The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent dated Wednesday, October 10, 1900 carried a brief report of a case that became before the local bench in Sheffield. Under the title "A Rude Awakener" it referred to two domestic assaults by a William Eastwood on his wife Annie. The first assault occurred on Saturday 6th October when Annie was knocked down so badly that she fractured her collar bone. This required hospital treatment at Sheffield's Royal Hospital. And two nights later Annie was back at the hospital seeing the same surgeon only this time she had a lacerated eye that was also blackened by bruising. the second assault was like the first solely inflicted by her husband William 

Of course domestic violence was commonplace in late Victorian Sheffield and so I was rather puzzled as to why this case went to court. I can only assume that it was the frequency and severity of Annie's injuries that led the surgeon at the Royal Hr H A Mason to contact the police, and have William arrested. It should be noted that in the vast majority of cases the man was the sole provider for the family and by imprisoning him, it effectively meant that the wife and family if any, were left destitute.

Nine days later the case was at Sheffield's Quarter Sessions under the auspices of the Recorder Judge Waddy QC. The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent dated October 19 1900 noted that attending the session was Sheffield's Chief Constable Commander Scott. The paper informed its readers that a total of 52 prisoners were due to appear and whilst the number was greater than was the norm, no great alarm should be raised by the citizens of Sheffield. The paper put the increase down to "the time of the year"

William appearance before Judge Waddy was short and brief


The "defence" of drink is not recognised in English Law and so William was sentenced to eight months with hard labour.

But in the light of the following report that appeared in the Sheffield & Rotherham Independent  a year earlier on Monday 27th March 1899, William received an exceedingly lenient sentence for his continuing assaults on Annie

"A good deal of violence had been used towards her" was an understatement!. A charge of "unlawful wounding" also seems to be erring on the generous side. A charge of attempted murder would have been more appropriate. The sentence again did not reflect the crime and its deterrent effect can be demonstrated by what occurred 19 months later.

The 1901 Census shows William as an inmate in Wakefield Goal. As for Annie the same census shows her living with her two daughters Annie aged 8 and Doris aged 7 at the address where the assault took place - 8 Cornhill in the Crofts area of Sheffield. She is described as a visitor with the head of the house being a Sarah Peck  

Name Annie Eastwood
Relation to Head of Family Visitor
Age Last Birthday 37 Sex Female
Profession or Occupation Charwoman
Condition as to Marriage Married
Where Born Yorkshire Sheffield
Address 8 Cornhill Civil Parish Sheffield
Ecclesiastical Parish Sheffield St Luke Hollis Croft Parliamentary Borough or Division Sheffield Central
County Borough, Municipal Borough or Urban District Sheffield Administrative County Sheffield
Ward of Municipal Borough or Urban District St Georges
Reference Information Folio 84 Page 9 Piece 4365

William was released from Goal but for the next few years his whereabouts are unknown. But in August 1907 he was committed into Wadsley Asylum and died there two months later in October 

There are many incidents of this sort in the local press at the end of the nineteenth century, but I chose to highlight this particular tragedy because of what happened to their son JOHN EASTWOOD. Just under 23 years later on 30th July 1923 John appeared on a charge of murder, a charge that was to result in his execution in Armley Goal on 28th December 1923.

Full details of John's trial and execution can be found on the following page - A Christmas Execution 28th December 1923

During the proceedings mention was made of his father's last days

"The committal proceedings took place in front of the City magistrates on August 21st. The key thing to arise at this hearing was information relating to the medical and personal history of his family. His father had died in Wadsley Asylum from paralysis and his uncle from melancholia due to service in the war. Eastwood himself had been admitted into the Ecclesall asylum in February 1915 with a bout of syphilis"

Did his father's behaviour ultimately contribute to his son's death on the scaffold at Armley Goal in December 1923      


The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, England), Wednesday, October 10, 1900; pg. 9; Issue 14324

The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, England), Friday, October 19, 1900; pg. 6; Issue 14332

The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent. Supplement. (Sheffield, England), Monday, March 27, 1899; pg. 3; Issue 13843

I would like to thank a descendent of William Eastwood who contacted me in March 2013, and pointed out to me the violent life of John's father and the misery and pain that his mother Annie must have endured. I was assured that the insanity and domestic violence was not hereditary.

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This page was last updated on 07/03/13 10:56