Another naughty young man: William Blencowe (1827-1896)

The Brackley Ghost Story

Police Office Brackley 25 July 1845

William Blencowe, of Brackley, aged 18, son of Mr Blencowe, brewer, of that town, a young man who has of late figured in the locality as a Wesleyan local preacher, was charged with on 18th, 19th and 20th June last, with appearing in the streets dressed in disguise, and with having frightened some of the inhabitants of Brackley.

Thomas Hearn of the Wheat Sheaf Inn met a person at about 11:30pm near the White Lion; the person was in disguise; he had a blouse buttoned right up under his chin and a large hat pulled over his face. He was moving fast. I'd heard about a ghost and thought it might be Mr Blencowe. There had been a cricket match that day between Banbury and Brackley gentlemen; he did not mean to say that the person he met was disguised in liquor, but in dress, He'd known Mr. B. for 13 years.

Rhonda, a single woman, of Hall's Lane on the night of 19th was in Back Way and saw William B, 'He asked me to meet him that night at 10:30. He had on his blouse and straw hat. I did not meet him.'

Another lady at about 10:30 witnessed a figure; 'It appeared to have on a black cap, something black on the face. Black jacket, white smalls clothes and black leggings. I was frightened. I have no doubt it was a figure in disguise.'

Several other descriptions followed. One said, 'He seemed to have white trousers tucked into black boots.' Cross-examined he said he'd, 'Known Mr Blencowe all of his life.' He was reputedly a sober, studious young man and not that of a larking or horseracing or cricketing character.

William got out of the charge on the 19th but was found guilty of having been disguised on the 18th & 20th. 'The offence is more aggravated by your position in society as a teacher of others,' etc.

Ref. The Banbury Guardian 31 July 1845

Extraordinary Case of Breach of Promise

Hyde v. Blencowe

Assessment of damages in an action for the breach of promise of marriage made by William Blencowe to Bertha Clara Hyde aka Clara. Clara the daughter of a respectable tradesman of Brackley, a builder and mason in his own business and William, the son of a highly respected brewer of Brackley. They went to school together and were brought up from early life in habits of friendship, which eventually ripened into love. It would not be denied that up to a certain period in their relationship, their conduct and character were irreproachable and without blemish.

Once their schooling had finished Clara went off to Luton to learn straw bonnet making. On her return their relationship resumed with the approval of her father.

In 1847 she left Brackley for London, whither the defendant followed her. She was just 17, a period of life when the impulses and the affections are strong; the defendant was perhaps a little older and she yielded to his persuasions and surrender herself to him, the result of which was a miscarriage some months later. I won't go into the gory details. William hadn't done the right thing,' however; the price paid by Clar was enormous. The paper includes many beautifully written love letters from William. Their relationship continued for a long time. There were secret visits and outings, ladders at windows and trips to London without parental knowledge. However, on 14th Sept 1852, William married Mary Ann Lea: the ultimate blow to Clara.

It is clear that newspaper reports of the day showed little respect for the privacy of the victim, probably lessening Clara’s marriage prospects. However, Clara did marry in Luton at 32 and have 3 daughters.

Ref: Snippets from The Morning Advertiser, 25th February, 1853

William's night time wanderings! There were 8 years between court cases. Was William dressed as a ghost to disguise his calling on a very young Clara?

Perhaps he was just a bit kinky!