Sprowston Old Catton border shooting.

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This report from the Morning Chronicle Sept. 18, 1837


The inhabitants of Norwich have been in a state of the greatest excitement since Sunday last in consequence of Mr. W. G. Moore, upholsterer, of Bethel-street, in that city, having been shot At and mortally wounded by a gentleman in a gig as he was returning home from his work at North Walsham, on Saturday night, between eight and nine o'clock. Soon after the shot was fired the poor man was heard to groan, and was taken to the George and Dragon at Catton, thence to the hospital at Norwich, where he expired on Tuesday morning. In consequence of evidence given before the Mayor, Mr. W. W. Cooper, of St. Mary's, and his clerk, Thirkettle, were apprehended on Sunday morning on the charge of committing the act, mid were committed to Norwich Castle to await the poor man's fate.

An inquest was summoned on Tuesday afternoon, when evidence was taken, of which the following is an abridgment The first witness was Rebecca Bacon. She saw Mr. Cooper, at Catton, get into his gig with his clerk; she was walking along the road when she heard a shot fired. which was immediately followed by a groan; she proceeded a little further on the road when she came up to a man bleeding, who told her he hod been shot by the gentleman in the gig and was dying ; she went to the George and Dragon Inn, whence two men came and conveyed the wounded man to the house; he said his name was Moore, and that he was returning from North Walsham. Charlotte Baron confirmed the above; in addition to which she said that she heard the gentleman in the gig say to deceased, " How do you do, old boy?" She then saw him turn and shoot Mr. Moore. Mr. John Mason, of Catton, heard the shot and the groan, but did not go to the assistance of the wounded man, being alarmed.. William HyIlyd, of Catton, was told by the two Bacons that a man had been shot by the gentleman in the gig, and went out with Iwo men, named Crampton and Gymer, and brought the wounded man into the George. When in the inn Mr. Moore did not relate anything that took place between him and the gentlemen in the gig previous to the shot being fired. Thirkettle, the clerk to Mr. Cooper, made the following statement: I accompanied Mr. Cooper from an inn at St. Miles to Catton, about six o'clock on Saturday evening; he stopped at the house of Mrs. Symonds, a female with whom he cohabited, and I drove the gig to the George and Dragon, where I waited until the horse was taken out and fed ; then I returned to Mrs. Symonds's house until a little past eight, when I went to the inn for the chaise. We then drove off towards Norwich. About twenty yards beyond the inn Mr.Cooper met a man on the road, to whom he said, " Good night, old boy," and fired off his pistol, as I thought, into the hedge; the man must have been fifteen or twenty yards (from the gig when the pistol was fired off, according to the direction he put his arm out, I should think it was quite impossible for him to have shot this man; I did not hear any one call out after the pistol had been fired; Mr. Cooper was driving, but I had the whip in my hand; we then went home and had supper; we did not hear of the accident until twelve o'clock on Sunday morning, when we were taken into custody.

In his cross-examination Thirkettle said that the pistol was double-barrelled, and that Cooper fired off the other barrel nearer to Norwich on his way home; Cooper was rather intoxicated: he declared he never said anything contrary to a man named Willis, or anybody else. The inquest was then adjourned until Wednesday, and the witness Thirkettle was ordered to be detained by the constable, and not be allowed to communicate with any ' other person. At the next silting of the inquest the woman called by the last witness Symonds, but who gave her name Hannah Greenfield, confirmed Thirkettle's evidence, and stated that Mr. Cooper drank spirits and water at her house, leaving It rather intoxicated.

George Ford, of Sprowston, was walking on the Norwoich road on Saturday night about twenty minutes before nine o'clock; saw two persons in a gig, who appeared to be drunk, as they drove from the road to the footpath in a most uneven manner; witness got up against Mr. Cozens's hedge to get out of the way of the gig, when the gentleman in the gig pointed a pistol at him and fired it off; the ball whizzed past him, but did not hit him ; he was not more than four yards from the gig when they fired at him. W. C. Brittain, landlord of the inn at St. Miles, deposed to Thirkettle having given him a statement of the accident, differing in some trifling details from that related to the jury. The following deposition of the deceased, taken before his death, was put in:- " I was returning from North Waltham on Saturday night, and went into the George Inn at Cat ton, for a few minutes; on going along the road two persons in a gig overtook me; one said, How are you, old boy ?' I answered, Very well;' only one spoke; I did not know the voice; they went a little way on and then fired; I felt myself shot, and cried out, Help, help! I am shot,' but they drove on the faster; they drove very swiftly; a man in a fustian coat helped me to the George; I have no suspicion of the individuals who did this; I have no idea of the motive with which they did it; I should think it could not be from sport; I should think, by the voice, that the person might be in liquor; the men were dressed in dark coloured clothes; the one sat higher than the other; I was not looking at them at the time they fired; I do not recollect that I passed a man on foot. (Signed) " WM. CORNELIUS M00RE. " Thomas Brightwell, mayor; A. Hudson."

Mr. J. G. Johnson, surgeon of the Norwich and Norfolk hospital, examined the body of the deceased; found a wound just about the nipple of the left side of the chest; it had passed through the chest, fracturing the fifth rib two inches from the cartilage; it had been produced from a pistol ball, which passed through the lobe of the left lung, and an anterior part of the same lung was wounded by a portion of the rib being driven through it; and the eighth rib was broken at the back of the chest, through which the ball had made its exit; the left lung was collapsed, and there was a great quantity of blood in the cavity of the chest. The man died from the wound he had described. The other surgeons confirmed the above description of the wound, and its being the cause of the man's death. The Reverend Prebendary Wodehouse said that Mr. Cooper, on being taken into custody, said that he did not know who had shot the man; he felt confident when he fired that the shot went over the hedge. Witness went to the hospital and, saw the deceased, and asked him if he had any relation named Cooper? He replied no, nor did be know any person of that name. He was told that the gentleman who caused the accident would do anything he could for his wife and family; to which he made no reply. Other but: not material, testimony was given, and the coroner summed up the evidence. explaining, that to make their verdict one of murder, they must be convinced of the malicious intention of the person committing the act. He read the opinions of several judges on the cases in point, and then left it to them to declare which of the cases he had referred to were analogous to the present inquiry, and to. give a verdict accordingly. The jury retired, and in twenty minutes returned a verdict of " Manslaughter Against Jonathan Whitley Cooper, gent. “The court, which had been crowded to suffocation during this long inquiry, was then cleared. When the populace were informed of the verdict of the jury, they rushed to the Norfolk Hotel, where the jury were waiting to sign the verdict, and made a most desperate attack on that, abusing them for not finding Mr. Cooper guilty of wilful murder, and the police were sent for to quell the riot.—Abridged from the Norwich Mercury. Please note the border between Old Catton and Sprowston is so convoluted in this area, where was Mr Cozens hedge so which parish did the event take place in?