rectangle in the top left marks the position

of the allotment gardens shown on the OS map used

for the 1910 Finance Act Survey.

Red Barn on Towns Lane 21st Century.jpg

The red barn on Towns Lane,

photographed in the 21st Century

The Brutnell family also has a long association with Goadby Marwood, the first mention in the Parish records is Thomas Brutnell christened 4th February, 1753. Several members of the Brutnell family from Goadby fought during The Great War.


William Brutnell was born in Goadby Marwood around 1855, he was the son of agricultural labourer, John Brutnell of Goadby and his wife, Hannah Brutnell nee Ward, from Melton Mowbray. William was the youngest of eight children, he had five sisters (one of whom died in infancy) and two brothers. The family lived on the site of First Farm although the building the family lived in does not exist today. It was located to the rear of the farmhouse in the area occupied today by the garage of The Old Post Office.


In 1859, when William was just four years old his father, John, died. Two years later the census recorded William living in Goadby with his widowed mother and his two brothers, John and Joel. William’s sisters had all left home and married or entered service. The family’s property had three acres of land which Hannah farmed as a cottager to support her three young sons. When he was old enough William left home to take up an apprenticeship with a draper and milliner in Litchurch on the outskirts of Derby. Returning home when his apprenticeship ended, William was unable to find employment in his chosen profession which may have led to him becoming disillusioned with his life, it is clear from the newspaper report that he was regularly in trouble with the law.


William was fortunate that the Chamberlains chose to settle the assault complaint amicably and he was not fined or given a custodial sentence. Sometime after the episode William left Goadby and travelled to London, probably in search of employment. He met and married lady’s maid, Jane Atkinson, whose family had moved to Marylebone in London from Harrogate. Following the marriage, the couple moved back to Goadby where their son, Robert, was born. They later moved to Waltham for a short time where a daughter, Annie, was born, before moving away from the area to Kent, where William died in 1895 at the age of just 40.

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