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Charles Hovington, Imperial Yeomanry - 7 years' penal servitude 4 months 3 weeks ago #68355

  • BereniceUK
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Charles was from Scarborough, being born there in late 1877, and had a real bad 'un for a father - William Hovington had a record for poaching as long as your arm, and was violent with it. I found court cases for him - found guilty of poaching in all of them - in 1878, 1880 and 1893; in 1886, while serving a six-month sentence in prison, he made an appeal to the Home Secretary, but that had been turned down.

The first instance of him being caught poaching that I can find was in late 1901 - after his return from South Africa?

At Scarborough, yesterday afternoon, Bryan M'Laughlin, a well-known poacher, was sent to prison for six months and bound over for two years, and Charles Hovington was sent to prison for a month and bound over for one year, for night poaching at Hutton Buscel. A shot was heard, and keepers and police surprised the men and took possession of their nets, bags, and game. The magistrates ordered the nets to be destroyed.

Sheffield Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 5th November 1901


Early on Sunday morning a young man named Charles Hovington, 27, was shot at Harrogate under strange circumstances, and is now in a critical condition at the Scarborough Hospital.

When the police reached the house in Back Providence-place, shortly before one o'clock, they found Hovington and his father in their night attire, and the young man was bleeding from a gun wound in the left side of the body and in a very serious condition.

Dr. Hutton was telephoned for, and ordered the man's immediate removal to the hospital.

From a statement made by the father of the young man, it appears that they had gone to bed about midnight on Saturday. Some time after they had retired, the father heard a noise downstairs, and went down in the kitchen, where he found his son with a sporting gun in his hands. The son is alleged to have said, "It is either you or me for it." The gun went off, the charge entering the young man's side.

The affair has caused a sensation in the district, where the Hovington family are well known.

Manchester Courier, Monday 27th July 1903


An extraordinary case of attempted suicide was on Friday heard at Scarborough, the accused being Chas. Hovington, a tall, muscular man of the labouring class.

The Chief Constable said Hovington and his father and mother lived at 10a, Back Providence-place. Early on Sunday morning, July 16, the police were summoned to the house, and they found accused bleeding profusely from a large gunshot wound over the heart. The parents had retired to bed on the previous night about 11, but the younger Hovington did not put in an appearance till midnight. As he did not go to bed for some time the father went downstairs, and he found the accused with a gun to his shoulder. The son exclaimed, "Which is it to be; you or me?" and immediately turned the gun round and discharged it at his own chest.

The father, who burst into tears, declined to swear that accused pointed the gun at him, or used the expression stated.

Cross-examined by Mr. Whitfield, for the defence, witness said his son had been on active service in South Africa with the Yeomanry, and since his return not long ago he had seemed at times rather strange. He had never, however, been in low spirits or hinted at suicide, nor was there any cause for him to do so. On the night previous to the occurrence accused met some friends whom he had not seen since going to South Africa, and they "treated" him liberally.

Other witnesses bore out the opening statement, medical testimony being given that he would at the time be irresponsible for his actions.

Dr. Mason, surgeon at the hospital, said the accused bore the intense pain caused by the wound with remarkable fortitude, and did not seem to have the slightest knowledge of how he obtained it until told, and he then frequently expressed his sorrow.

Mr. Whitfield urged that the affair was simply a mad freak on the part of accused when he did not know what he was doing. While in South Africa he had sunstroke or some such complaint, and when under the influence of drink the effect was greatly increased. The accused would, however, give up the habit.

The Chief Constable asked that in these circumstances Hovington and his father be bound over, and this course was adopted, the accused, if possible, to go to a convalescent home, owing to treatment for the wound being still necessary.

Derby Daily Telegraph, Saturday 5th September 1903



Yesterday at Norton (Malton), William and Charles Hovington, father and son, and Thomas Dobson, labourers, of Scarborough, were again charged with wilfully murdering Thomas Atkinson, gamekeeper, at Sherburn, on the night of November 25th, and of night poaching at the same time and place.

Mr. Tasker Hart, of Scarborough, again appeared for the Public Prosecuter, and Mr. J. Whitfield, of Scarborough, for the prisoners, who were brought from Hull by the early train.

The magistrates on the Bench were Colonel Dent, in the chair, and Messrs. R. Metcalfe, T. W. P. Rivis, J. H. Preston, F. Dawnay, R. Duggleby, M. Jordan, and William I'Anson. Major Dunlop, Chief Constable of the East Riding, was present in Court, which was filled throughout the day.

Mr. Hart said the keeper Thomas Gamble was still too ill to appear. On the night of 25th November, the deceased, Thomas Atkinson, who was a keeper in the employ of Mr. Emerson Pickering, at Sherburn, went duck shooting. There were with him other keepers, named Thomas Gamble, William Welburn, and Thomas Morris. They were subsequently joined by Albert Card, gamekeeper for Lord Downe, and a platelayer, named Stephen Bell. When close by a pheasant cover, near the village of Sherburn, they heard shots, and saw pheasants rise from the cover. Soon after they saw three men emerge, and the keepers followed them in the direction of the high road leading to Sherburn. After gong a short distance, the three men deliberately turned, raised their guns, and a tall man, standing on the right hand, fired, and hit Gamble. The poachers then went off, but on the keepers following, they turned again, and a lesser man that the other two, standing in the middle, it was believed, fired, and shot Atkinson, who fell, and never rose again. The man in the middle was subsequently identified as "Curley Bill" (William Hovington). Mr. Hart then went on to describe the struggle which followed after Atkinson was shot. When the prisoners, after their arrest, were being medically examined by Dr. Hutton, William Hovington, said Mr. Hart, explained the presence of the cuts on his head by saying he had fallen over a stone, and some wounds on his arm he said were boils. But the doctor found they were gun-shot wounds. Charles Hovington had also been shot, but Dobson had only a scalp wound. Mr. Hart dealt at length with the question of identity of the three prisoners, of which he said there could be no doubt. It was not necessary for him definitely to identify which man fired the fatal shot, as they were each and all in unlawful assemblage, acting for an unlawful purpose. They were acting in concert, and consequently they were each equally responsible for the result of the shot. The prosecution wished to recognise the capacity shown by the police, both of Scarborough and the East Riding. It was no doubt due to the smartness and zeal of the officers that the arrest of prisoners was so promptly effected.

Evidence was then called.

William Welburn, of Potter Brompton, underkeeper for Mr. Pickering, repeated his evidence given at the inquest on Atkinson. He was listened to with intense interest as he described the fight, and how four of the keepers were placed hors de combat. He said one of the other keepers lying on the ground handed him a gun, into which he put one cartridge, and fired. One of the men cried out, "He has shot me." Thereupon they jumped an adjoining fence, and ran away, with witness in pursuit. Witness picked up three gun stocks and a ramrod on the scene of the affray.

Albert Card, of Sherburn, gamekeeper for Lord Downe, deposed that on the night of the affray he heard a shot when in his lodgings, and his dogs were barking furiously. He went out, joined the other keepers, and then took part in the struggle. He generally corroborated Welburn, but added that when the keepers approached the men the first time one of the latter said, "Stand back, or we'll shoot." Keeper Gamble replied, "You had better not." The middle man of the three did fire, and witness's hand was struck. Just then Atkinson went up, and they followed the men, who turned again and deliberately fired, and Atkinson fell. All the poachers had their guns levelled before Atkinson fell, but the fatal shot was fired by the man standing in the middle of the three. Witness did not know the man in the centre. In the subsequent struggle witness was struck on the back of the head, and was stunned. Not a shot was fired by any of the keepers till Atkinson fell mortally wounded.

After the adjournment for luncheon, Mr. Emerson Pickering, who holds the shooting over the Sherburn estate, was called to depose that he had arranged to shoot the covert where the tragedy took place on the day following the poaching.

Thomas Morris, gamekeeper, of Ganton, who has been seriously ill since the affray, gave evidence for the first time. He had not yet recovered from his injuries, and was allowed to wear his cap in court, his eyes having suffered from gunshot injuries. Only witness of all the keepers had a gun with him, and it was not loaded. As soon as Atkinson had fallen, witness put a cartridge in his gun, and fired at the legs of the centre man, who had fired at Atkinson. The man jumped about as if in pain. Then a hand to hand fight ensued, witness fighting till he fell dazed and covered with blood, and knew no more. Up to the present witness had not been able to follow his occupation. Before he saw Atkinson fall he had not fired his gun. He had not seen the prisoners till that morning in the police station yard. He picked out William and Charles Hovington as being two of the men he saw during the affray. Charles Hovington was the man witness was fighting with and who injured witness.

Stephen Bell, platelayer, deposed to going to the assistance of the keepers, one of whom lodged with him. He lived near the pheasant plantation, and heard poachers amongst the birds. On running to the place, he saw three men making off in the direction of Sherburn. They turned and faced the keepers, who were following. Then the shooting previously spoken of took place. It was the middle man who shot Atkinson. He also hit witness over the shoulder with the butt end of the gun, disabling him. Witness then went to Sherburn for assistance. He identified the elder Hovington as one of the men present during the affray.

Edward Burrows, a detective officer of the Scarborough Police Force, described the search for the two Hovingtons after news of the affray reached Scarborough, and their subsequent apprehension.

Inspector Bollard, of Scarborough, spoke of the condition of the three prisoners when they were taken to the police station. All the men had scalp wounds, and besides this Charles Hovington was shot in the thigh, and some shot were taken from the body of the elder Hovington. Their clothing was covered with blood. The men explained their injuries by saying they fell down a quarry.

Dr. Alfred James Hutton, M.R.C.S., of Scarborough, deposed to examining the three prisoners on Saturday morning, November 26. William Hovington had a wound two inches long on his brow, through the skin only. On the left arm were seven recent gun-shot wounds, and the hand was swollen. Hovington said they were boils. On the left leg were 15 recent gun-shot wounds, and seven on the right leg. He walked with considerable difficulty. Witness said to Hovington, "You have been shot"; and he made no reply. Witness extracted one shot, but the others were too deeply placed. Charles Hovington had a deep wound, two inches long, on the right side, and on the left side another, one inch long. In his left thigh he had 28 recent gun-shot wounds, and the shots penetrated deeply into the muscles. Thomas Dobson had two scalp wounds, and other wounds and bruises, but no gun-shot wounds.

Dr. R. E. Moriarty, of Sherburn, repeated his evidence at the inquest as to the injuries of the deceased man, Atkinson, and of the keeper Gamble. Gamble, who had no less than seven distinct scalp wounds, was still under witness's charge, and unfit to attend the court. Morris, the other injured keeper, had severe scalp wounds. With regard to Atkinson, witness believed death was practically instantaneous.

A cab-driver named Leefe, of Scarborough, said he saw the elder Hovington and Dobson going in the direction of Ganton on the afternoon of the affray.

Two pawnbroker-assistants of Scarborough deposed that Dobson tried to pledge a double-barrelled gun at Scarborough shortly before the affray.

Sergeant Janney, Sherburn, produced three gun-stocks and two ramrods. One of the latter had been found concealed in a stream near the scene of Atkinson's death, and the gun-stocks near the pheasant covert. He produced the bloodstained clothing of Atkinson, whose waistcoat and braces were perforated with shot. The elder Hovington's clothing, also produced, was saturated with blood.

Prisoners, on being charged, pleaded not guilty. The Bench committed all three for trial at the next Yorkshire Assizes, charged with wilful murder.

Mr. Whitfield, for the defence, said at the Assizes he should produce such evidence as would put a different complexion on the case. He did not agree with the law, as stated by Mr. Hart, bearing on the position of the prisoners and heir individual action on the night in question.

Prisoners were subsequently taken to Hull Gaol, where they will remain until the Winter Assizes for the North and East Ridings.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Thursday 22nd December 1904




The hearing of the charge of murdering Thomas Atkinson, gamekeeper, at Ganton, near Scarborough, on the night of November 25th, preferred against William Hovington (56), Charles Hovington (28), father and son, and Thos Dobson (62), all Scarborough labourers, was resumed at York Assizes this morning, before Mr. Justice Ridley. Continuing the case for the defence, Mr. Mellor called the elder Hovington, who said that he and the other prisoners first heard a voice say, "Give them a shot. You need not run; we know you." Then his son was shot.

Up to that time neither he nor the other prisoners had fired at the keepers. They went about 30 or 40 yards when he heard the expression, "Give the _______ another," and was himself shot in front of the right leg. When struck he dropped on his knees, and his gun went off. He was not taking aim.

Cross-examined: He did not see the keeper fall when his gun went off,, although he was facing them. The third prisoner, Dobson, also gave evidence, and stated that the tallest keeper fired the first shot. This struck Charles Hovington. Witness carried a single-barrelled gun, but never fired it at all, nor raised it to his shoulder. Only two shots were fired at the keepers.

Mr Milvain: And one hit Gamble in the head, and the other killed Atkinson.

Summing up, Mr Milvain characterised the defence as somewhat extraordinary, and as the manufacture of an ingenious legal mind rather than the spontaneous defence from the mouth of prisoners themselves. He submitted the jury could not believe the evidence of prisoners because they contradicted each other, and, with regard to the firing of the first shot, he pointed to the action of the keepers, with the exception of Morris, in leaving their guns behind as indicating the absence of any intention on their part to fire on humanity.

Mr Mellor for the defence, asked the jury to say that Charles Hovington received the first shot, and that Morris fired it, and submitted that if a man received that provocation, which made the blood hot, and then used, on the spur of the moment, any weapon he might be carrying, his offence was reduced to manslaughter, and did not implicate others. He suggested that the fact that Keeper Welburn fired at prisoners after the affray was practically over, showed that he had lost his temper, and threw light on the history of the case. The keepers were only human, and he suggested that when Morris followed prisoners with the gun it was to shoot them, not pheasants.

The jury found all three prisoners guilty of manslaughter.

His lordship sentenced William Hovington and Dobson each to ten years penal servitude, and Charles Hovington to seven years penal servitude.

Hull Daily Mail, Wednesday 15th March 1905

His sentence ended on 15th March 1912, and he enlisted as an army driver on 11th December 1914, being discharged on 8th March 1919. However, war service didn't change his ways...…...


Police Sergeant's Story of an Attack by Two Men.
At Scarborough on Thursday Charles Hovington, aged 44, and Tom Longhorn, aged 37, labourers, were charged with having wilfully and maliciously caused grievous bodily harm to Sergeant John William Wilcox, of the North Riding Police.

Mr. Whitfield, prosecuting, said that Sergeant Wilcox was walking on the Scarborough to Whitby railway line just after midnight when he was suddenly challenged by Hovington. The sergeant asked, "What are you doing here?" Longhorn replied, "I will soon show you," and at the same time put a gun to his shoulder and pointed it at the sergeant's head. The sergeant seized the barrel. There was a desperate struggle, and the barrel parted from the stock. Hovington struck the sergeant a blow on the head. Wrenching the gunbarrel from Longhorn's hands, the sergeant turned and felled Hovington with it. He then seized him and handcuffed him. Longhorn, who ran away, was afterwards arrested at his home.

Sergeant Wilcox, giving evidence, said that he believed the men wanted to shoot him.

The prisoners were committed for trial.

Bath Chronicle, Saturday 7th August 1920

Further incidents occurred up to at least 1929. Charles Hovington died at Scarborough, in the first quarter of 1947, aged 69.
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