Monday 17th July found the members of North and South Wheatley Local History Group in the Village Hall acting as a jury in the case of ‘Inspector Hopkinson’s Discovery’. The guest speaker was author, Ian Morgan who had spent a very long time researching and putting together the story that was to unfold this morning. The events members were to pass verdict on had occurred in Mansfield in the year 1895 and involved the inspector, his wife, a 48-year-old widow, Mary, her eldest stepson, 33 year old George Reynolds, two teenage sons Charles, and William (Big Willie), two grandchildren Robert and William (Little Willie), who were only with grandma for one night whilst their parents went away, plus Mary’s lodger Henry Wright. Before members could listen to the full story they had a glimpse at some of the press and news items of the time and their comparison to the truth or fiction of similar reporting of modern times and the resultant public judgement that in some cases result in riotous behaviour.
There was so much background information given to members and they were eventually asked to decide if Henry was guilty of multiple murders or was he guilty of what we know today as manslaughter by diminished responsibility. Members were divided on their verdicts, but we do know that Henry was hanged for murder. The story did not end there, as premature deaths of many of those involved in the case occurred shortly after Henry died. What a mystery and what a superb presentation of the facts by Ian.
The next meeting of the society will be on Monday 18th September at 10.00am at Wheatley Village Hall when the group welcomes back Lynda Hotchkiss with ‘A Family Tangle’ — a research story which tied a family in knots. A friendly welcome and a cuppa is assured, so why not come along and join us, first visits are free, you can then join or return as a paying guest.