John Usborne committed to Maidstone Assizes on a charge of Manslaughter.


18 MAR 1838: John Usborne was involved in a fight with a Charles Ackhurst outside the White Horse, Borstal.

As a result Charles Ackhurst died and John Usborne was committed by the Coroner to The Summer Assizes at Maidstone on Monday 6th August 1838 on a charge of feloniously killing and slaying Charles Ackhurst.


3rd APR 1838. Report in Rochester, Chatham and Strood Gazette and Weekly Advertiser.

"Fatal Pugilistic Encounter. On Sunday evening, the 18th ult, a party of men, chiefly labourers in the Gravel Pits, at Borstal, were drinking at the White Horse there, when some observations were made by a man named Ackhurst to another named Usbourn, about wearing a cocked up hat.  Words ensued, and the parties went outside to fight. Ackhurst has since died from the injury he received. An inquest was held on the body on Wednesday, at the Union Workhouse, Chatham, before R. Hinde, esq, coroner, when the following evidence was adduced.

Usbourn and another man, who was present, of the name of Lane, were in custody.

 Edward Mepsted, a laborer, examined - On Sunday week I was in the high road, in front of the White Horse, about eight o'clock in the evening, it was dark.  I saw Usbourn strike Ackhurst, the deceased fell down from the violence of the blow - Usbourn went away and left Ackhurst lying in the road, there were several persons present, only one blow was given to the deceased. I went a short distance down the road to look for my little boy, and returned almost immediately and saw the deceased still lying in the road - I was away from my house about half an hour, several persons were standing round him at the time.

Robert Gibbs stated that he was at The House when the affray took place. Deceased and Usbourn were wrangling, and they both went into the road and began to pull their jackets off, Lane came before the deceased and stripped his frock off for him.  Jack Usbourn then knocked Ackhurst down with a blow - he hit right forward in his face, and deceased appeared to fall away.  I said don't do two to one, and Usbourn struck me in the face, and I fell down on the ground in consequence; I got up and went into the tap-room; I left Ackhurst on the ground; I came out again soon afterwards with a person and sat on the bench in front of the house and the deceased was still lying on the ground, near the fence, I saw no more fighting.  Ackhurst stood up in a fighting position to fight; it was a regular fight.  The deceased did not srike Usbourn; I should have seen if he had; Lane did not strike; Ackhurst was a little fresh, and I drank with the deceased.  Nede Day helped me to put the deceased into a stable, and laid him on some straw; he did not appear sensible; we could not get anything out of him; I left, and the deceased remained there till morning; between the hours of 12 and 1 on Monday morning I saw the deceased again, with some other men, in the tap room, sitting with his head on the table; while I was sitting there I lifted his head up, and he spoke, but I could not understand what he said.  I thought he was much hurt; I afterwards

left home, but before I did so I saw the deceased put into a cart to be taken away.
Edward Day corroborated the preceding evidence.

Sarah Deane and Ellen Lane were also examined; their depositions were mainly the same as the preceding witnesses.

John Siburn - I live in the parish of St. Margaret's and am a labourer; on Monday morning, after the mates had left Mr. Tuff's, where they lodged, they informed me that a man was bad, lying in the stable; I knew him by sight to be Charles Ackhurst- I went in doors for a little time, and then returned again and assisted him in doors, and set him before the fire; we afterwards borrowed Mr. Tuff's light cart to take him to his lodgings at Wouldham; he was brought here.

 Mr. Ely examined - I am a surgeon, and reside on Rochester Banks; I had a note from the master on the 19th stating that a person had been brought in from Borstal; it was after five o'clock; I visited the deceased about six o'clock, he was in bed undressed, I asked what was the matter, and feared that the deceased had been drunk and been beaten; I found his breath smelt of having been drinking, I found no wounds on the body, the eyes were both blackened and closed, those were the only marks of external violence.  His answers were quite incoherent; the body was very cold, the pulse small and irregular.  He died on Tuesday morning, about seven o'clock, and I have made a post mortem on the body; on examining the head I found no fracture nor injury of the skull; I discovered on the left side of the brain a laceration of the anterior lobe. Effusion of blood on the brain was the cause of death; I think the deceased died from apoplexy.  A blow or fall might have caused the effusion.

The jury then retired, and after a short time returned a verdict of "Manslaughter against John Usbourn", and acqutted John Lane.

The man wept exceedingly at the decision of the jury, and seemed distressed in mind throughout the whole of the inquiry, which lasted eight hours.

Mr. Edward Wickham voluntarily attended to watch the proceedings on behalf of the two men in custody who had no friends."


Report in Maidstone Journal 3 APRIL 1838.

 "On Wednesday last, J.Usborne, a laboring man, was committed to Maidstone, on a coroner's inquest, before R. Hinde,Esq, for Manslaughter.  It appeared in evidence that a number of persons were drinking at a pubilc-house at Borstal, when a quarrel commenced betwenn Usborne and Ackhurst; after some words Ackhurst struck a blow at Usborne, and hit him on the side, when some of the company jeered Usborne, and said "why don't you fight him?". They went into the yard to fight it out, when Usborne hit Ackhurst a blow in the face and knocked him down.  The man appeared stunned by the fall, and was put into a stable and left there till the next morning, when as he gradually became worse, he was sent to the workhouse at Chatham, where he died the next day. Usborne bears an excellent character."


At the Summer Assizes held at Maidstone on Monday 6th August 1838, the Jury found  John Usborne guilty of Assault only. To be imprisoned five days in the House of Correction.