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Extraordinary Assault Case

On 22nd July, 1856, a family dispute between Louisa Norman, wife of Edward Norman, of Goadby Marwood Hall, and her sister Ann Manners, who resided with her ailing father, Reverend Edward Manners, at The Rectory, was to have serious consequences for three of Reverend Manners' servants.


Grooms, David Ecob and Thomas Landers, and lady's companion, Mary Johnson, were accused of assaulting Louisa Norman as she attempted to visit her father. The three maintained that Reverend Manners had refused to see his daughter and they were simply carrying out their employer’s wishes by denying access.


The three servants were duly charged and appeared at Melton Mowbray Magistrates’ Court the following day. All three were found guilty of aggravated assault, Ecob and Landers were both sentenced to four months hard labour, and Mary Johnson received a sentence of one month hard labour.


The proceedings were reported in the Leicester Chronical:


The town of Melton Mowbray was on Thursday in a state of tense

excitement, the cause of which was an assault which had been committed upon Mrs Norman, wife of George Norman Esq., of Goadby Marwood Hall, by three of the servants of the Rev. E. Manners, of Goadby Parsonage, the father of Mrs. Norman. The case came on at three o'clock, in the Magistrates Room at the Corn Exchange, when there was a large attendance of the public. The Magistrates on the Bench were C.H. Frewen, Esq., M.P., (chairman,) Rev. F. Norman, H.C. Bingham Esq., and J.C. Beasley Esq.

The defendants were Mary Johnson, David Ecob, and Thomas

Landers, who were charged with unlawfully assaulting Louisa Julia

Norman, at Goadby Marwood, on the 22nd July. Landers is a groom in

the service of the Rev E. Manners, Ecob occupies a similar position, and Mary Johnson acts as a companion to Miss Manners, the daughter of the Rev. E. Manners. Mary Johnson is the young woman who took out a game certificate about two years ago, and injured her hand whilst out shooting, a notice of which appeared in the Chronicle at the time. She appeared in court richly dressed with valuable rings on her fingers and carried a bouquet of gay flowers in her hand.

Mr. Atter, of Stamford, appeared on behalf of the defendants, who had

been apprehended on Thursday night, under a warrant issued by Mr.

Bingham. The hearing of the case occupied three hours, and the

circumstances are of so unusual a character that we intend giving next

week, a full report of the case. We only have time and space this week to give a brief outline ...


The following week the newspaper gave a further extensive account of the proceedings. For more details about this extraordinary case, read John McQuaid’s excellent account ‘A Hiatus at the Rectory’.

Visit John's fascinating website: Yesterday at Melton Mowbray

Aerial Church Hall Rectory.jpg

An aerial view of Goadby Hall, home of Louisa Norman nee Manners in 1856, and The Rectory, home of her father, Edward, and sister, Ann, separated by St. Denys' Church.

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